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Saved by Venom 3 (Grabbed)(9)

By:Lolita Lopez



Venom didn’t find the man’s attempt at humor very funny. Sick with worry, he stared at Dizzy’s unconscious form on the too-big exam table. He was taken back to the memories of Menace’s wife Naya bleeding out on that dirty warehouse floor. After she had survived a tricky and very long surgery, she had looked so frail and pale in the hospital bed aboard the Mercy. He didn’t like the thought that his first few hours with Dizzy had required medical intervention. He prayed this wasn’t an omen for their relationship.

After the longest two hours and seventeen minutes of his life, Venom followed Dizzy’s stretcher into the Valiant’s infirmary. To his surprise Vicious and Raze waited in the lobby area. He was glad to have his friends close by when the medics forced him to stay behind as they wheeled her into a trauma room for proper assessment.

Raze grasped his shoulder. “Are you all right?”

Venom nodded. “I’m worried about her.”

“From what I could see, she’s a pretty little thing. What’s her name?”

“Dizzy.”

Raze’s lopsided smile eased some of Venom’s tension. “Dizzy? Really? And she has vertigo?’

Venom groaned and rubbed the back of his neck. “I didn’t even think that’s why her family gave her that nickname. I just assumed it was short for some longer name.”

Vicious chuckled and slapped his back. “She’ll be fine. We can treat simple ailments like that. If her people weren’t so stubborn and would accept our offers of hospitals and clinics, she could have had that fixed as a child.”

Vicious wasn’t saying what they were all thinking. The rules of the Grab required medically defective brides who couldn’t be fixed to be dropped back on their worlds. That specific clause was written so broadly and could be interpreted so many different ways that it caused problems for quite a few couples. Vicious and Hallie were currently among them.

As far as Venom knew Hallie still hadn’t conceived. He had heard from Menace that the pair had been dragged in for testing. Apparently Vicious had been so furious about the way it upset Hallie that he’d threatened to retire immediately if anyone on the medical advisory board so much as looked at Hallie the wrong way again. There were rumors that General Thorn, a five-star general and member of the war council, had intervened and gotten the couple a waiver.

Venom wouldn’t be that lucky. He didn’t have friends and mentors on high like Vicious. If Dizzy couldn’t be fixed…

Fuck that. His thoughts turned angry. They would have to take her from his cold, dead hands. He had claimed her. He had collared her. He wanted her.

Clearly trying to keep his thoughts occupied, Raze asked, “How was it down there? Cold as hell?”

“Freezing,” Venom replied and followed his friends to a seating area. He glanced at Vicious. “I’m going to write an official report for you and the rest of the Grab committee. What I saw down there today was appalling.”

Vicious’ jaw tightened. “Tell me.”

As he described the women in their thin outfits and without proper footwear, Vicious’ expression grew dark. Hearing about the poor security didn’t make Raze very happy.

“I told you something like that was going to happen, Vee.” Raze shook his head. “I know you all think I’m paranoid and a worrier but that populace down there is ripe for rebellion. Once we start building this new base the shit is going to hit the fan. Repeatedly. We have to increase our SRU teams and get our military police better trained in riot procedures.”

Duly chastised, Vicious nodded. “Come to my office in the morning. Clear your schedule. We’ll get on this immediately.”

Risk, a trauma surgeon who had worked the front lines for years, came out of the exam area and approached them. Venom jumped to his feet. “How is she, Risk? Can you fix her?”

“Calm down, Venom. You’ll get your honeymoon. Just not tonight. We’re prepping her for surgery. It will be minimally invasive—lasers and sound waves.” Risk touched his ear and the area behind it. “We’ll go in here and work on the vestibular system. If you want to see the scans I can walk you through the procedure.”

Venom waved his hand. “No, I trust you to do what’s necessary.”

The surgeon pulled a white bride’s collar from the front pocket of his scrubs. “We had to take it off for the procedure. It’s an airway issue.”

Venom gripped the collar. He shot Risk a warning look. “Your men better not get any funny ideas about my woman. I’ll kick every ass in this place if one of you tries to claim her while she’s uncollared.”

Risk held up his hands. “Easy, Venom. We have no intention of taking your bride. Everyone knows that she belongs to you.”

Venom nodded but he wasn’t totally convinced. The competition to get on the Grab lists every quarter was harsh. The rules of their society made it possible for any man to steal away a new bride within the first thirty days that she was on the ship.

“I’m having them scan this area on her neck.” Risk touched the spot on his own skin. “The suturing there isn’t as primitive as what I’d expect from someone on her planet. I have a feeling she’s been treated by us before.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me.” Venom noticed Raze and Vicious’ confused looks. “She said she was caught in the embassy bombing. I think she took some shrapnel to the neck and shoulder.”

“That’s what it looks like to me,” the surgeon agreed. He extended a tablet and a stylus. “You know the drill. Scan your chip and sign if you give consent for her treatment.”

Venom did what was necessary. “How long will it take?”

“We’re waiting on some blood test results to check for any allergies she may have to our pharmaceuticals.” He glanced at his watch. “I’d say you’ve got a three-hour wait before you’re called back to recovery and four before they get her into a private room. I don’t expect that she’ll need to stay in the hospital longer than a night.”

Venom didn’t like the idea of being separated from her for so long but there was nothing else to be done. “If she wakes up before I see her, let her know I’m waiting. I don’t want her to think I’ve abandoned her up here in this strange new place.”

Risk’s expression softened. “I’ll make sure she knows you’re here.”

Alone with Vicious and Raze, Venom sank back down onto his seat. He tucked the collar back into the front pocket of his shirt. His fingers brushed something small and hard. So consumed with worry for Dizzy, he’d totally forgotten about his run-in with Devious. Hell!

Meeting Vicious’ gaze, he said, “Man, this place sure could use a visit from the janitor.”

Surprise contorted the general’s face. Understanding the silent code for the Shadow Force operatives on the Valiant and the guard ship Arctis, he said, “Well, there have been some issues with the cleaning crews since Orion shuffled the order of things aboard the Valiant.”

Venom got the message. Terror, the head Shadow Force operative in this sector, had been punted to the Arctis eight weeks earlier. Orion, the sky fleet admiral and the commander of the Valiant, had been furious when Terror had contravened a direct order to carry out one of his secret missions. The admiral had thrown Terror off the ship under threat of venting him into space if he didn’t comply.

“Let me call down to the janitor’s station and see what we can do.” Vicious rose from his seat and left in search of a secure connection. As far as Venom knew, Pierce—another covert operative—was still aboard the Valiant. He had caught a glimpse at the man a few weeks earlier.

Raze shot him a questioning look. Even though he trusted Raze with his life he didn’t dare divulge whom he had seen or what he had been given. “I can’t, Raze.”

“I understand.” And he did. There would be no weirdness or bad blood between them over this secret.

When Vicious returned, he lowered his voice. “They’re sending a cleaning crew. It might be a while.” He checked his watch and frowned. “I wish I could stay, Venom, but I have a meeting with Orion in twenty minutes.” Vicious squeezed his shoulder. “Keep me updated on your bride. I hope the surgery goes smoothly.” With a smile, he added, “Expect a dinner invitation from Hallie in the next few days. You know how she is about these things.”

“Thank you for coming. I appreciate it.”

After Vicious left, Raze drew Venom into a conversation about how they would conduct riot training and which soldiers might be good for SRU recruitment. His mind drifted from the task at hand to Dizzy. Was she in pain? Were the surgeons going to be successful? Would she suffer with troubling side effects?

“Ven?” Raze spoke loudly and broke through his thoughts.

“Sorry. What did you say?”

“I asked what you thought about extending an invite to Mayhem to try out for the team.”

Venom was taken aback by the suggestion. “Has he been cleared for duty?”

Raze nodded. “I watched his fitness trials last month. He’s in exceptionally good shape. That bionic leg is amazing. Unless he’s wearing shorts, you’d never know he lost the real one in an explosion.”

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