Andi caught her breath. What was that thing? A badger? A small bobcat? A—
The spotted animal let out a tiny, pitiful mew. Tucker yipped, clearly surprised, and sniffed it.
Andi’s heart melted. A cougar cub!
No wonder the mountain lion had not run off, not even when gunshots had certainly scared it half to death. She was protecting her baby, and nothing would move her.
Tears sprang to Andi’s eyes. I killed its mother.
Too late to worry about that now. If I hadn’t shot the cat, it would have killed Riley for sure.
But still, Andi had always loved kittens, and the poor creature mewing around its mother’s dead carcass looked like a lost kitten—albeit a big one.
Riley came first, however. Andi ignored the pitiful cries and hurried to Riley’s side. She unscrewed the top of her canteen and helped Riley drink draught after draught of the cool liquid. “You hungry?” she asked.
Riley made a face. “Not really. I just want to lie here quietly and thank the good Lord I’m alive.”
“Well, I’m starved.” Andi dug around in the basket and drew out a sandwich, which she gobbled up in five quick bites. Buried under the napkin-wrapped bundles, she found a battered coffee pot, a small jar of cream, and a packet of coffee. “Shall I kindle a fire and make you a hot cup of coffee before we start back? I even brought cream along, since I know how much you like it in your coffee.”
No answer. “Riley?” She turned and paused at the sight.