When Evil Comes To Play (The Veil Diaries #5)

When Evil Comes To Play (The Veil Diaries #5)

B.L. Brunnemer



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Thank you to the best team ever! Melissa, Weeze, Tina, Courtney and Susan! When I kept going off track, you ladies just keep throwing me back in.

And a huge thank you to the hubby, thanks for dealing with the insanity.





Chapter 1





June





Wednesday





I have always hated going to the doctor. Dad had to practically drag me in just for a checkup when I was a kid. It still sucked at seventeen. I turned and paced to the other side of the sterile exam room. White walls, motel art paintings, health posters, and magazines. I hated these rooms, especially the smell of industrial cleaner. Of course, the reason I was here didn’t help.

Rory watched as I walked across the small room again. “Lexie, calm down,” he reminded me. Rory was a good-looking guy in his late forties; he had the Delaney copper hair, a friendly, open face and calm brown eyes. How could he be calm? Dr. Peltier had asked me to come in immediately, even scheduling the appointment after his usual office hours. That wasn’t a good sign. Didn’t Rory see that?

“Trying,” I muttered as I turned and crossed the room again. “Why’d you have me do the damn scans?”

He sighed. “Because you were jumped twice since your last one,” he reminded me. I cursed under my breath.

“Davis wasn’t bad,” I told him.

“No, but the bowling alley was,” he shot back. I turned again. His eyes met mine. “We need to keep an eye on it, Lexie.”

I shook my head. Yeah, I was probably going to die before I hit thirty. That didn’t mean I needed to be reminded of it all the fucking time.

The door finally opened and Dr. Peltier came in. He was wearing his usual slacks and a button-down shirt. His white hair was short, and overall he looked a little rumpled from the day’s work. He pushed silver-rimmed glasses up his sharp nose before he gave me a gentle smile as he closed the door. “How are we today?”

“She’s a little tense,” Rory pointed out. I rolled my eyes. No fucking shit.

“Lexie, have a seat and we’ll get started,” Dr. Peltier said as he pulled out a pen light.

Cursing under my breath, I sat on the exam table and tried not to squirm.

Dr. Peltier moved in front of me. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine,” I bit out.

He raised an eyebrow and met my eyes. “No bouts of exhaustion for no reason? No balance problems? Changes in your hand dexterity?”

I swallowed hard. “I get really tired and have to stop what I’m doing sometimes.” But it was only after crossing the dead, and it was since I started taking more than twenty-five souls at one time. Well, sort of…

Peltier flashed the light in my eyes. “How often is sometimes?”

I gritted my teeth. “Twice a day for the last month or so.” I was starting to need an afternoon cup of coffee just to get through school lately.

He nodded as if he expected it. He turned off the light and stepped back. “Well, first let's discuss your throat MRI.” He tucked the pen back in his pocket. “Your voice clearly still hasn’t healed. It looks like some of the nerve endings have died off from the continuous strain. Which means no more shouting and no more yelling. Shouting will just put even more strain on your vocal chords and cause more damage. Do you understand?”

“Yeah,” I muttered.

Dr. Peltier moved to sit on the rolling stool and woke up the computer. “Now, your CT scan and head MRI.” He brought up several images and turned to us. “The necrotic lesion on your cerebellum has grown, Lexie. It is now roughly the size of a small gumball.” Everything went silent. The world stopped. Dr. Peltier kept talking. “This means there is more damage than before.” His gray eyes ran over my face before turning to Rory.

It had grown. Yeah, I knew it would, but… not so soon. I stared at the image of my brain on the screen. And the black spot that was killing me. It shouldn’t be this big already… it couldn’t be…

“What… what are we looking at in the future?” Rory asked, his voice strained.

“If more dead tissue accumulates?” Dr. Peltier asked.

“Yeah,” Rory said. I continued staring at the screen as they talked around me.

“If it continues, Lexie is going to experience balance issues, walking difficulties, and her fine motor skills will disappear. As more tissue dies off, her basic motor functions will go. Beyond that…” —the doctor sighed— “involuntary responses such as breathing will deteriorate until she will need a ventilator to breathe for her. Eventually her heart will stop, but by then the damage will be so severe that you won’t recognize her as Lexie anymore.”

“So, if the damage stops?” Rory asked.

“It depends on what stage Lexie is in when it stops,” Peltier hedged. “We need to make some decisions about treatment; how aggressive are we going to be, where her limit is, what does she want to do? And we need to make them now.” The guys… my chest burned.

“Last time you said there wasn’t a treatment, what changed?” Rory asked.

“We don’t know what is causing this. All her tests are clean. I have consulted with a neurosurgeon in Missoula about Lexie’s case. He might be able to remove the dead tissue and stop the progress,” Dr. Peltier explained. “It’s the only treatment available that he thinks will have any kind of effect.” I swallowed hard.

“How much time does she have to make these decisions?” Rory’s voice was calm.

“This week. If she wants to try surgery we need her scheduled as soon as possible,” Peltier explained.

No. No. No. This was not happening. My pulse pounded in my ears.

I started to shake my head. “There’s gotta be a mistake, doc. I feel fine.”

Dr. Peltier’s gaze met mine. “There isn’t.” He moved to the side of the screen showing my MRI results. He pointed at the dot. “You can see for yourself. The lesion of necrotic tissue has grown.”

“Then they made a mistake at the hospital,” I tried again. “That’s not my scan.”

“Lexie…” Rory’s gentle voice had me turning my head.

“No!” I snapped as I shoved off the table and stormed out of the room and then out of the office. This was not happening. It was not! Things were good for once! For the first time in my life, I haven’t been miserable! I paced in the parking lot. It couldn’t be happening so fucking soon. No way… I had more time!

Rory came out of the building with several pamphlets. I stopped and crossed my arms over my chest.

“Lexie,” he said, his voice gentle. “There was no mistake—”

“There has to be,” I insisted, my voice shaking. I looked around, desperate to get away. “Let’s go home. I gotta…” I swallowed hard. “I gotta finish Miles’ birthday present.” I turned away and got into the truck without another word.

Rory didn’t say anything when he got into the truck and started for home. The drive was silent. When we reached the house, I barely waited long enough for him to turn off the truck before I was out and heading for the door.

Hades jumped off the couch and ran to me. I reached down and gave him some love. The dog had gone through another growth spurt. His head was at my hip now, and he’d gained almost another fifty pounds. What would happen to my baby? My chest was on fire. I shoved the thought away. I started up the stairs.

“Lexie…” Rory’s voice was strained.

“No,” I bit out as I kept going. I waited until Hades came in and sat on the folded-up futon to close the door. It had finally gotten to the point where I needed a bed big enough for Hades to sleep on without knocking me to the floor. A few months ago, Miles had suggested a futon so I could fold it away during the day and still walk around my room. It worked perfectly.

I went straight to my desk and started pulling out my painting supplies. Miles’ birthday was in a few days and I was planning on giving him a painted glasses case.

Pushing everything out of my mind, I picked up the simple blank metal eyeglass case from the store. I pulled up pictures of the Aurora Borealis on my laptop. Running through them, I found one that looked amazing and started painting. For two hours I focused on keeping my brush strokes precise as I painted the snowy mountains and the brilliant lights in the sky above them. My phone rang, making me jump.

“Yeah?” I answered as I checked the eyeglass case for damage.

“Hey, Lexie.” Riley’s voice filled my ear. “How’d it go?”

I hesitated to answer. Yeah, I had told Riley about the spot on my brain. But… this… I didn’t want to talk about it. “Fine,” I muttered.

“Fine?” Riley asked.

“My voice is still messed up,” I admitted. “The other one was fine.” I swallowed hard. I needed to change the subject. “So, when am I going to meet this guy you’ve been crushing on?”

She sighed. “When I know there’s something there.”

“You won’t know until you try.” I smiled as I started cleaning my brush.

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