Quin rolled over in bed and groaned. She felt like death barely warmed over. Everything hurt; her body, her throat, her head, her fingernails. All she wanted to do was go back to sleep, but she couldn't. She had to go out with the men. Part of her brain told her that was a lie. She could take the day off and stay in bed. Pride got her up and out of bed. She dragged on a pair of jeans, work boots, and a long sleeved flannel shirt. Quin didn't take the time to do her hair; instead she just pulled it back into a haphazard pony tail.
Quin started down the stairs and felt like crying. Her skin ached wherever the clothing touched it, and she almost felt light headed. Just get through the day girl, she told herself, just get through the day. She made it into the kitchen where a pot of coffee was already brewed. Quin reached for an earthenware mug and filled it full of the hot liquid. She slowly moved to the table and decided she would just sit down for a minute.
Ms. Martha breezed into the kitchen humming under her breath. "Well, good morning baby girl. It's gonna be a beautiful day out." The older woman stopped and took a closer look at the blonde sitting at the table. "Quin, you aren't feeling good are ya baby?"
"I'm fine." She rasped out through her wretched throat. "Just need a cup of coffee."
Martha's eyes narrowed. "You look sick as a dog girl." The woman bustled forward and put her wrist to the girl's forehead. "And you're running a nasty fever. You get yourself right upstairs and into bed!"
"I'm not going to bed Ms. Martha. I have to ride out with the men today." Quin said wearily.
"The Hell you aren't!" Martha snapped.
Dom walked in just in time to hear this statement. "Language Ms. Martha." He teased the woman. It was quite rare for her to say anything harder than darn. "What's up?"
"Nothin'." Quin stressed. "Ms. Martha is just feelin bossy."
Dom looked at the object of his affections. Damn she looked rough. Ms. Martha looked ready to snap some heads off. "Bossy! That girl is sick! Just look at her; can't barely stand up. And burning up to boot."
Quin looked at Dom and saw his concern. "I'll be fine, just feeling a bit under the weather."
"Ya know Quin, when we were in town last week that guy who owns the hardware store did say the flu is going around." Dom reminded her.
"I don't have time for the flu Dominic."
He raised his eyebrows. "Your men will be fine for the day. Go upstairs and get some rest."
Her jaw clenched with stubborn pride. "I will not. I'm going to the stables, getting on Widowmaker, and going to work."
"No you aren't." he told her with an extremely calm voice. "You are in no shape to be doing this. You're weak, you have a fever, and you look like you're going to keel over. You could hurt yourself, your horse, or even possibly one of your men. You don't want to do that do you?"
He sounded so stern and the thought of hurting someone made her feel horrible. Tears gathered and leaked out the edges of her eyes. "No."
Dom walked up and kneeled in front of her where she still sat. "Hey, no crying. Come on, let's get you up to bed. Ms. Martha will let Smitty know you aren't coming out today; possibly not tomorrow or the next either. Not while you're sick." Quin stood up and felt dizzy again. Dom swung her up in his arms.
"I'm not a baby you have to carry." She mumbled unhappily.
Dom kissed her forehead. "I know you aren't a baby. Trust me. I know. But it doesn't hurt to get some help sometimes. And I don't mind helping you as much as you need it." He got her into her room and set her on the bed. It only took him moments to get her shoes off and get her changed back into a cotton nightgown. Dom tried not to let the sight of her body get to him too much, but it was difficult. They kept getting closer and closer to the point of no return, but so far they hadn't made that jump yet. He got her tucked in and went about getting her something to drink, some aspirin, and a cool cloth for her head.
"Will you stay with me for awhile? You could watch TV or something." She murmured hopefully.
Dom slid off his shoes and crawled onto the bed next to her. They turned the television onto Animal Planet and began to watch a special on Jeff Corwin.
Vince, Leon, and Jesse were working on Torin's car when the Sutherland brothers pulled into the drive. "Jesus, these guys don't know when to quit." Vince muttered under his breath. Not one of the three men looked up from the engine; even as the other two men approached. Max and Billy Sutherland both had smirks on their faces, and it made Leon want to rip them apart.
"Well, how you boys doin?" Max said his voice oozing with charm.
"We're great." Vince answered.
Leon looked up from the car. "Hey, heard about your legal troubles, that's tough."
Billy frowned, but Max just kept smiling. "Well, bad luck hits us all some times. We just shouldn't had all that alcohol."
Vince snorted. "Yeah, alcohol, it can really mess a person up."
"We wanted to come by and let the ladies know we've spotted three mountain lions now, not just the one. We're not sure if yall had heard or not, but being neighborly is important over here."
"Thanks for letting us know. I'll make sure to spread the word." Leon told the two.
"Great, that's helpful. I think I'm gonna mosey on over and have a quick word with Sloane." Max grinned slyly. He turned and begun walking towards the stables.
"She ain't over there." Jesse called out. The man stopped in his tracks. "She and Reilly headed to another ranch to do some business. Quin's sick, and Torin's in the gardens."
Finally that got a reaction from Max, and all three men saw his jaw clench. "I see, well then, guess we'll be on the way to the next on down the line."
Billy sneered. "When will Reilly be home?"
Leon rubbed a hand along his neck. "I think she said six seeing as we're going out tonight."
Billy looked to be about to start something, but Max slapped a hand on his brother's shoulder. "We'll be going then. You boys have a nice day."
Vince grinned. "How could we not?"
They watched as the Sutherlands drove away, and Leon looked at Jesse. "Reilly's in the house."
Jesse shrugged. "Yeah. Sloane's in the stables."
Vince chuckled. "Smooth Einstein, that was fuckin awesome."