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"How are you feeling?"


The soft voice was barely a whisper in the darkness, but Jace's entire body tensed painfully. He reached for a weapon he knew wasn't there, but barely made it off the pillow before his abused body crumpled with fatigue. Jace squinted, looking into the shadows of the room at the figure dressed in white and bathed in silver moonlight. Her hair looked white, falling to her shoulders and her skin pale and creamy.


She stepped directly into the shaft of moonlight coming through the window, a soft smile bowing her lips, and Jace realized he was smiling back. His head felt heavy and his eyes as if they were ricocheting in his sockets. What kind of drugs are they giving me?


"How are you feeling?" she asked again.


Either the drugs were fuddling with his head, or she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen... or, at least, could remember seeing.




Definitely the most beautiful... memory or not.


Her eyes were a pale blue, so pale they looked like pools of mercury in the moonlight. She wore a white doctor's lab coat, but enough of her shape peeked out through the open front that he found himself wishing she'd take it off and let him get a good view.


"Excuse me, Lieutenant?" she said, leaning over a little bit.


He blinked, running the tip of his tongue over his lower lip. "What?"


"You said something... I think about my jacket."


Jace shook his head. "Um, nothing. I feel like I've been dropped from a glider at Mach two-hundred."


She took a handheld reader from the large pocket of her jacket, flipping it on with a musical twitter. Jace stayed still, fighting the surge of anxiety that burned in his throat and pumped adrenaline into his blood as she moved the device over his head and chest. His head told him it was just a handheld. He'd probably seen then a hundred times in his life. But the pathetic, beaten-up and screwed-up part of his brain kept throwing him back to dark places and faceless voices he couldn't pin down or chase away.


"Your heart rate is accelerated. Were you dreaming?"


Yes. "Maybe it's you, Angel."


Her lips turned up in a small, almost unnoticeable smile.


"You gonna tell me your name?"


She swallowed visibly, pushing her hands into her jacket pocket before looking down at him again. "Lilly. Franklin. I'm your doctor."


"I thought that other guy was the doc. Michael."


"He helps me, but I'm the base doctor. I'll be in charge of your recovery and physical therapy."


Jace grinned. "I like the sound of that, Angel."


Her gaze locked with his, and for several beats of his heart, she stared at him before she blinked and turned away.


"When you're feeling stronger, we'll talk seriously about your recovery plan. I would love to see you on your feet before winter."


Jace squinted, tipping his head into the pillow to glance at the window above him. "Winter... what month is it now?"


"Day after tomorrow is August first."


"You're ambitious," he said absently, settling into the bed again to look at her.


Her lips pressed together in a thin line, a firm determination in her eyes. "I don't do anything half-way, Lieutenant."


Jace wanted to come back with another comment, but his brain was fuzzy and he couldn't string the words together in his head, let alone out his lips. He tried to keep his eyes open, but it grew harder and harder to open his lead-lined lids after each blink. Doc Franklin leaned over, her fingers brushing over his forehead.


"Sleep, Lieutenant. Right now, it's the only thing you need to do." 

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