Marrying for Money Ch. 10byharemgirl©
Trevor and Leanna had left the town of Norfolk behind them and were most of the way home when they rounded a curve in the road and were suddenly surrounded by a group of several men on horseback. Trevor tried to whip the horse into a gallop, but one of the men grabbed the harness and pulled the horse to a stop. A small scream escaped from Leanna before she clamped a shaking hand over her mouth.
Glancing around, she noticed that they were surrounded by masked men brandishing guns. The man who was obviously the leader wore a large hat pulled low over his head, and the deep shadows under the brim, combined with the mask he wore, made it impossible to distinguish any of his features.
Trevor reached over to place a steadying hand on Leanna's knee, using his body to shield her as much as possible. "What do you want?" he asked coldly.
The leader of the thieves sat motionless for a few moments, letting the tension build, before he beckoned one of his men over and quietly instructed him. The man nodded and turned toward them.
"The boss says to hand over all your valuables."
Trevor looked at the man for a couple of moments. "Alright, I don't see that we have any choice." Trevor began to reach into his vest pocket, and several of the thieves cocked their guns nervously, causing him to stop. "Relax gentlemen, I'm unarmed. I was just reaching for my watch," Trevor said mockingly.
Leanna swallowed hard. Her eyes were trained on the leader of the highwaymen, and she saw him bristle at Trevor's remark. She leaned close to her husband and urgently whispered, "Please, Trevor, don't provoke them. Just give them what they want!" Her heart was pounding in her throat, as she remembered what had happened to the occupants of the stagecoach. These had to be the same villains, and Leanna was terrified to make them angry in any way.
Trevor removed his watch and a wad of bills from his pocket. One of the thieves grabbed these greedily and looked at Leanna. She could barely make out the man's beady eyes under the brim of his hat. He looked like a rat eyeing a tasty piece of cheese as he stared at her.
"What about the lady? Ain't you got any jewelry?" he demanded.
Leanna removed her glove and quickly slipped her wedding band off her finger, holding it toward the thief until he snatched it from her hand. "Just that," she murmured quietly. "I'm not wearing any other jewelry. Please, just let us go." She looked imploringly toward the leader, "Please," she whispered once more.
The man stared at her, and Leanna could feel her skin crawling. The deep shadows beneath the brim of his hat made his gaze seem even more menacing, and Leanna could almost feel the weight of his eyes assessing her. The gang leader stared for so long that Leanna began to seriously fear his intentions before he finally turned and motioned for his men to head toward the trees. Leanna took a shaky breath, relieved that they were at last going to be released. Then, she saw the gang leader cock his gun and point it straight toward Trevor's heart.
"No!" she screamed, trying to throw herself in front of her husband, just as the gun went off.
She felt Trevor jerk, and heard his grunt of pain before the horse reared and took off at a gallop, frightened by the sound of the shot. Leanna was thrown back against the seat, but she clawed her way upright and anxiously reached for Trevor. He had been shot in his left shoulder, and she saw blood soaking through his shirt and coat. Her heart thundered in her ears when she looked at his face. His features were pale and drawn with determination, as he struggled to hold onto the reins and keep the horse on the road.
Leanna glanced behind to see if the highwaymen were pursuing them, but there was no one was in sight. She turned back around, tears streaming down her face. She grabbed the reins from Trevor's slackening grip.
"Lean back," she ordered, concentrating on driving the buggy. She had never driven a buggy in her life, but she was too frightened to stop here. Besides, she didn't think they were very far from home, and Trevor needed help urgently. "Trevor, darling, hold on!" She stole a glance at him, and wailed when she saw that he had passed out from the pain and loss of blood.
Taking a firm grip on her emotions, Leanna snapped the reins, urging the horse into his fastest gallop. It was only a few minutes later, though it seemed like forever, when the buggy turned into the driveway leading to The Meadows, taking the turn on two wheels. The horse obviously knew his way home, because he hadn't responded to any of Leanna's commands before then. The sound of a buggy racing up the driveway brought Steven, Amanda and several of the servants onto the front porch to see what was going on.
Amanda put a hand over her throat and screamed when she saw Leanna hauling back on the reins with all her might trying to slow the galloping horse. Finally, it was a combination of Leanna's efforts and Steven waving the horse into some nearby shrubs that managed to stop the careening buggy. Silas came running to hold the nervous horse as Steven raced to the side of the buggy.
One look at Trevor and he bellowed to Silas, "fetch Dr. Blackwell as quickly as you can! Trevor's been shot!"
Steven turned to see Leanna pressing a handkerchief against Trevor's shoulder, trying to staunch the flow of blood. She was pleading with Trevor to please be alright. Steven lifted her down. She was trembling and crying, and he gave her shoulders a light shake.
"Leanna, are you alright?" His eyes frantically took in the bloodstains on her skirts, but she didn't appear to be hurt. He shook her once more to break through her shock. "Leanna, answer me!"
Leanna looked up at him through tear filled eyes, finally beginning to hear him. "Yes, I'm f . . . fine," she stammered weakly. "Please help Trevor."
Steven turned toward Otis, one of the plantation hands, "Give me a hand, we need to get Trevor up to his bed. Between the two men, they half-carried, half-dragged Trevor up the stairs to his bedroom, trying not to injure his shoulder any more in the process. Leanna hurried in their wake, beginning to come out of the shock induced fog her brain had been in. She turned down the covers on the bed and fired off orders in rapid succession for hot water, clean cloths, and material for bandages to be fetched as quickly as possible.
Leanna knelt on the side of the bed and pressed a clean cloth against Trevor's shoulder, tears springing to her eyes at the sight of the fresh blood that rapidly began to soak through the cloth. Steven was busy removing Trevor's jacket, vest and shirt so they could get a better look at his wound. Amanda pulled on Leanna's arm.
"Come on, honey. Let's go get you cleaned up." She tried to pull Leanna away, but she wasn't budging.
"No Amanda, I'm staying right here." Leanna looked over at Steven and their eyes met as hers filled up with tears.
"What happened?" Steven asked. "Who shot Trevor?"
"It was the highwaymen. They stopped us when we were almost home. They came out of nowhere and surrounded us." Leanna's voice was shaking, but she continued. "They took our valuables, but when it looked like they would let us go, one of them shot Trevor."
As Leanna said the last, she began to sob again with remembered horror, and Amanda hugged her. Leanna took several breaths to calm herself, but when she spoke, her voice was a feeble whisper. She looked up at her brother-in-law, pleading with him to help her.
"I can't lose him Steven, I just can't."
Steven swallowed a lump in his throat and squeezed her hand. "I know sweetheart. We'll do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen."
Dr. Blackwell arrived shortly after they had managed to stop the bleeding. He was a distinguished looking man, in his mid-fifties, with graying hair at his temples. He wasted no time in taking charge of the situation. He rolled up his sleeves and gently took the cloth from Leanna's hand that she had been holding against the wound. As he sat down on the edge of the bed, he carefully lifted the cloth, satisfied that the bleeding had finally stopped. He lifted Trevor's eyelids and felt for his pulse, then grumbled something under his breath.
Without looking up, he asked "has he come to yet, since he was shot?"
"No," Leanna answered quietly. "He passed out right after it happened, and he's been unconscious ever since."
Dr. Blackwell merely grunted, as he rolled Trevor over to get a look at the back of his shoulder. Trevor groaned weakly, and Leanna felt fresh tears fill her eyes. "Hmmm," the doctor said, carefully studying the wound. "Can I get some more light please?"
Steven rushed to carry a candelabrum to the bedside table, bathing Trevor's shoulder in flickering gold light. Dr. Blackwell opened his bag and pulled out several instruments that he used to probe the wound, as he frowned through his spectacles.
"Well, the bad news is that the shot didn't go all the way through." He paused to look up at Steven and Leanna. "The good news is that I think I can get it out cleanly, without damaging the shoulder. If I hurry, I can do it before he wakes up. No need in subjecting him to any more pain than necessary if it can be avoided."
Leanna squared her shoulders. "How can we help, doctor?"
Dr. Blackwell gave her a brief assessing glance before turning back to his patient. He spoke over his shoulder, "I need boiling water, whiskey to clean the wound," he looked at Steven then, "and you and another strong pair of hands to hold him still in case he wakes up before we finish."
Steven and Leanna rushed to fetch the things the doctor had requested, and once the doctor had everything prepared, he was ready to begin. Dr. Blackwell gave Leanna a stern look.
"You probably ought to leave, Mrs. Grayson. This isn't going to be a pleasant sight."
Leanna couldn't find the strength to speak, but she gave a small shake of her head and sat on the opposite side of the bed, taking hold of her husband's limp hand.
Dr. Blackwell noted her pallor and gave a deep sigh. "Alright, but we don't need you fainting or anything. If you start feeling woozy, you'll need to leave the room, understand?"
Leanna nodded her head, her eyes never leaving Trevor's face. Dr. Blackwell picked up a long, thin pair of tweezers and started to probe the wound. A fresh trickle of blood began, and Steven held a cloth to catch the flow. The doctor probed around inside the jagged wound for what seemed like a long time, and Leanna winced as she could hear the faint grating sounds of metal against bone. She swallowed hard to keep from being sick, but for the most part, she kept her eyes fixed on Trevor's pale face.
Eventually, the doctor made a small, triumphant sound, and Leanna glanced over to see him removing a jagged piece of metal from Trevor's shoulder. Trevor moaned and tossed his head on the pillow but didn't appear to be waking. As soon as the shot was removed, the wound began to bleed again in earnest.
"Hold the candles closer," the doctor instructed. "I need to be sure I've gotten everything out, or the wound will get infected."
Steven held the candles closer, and blotted at the wound while the doctor picked several more tiny bits of cloth and slivers of metal out of the wound. When he was satisfied that he had cleaned the wound as much as possible, the doctor instructed Steven to hold several thick towels underneath while he poured whiskey over Trevor's shoulder. When the whiskey hit the jagged flesh, Trevor let out a gasp of pain, and his eyes opened for a few moments to fix on Leanna's face before he lapsed into unconsciousness once more.
Leanna hated to see Trevor in so much pain. She squeezed his hand and stroked his face as tears ran down her cheeks, but she stayed, receiving a few more concerned glances from the doctor.
Dr. Blackwell stopped the bleeding once again and quickly stitched up the jagged edges of the opening. Then, he applied a foul smelling ointment and wrapped the wound with tight bandages, getting Steven to help lift Trevor's limp body so they could wrap the cloths around his torso. When the doctor was finally satisfied, he felt Trevor's pulse once more and then stood up, stretching his back. He looked over the top of his glasses at Leanna and then Steven.
"Well, that's the best we can do for him right now," he stated gruffly.
"Is he going to be alright?" Leanna asked anxiously.
The doctor looked at her for a long moment before answering. "He's lost a lot of blood, and he's weak, but he's also young and healthy. I'm pretty sure I got the wound clean, but I can't be certain. The next couple of days will be critical. If the wound doesn't turn septic, he should recover."
Steven came around the bed to place a comforting arm around Leanna's waist. "Is there anything else we can do for him, Doc?"
"Just keep him as comfortable as possible. Try to get some fluids into him and laudanum for the pain." As he spoke, he placed a large bottle of laudanum on the bedside table. He gathered up the rest of his instruments and put them into his bag, snapping it shut. "He must stay still so the wound can mend, and he must rest. I'll come by again tomorrow to see how he's doing."
The doctor started to walk past them, but paused to place a comforting hand on Leanna's arm. When she looked up at him, he smiled at her for the first time that evening. "You've been awfully brave, Mrs. Grayson. By the looks of things, Trevor's got a lot to live for." He gave her arm a pat. "Try to get some rest. He will likely run a fever in the next day or two, so be prepared." With that, he turned and left.
Leanna sank back onto the side of the bed and grasped Trevor's hand in both of hers. Steven stood behind her for a moment.
"Leanna," Steven finally murmured, "you should go get cleaned up. There's blood all over you."
Leanna shook her head. "No, I don't want to leave him. What if he wakes up?"
"It's most likely going to be a while before he wakes up again." Steven lifted Leanna gently by the arm and led her to Amanda, who had just come back into the room. "Go with Amanda and get cleaned up. I'll stay with him until you get back."
Leanna squeezed Steven's hands. "Alright, but call me if he wakes up while I'm gone. I'll only be a few moments."
Steven nodded his agreement, then Amanda led Leanna into her and Steven's bedroom. Amanda had Camilla fetch clean clothes and water for a bath, and soon, the two women had Leanna soaking in a tub of hot water. When Leanna looked down and saw the faint tinge of pink in the water from the blood that had washed off her arms and legs, she began to cry uncontrollably. Amanda sat on a low stool and embraced her, rocking her back and forth like a child.
"It's alright, Leanna," she soothed. "Everything's going to be alright." Heedless of how dampened her own clothes were getting, Amanda stayed and hugged her sister-in-law until her sobs had subsided into small hiccupping gulps.
Finally, Leanna drew several deep breaths and raised her head to meet Amanda's eyes. "I pray to God that Trevor is going to be alright. He looks so pale and weak."
Amanda brushed the limp hair back from Leanna's face and gave her a brave smile. "It's only natural that he's pale. He's lost a lot of blood. But you know as well as I do that Trevor is much too stubborn to let a little thing like a bullet get the best of him." At Leanna's small smile, Amanda nodded and stood up. "Now, let's get you dressed before you catch a chill."
Once Leanna was dried and dressed, she returned to Trevor's bedside, and she wouldn't let anyone persuade her to leave.
"Come on, honey, you need to eat dinner," Steven cajoled her. "I'll sit with him while you go downstairs and eat."
Leanna shook her head, "No, thank you. I want to stay here."
"I'll have Camilla bring you up a tray then."
"I really couldn't eat a thing, Steven. I'm just not hungry."
Steven sighed in exasperation. "Well, you need to at least have some tea and toast. It's not going to do anyone any good for you to make yourself sick, and frankly, I don't want to face Trevor when he wakes up and finds his wife looking half-starved. I'm the one he'll blame."
Leanna gave him a weak smile. "Alright, Steven. Have Camilla bring up a tray, and I will try to eat something."
Later on that night, they had a similar discussion about Leanna needing to rest, but this time, she dug her heels in and wouldn't be moved. "No, Steven, I'm not leaving this room."
"But Leanna, you're exhausted, and you need to get some sleep. Go lay down for a little while, and I'll stay with Trevor."
"No, I couldn't possibly sleep, worrying whether he's going to wake up and need me."
Steven shook his head, but realizing she wouldn't be swayed, he sighed in resignation and gave her shoulders a fond squeeze. "I'm going to try and get some sleep then. I'll check on you in a while. Call me if you need me."
Leanna nodded, but didn't look up as Steven left the room and closed the door behind him with a soft click. She sat for a few moments, alone with her husband, just listening to his steady breathing. She reached up to brush an unruly lock of black hair from Trevor's pale forehead, when his eyes flickered open. Leanna's breath caught in her throat. He lay there, staring up at her for a minute before letting his eyes roam around the bedroom then looked as if he might try to sit up.
"No, darling. Just lie still. The doctor says you're not to move," Leanna said softly.
Trevor winced in pain. "How did I get here?" he asked. "The last thing I remember, I was trying to control the buggy."
Leanna caressed his cheek and brow, smiling down at him with relief. "I drove you home, and Steven and Otis carried you upstairs."
Trevor frowned up at her. "You drove the buggy? The horse was running out of control."
Leanna shrugged, "Yes, well, I managed." She swallowed the large lump in her throat and bent to softly brush a kiss on her husband's lips. "I love you," she said simply.
Trevor stared up at her shining eyes. He squeezed her hand weakly and tried to smile, though it came across as more of a grimace. "I know . . . I love you too." He stared at her for a few moments then frowned, remembering more details about what had happened. "And when I get better, I'm going to take you across my knee and paddle your backside madam." When she frowned in bewilderment, his scowl became even blacker. "What were you thinking trying to throw yourself in front of me? You could have been killed."
Leanna's expression turned mutinous. "Well I wasn't simply going to sit by and watch that man kill you! If I hadn't pushed you, the shot would have gone straight through your heart!"
Trevor grunted his disapproval, clearly not convinced by her argument. "Lest you forget, Leanna, you're carrying my child. I expect you to take better care of yourself and my child in the future." He would have said more, but the strain of talking was beginning to take its toll, and he grimaced in pain.
"Don't try to talk anymore right now, you need to rest," Leanna soothed. She offered him a cup of lukewarm tea that had been laced heavily with sugar and laudanum. "Here, please try to drink some of this. The doctor said you needed to get some fluids into you.
She held Trevor's head, and he drained the cup in a few gulps, sputtering only once. When he laid his head back on the pillow, he looked exhausted. She bent over to kiss his brow.
"Now try to rest. Hopefully, you'll feel better in the morning."
Within minutes, the laudanum took effect and Trevor had drifted back into a deep sleep. Leanna stayed by his side through the night. When Steven came in several hours later, she was still sitting on the side of the bed, gripping Trevor's hand.
"Has he woken up at all?" he whispered.