Take My Hand Chapter 4

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            “Jocelyn! Jocelyn, it’s only me. Please, I won’t hurt you. Please, don’t be scared. You’re okay now. It’s okay, you’re safe. I won’t let anyone hurt you again.” She could feel the sofa dip as the man sat beside her. She stopped screaming, but still cowered into the couch. His voice—she knew that voice. It was deep, soothing, haunted. She felt a cool touch along her cheek, moving her hair behind her ear. It left trails of fire along her skin.

            Carson.

            She opened her eyes and turned to face him. He was looking at her with concern and compassion written clearly across his face. Without thought, she leaned into his chest, wrapping her arm around his waist, needing the comfort of his strong arms around her. And as his arms wrapped tightly around her, holding her as close as possible, she felt him set tuck his face into her hair as he stroked it soothingly. The tender and protective way he held her allowed her to let go, and the dam holding her emotions shattered. Tears streamed freely down her face and her entire body shook as the adrenaline, the fear, the pain all caught up with her. It was more than her fragile mind and body could cope with in that moment.

            Carson held her patiently as she cried, soaking the front of his shirt. She couldn’t figure out what it was about this man, but he made her feel safe. No man had ever done that. She had learned to fear them at a young age. But she trusted Carson, a man she knew next to nothing about.

            He whispered nonsense to her as he comforted her and let her cry until her eyes were red and swollen and her heart no longer felt the heavy weight of the events of the night. Numbness set in, but it was a blessing after all her body and mind had endured. Her body was exhausted and wanted to sleep, but she had so many questions for Carson, and her mind wouldn’t rest until he had answered them.

            She raised her head slowly, still keeping close to Carson. He kept one arm around her back, holding her to his side and used his other hand to wipe away the tear that had formed salty trails down her cheeks. She closed her eyes and savored the feel of his fingers caressing her cheeks. He laid his hand against the side of her face, softly asking, “Are you okay?”

            She closed her eyes and leaned into his hand, his cool skin soothing against the heat of her swollen face. She couldn’t speak yet, so she just nodded her head slowly. After a moment she drew a deep breath, her lungs protesting at the motion. She opened her eyes finally, saying softly, her throat not totally cooperating, “I’ve soaked your shirt.”

            He grinned and chuckled a little. “Not a problem. I didn’t mind at all. Besides, it was ripped earlier.”

            Jocelyn grinned back, sniffing a little. “I suppose you brought me home?”

            “Yes.”

            “How’d you find me?”

            “I heard you scream. I think I showed up just about the time you passed out.”

            “What happened to Marty and Stan?” She almost choked on their names.

            “I took care of them,” he answered simply, barely above a whisper.

            “Did you get hurt?” she asked in alarm, leaning back to look at him more closely.

            “No, I’m perfectly fine,” he answered, grinning at her concern. “But I should apologize to you.”

            “For what?” she asked, confused.

            “I tried to afford you your modesty, but I tried to…to clean you up a little before I dressed you. And I had to go through your personal things to find your clothes. I’m sorry for invading your privacy,” he answered, averting his gaze.

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