“BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP...” Ava groaned as her alarm clock began to beep incessantly. She quickly reached over to shut it off and closed her eyes once again. It was too early in the morning as far as she was concerned, but she knew she had to get up or she was going to be late. She slowly got out of bed and headed into the adjoining bathroom to get ready. Today was her first day of volunteer work at the pack clinic and she didn’t want to be late.
At 25 Ava was desperate to do anything useful since she hadn’t found her mate yet. All of her friends were happily mated and had been for some time but Ava had yet share in that experience and she was starting to get worried. Wolf shifters that didn’t find their mate ran the risk of going rogue the longer they were on their own. Being a part of a pack and contributing could help, as did sex, but it wasn’t a complete solution to the problem. With Ava believing that it was better to wait for your mate before having sex, as did a lot of other shifters, volunteering was her only option. She was also hoping that being in the clinic would allow her to actual meet more males, thus increasing her chance of finding her mate.
Tying her long, ebony hair back into a messy bun, Ava stepped into the shower for a quick wash before wrapping a towel around her slender frame and brushing her teeth. At 5′5 Ava was shorter than a lot of other shifters, who tended to be closer to 6 feet, but she was still just as slim and toned with a pale complexion and radiant green eyes. Nothing special, as far as she was concerned, but her friends continually scoffed at her attitude and told her they would kill to look like her. Whatever.
Noticing the time, Ava quickly applied her eyeliner and slipped on her brand new purple scrubs and shoes. Taking one last look in the mirror she grabbed her purse and car keys and quickly rushed out of the house and down to her car. Ten minutes later and she was pulling into the parking lot of the pack clinic, right on time for her 8am shift. She took a deep breath before exiting her car and walking into the building.
Opening the door the smell of disinfectant hit her hard and she wrinkled her nose slightly. That was going to take some getting used to. She walked over to the reception desk to see a young, red headed woman sitting behind the desk and staring at her expectantly. She shifted uncomfortably.
“I’m Ava,” she said nervously, she hated when people stared at her. “I’m the new volunteer.”
“Oh yes!” the red head said enthusiastically. She quickly stood up and came around the desk to shake Ava’s hand. “We are so excited to have you. I’m Emily, I work the front desk. Let me show you to Carol’s office, she’s in charge of the clinic and the one you’ll report to in the morning for assignments.” Startled by the warm welcome Ava simply nodded and gave Emily a small smile as she led her down a long hallway to a door marked ‘OFFICE’.
“This is Carol’s office,” Emily explained with another smile as she knocked on the door. Ava heard a voice from within call out for them to enter and Emily quickly pushed the door open. “Just let me know if there is anything I can do for you.” And with that she gently pushed Ava inside the office and closed the door behind her, heading back to the reception desk.
Ava looked around at the cluttered room she now found herself in. Books and papers lined every shelf as well as the table, chairs, and desk in front of her. Behind the desk she could see a middle-aged woman with silver hair watching her with a smile.
“Come in!” she said, motioning to a chair next to the desk that was mostly devoid of papers. “You must be Ava,” she continued as she moved the items off of the chair and motioned again for Ava to sit.
“Yes,” Ava said, a little less nervously. At least everyone so far seemed really nice and happy to meet her.
“Welcome to our clinic,” Carol said, shaking her hand. “We are so excited to have you. It gets harder and harder to find pack members willing to help out and we are running ourselves ragged with all the rogues that have been attacking lately.”
Ava simply nodded. Her pack, the River Pack, had lost recently lost their Alpha to old age and a replacement had yet to be chosen leaving them vulnerable to attack. The Alpha’s son would be the natural choice, but he had been missing for over ten years and everyone had pretty much concluded that he was dead. No one knew what had happened to him, only that he wasn’t around and hadn’t been seen in that time.
“Your job will be simple,” Carol continued, standing up. “We have one long term patient that needs to be watched and having you sit with him will free the rest of us up immensely.” As she said this she walked around her desk and motioned for Ava to follow her.
“What’s wrong with him?” Ava asked cautiously as they walked down another hallway and farther into the clinic.
“Coma,” Carol said sadly, pausing outside of a door with a sign that said “Eric”. “He’s been here for 10 years now. He’s perfectly healthy, he just won’t wake up. But if no one is sitting with him during the day he starts to thrash and scream. It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever seen and I’ve been working here for 40 years.” With that said she opened the door and Ava got her first look at her new charge.
The room was plain; white walls, white floor, white ceiling, white bed with white blankets. It actually made Ava sad to see how bare the room was. It was clear that no one visited this man. Stepping into the room with Carol she could see the man, who she assumed was Eric, lying motionless on the bed. If she didn’t know any better Ava would have thought that he was taking a nap. He was not hooked up to any machines, other than an IV, and he looked perfectly healthy, other than being slightly pale from being inside for 10 years. He had blonde hair that had been kept cut, clean, and brushed and slight stubble on his face. Ava suddenly found herself wishing that she could see what color his eyes were.
Where did that thought come from?
“This is Eric,” Carol said, jerking Ava out of her thoughts. “All you have to do is sit with him and check on him occasionally.” She pointed to a chair next to the bed that Ava assumed was for her. “Feel free to watch TV or read a book. He loves when you talk out loud to him or read to him. You can tell because he always smiles. Every hour or so check his IV and catheter and just call one of us if either needs to be changed. We can show you how to do it eventually so you’ll be completely independent. Any questions?”
Ava shook her head and smiled slightly at Carol before sitting down in the chair next to Eric. Carol smiled back before exiting the room with a reminder to call for her if needed. And then Ava was alone with a strange male, albeit a comatose one. Ava looked at Eric again and couldn’t help but wonder who he was and why she was so curious about him.