My Defender (Bewitched and Bewildered Book 8)(5)

By: Alanea Alder

Ellie's insides were shaking. She was afraid that if she opened her mouth, she was going to burst into tears. She'd never been so humiliated and angry in her life. She was used to being treated shoddily, but this was the first time someone had treated her differently at work. Usually, the insults were small things she'd learned to deal with throughout her life, like men never holding the door open for her, the horrible sidelong judgmental glances she received at restaurants when she ordered dessert, or the hateful and snide remarks she couldn't help but overhear from other women she passed on the street.

Gathering her strength around her she stood. "I quit." She swallowed repeatedly to keep from crying.

His eyes widened in surprise. "You can't do that."

"Oh yes I can, and I'm taking my research with me."

His face mottled red with anger as he stood. "You can't take that research; we own it!"

She shook her head, taking a step back from his anger. "No, you don't. All of the experiments, all the equipment, all of the time spent working on it was done in my own personal lab. True, I do work here, but the project was done on my own time. I own every single patent. If you continue with tonight's presentation without my support I'll... I'll... I'll sue!"

Well, her gram would sue; she'd faint at the idea of going to a lawyer.

"You can't do this!" he screamed.

"Watch me," she challenged. She quickly opened the door and walked out. Luckily, since most of her research and work had been done in her own home, there wasn't much to pack at the hospital. She hung her hospital coat with badge in her locker, grabbed her purse, and walked out through the main entrance's sliding glass doors. She would miss her patients but she knew her time at the hospital was over.

She managed to hold it together until she got to her car, and in the confines of her own bubble, she broke down. Most of her tears were of impotent frustration. No matter what she did, how much good she thought she was doing, it all came back to how she looked.

That was why she'd stopped dating. She had given up the dream of ever having a family of her own. Helping other people's children eased the pain in her heart. Sniffling, she wiped her eyes. It might take her longer to complete her project, especially doing it on her own, but she would continue her research.

She was about to start the car when her phone rang. Glancing down, she smiled and answered the phone. "Hey Kari. Why on earth are you calling me first thing in the morning?" she asked.

"Hey Ellie. I sort of have a job for you."

Ellie smiled at the use of the nickname, only her close friends and her gram called her Ellie. "I'm not a personal assistant, Kari."

"No, it is nothing like that. I do not know if you are aware, but I am now in Noctem Falls."

Ellie pulled the phone away from her ear and double-checked to make sure that she was talking to Kari. She put the phone next to her ear again. "This is Kari right? Kari Delaney, the one who swore that all the evils of the world crawled out from the depths of Noctem Falls? That Kari?"

Her friend laughed. "Yes, it is I. Avery and I came here, and we both found our mates. It looks like we are here to stay."

Ellie smiled wide. "That's wonderful news! Congratulations!" She was so happy for her friend. If there was one person that understood her lonely single life, it was Kari. "So if it's not being a personal assistant, how can I help you?"

"Noctem Falls recently took in a pack of refugee wolves. I am not sure how abreast you are on current events, but in some places it is not safe to be out on your own anymore. Since there were a high number of murders around the town where the wolves lived, they moved everyone to Noctem Falls for safety. It is the pack's children that are not feeling well."

Ellie frowned. "Kari, shifter children don't get sick, ever."

"I know. Trust me, we all know, but that does not change the fact that they are exhibiting symptoms."

"What are the symptoms?"

"We do not have much to go on. Dr. St. John says he cannot determine if they have a fever. He says shifter children run warm, but far as we can tell, they are having trouble sleeping. They are also complaining of being achy, have had weeping fits, and out-of-character aggressive tantrums."

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