Take My Hand Chapter 7

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Chapter 7

            Jocelyn looked up at Carson through watery eyes, clutching his sweater to keep him from leaving.

            “Why do you cry, my little innocent?” Carson asked, concern evident in his voice. “If you wish me to leave, you have only to ask.”

            “No!” Jo, exhaled. The cry was barely above a whisper, but there was passion and determination in the single word. She pulled him back to her side, curling into him. She hurt for the boy that he had been. She hurt for the man he had become. And she hurt for the immortal that still suffered the pain of his youth. “Carson,” Jo began, noting the way his sweater had soaked up her tears. She was forever drenching his clothing in tears. He must think her to be little more than a whimpering child. She took a breath and continued, “Carson, I cry for you, for the pain you were put through, for the pain I still see in your eyes and hear in your voice.”

            “You would shed tears for my sake? After all I have related to you of the destruction and havoc I have wreaked.”

            “Carson, I can see more in you than the man who fights for fun. I see the man who thinks he deserves nothing from life and would rather feel physical pain than deal with the pain from his past; so you provoke fights and kill those who are not worthy to continue breathing. You do not kill innocents; you create your own system of justice. That is not evil. I see the man who protected me and avenged me and cared for me. That proves your worth to me more than any words that you could possibly provide. I see the man who understands the pain I myself have been through. You are so much more than you allow yourself to see, Carson.” Jocelyn paused, stroking Carson’s hair from his face so that she could see the slight tears that formed in his eyes.

            “Jocelyn, there cannot be another girl like you in all the world,” Carson replied in a strangled voice. “How can you see through the pretenses I put up to the man below? How can you get past what I am and what I have allowed myself to become?”

            “Because I can understand where you are coming from, Carson. I myself have experienced much that was less than pleasant but has served, nonetheless, to transform me into the person I am today, be it good or evil.”

            “Tell me about you, Jocelyn,” Carson said softly, leaning into the hand that still stroked his hair.

            “Where to begin?” Jocelyn remarked, letting her hand stop at the base of Carson’s neck as she leaned her forehead against his. “I’m a music major at UTC with a focus on voice and music therapy. I know it probably isn’t a very profitable field, but it’s what makes me happy,” she remarked, allowing a smile to form along her lips as she pulled back from Carson to look into his eyes. He wiped the remaining tears from her cheeks and smiled back at her. “I have lived on my own for the past five years. My mom, Alyson, died of breast cancer when I was seven years old, and I lived with my stepdad Andy until I was sixteen. When I was able to get a job to support myself, I ran away and got a little run-down apartment and began working at Stevie’s diner. I still work there, as well as at a small book store called Hidden Heaven, and was able to finish high school and move to this apartment just before I began college.” Jocelyn’s speech drifted off as thoughts of her life living with Andy flitted through her mind. Her face lost color and her breath quickened. His image still haunted her, even though she hadn’t seen him in years.

            “Jocelyn, are you okay?” Carson asked, concern written clearly across his face.

            “Fine,” Jocelyn said. “I’m fine. I was simply remembering.”

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