Loaded for Bear (Bear Country Grizzlies Book 2)(6)

By: Layla Nash & Callista Ball

Kira took a shaky breath and slowly lowered her hands to her lap, though she made a face at the sticky mess on her fingers. She looked at them and opened her mouth, trying something like a smile. "How bad is it?"

Ethan had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. It was damn gruesome, blood all over her chin and teeth and still dribbling out of her lip. Even Simon coughed politely to cover a chuckle and turned away, hiding a smile. She looked a little like an extra from a b-grade zombie movie. Ethan cleared his throat and tried to sound professional. "Not that bad, I promise. Let me just get some gloves."

Kira half-groaned, half-moaned and covered her face again, flopping sideways and nearly falling off the bed. Simon traded looks with Ethan, then moved out of the way as his mate, Zoe, walked in, carrying a tablet and trying to ask Simon about credit card expenses. Ethan helped Kira sit up and she took a shaky breath, making a face as she lisped, "Thith feelth groth."

Zoe looked up, caught sight of Kira, paled, and turned on her heel to retreat. Simon sighed, "She doesn't like blood. Call if you need any help," and went after her.

Ethan pulled on latex gloves and retrieved a bag of saline and a couple of bowls, trying not to inhale too deeply from the girl's hair. He'd already knocked out some of her teeth; he didn't want to be too creepy. He cleared his throat as he tilted her chin up and started to rinse away the blood, having her hold the bowl under her chin to catch most of it. "I'm very sorry for this. Really."

"That'th okay," she said with a sigh, though it came out a little wobbly with her rapidly-swelling lip. "I probably would have done it to myself."

"You should get a better car." Ethan frowned and switched out the pans, leaning close to shine a flashlight into her mouth and check her teeth after having her rinse out her mouth. "I'm surprised that one made it up here at all."

"Just a grad student," she said, blinking and wrinkling her nose as he fussed with her lip and jaw. "No money."

He tried not to smile at the unevenly mumbled words. "There are a couple of farm trucks for sale down in Bear Creek. I'm sure we can trade yours in and at least get you something with a little more horsepower."

Her dark eyebrow arched, then she flinched away from his touch as he poked her lip. "I won't be here long enough to need a truck. As long as the car can get down the mountain, I should be fine."

Ethan's breath caught. Of course. She was just here for a couple of weeks. And even though he'd been looking forward to the grad student's departure, he and his bear started to fear losing Kira too soon. There was something about her...

He cleared his throat. "Right. Of course. You probably don't need horsepower on campus, right?"

She frowned, though it looked painful, and managed a shrug. "Right."

Ethan willed away regret and the urge to ask her to stay, and focused on cleaning the rest of the blood off her face and from around her teeth, trying to gauge whether any had been loosened. It looked as if she'd only split her lip and probably bit her cheek, though there had been so much blood... He'd been sure she'd lost a tooth or three. He forced a smile, hoping the bear would settle down, and switched out his gloves for a fresh pair. "I'll just put a little something on your lip, to keep it from bleeding, then you should be good to go. We have anti-inflammatories and some pain killers as well. How's your head?"

"A little woozy," she said, and he glanced at her pupils once more. Back to normal, and sparkling like emeralds as well. Ethan wondered why he'd thought they were more like jade. Strange. Kira blinked and started to pat at her jaw. "Although I think the pain will kick in eventually, it wasn't as bad as it looked. I think."

"Well, we might have to delay a day," Ethan said, applying a butterfly closure to where her lip split, trying to keep the wound together so she wouldn't end up with a gnarly scar, and might still be able to eat without agonizing pain in every bite. "Just to make sure you don't have a concussion or anything."

"I'll be fine." She tried to smile and winced, then made a face. "But an icepack for my chin would be nice."

Ethan finished up with her lip and retrieved an ice pack, wrapping it up in a towel before he handed it to her and started to clean everything up. He felt her eyes on him, her gaze silent and watchful. After a while, she said, "Do you have to do this stuff a lot? Medical stuff, I mean."