“There you are, lass. I’ve been searching all over for you!” Charles said, smiling broadly at her as she turned, startled by his sudden appearance. “I should have known to look here for you!”
“Father, I didn’t hear you come down!” Leigha exclaimed as he came over to her side and gave her a hug.
“Obviously! You are so involved with talking to this horse of yours that you would not have heard anything!” Charles laughed, releasing her to pat Silvering’s neck. “And you are just as glad to see her as we have all been, aren’t you, boy!”
“Well, it has been quite a while since I’ve seen him, and until last night, I was afraid to think of what might have happened to him after I had been taken away from Crete.”
“As you can see, Simon has taken very good care of him for you. He comes down here every day to walk him about and to groom him for you.”
“Is Simon better today?” Leigha asked him, her voice tense and edged with concern. “He slept so poorly last night.”
“He’s doing just fine,” Charles answered, placing his arm about Leigha’s shoulders. “As a matter of fact, I saw him just a few minutes ago, and he was sitting up in bed reading. I believe that he will recover much faster than the doctor has said!”
“And Robert?” she asked, her voice strained even in her relief at hearing news of Simon. “Has he awakened yet?”
“Yes, he has,” Charles answered, the serious tone of his voice alarming Leigha. “Now don’t look like that, you have to be strong, my dear. Robert woke up and called for you about a half hour ago. That’s why I came looking for you, I promised him that I would bring you to his side.”
“Then I must go at once,” Leigha said and began to hurry from the room.
“Leigha, wait!” Charles called out to her, catching her in midstride. “Listen to me, Robert is worse. His wounds have festered as the doctor said they would, and his fever is climbing. You must prepare yourself, lass. He’s delirious, and you will have to remain calm and strong for him at all times if you are to help him. He needs you now more than he ever has.”
“I . . . I know that, Father,” Leigha said sadly, her eyes clearly showing her pain. “I have decided that I must remain with him for as long as he needs me. Do you think that Simon will understand?”
“He does, dear, for we have already spoken of this,” Charles said, holding Leigha closely for comfort, knowing the difficulty of the decision she had made. “Simon loves you very much and understands that it’s what you must do.”
“I must talk to him about it, and I pray that you are right,” Leigha said through her tears. “But I have to go to Robert first. He needs me.”
“He needs to see you smiling,” Charles said as Leigha turned. Reaching in his pocket, he brought out his handkerchief and handed it to her, saying, “Here, use this. It won’t do for you to go to him with tears all over your face. The time for weeping cannot be now. You must draw on your courage and strength, girl. There, you look better already!”
“I’ll be all right.” Leigha smiled, handing the now damp cloth back to him.
“I know that you will be. Otherwise, I would not be allowing you to go through any of this.” Charles smiled and patted her shoulder. “I’m very proud of you, daughter. Now, let us go to Robert together.”
Leigha turned and went up to the next deck of the ship with Charles following close behind, her heart hammering as she set her mind to her duties ahead. She would be a good wife to Robert and do her best to make him happy for whatever time that he may have left. She knew that she must take things only one day at a time and not let herself think of what the future would bring, let alone the present events that had split her heart and torn apart her dreams. She must concentrate fully on Robert now for his sake and hold her tears over her loss of Simon for the dark of night.
Virginia Lee ~ Dagon’s Blood (p. 494-495) Kindle Edition