Tempt (Take It Off)(9)

By: Cambria Hebert

“Mayday, Mayday,” he said into the radio.

Silence followed.

Nash fiddled with the switches some more. He shook the radio and cursed at it impolitely.

Still, the electronic was unresponsive.

“Shit!” Nash said, kicking it to the side. He pushed his hand through the tangled mass of curls on his head and growled. “It’s broken.”

Well, yeah, I kind of figured that when he kicked it.

The sharp swell of disappointment was strong. So was the fear. Would anyone know where to look for us? How long until someone noticed we never landed? I pressed a hand to my head gingerly. All this worrying and thinking only made it hurt worse.

I caught Nash looking at me with a heavy frown on his face. I gave him what I hoped was an encouraging smile and released my head. He waded through the mess, moving things out of this way, until he reached a little cabinet built into the wall of the plane. Using the side of his fist, Nash hit the little cabinet door and it sprang open. A large white first aid kit spilled out.

“Sweet,” he said, scooping it up. He scrounged around a few more minutes and came up with two bottles of water. Just looking at them made me realize how thirsty I was.

He uncapped one of the bottles and extended it to me. I took it, lifting the lukewarm liquid to my lips. It slid across my tongue and down my throat with ease, rinsing away some of the dryness. A small sound of appreciation ripped from my chest, and I greedily took another gulping sip.

I caught Nash watching me from over the bottle still stuck to my lips. I stopped drinking immediately and held it out to him. I felt selfish just then, hogging down the water when he likely was just as thirsty as I.

He gave me a small shake of his head and held up the other bottle. “That one is yours.”

I watched as he uncapped his own bottle and took a drink. My gaze fastened right to his throat when his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down with every swallow. He had another smear of blood on his neck and some splotches of dirt. My fingers itched to reach out and brush it away, to feel for his steady pulse at the base of his neck. The need to touch him—to reassure myself that we were indeed alive and breathing—was almost overwhelming.

I pulled the bottle away from my lips, my thirst satiated but an all-new need arising within in.

He seemed to sense the change in the air around us and he too lowered the bottle from his lips and recapped it. Keeping his green-eyed stare on me, he reached out and took my bottle, twisting the cap back onto it as well.

“We need to drink slowly, try and save this until we know what we’re dealing with.”

I saw his lips move. I heard the deep timbre of his voice. But I barely heard his words. I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around his waist, bringing myself tightly up against him. I rested my ear over his chest, just like I had craved to do, and pressed it there, seeking out the sound I so badly needed.

He gave it to me without even trying. The rhythm of his heart echoed through his chest and filled me up. My eyes slid closed as I stood there, wrapped around him, listening to the proof that we had survived, that we really were alive.

One of his arms came up, hovered over my back, and then descended, wrapping around me with strength and purpose. He took a deep breath and my ear rose with his chest, his heartbeat getting just a little bit closer.

“I really thought we were going to die.” I confessed.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think that too.”

He hugged me just a little bit tighter and I felt his cheek press against the top of my head. I winced, sharp pain cutting into our moment.

“I need to look at you,” he murmured, pulling away gently.

He handed me the first-aid kit and then grabbed one of the fallen plane seats and righted it, motioning for me to come and sit down. I did and he stood over me, his fingers gently probing my head.

“You have a piece of shrapnel stuck in your head,” he muttered.

He continued to search around for a moment and then squatted down before me, turning the kit in my lap and then clicking it open and rummaging through its contents. He came out with a pair of tweezers, and I cringed.

“I’ll be gentle,” he promised.

I figured the pain couldn’t be any worse than falling from the sky in a plane so I nodded and gave him full access to my wound. It didn’t take him long to pull out the scrap of metal, my teeth grinding together as he did. It stung. It felt like it was a mile long, and I sensed every single inch as he yanked.

“Hold out your hand,” he said, and when I did he dropped a fairly sizeable piece of the plane into my palm. It was smeared with rust-colored blood and was probably two inches in length.

Then he abandoned the tweezers and quickly reached for a thick wad of gauze, pressing into my scalp. “You’re bleeding again,” he said grimly.