"Curtis, Lewis, make sure he don't move," commanded Jonas, motioning to John.
Curtis limped and Lewis walked over to John and each took one of his arms and held him to the spot. Breanna looked back at John with a worried expression and John caught her gaze.
"Lady, hurry it up and get over here. Now!" Breanna bristled as Jonas cursed at her and shot him a fiery stare.
"You got a problem, lady?" He asked her.
"I don't like the way you're speaking to me."
"I don't care what you like. You ain't in much of a position to be saying such things."
"Yeah, shut up!" Lewis called over from where he stood still restraining John.
Breanna continued her scolding. Maybe, just maybe, she could find some leverage with these men. It was worth a try. "You three ought to be ashamed of yourselves-"
"Don't start preachin' to us." Jonas cut her off before she could go any further. "We don't wanna hear it." Jonas quickly pulled out a dirty cloth from his pocket moved towards Breanna.
"If you touch her…" John tried to warn, but was cut off by a gun being put to his temple. Jonas grinned at him as he roughly pulled Breanna to him and tied the cloth over her mouth. Breanna let out a muffled cry when Jonas tied it too tightly.
"Jonas!" Bellowed John. "Take your hands off of her!"
The look in John's eyes chilled Jonas to the bone, but he spun Breanna around so they both faced John, still being held to the spot by Lewis and Curtis. Jonas held his gun in
front of Breanna.
"Now, now," began Jonas. "Don't get testy with me. I might lose my temper. Then lose a bullet in you." Then Jonas said to Breanna, "Now, little lady, you'd do anything to protect this man, wouldn't you?" Breanna nodded her head as she stared at John, fear evident on her lovely features. "So you'd come with us if it meant sparing his life?" Again Breanna nodded her head, tears forming in her blue eyes. It rent John's heart to see her so frightened and in pain. Once he got his hands on these men….
"Well, it's all settled then," said Jonas. "The four of us leave, and once we're a safe distance from the law, we might let you go. You might survive a night alone in the hills, or you might not. So, maybe I'll be kind," Jonas continued as he ran the back of his hand across her cheek, "and let you remain in our company."
Breanna turned her head away form his touch and tried to wriggle away from him. Suddenly, they all heard the sound of many hooves approaching at great speeds.
"They caught up to us! Let's go!" Curtis shouted as he and Lewis left there posts beside John and bolted for their horses.
Jonas attempted to drag Breanna along to his horse, but she resisted his grasp. While Jonas yelled at her for not obeying, John dove for his discarded gun lying on the ground a few feet away. John looked up just in time to see Jonas back-hand Breanna hard across the face, then she fell, unconscious, to the ground. John swung his gun around and took aim as Jonas took aim at Breanna's limp form. John got his shot in before Jonas could even think about pulling the trigger. The bullet ripped through Jonas' right shoulder and he went down, clutching his arm.
John dashed to Breanna's side and carefully rested her head on his lap as he untied the gag.
"John, is she alright?"
John looked up to see the concerned face of Dr. Goodwin. At John's confused look, the doctor added, "I rode along because we knew one of the robbers was injured. We want him alive and well for his punishment. Let me take a look at her." Dr. Goodwin bent down and began examining Breanna.
"One of them hit her pretty hard," John explained, anger and concern evident in his voice.
"Looks like a minor concussion. She'll have bruises, too, no doubt. I'll give her something now to help her sleep through some of the pain. She can take more later as well if there's any discomfort. I suggest you get her home and make her comfortable. She'll wake up on her own.
John thanked the doctor and tenderly lifted Breanna into his arms. He saw a few of the deputies riding back with Curtis and Lewis in tow; both looking bitter and defeated. Jonas was being hauled away by another deputy as Dr. Goodwin finished bandaging him up for the ride back to the jail where he'd finish tending to both Jonas and Curtis.
John was thankful they didn't require his help, for he had more important things to look after. He looked down at his wife lying in his arms and softly brushed her forehead with his lips as he made his way to where they had left their horses. He rode atop Ebony, Breanna held securely in his arms, as Chance was led behind, back to their house. John felt Breanna shiver slightly and held her closer, whispering in her ear. "We're nearly home, sweetheart. Don't worry, you're safe now."
Once they reached the yard, John carried Breanna inside, knowing the horses wouldn't roam if left outside until later. Making his way upstairs to their bedroom, he gently placed Breanna onto their bed and covered her with a quilt. He left her side only to get a glass of water for when she awakened, then remained next to her on the bed, gently stroking her hair. John dozed off, his arms protectively around Breanna, but was awakened when she began to stir. He sat up and looked down into her face. Her brow furrowed and she began to mumble and struggle with the assailant in her nightmare. She called out for John's help.
"Sshhh, darling, I'm right here," spoke John as he clasped her delicate hands in his large ones.
Breanna opened her eyes at his words and looked around groggily. She locked on to his face as the fuzziness in her head began to fade, and she began to cry.
"Oh, John. I thought they still had me. I though they took me from you." She sat up and held onto John, needing to feel safe in his arms.
John folded his arms around her and said in her ear, "you're safe now. No one will ever take you from me, sweetheart." He kissed her head when she rested it against his chest.
When they pulled apart, John looked into her tear stained face and saw the purple bruise starting to form on her cheek where Jonas had struck her. He brushed the tears from her cheeks as softly as he could, but she still flinched when he touched the bruise.
"Does it still hurt?"
"No, not much."
She saw anger flash in his eyes.
"What happened after he hit me?"
"Deputies showed up, I shot Jonas in the arm, the three of them were captured before they got very far. Dr. Goodwin was also there to treat Curtis' injured leg, and he examined you immediately. It's a minor concussion, but I'm going to make sure they pay for what they did to you, and for the bank robbery. They'll be locked up forever as far as I'm concerned."
Breanna looked away from his gaze. John hooked a finger under her chin and brought her eyes back to his.
"Hey, you alright?"
"I'm fine, now," Breanna said with a small smile. "I was just really frightened for us back there."
"Me too, but we're fine now. We got through this safely. We can be thankful for that."
"Yes, we can be," Breanna said with a more confident smile. "I love you so much, darling."
"I love you, too, sweetheart. More than words can describe."
They smiled at one other, then leaned in for a tender, loving kiss. They were content in each other's arms.