Anita Louise

Part Twelve

(c) copyright 1/02

Anita's web site


Chapter Thirty One
The sun was high in the sky, the warmth of its rays sending up mystical unseen vapor.  The sound of an eagle flying nearby was the only evidence of any other life in the area.  Reaching down to pull the canteen from her belt, the woman took a long awaited drink, raising a hand to push any droplets onto her lips.  She had been walking for several days, eyes searching endlessly looking for some clue any sign that Bobie Parker had come that way.

Securing the cap and hooking the canteen to her belt once more, the tall redhead began her trek up the steep path.  The compass she carried had quit working.  She now relied on the sun, the moon, the stars to set her course.  Reaching up to brush her forehead with her forearm, she heaved a sigh.  Wishing she could see shade trees, a stream, but most of all the woman that had left in such a hurry that day.

The two women were standing near Whispering Caves, it had been a hard climb to reach the area.  Their quest had been long, each step a mind opening journey.

Skylar Richmond, tossed back and forth, her mind filled with fleeting images.   In the distance was an open door.  Images of  Springfield beckoned.  Feeling her body caught in a massive grip that would not let go, she fought to make it to freedom.  To Bobie Parker, to a life she had left behind.

Each time the woman was met by Trenton, tall, evil, and taunting, "Come on Woman!  You want your life back, all you have to do is get past me and my friends."

She was weak, but something inside kept her moving toward the opening.  Taking every one of Trenton's blows and going back for more.  It was then a huge hairy form walked out of  a mist, gazed toward Trenton and his men, then to the woman that was laying beat, and bruised.

Sky tried to scramble backwards, her feet digging in the dirt, her fingers grasping at the sand.  Fear gripped her, the kind of fear one reads about  in books but never really believes could be.  As this strange being came closer, she reached for rocks, tossing them as they hit and bounced.  The dark eyes, the teeth, her heart beat so fast she thought it would leap from her chest.  She knew there was no place to go, and she was not strong enough to defeat this monster.  "Go ahead!  Do it!  I will not go peacefully.  If anything I swear I will find some way to give you indigestion you, hairy beast!"  Skylar Richmond felt as if she was drifting.  The last thing she saw was large hairy  hands, nails long and sharp as they reached for her . . .

Alice was standing gazing toward the rising sunrise.  Her mind on the two women whose fate seemed to be sealed, one with the other.  She never even heard the man approaching.

"Beautiful this time of the morning, isn't it?"

She turned to see Redfeather coming toward her.  "Yes.  No matter how long I live, this site will always be beautiful.  What brings you way up here?"

"Been getting certain messages, people are looking for Bobie Parker and Skylar Richmond.  There have been a few inquiries in the village.  Thought you could tell me how they are?  When I might be able to talk to them?"

She gazed toward the sky then replied,  "Their fate is in the hands of someone more wise than me.  Both women are in a deep sleep.  I am keeping an eye on them."

"Bobie too?"

"Yes.  Don't know how this happened but she seems to have joined Skylar Richmond on whatever plane the woman is on."

"I've heard of things like this, never have seen this.  Are they all right?"

"I checked on them earlier.  Both have been thrashing about, but they are alive.  That is all I can say.  Give them a few more days, and pray they will come back to us."

He nodded, then looked directly at the woman.  "I will.  I just pray those that are looking for the two of them do not find this spot before they return.  Tell Bobie I have hidden her jeep."

 Bobie never left Sky Richmond's side for long.  She kept her vigil, tending to all the woman's needs.  Even  holding Sky down during her screams, her body caught in the torment of a malignancy that made her skin crawl and filled Bobie with fear as well as chills.  It had been a long battle both women totally spent by the time Skylar Richmond opened her emerald green eyes to gaze at Bobie.

The woman was laying on her back, sleeping.  From the looks of her, she had not had it easy.  Though a smile graced her face for a moment.  It was evident by Bobie's appearance the woman had stayed by her side.  She was happy to see her.  Praying,  she had not ruined their friendship while in the throes of the evil that had been doing its best to devour her.  Thirsty she was so thirsty.   Feeling weak, Sky attempted to sit and found it difficult.  "Come on Richmond, sitting is easy, it is the standing that may be a bit of a problem."

"Sky!  You're awake!  Thank God!"

She turned to see the joyous face of her friend.  "Thanks to you.  I think you've missed me.  I sure have missed you."

"It has been a lesson for sure.  Anyone ever tell you, holding you down is a feat all by itself?"

"No.  Guess I gave you a bad time.  Sorry.  I really have no recollection of what happened.  Last thing I recall was drifting and the warmth of your hands on me."

Bobie was now sitting beside the woman.  "You still cling to your cover, are you cold?"

"No.  And I'm not hot either.  For a while there I thought I might set the world on fire."

"You had a high fever, I was concerned."

"Thank you.  If not for you and your tie with the people here, I probably would be gone by now.  Who knows maybe I am still between life and death."

Standing, Bobie reached down,  "Take my hand. Let me help you to your feet and over to one of the chairs.  "Don't want to hear you talk like that Skylar Richmond.  Been through too much to ever lose you."

Sky accepted the hand up still holding onto the blanket that she hugged close.  Each step was wobbly and she was thankful to be sitting on the chair.  "I will get my sea legs after a rest.  Don't want you to think of me as a weakling."

Bobie walked to a canteen and brought it to her.  "Here drink.  Just slowly.  Not too much at first."

"Aye aye captain.   You can let go of the canteen now."

Bobie stepped back, walked to a chair and sat.  "How do you feel, besides, weak?"  She watched the woman drink as if it was the last bit of water on earth.  "Your body needs to be introduced to water, food slowly.  You know you have mentioned the sea before, do you have some sort of connection with it?"

Sitting back, Sky stared at the woman.  "Would much rather be introduced to something much more filling.  And to your question of `how do I feel'.   I'm weak, more than I have ever been.  I'm famished, thirsty, could drink the well dry at the moment.  But the pain is gone.  Don't know what you are talking about in so far as sea.  The word just came to me, no special reason."

Bobie reached over and touched the woman's hand.  "Careful with the water, you can end up with a stomachache."

"At least it will be a different ache.  I'm doing the best I can.  Don't know how many days I have been here, you have been here but from the feel of it, my body wants nourishment."

Standing Bobie walked toward the woman, then stepped behind her.  "Need to see what is happening with the bite."

There was a long silence.  Finally Sky asked,  "What?  Is it worse?  Tell me woman!  Don't keep me in suspense!"  It was the warmth of  Bobie's fingers that caused her skin to flex.  "Your touch is warm, soft feels wonderful."

Bobie placed her hands on the woman's shoulders, gently massaging as she whispered in her right ear,  "It's gone. The bite is gone.  Your back is smooth, beautiful as it was."

"Wha . . .  The lash  . . . ?"

"All gone.  You are as good as new."

Sky reached up, placing her right hand on Bobie's hand.  "Thank you."

"Why are you thanking me?   I had nothing to do with what cured you, the village prayers, the constant surveillance of Alice and some of the people from the tribe.  It is indeed a miracle."

"It is you, your friendship, your caring that brought us to this place.  I will never forget how much you have done for me Bobie Parker.  I will also thank Alice and the others for their time, their prayers.  Most of all I thank God for you."

Feeling warm herself, Bobie stepped back, walked to a chair and sat.  "I don't know what to say.  Your words, touch me deeply.  Anyone would have done the same though."

Sky stood, dropped the blanket and gazed around the room.  "No.  Anyone would not.  You went above and beyond to help me and I will not forget it.  Where are my clothes?   Would love to dress.  That is unless you want to remove yours too.  That way I won't be feeling so naked."

"Cute, Richmond, you are much better that is a sure sign"   Bobie stood, walked to a chest in the corner and took out Sky's clothes.  Walking to the woman, she said,  "Shirt, pants.  Your boots are in the corner of the room.  I'll go get them while you dress.  Sit or lean against something, don't want you falling down and injuring yourself."

"Thanks.  I will be careful."  As she struggled to pull the levis on, she added,  "I always wondered why some handsome young man has not asked you to marry.  You are beautiful, loving, caring, and would make some man very lucky."

Nearing the woman, Bobie smiled as she watched Skylar struggle with the pants.  "Just never met anyone that made my heart sing, my body fly."

Heaving a large sigh of relief, she fastened the last elusive snap in place.  Reaching for the light brown buckskin shirt, she glanced at Bobie.  "Hope my feet haven't grown any.  These pants were not easy to get on. "

Biting her lower lip, Bobie replied,  "Uh . . .   Alice took it on herself to wash some of our things.  And I think they might have shrunk."

Making sure the shirt fit, she reached out and grasped the boots.  Walked to the chair and sat.  "Feels good to have clothes on again.  Not something I usually say.  How long were you going to stand there and watch me fight to get these on before you told me about the possible shrinkage?"

Sitting, Bobie grinned,  "Do you good to move around, get your heart beating get the blood flowing.  I looked at them and thought they would fit.  But I would have told you anyway."

Pulling on the boots, she looked toward Bobie.  "Sure you would.  Now, back to the never married question.  Do you believe in fairy tales?  In the White Knight vanquishing dragons and evil Kings to save you?  Glass slippers and Prince Charming?  A Royal Ball, and a carriage pulled by white horses?  By the way, `the heart sing, and  body fly' sounds marvelous."

"No.  I am not gullible.  I know there is no such thing as Knights in shining armor out to save the damsel in distress.  But then I have never really been in distress in that way.  I fight my own battles.  Never have worn a glass slipper.  Never attended a Royal Ball, though I would guess you have.  Never been in a carriage pulled by white horses either.  So perhaps you think me  a bit naive."

"I think a lot of things about you Deputy Parker, naivety is not one of them.  Your feelings of marriage with someone that makes your heart sing and body fly is wonderful.  It is something many strive for but few ever find."

"Alice brought in some porridge a little while ago.  Let me get you some.  It's not caviar but it is filling."

"Sounds good.  Do I seem that shallow to you, Parker?"

Bobie filled  a bowl and was headed for Sky.  Setting this down on the table in front of the woman, she replied,  "Shallow?   No.  I apologize.  You are anything but that.  I wanted you to know how I felt when you said what you did about me, that's all.  Eat, get your strength back. We have places to go, and things to do.  A mystery awaits us, Sheriff Burgess awaits us, Bernie Herbella awaits us.  Wow!  Have never felt so popular."

Before digging into the porridge, Sky raised an eyebrow and said,  "That is not the kind of popularity I'm looking forward too.  We are both in a lot of trouble.  Sheriff Burgess seems to be a by the book person.  And I have a feeling he wants to throw the book at me as well as you."

The songs of prayer were filtering into the room as Bobie said.  "I will go tell Alice you are back with us.  Thank them for all their help."

"Bobie, tell your friend once I'm back, I will send a donation to the village."

She nodded and left the room, it was the empty gnawing she felt in the pit of her stomach that brought about the look of sadness in her eyes.  The look Sky did not see as she delved into the bowl of porridge. The thought that Sky would be going back had not been so real until the woman said the words.  Did she really think, a world famous person like Skylar Richmond  would want to hang around a small town and a  naive deputy sheriff?   Eyes filled with tears as she stepped outside.

Alice stepped into the room, the crackling of the fire in the small fireplace was a pleasant sound and the warmth it created was met with a sigh.   "Getting cold out.  Bobie told me you were back with us.  I am happy this has worked for you."

Sky had been going through her saddlebag, her mind on things to come when she heard the woman enter the room.  Never really thinking it was anyone but Bobie returning.  Turning on her heels, still in a crouched position, she gazed toward Alice.  "Thanks to you I will live to breathe another day.  I don't know how one pays someone for their life but I will give it a good try.  I want to send you . . ."

Before she could finish the words, Alice raised a hand in the air and spouted,  "Enough!"

Startled, Sky  sat on the floor, and stared at the woman in awe.  "What?  Have I done something in so little time to offend you?  If so, tell me?"

"You dishonor me and my people to think we would do something like this for money.  Bobie Parker has already passed your wishes to me.  I do what I do because I want too.  Because I care, because there is a reason."

Removing her hand from the pack, she asked,  "Saving my life, what would be the reason for this?  You hardly know me?"

"I know Bobie Parker, her father and their ties to our people.  She tells me you are a good peson, I believe her.  You may not know this but she was very hurt, feeling your pain deeply.  The woman cares for you.  Besides, whenever I can, I will fight the power that had you so sick.  There is no room in our world for this.  Go with my blessings, Skylar Richmond.  I am thankful you are well and that you are on the road to full recovery.  There is no need to bring money into this.  Just remember one thing."

Sky's eyes grew wide as she leaned forward.  "What is that?"

"All the time you were in here, Bobie Parker was also.  She stayed with you day and night.  Only to leave when I asked.  I tended to you, while you were between two planes.  But Bobie Parker is the one that made sure during your violent attacks you were not hurt."

"Violent attacks?"

"Yes.  You were like a wild army, horrible cries, fists that struck, legs that kicked, anyone getting to close would find themselves on the other side of the room.  It was Bobie that took many hits from you, but never let go.  She comforted you, sang to you, treated you with care.  I just hope you don't forget who your real friend is?"

Standing she approached the woman.  "I will never forget the care you have given me.  As for Bobie Parker, you have already  guessed, I adore her, she is like no other.  You have my word, I will never forget what she has done for me.  Whatever the future holds, I pray if all things go right, she will never be alone again."

Smiling, Alice reached out and grasped Sky's hand.  "You are a woman like none I have ever known.  I am happy to have been of help to you.  I will pray for you and for Bobie on your travels.  And remember to keep near, the medicine bag I gave you.  It will protect you."

Shaking the woman's hand, Sky  experienced a warm sensation and for an instant felt she too had come home.  "I will keep it near me.  Thank you.  Is Bobie nearby?"

Nodding the woman answered,  "She is not far away.  I will send her in."

"That's all right.  I need some fresh air.  If you think it is ok, I'd like to take a short walk."

"Remember you have been very ill, too much exercise is not good.  Would be a good idea to get Bobie to come back in, the two of you visit, turn in early."

"I have been asleep for so long, not sure I want to close my eyes."

"You need your rest, regardless of the time you fought to rid yourself of the evil.  This has taken a lot out of you and it will take time to build up to the person you were before this happened.  The two of you need to decide upon your next steps.  It will be good to stay in, get reacquainted once more."

Smiling, Sky replied,  "We could be total strangers, and yet we would feel the bond that ties us.  I will take your advice to heart.  Bobie and I will stay in and get reacquainted, that is, if she is for this."

Alice watched the woman walk out the doorway and smiled, feeling she had done a good thing, curing the woman and possibly bringing happiness to both.  She went about gathering items and packing.  It was obvious she was not needed anymore.

Bobie was standing near the path that they had walked in on, hands on her hips, she stared into the darkness.  So much had changed, Skylar Richmond had entered her life and left her with a feeling she could not apprehend.  It was hard to understand why the woman going back, upset her so.

"There you are Parker."

Turning, she could see the tall woman walking toward her.  "Sky!  What are you doing out here?  As ill as you have been, you could catch your death of cold."

"Missed you.  I have Alice's ok to come out.  As long as we both go back inside for the night.  She thinks we need to spend time together, time that I'm not fighting, crying out and hitting you."

"Oh.   She told you huh?"

"Yes.  And I apologize for being such a handful.  Hope you will let me make it up to you."

Bobie walked past the woman.  "Let's go back.  About making it up to me, what did you have in mind Skylar Richmond?"

Sky shrugged as she watched the woman walk away.  For some reason, Bobie acted like she was mad.  It had not been that long since she last saw her.   The woman began to rack her brain trying to figure out what had Bobie in such a snit.  When she walked into the room, Bobie was standing near the fire, a poker in hand trying to stir it up.

"Cold?"  Sky asked as she approached the table.

"It is going to be a cold night, thought I would stir up the fire.  Maybe I should go out and get more firewood."

Sky stepped in front of the woman.  "Want to tell me what gives?  We don't need any more wood, have plenty in here.  For some reason you want to create a distance between us."

Bobie's tongue moved slowly against the inside of  her cheek, before she replied,   "You are imagining this.  I have been with you almost constantly.  Why would I pull away now?"

"That is what I want to know.  So sit and tell me what the problem is.  If I can ease your mind, I will."

Sighing, she walked to the chair and sit.  Arms folded across her chest she leaned back and stared at Sky.  "All right, I am sitting.  There is no problem.  Won't be long and we will be back in Springfield."

"Not sure if that is a good thing or not.  Lots of people looking for us."

"You will be able to go back and begin your life from where you left it."

Sky sit and gazed, shaking her head as she let the woman's words filter in before tossing them back out.  "Woman, if I was not so weak, I would take you over my lap.  Is that what this is all about?"

Bobie looked as if she did not understand what Sky was getting at and replied,  "Don't know what you are referring to."

Leaning forward, Sky moved closer to the woman.  "I'm referring to my comment about paying Alice for what she did for me.  I used the words when I get back.  You jumped on this didn't you?"

Looking like a bullfrog, Bobie's face was set and  ready for battle.  "Don't know what you are talking about."

"Sure you do.  You took my words to mean when I get back to Los Angeles.   I was referring to when I get back to Springfield with you."

A complete change in Bobie Parker's face was apparent as the woman relaxed.  "You, you, meant Springfield?"

"Yes.  How could you even think I was talking about going back.  We still have a several cases to solve, Trenton to capture again.  The mystery of what is going on at his mother's place."

"If that is all that is keeping you Skylar Richmond, why don't you just go back with that pretty boyfriend of yours?  I think the sheriff's department can solve the cases as well as recapture Trenton.  In so far as what is taking place at the Trenton home, I can look into this."

"I am sure Bernie would love to take me back with him.  Woman, are you sure it has not been you in the deep sleep?  I want to stay for the things I mentioned but most of all because I want to spend time with you."

"I'm sorry Sky, it is just, I'm not good at saying goodby."

"Then don't.  Quit trying to send me packing with Bernie and let me continue being with you as we have been.  Who knows maybe even better."

"You have been ill.  I have been stressed.  Guess I just let things get to me.  Really have no reason to feel sad if you left.  But I do."

Sky stood and walked to the woman, she dropped to her knees, reached out and grasped Bobie's hands.  "I care about you Bobie Parker.  The illness, has not taken this away.  If anything my feelings are deeper now.   If you were to say goodbye to me I would feel as if someone tossed me from a high mountain.  For me it will never be easy to say goodbye to you.  And I have no plans of doing this, that is unless you want me to leave."

Feeling hot and knowing she must be all shades of red Bobie whispered,  "You, want to stay?"

Nodding, Sky replied,  "More than anything, I want to get to know you Bobie Parker.  I want to know what you like, what you hate.  What makes you laugh, smile.  If you have the time, I want to learn all about you."

"Bobie grinned.  "That would take a long time.  Sure you could stand this?'

"I can if you can."

Bobie felt a lump in her throat.  "I don't know what to say.  Not a person to show my feelings, better to hide them to be hurt by what I might feel."

Sky sat on the floor and as she did this, brought Bobie down with her.  The woman fell into Sky's arms before she hit the floor.  Sky was sitting, holding Bobie in her embrace, the two women close, yet not a word passed between them.  Both completely happy in being close, feeling a love that was causing heat and it wasn't from the fireplace.

Bobie spoke first,  "Sky . . ."

"Shhh.  I've been away a long time."

"Skylar . . . Skylar Richmond . . ."   The words played upon her psychic like an echo, bouncing back and forth.  Soft, urging each sound reached out to beckon.  Slowly opening her eyes, she could see a form, a vision fading in and out.

"Bobie  . . . Bobie Parker . . .  It is time you come back.  Skylar needs you.  It is not your time."

The woman sat between Sky and Bobie, gently patting each woman's face, stroking red hair, then blond.  "Skylar, Bobie, it is time, you come back to us."

When both women opened their eyes and gazed at the woman, she smiled. Wherever they had been, they were together and now they were back, together.

Bobie was the first to sit up, her eyes darting toward Sky who was slowly finding her way back.

"What is going on, Alice?"  Bobie reached up to touch her forehead.  "I have such a headache."

Alice reached out to help Sky sit then answered,  "Don't know how it happened.  You refused to leave Skylar and somehow, you too drifted away."

Feeling an urge to pooh the woman's words, Bobie muttered,  "Impossible.  What you are saying is impossible."

Alice stood and stared down toward the two women.  "Neither of you look too worse for wear.  There are things in this world that cannot be explained.  For some reason, you went into Skylar Richmond's dream scape.  Perhaps the two of you were fighting monsters or taking care of business that could not be dealt with on this plane.  Whatever, I am happy to see you are both back in this world with us."

Belle walked toward the pickup, her mind was not on business, instead it was on Jeanne Randolph.  The woman was making each day brighter, more interesting and for the first time she felt like someone that mattered.  The two women were going to Doc. Taylor's clinic.  Jeanne wanted to talk to him since he had treated Sky.

"I have packed what we may need today.  Have you cleared your schedule at the tavern?"

Ginning, Belle nodded.  "Yup, all clear.  I noticed you out here earlier.  Reminded me of a little chipmunk, going back and forth making sure things are tucked away."

Jeanne hurried to open the door for Belle.  "Least I can do, after all you have given me free roam of your home.  Opening a door is a little thing."

"Happy to do this.  Once you are in, we can go."  She watched Jeanne walk around the pickup to her side and climb in.

Once seated and belted, Jeanne leaned back and asked,  "This Doctor Taylor a nice man?"

"I think so.  Once you meet him, you will see."  As the pickup began to move down the road, Belle glanced toward Jeanne adding,   "Don't get me wrong, opening the door was nice but around these parts people would frown upon it.  Might want to rethink this."

Chuckling to herself, Jeanne replied,  "Just being nice.  Are you telling me people around here are not nice to one another?"

"Most are, but some might think things about a woman opening a door for another, if you get what I mean."

Turning in the seat, Jeanne Randolph stared directly at Belle Gardner.  "Are you one of these people?"

Taking a deep breath, her eyes on the road Belle answered,  "I think people should leave others alone.  What a person chooses to do is their business not anyone elses.  I am sure you have noticed this is a small town.  And sometimes a few small-minded people live in these communities.  Set in ways and all that."

"Hmm . . .    Too bad.  Don't attribute this all to small communities, the problems go much further but seem to be getting better.  I was just trying to be nice that's all.  Guess I should ask you about doing something before I jump in."

Pointing to an approaching street, Belle said,  "Doc's place is up ahead."  Parking the pickup and taking the keys from the ignition, Belle turned to gaze at Jeanne Randolph.  "If you think opening the door upset me, it did not, just surprised me.  Now you sit, stay, don't move."

Jeanne arched an eyebrow, looked questioningly at the woman as Belle stepped from the pickup.  Before long, the woman was opening the door for her, smiling, as she said,   "Only way to get in to see him without everyone suspecting  you don't have an ulterior motive is to pretend to be injured.  Sheriff probably has this place covered.  Either you can limp in leaning on me or I can carry you."

Surprise traveled the woman's face.  She was between happiness and shock at the turn of events.  Finding her voice she uttered,  "I can limp."

Once out of the pickup and on the ground, she held up her right foot and whispered,  "You are good."

The two entered the patient waiting room to many eyes staring their way.  Belle held tightly to the woman as they made their way toward the receptionist.  "Need to see Doc.  It's important."

The receptionist looked at the two women replying,  "Who is this for?"

"Who do you think?  My friend.  Now tell Doc we are here."

Instead of doing this, the woman rummaged through several piles of paper then came up with a pen and paper saying,  "Need insurance information, have your friend fill this out, sign and return this to me, then the two of you can have a seat and wait your turn."

Belle was just going to speak her mind to the woman when Doc. Taylor entered the room and said,  "Belle, I've been expecting you.  Come on back."

Belle turned and gave the receptionist a look and replied,  "Thank you Doc.  Lead on we'll follow."

Belle chose to leave the two alone and went to the waiting area.  Once in the room, Jeanne introduced herself to the man.  The meeting was not a long one but during this time, she felt she found out what had happened to Sky.  Her friend had been through a lot.  Having known Skylar Richmond for sometime, she knew what Sky did was dangerous.  She also knew the woman was not one to back down.  Jeanne informed the doctor of what Belle had told her and with this they put a large part of her puzzle together.

Before they were through the man looked at her and said,  "You may be biting off more than you can chew, Miss Randolph.  I have no doubt you are a capable and well-experienced person, it is just things happen around here that are unexplainable.  This is a town that loves outsider's money but does not like outsiders poking their nose in the town's business.  I need to put a bandage on your ankle and probably would be a good idea to take crutches with you."

Jeanne watched the man wrap her ankle and foot, he was good and quick.  "All this to keep the sheriff from guessing I'm actually here to get information on Sky.  She must have made an impression on you Doctor."

He smiled and stood.  "She did.  I can see that the two of you would be good friends.  If you wait a minute, I will get you the crutches."

As the man went to walk from the room, Jeanne asked,  "Did you do any blood work on Skylar when she was here?"

He stopped, turned and gazed toward her.  "Why do you ask?"

"Just curious.  If you did, I was wondering what it may have shown."

"You of all people should know that doctor patient information is confidential.  I can tell you she did have blood drawn, I cannot tell you what the results were.  I hope your friend is all right.  Be right back."

Before Jeanne could say anything, the man was gone.  She stood and walked around the room, it was evident there was nothing there.  More than likely this was all in his office, or at the hospital, either case, she was not going to be privy to the blood results.  When she heard the man approaching the room, she walked toward the doorway.

He smiled when he saw her standing holding one boot.  "Get Belle to carry the boot.  Hope you have a good stay while you are here, that you do not spend all your time looking for Skylar Richmond and Bobie Parker."

Jeanne took the crutches and adjusted them to her height.  "Bobie Parker?"

"She is with Skylar, I would think and so I just included her.  It was nice meeting you Miss Randolph.  I will not utter a word to the sheriff as far as anyone will know, you were here because of the ankle."

When Belle saw Jeanne and the crutches she had to hold back a smile.  Walking toward her she reached out and grasped the lone boot that was hanging by a finger.  "Looks like Doc took care of you.  Just be careful outside."

Jeanne chuckled,  "You are like a mother hen Belle Gardner, let's go.  Can't wait . . ."

Belle interrupted the woman,  "To have breakfast.  Right you are, let's go."

The two women were the talk of the waiting room after they left, it was Doc Taylor that stepped in and quieted them down.  A woman like Jeanne Randolph with Belle Gardner  had everyone's lips moving.

Belle drove to her home, parked the pickup in the back of the house.  Neither said much on the ride back.  It was after they were inside, that Jeanne spoke,  "He is a nice man.  Thanks for making the arrangements for us to meet."

"You're welcome.  Now come sit and I will take the bandage off."

"I can do it.  Very happy I'm not having to use crutches for real.   Why don't you come sit and talk while I unwrap this?"

Belle walked to the divan and sat.  The woman was quick, it didn't take long before she had the ace bandage free of her ankle and foot.  "You are quick, Jeanne Randolph.  It looks like this would be easy to apply if needed."

Jean was rolling up the bandage and glanced toward Belle.  "Just hope there is no need to have to put this back on.  Do you think we fooled anyone?"

Laughing Belle replied,  "I think his receptionist is upset because we didn't do what she wanted, other than that, no.  I am sure they all thought you had an arranged appointment and had been injured.  You are a good actress Jeanne Randolph, any thespians in your family?"

A twinkle in her eyes the woman smiled.  "You did say thespian, didn't you?"

Belle stood and walked toward the woman, reached out and took the ace bandage from her.  "Think you're cute, don't you?   I'll put this in my purse, just in case we need it again."

"Well at least someone thinks I'm cute.   What do you have in store for us today?"

Belle had been digging in her purse, turned and tossed the rolled up ace bandage toward the woman.  "Think fast!"

Jean was sitting on the rocking chair and when she leaned forward to try and catch, the chair tipped sending her crashing to the floor.  Instinctively she rolled to the left as the chair hit the floor.  The woman lay looking up at the very concerned face of Belle Gardner.

"Are you all right?  I would feel terrible if you actually broke something."

Jeanne began to laugh.

With hands on her hips, Belle knelt and stared in fascination at the woman.  "I asked if you are all right but by the sound of your laughter I would say, yes.   What is wrong with you?"

"My brother, is a thespian."   The woman rolled onto her side and laughed so hard tears were streaming down her face.

"Oh my, you must have hit your head when you fell.  Woman you are acting delirious.  Shall I call Doc?"

Falling onto her back, she gazed at Belle.  The look on the woman's face was precious.  Taking a deep breath, she managed to say,   "No . . .  I'm fine."

"If this if fine, I hate to see you when you aren't.  Sorry bout tossing that toward you, I forgot you were sitting in the rocker.  City folk, not used to the quick forward motion."  As she stared at Jeanne, the woman's laughter became contagious.  First it was a snicker . . . then Belle Gardner broke into bubbling laughter.

There was a knock on the door as both women looked at each other, and scrambled to get to their feet.  Tears wiped away, and the chair put back in place.  Jeanne dashed from the room leaving Belle to get control and make it to the door.  As she opened the door, Sheriff Burgess, tipped his Stetson and said,  "Howdy.  Thought I would stop by and see how your houseguest is getting along?   If there was anything I could do?"

Belle was hanging onto the door, her face was red, hair was tussled.  It took a few moments before she replied,  "Sheriff Burgess."

"That's right.  Think we got this part squared away, Belle.  What has gotten into you?"

She stepped back, asking, "What do you mean?"

"Just never seen you so radiant.  Something get you all worked up?   Mind if I come in?"

"No, come in Sheriff Burgess."

Stepping into the room, he glanced around  before asking,  "Where is Miss Randolph?   Thought I might ask how her visit is coming along, just when she is planning on leaving?"

Belle closed the door and walked up to the man.  "Ben, I`ve known you for a long time.  I also know that your being here is no social call.  Have you found Skylar and Bobie?"

He walked to the divan and sat then replied,  "No.  Still, no sign of them.  Thought perhaps Miss Randolph may have heard something."

"She has been with me and as far as I know, Skylar nor Bobie has contacted her.  I would have known.  Why don't you leave the woman alone?  Give her a chance to see what makes this community so special."

He leaned back, stretched out both arms letting them rest along the back of the divan. Making himself at home he said,   "Our community is special as you say because we don't let people like Miss Randolph bring outside things in."

"Jeanne is sleeping in this morning.  I will not wake her."

He stood, walked toward the hallway and called out,  "Want to come in here and be sociable?  I know you're not sleeping in.  I also know the two of you have already been to visit Doc Taylor today."

Belle walked toward the hall, turning to glare at the man.  "What gives you the right to just come into my home and treat my guest as you are?  For that case, me?   I am a good upright citizen of  this community.  I think you had better leave."

It was at this time, Jeanne hobbled into the room, gazing toward Belle then the Sheriff.  "Hope your visit is important, I was trying to rest."

Belle stepped forward, wrapping an arm around the woman's waist helping her to the rocker.  Both women looking away from each other in order not to start laughing again.

"You two look mighty cozy.  Tell me Jeanne Randolph, just when are you going to go back to your job?"

Belle made sure the woman was seated before she turned and walked to the divan, plopping down in such a way, it caused, Sheriff Burgess to bob up and down for a second.  "Don't you have anything else to do besides coming here and interrogating us, Sheriff?"

"Maybe have to get a pill for seasickness if you keep plopping on the divan like that.  Just want a few answers then you two can get back to whatever had Belle in such a dither when I knocked."

Jeanne sat back, placing both hands on the arms of the chair.  "All right Sheriff, shoot?  Ask your questions.  The sooner you do, the sooner we can get back to doing what it was you are so sure we were doing."

"Do you know just when you will be leaving?"

Smiling, her eyes gleaming the woman replied,  "Why?  Are you going to throw me a party, Sheriff?"

He leaned forward, glaring toward the woman.  "Don't get so uppity with me.  I don't look forward to another confrontation with you.  Just answer my question."

"Fine. I will be here until I'm ready to leave.  Belle is a great person and I'm enjoying the visit.  Before you ask, I have not heard from Skylar or Bobie, have no idea where they are or what they are doing.  I can tell you what I didn't eat this morning, nothing, other than that you are out of luck.  Do us both a favor Sheriff, go hassle someone else."

He stood, walked toward the woman, his eyes traveling her body, stopping on the bandaged foot and ankle.  "Don't take kindly to women telling me what to do.  But I will make an exception beings, you are an invalid and all.  I am sure you and Belle will let me know if Skylar contacts you.  Have a good day ladies."

Belle had dashed for the door, opening it just as Ben Burgess reached out to grasp the door knob.  "You have a good day too, Sheriff."

She watched him leave, then closed the door.  Leaning up against it, the woman sighed deeply.   "You were right, he wants you out of town.  Can't figure out why?  The person I have come to know is honest and caring.  Sheriff must have something else weighing on his mind."

"Yes, either that or some great secret he doesn't want uncovered.  You were right Belle, this town is like one long grapevine.   Seems everyone knows what the other is doing.  We have to be more careful."

Belle stood and walked toward the woman, reached down and said,  "Give me your hand.  Let me help you out of the chair."

Jeanne grinned and slapped at the woman's hand.  "I can get up all by myself, thank-you."

Walking away from the woman, Belle snickered,  "Have to admit you looked cute all sprawled out there."

Jeanne stood and walked toward the couch, sitting she began to remove the bandage once more.  "And you, my dear, just laughed at me."

Belle sat on the divan next to the woman then said,  "This has been a crazy journey, you coming here, our getting together.  I have enjoyed your visit, and hope I have been able to help you some in what you wanted to do."

Handing the rolled up the bandage to the woman she replied,  "You have.  I would never have made it to any of the places we went if not for you.  It was my good fortune walking into your tavern.  You mentioned to me that Bobie Parker has some sort of tie to the reservation.  Is it possible this is where the two of them may have gone?"

Took a few moments before Belle leaped to her feet.  "Yes!   I bet that is where they are.  Lots of places  to hide.  And Bobie has ties with many, some may even hide the two.  Come on, let's go!"

Jeanne starred at the woman and asked,  "Go where?"

"The reservation.  Let's not let anymore dust settle, we need to find them.  They need to know what has been happening."

Continued in Part 13
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