Broken Souls ... by Annay Dawson
The barking of the dogs and the grey light of dawn made for a eery setting on the edge of the woods. Addison stood next to Jordan in silence. Both hoping for the same outcome, Kari's safe return. Addy couldn't speak for Jordan on this one, she also wanted Holden's safe return. Although if she had to guess she knew that Jordan was a happily ever after type person. She couldn't be sure if Captain Holmes believed Holden or not, but she suspected he wanted to all the same.
There were three sets of rescue teams this time and all were studying the maps. Addison had to assume they would be looking for Holden's scent as well. She rubbed her arms subconsciously as she thought about the night that Holden had just spent out in the open. Knowing that he could do this and seeing it were two different things. When he was out getting the story she always worried, but not like this. This time she was right there, waiting and watching as it all happened. Glancing at her watch she could imagine Mia beginning to stir and the questions starting all over again.
When Addy had called Daniel's mother last night and asked if Mia could sleep over she had had to give some kind of explanation. By now the news of Kari's disappearance had started to spread and especially to those who were connected to the clinic. The next ten minutes had been spent talking to Mia and trying not to explain it all to her as she fired question after question. All she could hope for now was that Mia didn't get ahold of a phone again this morning. Thinking of that she took out her phone and placed the call to get a substitute for her room today. Cindy would have to get her plans ready, and she would owe her for that one. She hoped most things would be cleared up by then, but there were no guarantees. She refused to think about how big a pain in the neck Mia would be once she discovered her Mom wasn't there.
"Hum," Addy had been shaken from her inner thoughts.
"Coffee?" Jordan asked again, "I have a thermos in the car, but there is plenty," she looked apologetic, almost saddened. Addy just wasn't sure if it was because they were both out there in the below freezing weather, or if it was because Holden might have snapped and killed his girlfriend.
"I'd love a cup," turning she followed Jordan to her car. Getting a glimpse inside she noticed that not only did she have a thermos of coffee, she had at least four large thermoses of coffee two of which looked like they had already been emptied.
"Not my first rodeo," shrugging her shoulders, "as they say." She handed the cup to Addy.
"Thanks." The silence between them seemed to hold so many secrets. "Once my Mom went away and it was just my Dad and I things changed. People get lost on these trails a lot, so over the years I realized that coffee seemed to keep everyone happy and going. Especially when it's an early morning start."
"Your Dad's lucky to have you," she didn't say much but it kept the silence away.
"I really believe they are both out there and both of them are fine," Jordan continued when Addy didn't say anything.
"Whatever is going on I don't think your brother could have hurt her," and there it was, out in the open and no less ugly than if she had just been thinking it.
"I want to believe that as well," and she turned to face her. Speaking a bit more quickly now she continued, "and I do, don't get me wrong, but seeing all this," she motioned with her free hand, "having to talk with your Dad."
"I know, scary. But Dad wouldn't have just let him go if he had thought," suddenly there was a lot of commotion, a lot of shouting. Both women turned to see the teams start to move down the paths. And so it began.
Holden had drifted off into a very light sleep. When Kari stirred he quickly came round and pulled her closer. It had been like that most of the night as she had slept very fitfully. This time though, the sun was moments away from breaking the grip the darkness had held over them all night. Stroking Kari's hair he soothed her back into her fitful sleep if only for a few more minutes. Not being able to fall back to sleep himself, he was left with his troubling thoughts. It had been a long night. He had given her as much water as she could handle. She was still dehydrated and definitely fighting a concussion as well as some of the effects of hypothermia. It was going to be a hard haul up the side of the hill here. He could wait and hope the search teams would find them before ten, but he wasn't sure he wanted to risk Kari's wellbeing that long. The sooner they moved the better.
As far as Holden could tell Kari had no major internal injuries except for some bruised ribs. The bruised ego would come later, once she got over the dehydration and hyperthermia. There was the broken leg or ankle. He could set that and then he could carry her out until he met up with the search teams. Looking at the sky he knew he could start to move in about fifteen minutes. Slowly he tried to untangle himself from her.
"No, don't leave me," her eyes weren't really open as she tried fruitlessly to grab at him.
"I'm not leaving but I have to get us ready to go," he slid away from her and instantly regretted it. He missed the contact of her body against his.
"K darling," and her eyes fluttered closed again. Holden stopped short for a moment and looked back at her. How out of it was she? Did she know that it was him or did she think it was Trevor? He couldn't worry about that now. The only goal he had was to get her back to safety and well again. Then he could worry about who she really wanted and if necessary make sure that it was him.
Ten minutes later he had the rope secured to a couple of small trees and bushes at the top of the slide. It was now time to set the leg, something he wasn't looking forward too. It was going to hurt, really hurt, but there was no way around it. Ten minutes later sweat was pouring down both of their brows, there had been a number of questionable words said on both their parts, and she had drifted off again into that haze that he hoped would keep her from remembering most of this. Stripping off his jacket and shirt. He didn't have enough ties to secure her and make it securely to the top. It was cold, really cold but he would get dressed again when they reached the top and were in a safer location.
He let her lie there for a moment and rest. Staring at her he wondered what it was going to take to win her back. Releasing his breath, not realized he was holding it, and glancing at the sky he knew it was time to get her up the hill before any thaw could make it more dangerous. Carefully he worked his jacket under her and his body pressed up against her.
"Oh, you're warm," and she snuggled into him. Her eyes were still not completely open, "Closer."
"Okay Kari, I'm putting my jacket around you and am going to use it to anchor you to me," he began pulling her closer just as she had asked.
"Oh goody," and her hand started to move toward parts better left alone right now.
"Kari," he adjusted her hand, "I have to concentrate right now. I don't want to have to wait for the search teams. It will take too long," as he secured her legs between his. God help him, he knew that if she had been in her right mind the temptation would be great to follow through on her choice of activities, even out here, but she wasn't and he had to keep her safe. Right now it was his job, his mission to get her back to Dr. McCoy. Leaving everything else he began the trek back up to the path for almost the last time. If all went well he would tie her to the tree up top, again images raced through his head that he tried to shake free, but couldn't, and return to the ledge to get just what was needed for the trip back. Search teams could collect the rest later.
He was sweating by the time they reached the top, and not just from the exertion. Kari had been absentmindedly fingering his scars on both his chest and back. It didn't seem to bother her as much as it did him as she was fairly quiet all the way up except for a few groans when her leg bounced against his inner thigh. Quickly he got to a safer part of the trail and began to untie her from him.
"No, no, don't do that," he heard her protest but to keep his sanity he didn't stop. Pulling up the rope he secured her, it was better to think of it like that, to the nearby tree. Taking a moment to dress and adjust himself, he then, on hands and knees, made his way back down to get the pack they would need.
"Holden!" he heard her cry out for him as he was still climbing back up and it ripped at his heart.
"I'm here!" he tried to move a bit faster.
"Holden!" he wasn't sure if she couldn't hear him or if she was delirious, so he moved even faster scraping up his hands. Launching himself over the top edge and onto the path he scrambled to make his way over to her.
"I'm here, I'm here," and he smoothed her hair. It was then he realized that it had been his name that she had called out. It was a bit sobering, "I wouldn't leave you. I just had to get some of our things before I take you out of here." And wasn't that going to be a trip.
"Just don't leave me Holden," she said with unseeing eyes. She was still halfway in and out of consciousness, but that didn't seem to matter. Her next words hit him hard, "I just don't want you to leave me."
"I won't," and he swallowed, "I promise." Taking the heat blanket they had used to stay warm all night long, he fashioned it into what looked like an oversize baby sling. Placing it first over his head and shoulder he made sure it would keep her safe on the trip back. She had relaxed again and drifted off into a place of semi-consciousness. He didn't give anything much thought right now, he couldn't. But the fact still remained, she knew it was him, she had called out for him, and yet they were not out of danger. He had a decision to make. He could wait for the search teams and then they would have to wait on rescue teams. It was a no brainer, he didn't want her to have to wait.
Although he was beginning to realize that her head injury was probably not as severe as he had first thought, the combination of everything wasn't good. He wasn't just going to sit around and wait for help and hope that things weren't that bad. No, the sooner he got her to the doc the sooner she would be better and the sooner that he could get all this straightened out with her. It was time, he stopped only for a moment to look at her. He then untied her from the tree and wedged her inside of the sling as best as he could. There was a contented sigh as she snuggled into him once more. Slowly he started the trek back to the parking lot and back towards civilization.