I don’t think there’s anyone who isn’t afraid of something. Some have a fear of heights, of snakes, the dark, elevators and tight spaces. There are thousands of phobias. For me, it’s spiders and snakes. Whenever I see one, my heart starts pounding and sweat breaks out.
In To Love a Texas Ranger, the heroine – Sierra Hunt – has a mortal fear of water. It causes her all kinds of problems. In one scene, outlaws are chasing them and the only way of escape is crossing the Brazos River but the river is flooded out of its banks and has become a monster. Sierra can’t force herself into it. She just can’t. She’d rather face the outlaws’ bullets.
Here’s an excerpt of that scene:
One look behind showed the outlaws almost within rifle range. Sam’s brain screamed Now!
With a gentle touch on her arm, he focused on Sierra. “I need your help, pretty lady.”
Her frigid skin told of the severe grip of her fear. When she didn’t move, he asked again a little louder, then added, “I know how terrified you are, Sierra, but do you think you can help me? I need you to start reciting those Bible books,” he said quietly. “It’s time.”
In two minutes, it would be too late.
When she raised her face, panic filled her blue eyes. “No, I can’t do this, Sam. I just can’t.”
Sam silently cursed Ford for not leaving him time to take her in his arms and offer comfort. “I believe in you. I know you’re made of strong stuff.”
“I’m a coward. You can pretend I’m not, but it won’t change the facts.”
Pretty lady, I’ve got you.” He brushed the tears from her cheeks with his fingertips. “I’d give anything to change what happened. But I can’t. I can promise that I will get you safely across this river, and you can count on that.”
With terror-stricken eyes, Sierra shook her head. “I’m staying behind. I’m sorry, Sam.”
He leaned to kiss her and rub his hand up and down her back, praying he could make her see reason. “Ford is almost on us. They’ve pinned our backs to the wall. I’m not leaving you behind for that sorry outlaw to torture.”
A quick scan of the area didn’t reveal many hiding places. It would be difficult to make a stand here among the thin branches of salt cedar, but for this woman, he would try.
“Don’t you see that I’m only going to get you killed? Everyone I touch dies. My father said so.”
“Get that crazy talk out of your head right now.” Sam didn’t know why a father would say such a thing to his daughter. If he ever met up with the man, he’d damn sure find out—right after he gave him a sound thrashing.
It’s true. Look how many close calls you’ve already had.”
Close doesn’t count…except maybe in pitching horseshoes. I’m still alive.” He smoothed back her hair. “We’re going to get through this.”
“Too many people have died because I couldn’t save them,” she cried. “Please, don’t make me do this.”
Hoof beats pounded the ground. This was do-or-die time.
“You need to start reciting now. Genesis, Leviticus… uh…you know what comes next.”
“Sam, don’t make me do this.” She whimpered like a hurt animal.
The sound pierced Sam’s heart. “Try not to hate me, pretty lady.”
He lifted her into the saddle in front of him where he could protect her. As the outlaws closed in, he and Sierra plunged into the cold, rushing water of the Brazos. The buckskin trembled violently as the swift current swept his legs out from under him. The screams of the horse matched Sierra’s.
A barrage of gunshots sounded as bullets peppered the surface of the water.
Sam uttered an oath, trying to shield Sierra from the gunfire, praying the shots would miss her, as he tried to settle the horse enough to swim. He cursed the haste that hadn’t allowed him to lash her to him by rope. Damn you, Ford! Damn you to hell! Once their mount battled the current with strong legs, he took his first breath, but there was no relaxing.
More gunshots sent hot lead around them. Now that Trooper was over his initial panic, the horse would carry them across. His arm tightened around Sierra as he yelled over the roaring water, “Hold on to the mane! I’m right here. I won’t let you drown.”
Her terrified eyes were the only spots of color in her ashen face. Fear had frozen her delicate features into a mask. Her shock was obvious—in this state, she couldn’t hear anything.
The loud rush of the water gobbled up the string of cusswords as they left his mouth and flung them back.
“You can’t have her, you monster!” Sam clenched his jaw and renewed a tight grip on the reins. The mighty river taunted him for his brave words.
Halfway across, where the current was swifter and deadlier, the horrendous energy grabbed at Sierra. He fought in desperation to hold onto her but found emptiness as the water ripped her from his arms.
Sam dove in after her. But in that split second, the river carried her from reach.
He had to save her. He’d promised. Giving a shuddering breath, he kicked his feet and made powerful sweeps with his arms, praying to catch her.
A few yards away her head bobbed, barely visible due to the waves and spray. He gave a prayer of thanks that she’d somehow managed the miracle of staying on the surface. She wouldn’t for long if he couldn’t reach her.
A little more. He was close.
But the Brazos seemed in a devilish mood. Each time he reached out to grab Sierra, the monster snatched her away.
Sam knew he had to get to her soon, or it would be too late. His arms and legs became chunks of lead. It was all he could do to lift them.
Soon he wouldn’t even be able to save himself.
Soon the mighty Brazos would claim them both.
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