The Cowboy Rescues a Bride (Page 27)

The Cowboy Rescues a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #7)(27)
Author: Cora Seton

“Not as brave as you think.” She tugged her hand free.

Chapter 16

Now that Ned was settled and out of danger for the moment, Fila dressed back up in her warm coat and boots and went outside to bring in their provisions. She found their duffel bags thrown clear of the truck and hauled them indoors one at a time. Their groceries and ice chest hadn’t fared so well. The milk and most of the cooking oil had drained out of their containers. The eggs were crushed. But the dry goods and butter were fine. She collected the containers and bags where they were strewn around the upside-down truck, then peered inside its cab again to see what she might have missed.

She spotted an ancient-looking first aid kit near the back of the cab and figured it used to be stowed under the driver’s seat. Fishing it out, she opened it and found several things that might come in handy. She packed it in with the groceries and brought everything inside.

Ned had stuffed the pillow under his head and neck to raise himself up a little and he watched her move around the cabin unpacking the bags and setting things to rights. She set a pot of water to boil to make him tea on the old-fashioned iron cookstove and wished she had some herbs on hand with antibiotic properties. Or antibiotics themselves.

That reminded her of the first aid kit. She brought it out and went through it but although it contained antiseptic wipes and rubber gloves, it contained nothing he could take for an interior infection. Fila’s worry grew.

There was nothing for it; she’d have to hike out first thing in the morning. She’d leave before first light and go fast to make it to the highway before the sun set again. She’d bring the cell phone and call for a rescue the minute she got service. Or she’d flag down a passing vehicle and find help that way.

The whole idea left her numb with dread. She didn’t fear the forest road, exactly—it was too cold for bears and she thought most other animals would leave her alone. Unless there were wolves; she feared wolves. She feared strangers, too. She’d need to flag some down on the highway, however, if it turned out she still couldn’t get reception. Ned was right; she had no idea who would stop for her.

And if she had to spend the night outside? How would she manage that? She could freeze to death before she ever got help for Ned.

“Did you check the roof?” Ned said, interrupting her thoughts.

“The roof of the truck?” She hated to think how close both of them had come to being crushed.

“The roof of the house. Remember why we came here in the first place?”

She hadn’t remembered. Not after the horrific accident and the even worse experience of setting Ned’s leg. She tried to picture the exterior of the cabin in her mind. She had an impression of a snow covered roof, but had no idea how deep that snow was.

“You’d better go outside and take a look,” Ned said.

She wrapped up once again and did so. She trudged out into the yard, turned around and nearly stifled a groan. At least two feet of snow had accumulated on top of the little building—maybe closer to three. She returned inside and reported her findings to Ned. He looked grave.

“If there is ice layered in between the snow up there it will be heavy as heck,” he said. “We’ve got shovels and picks in the shed out back. You’ll have to do what you can.” He must have seen the look on her face. “Sorry, Fila. I hate to ask you to do all the work, but I don’t think I’ll be much help.”

“No.” She shook her head, knowing she had to do whatever it took to keep Ned lying down and resting. “How do I get up there?”

Ned groaned as he listened to Fila’s tentative shoveling on the roof above his head. He couldn’t stand the thought of her up there doing such heavy work alone. He was the one that should be shoveling, while she remained safe and warm inside. Of all the stupid things he’d ever done, flipping his truck took the cake. He’d never live it down. If he got out of here. It worried him that that his leg could get infected—but not for his own sake. If it withered and fell off it would be his own damn fault. But if things got bad enough, Fila might try to make that hike out to the main road and that was dangerous—too dangerous.

Her shovel chipped away at the snow above him, the repetitive clunks telling him his neighbor had been right; there were layers of ice between the snow. It would be hard to break through and get off of the roof, but if left there, the whole thing could collapse. With him underneath it.

The pain reliever he’d taken had barely dulled the ache in his leg, and as the minutes crept by, Ned’s spirits sunk. He had no television to lighten things up. There were books, but even if he could fetch them he’d barely be able to make head or tails of their contents. The forced stillness gave him much too much time to think about his life. He really had messed up this time. Forget about managing the cattle herd now—Luke was about to get his chance, after all. As usual, Ned would be screwed.

He heard the bang and rattle of the metal ladder against the house. Fila must be coming down. He waited and sure enough, she came through the front door several minutes later.

“How’s it going?” He watched her kick off her boots and strip off her jacket. She pinned her gloves to a clothes rack near the front door to dry and entered the living room.

“Slow.” She sighed. “I’m not strong enough.” She rubbed her wrists as she sat down on the sofa.

“You’re plenty strong. I’ve seen the muscles in your arms when you knead dough.”

She made a face. “Shoveling ice and snow is harder than making bread. Still, I’ll do it—I just can’t do it all at once. I need a break.” She sat back against the pillows.

“Relax for a while, then. Take a nap.”

She shook her head, got up and crossed the room to the bookcase. After perusing the shelves for a moment, she pulled out a slim volume. Ned frowned. Was she going to ignore him while she read? A spurt of anger pulsed through him at the thought she’d rather read than talk to him, but he stifled it. It wasn’t Fila’s fault he was flat on his back. He wanted to ask her what book she’d chosen, but usually when he asked that, people didn’t answer him. Instead they held the book up so he could read the title.

Which told him nothing.

“It’s an adventure story.” Fila crossed back to the couch and sat down. She tucked her feet up under her and positioned the pillows behind her back. “The Call of the Wild, by Jack London.”

“I think I’ve seen the movie.”