Emma anxiously awaited Nathan’s arrival with nervous anticipation. Jim’s men attempted to prepare her in advance knowing Nathan had received injuries. She didn’t know what to expect or the extent of his injuries. Determined to remain stoic, she calmed herself. Although her parents were appalled when they saw the condition of her bruised wrists along with raw spots apparent where the shackles had dug into her flesh, she was unhurt.
She’d showered and changed as soon as she was home knowing Nathan would be incensed upon witnessing the remnants of her short-lived incarceration.
They were huddled together by the fire when Jim came through the door followed by a battered Nathan. Emma rose, went to him and grasped his hands, the only part she was sure she could touch without inflicting pain.
He wrapped her in his arms and held on tight. “Thank god you are alright, my Emma.”
“I’m fine, Nathan, seriously.” Pulling back she continued, “Looks like I faired better than you.”
“Jessop’s men worked me over, but I’m fine. Bruised but alive. More importantly, you are alright.” It was his turn to pull back to examine her. Lifting her wrists he noticed the marks, “Jesus!”
“They’ll heal, Nathan. I’m fine.”
As if to reassure them both, he pulled her close once again. “If he’d harmed you in any way, Emma….”
“It didn’t come to that. Your men, Jim’s men, were well trained and found me quickly enough for which, I’ll forever be grateful and in your debt, Jim.” She turned to him and opened her arms wide and wrapped them around him to give him a hug.
“Nice, but not necessary, Emma. Part of the job. Still, I’m grateful we found you when we did. Jessop was right, Nathan. She wouldn’t have made it out alive. The men carefully went in after finding several booby traps. There were several banks of explosives ready to go.”
Nathan’s fury was instantaneous. “He’s damn lucky he’s in lock up. I’d kill the bastard for what he’s done and would have done. There isn’t a place on earth he could hide I wouldn’t find him!” he ranted.
“He won’t last long where he’s going, Nathan. He’s a sniveling little coward and once the inmates sense his fear, he’s done for.”
“I suppose that’s some form of consolation.”
Jake, Sarah, and Jenna moved closer. Jake shook his hand, “Glad you’re alright Nathan. Takes more than a beating to keep a good man down. Thank you for all you’ve done for Emma and our family.”
Sarah reached out, “Is it safe to hug you?”
Nathan’s lop-sided grin shone out, “I wouldn’t miss the opportunity,” he said receiving a heartfelt hug.
Jenna hugged him fiercely. “Thank god you’re alright, Nathan. There’d be no living with her, you know.” Nathan winked at her.
“I need a few minutes. I’m sorry you had to see me in this state.”
“Go, relax, do what you gotta do, we’ll be right here!” Jake assured him.