The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(55) by Susan Mallery
“It’s about two miles that way,” he said, pointing into the cave. “You’ll have to pull the truck into the cave, then help me walk the rest of the way.”
“You’re not walking two miles anytime soon,” she told him. “We’ll camp right here until help arrives.”
“Not likely soon, and there aren’t enough supplies,” he said, and winced.
She glanced at the food and water provided and knew he was right. The trunk provided emergency rations, not enough to live on.
“One thing at a time,” she told him. “I have to get you bandaged up. Then we’ll talk about moving you.”
“We have to make the trip before dark,” he said. “There’s not much time.”
Aware of the passage of time, Emma worked quickly. She pulled all the supplies out of the trunk and was relieved to find a blanket folded in the bottom. Once she had everything gathered, she helped Reyhan into a seated position.
His robes came off easily. Once she’d tossed them aside she could see the bloodstained shirt clinging to his torso. He barely hissed as she took off the drenched cotton, even when it pulled in places. When she was done, she examined the wound.
The bullet had gone through him. She had no way of knowing if anything vital had been damaged nor could she have fixed anything if it had.
Her emergency training came back to her and she worked quickly, grateful for her stint in the emergency room back home. Less than twenty minutes later she’d nearly stopped the bleeding, which meant she could finish bandaging the wound.
She was shaken, scared and ready for someone to rescue them, but she had a feeling they were on their own until she could figure out a way to call for help.
She crouched in front of Reyhan and smooth back his sweat-soaked hair. “I’m done,” she whispered. “It shouldn’t hurt so badly now.”
She doubted that, but while the first-aid kit had plenty of bandages and antiseptic, there hadn’t been any painkillers.
“Is there a cell phone I can use?” she asked. “Can I call for help?”
“In the Desert Palace,” he said between clenched teeth. He sucked in a breath and rolled to his knees, then started to stand.
She clutched his arm. “You can’t. We’ll stay here.”
“No. We go now. There’s little time.”
She glanced outside and figured they had about two hours left of daylight.
Depending on how fast they could move, they had a chance of getting to the palace by dark. But it wasn’t a sure thing.
“We should wait and go in the morning.”
He looked at her. “You don’t want to face what roams the desert at night.”
She collected their supplies and put them in the blanket, then knotted the ends together so she could wear it like a sling. She had them each drink some water, then she got Reyhan to his feet and leaned him against the wall. Finally she went out to the truck.
Surprisingly it started. She maneuvered it into the cave where it sputtered and died before she had a chance to turn off the ignition. So much for the backup plan of trying to find the camp via the truck.
She took one of the flashlights and handed the other to Reyhan. Then standing on his injured side, she took as much of his weight as she could.
It was slow going. She didn’t want to think how much his side must hurt him or how weak and out of it he must feel from the blood loss. But he didn’t complain, didn’t slow down. He moved steady, at a pace that stunned her, turning left, then right, going deeper and deeper into the mountain, following directions only he could recognize.
There were hundreds of places to get lost, she thought nervously as they came to yet another fork in the path. Reyhan went to the left, passed three other trails, before picking the fourth.
Despite the distance they’d traveled, Emma knew they weren’t going deeper underground because there were bits of light filtering through the rocks above.
Although as time passed, the light seemed to get more and more dim.
“We’re nearly there,” he said, his voice low and raspy.
She stopped and urged him to lean against the wall. “Have some water,” she said.
He took the water and drank. His willingness to listen to her told her just how badly he’d been hurt.
They started walking again.
After about twenty minutes, Reyhan spoke. “There’s a satellite phone in the office,” he said. “Find it tonight and put it out in the courtyard tomorrow.
There’s a solar cell. It will take twelve hours to charge.”
Twelve hours? That meant they couldn’t call for help until tomorrow night. What if Reyhan was bleeding to death on the inside? What if the bullet had pierced his intestines or his spleen or…?
The path blurred and she realized she was crying. Blinking away the tears, she did her best to ignore the panic filling her and think about what was important.
They’d survived this long. She could manage emergency first aid. Any crisis could be dealt with at the time. They would survive—she would make sure of it.
She hadn’t come this far and realized she loved him only to lose him now.
Nearly a half hour later, she realized the sun was definitely setting. Soon it would be completely dark except for the light from their flashlights. Her body ached from Reyhan leaning on her. She was tired, hungry and thirsty. If she felt this bad, he must feel a hundred times worse.
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