This week seems to be just as busy as the last. I'm getting cranky. I always get cranky when I can't block off enough time to write.
This material is first draft. Please do not quote or repost anywhere. Thanks.
Continuation of last week's post.
[Edited to remove too many references to "Lord Alin."]
The woman seemed to understand the problem. She pressed her fingertips against Carlie’s throat, and a rush of warmth and strength washed over Carlie from that point of contact. Her breathing steadied.
“Hold, my lady,” the woman said. “I’ll get help.”
She disappeared from Carlie’s line of sight. After time had passed, Carlie thought she’d imagined the woman. She closed her eyes and drifted away until she felt hands touch her.
Carlie opened weighted eyelids. The woman had returned with a man and a boy in his early teens. The boy’s anxious face filled her field of vision. “Tamli! Gretchi, help her!”
“I’ll do my best, Cedrin, but she’s lost a lot of blood.”
The man bent over the dead man, then Carlie.
“Lord Alin always was a ham-fisted hack,” he said to Gretchi in a harsh voice. “Looks like he missed her vitals. I’m not sure what she did to him, but it was effective.”
Gretchi grunted. “As long as he’s dead. If we don’t get her off the floor and get her warm soon….”
The boy stared at both of them, his face crumpling. “Please, Gretchi! Please, Lessing! She needs help!”
“We need to get her out of here, and then we need to get rid of the body” the man said in an urgent voice. “Anyone could come in at any moment. You know what a stir this would cause. She can’t be mixed up in this—Mallon can’t be mixed up in it. This would reach the ears of the Crown.”
Gretchi bent over Carlie, touching her side with gentle fingers. Heat spread from her hands, faintly warming Carlie’s cold, cold body.
Gretchi shook her head. “I don’t know, Lessing. We can’t move her far, or we’ll finish what Lord Alin started.”
“NO!” the boy half-screamed. “She can’t die! Tamli! Don’t leave me!”
Carlie tried to tell the boy that her name wasn’t Tamli, and that she had no intention of dying. Nothing emerged but a grunting sound. She held Gretchi with her gaze, and something in her eyes must have spoken to the woman.
“She’s come this far,” Gretchi said in a soft voice. “I don’t think she’s ready to give up yet.” She looked up at the man she had addressed as Lessing and nodded.
Carlie felt hands slide under her body and lift. Pain crashed down on her and drove her consciousness below the surface again. When her awareness surfaced again, she heard the sound of raised voices.
“….she’s your wife, my lord! It is the dead of winter! If you insist on moving her now, you might kill her!”
Carlie recognized the voice of the woman, Gretchi.
“You dare to argue with me about this? She cannot stay here! She will be removed from Haygen to House Mallon, and that is my final word on the matter!”
Something about that cold, petulant voice caused Carlie to make a restless movement. Someone seized her hand and held it. She turned her head to see the boy sitting at her side.
“He’s a pig, Tamli!” he said in a soft voice. “I don’t care what you say, he’s a big, fat pig!”
“Don’t let his lordship hear you say that,” Gretchi said as she appeared and placed a back of her hand on Carlie’s forehead. “Just because your sister is married to him wouldn’t keep the strap from your back.”
Unexpected pain of memory made Carlie catch her breath. She had been a sister. Once. Her brother had died long ago. Tears slid down the side of her face and dropped into her hair. She hadn’t thought of him for years. Even after promising she would never forget.
“Nothing to worry about, my lady,” Gretchi said. “Lessing will take us, and we will travel with everything we need to keep you comfortable. I will see to that myself,” she said, voice grim. “You sleep as much as you can now. You’ll need your strength."
Carlie turned her face to a wall. She did feel very tired. As she fell asleep, Carlie found comfort in the feel of the boy’s hand holding hers.