Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:
Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostępny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacji Legimi na:
Artwork by Moira Nelligar
Copyright 2018 @ Pornelope
~~ All characters in this book are over 18. ~~
He woke up feeling…strange.
A hospital, he thought in bleary confusion. I’m in a hospital.
The faint tang of antiseptic was unmistakable, and it left a bitter taste in the back of his mouth. Or was that from the plastic tube that had been shoved down his throat until he’d awoken with a strangled gasp, and all the machines they’d had hooked to his body had lit up like a Christmas tree?
They were humming along now in a steady beep-beep pattern that should have comforted him, but didn’t. Something still felt…wrong.
His head was too heavy, and his body was too light. The heaviness, he knew because a doctor had explained it to him, was because his head was still wrapped in bandages—the last lingering effects of the plastic surgery he’d undergone while he was unconscious. He’d been riddled with bullet holes from that drive-by shooting; it was a miracle he’d survived.
“Your body will be stiff and clumsy for a while, even though we’ve been exercising your muscles every day to keep them from atrophying,” the doctor had explained. “You’ve been in a coma for several weeks, Charlotte.”
“Charlie.” He’d managed to croak the single word in a voice that was harsh and rusty from disuse.
“Charlie.” The doctor had accepted his correction without blinking. “To be perfectly honest, no one ever expected you to wake up. Coma victims usually don’t, if they’re gone for more than a few days. But you beat the odds, so I’d say your guardian angel has been doing a fine job.
“The bandages can come off…tomorrow,” he’d decided, after consulting a chart at the foot of Charlie’s bed. “The team who worked on you is first-rate; you’ll be pleased with the results.
“We’ll remove the catheter as soon as you’re strong enough to stand. And the intravenous feeding can stop once you can keep solid foods down.
“I won’t lie to you, Charlie,” he’d added, flashing him a smile that was somehow both somber and elated. “You’re in for a few tough weeks as your body learns to live again. You’ll have to relearn everything—maybe even how to swallow without gagging. You’ll be weak as a kitten at first, and it will all be a struggle.
“But you’re alive. You’ve already won 99% of the battle. If you remember that whenever you’re tired and frustrated, you’ll come through with flying colors.
“Now I want you to get some rest.” He’d patted Charlie’s hand in a manner that had seemed…oddly intimate. “You’ll feel stronger when you wake up. We’ll talk again then, and start planning your physical therapy. You’ll be up and walking around in no time.”
He’d slept, because his traitorous body had given him no choice. It had dragged him under, and kept him there for a solid twelve hours.
When he finally struggled back up to the surface, Dr. Steyn was patiently waiting by his bed. “Welcome back, Charlie,” he exclaimed, and patted his hand again. “How do you feel this morning?”
His throat was too sore to answer; he managed a faint smile and nod.
“Excellent. Ready to get those bandages off?”
When Charlie nodded again, Steyn glanced over his shoulder. “Nurse, will you please tell Dr. Phillips that his patient is awake, and eager to get started?”
“Of course, doctor.” The woman flashed Charlie a warm smile, then glided quietly from the room.
“After your grand unveiling,” Steyn continued, winking kindly at Charlie, “we’ll see about sitting you up. You may experience some nausea, but that’s perfectly normal. If you have any problems, we’ll administer some Zofran.
“Ah, here’s Dr. Phillips now. Morning, Rich.”
“Morning, Alex.” Phillips shook hands with his colleague, then turned keen eyes in Charlie’s direction. “Good morning, Charlie. How are you feeling?”
His throat still didn’t want to work, so Charlie contented himself with a third faint nod.
It seemed to satisfy Phillips. “Wonderful. Then let’s get right to work. I know you must be worried about the damage to your face, but I can assure you that you won’t have any scars.” As he spoke, he reached for a gleaming pair of surgical scissors on the nearby instrument table. “Your skin will be a bit pale at first, because it’s been bandaged for so long…but it shouldn’t take you long to regain that lovely tan.”
Lovely tan? Charlie nearly pulled away in startled confusion. Why was Phillips practically flirting with him? And why wasn’t Dr. Steyn chiding him for such unprofessional behavior? Were they both gay? Was that why Steyn had patted his hand so…intimately?
One edge of the blunted scissors slid beneath the multiple layers of gauze, and moved coolly over his skin. Snip, snip, snip. Fresh air wafted over his jaw, his cheekbones, his temples as Phillips eased the surgical cloth free.
He had a quick moment’s fear that he’d look like some horrible Frankenstein monster…but the smug satisfaction on the surgeon’s angular face reassured him.
Beside him, Steyn nodded his enthusiastic approval. The attending nurse simply stared in rapt admiration.
Charlie began to squirm uncomfortably. He’d never been vain about his appearance; why were they staring at him as though he was a drop-dead gorgeous Greek god?
Then Phillips held up a mirror so he could see himself…and his entire world shattered.
The face staring back at him was drop-dead gorgeous, all right. But it wasn’t Charlie’s face. It was a woman’s.
It wasn’t possible! There had to be some mistake!
Maybe it was just an awful nightmare, and he’d awaken soon. But it didn’t feel like a dream…he was weak and disoriented, but lucid. Or at least as lucid as he could be under the circumstances.
No, it couldn’t be true. It just couldn’t!
Maybe he’d died, and this was some twisted version of Hell.
His first instinct was to panic…to scream in protest, and swat the mirror away before it could attack him like some ravening beast. Instead he laid there, frozen, barely able to breathe. The eyes staring back at him were huge and terrified. The fact that they were now a rich midnight blue, not a familiar chocolate-brown, barely even registered.
That’s not me. It can’t be! It’s all some kind of incredible trick…
But why? Who would play such a cruel joke on him?
He managed to lift one shaking hand, and it touched his cheek. The hand was not his own; it was long-fingered and delicate. Someone had taken the time to maintain the fingernails; they were neatly trimmed, and painted a rather pretty shade of coral.
“I don’t understand.” He forced the words out, and jolted at the low, husky feminine voice that emerged.
The woman was beautiful—stunningly beautiful, he realized as he stared again in numb disbelief. And her mouth had moved in perfect unison with his. Her fingers had moved along her cheek when he’d touched his face.
It couldn’t be true…it couldn’t!
But somehow, unbelievably, it was.
Charles Anthony Nelson was living in a woman’s body.
After they left him alone to rest, he thought and thought and thought.
If it wasn’t an elaborate prank…after all, who would go to such great lengths to jerk his chain, and why?...then he must be hallucinating. Or caught in the grip of the world’s most terrifying nightmare. Or maybe he’d died and gone to Hell…something he’d never believed in before, but he was rapidly revising his opinion.
Since it didn’t feel like a fever-dream or a nightmare, Hell seemed the most likely scenario.
He’d always figured that Heaven and Hell were a lot of superstitious nonsense. But if they did exist, wouldn’t they logically be tailored to each person’s greatest hopes or fears? The concert pianist would perform flawlessly for the angels, or suffer broken fingers on an out-of-tune Steinway before the devils. The pro athlete would win endless Olympic medals…or stumble and stagger like a drunken moron.
Charlie wasn’t a professional anything…but until he’d gone down in that random shooting, he’d been completely masculine. Broad shoulders, skilled in woodworking and auto mechanics, intelligent without being an arrogant snob about it. And, damn it, highly skilled in bed. He’d always made the girl cum hard multiple times…always!
Nothing could possibly be worse than suddenly being trapped in a blonde bimbo’s voluptuous body!