Sin of Silence (Sinner's Empire #1) - Nikita Slater Page 0,1

refusing to speak. If he died, they would lose their only lead to finding Krystoff.

Jozef stared at the door she went through. He needed a doctor. A woman would be easier to capture. No family on that continent, easier to get rid of when they were done with her. She was the one Jozef wanted.

Chapter Two

“Mom, I’m fine, really.”

Shaun took a long thirsty gulp of water before hurriedly wiping her mouth and putting the bottle back in the fridge. She flexed her shoulder blades, wincing a little at the crackling sound and the tight, pinched feeling in her neck. She was on day three of a four-day twelve-hour rotation. She shook her head. It wasn't like she stuck to her working hours. She worked when there was work to be done, and she went back to her tiny boarding room when she could no longer stand up and keep her eyes open.

“I read in the news that there was a bombing close to the hospital last night. Did you hear it?” Fatima asked anxiously over the phone.

Shaun frowned in concentration. She tried to get her tired brain to remember if anything had happened the evening before. Usually after long shifts she would go home and eat a quick, cold meal, take a lukewarm shower with appalling water pressure then pass out until her next shift began.

Still, she had to reassure her mother. It was the only way to keep Fatima sane while her daughter willingly ventured into the hearts of war zones. “No, Mom, it was nowhere near here. Trust me, I’d have noticed if a bomb went off near the hospital. We’re not all that close to the front lines, and the town is no longer being targeted.”

Shaun was telling the truth. Partly. It was true that the hospital wasn’t a target, but it was located closer to the front lines than Shaun knew her mother would be comfortable with. Luhansk, or Luhansk People’s Republic, was rebel-held, which automatically made the area more dangerous. The government couldn’t step in to provide law and order in the now lawless, rebel-held no-man’s-land.

“I hate that you aren’t safe at home.”

“I know, and I’m sorry, but this is what I need to be doing.” They’d had the same conversation dozens of times, almost without deviation. It was pointless, but Shaun understood her mother’s need to express her fear. “How’s your garden doing? Are the sunflowers taller than you yet?”

Fatima perked up and chatted about her garden for a few minutes, giving Shaun a chance to eat her snack of almonds and fruit before she got back to her rounds.

Doctors were scarce in that part of Ukraine, having been killed in the fighting or fleeing to safer areas as the war advanced, taking down entire cities in the process. Doctors Without Borders came in to help manage the humanitarian crisis on the front lines. Shaun, a neurosurgeon, had been called in from her home city of Montréal, Quebec, Canada, along with two American nurses and a Brazilian radiologist. They worked alongside the skeleton crew of hospital staff who had elected to stay behind.

The hours were long, the accommodations were awful, and the future was uncertain, but being part of the Doctors Without Borders team was one of the most fulfilling things Shaun had done with her life. She’d put herself through med school, she’d put her time in at the bottom of the pond in order to pay off student loans, and now she was free to pursue her passion: providing medical care to people in need ‒ people in desperate situations. Additionally, Doctors Without Borders was a chance to immerse herself in another country, culture and language. It was fulfilling on so many levels.

Shaun listened to her mother for a few more minutes, most of the conversation happening on Fatima’s side.

“Mom, I have to get back to work. Give Fitzy a kiss for me.”

Fatima laughed. “Only if I want my throat cut. That cat lives for you alone.”

Shaun smiled as she thought of her giant ornery orange tabby.

“Thanks for taking him for me.” Shaun blinked away tears as a wave of homesickness hit her. “Love you both.”

“Love you too,” Fatima said before hanging up.

Shaun had barely tucked her phone away when the door flung open. She jumped and turned as it banged into the wall.

“Doctor Patterson, oh thank goodness.” A harassed looking Janet, an American nurse, rushed into the break room. Her blond hair, which had been in a tight ponytail that morning, Copyright 2016 - 2024