I came around to a wet tongue on my face and attempted to brush it away, but an iron grip held my arm down. At least I was warm again I thought as I slowly opened my eyes. I blinked a few times, blackness enveloped me. My heart slammed into my chest, I freaked out. I was blind. I jerked upright and my head spun; dizziness engulfed me, someone gently pushed me back down. I counted to twenty and inhaled deeply, the dizziness started to subside. The desire to know where I’d ended up, who had me and why I couldn’t see encompassed me.
“Relax.” Max said softly.
The situation was worse than I thought, Max found me. It would probably be easier fending off complete strangers.
“I’m blind.” I whispered.
He chuckled. “You’re not blind; I have a black cloth tied around your head, covering your eyes. I’m going to remove it slowly, so your eyes can adjust to the light without giving you a blinding headache. Are you ready?”
Relief flooded me.
He removed the cloth. I blinked my blurry eyes open. I was home, laying on my couch, with a fire roaring in the fireplace.
“How long have I been out?”
“We’re not sure. Chase found you unconscious behind the barn this afternoon. He brought you up here and went into town to get the Doc. The Doc says you‘ll be fine, he left some pain killers for your head and some salve for your scrapes. No concussion.”
“Where’s Chase?” I asked, glancing around the room.
“He went back to my place. What happened? It looks like you were dragged all over the place.”
“Where’s Killer and Lightning?” I took my time sitting up and thought about what lies I would tell him next. I shifted under the blanket that covered me and blushed. I was as naked as the day I was born. I touched the salve covered cut on my hip and groaned, it was tender.
“Chase found Killer and Lightning in the barn right before he found you. Lightning’s still in the barn and Killer’s asleep by the fireplace.”
I glanced at Killer and yawned, sleep sounded wonderful to me.
“I need to relax in a bath and get dressed. You can go home now, we’ll talk later. Thanks for all your help.”
Yep, bath, cozy clothes and sleep. I couldn’t wait.
I stood up with the blanket, steadying myself against the couch for balance as a bout of dizziness hit me again.
“Does Rose know anything about this?”
“No, she’s still out with Bear.”
“Don’t say anything to her. She’s leaving tomorrow and I don’t want her to worry.” I made sure the blanket was fully wrapped around me and made my way towards the stairs picking up the bottle of pain killers on the way. I would need them later.
“Where’s my backpack?”
Max wrapped his arm around my waist. “It’s on your bed.”
I tensed when Max’s hip slid against mine. He was too close for my comfort zone.
“You really don’t have to stay, I’ll be fine.”
His eyes narrowed into a grimace.
“I’m not leaving and you’re too weak to kick me out. I’ll start your bath and cook us some dinner. We can finish our conversation from yesterday. Remember I’m supposed to be protecting you. That’s hard to do when you leave your house before the sun comes up without telling anyone where you’re going.”
He helped me up the stairs and sat me down on the bed before stomping into the bathroom. I rummaged through my backpack for my smokes as I listened to the bathtub fill up. I also found my gun where I left it, in Lightning’s pack. I stashed the gun under my mattress. We were back to the protector thing again and even after today’s events I didn’t want him protecting me. I took a painkiller out of the bottle, bit it in half and gulped it down with some water.
I didn’t say anything when he came out of the bathroom. I just marched the best I could past him locking the door behind me. I let the blanket fall to the floor and examined my damaged body. I had some scrapes on my lower back from where my shirt and jacket road up while being dragged, and my butt, arms, and shoulders glowed pink. The nastiest injury was the one on my hip. It looked like a small, sharp tree branch or rock sliced through my skin. I had a knot on the side of my head that hurt to the touch, but all in all I was just sore and dirty. The salve sat on the counter-top reminding me Max had been in the bathroom to help me. A small bout of depression hit me from getting ambushed. Well at least I’m not paranoid, I thought to myself, something was stalking me. I had the war wounds to prove it. I climbed into the tub, stretched, and promptly fell asleep.
I awoke, startled, to loud banging on the door.
“Montana!” Bang, bang, bang. “Montana! Are you alright?” Bang, bang.
“Stop banging on my door! I’m fine and you’re giving me a headache!” I yelled as my head started throbbing to the beat of my heart.
“Dinners ready. Do I need to come in and get you?” Max said quietly and passionately.
“Give me a couple of minutes.”
I closed my eyes for a minute and took several deep breaths, all of this attention I was getting lately was driving my crazy.
A cup of coffee waited for me on my dresser when I finally made my way out of the bathroom. I took it as a good sign, he wasn’t too mad. The last thing I needed to deal with was a mad Max. Giggling at my joke I found an ashtray, lit a smoke, and drank the coffee. I dressed in some gray sweats and warm fluffy hot pink socks before heading downstairs.