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I Spy Something Christmas is a smartly written novelette with great dialog that moves the characters relationship onto a much stronger foundation. I highly recommend it.

Wave for Reviews by Jessewave
Nothing says Christmas like a bullet with your name on it. Mark is used to death and danger. Stephen will never be okay with violence — or Mark’s attitude toward it.
Like the holidays weren’t tough enough on a romance.

(Included in the print collection In From the Cold: The I Spy Stories)

I don’t trust any man who says if he had the chance to live his life over, he wouldn’t do it all differently

Right. Maybe not all, maybe not everything, but if I had it all to do again, I’d make bloody well sure I woke up fewer times in hospital. Although finding Stephen sitting at my bedside was some compensation for the pounding head and throbbing shoulder.

“How do you feel?” His voice was low, his green eyes dark and unsmiling.

I nodded, licked my lips, got out, “Brilliant. What happened?”

I rather thought I knew what had happened, seeing that it wasn’t the first time it had happened — so Stephen’s terse, “Someone shot you,” wasn’t the shock it might have been. Or perhaps should have been.

“You’re going to be fine,” Stephen added reassuringly. He probably needed the reassurance more than I did. This wasn’t routine for him. Actually, it wasn’t routine for me either anymore, not since I gave up the spy game six months ago and settled down so Stephen could make an honest man of me.

“I’m all right.” I squeezed his hand and he squeezed back.

The room was as dark as hospital rooms get — not particularly dark — it was clearly very late. The window across from the bed offered a view of lightless night. Now and again white splotches hit the glass and vanished. It was snowing again.
After a time it occurred to me to ask, “Who shot me?”

“You don’t remember?”

I put a hand up to my head. There was a plaster over my left temple, and stitches beneath the adhesive bandage. “No. What happened?”

Stephen was watching me closely. “That’s what the campus police and the sheriff’s office would like to know.”

“It happened at the university?”

“Yes.”

“Was anyone else hurt?”

“No.”

I waited for him to go on, but he said, “I’m not supposed to discuss it with you until you’ve given your statement.”

Confusing. Very.

“It’s going to be a brief statement. The last I recall I was sitting in Smith Library.”

“I see. That’s the official explanation?” Stephen sounded very Southern Gentleman. His face gave nothing away, which in itself was a tell. My heart sank. I’d hoped the old distrust and disappointment were behind us.

“It’s the only explanation.”

He didn’t believe me. He was too polite to say so, my being injured and all, but I was getting to know Stephen pretty well by now.

“I don’t lie to you, Stephen.”

He nodded. He still held my hand, so I preferred to concentrate on what he was communicating by touch. His thumb feathered across my knuckles. Shhh. Shhh now…

My head was still thumping away in time to my heartbeats. More than anything I wanted to close my eyes and forget my troubles for a while. But that was not an option.

I said, “When I can get out of here?”

“Honey, you’re not going anywhere.” Stephen sounded definite on that score. “You’ve got a concussion. They’re going to keep you at least forty eight hours for observation and tests.”

“No. Not necessary.”

“It’s absolutely necessary.”

“I’m not spending the night here. I hate hospitals.”

“I know,” Stephen said dryly. “It’s a little awkward, me being a doctor and all.”

I sputtered a laugh and sat up gingerly. I couldn’t have been too concussed since I didn’t fall over again, but the blood thudded in my temples and my stomach gave a dangerous lurch. I was out of practice, that was the trouble.

Stephen let go of my hand and stood over me. He put his hands on my shoulders–my good shoulder anyway–trying to press me back in the hospital bed, but I wasn’t having any of it, and he wasn’t prepared to wrestle me down. “Mark, this is idiotic. It’s after midnight.”

“Then it’s high time we were home and in bed.” I held my arm with the IV out to him. “Will you do the honors or shall I?”

He swore under his breath then gently, deftly unhooked me. I stood up, gripping the bed rail for support.
“Mark–“

“I know. Can you take care of everything? Fill out the paperwork? Talk to whoever you have to talk to.”

“It doesn’t work like that!”

But it did and we both knew it. “Stephen, I need your co–help. I can’t sleep here. I want to go home.” That was true, but more to the point, until I knew what had happened to me–and why–I needed to be on my own turf where I could more effectively assess and respond to potential threat.