Gentleman Sinner - Jodi Ellen Malpas

Chapter 1

I grapple with the fingers clawed around my neck, fighting to pry them away. The strength behind their hold defies reason, and it’s beginning to make me sweat. My windpipe is being crushed, making me gasp for breath. Fucking hell, he’s going to strangle me to death. Flashbacks bombard me – his face, his voice loaded with evil intent.

I’m in a hospital, I remind myself. I’m safe in a hospital. The reminder is hard to believe when you’re choking to death. With no other option left, I lunge for the red emergency button above his bed, smashing my fist into it before trying again to pry his fingers away from my neck.

‘Izzy!’ I hear my name being shouted, and suddenly more hands are around my throat, helping me. ‘Frank, let her go,’ Susan warns, as stern as usual. ‘Some help would be good, Pam!’

Pam appears, too, forcing Frank back to the bed by his shoulders. I nearly land on my arse when I’m released from the old man’s clutches, his long fingernails dragging across the delicate flesh of my neck as he’s forced away. Staggering back, I gasp for oxygen, drinking it down urgently as I leave Susan and Pam to calm Frank down.

My hands smooth over the side of my neck, the sting making me hiss a little. ‘Shit,’ I breathe, checking the tips of my fingers for blood. There’s none, but, Jesus, it stings like hell. Frank has a few pointless shouts before relenting to the small army of nurses and flopping back on his bed, huffing and moaning about being held prisoner.

‘Now, now, Frank,’ Susan placates him, sounding all jolly. ‘That wasn’t very nice, was it?’ She pats the covers around his legs. ‘Izzy was only trying to help you.’

‘Sheila will be wondering where I am,’ Frank barks, pointing a bent finger at Susan before turning it on me. ‘You Nazis! You can’t keep me here!’

Pam gives me a concerned look, and I shake my head, telling her I’m fine, before I straighten myself out and move in to help Susan.

‘Let’s get you well and you can go home,’ I say soothingly. I pour him some water and hand him the cup, being super vigilant for any sign he might attempt to wring my neck again. He snorts but takes the water and sips it, his hand shaking. The poor man. He won’t be getting well, and he won’t be going home. Sheila, his wife of five decades, has been dead for fifteen years, God love him. His daughter can’t look after him any more, and he can no longer live alone. It’s not safe, which leaves him in hospital until alternative arrangements can be made. Whenever that might be.

I straighten and take the blood pressure monitor, rolling it away. Susan, the ward sister, falls into stride next to me, checking her watch. ‘You’ve been pushed and pulled about this week, Izzy,’ she muses, giving me a sideways smile. ‘Let’s have a look.’

I wave my hand flippantly, brushing her off. ‘It’s nothing.’

‘I’ll be the judge of that,’ she scolds, pulling me to a stop and pushing my shoulder-length wavy black hair away from my neck. ‘I thought you asked Pam to cut his nails.’

I wince, not wanting to get my colleague into trouble. ‘I did?’

Susan rolls her eyes at my feigned ignorance. ‘C’mon. It’s the end of your shift. Let’s get handover done so you can go home.’ She turns and marches to her office, her round bottom swaying, and I follow as I feel at my sore skin, damning myself for not getting through this shift