Author: AnnaJamila PM
At her father's death Beatrix is thrown to the charity of family 500 miles away in Independence. Once there she sees the construction of the first railroad West of the Mississippi and the gruesome murder of a worker's family, rumored to be a Indian raid. A young brave is abducted for questioning and she has to make a decision. Will she help him escape, and if so, does she follow?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 13 - Words: 25,499 - Reviews: 31 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 9 - Updated: 03-20-13 - Published: 11-11-12 - id: 3073400
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Thank you so much for the reviews; you've no idea how inspiring they are! And now for the part we've all been waiting for... ;)
Beatrix sat on the edge of the mattress, eyeing a small bottle of morphine on the folding table before her. Micah had brought it back from town as a sort of peace-offering. Her face was thin and wan, and violet shadows ringed her eyes. She had not sleep the night through since finding the captive, and had not slept at all since the painful interview with Leah.
At first she'd refused to touch the gift out of principle but as each day passed it became more and more attractive. Reaching out she took it in hand and turned it over several times before replacing it on the table with a rap. She'd watch the wagon until midnight and then take some. Wrapping up in her shawl and settling her satchel on her lap she set to her vigil.
She couldn't recognize the guard standing beside him- a slim man of middling height with dark hair- but she supposed that was due to a mixture of the darkening night and her exhaustion. It should have been bright out- too bright to risk a visit until the early morning- but heavy clouds had come to cover the half-moon. The breeze, which had blown hot and steady through the morning had died and an unseasonal heat settled over them like a blanket. They were in for a terrible gale.
Outside was strangely quiet- usually she could hear the men shouting and laughing around their campfire but tonight everyone was either in the mess hall or tucked away in bed, waiting to ride out the storm. The air became steadily darker as the clouds thickened, but just when she had completely despaired of making anything out in the gloom an eerie purple glow lit up the night. The guard was gone. She waited for several moments before putting out her head and giving a glance about. She couldn't spot the man anywhere. He must have gone inside for cover.
Tucking her heavy shawl tighter around her, she ventured out. She'd not taken three steps when the wind hit her back, screaming like a bean sidhe and ripping away her shawl. She struggled to keep her feet under her taking slow, careful steps. Otherwise it caught in the sail of her skirts and lift her up from the ground to send her reeling to either side. She didn't bother looking behind her. There was no hope of getting out of sight in this terrible wind.
She could see the brave in front of her- he was straining against his bonds and shouting but the wind blew the words back down his throat. Suddenly a thought struck her- she could untie him. She could let him go. The idea sent a sort of thrill through her. No one would follow him in this storm and by morning any tracks he left would be obliterated.
She took a few hasty steps toward him and was knocked forward, painfully rolling three times before managing to stop herself. She stayed where she lay, eyes shut trying to suck the air back into her lungs. Finally she regained her feet. A few stumbling steps brought her closer to the brave before she stopped. Something was wrong.
He was struggling frantically now, the whites of his eyes glowing strangely as he struggled to look behind him.
Was it her imagination or was he shouting "go back"?
Thunder Crow strained against the ropes binding him to the wheel. He had to get free. He had to warn her-
"Well, well what have we here?"
He froze, his eyes fixed on Beatrix. Her sweet face changed from confusion to fear, then set in grim determination. The White Devil tossed away a dark knit cap as he made his way from the back of the wagon. He stopped beside Thunder Crow, pressing cold metal to his cheek.
"Now what're you doing out of bed on a night like this?"
Beatrix's brow furrowed. She couldn't hear him over the wind. The White Devil scowled and took three quick strides into the wind, removing the muzzle of the gun from Thunder Crow's face. His eyes narrowed and darkened and he redoubled his efforts to get free. With a great heave the wheel spokes snapped, and another moment saw the rope sawed through on the jagged wood. For the first time in days he was completely unbound. The howling wind had covered his escape and they were too occupied with each other to spare a thought for him.
He could rush him, but unarmed and with an untested foot it could backfire. If Beatrix betrayed his presence- even looking at him would do it- he would loose the element of surprise and gain a bitter struggle. In a fair fight (he thought with a bit of a sniff) it wouldn't be a contest.
His searching fingers found the rope tying together the two blocks of wood that made a brake for the wagon wheel. He'd just have to even the odds.
"What're you looking for, princess?"
He smiled at her then, charming and care-free but with flat, expressionless eyes. He pulled her closer, his other arm wrapped around her waist.
"Don't you know injuns are dangerous? Ain't you scared?"
She wanted to answer, fought to, but while he looked at her with those dead eyes she couldn't think what to say. Her heart pounded in her chest- run! run! run! RUN!- but she could only look up at him in horror. She was trapped. If she screamed no one would hear. No one would think to come outside and check on her- they all thought she was safe in her room, wrapped up in a quilt in her bed. All was lost.
She'd never been afraid of anyone before. She hated Levi almost from the first; he disgusted her and she wished him a thousand miles away, but she'd never feared him. Until now.
It coiled in her stomach; a cold, nasty thing weakening her knees and speeding her heart further as he leaned in to whisper,
"You know what happened to our Clara."
Then he drew back and looked at her and smiled. She saw in his eyes all he had done, all he meant meant to do, and in a horrible moment of realization she understood how Clara and her daughter had died, and perhaps Cain himself. He saw it and laughed.
"I always get what I want, sugar."
She'd kept it together until that moment. That had been her father's pet name for her, and hearing it from those diseased lips pushed her terror over the edge. A ragged shriek bubbled up from somewhere deep inside her- but then he wasn't touching her- the brave was there and in a dreamlike series of motions she saw him clout Levi over the head, the bright arc of silver as he took Levi's knife, red blooming in his colorless hair and then she was in his arms. Rain came down, cold as ice, but he was holding her and she was safe and it was alright.
The wind had loosed her hair. She knew because he was smoothing it from her face as he bent to kiss her, her eyes, her forehead, her cheeks. Dimly she knew he shouldn't be doing that, or at the very least she shouldn't be letting him, but that didn't seem very important.
He looked up at the sky, then took her hand and pulled her off into the prairie. Stumbling, numb from the rain and from nerves, she followed.