Threads of Grace

Chapter Five

     Trey’s horse gave a crow-hop when SueAnna put her foot in the stirrup, but she wasn’t going to let that deter her. She grabbed his  mane and pulled herself into the saddle. She was not going to be left behind, and she would stay on top of this animal. 
     “You gonna be okay?” Ben blocked her path. “We won’t have time to come back for you if you get lost.”
     “Just find Trey and quit worrying about me.” She gave the horse a nudge and edged past him. They rode single file when they got to the cedars, and when the trees became too thick to navigate on horseback, they dismounted. 
     “You wait here, SueAnna. Please.” Ben handed her his horse’s reins. “You’ll help most by staying with the horses and out of our way. You have no business climbing around these rocks after dark.”
     “I will not stay here, Ben. She clenched her hands and crossed her arms. “These horses are broke to ground-tie and you know it. “
     “Yeah. Well, that didn’t keep Trey’s horse from heading for the ranch, did  it?”
     “Did you ever think that maybe Trey sent him back?”
     “Like a dog? Hardly, but be stubborn if you insist. If these horses spook and leave us afoot, you get to explain to Mr. Covington you were too stubborn to take orders.” He walked away and joined the other men as they headed further into the grove of trees. 
     She followed, and prayed the horses wouldn’t run.
     She had no lantern but the arcs of light ahead of her, and the voices of the men as they yelled for Trey helped her to know she was on the right path. Once they cleared the grove of trees the terrain changed to a sharp slope. She had to move with caution to keep from tumbling forward as she picked her way across the rocky ground. It was though the foliage along the way was alive, as limbs loaded with stickers grabbed and pulled at her skirts. But she wouldn’t ask the men to stop. And before long she was alone, with only her resolve to find Trey to keep her going. She dropped to her knees to make her way. She’d crawl if need be. But she’d find him. 


     Trey opened his eyes, but all he could see was dark. Why was it taking so long for someone to find him? Maybe his horse hadn’t gone home like he thought he would. Or maybe he did get home and no even noticed.  Claire would look for him. If he didn’t come home when expected, Claire would have a search party out to find him. But after his tussle with Ben, he doubted anyone would care. He struggled to free himself but the effort shot pain through his shoulder, and his legs were tangled in something he couldn’t see.
    “Help! Can anyone hear me?”
     Please, God. don’t let me die out here all alone. Send someone—anyone.
     “I”m down here, just below the bluff. Is anyone there?”
     Claire. It was Clair, and she was calling his name.
     “Trey? Can you hear me?”
     A shower of dirt and rocks hit him in the face. She was coming after him. “Here! I’m down here. I knew you would come, Claire.”
     More debris rattled around him, then tender hands touched his face. “Can you move, Trey? Where does it hurt?”
     “My legs. Can’t move my legs. But don’t leave me. Promise. Please, just let me feel your face.”
     She lifted his hand to her face and he traced his fingers around her eyes and lips. “Promise you won’t leave me.”
     “I promise I’ll not leave for good. But the men are looking for you. I need to let Ben know I found you. I’ll be back, but—” Tears dampened his fingers.
     “Shh. Don’t cry, Please don’t cry. I’m so sorry I left you, but now it’s okay, isn’ it? You’re here. You found me. Go, call for Ben then hurry back to me. Oh, how I long to be able to see your face and hold you again.”


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