Winter – Chapter 19 – 05

            Cameron jerked awake with a gasp, pain stabbing through his guts from one side of his body and through his belly and lower chest.  He peered up through tears and his lashes at Neve, who bent over him, pale, her face streaked with tears.
            His jaw worked for a moment before he managed to speak.  “How…?”
            She swallowed hard, meeting his gaze.  Tears welled up in her eyes and she leaned down to hug him, her hands bloody from tending him.  “Cam.”
            He went quiet, slowly reaching up and wrapping his arm around her shoulders.  His collarbone hurt, his back hurt, his side hurt.  I don’t even remember something hitting me in the side.  When did that happen?  He drew a shaky breath, comforted by the smell of Neve’s hair.
            “What happened?” he asked.  “They weren’t what we thought.”
            “I know,” Neve said, giving him a gentle squeeze before letting go and setting to work again.  “Hold still, I need to finish.”
            “How bad?”
            “Deep enough for muscle but not anything else.  It was a short knife.”
            “A knife?”  What got a knife into me?  None of those creatures—
            The one that caught the sword?  The one with a maybe-human face?  “Are you sure it was a knife?”
            She held it up where he could see it, a small, dark knife with a short blue-steel blade and an ebony hilt.  Cameron shivered, then winced.
            “That was still in me?”
            “In the snow next to you,” she said, leaning back down to resume stitching him up.  Her bad leg was stretched out at an angle that looked uncomfortable, her face locked into a grimace.  Cameron squeezed his eyes shut for a moment.
            “I’m sorry,” he said.
            She shook her head, a few swift stitches completing her work.  “You don’t have anything to be sorry for, Cam.  You saved our lives.”  He craned his neck to watch as she knotted the threads.  The fire cast a flickering glow on her face, making the tears that still lingered on her cheeks sparkle in the dim.
            “Did they get close to you?” he asked.  Did I fail?  Did they hurt you?
            She shook her head.  “You kept them tied up.  Two of the kills are really yours.  I got one and feathered the one that stabbed you and ran.”  She crawled over to a bucket and cleaned her hands in what must have been meltwater from snow.  There was no way she’d have gotten as far as the creek, especially in the storm.
            And a storm it had truly become.  Cameron could hear the wind howling hungrily outside the lean-to.  He rolled onto his side, trying to figure out how to sit up.   Have to check the horses.
            “Don’t, Cam,” Neve said, crawling back to him.  “Just stay right where you are for a few minutes more.”
            He considered protesting and discarded the idea, nodding and staying where he was.  He curled one arm under his head and lay on his side until she came back with a cold, wet rag and started to clean his side around where he’d been stabbed.
            “What were they?” he asked as she washed away the drying and fresh blood, his flesh prickling with the water’s chill.  “Do you have any idea?”
            “I’ve never seen creatures like that before,” Neve said.  “But the last one…maybe.  But I’m not sure why he’d be here unless it was only to make trouble—trouble he’s either borrowing or trouble with some kind of hidden agenda.”
            “What was it?”
            “Who,” she corrected gently, her lips thin.  She wiped her hands on the rag and then reached for a roll of linen bandages from the kit Kira had assembled for them before they’d left all those weeks ago.  “You can sit up now.”
            He pushed himself up gingerly, wincing slightly as the flesh across his shoulders protested and his collarbone twinged.  “All right, who, then?”
            She started to wind the bandages around him to protect her work on the wound, shaking her head slightly.  “Another one like Teague and I and our cousins, but I can’t be sure if it’s who I thought it was.  There’s no reason for him to be interested in any of us.”  Her lips thinned again.  “Unless one of us did something to piss him off.”
            “You still haven’t told me who,” Cameron said, lowering his arm as she secured the bandages.
            “I didn’t get a good look,” Neve said, “but it could have been Cariocecus.”
            Sounds Roman.  Cameron shook his head.  “Doesn’t ring any bells.”
            “I don’t see why it would,” Neve said, smiling wryly.  “He’s one of the ones that’s mostly forgotten, from one of the pantheons that’s mostly forgotten.”  Her fingers laced through his.  “But I don’t know why he’d be interested in us.”  Her gaze met his.
            “You don’t think he’s interested in you.  You think he’s interested in me,” Cameron said quietly.  He wasn’t sure how he knew—perhaps it was something in her eyes.
            Neve bit her lip and leaned into his chest.  He wrapped his arms around her and squeezed tightly, ignoring momentary flashes of pain.
            “I don’t know why,” she whispered.
            “We’ll figure it out,” he said, resting his chin against her head.  “One way or another.  We’ll figure it out.”
            And if he wants to hurt either one of us, we’ll be ready for it.  He’ll be surprised by what he gets.  Next time—if there is a next time—I’ll be ready.  And he won’t like what he faces then.  Not at all.

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2 Responses to Winter – Chapter 19 – 05

  1. Antonious says:

    Cariocecus is just itching to get more people pissed off at him. Bad enough he pissed off Marin and Thom’s group by trying to bulldoze through them to get at Phelan. Now he goes and pisses off a man who could be today’s version of King Arthur. Real smart, NOT!

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