Her Loyal Seal(8)

By: Caitlyn O Leary

He didn’t hear when Mason called a halt. Drake had to get in front of him to get his attention.

“Thanks man.”

“Not a problem. Finn’s already started setting up a place for the two of you.”

Clint hadn’t noticed them stopping because he had been concentrating on walking and listening to Lydia’s breathing. He thought it was a little bit better and not so congested. He wished Darius had a stethoscope in his backpack.

He appreciated that the spot was already laid out with leaves and other foliage to make her comfortable. He watched as the tarp was laid out on top of it. Darius was kneeling beside it, his face blank.

Drake helped Clint lower Lydia into a seating position. He and Darius pulled off the layers of shirts, then laid her on her stomach. The wounds looked even more inflamed.

“Dare, what’s going wrong. I thought they would improve. You put on the ointment, they stayed dry.”

“These conditions are the worst possible for her wounds. She needs a hospital.”

“But her breathing has improved. She isn’t coughing, and her chest isn’t rattling.” Darius turned her over on her side, and put his ear up to her sternum. Clint winced, he hated to see Lydia’s modesty impinged on like that, even though he knew his friend was being clinical. Clint looked up, all of the other men had turned away.

“Let’s get her dressed again,” Darius said.

“So she’s better, right?”

Darius didn’t look at him, and then he knew. His shoulders sagged.

“Just tell me.”

“The congestion has gotten so bad, that it’s not moving. We’ve got to push more fluids into her.”

“I try to get her to drink, but she’s unconscious, and when I wake her up, it just dribbles out of her mouth.”

“You’ve got to try harder, Clint. It’s a matter of life and death. She’s at a high risk of dehydration. But be careful she doesn’t choke.” Darius was shaking her and putting the canteen up to her lips. “The good news is that you carrying her has been a good thing. Keeping her upright and jostling her around has helped to keep things moving in her chest. Tonight she needs to rest upright.” That didn’t sound very comfortable.

“If moving her around is such a good thing, why is she doing so poorly?”

“It’s the infection in her back, it has moved quickly to her lungs, and the rain and humidity has done a number on her. I’m going to administer the highest dose of antibiotics I can.”

“You mean you haven’t before?”

Darius just looked at him, and Clint realized he had. Fuck. They just had to get to the rendezvous point as fast as possible. She needed a hospital. Failure was not an option.

That night Lydia had her first nightmare.

“Get away from my sister,” she rasped in Spanish. “Take me.” She started to cry. Dry wrenching sobs. She hit him and groaned as her fists connected to his chest, injuring her wrists.

“Wake her up. Get her to drink some water.” Clint glowered over her head at Darius.

“Lydia, you’re safe.” She shook her head wildly.

“I’ll do anything. Anything you want, just don’t hurt my sister. I can make you feel so good.” She talked softly he could barely make out her words, her voice was ruined from her illness.

Her hands changed to claws, belying her words. Clint ducked, not wanting to manhandle her.

“Baby, can you hear me. It’s me Clint. You have to wake up.”

“Watch me strip for you.” She tried for his face again with her nails, and then Darius reached from behind and as gently as he could grasped her forearms.

“No….” she wailed. She coughed and coughed and coughed. Until it turned into one gasping wheeze. She struggled so hard often times pushing her injured back against Darius’ chest and both men did what they could to position her so it wouldn’t happen. All the time, Clint spoke to her in Spanish, urgently trying to get her to come back to the present.

“Dare, please give her something for the pain. Give her something to go to sleep.”

“You’ll have to hold her down, I need her to be still.”

Clint’s breath hitched. He forced his fists to unclench so he could cup her face in his hands, resting his forehead against hers. “Lydia, baby, it’s me Clint. You’re safe. The men who hurt you are dead. You’re having a nightmare. You’re sick and you need to wake up.” Over and over he whispered in Spanish. Finally he thought to start speaking in English, and that was what seemed to do the trick.