SIU Agent Talya Adams got into the front passenger seat of her boss’s Nissan X-Trail SUV. It was a relief to be sitting. What she really wanted to do was curl up into a tight ball, and push the pain away. The pain, which had started as a mild irritation a few days earlier, had turned into a raging inferno. She’d masked it for as long as possible and wasn’t sure how she’d made it to the vehicle without the rest of her SIU team noticing. Taking a few deep breathes she tried to get the pain under control. It wasn’t working and she didn’t have any pain killers with her.
“Why is this happening now? I need to get this under control.” She wrapped her arms around her waist and pressed down into her side. The pain was sharp, pulsing and shooting from her front to her back in agonizing waves.
“What’s wrong with me?”
She could handle being shot at, stabbed or physically attacked. But being ill and facing an unknown foe tended to freak her out.
She heard the driver’s door open and straightened up. She schooled her features and looked out her window, pretending to be interested in the dirt road and browning shrubs alongside it. The last thing she needed was her Boss, Jason Storm seeing her in pain, especially when she continuously tried to convince him and the rest of the world she was invincible. She felt his gaze skim over her as he started the car and held her breathe.
“Adams, something you want to tell me?” he asked.
“No.” Talya replied. Yes, my insides are being ripped apart and I’m trying very hard not to throw up. Oh and while we’re on the subject, I’ve been infatuated with you for the longest time and my fantasies about you are starting to drive me crazy. But first things first, this pain’s killing me!
Storm drove the way he always did, taking corners sharply and breaking suddenly. She usually enjoyed his driving style because it was so much like hers. But not today and not now. Bile rushed up her throat and the pain in her side got worse, much, much worse.
“Argh!” A cry escaped her clenched teeth despite her strongest efforts to keep things under control.
“Talya?” Storm looked at her sharply.
“Pull over,” she gasped, one hand clutching her side the other covering her mouth.
He swerved into the extreme right lane, causing a number of drivers to hoot at him in anger. The minute the car came to a stop she rushed out of her seat, collapsed to her knees and proceeded to retch.
He reached her side in time to hold her long auburn hair out of the way, as she gagged and vomited some more. She would have enjoyed his touch had she not been as sick as a dog. His hand brushed her forehead and he swore.
“You’re burning up! Is there something you want to tell me now?” he demanded.
“Argh!” she moaned, doubling over in pain.
“Come on.” his voice changed from one of anger to one of concern.
Talya let him wipe her mouth and help her into the SUV, into the back seat. She lay on her side, tears sparkling in her eyes. Her legs were drawn up to her chest and she couldn’t hold back a moan. Besides, it was too late to pretend everything was okay.
Storm caressed her head and said, “Easy Talya. I’m taking you to the Emergency Room.”
He was back in the driver’s seat, speeding towards Morningside Private Hospital.
Talya rolled on the back seat, the pain spiraling out of control.
Hurry Storm… She prayed.
Storm was furious.
What is wrong with you and why did you hide it from me?
Although he never volunteered information about himself he expected his team to keep him informed about every … well almost every aspect of their lives. And Talya? He had a special connection to her. So how the hell did he miss the fact that she wasn’t okay?
“You missed it because you were trying to avoid your feelings for her, Jason,” he reluctantly admitted.
“Damn it!” he swore under his breath, as he floored the accelerator and reached for his cell phone.
“Manie, meet me at Morningside Private Hospital.”
“Oh dear, Jason, are you hurt?” The SIU Medical Examiner, Mahinder “Manie” Singh’s voice sharpened with concern.
“It’s Talya.” Storm explained her symptoms and Manie promised to get to Morningside Private Hospital within the hour. Although he was the Medical Examiner, he also served as their physician when the need arose.
Talya tried to silence her moans but Storm still heard her. And what he heard terrified him. The Talya he knew was a strong, resilient woman and for her to be rolling around and moaning in pain, she had to be in some serious pain. He watched her in the rear view mirror for a second. Her eyes were squeezed shut, her knees bent up to her chest and her lower lip caught between her teeth.
Hang on, Talya.
He pulled into the emergency area of Morningside Private Hospital and was out of the door before his vehicle came to a complete stop.
“I need a Doctor.” He shouted as he opened the back door and reached for Talya. The minute he had her out, she lunged forward and gagged. Nurses rushed to her side and helped him get her onto a gurney.
“Miss, can you tell me what’s wrong.” A nurse asked as they rushed her into the ER.
“She has bad stomach cramps and vomiting,” Storm answered.
“And you are?” The nurse asked as they wheeled Talya into the ER.
“You’ll have to wait outside, sir.”
“No,” Talya cried out. “Stay with me…. Please Storm…”
“Shh, I’m not leaving you,” Storm said glaring at the nurse.
“Okay.” The nurse said looking strangely from Talya to Storm.
Talya moaned, turning onto her side. Storm slipped his hand into hers and squeezed as she was wheeled to a cubicle. She held onto his hand, pulling it close as she cradled her stomach. It hit him that this was the first time they’d ever really touched each other in other then a professional work related way.
“It’s going to be okay,” he whispered close to her ear.
Two nurses entered into the cubicle and started examining her. The sounds and smells of the hospital snuck up on him.
“Where exactly does it hurt?” A nurse asked.
“Right side… here,” Talya said taking Storm’s hand and squeezing it over the right side of her lower abdomen.
The nurse moved Storm and Talya’s joined hands out of her way. She pulled Talya’s shirt up and undid her pants before examining her stomach and pelvis. Storm tried to look away, but he wanted to know if she had any bruising. He noted her firm, smooth abs and the flare of her hipbone.
He had to close his eyes, when wayward thoughts raced through his mind.
The second nurse took Talya’s vitals, eyeing him, letting him know she knew exactly what kind of thoughts were going through his head. She tsked in disgust. Storm glared at her until she looked away.
“Argh…” Talya gasped.
“Talya?” Storm focused on her face as she rolled her head from side to side on the pillow.
“Give her something for the pain,” he insisted.
“Not yet,” the nurse said.
“Why the hell not?” He growled.
A doctor walked into the cubicle then and said, “We have to find out what’s wrong with her first.”
Ignoring Storm, the Doctor turned to the nurse to get an update.
“BP’s 132 over 94, pulse 143, temp’s 41,” the nurse said.
“Get an IV going and do a full blood workup.” The Doctor instructed before looking at Talya. “Miss, can you tell me when your symptoms started?”
Storm caressed Talya’s head and repeated the Doctor’s question when she didn’t reply.
“Ten… twelve days…” she replied wincing when the Doctor examined her side.
Ten to twelve days ago! Talya damn it! Jason felt like putting his fist through the wall. Why had she kept this a secret?
“Administer 10mg of Perfalgan for the pain and fever.” The Doctor ordered.
“Miss…” the Doctor said.
“Call her Talya.” Storm growled.
“Talya, the pain medication should take effect shortly. We’re going to draw blood to run a few tests.” The Doctor said filling in a form.
“Are you pregnant?” The nurse asked.
“No…” Talya gasped.
“The nurses will take you down to Radiology to have x-rays and an abdominal scan done.” The Doctor said.
“While we do that, can you please open a file for her at the reception desk?” the nurse asked as she tried to get Storm to leave Talya.
“Talya, hang in there.” Storm said a moment before following the Doctor out.
“What’s wrong with her?” He demanded.
“It could be a hernia or appendicitis. The scans and blood tests will reveal more.” The Doctor said.
An hour later, Manie was once again telling Storm to sit down. The hospital waiting room was narrow and uncomfortable and the decor left a lot to be desired.
Mike DeLuca and Ted Matthews, the other members of Storm’s SIU team, took turns stepping out of his way, as he paced the room. Storm was worried and for the first time ever, it showed in his face.
Mike and Ted had just finished clearing the crime scene, when Manie called them with the news. They handed all the evidence to the retrieval crew to take back to the office and headed straight to Morningside Private Hospital. Mike informed Amanda Malone, the Director of the SIU and Matthews told Lebo, their lab tech.
“What could be taking so long?” Storm asked again.
“I’ll go and find her Doctor,” Manie said standing up. As he reached to the door, it swung open missing his face by mere millimetres.
“Storm!” Lebo shouted, running forward and wrapping her arms around him. “She’ll be okay. This is Talya. Nothing scares her, nothing.”
Yeah… but she had been scared when I left her. Storm remembered the tortured look in Talya’s eyes as he hugged Lebo. She was the youngest of the team and the only one carefree and comfortable enough with him to reach out and hug him.
“Do you have any news?” Amanda asked.
“I was just about to go…” Manie said moving forward.
“Talya Adams family?” A nurse entered the waiting room.
“Yes,” Manie said.
Storm stepped forward and stood nose to nose with the nurse. Lebo wrapped her arms around Ted and Mike’s waists.
“We’ll be taking Ms Adams into surgery and need her next of kin to sign these forms,” the nurse said.
“Does Ms Adams have acute appendicitis?” Manie asked, Amanda stepping closer to him.
“I’m afraid not,” the nurse said handing the forms over to Manie.
“A hernia?” Mike asked as he, Lebo and Matthews stepped forward.
“No,” the nurse said.
“Then what is it?” Storm demanded his fists clenched as he moved forward. Amanda places a hand on his shoulder to hold him back from the nurse who backed up a step.
Lebo, Matthews and Mike looked at each other, fear and concern sparkling in their eyes.
“Oh dear.” Manie exclaimed, looking at the forms that needed to be signed.