Home > Branded (The Ignite Trilogy #2)(7)

Branded (The Ignite Trilogy #2)(7)
Author: Tara Sivec

“Sorry, I’ve got a lot of things going on,” I explain to her with a shake of my head as I grab the inventory sheet I had been working on before I zoned out and my thoughts were once again consumed by the events that happened in my bedroom a week earlier.

“I’d say,” Suzy says with a laugh. “I called your name about six times before you finally heard me. I just wanted to let you know I finished refilling the six mobile blood units on the floor. We’re getting low on infant heel lancets and tape.”

Grabbing a pen, I make note of the needed supplies on my chart and send Suzy off to check the mobile units in the outpatient labs. As the phlebotomist manager of the hospital, I’m directly responsible for the twenty-five phlebotomists who work here, including the ones who currently staff the two outpatient labs. It’s a mind-numbing job filled with endless paperwork and staff meetings and when I accepted the management position a few years ago, I thought it would be a nice change of pace.

Being a phlebotomist wasn’t exactly my little girl dream come true. When I thought about my future all those years ago, my dreams only consisted of escaping the nightmare of my reality any way I possibly could. After I graduated high school, I closed my eyes and randomly picked a job that required the least amount of schooling. I didn’t have a penny to my name and there was no way in hell I’d take a handout from anyone, even though Finnley’s family was more than willing to help. I worked full-time as a waitress at a local strip club, pulling in enough tips to go to school part-time until I got my certification. After I was hired at the hospital, I worked my ass off, taking on as many extra shifts as I could, and eventually climbed my way up the hospital’s corporate ladder, going back to school in the evenings to get my bachelor’s degree in medical management.

It might come as a surprise, but I don’t enjoy inflicting pain on other people. The first time I had to stick a needle into the pudgy little arm of a screaming baby, I almost threw up all over the frantic mother pacing back and forth next to me, and it never really got better. I probably should have quit after my third panic attack during my first week of work, but I wasn’t a quitter. I sucked it up and imagined it was my own skin I was piercing time after time. I pretended like the sharp prick of the needle sliding into skin and vein was happening to me instead of my patients. I took their pain and their quick, indrawn breaths and made them my own. I was fast and efficient and never needed more than one try to get the needle where it had to go. Now, my days are filled with staff meetings, making sure all shifts are covered, performance evaluations, continuing education and ordering stock. I rarely interact with patients unless we’re short on staff and there’s an emergency. It’s perfect for me since it seems that over the years, my bedside manner has gotten worse instead of better. I like to think that maybe it’s because I’m a woman in my thirties and age has made me irritable, but I know that’s not it. I’m angry every time I have to inflict pain on someone else. I’m pissed that I’m not on the receiving end of all those needle pokes because more often than not, I’m deserving of the pain, not the patient. Whenever I do something new to fuck up my life, I want to pick up a needle from the mobile unit and slam it into my skin, not smile at the nervous person in front of me and assure them it will just be a tiny pinch and over before they know it.

Pain isn’t just a tiny pinch and it shouldn’t be administered to the innocent. It is a living, breathing thing that latches on and spreads like poison ivy, making you claw at your skin and want to scream at the top of your lungs.

When I close my eyes, I can still feel the ghost of lips and fingers between my thighs and I have to cross my legs under my desk. I fucked everything up the other night. I wanted to push him away, but all I did was light the fire and now it’s raging out of control. My heartbeat quickens and I take a few deep, ragged breaths, squeezing the pen in my hand so hard that it snaps in half. I need to get out of here. I need to go home, to my bedroom, to the drawer in my nightstand and grab the items inside that will bring me the relief I need. I want the pain. I deserve the pain.

I can’t have the pain.

Thoughts of Finnley bombard me and guilt overwhelms me. My best friend, my sister, the woman who has always been there for me even when I didn’t deserve her love and support…the burn scars that take up most of her hips and thighs that make her self-conscious…I can’t do this. I WON’T do this. I refuse to disrespect her like this, but I need to do something to take the edge off.

My hands shake with the need to pick up the phone and call DJ, ask him to come over so I can have another turn, tasting, licking and sucking. I want stroke his cock, feel him thrusting inside of me and see the look on his face when he comes. He only let me have him in my mouth for a few minutes before he dragged me up from the floor and tossed me on the bed.

I stand up from my chair so quickly that it almost topples over. I still have an hour and a half left on my shift, but I don’t care. Suzy can handle things in my absence. If I don’t get out of here now, I’ll make yet another mistake and DJ will see right through me. I can’t let that happen.

Grabbing my purse from the top drawer of my desk, I race out of my office and down the hall, shouting to Suzy as I go that something came up and I have to leave. I barely keep my car under the speed limit as I drive home, swerving around slow drivers and gunning it through yellow lights. I shouldn’t go home, there’s too much temptation in that house. If I look at the bed I’ll remember every bad decision I made that night and every time I shouted his name as I came. If I look at the nightstand, I’ll think about the sweet relief lying right inside the top drawer, calling my name. Home is the last place I should be, but home is the only place I can go right now. I would never burden Finnley with my problems, and even I know that going to a bar alone for a few drinks right now would only end in disaster.

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