My Defender (Bewitched and Bewildered Book 8)(7)

By: Alanea Alder

Marjoram placed the mugs on the table and raised an arched brow at her. "Well..." she prompted.

"Director Redly advised me that I didn't look thin enough to do the presentation tonight, and because of my weight, I looked sloppy. I was told that I would not impress potential backers to ensure any fundraising."

Marjoram's nostrils flared. "Oh he did, did he?" She went to the refrigerator to keep her hands busy and pulled out the cream, placing it on the table before sitting down.

"That's when you quit?"

Ellie nodded. "And that's when I quit."

A devilish smile crossed Marjoram's lips. "And what did he say when he found out he would be losing all of your research?"

Eleanor gave her an answering smile. "He was still imploding when I walked out. I don't think he or the directors realized that the hospital doesn't own any of the research. They assumed that because I worked there, all of the research belonged to them. But I've been logging, time stamping, and cataloguing all of my results and experiments. I've done them all on my own time, with my own money. They can't claim a smidge of it."

When the coffee pot sounded that it was done, Marjoram rose gracefully, went to get the carafe, and poured them both a cup of coffee. She set the carafe on the stone hot plate in the middle of the table. "So what would you like to do next? I know you love working with children. I'm sure there are other hospitals around the country that would love to get their hands on you."

Ellie winced. It wasn't as easy as that. Because she didn't age like humans, she had to rotate through the hospitals where she worked. There were very few that actually did any good work for children. She'd been to all of them in the past fifty years, and she couldn't go back to them anytime soon. "I may have to work on my own for a while, Gram, maybe work at a small clinic or something. But before we figure that out, I had a phone call from Kari Delaney right after I left the hospital."

"The corporate girl?"

"Yep." Ellie added three packets of sugar and a lot of cream to her coffee. "She's in Noctem Falls now."

Marjoram stirred her coffee. "Is that the same girl you told me hated Noctem Falls with a passion?"

"Yeah, seems she went there because of the recent murders."

Marjoram clucked her tongue. "I told you we should have gone to Lycaonia. It isn't safe any more. I know there haven't been any deaths around here, but why tempt fate?"

"Actually, Kari asked if I could go to Noctem Falls."

"Why on earth would you go to the vampire city?"

"Kari said that some of the children there are sort of sick."

"There aren't any children in Noctem Falls." Her grandmother snorted. "As if those stuck up, dried up, old vampires could do anything other than stab each other in the backs."

Ellie laughed, and Marjoram chuckled. "You know what I mean. It's been a century since a child was born there. I think all of their reproductive organs have shriveled up."

"Gram, your prejudice is showing." Ellie wagged a finger at her grandmother. Marjoram just shrugged. She continued. "Prince Magnus has taken in a wolf pack. Evidently they lived close to where some of the murders took place, so he opened the city to the wolves."

Marjoram blinked. "The prince of the vampires allowed a wolf pack to take refuge in the city of the night? I never thought I'd see that happen."

"The wolf pack is the one with the children. From the symptoms Kari described, they sound sick, but it's probably something they ate."

Ellie sipped her coffee to hide her grin. Before staying home to take care of her, her grandmother had been a top-rated nurse. Marjoram frowned. "What symptoms?"

"Low-grade fever, achiness, and temper tantrums. They are fussy and can't seem to get to sleep."

"That sounds like what happens when a human child gets ill, but shifters don't get sick."

Ellie nodded in agreement. "You're absolutely right; shifter children never get sick, ever."

"What are you going to do?" Marjoram asked.

"If the children need me, I'll go. With any luck, I'll get there just to identify that they are all going through growth spurts. It's not like I have a job go back to anymore."

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