Burning Down Montana – Chapter Two



Vesta could smell.   She could smell the bleach,  the aerosol of linen and the stench of awful hospital food.  Hospitals, plainly, sucked, and she hated them.  She immediately wanted out.  In her mind, she could feel herself turning to move, as if she could walk away from the smell and the hospital.   Her body, however, didn’t respond quite the way she had imagined.  Her arms and legs hit metal.  Well son of a bitch.

“Are you trying to go somewhere pet?”  Ah, she could hear too, and she could hear a man with an English accent calling a her a fucking pet? She tried to turn toward the direction of the voice only to have searing pain tear through her left side.   She couldn’t scream,  but the pain was enough to spring tears to her eyes and she felt the salty water run down hehr cheeks.

“Ahh pet, don’t cry.    Don’t move either, its going to hurt.”   She could hear the voice had gotten closer,  and she was in no condition to protest as she felt large,  warm fingers swipe away the tears from her cheeks.  There was an odd comfort in his touch,  he must have been a doctor, no one had ever touched her and made her feel safe.   She opened her eyes, not that it did her any good as she couldn’t see past the thin layer of guaze.  The blinding flourescnet lights overhead made the doctor look like a very big blur.

“Oh my, damnit Vesta!”   at the sound of her brother’s voice, she wanted to turn and smile, but she held back, remembering what the last attempt to move did to her.

“Doc, what happened?”

“I’m not the doctor.”

“The why are you in scrubs man and why the fuck are you touching my sister?”  Vinny sounded ready to fight.

“Easy now good fellow.  My shirt I used stop your sister’s wound from bleeding, they gave me the scrubs to cover up.”

“You’re not talking fast enough.”  Vesta could tell Vinny was growling. “And if you aren’t the doctor, get your damn hands off my sister’s face.”   Vesta felt the loss of the man’s fingers on her skin.   I was kind of getting used to those hands.

“Look, I was the first one on the bloody scene.  I helped… look I told Felix to call you.  He’s around here somewhere. I rode with Vesta in the ambulance.”

“And you are?”

“Brighton Thorn.”

“And that makes you, what? Are you on her crew? Why was there an explosion?”

Vesta thought damn,  the  explosion.   She wouldn’t be able to find work in this town again.   Not that Silver Spring, Montana would be on her top ten list of places to work, but she couldn’t afford a bad reputation.

“I’m not a part of her crew, I just arrived on time.  Perhaps you should talk to a doctor, Mr. St. James.   I’ll leave you two alone.”

“Yeah, you do that.”   Vesta couldn’t hear the sound of Brighton’s feet, but she knew he must have gone when she felt Vinny’s hands on hers. “Aww Vessie, you look like shit.”  At the sound of her childhood nickname, Vesta tried to swat at her brother. “Ok I can see you are still Vessie. ”  She could hear the relief in her brother’s chuckle.

“Ah, I see the patient is awake.” Finally, someone he isn’t calling her ‘pet’ or stupid nicknames that reminded her of parts to a beat up old car. “Let’s remove this gauze and these tubes, shall we?”  As someone removed the tubes from her nose and the bandage was taken from around her head, Vesta felt her world get brighter.   “Ah now, that’s better.  Nurse, get the patient some water.  I’m Dr.  Daniels.  Now, Mr. St. James, your sister was near a gas explosion.  She inhaled some fumes, and she sustained a pretty big gash from some flying shards, but she is in good health.  She will be a bit sore, but lucky for you my son’s friend found her.  I can assure you that Lieutanent Thorn applied all of his emergency training to help your sister at the scene.  You will want to rest here for a few days and then we will see if you will be cleared to travel.”

The doctor was sharp and to the the point.  He flashed  his pen light in Vesta’s eyes, checked her pulse and signed off on a clipboard.  Within minutes, he was gone.

Vesta still didn’t like hospitals, but if all doctors behaved like Dr. Daniels,  maybe they wouldn’t have sucked too badly.  She drank some water and finally looked at her brother.  His eyes were puffy.   She could tell he hadn’t had any sleep.   Being a private jet pilot in Las Vegas meant long hours and weirder clients.

“You bring the Cessna?”   she croaked.

“Did you think I was going to wait on a commercial flight when I have my own plane?”

“Then you should get some sleep, I’m fine.”  She knew her brother probably broke every aviation rule to get to her before the night was over.

“You do know I’m older than you right?”  He crossed his arms at the foot of her hospital bed.  She knew that stance, and she wasn’t going to waver.

“By only seven minutes Vin.   I need to talk to Felix and see how bad we got railed and nailed.”  Railed and nailed was a term they used when something went wrong.  They would usually get blamed, get yelled at and then get fined.

“As your older brother, I’m telling you to rest, stop acting like nothing is wrong with you and I will talk to Felix.  Right now, I’m going to stand right here.”

“Where’d the guy go?”

“What guy?” Vinny’s head cocked to the side.   If she could roll her eyes, she would have, but the thought of pain kept her still.

“English accent, not the doctor, that guy.”

“Why?”   Vinny picked some stupid times to get protective.

“To thank him, Mr. Rude. I would like to thank him.”  She didn’t know why she wanted to thank the man, but she felt the need to say something to him.

“You should be saving your voice, and resting.”

“There is nothing wrong with my voice and you have no problem with me talking to you.”

“I’m related.”


“Later ok Vesta?  Why don’t you just rest?  I’ll go find him and Felix if you promise me not to try to escape or bark orders at anyone.”

Vesta watched her brother walk out of the hospital room and let out a sigh when he was gone.   Truthfully, she’d been scared witless and needed time to compose herself before Felix came back.  She’d known there were risks being involved in this business,  but so far, she’d been pretty lucky in her fate.  In the aftermath, the reality of being in harm’s way shook her.

“Excuse me, may I enter?”  She didn’t have to turn to the door to know that voice.  It was him.

“Please do,”  Vesta couldn’t be bothered to sit up straight, she just didn’t have the strength to make any movements.  She lay patiently on her back, slightly elevated thanks to the gentle nurse that snuck out of the room as soon as the man hovered into her view.

Whoa.  She couldn’t get past what she was seeing.    This hero of hers was more out of a fairy tale than she first imagined.   His chest alone was wider than her hospital bed.  His ashen blonde hair was wavy, thick and past his ears.   His deep tan practically glowed in the florescent lamps.   Yet it was his eyes that made her swallow hard.  They were a stunning shade of violet with amber colored patterns coursing through them.  Whoa.

“I’m Brighton Thorn, I wanted to make sure you were all right.”

“I’m quite fine Lieutenant Thorn,”  She noticed his whole body became erect, as if someone just adjusted his spine. “The doc told me. Sorry.”

“That’s quite ok. Doctor Daniels has known me for years, and he doesn’t always remember my first name isn’t Lieutenant.  Call me Brighton, please, I’m no longer in the Royal Marines.”   Even with his mouth in a frown, she could see the fullness of his bottom lip.  He has really kissable lips.  Her own thoughts stilled her and she forgot for a moment why she wanted to see the man.

“I wanted to say thanks.  I heard you helped me and I just wanted to…”  he put one finger over her mouth and Vesta immediately closed her mouth.  God please don’t let this man be around when Vinny is trying to prove a point.  I’ve never be silenced so easily. 

“No thanks needed, pet.” His eyes twinkled, which made their unique color even more captivating.  No way was she going to get gush over this guy, especially with him calling her a damn pet.

“Vesta.”    He quirked an eyebrow at her and removed his hand from her lips.  Thank God, I was two seconds away from licking that damn finger.  Oh God! Did I just think that? It’s the drugs.  It has to be the drugs, I couldn’t have possibly just had that thought.


“Vesta, my name is Vesta, not pet.”

His lips cracked into a smile, then he had the audacity to laugh at her.  What was so damned funny? 

“Boss you wanted to see me?”   Felix couldn’t have had better timing.     She couldn’t turn his direction but she just knew  he was standing in the doorway, wringing that cap of his into knots.

“What’s the damage?”  She was never one to sit back and let anyone do her job.

“Don’t know.  That propane tank was checked ten times before it went out.   Cops are thinking it was some kids that may have loosened the knobs.  The ATF team will be investigating.  We can’t leave until they finish the report.”

“Fucking shit.” She murmured.  She didn’t need the ATF up her ass and she definitely didn’t need a restriction.

“What do you mean you can’t leave?”   Brighton’s voice pulled her out of her thoughts of reports and special licenses.

“It means when we fuck up, we can’t go anywhere because we might be crazy ass arsonists who like to start shit like some damned pyromaniacs.”  Damn, I can’t afford to be sidelined right now.  She needed to get back to Las Vegas as soon as she could.  She needed to book more shows before this incident traveled the circles.

“I see.  Well I’ll excuse myself.  See you later, pet.”   The look she gave him made most people back off and once she made a man pee his pants.  This guy looked down at her, laughed, turned on his heel and walked out the door.   Really! Good, now she can get down to business without worrying about his distracting eyes.  Ok,  I’m not dead. I can appreciate a good looking man. I just don’t have time for them.  Even as she thought those thoughts, she knew that Brighton Thorn was more than just a good looking man.


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