The Widow in the Woods: Part 5

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If you missed the first part of The Widow in the Woods, you can find it here.

Part 2 is located here.

Here’s Part 3.

Find Part 4 here.

When the door to the front porch slammed open, crashing against the cabin’s exterior wall, Grace refused to jump. Sedately, she continued embroidering, finishing the intricate stitch she was working on before looking up.

Christopher had exited the cabin and he was enraged. His handsome face was contorted with it, reddened and scowling. His eyes flashed indigo fire and he erupted into a wordless bellow.

Grace finished her stitch and calmly put down her project. “Hello, Christopher,” she greeted him courteously, taking a sip from the jam jar filled with lemonade that sat on the table beside her.

“My brother is DYING!” he roared. “You said you could help him!”

“I am helping him. I’m relieving his pain, I removed the bullet, and I am monitoring his condition. I am doing everything I can do without a hospital,” Grace informed him calmly. “He lost a lot of blood and was out in the woods with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Did you really think he’d be fine overnight?”

“If he dies, YOU die, old lady.”

Grace picked up her embroidery and began stitching. “That’s your prerogative. You’re the boss here.”

“And why is Luke sick? Why is Lexie? Did you poison us?” Christopher demanded, further enraged that Grace didn’t seem to be afraid of him.

“If I poisoned you wouldn’t everyone be sick?” Grace inquired pointedly. “I warned you that the food was quite rich, and you should all take it slowly since it appears you hadn’t eaten well in a while. Nobody chose to listen to my advice and some people without your robust digestive system are suffering because of that.”

He squinted, staring at her intensely, like he was trying to see inside her mind. Grace flatly refused to squirm under his scrutiny. She continued to stitch. “I’ll make something easier on the stomach for supper tonight. A nice pot of soup.”

“I’m watching you, old woman,” Christopher warned, his voice menacing. “I won’t hesitate to put you down like a dog. The only reason you’re still alive is that you have medical skills. But if you don’t get everyone healthy – and I mean EVERYONE – my brother won’t be the only one going in the ground.”

He turned on his heel and stormed away. Grace continued to stitch, the outward picture of serenity in her rocking chair.

But inside, her mind was turning feverishly. The discreet plan she was putting into action might be too slow to save Lexie and herself. Christopher was smarter than she’d given him credit for, and that underestimation could be her undoing.

“What would James do?” she pondered. As always, the memory of him brought a little smile to her lips. If James had been here those people never would have gotten to her door.

But he wasn’t here. It was up to her to defeat this evil family that had invaded her peaceful home. And she’d save the girl while she was at it, or die trying.

When Lexie woke again, she felt better. She was thirsty, so incredibly parched that it felt like she hadn’t had a drop to drink in days. She remembered the cartoons from her childhood that demonstrated thirst by a character dragging himself, prone, across the sand of the desert, hand outstretched, pleading for water.

She sat up slowly, testing how she felt. So far, so good, she thought as her bare feet touched the floor of the screened-in porch. Luke wasn’t in the bed across from her and she briefly wondered where he was.

Her thirst overrode her curiosity, and she made her way to the kitchen for a glass of water. She poured water from a pitcher on the counter into a glass that was a recycled canning jar. It tasted like the most refreshing water she’d ever had. She had to fight her instincts not to guzzle it all down in one fell swoop.

She wandered around the kitchen while she sipped. Jars of mysterious dried plants were everywhere. In front of a sunny window, more plants hung upside down from a curtain rod, where they’d been secured with twine. She wondered what these plants did. What had Grace had given her to make her sick? Was she trying to hurt Lexie or help her?

The girl’s mind raced with possibilities. She had to accept the fact that for now, there was no way to know what Grace was doing. But she’d be watching her from now on –

“How are you feeling, dear?”

Lexie jumped, spilling some of the water down the front of her shirt.  How could such an old lady walk with such catlike stealth? Wordlessly, she turned to look at Grace. She shrugged and made a “so-so” gesture with her hand.

Grace looked around surreptitiously. In a low voice, she suggested, “You need to pretend to still be sick. It will keep Christopher away from you and make it less suspicious that Luke is still doing poorly.”

Lexie frowned, thinking it over, then nodded abruptly. Anything that kept Christopher away sounded good to her.

“You really can trust me,” Grace told her. “I know it’s got to be hard to trust anyone, but I am on your side, sweet girl.”

Lexie wondered how she could possibly trust anyone after what she had been through. She looked at the floor, unable to meet Grace’s eyes. She supposed that she trusted Grace more than most people, but the woman had poisoned her. Had she really done it to protect Lexie from Christopher? That reasoning hadn’t occurred to her.

They were interrupted when Luke walked into the kitchen. He’d clearly made another trip to the outhouse. He was pale and sweating. He didn’t look well at all.

“Would you like a cup of tea to help your bowels?” Grace inquired.

“Only if it’s better than your cooking,” Luke responded rudely. “I haven’t been this sick from something I ate since I got bad gas station sushi before it all went haywire.”

“Well, I recommended that you take it easy at breakfast. You chose to eat a great deal of rich food, and your system isn’t accustomed to that. Go lay down, and I’ll bring you some tea,” Grace replied in her best schoolteacher-will-brook-no-nonsense voice. “Lexie, you can also go lay down, and I’ll bring you tea as well.”

Luke glared at Grace, then turned and careened unsteadily from the room, eager to lay back down. Lexie shook her head. No, she thought. I want to see if she doses me again.

Grace seemed to understand her unspoken fears. “Okay, you can stay in the kitchen until it’s made but then you need to get back in bed. You’ve had a difficult morning, dear.”

Lexie watched Grace like a hawk. The woman took a yellow mug with a flower on it and a blue mug with stripes. She added some honey into the bottom of the mugs as she put on water to boil. She stuffed two tea-balls with herbs from the shelves beside her stove.  “This is peppermint,” she offered Lexie a sniff from the open jars. “And this is chamomile. The two combined help with stomach cramps and diarrhea.”

As Lexie watched, Grace checked again to be sure they were alone and took the container of powder that she’d added to the eggs and put two heaping scoops into the blue mug. Grace winked and put her fingers to her lips in the universal “shhh” gesture as she put the canister back into the cupboard. Grace poured the now-boiling water over the tea balls and filled both mugs. She stirred the contents of the blue mug vigorously.

“You take the yellow mug, dear.”

Lexie took it, relieved. She didn’t know for sure what that white powder was, but she’d bet her blue jeans that Luke would be making more trips to the outhouse in very short order.

As for her, she was going to take Grace’s advice and pretend to be ill also. After all she’d been through, a sick day of sipping tea on a bed and not being harassed sounded like a vacation in the Bahamas.

When Grace returned to the kitchen, Christopher, Beth, and Jon were at the table with a deck of cards. She felt confident they were not there to help with dinner but, instead, they were there to watch her make it.

They all but ignored her as she filled glasses with the last of the day’s pitcher of lemonade and placed a beverage in front of each person.

That was fine with Grace. She could pretend to be a fly on the wall and eavesdrop to see if they gave anything away. There was a lot a person could learn by keeping her mouth shut and her ears open.

Grace pulled out the ingredients to make a pot of soup. A couple of large jars of chicken broth she had canned. Some green beans harvested from the garden that morning. Small potatoes and onions that she had dug out a few days ago. Spices from smaller jars on the shelves. The soup wouldn’t take long since the broth was already done. She used her large green-enameled soup pot.

While she was at it, she combined some other ingredients and rolled out some biscuit dough. If it had just been her, she wouldn’t have heated up the house and used all that precious propane, but she had to make her food stretch and full bellies left angry people at least a little bit more content. As well, it gave her a reason to be in the kitchen, eavesdropping on the card game.

As she cooked, she noticed that Beth was sitting really close to Christopher. She would place her hand on his arm as she laughed. It was obvious to Grace that Beth wanted to upgrade Hill brothers. Jon seemed like he wanted to impress everyone. He was like an overeager puppy, trying to please his brother and the beautiful woman at the table. Christopher leaned back in his chair as though all the attention was his due.

The dynamic was interesting, and something she might be able to use, Grace thought, though she wasn’t immediately sure how. She hid a smile as she heard the door to the screen porch slam open and footsteps rushing toward the outhouse.

She placed the biscuits in the oven and quietly left the kitchen to check on Rick.

He was worse than he had been a few hours ago. His body was wracked with chills and sweat glistened on his skin. The sickly-sweet smell was stronger than it had been before, and his skin had taken on an unpleasant pallor.

He rested fitfully, his eyes opening when Grace approached him. “Am I going to die?” he asked her between clenched teeth.

He was just a boy, Grace thought, filled with regret. Seventeen at the oldest.

“I don’t know,” she replied gently. “It’s a very bad wound. Would you like some laudanum to ease the pain and help you rest?”

“Yes,” Rick nodded. “I miss my mom.” His eyes filled, and a large tear rolled down his cheek onto the bed. Grace couldn’t watch. She went back to the kitchen to get him a big enough dose of laudanum to ease him through the worst of the symptoms of sepsis.

“Your brother has a severe infection,” she announced to the three at the table. “It doesn’t look good.”

The sound of his chair scraping across the tile floor as Christopher abruptly arose made Grace want to jump, but she kept her emotions in check. “I’m going to make him some laudanum with honey to help with the pain.”

Christopher towered over her, his rage palpable. Jon and Beth were frozen at the table and Grace instantly suspected both had been the targets of Christopher’s unchecked anger before.

She prepared the pain reliever, not even bothering to mask it in tea. She stirred it together in a cup with enough honey to help him swallow the bitter medicine. Christopher snatched the vessel from her hands and stalked away to administer it himself.

Grace filled a basin with cool water and grabbed a cloth. She followed him into the sick room. “Here,” she offered quietly. “Wash his face with this. It will be comforting.”

There was naked grief on Christopher’s face and Grace saw that despite everything evil that he was, he loved his brother. She left the two alone and returned to the kitchen to finish preparing dinner.

Every healing instinct she had urged her to make the boy on the daybed better. But she couldn’t. She clamped down on her urges. Her life and Lexie’s depended on getting rid of these threats.

She had never imagined that she’d use her skills this way. This was the most awful thing she had ever done in her very long life.

And she had to keep doing it.

Click here to keep reading…

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on FacebookPinterestGabMeWeParlerInstagram, and Twitter.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • I think it’s interesting. Both the widow and Jessica’s SHTF event are both not understood nor dwelt upon “lights out” scenarios.

    I’m really into this story, but I’m also hoping she pulls out some hemlock or mountain laurel cupcakes and doses the whole rotten lot. Soon. These are all bad people.

  • Love this story! I want all the bad guys to die a miserable death but then that would mean the end of the book and I want to read more chapters!

  • “She added some honey into the bottom of the mugs as she put on water to boil. ”

    The good stuff in natural honey only stays in the honey if you add honey to tea when the stuff is at drinking temprature….

  • I love this story. It is so relatable! As an herbalist, I spent very little time studying herbs that could harm rather than heal. I need to crack the books again.

  • Good story, especially with the increasing threat level. My editor’s eye caught on the second word in the first sentence, which I believe you want to be “the” instead of “to.”

  • I am loving the stories so far. I’m always watching for another installment. I don’t mind not knowing the background of why??? It puts us closer into the immediate story. It is not a saga. It is an active immediate time. It’s better to keep us hanging. and we are hanging in the story always wanting more.

  • First thing I read on Saturday morning is your story Daisy and then 1st Marine’s on Sunday morning. Wonderful with a cuppa joe.

  • The sentence “Beth wanted to upgrade Hill brothers” is a new one to me. I’m not sure what it means.

  • Great story, please continue. By now I’m getting the feeling she’s starting to enjoy this game of cat-and-mouse, which brings up the question of pathological tendencies in Grace. She tells herself she feels compassion for them but doesn’t mind drawing out their suffering with poison when a kitchen knife to Christopher’s neck would suffice. Is Grace the true predator here, the wolf spider in her web?

  • when she had them doped up, asleep and sick would have been the time to take them out with an axe or a hatchet rather than waiting, yea there would have been some cleanup, but that’s just me.
    the longer you wait the more chances your enemy has to evaluate your intentions and defenses as this story illustrates. always act fast and decisively with the best intel that you have to end a situation before it turns bad.
    i have always told my wife to never let strangers step a foot on our porch, that’s to close, keep them at a distance. our dogs always let us know when someone comes up the drive or across the fields so that we can meet them before they get close.

  • I love the 2 different stories. Both keep you on the edge of your seat!
    The 1 think I would ask, if you please, not to use God’s name in vain. I understand about people cuss all the time. That’s understandable.
    However for some of us using God’s name in vane is our line in the sand.
    I really hate to get into a great book or movie only to put it down because of this.
    Again I’m so enjoying these writing that I ck daily with so much excitement. Thank you for taking your time to write such great stories.
    Thank you

  • Just outstanding, Daisy! I cannot wait to see where this goes. They are ALL a threat to Lexie and Grace!

  • I’m trying to figure out how she’s making lemonade. Old stores of commercial concentrated lemon juice? If I missed the explanation in previous chapters, please be gentle with me. Looking forward to the next chapters. Waiting is almost painful.

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