Outside In

Page 6


My mouth formed an automatic smile whenever I thought of Sheepy and his mother. The stuffed animal family had a special place in my heart. “I hope Sheepy and Mama Sheepy weren’t damaged.”

“They’re fine. I checked on them before coming here. I do have my priorities straight,” he teased.

I swatted him on the shoulder and he winced. Yanking his collar down, I exposed a fist-sized purple bruise.

He peeled my fingers from his shirt. “It’s okay. No broken bones.”

“How did you get hurt?” I asked.

“I was inspecting the wiring on level five with Logan and the floor just heaved, tossing us across the room. He hit his head, but it’s a minor concussion.”

“Heaved?”

“An explosion happened in the power plant and we stood directly above it,” he said.

“Does anyone know what set it off?”

“No. That’s for another week.” He straightened his shirt and smoothed his black hair. Since the rebellion, Riley had let it grow. It smelled of shampoo. “Right now attending to the wounded and finding missing people is the main concern.”

“Have you slept?”

He nodded to the couch. “I arrived just after you went to bed. I didn’t want to wake you, so I showered and slept here. I’ve been helping Doctor Lamont.”

Which reminded me. I stepped away from him, glancing around, but Lamont had left. “I should…”

Riley stared at me in horror. Not my face, but my clothes. Dried blood stained almost all the white fabric, which had stiffened.

“Relax, it’s not mine.”

He pointed to a wet patch on my forearm. “And that?”

“Just a cut. I need to shower and—”

Unwinding the tattered bandage, he exposed the gash. I hissed in pain when he touched it.

“Come on.” He grabbed my hand and pulled me from the apartment.

Patients recovering from their injuries lay on the floor in Lamont’s office and in the exam room. Only a thin walkway remained free. At the examination table, Lamont finished with a young girl. The girl’s mother, who hovered nearby, swept the girl into her arms and carried her out.

“Since you refused to get some rest, you might as well do Trella next,” Riley said to Lamont.

He had been more forgiving of her betrayal. Which didn’t make sense to me. His mother had been recycled when he was little because of her. Well, not directly. But with Lamont spying for the Pop Cops, the Force of Ten had failed. The consequences had been high. My father—if Karla Trava had been telling the truth about me—Riley’s mother and two others had been recycled.

Lamont claimed she had spied to protect her daughter, Sadie, which would be me if Karla’s word could be trusted. Except Karla said she recycled Sadie along with Lamont’s husband afterward. The lesson that should have been learned—don’t trust Karla or her word.

Yet when the rebels were on the verge of winning, Karla told Lamont her daughter had really been living in the lower levels as a scrub. Once again Karla threatened to harm Sadie unless Lamont helped Karla stop the rebellion.

How could such an intelligent woman fall for the same trick twice? When Karla had pointed to me as the long lost Sadie, Lamont had refused to believe her. It had been too coincidental. And I agreed.

“Sit up on the table,” Lamont said to me.

I stared at her. Deep lines of exhaustion etched her pale face. She moved as if she’d shatter at any harsh sound.

“You’re in no condition. Go to bed before you do more harm than good.” I snapped my mouth shut before I said “again.” As a doctor, she might be one of the best, but as a decent, reliable person, she failed.

“But your arm—”

“I can do it.”

“One handed?”

“Riley will help. We’ll keep an eye on everyone for you. If there’s an emergency, we’ll wake you.” I gave Riley a significant look.

Understanding my hint, he released my hand and led Lamont back to her bedroom.

I sorted supplies. Since the majority of the injuries from the accident had been cuts, we were low on sutures. I would need to restock them.

“Why did she listen to you and not me?” Riley asked when he returned.

I shrugged. “She thinks I’d be a good doctor.”

“Like her?”

“Don’t start.” I almost growled at him.

He kept pestering me to test my blood. I couldn’t make him understand that the result wouldn’t change my opinion of her.

“We’re running out of supplies. Has anyone opened all the crates found in the Expanse?” I asked.

“Not yet.”

“Somebody should go through the crates and inventory them.”

“Good idea, you should bring it up at the next Committee meeting. Oh, wait.” He smacked his head as if remembering something. “Since it’s a good idea, it will be promptly ignored.”

“They have a ton of decisions to make. Just give them time to sort everything out.”

“You’re defending them?” Riley cupped my cheek. “Are you feeling ill? Headache? Fever?”

I swatted his hand away. “I’m serious.”

“And this change in opinion is due to…”

“I realized they have a tough job and I shouldn’t be so critical. Especially since I’m no longer a part of the Committee.”

He gaped at me. “What did you just say?”