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Stone Cold Cowboy(10)

By:Jennifer Ryan

“She’s out cold,” Colt said.

“Exhaustion. She’ll do better once she’s had some rest.” Rory spotted the bottles of water on the floorboards. He grabbed one, uncapped it, and held Sadie’s head up again. “Drink some water, sweetheart.” He tipped the bottle to her lips. Again, she sputtered, but drank a few ounces.

He laid her back down, drank the rest of the bottle himself, then jumped out of the truck and closed the door.

Colt peeled off his jacket and the thick flannel he wore underneath. He held the dark blue and white plaid out to Rory. “Take this. It’ll be too small, but at least you’ll have something to wear.”

Rory stuffed his arms into the sleeves. If he flexed too much, he’d probably tear the material. He pulled the sides together and barely managed to button the thing at his sternum. No way he buttoned it across his chest.

“You look like the Hulk in that thing,” Colt teased.

Rory couldn’t even muster a smile at the stupid joke. “Take my horse back. It’ll be a long ride, and I’m sorry for that.”

“No worries. I got this.”

“Swing by Sadie’s place on your way to town. Tell her father what happened and where she is.”

Rory ran around the truck, hopped into the driver’s seat, started the engine, and turned the heat up to warm him and Sadie, though she was bundled well in the blankets. Rory turned the truck and headed down the road, Colt already in the saddle and riding back home.

Rory drove like the devil was after him. He sped past other vehicles, ignoring the honks when he cut things too close between a slow car and oncoming traffic. He didn’t care if the cops came after him; he needed to get Sadie to the clinic. With that thought in mind, he pulled out his phone, scrolled through his contacts to his grandfather’s favorite doctor, and hit the call button.

“Dr. Bowden.”

“Bell, it’s Rory.”

“Hey, Rory, how is Sammy? Everything okay?”

“Granddad is fine. Ornery as ever. Are you at the clinic?”

“Yeah, I get off in an hour.”

“I’m on my way. I need you to get ready for a woman I’m bringing in. She’s suffering from hypothermia. She’s got three deep cuts that will need stitching. She’s covered head to toe with puncture wounds from being tied up with barbed wire. Her wrists and ankles are raw and bleeding badly. She was hung from her hands, so her wrists and shoulders are sore. Maybe she’s got some pulled muscles and tendons, I don’t know.”

“Got it. Is she awake and lucid?”

“No. Not really. I’ve got her warm now, but I don’t know how long she was hanging there.”

“Oh God, Rory. Okay. I’ll get everything ready for when you arrive. How far out are you?”

“Twenty minutes.” A long fucking time in Sadie’s case. She must be in so much pain. The thought drove him to push the gas pedal harder, drive faster, regardless of the danger. “They hit her, Bell. They cut her. She’s in bad shape.” The words came out softer than he intended since he could barely choke out the words past the lump in his throat, but Bell heard him.

“I’ll take care of her, Rory.” Bell’s calm assurance bolstered his waning confidence that he’d gotten to her in time.

“Thanks, Bell. I’ll be there soon.” Choked up, he disconnected the call. He reached down to touch Sadie’s shoulder to reassure her in some small way, but he pulled his hand back, afraid to touch her and disturb any of her wounds. In the end, his unusual need to comfort made him brush his fingers through her long blond hair. She stirred beside him, tilting her head into his soft touch. He did it more, hoping that small comfort gave her strength to get through this. Her small bloody hand reached out from the blanket and settled on his thigh. He pressed his hand over hers and swore he’d keep her safe from now on. No one would ever hurt her again.


Rory paced outside the hospital room door Dr. Bell Bowden shoved him out of five minutes ago, trying to hold on to his sanity. She’d let him stay while they cleaned, dressed, and stitched Sadie’s wounds, but not even his good friend’s wife let him stay while they photographed Sadie’s many injuries and examined her to see if she’d been sexually assaulted. He hadn’t even considered it when he found her nearly naked. He didn’t want to think about it now. The way he found her, the pain inflicted on her was enough for any one person to bear. To think whoever did that to her touched her, hurt her in that way made the rage roiling in his gut feel like a ticking time bomb about to go off.