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TAMING THE ZOOKEEPER - Published on Galatea

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Chapter 2


“You did well today,” Doctor Keller said as he finished stitching up the last of Marcus’s wounds. His arms and plastic apron were covered in my friend’s blood, now dried, and turning a dreadful brownish colour.

I gazed wearily at the broken man lying on the table in front of me while pulling my own bloodied rubber gloves off and throwing them into the bin. His face seemed calm, but his exposed body was a fractured mess. He had been brutalized out there in the field before reinforcements had arrived, were it not for his father, our Alpha, he would probably be lying in the morgue right now.

Although I was a trained medical doctor and had worked on many cases far worse than this one, it seemed different to me. Felt different deep in my gut. Marcus was a dear friend of mine and we worked, trained and travelled together quite a lot since I was the family’s standby medic. As my eyes roamed over his suture covered, black and blue abdomen, I tried to push the heaviness in my chest aside and took another deep breath.

We have been working on Marcus for the last four hours and my back was tormenting me in ways I had forgotten it could. Every muscle ached and throbbed in protest from the strain of leaning over an operation table, keeping dead still for hours on end.

“Do you think he is going to be ok?” I asked surveying his wounds one last time with stinging eyes.

“Well, if it wasn’t for you, he would have been dead already,” Doctor Keller replied without even looking up. His voice was calm and profoundly serious.

For a second my mind flashed back to the ruined building where I had found him lying in a pool of his own blood, with his father desperately begging for help as the life slowly faded from his eyes and his heart had almost come to a stop.

“We should be able to tell whether he is out of the woods within the next 48 hours,” I commented to no one in particular and turned with a deep sigh to shift my eyes towards the monitors on my left.

Doctor Keller nodded in agreement and cut the last piece of excess suture threat off, “you can go get cleaned up, Melena, I will inform the Alpha’s household of his progress and keep an eye on Marcus throughout the night. You have been through enough already,” he said caringly, sounding like a typical grandad.

Doctor Keller has been the pack’s doctor for ages, which was clearly visible when you looked at the silver-grey strands of hair crowning his wrinkled, yet friendly face. His hands were steady and skilled in doing what he knows best, to cure and to heal.

Many, myself included, had trained under his expert supervision and I was grateful for the fact that he had taken me under his wing when I first started with my practical’s.

Still caught up in my thoughts, I gazed down to the floor, only to find my blood and dirt covered tactical suit still peeking out from underneath the plastic apron I had thrown on earlier. Had I been here all this time?

When someone’s life was hanging in the balance of our hands, time in itself seemed to dissolve into nothing and all that mattered was listening with trained ears to the rhythm of a steady heartbeat and trying to keep it that way as we weaved in and out of cavities, raptured skin and mended broken bits of bone and cartilage. Being werewolves certainly helped since our species was naturally equipped with faster metabolisms and extraordinary healing abilities.

“Thanks, Doctor,” I replied with a sigh while ripping the apron off and bundling it into a nearby trash bin, “I will see you later.”

With feet as heavy as led and burning irises, I grabbed my soldiers’ helmet off a chair on my way out of the operating room and tucked it under my arm to step out of the small infirmary. In the tiny waiting area outside, my eyes immediately landed on Francesca sitting in one of the grey cushioned chairs, leaning forward into her hands. Her golden locks were covering her tired face and she was also still wearing her tactical uniform.

“Hey, Babe,” I said in a raspy voice.

Her eyes flicked up to mine and she quickly jumped up, enveloping me into a tight hug, “don’t you dare ever do that to me again!” She mumbled over my shoulder, her voice also sounding hoarse as though she had been yelling and barking orders for a long time after my departure from the battlefield earlier.

After a while we pulled away to study each other from head to toe. I had to make sure she was not injured in some way and it seemed she had shared my sentiment.

“Are you ok?” I asked pulling her arm to the side to look underneath it for any holes in her uniform. Luckily, I found none.

“I’m fine, you?” She asked back immediately.

“Also, fine.”

Both of us let out an involuntary sigh of relief.

“Thank goodness, for that,” she said putting a palm on her heart and acting all dramatic, “because you still owe me some money.” I knew she only made that joke because she saw the shallow tears in my eyes, and to be honest, it did help even if it was just a little bit. Her smile has always been contagious, no matter how foul my mood had been. She was also the sole person who had snapped me back to reality after numerous shifts in the casualty’s unit of the local hospital when I was an intern. Without her, I would have probably given up on medicine way before my career had even begun.

We started heading back towards the main entrance of the packhouse, walking side by side without saying another word.

Since me and Fran were both unmated females and warriors in the pack, we were kindly obligated to live in the packhouse amongst the rest of the unmated wolves. Alpha also liked to keep me close for medical emergencies, should a pack member need immediate medical assistance.

Fran has been my best friend for as long as I could remember and felt more like a sister than a mere friend. We did practically everything together, from socializing, to training to always looking out for each other on the battlefield, whether it was an actual battlefield or a bar filled with rowdy men. We always had each other’s backs.

“Melena,” I heard a familiar female voice call out to me as soon as we stepped inside the packhouse, “how is he?” It was Melissa Adams, Otis’s mate, and our Beta female. Her lively brown eyes waited anxiously for my reply as she placed her right hand on my shoulder and rubbed caring circles into my tired muscles.

“He is stable…for now, but we will have to monitor him closely over the next 48 hours,” I replied while she nodded in understanding, “also, please thank Otis for me…he pulled me to safety today and I never really got the chance to thank him.”

She smiled brightly at the mention of her mate and how he had helped yet another pack member, “I will most definitely do that,” she said while squeezing my shoulder reassuringly and stepping out of the way so that we could pass. I was sure she must have seen the tired blue rings forming under my eyes and decided to question me some more a bit later after I have had some sleep.

Five minutes later, me and Fran walked into our separate rooms and immediately started to strip our heavy clothing and protective gear. Although we did not share a single room, we did share a room cluster, which was two single rooms connected to each other with a bathroom in the middle. Most of the time we just left all the doors open so it was one large, connected space and we could move around into each other’s areas quite freely.

I mindlessly started to run a bath, while she jumped into the shower. This was nothing new since it was our usual routine. While I was laying in the tub, she preferred to shower. That way she could dance around and sing like a crazed fool to the latest tune stuck in that bottle-blond head of hers, although I was pretty sure there would be no dancing for today.

“Doctor Keller needs me to pick up some supplies from the Lionheart National Zoo tomorrow, want to come with me?” I yelled over the sound of running water.

“Oh, no thanks, I have a date,” she answered nonchalantly.

“A date? With whom?”

Fran poked her head out of the shower and flashed me a bright smile, “Tony,” she said with a naughty wink, before disappearing back into the shower.

I groaned in frustration and slid down to submerge myself under the steaming surface.

Fran and Tony tended to hook up whenever the other got lonely, but neither of them ever took the next step in making the relationship official. I did not like the way they used each other, especially since they were not fated mates, something that I believed in with all my heart. Go ahead and call me a hopeless romantic because that was exactly what I was.

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