4. His Pet

4. His Pet

A Chapter by Lynaelee

Buck continues to follow path the water has carved into the mountain at a steady pace. I try my best to keep up with him, but it's becoming harder to do. I look down at my ankle then back up at the giant cat with pursed lips as I pause to collect more water in my cupped hands. I can't press on like this much longer. I ease into the water and keep walking. It is more slippery, but it eases some of the discomfort in my ankle. Buck stops and finally looks over his shoulder. "Yeah, I know. I'm slow," I mumble as he makes his way back down towards me. I continue to hobble forward. Buck walks beside me on the shore. "Buck, we've been walking all day. The sun is getting lower in the sky. I'm sure it's past supper time. Can we stop here?" I beg. He looks over at me as I slip, falling into the water. He places his paw next to me to keep me from going downstream. I sit up and lean into his shoulder as I shed a few tears. His head rests on mine while I regain my composure. "Thank you. I'm not planning on going downstream. I'm sorry I'm slow. I'm sorry I'm an irritant for you. I just need to stop. I'll just become more grouchy, slower, and moody until I catch my second wind; if I do at all. I'm exhausted and you are pushy. I just want to stop. Please." He lowers his head and growls softly as he pushes my shoulder towards the shore. I sigh and exit the water. "Okay. So that way? The water is not the best way for me to press on I guess. Can I find a walking stick or something?" I inquire, pointing up stream. He pushes me towards a rock and makes me sit down. "Thank you, Buck."

I pull up my knees and wrap my arms around them. Then I lean my head into knees and cry. I don't have a reason that I can pinpoint; it just makes me feel better. I work hard all day, but this day in particular has just left me emotionally and physically drained. A large splash startles me and I look up again. Buck is playing in the water, running up and down it. "I thought cats hate water," I muse as I watch him. Suddenly, he splashes again and withdraws his paw to reveal a fish. My mouth drops in wonder as he places the fish in his mouth without crushing it or drawing blood. Then he comes over to me and drops it on the rock at my feet before going back to the water. He catches another and comes over to me, lays down, and starts to eat. I look at the fish at my feet in disgust, stand up, walk around to gather firewood, and come back to my rock. After piling it up I pick up two rocks and turn back to my wood. Buck is now standing on top of it and looking at me. "What?! I told you. I'm not like you. I appreciate the effort but I don't do raw food. A fire is to cook it, keep me warm, and dry off my clothes some," I stammer. His fierce gaze causes me to look away drop the rocks I was holding. "Okay. So no fire, no dinner." He snarls and picks up the fish and walks away. I sigh, pull out the leaf with the honey and buckwheat grounds, open it up and lick it. It isn't much, but it's nutrition. I wrap my arms around my legs again and begin to shiver as the sun ducks behind the mountain. Exhausted, I close my eyes and rest my head on my knees. Several moments later, I sit up with a start when I hear rocks sliding again. Buck approaches me yet again. This time, with a large leaf in his mouth. I cautiously and curiously take it from him and open it up. "Raspberries?! I haven't seen a single bush!" I gush as I eagerly pop a few in my mouth. "I don't want to know how you picked these, but I don't care. I love them and never see them. I'm seriously too surprised for words. Thank you, Buck." I reach over and stroke the his neck timidly. "This is okay, right? Because I'm fairly certain I've gone mental if that's the case; a wild animal that's okay with petting," I whisper. He nuzzles my shoulder and pushes me until I'm standing upright again. I sigh and point for him to lead on. He crouches down in front me again. I pop a few more berries into my mouth. "Do I have to?" He looks at me and growls. "Fine, but only because I don't want to sleep by the water; I hate being cold. That's the next stop, right? Bed?" I beg as I finish my leaf full of berries, and hop on his back. I lay down and carefully wrap my arms around his neck again as he climbs up and away from the water. 

At the top, he stops by a tree, and crouches down again. "We're sleeping here? Wonderful," I sigh in relief as I slide off and hold onto the tree. He leaps up and climbs. I look up at him then down at my ankle. He climbs down and nudges me. "You want me to climb?" I ask irritably. "You saw how well it worked earlier." Again he shoves me. I shake my head. "Buck, you can't be serious! For starters my ankle alone would make that task nearly impossible. Earlier, I tried and I nearly fell. I don't have anything to secure myself to the tree either. It's not safe," I argue, beginning to tremble again. "Just let me sleep here by the roots," I beg. He snarls and runs off.

I look to my left and spot another berry bush. I make my way over and study the fruit, they're not edible, but the bush does allow me some privacy so I can relieve myself. When I am done with that, I spot another bush a few feet ahead. So I hobble over and grin as I begin picking the sweet blackberries. I sit down, face the setting sun, and eat my fill. It isn't long before I feel my eyes grow heavier and I begin to yawn. I lay down as I hear Buck growl near the tree. "I'm fine, Buck. Just got some fruit," I mumble as I close my eyes. I feel him over me but don't open my eyes. He rolls me away from the bush and begins to dig. I open my eyes and watch him curiously as he throws dirt at me. He's digging under the blackberry bush. I scoot over some to not be covered in the dirt that he's expelling, but he doesn't stop.

"Is this normal, Buck? Whatever. Good night," I mutter as I curl up again and try to get some rest. The night cools off quickly and I'm still wet, so I begin to shiver in hopes of warming up. Buck finally stops his scratching and comes over to me. He pushes my stomach with his nose and I open my eyes. He looks at me briefly before looking around; he seems almost panicked. I sigh and sit up. He pushes me again towards the bushes. "Buck!" Another shove. "What are you doing?" I ask as I scoot back. He pushes me again. My back is now flat against the bush and my hair gets caught in the mini-thorns. "Agh!" I gasp as I pull my head away. Buck puts his paw on my shoulder and pushes me down to the ground. I am terrified and cannot follow his thinking. He pushes my stomach again and I roll under the bush. I look up in shock as he shakes the bush, like he is pulling it. Slowly the entry I was just shoved through becomes less and less. "Buck?" I whisper, my voice is cracking and tears are falling. He lets out a low growl and I put my hands over my face as berries shake loose and fall around me. Buck's paw comes back under the bush and I hear the ground being moved around again. After he withdraws his paw, he walks around and bumps into the foliage.

The leaves finally stop rattling and I hear him take off. My breathing comes in short gasps. I still don't understand the point of this. I am wedged into a deep divot, wide enough for my body. I can tell the edges are uneven and the walls slope out and up. I feel up the sides and panic when I can feel the sharp roots of the bush on top of the edges of the hole I'm in, but only soft earth surrounds me. I sit up and try to figure things out. I realize without light, I would probably be scratched up if I tried to leave. I don't want to move the leaves for fear of mini thorns festering in my fingers over night. I can't see out. I don't know where Buck is. I don't understand why I'm under a bush or Buck's recent behavior. Finally alone, I inhale sharply as more tears fall freely and I lower myself down again. A breeze comes between the leaves and I shiver. A rattling of the bush startles me and I clamp my hands over my mouth to keep from crying out. Something crawls under with me and I gasp in fright. Fur touches my foot and I pull my leg away. The creature moves toward my face and starts to purr. "Buck?" I cry when the purring stops. My face is being licked with the thick, coarse tongue again. He lays down on top of me, but because of the extra divot, he's not actually on me and I have room to wiggle and breathe beneath him. His paw drops by my head and I sit up. His tongue caresses my forehead as he pushes me back down. I am now resting on his paw and looking up at this great beast. Even in the dark, I can make out his eyes. His body is providing warmth and comfort; something I didn't know I desperately needed. I take some calming breaths as I rub his neck. "Now what?" I whisper. He runs his nose over my eyes and I close them with a nod. "Okay, Buck. Thank you. I'll sleep here," I murmur. I purse my lips and rest my hand on Buck's chest. "Are you okay with this? Are you getting poked by the thorns or roots?" He starts purring again. I nod as I turn to my side and wrap my arms around his leg, finally understanding his plan; he'll protect me and keep me warm while I sleep. "Promise you'll get some rest too. I don't think you've gotten much either. Every time I looked down that tree, you were still awake." I let out a long yawn as he licks down the leg I'm resting on, stopping before he gets to my face. "Good night, Buck. I usually use the empty hulls of buckwheat for my pillows. You are a much better option. And the fragrance of the blackberries is beyond compare; I like falling asleep to something sweet smelling. This is much better than simmering jam. Thank you." He nuzzles my cheek and lowers his head behind me as I curl my legs up. He lowers one of his hind legs into the divot behind my feet, providing extra warmth around my body. I smile and adjust my head on his paw. I can still feel my heart pounding out of my chest, but tonight I know I can sleep easily and find that it comes quickly.

Early in the morning, Buck moves just enough to wake me up. He pulls his paw out from under my head and puts it over my mouth as I roll over and look at him. I nod and yawn but stop immediately as I hear rocks being shifted around close by. A dog whimpers. Another barks out. Buck tenses above me but doesn't move. I strain to peer through the bush leaves to see what's going on, but Buck doesn't let me up. The moon provides enough light inside our bush hole for me to kinda see what's going on around me, but I have to rely on my ears if I am to figure out what has Buck so worked up right now. He keeps his eyes glued on the bush above us and slowly rotates his head around. Our bush rattles, I gasp silently, but Buck doesn't flinch. A low snarl erupts from the other side of the bush then I hear what sounds like dogs fighting. Again, I swear Buck smirks as lowers his head next to mine again, but keeps the paw over my mouth.

A high pitched whistle causes him to look up again. His ears point straight up and he looks over his right shoulder. I push against his paw slightly; he's making it difficult to breathe. He moves his paw some, but doesn't look at me. I put my hands above my head and stretch. Then I wiggle away from his paw and roll to my stomach. I rest my head on my forearms with a yawn; I could easily go back to sleep. I'll let the wildlife around me do it's thing; I'm just an intruder in their area. Besides, I had Buck. Knowing he didn't want me dead and how he continually seems to be protecting me, eases my mind and offers me some comfort. If he wasn't too worried about those sounds, I wouldn't be either. He runs his nose up my back and I smile. "Five more minutes. Just a little more sleep." I plead in a soft whisper. Buck continues to apply soft pressure my back and I drift back to sleep.

When I open my eyes again, the sun had made my hiding hole appear to have a brilliant green light. I roll over and look up. Buck wasn't in here any more, but this position offered me great access to some of the plumpest and juiciest berries. I happily help myself to some breakfast and then crawl out. The area up here was beautiful and I was left in awe of the natural beauty. I make my way back over to the inedible fruit tree to relieve myself. Then I move towards the tree Buck tried to get me to climb. "Let's see. Water. Uh. We came from that direction I think. No. No shale. Um," I mumble, searching the area around me. Buck is nowhere in sight and I don't like sitting around doing nothing. I sigh and take off in the direction I thought we came from, in hopes of finding water to help my ankle and to help my parched throat. The berries, while delicious, do little to satisfy my constant thirst. 
After what seems like ages, I finally find a small trickle of water. I follow it. "Surely this leads to a bigger body of water that allows me to drink, numb my leg, and clean up slightly," I think, taking in my appearance. Dirt and berry stains riddle my once gray dress. I sigh and brush myself off; it does little good. I crouch down and use some of the water to scrub my hands clean. "Better than nothing," I mutter as I duck and weave my way through the undergrowth, looking for an opening. A large snarl fills the air and I jump in surprise as I tumble over a large root. "Bu-"
"Where'd it come from?" A voice asks. I look over my shoulder in fear. He holds a sword and is crouched in a defensive position. He walks over to me and pulls me up. "Was it chasing you? Woman, are you okay?" I nod. It's all I can do as I gaze into his icy blue eyes; I have no words. "You look like you've seen better days, miss. Come back to camp with me. I have food and shelter. Together, we can keep that blasted cat at bay."
"There's a large cougar roaming these hills. I keep seeing it slink up there," he states as he points up. I follow his finger and furrow my brow; I just came from the opposite direction. Buck couldn't be up there; surely he didn't leave me alone that long. "I'm Kern, m'lady. Forgive me, but I am horrible with names, so it would just be a waste of air on your part. I'm just going to call you princess. I can't leave you out here alone; you're practically sitting bait."

"Uh. Thank you. I didn't realize anyone else was out here. But I think I'm the last person you want to be hanging out with. There's more than just large cats after me," I mumble as I look at my throbbing ankle; my latest spill caused my ankle to pop and I could barely put any weight on it now. 

"Cats?" He gasps. I nod. "You've seen more than one?"
"I was cornered by one up a tree. A snarl from across the lake made him take off. I ran. Then I was barely able to duck into a cave as one startled me outside of a wheat field. The cave was too narrow for it to get through, but it didn't stop the beast from ripping my skirt. I followed the cave and came out up here. I don't know where I am. I sprained my ankle. I won't be running much longer," I confess, refusing to meet his eye, still looking down at my throbbing ankle. I don't know why I'm lying, but something feels off. All I know is I can't tell him about Buck.
"Then it's settled; you'll come back to my camp. Especially since you don't know where you are and are injured. I'll keep those cats away from you. What were you doing out here by yourself? Why not stay in the cave?" Kern asks kindly as he sheaths his sword and leads me towards his camp, supporting most of my weight.
"I need to eat. I was looking for some firewood to cook the fish I was going to catch for breakfast," I lie as I finally look up. I stumble over my words as I meet his icy gaze. "I just had to finish finding where that water led."
"My dear, the sun is nearing midday already. I'm afraid you missed breakfast. If you so desire to cook, you may take whatever supplies I have at camp and make a meal. Until then, may I just say, I have never found anyone's eyes to be as unique as yours are. They are so vibrant. I'm captivated," he praises. 

"Uh. Thank you," I whisper, feeling suddenly nervous and self-conscious.

© 2017 Lynaelee

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Added on August 1, 2017
Last Updated on September 1, 2017



Sometimes I feel like I need an outlet to express myself. I have never been good with verbal communication, but I have always found an out in writing. I hurt. I bleed. I make mistakes. I cry. Yes,.. more..

If only If only

A Book by Lynaelee

1. *Prologue* 1. *Prologue*

A Chapter by Lynaelee