Cold soaked my clothes. Charred pearls of ice water slid down green boughs and onto my nose.
The thought lingered in my mind, bright sparks of memory that faded into the terror of a timber coffin. With a frantic kick I pushed and tore at the limbs covering me until I managed to squeeze out and lay panting in muddy rivulets beside the remnants of a trunk. The wind roared, smashing through the standing trees as if in the wake of a giant. Pain pulsed through my right ankle and wrist with every breath.
Then the rain lessened its assault on my face as a shadow blocked my view of fast-moving clouds.
A voice. Person. Male.
My thoughts were slow, disjointed, but not to the point where I didn't recognize the blue eyes and blond hair of my ex boyfriend.
With a shaking hand I swatted him across the stomach. Or his shoulder. Or something. Let's be honest, I had no idea what I was aiming for or what I'd hit, but the guy grunted and stepped back. "Letting go only works if you do, too, Jack," I hissed. "Shove off."
"Hey," he repeated from not nearly as far away as I'd have liked. He held his hands up, careful not to touch. "I think you're in a spot of trouble."
"Gee, thanks, Sherlock." I sat up. The moment my back straightened a sharp pain rocketed through my body and I vomited. The world spun and the man became men, but as it cleared and the doubles merged back into one face with one pair of sticky shoes, my stomach began to churn again. This time, with embarrassment.
I squinted up at the unfocused face, trying to get my eyes to work through more details. Strong cheekbones. Short blonde hair that might've had some curls or waves but lay mostly flattened by the downpour. Eyes gently sloped in the corners that made his face seem at ease and smiling despite a concerned frown.
"You're not Jack."
"Sounds like that's a good thing." He wiggled a foot in the torrent of debris.
A glance at his shoes had me cringing. "Oh God, I'm so sorry. At least it's raining? Let me just grab a stick or something." Expression a smile sitting somewhere between apologetic and hopeful, I reached for a small branch bough to snap. "Don't worry. It's not blood; it's strawberries." His frown deepened, and I caught myself staring more intently at the gooey mess. "Let's hope."
"It's fine, miss. No harm's been done," he insisted in a faintly southern drawl. Gently he pulled the branch from my hand and did what he could to flick off the mess. "I saw the strike and came to help. My name is-"
My hand shot up to cut him off. "Don't want to know."
"Uh..." His brow wrinkled. He slicked back his hair and tried to wipe the rain from his face. "What? Why?"
I sighed, trying to appear less dazed than I was. "Look, if you're going to help me, just help. I think we're both pretty sure I have a concussion."
He nodded, probably to avoid stressing an injured person by arguing with them, and bent to offer his arm. "Can you walk?"
Rolling my ankle from side to side, I winced. My shoe felt tight. Something was definitely fractured in there, if not worse. "Maybe it just needs to be stretched out," I lied, more to myself than him.
I stood slowly, trying not to reactivate the nausea, and balanced on one foot. Almost instantly he was at my side, not at all tentative as he wrapped an arm around my waist. With my wrist shaking it hurt so bad, I tried to get my hand on his slicked jacket.
YOU ARE READING
After reporting her boyfriend to the police, all Emma wants is to regain her peace of mind, but when a mountain thunderstorm forces her to seek shelter with a handsome man, she finds herself torn between keeping to herself and opening up. She's onl...