Chapter 6

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"OH," was all Ellie could say. Her face bloomed with color, then she reached over and handed him a blanket she'd gotten from one of the saddle bags. "Here, use this to cover up with." She said, then turned her back to him. Blake lay on the soft grass gritting his teeth as he undid his pants and slowly worked them down his lean hips, hissing and grumbling as the material brushed over the wound.

After a few minutes of colorful words, hisses and the flopping of material, Ellie was finally able to turn back around. Her eyes immediately settled on his exposed golden skin, she had never seen a man's naked thigh before. Trying to clear her mind, she fished around in the saddle bag and grabbed what she thought was a canteen of water then splashed a liberal amount over the wound.

"GOD DAMMIT!" Blake roared, his eyes closed only seconds ago were now wide open. "What in the hell are you trying to do to me woman?" It felt like she had shoved a hot poker through his leg.

"Blake Weston, don't you talk to me that way, I'll box your ears! I just poured some water from the canteen over your leg to clean it."

"Where did you get the canteen from?" He asked after a minute, still trying to catch his breath.

"From your saddle bags, why?"

"It wasn't water, it was whiskey! Didn't you notice the color of it?" God it felt like someone was using his leg as a drum.

"I, oh, I, well no, I didn't notice the color. I was trying not to look."

Blake rolled his eyes, "can you clean it, or do I need to do it myself?"

"There's no need to be so rude. I can clean it."

"Give me the canteen. Please." He added as he reached out his hand and sat up enough to take several big swigs, then handed it back to her. "I've got a knife with a needle and some thread in the small wooden box at the bottom of the bag. You never know when you're going to need to be sewn up," he threw in at her questioning look. After what happened to Cade, John had always made sure they both had a needle, thread and a small knife.

There was no exit wound, so Ellie knew she was going to have to get the bullet out. She grabbed the knife and poured a little whiskey over it and her hands, then slowly stuck her finger in the hole in Blake's thigh, praying it wouldn't be in very deep. Fortunately, it was only about a quarter to a half inch deep. She took a deep steadying breath, spread the hole apart with her thumb and index finger, and eased the knife down and under the bullet. After about a minute, Blake stopped her to drink more of the whiskey. Ellie was just about to give up when she felt it dislodge and move. As soon as she was able to grab the bullet, Blake rolled over onto his side and vomited.

She quickly grabbed two clean bandanas from his bag and ran to the edge of the river, soaking them in the cool water. Kneeling back down, she handed Blake some water and wiped his face and neck off. He was so very pale, she hadn't realized how much blood he had lost until she saw the entire leg of his pants was soaked all the way down to his sock. "Blake, I've got to put in a few stitches. I've got to stop the bleeding, you've lost a lot of blood already."

Unable to speak, he simply nodded. Ellie wasn't going for neatness, she just wanted to get done as quickly as possible. It was killing her to know that she was hurting him and there was nothing she could do about it. She gave him more whiskey so she wasn't sure if he passed out from the pain or was just sleeping.

She decided to dribble a little bit of the whiskey on the bandana she'd tied around his thigh for a bandage in hopes that it would keep infection from setting in. The sun would be setting soon, she needed to get him under the shelter from the rocks and a fire going. He was conscious enough to help her slide him back, then she went to gather wood for a fire. It had been several hours and still Blake slept. Ellie built a fire, made coffee, and warmed up a can of beans in the hopes that he would wake up and eat something. She reached over laying her hand over his forehead, he felt a little warm, but that could be from laying near the fire. Ellie checked to make sure there was enough wood to last through the night, then lay down behind Blake and closed her eyes.

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