Rendezvous With Yesterday(10)By: Dianne Duvall
As one, the men drew their swords, startling her into stumbling back a few steps.
“You were attacked by criminals in this forest?” the leader demanded.
She swallowed. Holy crap, they looked fierce. “Yes. No. Nay, I…” She shook her head. “Josh and I are bounty hunters. We were down here looking for two bail jumpers—Kingsley and Vergoma. But something went wrong and, to make a long story short, they shot me, then shot Josh and—”
“Shot?” the redhead interrupted.
“With arrows?” the man with the graying temples interrupted.
“What?” Beth asked.
“You said they shot you,” the older man said. “Do you mean with arrows?”
“With bullets, Einstein.”
“I am Sir Stephen, not—”
“I don’t care what your freaking name is!” she shouted. Knowing that every minute these guys insisted on furthering their medieval knight roles, Josh could be slipping closer to death, Beth just lost it.
Robert stared at the woman in silence whilst she paced and bellowed her frustration in her peculiar tongue. When she spoke slowly, he could glean her meaning. But the angrier she grew, the more she slipped into that foreign language he could not understand, so he could only grasp a few words here or there.
“Josh could be dying! And you’re sitting up there, pretending we’re in freaking Medieval England or something! What the hell are you thinking? I…”
She seemed to believe they toyed with her in some way. But they had done naught but try to understand and help her.
He studied her carefully.
She was obviously gravely wounded. Delirious. Possibly nigh death.
Despite her assurances otherwise, the woman must truly be out of her head. Many of the words and phrases she used were unfamiliar to him. All but a few that he thought might be mispronunciations of epithets. And those increased in frequency as her agitation grew.
’Twas not just her speech that was odd, though. Her appearance confounded him as well. She was garbed in pale blue breeches, which hugged her slender legs down to her ankles, and a strange dark blue tunic that parted down the middle, revealing a shorter black tunic beneath it. Brown boots encased her small feet. A large knife was strapped to her right thigh. An empty leather pouch of some sort clung to the belt on her left hip. A similar pouch hung beneath her left arm. That one was filled with the weapon (at least, he assumed ’twas a weapon) that she had initially pointed at them, believing them a threat.
Her long, brown, disheveled braid dangled down her back almost to her waist. Dirt smudged her face. Blood coated her chin and cheeks, either coughed up or vomited he guessed from his experience on the battlefield. And most of her clothing was completely saturated with the crimson liquid.
What injuries had she sustained? Who had done this to her?
His fists clenched. And on his land?
Dismounting, he motioned for the others to join him.
Her words halted. Her expression lit with inspiration. “Hey, do any of you have a sellfone?”
He frowned. A sellfone? What was a sellfone?
“A what?” Michael asked beside him.
“A sellfone. I promise I will reimburse you if you’ll let me use it.”
All four regarded her blankly.
“Oh, come on! Everyone has one.”
“Seriously? None of you have a sellfone?” she asked incredulously. Then she clapped a palm to her forehead. “Wait! I have one in my backpack. I totally forgot about it.” Spinning around, she took off running back the way she had come.
Actually, ’twas more of a stumbling jog.
Robert feared she was weak from blood loss. “Michael,” he murmured.
Michael strode forward. Easily catching up with her, he took the woman by the arm and drew her to a halt.
Robert applied himself to removing his mailed mitts, then retrieved the bag of healing herbs tied to his saddle. Alyssa had prepared it for him, insisting he carry it with him at all times. He only hoped the herbs and whatever help he could yield would be enough to save the woman.
The sounds of a scuffle broke out behind him.
Frowning, Robert turned in time to see Michael knock that strange weapon from the woman’s hand. Undeterred, she brought her heel down on his boot, then slammed the base of her palm up into his nose.