Stavewood (Stavewood Saga Book 1)

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Authors: Nanette Kinslow
to touch the gash on her head and fell back in a faint against the yielding mattress.
          When Mark returned, sloshing the hot water he had gone to heat, he rushed to her side, afraid she was dead. He watched her for a moment and heard her soft breathing. Once assured that she was still alive he decided it might be best if she slept through his doctoring, unsure of how much pain he’d need to inflict to clean and dress the wound properly.
          As he applied the warm compresses he began to wipe the mud from Rebecca’s pale features while he waited for the warm liquid to soften the dried blood. He lifted her slightly to try to situate her in a more comfortable position on the bed.

 
     
    Chapter Nine
     
     
                M ark nearly dropped the girl in shock. With her face nearly cleaned up and her clothing lying against her he realized that Rebecca was not a child like him, but instead a grown woman. The boy was certain that even as filthy as she was, he did not recognize her. Mark knew almost everyone around the area and he was sure he would have remembered her, her features as fine and delicate as a doll.
          Studying her face he reflected that she looked a little like his grandmother. Her coloring was probably not the same, though it was hard to tell since this lady was whiter than a sun bleached bone. Her hair was dark too, he thought, but there was something in her fine face and tiny upturned nose that felt familiar and comfortable to him.
        Instantly he thought of his father. What would his father say? Mark thought of the possibilities. He’d brought a woman here that he’d saved from a shack that wasn’t there before, but was now. His thoughts were a jumble. His Pa would want to find out who she was and who had done this, but Mark had no idea when he would return and what would the boy do with her in the meantime? He could take her by horseback down the mountain, but what if whoever was after her saw them, or came here looking for her? And as pale as she was, he wasn’t even sure she’d survive the trip. When he cared for his sick animals he knew that poor color was not a good sign.
          The boy paced the room in a panic, ran to the front of the cabin, and peered out of the door cautiously. He’d have to hide her, he thought, just in case. That way if anyone came looking for her she might be safe. He began to gather blankets and a bedroll and decided to transport her to the old stable up the hill. She’d be safer there and he’d tend to her as he could.
          He crept up the hill several times, setting up a makeshift bed in the abandoned stable and returned, slipping silently back into the house intending to move the woman at once.
          While thinking about lifting and carrying her to the hideaway, Mark lost his resolve standing beside the bed. She was taller than him, and if he couldn’t carry her well enough she could get hurt. She wasn’t big though, he thought, mostly just in big clothes. He moved aside the bowl on the bench and sat watching her.
          The afternoon’s ordeal had exhausted him and his nerves were frazzled. He just couldn’t think of a way to address the whole situation and wished, as he had many times before, that his father would arrive. His Pa would know exactly what to do, and no one messed with his Pa. Ever. They’d be safe and he’d make everything right.
         As he watched the woman sleep silently, he too, soon grew drowsy. Mark moved to the big chair in the corner and drifted off.
          At nightfall he woke suddenly and cursed himself for falling asleep. Something in his memory tugged at him, recalling an event that had happened a few summers ago. One of the loggers had gotten hit on the head and there was something about not letting him sleep too long or he’d never wake up. Mark decided he had better wake the woman just in case, he was kind of hungry and she might be hungry too. Anyway, it might

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