He chuckled and then grimaced in pain as I flipped him off while displaying my i
"Yeah, this would have come in handy two days ago when you were still pissing me off," I said wryly.
He shot me a small smile laced with pain.
"Sooo, guess I'm the last man standing," I continued to joke as I pulled my backpack off. "Where's your bag?" I asked more seriously.
"I'm guessing halfway between us and the spot where the earth decided to open up out from under us. I lost the walkie-talkie too," he said, obviously disgusted with himself. "But I did manage to hold onto this," he said, holding up his flashlight.
I nearly wept when I saw it. With the rain still continuing to fall, I had begun to doubt that help would come today, making another night outdoors inevitable.
Holding my tears in check, I went for a saucy comeback. "Well, I guess I'll keep you around," I said, digging through my bag. I pulled out one of the three bottles of water from inside. I handed it to Mason to open since my finger made it impossible to twist the lid.
He took a long drink and then handed it back to me. I took a smaller drink, but he forced me to drink more. "Obtaining more water won't be an issue," he said as the rain continued to pelt us.
I nodded before dealing with the most pressing issue at hand. "What are we going to do about that?" I asked pointedly, looking at his leg.
"I won't be able to move until we stabilize it, but even then, short of scooting on my ass, I won't be doing much moving."
"Stabilize?" I asked, trying to not think about the idea of touching the mangled mess and causing him more pain.
"Yeah, you'll have to help me stabilize it," he said. "In your bag, you should have a first aid kit. Double check to make sure it's in there."
I pulled the flap of the bag open and reached inside with my one good hand. I fumbled around a little, maneuvering the other two water bottles to the side until I finally felt the small rectangular box with my fingers. "Aha," I said, holding the box up triumphantly.
"Okay, good. Open it up and see if the ACE bandage is in there," he said, lying back down, clearly spent from holding himself up.
I fumbled with the latch of the box with my one hand and finally leaned forward to use my teeth to pop the stubborn lock. The box sprang open and I had to juggle the contents as they threatened to spill out. Taking a quick inventory, I saw several different sized Band-Aids, a handful of packets of Advil, individually wrapped alcohol wipes, a roll of gauze, a small tube of antibiotic cream and a rolled-up ACE bandage. I had to bite back a near hysterical laugh at the small tube of antibiotic cream. It would be as effective at treating Mason's open wound as applying duct tape to a leak in a dam.
"Did you find it?" Mason asked, trying to peer at me from his prone position.
"Yeah," I said, trying to shake off my despair as I shoved the Band-Aids, gauze, cream, wipes and pain relievers back into the small white plastic box. I held up the rolled-up bandage into his line of vision so he could see it.
"Okay, good," he said, raising himself back up on his elbows. "You need to search around and find two branches that are each roughly two-feet long, with maybe a quarter-inch diameter. They need to be as straight as you can find. Stay within sight of where I am so you don't get turned around and lost," he added, sinking back down with his eyes closed in obvious pain.
"Are you okay?" I asked, reaching for his hand unconsciously. The ashen look his face had taken was scary. Tears flooded my eyes as the enormity of the situation overwhelmed me. He needed me like no one ever had before. This was a situation I couldn't hide from and no one was waiting in the wings to swoop in to do it for me.
"I will be once we stabilize my leg. Whenever I move the pain ricochets throughout my body," he said, giving my hand a gentle squeeze. "Don't cry, it's all good," he added, trying to reassure me.
"I'm not crying, it's the rain," I lied, putting on a tougher act than I felt. "You just lay there and look pretty while I do all the work," I teased, gently extracting my hand from his so I could swipe the moisture from my face.
"You do that, and see if you can whip me up some grub and a dryer bed too," he teased with his eyes closed again.
"Sure thing, princess," I teased, standing up.
I left the brush that hid Mason from view and started scouting around for sticks that matched his description. Keeping his hideout in my line of vision, I continued to look along the base of the mountain. After just a few minutes, I hit pay dirt on two of his requests. Smiling to myself in satisfaction, I was happy to have a goal in mind.
I could do this.
With a solid plan now set in my mind, I hurried back to Mason, ready to offer him some relief. He was asleep when I arrived back at his side. I set the sticks to the side and studied his leg while he slept. I turned off the part of my mind that wanted to reject what I was seeing and instead studied it much like I would a piece of art that I was analyzing. The bone sticking out of the skin was my biggest concern. I knew enough about the human body to know that an open wound was not a good thing. I was puzzled it wasn't bleeding profusely, but suspected it must not have hit any kind of artery when it broke through the skin. Looking at it closely, I saw that dirt and debris had found its way into the wound making it clear that it would have to be cleaned thoroughly if I was going to save him from infection. The fact that the denim on that leg was ripped to shreds would make my job easier when it came to cleaning the leg effectively. After several minutes of studying the injury, I sat back. I wasn't looking forward to what I was going to have to do, but having a plan at least made it easier to accept.
Taking my eyes from his injury, I studied his features while he slept. Now that we weren't at each other's throats, I could appreciate how handsome he really was. Even with multiple scratches, he still had the rugged good looks they had to Photoshop on most male models. He screamed outdoors and maleness. Even laid up, he gave off the aura of protectiveness. Without thinking, I reached my hand up to brush a smudge of dirt off his forehead.
"Taking advantage of me, beach bunny?" he mocked lightly with his eyes still closed.
"Yep, you found me out. I've just been waiting for the right moment to make my move," I quipped, removing my hand from his forehead. He reached up and grasped it before I could do a full retreat.