Summary: Paradise is almost gained for one Cartwright. Written for a Halloween challenge. My words were: Paul Martin, chains, snake.
Rating: T. Word count 761
Snake in the Grass
Adam gazed up into moss-colored eyes and he sighed in content. He reached up with his forefinger and hooked a corkscrew curl, slowly pulling it down until it was a long kink and then letting go, watching it spring back as if he’d never pulled it.
Yvette smiled and took his hand before he could take hold of another curl. She pressed his hand to her cheek and rubbed as if she were a cat marking a person as its own.
“Come here,” he said, sliding his hand around to the back of her neck.
She complied, meeting his lips for a lingering kiss. Afterward, she nuzzled the delicate skin under his jaw.
“I could stay here forever,” said Adam.
“Why don’t you?” she murmured.
Adam sighed again before turning his head, seeking her lips for a deep kiss.
“I have responsibilities. The Ponderosa doesn’t run itself.”
“You have brothers.” She toyed with a button on his shirt then slipped slender fingers between cloth and skin.
“Persuasive, aren’t you?” said Adam, a devilish twinkle in his eye.
“As much as I want to bask in the sun with you in this little Garden of Eden, I really must get back.”
Yvette withdrew her hand from his shirt and her lower lip pushed forward in a little pout. “But it’s hours yet until nightfall. Besides, we haven’t finished our picnic.” She reached into the nearby wicker basket and withdrew a bright red apple.
“The forbidden fruit,” said Adam, his dimple deepening as he smiled at his own joke.
“Sometimes an apple is just an apple,” said Yvette.
She pressed it to his mouth, letting him pierce the skin but she pulled it away before he could bite a piece out of it. Leaning over, she pressed her lips against Adam’s and savored the apple’s sweet juice before breaking their kiss.
“Have I changed your mind?” Yvette asked.
“No,” he said.
Her eyes narrowed as her lips pressed together in a frown. “Why?”
“I told you,” said Adam as gently pushed her away and sat up.
Yvette pushed him back into the grass and hissed through bared teeth.
Adam caught a glint of silver from the corner of his eye and tried to squirm away from Yvette as chains slithered through the grass until his wrists and ankles were captive. He frantically looked from one side to the other, testing the chains for weakness but there was no give.
Yvette straddled Adam and pressed her weight against his chest.
His eyes widened in terror as she leaned forward with her mouth open, revealing a mass of small snakes. He gritted his teeth and thrashed his head from side to side, her breath hot against his face. Adam had no choice but to open his mouth when she pinched his nose. His scream was cut off as the small snakes passed into him. He flailed against the chains, struggling to breathe.
Pain radiated from his chest into his shoulders and ribs. Another white-hot burst of pain. Then a deep breath. And another.
Awareness slowly returned and the next few breaths came easier.
Adam opened his eyes. His eyebrows drew together as he studied the ceiling for a moment. He gasped again for air as a coughing spasm shook his pain-wracked chest.
“It’s all right,” said a familiar voice. “Drink some cool, sweet water.”
An arm snaked around Adam’s back and lifted him up to drink.
After his head was again resting on the pillow, Adam studied his father’s face, noting deep lines etched into the forehead and normally vibrant eyes colored with worry.
“What happened?” asked Adam.
“Don’t die on me again,” said Paul Martin. “I won’t have it.”
Adam cleared his throat and rested a hand over his heart. He looked from his father to the doctor then shook his head.
“The worst should be past,” said Paul as he gathered up a few things to stuff back into his bag. “You should train your horse not to dump you and run off when it sees a snake. And you’re lucky that rattler didn’t inject more venom.” The doctor set his hat on his head and said, “I’ll see myself out.” He patted Adam’s shoulder before leaving the bedroom.
Remembering Yvette and her snakes, Adam rested his hand on his father’s knee and asked, “Will you stay with me until I fall asleep?”
Ben smiled, brushed hair back from his eldest son’s forehead, and picked up a battered copy of Paradise Lost to read aloud.
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