Her Loyal Seal(7)

By: Caitlyn O Leary

“I’ll promise you anything, just stop talking.”

“Beth. You have to promise you’ll look after Beth. My father might be in trouble when we reach America, but my mother will stand by him no matter what, she always does. Beth will be all alone.” She coughed and her wet hair spilled over his shoulder. “Please take care of Beth.”

“I will Lydia. I’ll take care of both of you. You have my word.”

She coughed again. She couldn’t seem to stop, her chest rattled, and then she passed out.

“Darius,” he yelled.

“Halt!” Mason called out.

Clint was half aware of the rest of the family as they just about fell down where they stopped. All of the Hidalgos were on their last legs. Mason knew Lydia was in trouble, and was making the decision to take a break so Darius could attend to her.

Clint found the best coverage he could under a large tree, and wasn’t surprised when Finn and Drake had tarps out to protect Lydia. Darius had his back pack out with all of his medical supplies.

Clint sank down at Lydia’s feet and pulled off her wet socks, and dried her off as best he could before sliding his last pair of socks on her feet. He didn’t look up to see what his friend was doing. He didn’t want to see the look in his eyes. Mason came over to see what was going on.

“Mason, we need to camp here for the night,” Darius said grimly.

“We can’t.”

“Then we have to have two hours.”

“Dare, there’s only four hours of daylight left. We need all of it if we want to make it to the rendezvous in two days.” Mason set his hand on Clint’s shoulder. “You’re damn near played out. Let Drake take her for the rest of the day. It’ll help speed things along.”

“That’s bullshit. You know it’s the parents slowing us down.”

“Right now they are but in another hour it’ll be you.”

Clint looked up in his Lieutenant’s eyes and realized he was right. “Okay.”

Lydia groaned. Darius had stripped Lydia down to her upper buttocks and had three syringes in his hand. He was injecting her in her hip. “I need everyone’s clean shirts now. We need to keep her warm, and the wounds on her back dry. The rain is dripping down inside the poncho.”

Seeing the bloody and infected areas on her caramel colored skin made Clint sick. He really thought the antibiotics and antiseptic ointment would have helped her.

“Why isn’t she getting better with the medicine?”

“It’s the Goddamn rain,” Darius said bitterly. “It keeps washing away the antiseptic and it’s dripping into her mouth and nose and she’s damn close to pneumonia if she doesn’t already have it.”

“How can that be? It’s got to be eighty degrees,” Finn asked.

“She was ripe for infection. She was already sick when they took her, remember?”

“Okay, so the shots you just gave her will take care of things, right?” Clint insisted. There was no other answer but ‘yes’.

Darius just looked at him.

“Don’t you tell me ‘no’. That’s not acceptable.” Clint turned to Drake. “I’ll carry her. You’re the biggest, you pick up whichever family member is slowing our asses down. We are making it to the chopper and Lydia is going to be just fine.”

“Chief, that’s not your call to make,” Mason growled.

“Wrong. I’m making it my call. I promised Lydia I would take care of her. I’m not letting her down when she needs me the most.”

Mason stared at him, water dripping off the edge of his poncho, it seemed like the longest moment of Clint’s life.

“Okay. But the minute you’re holding us back Drake’s taking her.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, Sir.”

Clint helped Darius bundle Lydia back up. Then they carefully put her up on his back. She didn’t make a sound. He couldn’t decide if he was happy about that or not. He’d never felt such terror in his life.

The last four hours of the march we’re grueling. They reminded him of his BUD/S training. As he did during his training, he just persevered. One step in front of the other, but this time the goal was so much more important.