This is the last chapter!!! I finally finished it so I hope you all like it!
Disclaimer: I don't own Phantom Stallion characters or places, but I have the books!
Two hours later, Sam and Jake walked side by side across the white range hoping they made it home before the cold became too much for them to handle. Cresting a drift of snow, Sam let out a joyful squeak as the glowing lights of River Bend Ranch greeted her.
Wrapping her arms around Jake's middle, Sam smiled as a tear trickled from her eye. Jake smiled and returned the embrace grinning from the sight of safety and warmth.
After a moment of celebration, the two trekked down the drift toward the bridge that crossed the frozen La Charla. Finally after what seemed like years, the couple crossed into the ranch yard.
The porch door banged open as family and friends poured from the house into the biting cold. Wyatt was the first to reach them and he enclosed Sam in a suffocating bear hug. Maxine was right behind him and pulled her tall son into a motherly embrace.
Wyatt framed Sam's face with his rough hands, "Are you okay, Sam?"
Noticing a tear on his cheek, Sam gave him a watery smile, "Yeah, Jake took care of me."
Brynna and Gram wiped tears from their face and took their turns hugging Sam as Jake's brothers took turns slapping him on the back. Gram wrapped an arm around Sam's waist and said, "Let's get them inside."
The group moved inside and packed into the dining room and kitchen. Jake sunk into a chair, but before Sam could sit next to him bony arms wrapped around her and blonde braids blocked her vision.
Jen talked to her in a shaky voice, "Sam Forster, you scared me to death and I was so afraid we would never see you again." Jen eased back and turned to look at Jake, "I even worried about you, but not as much."
Her statement coaxed a grin from Jake and Sam giggled with Jen.
Brynna spoke everyone's thoughts, "All of us were worried about both of you."
Sam drooped into her chair too tired to keep standing and Wyatt shared a look with Jake. Scott, the vet, stepped forward, "Sam, Jake, Do you think you need medical attention?"
Scrunching her nose, Sam began to shake her head no. Thinking better of it, she said, "Probably, it was really cold and I can't feel my fingers or toes." She looked at Jake and he nodded in agreement.
When Scott motioned for them to raise their hands, they obeyed stiffly. As they pulled their gloves off slowly, their purple fingers came into view. The people standing close enough to see gasped at their swollen fingers and the two grimaced from the stabs of pain that had begun to tingle through them.
Scott looked at each hand individually and assessed the damage, "They should return to normal, but you both need see a doctor to make sure."
Wyatt strode to get his keys, but Luke spoke up, "Wyatt, let's take 'em both in my truck so there is room."
Nodding, Wyatt turned to Brynna, "I'll call with an update."
She kissed his cheek and hugged Sam once more. Gram and Jen took turns hugging Sam as well before they could leave and Mrs. Ely hugged her son also.
After good-byes were exchanged, the three men shuffled out of the warm kitchen with Sam among them. Gram had wrapped a blanket around each Sam and Jake. In the back of the truck, Sam chattered, "I'm colder than I thought."
Luke flipped the heater on full blast and Jake scooted closer to her in the seat. The blankets were clutched securely around them and the cab was beginning to lose its chill when they pulled onto the road leading to Darton.
Clearing his throat uncomfortably, Luke asked, "What happened, son?"
Jake took Sam's hand in his and squeezed lightly so he didn't hurt her. Holding onto her hand, he answered his dad, "It got real bad sometime around when we found the cattle. We…uh went into this little overhang to wait it out, then there was an avalanche, the horses took off and the cattle followed and we were blocked in our cave."
Seeing Jake's discomfort, Sam took over, "We waited for a while and then we dug ourselves out and walked all the way home and you guys know the rest. Technically, Jake walked the whole way and gave me a piggy back ride for some of it because I kept sinking in the snow. And now here we are on the way to the hospital."
Wyatt looked at the rearview mirror and sent his daughter a proud smile, "You two did good surviving out there." Luke nodded his agreement.
The rest of the ride was spent in silence because the two adults were never ones to talk much and neither was Jake. Sam dozed off as the exhaustion took hold and her head rested against Jake.
In the hospital, Jake and Sam were ushered into different examining rooms and sat waiting for the doctor to come see them while their dads sat in the waiting room.
After a while, the doctors came out to talk with the ranchers about their kids. A tall doctor with floppy brown hair spoke first, "Jake will be held overnight as we take measures to ensure he regains full use of his fingers and toes and to replenish his warmth."
A blonde female doctor continued, "Sam will also be held overnight for the same reasons in addition to trying to get her fever down. They are both dehydrated so IV's will be administered to rehydrate them and help them regain their strength."
Luke nodded and Wyatt spoke, "Will Sam's fever cause any complications?"
The blonde answered, "It shouldn't. Her fever is most likely the result of being so small and being exposed to the freezing elements for so long and Jake is bigger with more body weight to keep him warm so he didn't get a fever."
The tall doctor finished, "They both will make a full recovery and be sent home tomorrow however you should keep them inside and resting for two or three days after they come home."
Sighing, Luke shared a look with Wyatt knowing how well that would go over with their busy teens.
Sam lay in her hospital bed that night, eyes open staring out the dark window at the snowy parking lot. Remembering their horse ride that felt like days before, she retraced the events following and smiled when she thought of how Jake had taken care of her and she had helped him. Although she didn't wish to be stranded in a blizzard again, Sam cherished the memories and conversations she had shared with him. With a soft smile on her chapped lips, Sam gave in to her tired body and mind.
A few rooms down Jake lay on his side focusing on the white walls of the hospital. His mind jumped to the adventures he and Sam had shared and his heart dropped remembering how close the avalanche had been to taking one of them with it down the rocky mountain. He smirked remembering how Sam had kept going without complaining even when she sunk up to her thighs in snow. Although he didn't like the situation they had been in, Jake was thankful for the time and memories he was able to share with Sam. Relaxing into his hospital bed, he closed his eyes finally letting the exhaustion take hold.
Well, that is the end so tell me what you thought!!! And do you want a story that connects to it!!!!???? REVIEW!!! They help encourage me and make my day brighter!