Take My Hand Chapter 20

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Chapter 20

            Jo woke groggily about an hour after the sun had set. She raised her right hand to rub her eyes as she fought to open them. She felt like she hadn’t slept at all. It was like trying to fight through a thick, black fog. She groaned and moved her hair from her face, trying to sit up. As she did, she felt a weight settled securely across her middle. Opening her eyes, she saw an arm wrapped tightly around her, holding her against a big body to her left. Her mind didn’t focus on who it was at first, but then she noticed brutal burns along the man’s arms and back, and the morning before came back to her. The sun had been so close and she’d had nowhere to go. Then there was blackness.

            Turning slightly, Jo saw Carson with his head to the side, his face laid against the cool stone with his other arm curved around his head. It was his arm she felt wrapped so warmly around her, holding her protectively. For a moment, she considered reaching up to brush away the hair that had fallen across his face, but she didn’t want to disturb him. His face was etched in lines of pain and hurt, sadness evident in every crease. Lines had formed around his eyes, around his mouth, between his eyebrows. She desperately longed to smooth away those lines, soothing the memories as she did, but she wouldn’t disturb him as she knew the sleep would heal those physical wounds she had glimpsed along his body if not his emotional and psychological ones. He must have gotten burned when he came to get her, but how he’d found her she had no idea. Looking at her own body, she didn’t see a single burn or blister. He had thoroughly protected her and taken the brunt of the damaging rays upon himself. Sympathy welled within her and she longed to wrap her arms around him and take the pain away.

            But memories of what he’d turned her into stopped her. Someone who loved her could never have done that to her. Lies. It had all been lies. He had used her for pleasure the same as Andy and Martin and Stanley and hadn’t given a second thought to what she wanted. He’d taken her life and her choice. She couldn’t forgive him for that, and anger flared inside again, tearing her in two as her emotions and memories and love warred within her.

            She pushed his arm roughly off of her and quickly rose to her feet. Carson let out a pained cry, and Jocelyn quickly dropped to her knees at his side, the sound tearing at her heart and causing her to forget her flash of anger.

            “Oh god, I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. Are you okay?” she rambled as her hands fluttered in the air, not sure where to land to keep from causing him more pain.

            “It’s nothing I haven’t experienced before. I’ll survive,” Carson muttered, rising unsteadily to a sitting position with many stifled and muffled grunts and groans. “How are you feeling?” he asked, turning his attention to her as he settled into a clearly uncomfortable sitting position, regarding her hesitantly with trepidation.

            “Surprisingly well, considering,” Jo relented reluctantly.

            Carson seemed to shake his head in understanding.

            “You are well away from humans. That will present a new pain.”


            “Because their scent will cause the thirst to rise…”

            “No, I mean, why did you do it?” she asked in subdued outrage.

            “Straight to the point,” he whispered as his eyes lost what little luster could be seen.

            He reached up to rake his fingers through his hair.

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