From Tracy (a.k.a. Bombwatcher)
His shoulders rose and fell as he exhaled a deep sigh. He slowly stood, managing his weight against the door, then walked to the ladder. He would be able to watch the storm progress from the safety, and warmth of the hayloft.Slowly, he pulled himself onto the first rung, then the next, balancing his weight against the wooden frame. As he reached the top rung, he paused, glancing behind him. Again, he could have sworn he heard Franklin's bark, but it was so distant, so quiet, it was almost unheard.
"Silly dog," Ray muttered under his breath, fighting a smile at the thought of Franklin somewhere in the snow storm. He had no worries for the mutt because he had been in worse storms and come back alive and well.
He quickly pulled himself above the hayloft's wall, then stopped short. Livy's body was limp against the hay. When he whispered her name, she made no movement. "Livy?" He asked quietly, unsure of what to do. The first instinct that shot through him told him that he should be happy that she was not out in the snow storm, but the second held the most momentum. What in the world was she doing in the barn, in the hayloft, asleep?
"Livy?" He asked again, gently rubbing a hand over her loosened hair. It had been at the oddest times when he had noticed her beauty, and now as one of those times. His hand moved down, slowly, from her hair down to her neck, where he paused. A dull beating throbbed against his finger - though he wasn't sure if it was his own or hers. Hearing a loud gust of wind from the story outside, Ray tried to come up with a reasonable explenation for Livy's appearance.
Suddenly, his eyes jerked down to her leg. He had seen the slight redness before, but he hadn't questioned as to what it was. He was about to touch it, then quickly pulled his hand back. Even though Livy was his wife, he felt as if he were violating her by touching her leg. Pulling in a deep breath, he ignored the thought and touched the area. "Oh no," he whispered, lifting his finger to see a crimson stain. "No!"
When the pieces finally came together, the realization hit him like a swift punch to the chest. Hank had told him just the other day that a few rattlesnakes had been spotted around the area, but Ray hadn't even considered that they would seek shelter from the cold in his barn.
Ray's eyes slowly moved from her leg to her chest. The slow, yet steady rise and fall gave him a small amount of peace. He gently placed a hand on her forehead. She was burning with fever. His mind raced with questions. He couldn't leave her, yet he knew she needed a Doctor.
Running a hand through his hair then down to his jaw, he could feel the tears burning his eyes. He couldn't lose Livy - not yet.
Suddenly, he heard the door to the barn being banged with something. Was it his imagination? Glancing quickly to Livy, he stood and walked to the edge of the loft. The door began to open.
When the door opened fully, someone stepped in.
Hank looked around, then to the loft. "Ray! What in the world are you doing out here in the middle of a -"
"Hank, you have to help me!"
"What? What's wrong?"
"It's Livy," he said, motioning behind him. "I need to get her down from here."
Hank smiled as he crossed his muscled arms over his chest. "Ray, what in the world are you doing?"
"Hank ... I'm serious. She's up here and she's asleep. I don't know what's wrong." He neglected to share his fears about the snake with his brother-in-law because Hank knew just how serious that would be - and Ray didn't want to know. Not now, at least. "Please, hurry up and help me get her down."
Immediately, Hank grabbed the wooden rings of the ladder and pulled himself up. After jumping into the hayloft, he surveyed Livy for a few seconds, then turned to Ray.
"I need you to go in the house, and call Doctor Morten."