V: We Will Rise Again

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Joseph Seed's Sanctuary
Hope County Central
Present Day

Her fingers twitched. Then her toes.

She was too sore to turn over, but as her arms stretched out, she grasped the bedspread where she'd hoped to find her beloved. Diana longed to feel his naked body curled up beside her, snoring soundly after an unforgettable round of mind-blowing sex. She wanted to feel his arms around her waist, holding her close as his warm breath beat against her skin. She wanted to feel the rumble of his grunts and mumbling as Jacob tended to talk in his sleep from time to time, but he'd slept more soundly as they spent most nights together. She wanted to be awoken by the trail of kisses from his soft lips along her shoulder, or the teasing nip along her exposed neck if he wanted to have another go in the morning. It didn't matter what time of day, to Jacob. The craving was always there.

Alas, when she opened her eyes, she was disappointed that the bed was empty, and she was very much alone.

The morning light shined in through the sheer curtains, and as her eyes adjusted, the sensory comfort of the mattress somewhat jarring compared to the nights she spent on the forest floor or in a rickety old cot in some bunker while she hid. This bed was so heavenly, it almost swallowed her as she sank into it. The soft cotton sheets had been freshly washed and scented of lavender. The room was quiet, save the noise from the chittering birds outside—but that was still not enough to put her at ease. It wasn't her home, nor was it her room. The bed felt so empty without Jacob beside her, as did her heart.

Diana found that she'd been put into clean clothes, ones that were not fit for a trek outdoors. It was an old baptism dress, she realized, the same type of gown she wore in that dream, that memory. She damned that dream—the first night she and Jacob made love—it was her subconscious offering more enjoyable moments to focus on, instead of the turmoil that awaited her outside of Joseph's haven.

Fuck. Her head was pounding, and her throat was dry as hell. A glass of water was in order but dragging herself out of bed was a task in itself. She felt ill, like the worst hangover she'd ever experienced and then some—but she needed to get downstairs.

Diana quietly left the room and made her way down the old wooden stairs. Outside, she spotted Leah hanging clothing on the line. Dark blues of a shirt and some jeans, and a maroon tunic meant they had salvaged her and John's tattered wardrobe after the run-in with Rye. Most of it looked wearable still, which was just as well since most of her clothing was back at home in the mountains, and there was no way in hell they'd dip back into Valley for something new to wear for John. Hudson was surely waiting to make her next move. She would make do, protect herself with whatever gear Joseph had in the armory. Regardless, there was still some left-over clothing stashed here from the family retreats and outpost looting so she'd pick through whatever was on hand for a spare outfit and some gear. The dark clouds looming over the county threatened rain, but the howling winds would dry the garments fast before the incoming storm.

Diana heard voices coming from the dining room, a place she hadn't been in since their last family dinner before Eden's Gate collapsed. It was another distant memory, another thought that brought back happier times. Everyone prepared their favorite dish and shared stories and laughter. Even if she and Joseph didn't speak much to each other, those days were still enjoyable.

Damn, she missed those times.

"...right now, she's still resting."

When she quietly stepped toward the dining room, she caught the tail end of Joseph speaking to someone, or rather someones gathered in the room.

"Should I wait for her then, Father?" It was Morris.

After a pause, Joseph answered. "No."

Diana hugged the wall. She leaned against the wall and folded her arms, finding it better to eavesdrop than enter for now, as any dialogue would remain candid between Morris and her family. She wouldn't put it past Joseph to have sensed her already, but still she remained quiet and would listen in as long as she could.

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