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Like Echoes in the Storm

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It was near dark when I regained consciousness for the second time that day, unable to identify how long I had been out for, I presumed it hadn't been for long. There were no indications of a concussion from my most recent blow on the head, nor did I feel ill. Although what I did have was a slight headache. Feeling the sensitive spot on the base of my skull as it was jostled against the solid mass behind me as I began to stir. I wondered where he was taking me, pulling my lower lip under my top teeth, I bit down but didn't ask my escort inquiries about where he was taking me. Entirely out of fear of being hit on the head once more, I feared the third time I would endure a concussion. Instead, I embraced the momentary of peace from my dream; we swayed somewhat as the horse proceeded to travel on the trail we were on, feeling the faint mist of spring hit my face.

A stone cottage appeared in view as I reopened my eyes, now adjusted to the increasing darkness. I held my breath as we neared the structure, quietly hoping for the presence of a warm hearthstone as I noticed the smoke wafting from the chimney of the illuminated cottage. An involuntary shiver erupted within my frame as I peered up at my captor, how gathered the courage to question him if that was where he intended to bring me. Being a minimal conversation man, the response was similar to all the other I had received from him since we met, a muffled ' Mmmmphm ' graced my ears. As if I had any questions that this man wasn't a born Scot, that sound reduced any doubts I might have had. Since arriving in Scotland, two weeks prior, I had come to recognise this as a suitable answer for just about anything. I found it somewhat annoying.

My captor, pulled the horses' reins, beckoning the beast to stop once we were in front of the cottage and slipped off the mount before turning back to me. I watched as he carefully reached up and laid his fingers around my wrists to remove me from the horse before grasping my waist to hinder me from falling onto my arse. For a man that had knocked me out previously, he was somewhat gentle with me now; I noted as he gripped right bicep and drew me into the direction of the cottage. Thrusting me into the hut, my vision spotted as my eyes attempted to quickly acclimate to the brightness from within coming from the fireplace, and I stiffly stood in the centre of the room. I could sense the men begin to undress me with their eyes as I wrapped my limbs across my breasts; I had selected the wrong day to go braless.

"Who's it ye have there, Murtagh?"

"A Sassenach wench." The familiar voice of my captor spoke.

My mousey-face friend, now identified as Murtagh, clasped my arm once more, tearing it from securely around my chest, and moved me towards the light that was cast by the fire and small candles lining the hearth. The men proceeded to gawk at me, with what I assumed to be curiosity as I was moved across the floor. As Jonathan Randall had declared, I was roaming the woods in my dressing gown. I was confident these men had thought the same, and I pressed my eyes down to avoid theirs. From the various event that had transpired throughout the day, I noted my dress was not only covered in mud but was torn in multiple places. 'Jesus Beauchamp, you're a proper mess', I inwardly stated as I felt a knuckle hook beneath my jawbone and force my gaze back up. The hand belonged a different man, one I hadn't recognise and was holding a bannock in his hand that was still connected under my jaw, that issued crumbs down the front of my dress. Uncomfortable as it was, I remained still and stared at him. He was a rounder fellow, who stank of alcohol and sweat, but his stench wasn't nearly as foul as Murtagh's. Though similar the additional men, he was sheathed in a magnitude of plaid, which I found unusual even for this part of the Highlands. Tartans weren't precisely the spring fashion choice of 2019 nor any season for the last two hundred or so years.

"She's a bonnie one, Sassenach or no." He ultimately said as he turned and continued eating at his place near the hearth.

"Let's have a look at ye then, lass." A large, bearded gentleman spoke, as he rose and sauntered over to me. He was a decent looking fellow; I'd give him that, unlike his associates I'd seen so far and by his presence, he was commanding I assumed him to be their leader, perhaps he was my ticket back to the stones and home to Frank. The leader looked me over, much like his greasy mate had, but his gaze didn't have the same lust to his eyes; however, it still wasn't exactly a stare extending friendship. Frowning his brows together, he asked, "What's your name?"

"Claire, Claire Beauchamp," I responded, electing once more to give my maiden name still instead of my husbands. Eyeing the man with caution, I wasn't entirely sure why I had given him my maiden name without the hyphenation with my husbands. For Captain Randall, it was merely, so he didn't think we were related. For the man currently before me, it simply was because it felt safer to be just Beauchamp, "Who are you?"

"Beauchamp?" He prayed, saying it in its proper French form as I had adopted the English style while living in America, "French, is it no?"

I nodded lightly and began to part my lips, to once more ask who he was when he pivoted away from me and back towards Murtagh, demanding to know where the man had discovered me. Ignoring me and my inquiries appeared to be the trend of the day.

Murtagh dried his mouth with his ratty sleeve as what I assumed to be alcohol trickled down his face, "She was near the foot o' Craigh na Dun," He said as he eyed me, "Havin' words with a certain captain of dragoons, there seemed to some question to whether the lady was or was not a whore."

The gentleman who had yet to introduce himself looked me over carefully once more, taking in the details of my chiffon red printed maxi-dress, ankle boots and large leather purse.

"Aye, and the lady's position in this discussion?" He asked, glancing away from me.

Murtagh smirked, almost as if he was amused with how I handled myself in the woods, "She said she wasna. The Captain got a kick to the balls, testin' his question."

The men in the cottage laughed as Murtagh told the tale of how he found me and I defended myself against a man they all seemed to hold some distaste for. The rounder fellow, Rupert, thought they best test Murtagh's account. Seeing if I was as 'brawny' as they had put it, to the test.

"That'll do, Rupert," Dougal scolded, his voice carrying authority as Rupert's grin dropped from his face, "I don't hold wi' rape."

I sensed the tension that had accumulated in my shoulders release as relief overwhelmed my frame with knowing additional sexual assault was off the activities' agenda for the remainder of the day. Withdrawing towards the rear of the room and away from the men, Dougal walked back towards the area he was first sitting when I had arrived. I faintly overheard as he told his men that they needed to put as much distance between the cottage and where they were travelling tonight. He pulled his men's attention towards a young man who was hunched on a stool in the corner of the room. Glancing towards the doorway of the cottage, I had a clear shot at escape. With it being my only concern, I groaned and shut my eyes. I had been unconscious during the journey to wherever we were. I wasn't positive of which direction I had come from neither the route back to Inverness or Craigh na Dun. It was twilight now, outside, and with the darkness looming, attempting to locate a road seemed like a fools' errand. I needed these men to help me more than I cared to admit, being a strong, self-sufficient woman had its limits. Lacking mobile service and being lost, were mine.

The man in the corner had hardly glanced up while his associates had been interrogating me and taking in my battered appearance, he had kept himself bend and was clutching his opposite shoulder and was trembling slightly. A symptom of pain, I thought, eying Dougal as he pushed the man's palm away as another man removed the young man's plaid. Murtagh, came up behind him, pressing a knife to the collar of the shirt, he wore beneath the plaid, splitting the shirt, enabling it to drop away from the man's shoulder. Several of the men gasped, at the sight of his mangled shoulder.

 

"Out o' joint," Dougal grunted, prompting the man to look up for the first time.

"Fell wi' my hand out, when a musket ball knocked me off my saddle," He explained, "I landed with my weight on the one hand, and Crunch!" The young man shrugged his healthy shoulder as an expression of pain passed his face.

"Fuck," I murmured as I observed the men assess the young man. They were right, it did seem as if the musket ball had gone straight through, but that was the least of his concerns. The man called Angus seized a piece of cloth from the table behind him and began to blot away the blood as Dougal asked if he thought he could ride.

"Hurts bad enough sitting still. I couldna manage a horse." He replied as his face grew white, and he squeezed his eyes shut, and he forced his teeth hard into his lower lip as a surge of pain overtook him.

The men began to discuss what they were going to do about him as I watched in sympathy. I knew I could treat the man, but would they allow me to help? I glimpsed back at the door; this was my opportune moment to leave with them distracted. I could easily slip out without being seen and resume being lost in the woods on my own. My top teeth penetrated my bottom lip as my eyes went back and forth between the young man in the corner and freedom. Rupert began to pick up the man's arm by the wrist and elbow and force it upwards while I started towards the door and forced me to stop moving. The angle was wrong; I sighed and detected the man groan softly as beads of sweat form on his forehand. Collapsing forwards, Rupert released his arm and caught the man before sinking entirely to the grimy floor of the cottage. I hesitated, pondering my next move as I watched Murtagh uncork a leather flask and touch it to the younger mans' lips. Choking somewhat, he coughed and opened his eyes as the liquid stained the remains of his shirt.

"Stop!" I vocalised, as I marched forward away from freedom, "If you do that you'll break his arm."

"What do you mean?" Dougal snapped, as the others looked alarmed by my stern voice.

"You have the angle all wrong," I explained as I drifted closer to the young man and offered him a small smile, "The upper limb needs to be at the proper angle before it shifts back into the joint. May I?"

The young man nodded as I planted my hands on his arm, squeaking as I drew his wrist up and the elbow in. I overestimated my size compared to my new patient as my arms began to cramp from holding his up. I peered up at Murtagh who was behind him and nodded, as if he could read my mind, he placed his hands upon the young man and kept him still for me.

"This is the worst part," I warned him, with another small smile, "Then it'll be over, and I'll tend to your wound."

His mouth twitched as his lips curled, not quite into a smile, but as close as his pain would permit him, "Canna be much worse, get on wi' it."

I hadn't had much practice resetting shoulder joints. I had seen it done, countless times that I knew the steps to follow to ease the joint into its proper position, but on a man of his size on a joint that had been dislocated hours prior was proving to be more challenging than I had anticipated. His muscles had swelled and were pulling on the joint, and it required more power than I possessed in my upper body. Freeing his arm temporarily, I flexed my back with a small stretch before I went back to business. As I laid my hands upon his arm once more, I returned his arm into position while I detected a faint crunch and then a pop as it slid back into place. My patient grinned as he rubbed his shoulder gently nearly in disbelief, a woman had healed him as the men burst out into amazed gasps.

"It does hurt anymore!" My patient declared.

"It will." I replied honestly, as I gathered my brownish hair at the nape of my neck and twisted it into a low knot, "It will be sore for a few days. And you shouldn't extend the joint at all for at least two days, preferably three," I babbled off aftercare information to my patient, "When you started to use it again, please go gentle on it and stop if it begins to hurt. You wouldn't want to damage it further. Oh! And ibuprofen and warm compresses for pain."

"Any questions?" I asked the young man as I folded the table cloth on the table into a sling.

"Who are you?" Dougal asked, as my patient began to open his mouth to speak.

"I'm a doctor?" I replied, yet it reflected more like a question. I received confused stares from the men before they exchanged looks towards each other, "a physician, a healer."

I received more puzzled expressions and whispers while I shifted back to my patient and presented him with another grin, "Let me clean that wound. Murtagh, will you pass me my bag?"

Murtagh looked down next to his feet and picked up the leather purse I had abandoned and handed it over. I thanked him with a polite smile before setting my bag on the small table and sifted around for my compact first-aid kit. Frank regularly made fun of me for carrying medical-grade equipment on my person at all times, seeing as neither one of us never needed anything more than plaster, the rest of the supplies were viewed as a waste of space. 'Well, look at this handiness now, Frank' I teased him theoretically as I redirected back to the young man. Unsnapping the clasps to my case and drew out the bottle of alcohol and held it to a gauze pad, "Now, this will sting a tad."

"What's that?" He hissed as I touched it to his skin.

"Alcohol," I answered casually, "It'll disinfect and eliminate bacteria in your wound."

"Oh aye," He nodded, "Why?"

Did he just ask me why? I gawked at him, anticipating him to laugh and declare he was joking, only such moment never occurred. He simply remained quiet, peering up at me, expecting an explanation to why I was cleaning his wound with alcohol. Sighing, I couldn't believe what was transpiring. I had seen the hospital in Inverness; I knew that the Highlands possessed proper medical facilities and weren't as archaic as this bunch implied.

"So you don't get an infection," I said, rather slowly, hoping he'd understand.

"Infection?"

"What the fuck," I snapped, "If I don't clean your gunshot wound, it will fester, you will get ill; you will die."

"Aye." The young man said and gestured his eyes to indicate I could resume with my task.

I expelled a frustrated sigh, as I bent forward and laid the gauze to the front and back of his shoulder where the ball had passed through. He required stitches, I noted, to further close the wound. Inspecting the dirty room we were in, I confirmed that this wasn't the place to do it. Perhaps, they'll pass an urgent care clinic on the route they were travelling on, I concluded and shrugged as I pulled out a large section of clean gauze and swiftly applied antibacterial cream to it before I covered his injury. Satisfied with their position and coverage, I tore a bit of cloth from his tattered shirt and fastened it around the dressing, and I stepped away to clean up my inadequate workplace. Tossing the gauze wrappers into the fire, I left the one with alcohol on the table and started back towards the door. My duty was done here; I could go with a clear conscious that I had treated the young man the best that I could.

"Jamie," Dougal approached my patient as he obstructed my exit, "Can ye ride one-handed?"

"Aye." Jamie nodded.

"Good lad," He said and turned back to Angus and Rupert, "We'll be leaving, get the horses."

Murtagh secured Jamie under his healthy shoulder and gently supported him up from his stool. My patient, still a trifle pale, straightened himself to his full length and stood towering over the mousey-looking fellow for several moments before he bent backwards to stretch his back. Having just returned from being outside, Murtagh delivered Jamie a fresh shirt, and I watched as his breathing hitched, in discomfort as he stripped his torn one from his muscular frame. I was near the door as I turned to ogled at his build as he struggled with his shirt. I nearly considered volunteering to help him and was close to providing it when Dougal strode back inside and proclaimed they were leaving.

It was a moonless night as I strolled outside, only the stars caught the metal of pieces of the horse harness as I stood off to the side. Gazing up, I gasped at the night sky in awe. It was saturated with stars, considerably more than I had seen in years and suddenly looked around the surrounding forest. I evidently had been knocked out a much longer than I had estimated. There were no city lights nearby, no lights at all. The only source of it was the natural variety dominating the night sky. I felt a coldness raced down my spine as I noticed the men's shapeless bodies in the dark. We should still be capable of seeing the city or suburbia lights of Inverness; both should be visible for miles. I advanced to the tree line as I held my left hand to my breast and observed my breathing laboured. The realisation of what happened finally hit me, I had, in fact, time travelled. My brain had been to busy looking for a logical explanation to what was happening when there wasn't one. All the signs had been there since I woke up on the hill.

"The lass will ride wi' ye." Dougal clutched my arm as he tugged me away from the trees and towards Jamie, "You can hold the reins if Jamie canna manages one-handed. Should ye try anythin', I shall cut your throat. D'ye understand?"

I nodded, my throat had grown too dry to respond, and his voice starting to sound menacing, I believed every word that left his lips. All temptation of trying to escape for the present time slipped away from the forefront of my brain. I had no idea where I was, who these people were, or why we now had to leave with a sense of urgency. I didn't even know where we were going, but I knew my requests to be returned to Frank would go unheard. Frank, I thought and felt my heart squeeze. I had never gone this long without at least sending him a message, letting him know I was at least alive. It had been roughly six hours since he had last heard from me. Forty-eight hours. That's how long he'd have to torture himself with my disappearance before he was able to report it to the police, for them to take it seriously. In that time, I had no clue where I'd be.

Dougal must have sensed my nod, as he let my arm go and crouched suddenly alongside me. I turned and stood there, staring downward at him stupidly until I heard him hiss, "Your foot, lass!" I picked up my right foot and inserted it in his hands when he dropped it and added, "Your left foot!" I took hast to shift my balance between heels and replaced my left foot into his hands and issued a small grunt as he boosted me up into the saddle in front of Jamie, who drew me into him with his good arm.

My body tensed by the proximity of our bodies and our situation. Nevertheless, as we began to travel, I was appreciative towards the warmth he was providing to my backside. The night started to become crisp as the mist turned into a steady drizzle, and I sank backwards upon his chest, attempting to relax and permit myself to be comfortable. I should have grabbed a jacket before departing to Craigh na Dun; I told myself as I sensed a tiny shiver slither up my bones. There were several items I should have grabbed before going to Craigh na Dun, I added, had I known I was going to time travel. I groaned but remained soundless as we went through the woodlands. There were minimal conversations amongst the men, other than the occasional grunt.

 

After some time, we halted while the men dismounted their horses and deliberated in hushed tones. Jamie abandoned his reins of our horse over its neck and permitted him to stray towards a small growth of grass while he started to stir behind me.

"What are you doing?" I demanded, keeping my voice low, "Don't twist like that, you'll hurt yourself."

"I'm tryin' to get my plaid loose to cover you," he replied, "You're shivering. Can ye reach the clasp of my brooch?"

I stiffly turned on the mount and drew the clasp of his brooch from the plaid he possessed atop his healthy shoulder. Once the material was freed, Jamie twirled the fabric out and let it fall like a shawl around his shoulders. He then yanked me closer to his body much like he had at the inception of the journey and tucked the plaid around my frame, encasing us warmly inside.

"There," he said with slight satisfaction, "We dinna want ye to freeze."

"Thank you," I smiled, appreciative for the shelter.

Something seemed familiar about this section of the countryside we were currently passing through. I was relatively confident I knew the massive rock formation ahead, it was shaped similar to a rooster's tail. Frank had pointed it out a week earlier as we hiked within this area, yet there was something concerning it that caused him to point it out to me. It wasn't merely because he found the appearance humorous, no, it had some historical significance. Think Beauchamp, I muttered to myself, attempting to remember Franks ramblings. I knew it had to deal with the British patrols of the area, ambushes, that's it!

"Jamie," I whispered, "That's Cocknammon Rock."

"Aye," He said.

"Don't the British patrol's use it for ambushes?" I inquired, trying harder to retrieve more details from Frank.

Jamie sounded to our horse and urged it up adjacent to Dougal's, as they engaged in hushed Gaelic conversation. The horses slowed to a stroll. Jamie, Murtagh, and Dougal sank behind as the two others pressed their horses' sides and galloped towards the rock. At some point during our ride, a quarter-moon had occurred, casting enough light to emit shadows against the clefts in the rocks. The men Dougal had sent ahead were no longer hidden, and I watched shapes crossed the stones, followed by a spark of musket fire. Jamie clutched me around my abdomen and deposited me within the heather before taking off towards the dispute. I listened to the distant cries and the sporadic musket volleys from my place in the heather for several moments. Unable to differentiate between which party, or which was winning. I gradually rose from my hiding place and dusted myself off, before I veered away from the battle and towards the direction we had come. Well what was I supposed to do now, I questioned. If the Scots won, I concluded they would come back for me. If they didn't, I could seek assistance from the English, who either like Captain Randall believe me a sex worker or I was in alliance with the Scots. Groaning, I re-knotted my hair at the base of my neck and strode out into the road. The moon was momentarily producing enough light that I could detect where I was stepping in front of me, and with my decision reached, I started to walk—casually at first, listening for sounds of pursuit behind me.

The noises from the battle had dissolved as reached the road once again. It was visible, but I needed to follow it if I were to locate a town. I had a minimal sense of direction in the dark. Frank had once attempted to educate me on the method of utilising the stars as navigation. He had learned as a child he had informed me, on camping excursions with his father. I was stubborn; I said to him that if I were lost in the woods at night, I would simply GPS my way back to civilisation. Reminiscing of Frank, I desired to curl into a ball and bawl. I should have listened to Frank. I should've learned how to navigate with the stars' assistance because now I was stranded in the 18th century with a useless iPhone.

"Fuck me!" I shouted as I stumbled over a rock and toppled to the dirt.

Hurling my fists into the hard earth beneath me, I felt a tear coast down my cheeks. Accepting defeat, I enveloped the skirt of my dress around my knees and drew them into my chest and sobbed. I hadn't been there long when a rustling in the woods disturbed me. Rising my head, I promptly swept away my tears and stood, as I slid my fingers into my purse to obtain my dependable pepper spray.

"Dinna worry, lass.' Tis me." A hoarse voice uttered.

"Great, you're back," I said, annoyed. When in reality, I was relieved it was Jamie who found me again.

He didn't intimidate me as much as the other men, dangerous as he appeared. He was still young, younger than me. At least, that's what I believed. A mocking smirk emerged on his face as he yanked me to my feet. He smelt of blood and sweat, more than he did previously. Groaning, this lad was going to be the death of me.

"Are you hurt, again?" I asked as I moved away from him and quit walking.

"Nay, this lot isna my blood. Not much of it." He replied and stretched the bloodied material from his frame.

I gulped and nodded, not sure I believed him.

"They are waiting up the road," Jamie laid his palm on the small of my back and propelled me forwards in front of him.

"No," I said, shaking my head as I dug my heels in the earth, "I'm staying here."

"No, ye aren't." He paused and appeared relatively shocked at my resistance.

"Will you kill me if I don?" I demanded, "Slit my throat as Dougal said?"

"No, you don't look heavy. If ye won't walk, I shall carry ye. Do ye want me to do that?" He asked as he took a stride forward, and I hastily withdrew.

"You'll hurt your shoulder again."

He took another stride towards me, and I caught a glimpse of his lips curling in the moonlight, "So that means you're comin' with me?"

 

I drove my teeth into my bottom lip, searching within for an answer, I wanted to tell him no but failed to locate my voice. He perceived my quietness as an answer and grabbed hold of my arm, and we commenced down the road. Jamie held a secure grip on me as he hauled me upright each time I tripped over rocks or plants, to prevent me from completely face planting. While he, himself, walked as if nothing in his path, walking as if it were the middle of the afternoon. It wasn't long before we caught up with the other men, who were admittedly just up the road. There had been no losses or injuries; everyone was accounted for; I presume that was an accomplishment. I mentally noted as Murtagh assisted me onto my horse, and as I settled in front of Jamie, allowing my pettiness to overtake me and flung my head into his damaged arm and listened to him gasp.

"Whoops, sorry." I falsified an expression of sympathy, "You probably tore a muscle during that brawl."

"Aye, it wasna much of a choice," He smirked, and drew me close to his blood-stained shirt, "Either them or me. I picked me; besides, ye can fix me up again."

"Ha! That's what you think." I replied and fidgeted away from the sticky, filthy material as he clicked his tongue to roused our horse.

While we travelled, someone passed a flask to Jamie, which he delightedly accepted. I could smell the burnt-smelling liquor as he swallowed, and handed it to me. I wasn't thirsty, well at least not for this, whatever it was. What I truly craved was a glass of water, although as the faint scent of honey overwhelmed my nose, it reminded me just how starved I had been. Trying to think of the last time I had eaten, it was brunch the day earlier with Frank before we parted ways. My stomach delivered an embarrassingly, offensive grumble, and I eyed the flask and proceeded to investigate it.

"Have a wee nip," my escort whispered, feeling his hot breath hit my ear, "it will make ye forget you're hungry, lass."

I titled the flask to my lips and swallowed. There were several things I aspired to forget, but I didn't feel there was enough alcohol in this flask to permit that happen. I took a small sip, followed by a larger one before returning the flask. Jamie had been right; the whiskey heated my stomach and did drive away from my hunger pangs. We proceeded to take turns with the flask and horses' reins for a few miles, casually making quiet conversations. Not saying much to each other, but enough to keep me entertained from singing to him again, which he stated I could scarcely carry a tune, something I was entirely aware of. I was a doctor, not a singer; I informed him before we happened into a comfortable silence.

"Stop! Help!" I shouted after Jamie had been quiet for some time, his breathing had begun to become ragged, and he slipped from our horse, "He's falling!"

Shapes of the men swirled and crowded us, with incoherent mutterings. Jamie slid off our horse, like a sack of potatoes, landing in someone's arms. Everyone appeared to be off their mounts as they laid him in the field. Struggling, I plunged from the horse and rushed over to him and stooped beside to him. Placing my ear near his mouth and monitored for breathing as I observed his chest rise and fall, he was breathing, thank Jesus, I thought. Straightening up, I pushed his ruddy hair from his pale face and sighed with relief.

"He just fainted," I assured them, "Someone place a saddlebag beneath his feet and bring me water, please."

My order went obeyed immediately, to my astonishment. I remained close to Jamie, watching as he murmured and opened his eyes, and smiled at him, "Hi, how are you feeling?"

"I'm alright," He replied, "Just dizzy." Attempting to sit up, I planted my left hand against his chest and urged him back down to the soil.

"Don't move yet," I ordered tenderly.

I completed a trauma assessment as I examined his body for injuries, something I presumably should have done following the fight when I first noticed all that blood on his shirt instead of listening to him. Satisfied in my findings, I rose from my knees and turned to Dougal, who was now standing near me, "His wound is bleeding again, and he's been freaking stabbed," I reported to him with a slight shrug, "It not severe, but I estimate he's lost a lot of blood."

Dougal nodded, "Dress his wounds."

"We should camp here so that he can rest." I insisted, glancing at my patient.

"Nay, lass. We canna stay long, just long enough for ye to stop the bleeding." Dougal said, making his statements final and strolled away.

I leaned beside Jamie and began to remove the spoiled gauze from his injuries, sputtering to myself, as Dougal softly told Willie to safeguard the horses near the road. While the remainder of the men relaxed for a moment, conversing in muffled voices as they drank. I delivered a frustrated exhalation from my lungs as my purse hovered alongside my head. Peering up, Murtagh held the leather bag in his fists, extending it out to me, I accepted it and set it down. I hadn't even realised I had discarded it from my person, but evidently, I had when Jamie fell from our horse. Silently, I thanked my new associate and directed him to assist me with cutting open the collar of my patient's shirt so I could reach the wounds. Murtagh still a man with very little to say nodded and simply did as I asked, as Jamie protested our every movement.

"You're not alright," I snapped with irritability, "You're a fucking idiot, are you trying to die? Because I possess half a mind to let you, this exceeding frustrating. Stop moving."

Jamie proceeded to fidget as I implemented pressure to the bleeding wounds and attempted to lean away from me every time I dabbed the gauze with alcohol to him. At this pace, I would be out of supplies before we even made it to wherever we were going. No one had told me exactly; I had given up on trying to seek information from this bunch.

"Did it hurt?" I probed as I tore the foundation layer of material of my dress.

"Did what hurt?" He asked, distracted as he eyed my upper thigh, now exposed in the result of tearing my dress.

"The knife," I said with little emotion in my speech.

"It was a bayonet," he corrected me, "And not so much."

"Are you for real Jamie?" I exclaimed.

He shrugged, and suddenly froze and grunted with pain, "I felt it go in, but couldna tell how bad it was."

"You should have told me." My voice quivered, "even if you do deserve this for kidnapping me."

Tears threatened to spill from my eyes as I shifted away from him; I was exhausted. I knew that much, but the last several hours had been some of the most trying of my life thus far. I missed my husband. My ass and thighs were raw from riding, and I had a headache that was increasingly becoming worse from being struck on the head numerous times. And most of all, I was drained from repairing a man that didn't care whether he lived or not. Tying the scraps of my dress over the fresh gauze, I brushed my fingers against his collar bone gently, as I began to rise. I hadn't moved much when I felt his fingers grasp mine, holding them tightly, he guided them to his chest to draw my concentration back to him. Running his sizeable rough hand over my small soft one cloaked in his blood, Jamie whispered, "Thank ye Sassenach, ye are truly an angel."

Well fuck me , I thought as I extracted my hand from his as I felt my heartstrings squeeze.