Back to Normal: Chapter 21
I woke to the sensation of cool liquid going down my throat. It was blood. Was I with Eric? I started to suck on the wrist at my lips and then it fell away and I opened my eyes. I was in a lifeboat with some other people. I saw the ship in front of us and it was sinking and on fire in two places. The water was littered with people and lifeboats. Some were crying, but mostly it was eerily quiet. I closed my eyes to feel Eric and there was the strangest feeling in the bond. I had never felt anything like it. Was Eric dying? I could see that it was getting light. Where was he? I looked over to the three women in the boat with me and their eyes were wide open in shock and they were looking beneath my feet. I sat up and looked down to see Bill lying on the floor of the boat unconscious. His skin was starting to turn red and steam. I jumped up and tried to cover him with my body but he was too big. I yelled into his ear as loud as I could, “Curl up into a ball! Can you hear me?” Without opening his eyes, his knees began to draw up into his chest. I sat up and pulled my robe off and started to cover him as best I could. I looked back to the women and said, “Help me!” They still stared in silent horror. I got all of his skin covered with the wet robe and then threw my body over his. I heard screams coming from other boats and looked up as little clouds of smoke rose from them. I knew that vampires were dying in those boats, and wondered if any of them were Eric or Pam.
We floated like that for hours. Two men swam up to our boat and climbed in. There were still a lot of people in the water and many were floating face down. I stayed sprawled over Bill’s body, hoping I was keeping him covered enough and wept into his shoulder. It was quiet except for a few women crying until I heard several screams and looked up to see what had happened. A huge tiger was swimming up to our boat. I cried out, “Quinn!” The men in our boat grabbed the oars and started to paddle away from the tiger, and I said, “No! Stop! He’s my friend! He’s a shifter! Please!”
They didn’t stop paddling, but Quinn was a fast swimmer and overtook the boat. I reached over and grabbed a handful of fur, mindful not to leave Bill, and pulled as hard as I could. It wasn’t easy, but Quinn managed to claw his way into the boat. He collapsed onto the floor, panting heavily and I sobbed into his beautiful fur.
When his breathing started to slow, he kind of looked at me and then down to the blob I was lying on and I said through my tears, “It’s Bill. He saved me.”
Quinn lifted his huge body up and carefully lay on top of Bill, nudging me off to the side. I sat back and stroked his fur and thanked him over and over.
People started to shout and cheer and the crying got louder when we saw the big boat on the horizon headed our way. Of course I know nothing about ships but I could see the uniformed sailors on deck and knew it was a Navy ship of some sort. As it approached the lifeboats, huge nets were lowered down the side and sailors started to climb down to help people up. One by one, the lifeboats were emptied. Several sailors dove into the water and started to pull the people floating with life jackets to the ship’s side and help them up as well. When it came to our turn, I asked Quinn if he could shift. When he started to change, the women in the boat screamed and I wanted to smack them for their response. But then I remembered that not everybody has witnessed such a thing and that maybe it is a little upsetting. The sailor who climbed down into our boat helped the three women and the two men up first. Then he reached for me and I told him that I had a vampire underneath my robe and asked if he had any blankets. We got Bill wrapped up tighter and a very naked Quinn slung him over his shoulder as he climbed the ropes up the side of the ship. I was the last to climb and as soon as I was up, I found Quinn who was already looking for a light tight space in which to deposit Bill. I tried to explain to the sailors who would listen what we needed and a nice man who’s brain seemed like a were’s offered to help. We put Bill in a small interior cabin and closed the door. Quinn laid Bill out onto a bed up against the wall. I peeled the blankets and my robe off of him to examine his skin and it didn’t look too bad. I’ve certainly seen worse, which made me think of Eric. I tried to push that aside. I had to be strong for Bill right now. Falling apart would not help.
The kind were’s name was Mason. I didn’t know if that was his first or last name, but it didn’t really matter. He left and returned in a few minutes with some clothes for Quinn and a jacket for me and two bottles of water. Quinn thanked him and turned his back to me to dress. I was beyond being embarrassed. I was just so grateful that he was alive and able to help me with Bill. I kept focusing on Bill so I wouldn’t think of the other people that were still missing from our group. And I couldn’t think of Eric or I would fall apart.