|Love Takes Wing
Author: sburke94 PM
Neil/Christy Pairing. It follows the movies, but things are tweaked just a tiny bit.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Friendship - Chapters: 15 - Words: 19,197 - Reviews: 36 - Favs: 17 - Follows: 18 - Updated: 06-13-10 - Published: 03-17-09 - id: 4930136
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Love Takes Wing: Chapter 15: Relief is a Sweet Thing
~ I'm going to go ahead and apologize to the ridiculous amount of time I went between posts. Sorry! Thank you to all of you loyal readers.
"Christy? Lass, can you hear me?"
I gasped roughly as fresh air flooded my lungs. It burned, and tears sprang to my eyes.
"Hush, lass. You're alright." I took a deep breath. Coughs wracked my body, a deep whooping sound that shook me from head to toe. When they had subsided, a gentle, work-worn hand caressed my face, and wiped tangled hair from my brow.
"Neil?" My voice cracked, and his name came out as a croak. Blinking against the harsh light, my eyes began to focus on my surroundings. The plank walls and lace curtained windows of my room had never been so comforting. I was safe!
Relief raced through me, providing me with a fresh wave of strength. I eased up onto one elbow, smiling softly as my eyes came to rest upon Neil's face. Out of habit, my tongue flicked out to lick my lips. I cringed when I realized how chapped they were. The burn in my throat intensified with each breath I took. Water; I needed water.
As if reading my thoughts, Neil poured something from the pitcher on the beside table into a glass. I reached for it, but he held up a hand.
"Just a minute. I've got to add some morphine to it. You've got some nasty bumps and bruises all over you." Curious, I tentatively raised a hand and traced a finger along my jaw line. Wincing in pain, my mind raced as I tried to recall what had caused it. Then I remembered.
Nathan O' Teale had slapped me. I closed my eyes, attempting to prevent the memories from coming back. It was no use. His cruel words, the stench of moonshine on his breath, and the heat of the fire engulfed my senses, as if trying to draw me back into the nightmare.
The light touch of a hand tracing along my back brought me back to reality. My eyes flew open, and I was greeted by a worried looking Neil MacNeil.
"It's okay, lass. You're safe." He thrust the water towards me. "Drink this. It'll help." I chugged the cool liquid greedily, and then thrust the glass back at him in a silent plead for more.
Three glasses of water later, I felt the burn in my throat subside to a dull ache. I handed the cup back to Neil.
I shook my head.
"Christy, what happened?" I'd known that the question was coming, but I dreaded telling Neil. For all of his gentleness and compassion, he also had a fierce temper. Not wanting him to grow angry, I turned my gaze away from him, choosing instead to focus on the hazy blue mountains that lay just beyond my window.
"Please, Christy. Don't shut me out. Who did this to you?" His words were calm, but there was an underlying note of tension in his voice. Sighing, I lifted my gaze level with his.
"It was Nathan O' Teale." I risked a glance at him, but his face remained blank. "It was dark, and I was working alone at the schoolhouse. Ruby Mae and Ms. Alice were at the Spencer's. David was in El Pano. I didn't notice him until he was approaching the steps."
Rising from his chair, Neil crossed the room to stare out the window. "Why didn't you run?"
His frustration was evident as he ran a hand roughly through his tousled curls.
"I thought about it, I did. But he was too close; I never would've made it to the mission." Neil nodded at my words for a brief moment, his shoulders relaxed. Then, just as quickly as it had dissipated, the tension returned.
"What happened after that?" For Neil's sake, I decided to forgo the details and summarize my ordeal as briefly as possible.
"He tied me up, and took me on some crazy wild-goose chase. By the time we got to the cabin, I was so disoriented. I couldn't have run even if I'd had the chance." As I continued with my tale, Neil listened quietly, calmly, but I watched him closely, searching for any signs of a shift in his demeanor. "Then he set the cabin, and left. But you already knew that. Neil, how did you find me?"
He let out a strangled chuckle. "Your shoe actually. There's only one woman in Cutter Gap with soft leather shoes, and that's you. It was on the trail on my way back from Low Gap."
"Sort of like Cinderella?" I was trying my best to lighten his mood, and make him understand that I truly was fine. From my resting place on the bed, I could only see his profile, but I could tell my quip had brought a small to his lips.
"Exactly like Cinderella." He turned to face me, and the soft smile was gone; replaced by a look I knew to be fear.
"Did he touch you?" Even with my naivety, I knew enough to realize that he wasn't referring to my bruised cheek.
"No." Relief washed over his face. He left the window, and in two strides was seated at my side on the bed.
"I was so frightened, Christy. When I found you, you were barely breathing, so still, I thought I'd lost you."
Tenderly, I raised a hand and brushed an errant curl from his brow. "Neil, I'm here. I'm safe, and I'm in one piece; thanks to a certain doctor." I smiled and he leaned forward to kiss my forehead.
"You need to sleep." I started to protest, but ended up yawning instead. Nodding, I slipped further under the quilt.
"I love you." Even as I spoke, my eyelids were growing heavy and drifting shut.
"I love you too. I'll be here when you wake. Sleep, lass." I was asleep before my door clicked closed behind him.
A/N: So as terrible as it sounds, my goal was to finish this story last summer. Obviously that didn't happen. I'm going for round two this time! Haha :) Onto the story, I promised you Christy wouldn't die! But how will Neil handle Nathan? As always, reviews are greatly appreciated.