Undertow

Undertow by Amber Lynn Natusch Read Free Book Online

Book: Undertow by Amber Lynn Natusch Read Free Book Online
Authors: Amber Lynn Natusch
fortitude; looking weak was unacceptable. I was surprised that he even listened when I called him over.
    I pressed the back of my hand to his forehead and was met with a near inferno. I felt a frown tighten my cheeks as I stared into his eyes. I intended to get my thermometer out to confirm it, but I knew his fever was dangerously high just by the feel of him. My chest tightened slightly, knowing that if he was as ill as I presumed he was and if his condition deteriorated more rapidly than I could manage, he would be stuck in the middle of nowhere with little aid. I needed to fully examine him quickly to know more precisely what he faced. If I misdiagnosed him, it could cost him his life, and I knew it.
    “Come with me,” I demanded, grabbing his hand to drag him back down the hall to his quarters. Once there, I forced him onto the bed with the echoes of catcalls drifting into the room behind me, courtesy of the young greenhorn. I slammed the door to shut his calls out.
    “It's just a cold, Aesa. I'm fine.”
    “This cold of yours—” I started, sounding every bit as serious as I felt. “How long have you had it?”
    “I don't know,” he replied, slowly leaning back against his pillows. The second he did, an unrelenting cough erupted from him, forcing him back up again. He doubled over, trying to breathe between outbursts. I left to get him a bottle of water and retrieved my medical duffel on the way back. His face was red from the force of his coughing and he was holding his ribs.
    “Let me see those,” I demanded, trying to pry his hands away.
    “It's nothing—just a couple hairline fractures I got horsing around in town before the season started. I didn't want to tell your dad. I was afraid he would sideline me for the trip.”
    “Well, they're making it harder for you to clear out whatever it is you have.”
    I attempted to prop him against the wall of his bunk so he could rest, but he winced at the pressure I placed along his spine. His broken ribs story was officially confirmed.
    “Robbie, this is no ordinary cold you have,” I scolded, pulling out my stethoscope. “I don't need this thing to know that. You sound like an eighty-year-old smoker.”
    “It's really not that bad, Ice.”
    I shot him a stern look.
    “Sorry,” he said, lifting his arms carefully in surrender. “It's really not that bad, Doctor Ice.”
    “You guys are incorrigible,” I muttered under my breath while I lifted his shirt up gingerly, pressing the freezing cold end of my stethoscope to his chest. I hoped I wouldn't hear anything more than a little congestion when he inhaled deeply, but I knew that wasn't likely.
    “You could have at least warmed—”
    “Shhh!” I snapped as I moved the scope around to the various points of auscultation. Once I was satisfied that I'd collected the necessary information, I removed the stethoscope and placed it back in the bag, withdrawing the thermometer next.
    “That just goes in my mouth, right?” he asked, eyeing me dubiously from his semi-reclined position.
    “Keep it up and I'll put it somewhere else.”
    He smiled weakly in response.
    “Now is when you decide to get all freaky on me?” he joked. “I'm not really in the mood for it at this very moment.”
    I placed the thermometer in his mouth with a frown.
    “Robbie, I think you have pneumonia. It's hard to tell for sure—I can't exactly take a chest x-ray right now to confirm it—but even if you don't have that, you've got a really nasty bug. You need to rest and let me monitor you. If you don't, I'm afraid it's only going to get worse, and I don't exactly have a pharmacy on board. I can't do much other than monitor your condition and let Dad know if and when he needs to get the Coast Guard out here.”
    “The Coast Guard?” he slurred, trying to talk with the thermometer still in place. “Aesa, don't be so dramatic. I need some food and a little sleep. I'll be fine tomorrow.” He stood up quickly to continue his

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