Bellas parents called and wanted Bryan and Bella to go on a week long trip in the mountains. They bought a cabin up there when Bella was small and they hadn’t all been there together since she lived at home. They wanted to really bond with Bryan and asked if Bryans parents could keep their son Malcom. Bryan was having trouble. Their son was 3 now and they had a wonderful relationship with his parents. His dad still wasn’t drinking but Malcom never stayed with them alone unless it was for a quick errand.
“Bryan, he wont hurt him and you know it.”
“I’m just scared. I know he’s changed but one sip of alchohol and he could hurt Malcom like he did me.”
“Sweetie I have no worried our little one will be safe. All this time and not a drop. It’ll be fun if we go with my parents. Malcom wont have nay fun coming. We’ll be hiking and stuff and you know he gets tired easily.” He sighed looking at Bella. Her eyes were pleading. He could never say no to her not even now. “Ok call my parents.”
“Great!” she kissed him “Then I’ll call mine but only if you’re sure. I know it’s scary especially since we wont have any way to contact people once we’re up there. It’s very secluded with no landlines and cellphones dont get service.”
“Please go before I change my mind Bella”
Walter answered the phone and sounded very excited that he was going to get his grandson for a week. Bella said they would drop him off on the way to the airport. Walter loved Malcolm more than he loved anything else. When he was around the small child he was the biggest teddy bear they had ever seen. He melted at the sight of his grandson. Bella told him bye and hung up then called her parents and told them they would be coming. They were very excited. Bella said they would get there some time in the evening. She hung up and turned around to a very nervous Bryan. “Take a breath babe before you pass out.” She smiled and hugged him.
“I’m sorry. I hate this anxiety. I know he has changed, but sometimes those emotions of hate and sorrow just bubble up and I don’t know what to do.” He held her close.
“Hush now love. Walter loves Malcolm very much. I see it every time we visit.”
“I know. I’m so glad I have you.” Bryan meant it. Even though he had spurts of bravery here and there, she was still the most fearless of them. She had the heart of a lion. Some of her courage had definitely rubbed off on him. He kissed her, brushing his fingers through her soft hair. “I love you so much.” He said softly.
“And I love you. Now, lets get packing. Make sure to bring some warm clothes. It snows up there sometimes even during the summer.”
They packed and Bryan didn’t seem any less nervous when they were done. “Honey please stop. worrying.” Bryan felt bad because now she looked sad. He didn’t want to ruin her trip. “I’m sorry Bella” he smiled at her and she could tell it was forced. She pushed him down on the bed and kissed him sliding her hands up his shirt to rub his chest. When she pulled back he was smiling again. “See now there’s a real smile. That fake stuff wont cut it”
“maybe I should look sad more often.” He said looking up at her. She laughed and he pulled her back down to hold her. “We’ve got to get going Bryan.”
“I know, I just need to hold you for a second.” He let her go so they could get Malcolms bag packed and get him in the car. They brought his favorite stuffed animal. He fell asleep in the backseat. When they arrived Walter seemed so happy he might burst. He carried his grandson inside while Bryan took his sons stuff to his old room they had gotten ready for Malcom. They had enough time to eat dinner with his family before they had to leave. When they were walking out the door Walter stopped Bryan “Thank you son. i know this is hard for you. I’ve seen it on your face through dinner. I promise to take good care of him. I love Malcom so much.”
“You better” He said then they walked to their car.
Bella’s cell vibrated when they were an hour out. She dug it out of her pocket and checked her messages. It was a picture of Walter with Malcolm pulling on his beard. She smiled and showed it to Bryan. “Now he knows why I try to keep mine shaved.” Bryan grinned and went back to watching the road.
“It’s amazing how much that baby looks like you.” She said, looking at the picture for another moment before sticking her phone back in her pocket.
“That what my mom keeps saying. She says it’s like me all over again. He’ll have a better life than I did, much better.” She rested her hand on his. There were still things that bothered him and at times he woke up crying, but it wasn’t as bad as before. She knew he was really trying. “Anyway, what do your parents have planned?” He asked.
“Lots of stuff. It’s a surprise.” He arched an eyebrow and she giggled. “Deal with it.”
“I’ll remember that next time I know something before you do.”
“I know you will, you have a very good memory.”
He loved her teasing. He brought her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles. Four hours passed quickly in her company. They made it up the mountain safely and it began to snow as they pulled into the gravel drive. Bella’s parents met them on the porch. Her mom hugged both of them. He had forgot how overly happy she always was. Bella’s father shook his hand then wrapped his daughter in a tight hug. “How was the drive?” Nathan asked as he led them inside.
“Nice, clear skies until we got up here.” Bella said and sat down on the comfy leather couch. Bryan sat next to her, feeling a little out of place. Her parents had a lot of money and the cabin reflected that. He had never been rich and even though he’d been with Bella for quite some time it still made him a little uncomfortable.
Bellas mom Karmin came up to Bryan “Im so glad you two decided to come. We’ve been traveling so much the past year we’ve barely seen you guys or Malcom. We thought it would be nice to all get together and catch up. We barely know you two anymore. We hope next month you two will let us stay in your home two week.”
“Sure, we’d love to have you guys.” Karmin hugged Bryan “I love you son” Nathan yelled into the living room “Leave the boy alone now Karmin and show them to their room.” Bella and Nathan walked in the room and she could tell her father yelling had scared him a bit. She looked at her father who could tell the same thing. She could see a bit of guilt on his face. Her parents felt sorry for how Bryan was raised. They loved him for loving their daughter the way he did. Bryan got up and they followed Nathan to their room.
“If you two decide to have sex please keep it down.” Bryan turned red as Bella laughed. “Nothing to be embarrassed about son.” He placed a hand on Bryans shoulder “Our daughter is a woman and a beautiful one at that. We know our grandson didn’t just pop out of nowhere too.” Bella just kept laughing. “we’ll see you two in the morning ok?”
“Now I see where you get your uncontrollable urge to always be honest. That man could embarrass a prostitute.” He flopped down on the bed and stared out the window at the falling snow.
“You’ll get used to it. Nothing he says fazes me anymore. You just have to say something twice as embarrassing.” She sat down next to him and rubbed his back. “He didn’t mean to scare you, you know that right?”
“Of course. He probably just forgot I’m a little sensitive too loud noises like yelling and slamming.”
“You look so tired.”
“I am and stressed.” He didn’t want to ruin their week away. He buried his face in his hands and took a deep, calming breath. “You deserve better than a broken man.”
“You stop that right now. You’re doing just fine. Malcolm’s safe with your parents and we’re safe up here. The only thing we have to watch out for are mountain lions and big foot.” He laughed and she kissed his cheek.
“Big foot? Do you actually believe in that?” He pulled her into his arms and lay back on the bed.
“Of course I do. There are so many new creatures that are being discovered every day. Anything is possible.”
“You really make a man’s mind work Bella.”
When they started to drift off they got up and undressed. It was late and Bella wanted Bryan to get some sleep. He’d been wired with stress from the moment he woke up and it had finally pushed him into exhaustion. They crawled under the blankets and he rested his head on her chest. It was his favorite way to sleep. He said it made him feel safe. She stroked his hair. It touched the collar of his shirts now and was due for a trim. She waited until he was breathing evenly before allowing herself to drift off.
They woke up with her dad flinging open the door “Good morning!” Bella and Bryan only half opened there eyes to look at him. “Aw aren’t the two of you cute.”
“Dad, what time is it?”
“6am, the day is half over.” He said with a grin “Dad it is not go away.”
“Come on! Your mother has made a wonderful breakfast!”
“alright alright just give us a second and we will be down.” She kissed her husbands head. He lifted up and kissed her. They got dressed very sleepily and went downstairs holding hands. Karmin smiled as they entered the room “You two are so sweet it’s ridiculous.” Bella smiled. “Wow this looks good mom!”
“I made all your breakfast favorites! I also made what you said Bryan loved.”
“Thanks mom.” Bryan said with a smile. “How did you love birds sleep? Was there much sleeping going on?” Bella laughed again and this time Bryan didn’t turn quite so red. “Yeah we slept great. Sex would have made it better though.” Bella laughed even more and her father smiled again “there we go! I was hoping you’d start kidding back with me Bryan.” They finished eating and the girls went into the kitchen to clean up. Bryan went to help but Nathan said “come on, you are never alone with me. Lets have some father son time.”
Bryan shrugged and followed Nathan outside and into his work shop. There was a half finished canoe and a bunch of little hand carved figurines. “I didn’t know you did woodworking.” Bryan said and picked up a small unicorn.
“It’s a nice hobby. I’m making something for Malcolm, but you can’t tell Bella. It’s a surprise. Come here I’ll show you.” He followed him to the back of the shop where a tarp was laying over something. He pulled it back revealing a very detailed rocking horse.
“Oh wow. Malcolm is going to love this.”
“I still have to sand it, paint it, and put on the mane and tail. I was thinking of painting it like an Appaloosa.”
“It’s truly a masterpiece. I wish I could do stuff like this.”
“Well there’s no time like the present.” He covered the horse. “Come on I’ll show you the tools and if you’re serious about it I’ll by you a set.”
Bella helped her mom rinse and load dishes into the dishwasher. She wondered what Bryan and her dad were up too, but kept herself inside. Bryan needed some man time. He never went out and when she told him too go do something he said he preferred being home. She smiled and her mom nudged her with her elbow. “You look happy.” Her mom said.
“Blame Bryan, he always makes me feel this way.” She nudged her mom back and Karmin flicked water at her.
“So how is he doing mentally and emotionally?”
“Better. He still has nightmares, but I think reconciling with Walter has made things better. He’s a lot tougher than he lets himself think.”
“We owe him a great deal. He did save you.”
“I keep having to remind him of that every time he gets down on himself. He thinks he’s broken.”
Her mom gave a little laugh. “He’s rough around the edges, but who isn’t. Your father’s dad was a rich piece of crap. He wasn’t abusive, but he was more into his business than he was his family.” Her mother rinsed her hands and flicked more water at her daughter. “It’ll get better.”
“I know it will. he really is a sweetheart and is more brave than he realizes.”
“Atleast we can count on him to protect you.” They went into the living room and sat down together “So we were thinking we’d do stuff together today ans then tomorrow you and I will go on a hiking trip together and Bryan will go on a separate one with your dad. He wants to know Bryan so badly but it’s hard since he seems to hate being alone with him.”
“He doesn’t hate it mom. He just gets tense when he’s alone with other grown men. I think that’s a great idea. I’ll tell Bryan later.”
“If he’ll be too uncomfortable that’s ok.”
“No mom I’m trying to get him to open up. He’ll never get better if I don’t push him.”
“That’s true” Her mom took a deep breath in “Isn’t the air here perfect?”
“Yes it is, if I wasn’t afraid of Bryan having an anxiety attack living in a place like this I’d want to live in the mountains.”
“Well maybe after a few years more years of being with you he’ll relax more. He’s far from the boy you first brought home. He gets better and better everytime I see him. I’m glad you’re so happy honey and you have a man that loves you. I can see everytime he looks at you that you’re his world. Your father notices too which is why he wants to bond with him so much. Maybe when we come for a visit we can do stuff Bryan likes.”
“That sounds good mom” Bella said happily
Nathan hovered close to Bryan as he messed with the carving tools. He wanted scream at him to back up, but he bit his tongue. “You learn very quickly.” Nathan said, startling him and making him cut his hand open. He dropped the wood and carving tool and clamped his hand over the wound. Nathan grabbed a rag and handed it too him so he could wrap it. “Come on let’s get you inside and get that cleaned up.” They burst through the front door, making Bella and Karmin jump. “Get the first aid kit and meet me in the kitchen.” Nathan ordered.
Karmin jumped up, racing down the hall to the bathroom and Bella followed her father and her husband into the kitchen. “What happened?” She asked and winced when he unwrapped his hand and rinsed the blood away.
“He cut himself with one of my tools. I was teaching him how to carve.” Her dad looked like he felt bad.
“Don’t worry about it. I got careless.” Bryan said as Karmin rushed into the kitchen. She grabbed his hand and looked it over. She had spent a lot of time in the jungle and knew when a wound was bad.
“Looks like you’ll need a couple of stitches. I can patch you up or we can take you to the hospital.” She said with a smile.
“The hospital’s too far away, just sew me up.” She grabbed a couple of packages, one had a fresh suturing needle in it and the other had sterile thread. She pulled on a pair of latex gloves and used gauze and iodine to clean the area. She threaded the needle and quickly gave him two stitches. She wrapped his hand and smiled at him.
“All better. The gauze sould keep it from being irritated.”
“No problem sweetie. I hope you two were enjoying yourself before this happend.” Nathan was silent waiting for Bryans answer “Yes we were” Bryan said with a half smile. Nathan was relieved and impressed he took those two stitches so well. He didn’t even act like it bothered him. He may not be very brave but he was tough. “What would everyone like to do today?” Karmin said cheerfully.Bella looked deep in thought. She coudl see everyone wanted her to decide. She started to speak then stopped. Bryan noticed and said “what were you going to say?”
“Well I was going to say we could play in the snow but it would probably bother your hand so I’ll think of somthing else.”
“If that’s what you want to do that’s what we’ll do.” he walked over to her and kissed her forehead. “It wont bother me.”
“The snow will soak your gauze crazy.”
“Do you have more gauze momma?”
“See, lets get ready to play in the snow.” He grabbed her hand pulling her to their room. Nathan sat there and smiled. “Come on sweetheart lets get ready ourselves.” When her parents reached their room he said “I scare him half to death every time I speak.”
“It’s not you Nathan don’t look sad.”
“He did take it like a man. I was impressed.” She giggled and said “Yeah, He’s a good man whose good to our daughter. He’ll losen up with you. I talked to Bella about tomorrow and she thinks it would be a great idea.”
“You and that bright pink jacket.” Bryan teased. She had a thick pink jacket with fur around the hood. She looked very girly in it. She narrowed her eyes at him and pulled it on.
“I like my jacket.” She said.
“Reminds me of a big pink bunny.” She picked up a pillow and hit him with it. He grabbed her arm and jerked the pillow out of her hands then kissed her. She relaxed against him, her fingers gripping his shirt. “You look absolutely gorgeous.”
“You are such a distraction. Get your coat on.” She smiled and he let her go and grabbed his coat. They met her parents outside. Nathan pelted Bryan with a snowball right in the face.
“Oh shit, I’m sorry.” Nathan said. Bryan scooped up a hand full of snow, rolled it into a ball and threw it at him.
“You are so screwed.” Bryan said as he grabbed more snow.
Everyone ran, trying to dodge the snow balls. Bryan was really fast with dead aim. Bella grabbed a big hand full and waited until he was focused on her mother. She ran up behind him, grabbed the waist band of his jeans and dropped the snow down his pants. He dropped his snow ball and gabbed her, the whole time gritting his teeth against the cold snow. “That was not nice.” He said and got her on the ground. He straddled her waist and pinned her wrists above her head with one hand while the other grabbed snow.
“Bryan no, don’t you dare.” She screeched and tried bucking him off. He shoved it under her shirt.
“Cold, cold, cold. Let me go, it’s melting.” He got off of her and she jumped up and tried to dump it out of her shirt.
Her parents were laughing. They stayed out there until lunchtime. Nathan started a fire while the girls went in to make some hot chocolate so everybody could warm up. “Want me to redo your bandage so it’s not all wet?”
“Sure, thanks.” Nathan went to get the stuff. By the time he was done the girls had hot chocolate for everybody. Each couple sat close together in front of the fire. When Bella was warm she said “Mom you sit with dad I’ll cook lunch.”
“You sure honey?”
“Yep.” Bryan got up “Can I help you?”
“Of course you can.” The two of them made Lasagna Cheese Soup. As everyone ate Karmin said “You two need to write down the recipe for this.”
“I’ll make sure to do it before we leave.” Nathan cleared his throat “Are you two going to have any more babies?”
“I don’t know. We haven’t talked about it.” The thought had crossed her mind before but she didn’t want to ask Bryan for more. He already stressed enough about their one. She wasn’t sure he could handle two. “Well why not Bella? I distinctly remember my little girl talking about having 3 or 4 children.”
“Well that was your little girl talking. I’m a big girl now.”
“You’ll always be my little girl. One is fine if that’s what you want. We decided not to have more because you were so perfect we didn’t need to” Nathan winked she laughed “I’m happy with one daddy.” It made Bryan wondered if she really was happy with only one child. He’d talk to her about it tonight. He coudl feel she wanted to drop the subject for the moment.
Nathan talked animatedly about sailing around the world. It was something he had always wanted to do and he asked Bryan if he’d be willing to go. Bryan shook his head and said no way that he probably wouldn’t be getting on another boat for a long time. “I could always take Bella, she’d probably wrestle a great white.” He said and Bella agreed.
“Sailing is quite nice Bryan. You’ll have to go out with us some time.” Karmin said.
“I’ll think about it.” Bryan said halfheartedly.
Bella grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze. He would see it was alright and they could always start out on the coast. She desperately wanted him to be able to have fun without worrying all the time. “Oh daddy, is the lake frozen over?” She asked.
“Why yes it is. Does my little angel want to go ice skating?”
“You know I do. Bryan’s never been ice skating.”
“It may have something to do with the fact that I had to pull you out of a frozen lake.” He said with a nervous smile. “If you want me to try though then I will.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.
“You’re going to love it.”
“I’ll grab you my extra pair of ice skates Bryan. Bella told me we have the same size shoe. I’ll just get everybodies¬†then we’ll use the snow mobiles to drive over. Everyone got their jackets back on and Nathan came back holding ice skates. “I’ll drive on and you’ll drive the other ok Bella?”
“Ok Daddy” Bryan clung to her tightly when they got on. She was glad the lake wasn’t far. They got there quickly and hoped off. They sat in the snow and put their skies on. Bella got on the ice first standing near the edge holding her hands out to Bryan. “Come on Bryan” She said with a smile. He somwhat shakily grabbed her hands and she gently started moving. “Good thing I’ve already taught you how to roller blade huh?”
“Yeah” he said smiling at her. “Look at you Bryan! You’re doing so well.” Nathan and Karmin were on the other side doing tricks and having fun. They made sure to stay far away until Bryan was comfortable. “You ready for me to let you go?” He nodded and she slowly released. He actually caught on to it easy. He was so happy. He could do anything with Bella. She grabbed one of his hands and skated with him for a bit until her father came around scooping her up. He threw her in the air about making Bryans heart stop. Nathan caught Bella with ease and Bryan tried to relax. her father would never let anything hurt her and he had to let that sink in.
He just watched and listened to his wife having fun with her father. He would have to get her to teach him to do some of the things she was doing with Nathan. Bella, Nathan and Karmin skated over to him and they all just talked and played around until the sun was starting to set. Nathan said “lets head back for the night.” When they arrived home Nathan proclaimed he was cooking and that everybody else should warm up. After they ate their dinner everybody went to bed since the boys and girl were going on seperate hikes tomorrow.
As they were changing into pajamas Bella said “tomorrow they want to do a father son & mother daughter hike. Are you fine with that?”
“Of course I am. I like your father. You just please be careful. You tend to be more wild when I’m not around.” She laughed “I will. Thanks for being such a sport today Bryan”
“I had a lot of fun Bella. I’m so glad you get me to do these new things and don’t get mad when I’m afraid.”
“How can I get mad at that handsome face. Where’s my purse by the way. I need to take my pill.” That reminded Bryan “Do you want more kids?”
“Didn’t I just tell my dad I’m happy with one?”
“Yes you said that but is it because of me and how much I worry about Malcolm or is it because you really only want one?”
“That answers it. Why would you do that Bella? I want to give you everything you want but I can’t if you don’t tell me what you want.”
“Bryan I’m happy with one. I would like more but it isn’t the end of the world to have one. You’ll probably die of a heart attack with more.”
“I want more too.” She smiled at him “Bryan you’re just saying that.”
“No, please stop taking the pill and lets have another baby. Since you’re just now asking me for your purse you didn’t take one last night so I could possibly get you pregnant now.” He smiled coyly.
She was actually at a loss for words. She just stared at him. She held up her index finger and took a deep breath. “When did you get so bold?” She finally asked.
“About five seconds ago.” He grabbed her and threw her on the bed. He was above her on all fours in the blink of an eye. They just looked at each other for a moment, frozen in time. He kissed her, tugging at her lip with his teeth so she opened her mouth. She tangled her fingers in his hair, her heart beating out a quick rhythm. He pulled of her t-shirt and threw it on the floor. It was all she slept in. He kissed his way down, his teeth biting and teasing so she shivered. His mouth was on her, his tongue spearing deep so she writhed and moaned, tears threatening to spill over. He stood to lock the bedroom door and pull his sweats off. He lifted her in his arms and she wrapped her legs tightly around him.
He pressed her against the wall and stared into her eyes as thrust into her. She gasped, her fingers gripping his shoulders. He made love to her slowly, taking his time to enjoy her. She knew this was more than just babies. He needed this closeness, this relief. She almost screamed with the intensity of her orgasm. His mouth covered hers, muffling the sound. He finished and pressed his forehead against hers. She rubbed his neck and shoulders and whispered she loved him. He finally lowered her feet to the floor, but kept her pinned there. “Are you okay?” She asked and grabbed his face. He opened his eyes and smiled down at her.
“Please don’t hide things from me anymore. I know I get scared sometimes, but I want to hear your wants and dreams. I love you so much.” He carried her back to bed and lay her gently down. He crawled in next to her and found his favorite position. He listened to the beating of her heart.
“But if I hide things from you I get amazing sex.” He looked up at her, his mouth dropping open in shock. She winked at him and he laughed.
“You drive me crazy you know that?”
“Yes, but it’s a sexy animalistic crazy that drives me crazy. So we oth get to be crazy together.”
“And for your information, sex is always amazing with me. I’m a total stud haven’t you heard.” She laughed, the sound brightening his world and filling him with joy. He kissed her one more time before they fell asleep tangled together.
Bryan started having the same bad dream he always had without fail when somthing like that happend. When she wouldn’t tell him somthing or was upset with him right before bed. He dremnt she was leaving him “No wait I’ll be better I’m sorry Bella.”
“It’s too late Bryan. I’m tired of this.”
“But Bella I need you and I try so hard for you.” She walked out the door and he woke up. He had been crying so Bellas chest was covered in tears. He was very grateful it was only a dream. Bella not wanting him any more was his worst fear in the world. He grabbed a shirt off the floor and pressed it against her gently to dry her chest. When she was dry he sat beside Bella a moment to admire his beautiful wife. Bryan knew she loved him. He kissed her cheek then settled himself back on her chest.
The next morning came and Bellas father woke them like he had the morning before. “Come eat you two!”
“I do not miss getting up this early.If we weren’t going hiking today I would probably skip breakfast.” Bella said barely awake. Bryan kissed her hard pressing her into the pillow. “I see you have more energy than me.” She giggled opening her eyes. “I always have energy for you Bella.” He put a hand on her cheek. “I love you so much.” She gave him a bright smile “I love you too.” Bella got up as soon as he moved from over her. She threw some clothes on and so did he. “Can I carry you to breakfast Bella? We’ll be apart a lot today and I want to have you close as much as I can before then.”
“You are so sweet Bryan.” She glomped him “I have such an amazing and caring husband.” He lifted her into his arms hugging her. when they got to the table he pulled her chair out and sat Bella in it. Karmin said “after breakfast Nathan and I will get the backpacks ready. We will all make it back here around dinner.” Her parents finished their food then walked away from the table to prepare. “I didn’t realize it would be that long.”
“It’s a big mountain Bryan. It’ll be fun. The time will go really fast.” She said smiling. “Please be careful, I need you Bella.” When they were done eating her parents were done packing. They could see the sun coming up over the horizon. “Do you remember how to use the flare gun Bella incase somthing happens?”
“Good girl, do you know Bryan?”
“great, ok lets go!” Bryan hugged Bella while Nathan hugged Karmin. They walked in opposite directions. Bryan glanced back a few times to see Bella. “Have you had fun so far son?”
“Yes, Thanks for inviting us.”
Bryan was a little nervous being alone with Nathan. He knew the man wasn’t abusive, had never raised his hand or his voice to Bella. She said he never had too. Karmin had spanked her once after she decided to go swimming in the Amazon with a broken arm. She said her mother had explained very calmly afterwards why it had been dangerous. “You look like you’re in deep thought son.” Nathan said.
“Always sir. Bella often has to call me back from my daydreaming.” He smiled at the man.
“Believe it or not, you’re her hero. She talks about it all the time to her mother.”
“I’m only an occasional hero.”
“It doesn’t matter how many times you do something great as long as you do something and do it with love. We owe you a great deal. Two times we could have lost our baby girl and two times you’ve been there to pull her butt out of trouble. Not that she ever went looking for it. Trouble always finds the adventurer.” He patted him on they back and the continued up the mountain.
Bella loved the snow and the fresh air. She and her mother were just alike. They both loved the outdoors and they always took the most complicated path. Her mother always told her that adventure was hard, but worth the effort. They climbed up and over some boulders, knocking small stones loose and disturbing the snow. They free climbed up a small rock face, laughing as they raced to see who was faster. They took a break at the top and drank some water.
“It’s so beautiful up here. We’re going to have to bring Malcolm next time. We wouldn’t be doing much hiking or climbing though.” Bella said.
“Who wants to go out when you can spend all day looking at his cute little face.” Karmin smiled and slipped her water bottle back in the bag. She stood and lifted it onto her back. A loud scream broke the silence and something large slammed into her mother’s back. She screamed when she saw it was a mountain lion. She dug the flare out of her pocket and fired it off into the air. She gripped the mountain lion and tried pulling it off her mother who was protecting her head. The mountain lion hissed, but Bella refused to let go. If she allowed the cat to slip away it would find a way around the backpack that was protecting her mother.
Bryan & Nathan both heard it and their hearts sank. They took off running in the direction the girls had gone. The lion kept trying to go after Karmin until it got fed up with Bella on its back. It thrashed about and finally knocked her off. It lunged for Bella but Karmin quickly pulled out a knife stabbing into the large cats back. It let out a loud roar. They heard the snow shift and snow started pouring down the mountain. Just as the lion was about to swipe at Karmin all three got pelted in snow.
Nathan felt the mountain shift and knew what that ment. He was absolutely terrified. “This way Bryan”
“But the path is going this way”
“I know, but I know my girls. They would’ve veered off this way.” Karmin popped out of the snow. She wanted to call for Bella but didn’t want to cause another avalanche. The lion was nowhere to be seen but she could see lots of blood. She must have gotten some pretty good stabs in before the snow. Karmin looked around and realized the snow hadn’t just buried them. It had actually moved them off the course they were taking. Karmin had been up this mountain many times though and knew it hadn’t taken them far. She just didn’t know if Nathan could find them now.
She started digging around for her daughter. She needed to get her out from under the snow before she started into hypothermia. Nathan and Bryan got to where it had all started “Don’t yell Bryan. The snows already been disturbed so it wont be hard to cause another. Lets follow the snow down until we find the girls ok? You’ve got to keep calm.” Bryan didn’t have a clue how he was supposed to keep calm. He just nodded and started looking around for his wife.
Bella opened her eyes and saw nothing but snow. She had curled up in a ball as the snow had throw her down the mountain. There were many rocks sticking out of the ground and hitting your head on one could mean death or brain damage. Her arm stung and she managed to pull it up and look at it. The lions claws had torn through her jacket and sliced her forearm open. It could have been her face. She was freezing underneat the white powdery blanket and knew she had to get out. She knew she wasn’t upside down because no blood was rushing to her head. She was either head up or laying on her side. She pushed through the snow with one arm. She was overjoyed when she saw a little bit of overcast sky. She stuck her arm out and waved, hoping someone would see her.
Bryan spotted Karmin walking through the snow. He and Nathan slid down the mountain and she turned, eyes wide and a bloody knife in her hand. She ran to Nathan and he wrapped his arms around her. She had a few scratches on one side of her face. “Where’s Bella?” Bryan asked, terrified.
“She was swept away. I’ve been looking, but I can’t find her. A mountain lion attacked us and I think she may be wounded.” Karmin was shaking, her eyes darting around in case the lion came back.
“We’ll find her. She’s tough and knows how to survive out here.” Nathan said. “We’ll keep looking until it starts to get dark then we’ll have to head back and send out a message to the police station. I have a radio in my shop.”
They trudged through the snow, Bryan’s eyes looking everywhere. He couldn’t lose her, not to a bunch of snow and a mountain lion. The sun started to fall and Nathan had to force him to leave with them. “How can you leave her out here alone?” He snapped.
“Bryan, honey we have to go back. We’ll get flashlights and the snow mobiles, but we have to go back.” Karmin said, gripping his jacket to keep him moving.
“Bella knows we’ll have to leave, she’ll understand.” Nathan’s heart was breaking for his son in law. He hated making him walk down the mountain, hated having to practically wrestle him into leaving Bella behind.
They made it back and Bellas dad went into the shop. Bryan followed Karmin inside. She grabbed flashlights and batteries and more of her medical supplies. She didn’t know how hurt Bella would be by the time she was found. ¬†Nathan came in “They’re sending a search and rescue team along with medical assistance. The ambulance will only be able to come as far as the house though so we’ll have to manage to get her back here before they can help her. Somebody needs to wait here so you can guide search and rescue to the avalanche area. Bryan and I will go. You stay here Karmin.” She nodded her agreement then handed Bryan the backpack filled with what they’d need.
Nathan kisses Karmin and they bolted out. She fell to her knees crying. Bella was her only little girl. She brought so much happiness to her and her husband. She had faith though. They raised her to be a survivor and she knew Bella could do this as long as the lion hadn’t injured her too badly. Bella was walking through the snow trying to get home. The avalanche had taken her pretty far and now it was pitch black outside. She knew she could risk herself getting even more lost if she kept going so she stopped. She heard somthing behind her and quickly turned. It was a gray wolf. She pleaded with her eyes for it to leave her alone.
She layed down on her back to show she saw it as the alpha and was no threat. The snow was so cold but she layed still. It came closer and she flinched but it layed down beside her. She sat up slowly and it’s eyes moved twords her. ‘Thank you” She layed down on the gray wolf and held it. She was shivering really badly and the wolf was helping her keep warm. She could barely feel her face and her wound was being stung by the snow. She though of Bryan. She went through every happy memory they had together. She was so tired but knew if she went to sleep she’d risk dieing. She had to keep her mind busy.
They drove quickly over the snow. The cold air stung Bryan’s face, but he didn’t care. He just wanted Bella back. Nathan told him to stay alert in case another avalanche started or a wild animal ran out in front of them. They couldn’t afford to wreck. He was so angry that she was out alone in the cold darkness. He wished it was him instead and he prayed they would find her before it was too late. It would be hell without her. She made him a better man, a good father and husband. How could he be her hero if he let her down. He stared straight ahead, his eyes scanning the snow for her.
Bella’s eyes started to drift closed and the wolf licked her cheek. His warm tongue brought some feeling back to her face and she stroked the large head. She buried her face in its thick coat and inhaled its woodsy scent. She was so tired and her muscles were cramped. Her arms and legs felt frozen as blood moved away from them to help keep her core warm. Even with the wolf insisting she stay awake she closed her eyes and drifted off. She was laying in a bright green meadow with big yellow sunflowers growing around her. Her head was on Bryan’s lap and she smiled up at him.
“You have to wake up.” He sad softly. She shook her head. She could stay with him here forever. “Wake up right now.” Her eyes snapped open as light bloomed in front of her. The wolf was gone. She screamed and she heard footsteps crunching in the snow. It was her dad and Bryan. He dropped down next to her and pulled her into his arms. “Are you alright?” He asked.
“Where’s the wolf? He was keeping me warm.” She said, her voice raspy.
“Bella there’s no wolf, not even tracks.” Nathan said as he turned and shined his light into the darkness. “Lets get her back to the house. The ambulance will be there by now and the search party will want to know. They’ll probably hunt down the lion.”
She sat between her father and Bryan. Her husband was holding onto her tightly. She sat there thinking that she couldn’t have imagined it. The wolf was so real. She could feel wetness where it had licked her. That Gray Wolf had to be real. She was very grateful to it and hoped she’d see it again somday. She was fighting sleep with all she had in her when they arrived at the house. Bryan carried her over to the ambulance and got inside with her. Nathan yelled “I’ll talk to search and rescue and we’ll be at the hospital later.”
She was so cold and felt light headed. She couldn’t feel anything. The paramedic was stopping the bleeding the best she could. “One plus side to how cold you are is that it made your heart beat slower so you didn’t lose as much blood as you could have.” Bella had a hard time speaking but said “that’s good.” The way her voice sounded and how she looked was ripping Bryans heart in two. It didn’t seem like they’d ever get to the hospital but they finally did.
“Please wait here sir. I know you want to be with her but I’m sure you want the doctors to be able to help her without anything in the way right?”
“ok” He said as he sat down in the waiting area. ¬†He was so stressed and scared. He tried to comfort himself with the fact they had her at the hospital and she had people helping her. He wanted to see her, to know how she was doing so badly. Nathan and Karmin arrived at the hospital and saw Bryan “where is she?”
“They have her in the back. They wouldn’t let me go.”
Nathan walked up to the receptionist and said, “We would like to see my daughter, Bella. Would you mind getting someone to take us back?” The woman’s eyes widened in surprise when she looked up at him. She picked up the phone as called for a nurse. The nurse arrived and took Bryan, Nathan and Karmin into the emergency area. He wanted to ask Nathan how he had done that, but he decided it could wait. The nurse pulled back a curtain and Bella’s eyes snapped open. Bryan sat next her and hugged her close.
“How are you feeling?” He asked.
“Like I just crawled out of a freezer.” She smiled and it made his heart do a little flop. “Did anyone see the wolf?”
“Honey, I told you already there was no wolf. We found you alone, curled up in a ball.” Nathan said and gripped his daughter’s hand.
“That’s impossible. He was so warm and he licked me on my face. My cheek was still wet when we came in. I thought he was going to kill me at first, but he just curled up next to me and kept me warm.”
Karmin gasped and they all looked at her. “There are stories about the mountain. Don’t you remember Nate? We were told a medicine man went up to the top to die a very long time ago. They never found his body. I think it was two hundred years ago.”
“Come now Karmin, there are myths and legends everywhere. Most of them untrue.”
“Something kept her alive and that’s all that matters. If she says she saw a wolf then she saw a wolf. The truth is she should have been dead. It was so cold and she was bleeding, but she’s alive.” Bryan said, never taking his eyes off of her. He had to believe that someone or something heard his silent pleas to save her, to spare her.
“You’re right son, of course. I don’t think you’re crazy honey, it’s just very hard to believe.” Nathan bent down and kissed her forehead.
“I know daddy.”
“Come on, lets give these kids some time alone.” Karmin said.
“You’re handling this so well Bryan. I’m proud of you. You’re my hero once again.”
“You sound and look so much better already.”
‘Yeah? That’s good. Glad I didn’t lose anything. You may have wanted to leave and find a new wife.” She teased. Bryan started crying “Honey, it was a joke. Really.”
“I love you so much Bella. I was so scared. Can we not take adventures for awhile?”
“I think I may like that too after this. Please stop crying. I wasn’t really in danger. I knew you’d find me. I can count on you no matter what.” He kissed her until a nurse came in needing to exam and treat her. “It wont be too long sir but she’ll need to sleep soon. She wont be able to leave tonight.” He sat in a chair and just watched her. Grateful to the wolf or medicine man who had helped his wife survive until they got there. He sent many silent thank yous.
Since Bryan was her husband he could stay the night but they made the parents go home. They told him not to get in the bed with her so he just pulled up his chair to the bed and grabbed her hand kissing it. She was already asleep due to the morphine they had given her. He placed her hand open on the bed and then gently set his head on it to rest. He wanted to be up and alert once she was awake again.
“Bryan, my arm is falling asleep.” He jerked awake and lifted his head. She was smiling at him.
“What time is it?” He asked and stretched.
“Morning, about six. I woke up thinking my dad would burst in.”
“I hate when he does that. One of these days he’s going to see something that will give him nightmares.” He yawned then kissed her cheek.
“The nurse came back in here earlier to check my stitches and extremities. She said I should be able to go home today.”
“Thank heavens, I hate not being able to hold you.” He stared off into space for a moment. “Your dad says danger always finds you. I’m beginning to think that was an understatement. I think it actually hunts you down.”
“Maybe I should start wearing a lucky charm.” Only she could smile and joke after such a traumatic event.
“You know I only got back here because your dad told the receptionist to get a nurse.”
“Oh no that poor woman. He donates money to this place, a lot of money. The owner has a picture of him and my dad hanging on his office wall. They were at a benefit together raising money for cancer research.”
Bryan laughed and shook his head in disbelief. Her parents were always surprising him. He remembered being terrified of them when Bella first brought him home. He expected her dad to be one of those sitting on the front porch shotgun dads instead of a very clean cut businessman and her mom to try and cast some spell on him that she had learned in the jungle. He kissed her again, unable to get enough of her. The nurse walked in and he pulled back.
“We’re going to be releasing you in an hour so if you would like to take a shower and get dressed you can. Your husband is going to have to help you since your legs might still be a little stiff. I’ll go get your discharge papers and prescription from the doctor. There’s a pharmacy at the front of the building that you can go to.” She said with a bright smile.
“Thank you very much.” Bella said and the nurse left. “You should call both of our parents.”
“Let me help you to the bathroom first.”
He helped her get up and guided her to the bathroom. Once they were in he took off her clothes and hugged her again. ¬†“I’m going to sit in here and call just incase you need my help.” She smiled, He made her feel so loved. She got in the hospital shower and cleaned herself off while listening to Bryan call her parents and then his own. He hung up and took a deep breath. He was still trying to calm down from all the stress. “Your parents are coming back and mine love you and want to be kept updated.” She got out and he handed her a towel. “Your parents are bringing you clothes.”
Bella put on another hospital gown until they got there. By the time her parents arrived she was discharged. They told her not to travel and to take it easy for the next two days. In the car she layed her head on Bryans shoulder as her dad drove them back to the cabin. When they got there Bryan picked her up and carried her inside. He was going to take her to the bedroom but she insisted in staying in the living room where she could be with her parents too.
They spent the two days just talking and playing cards games. When it was time for them to leave Nathan hugged Bryan “You’re a good man. I’m happy my daughter ended up with someone who really loves her. I’m proud I had to fight you to go back home with us that night. Just the way you look at her we can see how much you love her. You better always love her like that son.”
“She’s impossible not to love.” Even though she was walking fine now Bryan was still insisting he carried her. As he took her to the car she waved goodbye to her parents then yelled “I can’t wait for you guys to visit us!”
“we’ll make it soon honey!” He sat Bella in her seat and buckled her up. She laughed “Bryan”
“Just let me take care of you sweetheart. My nerves need it.” He kissed her then got in himself. On the way home Bryan noticed more than ever how horribly people drive. Last thing she needed was a car accident after all that. She put a hand on Bryans leg “Calm down.” He managed to relax a little for her and soon they were at his parents house. Malcolm ran for his mom “Missed you”
“I missed you two baby” His mother and father hugged Bella “I see troubel has found you again huh?”
“Yep, thankfully I have your son.”
“I’m proud of you son.” Bryan carried her over to the couch so he could get Malcoms things and load them into the car. When that was done he carried her to the car again and strapped her in like before. “How long are you going to do this Bryan?”
“I dont know” he laughed a little. When they were finally home and in bed all Bryan wanted to do was to cuddle with her. When they were both getting sleepy he placed his head on her chest and they went to sleep.