Valentino's Cowboy [Brac Village 10]

By: Lynn Hagen

With a few quick jerks of his head, Abe gritted his teeth, wishing he would pass out. This was not something he wanted to be awake for. “What if I lose my hand?”

Valentino pressed his lips to Abe’s ear, giving him a soft kiss before speaking. “Then whatever you need it for, I’ll be more than happy to do for you. But let’s wait until we know what’s going on before we make plans to rent my hand out.”

Abe let out a quick laugh, just a rush of air before he blinked a few times and gazed up at the ceiling. Valentino made it sound so easy, no big deal. He knew his mate was right. Abe should wait for the verdict before panicking, but he couldn’t help but think of what life would be like with the use of just one hand.

Feys couldn’t shift and heal themselves like shifters could. He knew he was going to have some king of permanent damage. How extensive it was, well, that was going to depend on just how well the doctor fixed him versus what was beyond repair.

Valentino stayed the entire time, whispering encouragements in his ear. Abe was grateful because he didn’t want to be alone.

Besides helping the Lakelands and having his tribe turn their back on Abe, this was the scariest thing he had been through. It was more frightening than when The Manacle was bombed by Vampire Hunters.

“I can arrange it with the Lakelands for you to take it easy,” Valentino said. “You can come work at the clinic with me.”

“But I don’t know anything about animals,” Abe confessed.

“Neither do I,” Valentino whispered close to Abe’s ear. “We can fool people together.”

Abe did laugh this time. His hand was so numb that he didn’t feel a thing. How could the guy make him laugh when he could possibly lose his hand? The cougar shifter was a breath of fresh air. “What would I do there?”

“You would definitely be eye candy for me. But,” his mate said with a shrug. “I suppose you want real work. So you can help me with my patients. Keep them calm while I examine them.”

“I–I’d like that.”

“One other thing, darlin’,” Valentino said as he brushed his knuckles over Abe’s cheek. It was only a soft caress, but having his mate touch him helped to calm Abe’s tension. “How did this happen?”

“I was helping Gavin and Winter. They said they needed a small hand to reach inside a piece of machinery. It was too slippery. I couldn’t grab it.” Abe didn’t want to think about that right now. Those thoughts only reminded him of his injury.

His eyes fluttered closed when Valentino leaned forward and pressed a kiss on Abe’s cheek. “Did you tell them you couldn’t grab it?”

Abe nodded. “But they said the piece was important. Winter shouted that he was losing his grip, but Gavin was confident that I could get it.” He swallowed hard. “I failed them.”

“No, no, sweetheart.” Valentino placed a kiss on Abe’s nose. “You did the best you could and that’s all anyone could ever ask.”

Abe wasn’t sure if the doctor had given him drugs or not, but he could have sworn that he saw something move behind Valentino’s taupe-colored eyes. But whatever it was, it was gone just that quickly.

Abe turned his head when he felt some kind of pressure. The doctor was putting an IV in his arm. Although he wanted to turn away, Abe watched.

Valentino touched his face. “You’ve seen enough, my little cowboy. There is no need for you to watch the doc.”

He did as his mate asked and looked away. Abe’s eyes scanned around the room. This was an operating room at the Den. Abe was well aware of this. But if he hadn’t known, he would’ve sworn he was at a hospital. The room was well-stocked and the machines looked very expensive.

Abe’s eyes fell on the one next to him, the beeping drawing his attention. He hadn’t a clue what he was looking at, but knew those were his vitals on the screen. It all seemed surreal. Abe didn’t want to be there. He shouldn’t have been helping Gavin. He should have been getting ready for his date.

Abe’s mind became fuddled. His thoughts were a little hazy. Maybe the doc had given him drugs after all. He couldn’t ever remember feeling this groggy.

“How do you feel?” Dr. Sheehan asked. “How’s the pain level?”

Throwing his hand up into the air, Abe’s thumb stuck straight up. His arm felt weightless. The doctor smiled and patted his shoulder. “Good, Abe. I want you pain-free.”

His head lolled to the side and he smiled up at Valentino. “I’m a virgin.”

Valentino’s eyes widened and Abe heard the doctor chuckle. He wasn’t sure why he had told that intimate detail about himself. He should be embarrassed as hell that he had blurted that out. But Abe was floating along.

“I’ll remember that little detail,” Valentino said as his eyes softened. “But right now all I want you to do is rest.”

Abe reached up and poked at Valentino’s chest. “You sure feel real.”

Valentino covered his hand over Abe’s. “Oh, I’m very real.”

When Abe blinked, it felt as though it took years for his eyelids to go down and then come back up. “Everyone ignores me and treats me like I’m a dimwitted man who needs constant supervision.”