In the last chapter, 17-year-old Mollie (formerly Chloe), stranded in an unknown forest, late at night – steps into trouble…
She knew she was not in her own bed, before she opened her eyes. I’m in the bed of clouds she realized, and smiled. Her eyelids were too heavy to open more than a fraction, but she could sense that it was daylight. I haven’t felt this relaxed in years, she marveled.
Mollie’s eyes shot open – what if I’m not relaxed – and dead?
Pain throbbing through her right lower leg answered her question. She guessed right – she was inside the little log cabin, tucked into the cozy bed in the loft and covered with the beautiful quilt she admired yesterday. So, she reasoned, that man she saw on the porch rescued her.
Rescued her from what exactly? All she remembered was a click, then serious pain. The kind where you see red flashes and pass out. The passing out part could have happened a lot sooner.
“So where is he? My hero?”
A sound, like a humph, came from the foot of the bed.
The end of the bed sunk down and peeking over the edge was the sweetest doggie face ever. Mollie saw his tail wagging crazily.
“Were you the one who found me?” The dog’s tail wagging and happiness increased.
“What’s your name fella?”
The dog yapped a short bark, and came around to her side of the bed. He bent his head forward and down as if he were paying homage to her. When she reached out to pet him she saw he had a leather collar around his neck that had letters burned into it, spelling “Zeus”.
“Your name is Zeus?” Another short yap.
Now fully awake, she saw that all of her was tucked in except the leg in question. It was propped up using an upside-down cooking pot, covered with a pillow, and swaddled in what felt like a pound of cement. Her toes, poking out of the bandage were swollen and a gruesome shade of purple.
“Holy Crap!” she exclaimed.
What she dismissed as a bizarre dream, must have been real. The steel jaws crushing her leg, 6 inches above her ankle. The dog found her and brought back a man to help her. The pain was so overwhelming that other details went unnoticed. She could only whimper after her vocal cords gave out. After that – she must have fainted.
On the floor, next to that mysterious box thing, was torn and bloodied Levi’s, soaking in a kettle. And next to them was what had to be a large animal trap – also bloody. Her face suddenly reddened. Somebody, hopefully the guy’s wife, but probably that man, took my pants off.
OMG! What panties am I wearing? She hoped they weren’t old granny-panties. If she’d known a guy would be taking off her pants, she would have put on cute underwear. But she put them on Monday, so they were definitely not cute. In fact, they had to be worn flannel granny-panties because she wore those on Monday. Monday’s were bad enough without adding uncomfortable underwear to them.
Her blouse and bra were still intact. Frankly, she wouldn’t have minded if her bra vanished. Eight hours were her tolerance level for brassieres, and it was probably over 24-hours now.
And just where was her rescuer? Somebody rescued and doctored her up last night. Where was he now?
“Man, have I got to pee,” she said to the ceiling.
When her need to pee became urgent, she decided to get up and start looking for the bathroom. Hopping, if she had to.
“Some hospital this is,” she sighed, ”not even a nurse call-button.”
The dog suddenly barked twice at her, nudged the door wider, and ran outside. Weird.
Gingerly, she maneuvered to the edge of the bed. The wooden frame was wide enough for her to sit on, and tall enough that her feet didn’t touch the floor. With both feet together she could tell how swollen the right foot was. Anticipating horrible shooting pain, to add to what she considered the constant pain, she closed her eyes shut and scooted to the very edge. When her left foot was firmly planted on the floor, she put a bit of weight on the injured one.
Not as bad as she expected, but that was without any of her weight on it. Maybe it wasn’t broken, just cut. Feeling braver, she tried to get off the bed using only her uninjured leg.
“Just where do you think you’re going?”
The voice came from behind her, startling her enough to fall back onto the bed. The dog had returned, but was panting, not talking. He had brought his master back.
She couldn’t answer his question. Not only was she out of breath, but the moment she saw him, she immediately forgot what his question was. Her brain stopped working.
“Do you speak English?” he asked, not so harshly this time.
At least she could nod her head ‘yes’.. She could not breathe in enough air to speak. Or swallow. Her heart pounded so hard that she could hear it pumping blood through her ears. She felt faint. She never felt faint.
“Ah, it must be the laudanum,” he told her, his face softening. She managed a smile. He was wrong of course, no drug could cause what she was feeling.
It wasn’t only his deep voice that was masculine. He was handsome, not like a model, but ruggedly so. When he took off his hat she saw that his hair was a light brown and on the shaggy side, but it was clean. His shoulder and arm muscles filled out his worn sleeveless T-shirt – in a very nice way. A tuft of chest hair peeked out of shirt. And, Lord have mercy, the man had the most devastating hazel eyes. He had a slight sprinkling of freckles over his nose, and when he smiled, a dimple winked at her.
He was absolutely perfect.
“Do you need something?” he asked. He came up to the loft and felt her forehead with the back of his hand. His frown confirmed her suspicion she had a fever.
“Just the ladies room.”
He shook his head and shrugged. In his puzzlement, he was cuter than before. If that were even possible.
“Um- I have to pee.”
“Oh, got you.” He scooped her up, like she was a ragdoll that weighed nothing, and carried her outside. Ever so gently, he put her down in front of the tiny shack she saw last night. She now could see it had a crescent moon carved into the door. He opened the door for her. Then he handed her a cowbell.
“Ring this when you’re finished and I’ll come back.”
“Thank you,” she said, thinking seriously? An outhouse?
“Don’t put any weight on the right leg.”
Expecting to be grossed out, she was surprised how clean it was on the inside. Way nicer than any port-a-potty she ever used. The only light inside came from a sunroof. There was a Sears & Roebuck catalog on a shelf, right of the open hole. Most of the pages had been torn out. What’s next – corn cobs? Well, here she was, with her Charmin spoiled butt, having to scrape herself with the tool section. She just better not get a paper cut on her hoo-hah – or somebody would pay.
Mollie giggled – Somebody!? Right. I must be stoned, she realized. Instead of freaking out, I’m laughing.
She felt like an idiot ringing a cowbell. If she got enough practice at it, maybe she could join a band. Har-Har. Mr. Perfect soon returned and scooped her up into his arms again. She could really get used to this. The way he held her against his chest, was so – fine.
She needed to smack these thoughts out of her head – they were going to get her into trouble! But for now, she laid her head on his shoulder, to rest her neck, because she could. His stride was long, so her ride was short. His dog, which stood guard while she was in the outhouse, now trotted next to them back to the house. He was a beautiful dog who looked like the offspring of a Border Collie and a Golden Retriever. His curiosity about her was obvious and endearing.
When Mr. Perfect got her tucked back into the clouds, her leg propped up again, he told her that he wanted to take a look at the wound.
Mollie was feeling strangely agreeable and perky. I’m flirting with him, she realized. The dude was at least 25 years old and most likely thought of her as a child.
“You should just look at the ceiling, or out the window,” he told her. “It’s not a sight for a lady to see.” He gently began unwinding the gauze from her leg. She watched him closely.
“It’s OK. I’m not a lady.” Wait, Mollie thought. That came out wrong.
“Well … Watch if you want – but I warned you.”
When she saw what appeared from under the gauze, she tried to stop the tears leaking out of her eyes, but couldn’t. Her legs, her best feature, or were until now. Her right lower leg had hideous purple and black bruises and was swollen three times larger than normal.
But that was not the worst. Oh no. The worst thing, the most horrible thing, was that Dr. Frankenstein had sewn it back on. Huge black stitches, sewn in a ragged circle around her calf, about six inches from the top of her ankle. She could not take anymore, and laid back and closed her eyes.
“Am I going to die?”
“Don’t worry – I know it looks bad,” he said, handing her a handkerchief that was in his back pocket. “The stitches have pulled a bit because of the swelling.”
“Could you bring me some ice?” she asked. He just looked at her. “To help the swelling and the pain,” she explained.
“Sorry, there’s no ice up here unless it snows.”
“Oh.” She said. What the Hell?
“Doc will be up to have a look this afternoon, so if it’s OK with you, I might as well leave it unwrapped, let some air get to it.”
“I hope he brings some pain killers with him,” was her response. Wrapped or unwrapped, she had seen the horror. And by Mr. Perfect’s expression, the chance of any pain relief was nil. Which was too damned depressing to think about. Her mangled leg throbbed in a rhythm of pain that demanded her attention. She lost her focus and there was only pain.
He brought her a glass of milk. He stood there, waiting, to make sure she drank it. Not only was it warm, but it had a nasty after taste, that would not leave her mouth.
“It’s Laudanum,” he told her. “For the pain.”
Laudanum. She was drugged. She remembered that drug from a movie about the old west. It was that movie about Wyatt Earp and the OK Corral guys. One of their wives was addicted to it.
That was comforting, Mollie thought. It must at least have opiates in it.
“You should get more rest,” he told her. After fussing with her pillow and covering her, he carefully propped up Frankenstein’s leg again.
“Thank you for saving my life.” She blurted. “Is that thing,” she pointed to the bloody trap, “a bear trap?”
Mr. Perfect was a man of few words. Pulling information out of him would be a challenge, but Mollie decided that would have to wait until her brain worked again.
He blushed slightly and smiled his sexy dimply smile. She wanted to tell him to please stop doing that, but her thoughts were really fuzzed now, and she forgot what he did.
“Zeus,” he commanded the dog, who immediately appeared and sat eagerly for his orders. “Keep an eye on her and come get me when she wakes up.”
Zeus looked over at her, then back at his master. He laid down next to the side of the bed she was on.
A dog was going to babysit her. That fact didn’t even seem out of the ordinary. Whatsoever.
She did feel sleepy. She closed her eyes and tried to think. She still hadn’t figured out where she was and how she got here. But her body and the laudanum took over. She was floating away before she could think of any more questions.
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