Page 31 of Starlit Skies

Font Size:  

“Yeah, we’resolucky.” Skylar couldn’t hide the heavy sarcasm in her voice. “Here, drink some more. I’ll go and fill the bottle again. Before it gets dark.”

Nash did as he was told. The water helped; his head no longer felt like it was going to split open. Skylar was right, he’d lost some blood and with all the walking and sweating they’d done over the past twenty-four hours, they hadn’t drunk nearly enough water to counteract the life-sapping heat and injury. He glanced down at his leg, expecting to see a bloody mess. But it was clean and freshly bandaged.

He pointed to his thigh and turned his head to catch Skylar’s eye. “How…?”

“You were passed out for over an hour,” Skylar said. “When I said you scared me, I wasn’t joking.”

He shuffled forward so he could turn around properly and stare at her. “You cleaned it all up for me? While I was out cold?”

She nodded and scooted around next to him. “At least you didn’t feel anything. You didn’t even wake up when I poured the last of the whiskey over it. I cleaned up your face, too. That gash on your cheek isn’t looking too good, either.”

“Thank you,” he said, reaching out to touch her arm. “I know you don’t like the sight of blood.”

“No, I don’t,” she replied with a small shiver. “But I was worried about you. Worried that it might be infected.”

“And is it?”

“I don’t know. It is swollen and puffy. But that could be because you’ve been tramping through the jungle all day instead of giving it time to heal.”

“Could be.” He was no expert on wound care, and they had no choice, anyway. Not while they were stuck out here. Then something occurred to him, and he frowned. “Where did you get the extra bandages? I thought we used them all up last time.”

“I improvised,” she said. And that’s when he noticed her bare midriff. She was missing around a third of her tank top. She’d ripped up her own shirt to make him a bandage. For some unknown reason, that touched a chord deep inside him. This woman was amazing. Resourceful and determined.

As his mind slowly cleared, he began to analyze their situation. It sounded like they’d stumbled upon a hint of civilization. Was there a possibility they could be rescued tonight? If he could get Skylar out of here, then he should at least try.

He sat up straighter, pulling his injured leg into his chest to test its function. Would he be able to stand? Able to walk? There was only one way to find out. He drew his feet underneath him and began to push himself up into a crouch.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Skylar was on her feet, towering over him, hands out, ready to catch him if he should fall.

“Perhaps we should we go down to this parking lot and wait there. Or walk down the road, see if we can find someone to help us.”

“You’re not in a state to go anywhere. Sit back down, now,” she demanded, hands on hips.

Now she was standing right in front of him, her bare midriff was directly at eye height, and he got to fully appreciate hernicely toned stomach. Her cut-off shorts sat low on lean hips and the revealed skin was smooth and silky.

“Besides, I’ve already checked it out,” she continued, oblivious to the fact he was checkingherout. “I think the park closes at five o’clock. It won’t reopen till morning.”

“Right,” he mumbled, lowering his buttocks onto the rock. She was right, his head was swimming once more, but he wasn’t sure if it was the dehydration or the view of Skylar’s stomach that was to blame. Perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all, to spend a second night out here with Skylar.

“It’s going to be dark soon,” she continued. “If you’re up to moving, there’s a spot a little farther back, away from the stream, which might give us better shelter.”

“Good idea.” He let her take his arm and help him limp over to a patch of flat ground beneath an enormous fig tree. The earth was covered with a layer of dry leaves and the lateral, spreading roots formed the sides of a natural bed.

He sat with his back against the largest root, while she fussed around him, gathering more dry leaves to form a sort of mattress they could both lie on.

“I’m going to refill the bottle,” she said, after she’d finished their little homemade bed to her liking. “Will you be all right here?”

“Of course.” He waved her away. Then watched in fascination as she tramped down the edge of the stream. She had to clamber over a large boulder, and it gave him the most delightful view of her very marvelous backside. She really did have an amazing figure. She was a beautiful woman. But that was nothing new to him; he’d been coveting her since the very first moment he’d seen her.

But being thrown together like this, he was learning a lot about the inner workings of this woman. And it made her all the more beautiful in his mind. She put up this screen of aloofdetermination to the rest of the world. But she was nothing like that on the inside. She’d shown him hints of vulnerability and even trauma. Traits she perhaps saw as a weakness. But those insights merely served to bring out his protective instinct, big time. He’d need to watch himself. He could feel a bond forming between them. A connection that couldn’t be denied.

His male ego had suffered a beating this afternoon. It galled him that he’d been unable to guide Skylar to safety, that she’d been the one to take the lead in the end. And then, to top it all off, he’d passed out. His body had let him down, and he didn’t like the feeling of limitation it gave him. But on the other hand, he quite liked Skylar taking care of him. That had some definite benefits.

He lay there, watching the last of the color drain from the sky. It was almost peaceful here. Nash mulled over the possibilities of the gunman finding them. Coming upon them in the dead of the night and murdering them in their sleep. He decided the risk was small. Skylar had only managed to find this waterfall by sheer luck. There really wasn’t a lot he could do about it. He sat up and pulled the backpack closer. Then rummaged around and found the boning knife, which he put on the ground near his leg, within accessible reach if he needed it during the night. It wouldn’t be much against a man with a gun, but it was all he had. He also pulled out the last two remaining Bounty Bars and balanced them on a thicker part of the root beside his shoulder. The drumming in his head had subsided some after he drank his fill of water, but the headache was still there. And his thigh throbbed dully, the pain radiating up his leg and into his hip. Probably not a good sign, but he decided not to mention it to Skylar. Hopefully, he’d be better after a good night’s rest.

Finally, the weak light from his small penknife flashlight winked at him through the encroaching gloom. Skylar emerged up the steep bank, dragging an armful of palm fronds with her.

“I found us some blankets,” she announced.

Articles you may like