Rachelle’s breath caught in her throat. “Wait,” she exhaled, her voice sounding a little harsher than she had meant. She immediately felt sorry, seeing the look on his face. It was some mix between embarrassment, shame, horror, and self-loathing. She instantly hated. . . but she pushed the thought of who she hated from her mind.
“I don’t think I can do this,” she said softly. He sighed. She couldn’t even bring herself to kiss him. Would that sick feeling in the pit of her stomach ever disappear? Would he ever be able to touch her without her skin crawling?
“It’s okay,” he said gently. “It’s okay.” She studied his face, searching for a clue to how he really felt. Surely he must be angry, or at the very least annoyed. But instead he looked, well, rejected. She felt something inside her chest nearly break. She hated hurting him. The anger in her chest burned hotter. He slid back against the couch, reaching for her hand.
“I’m sorry,” she began.
He shook his head and said, “Don’t be sorry.” He didn’t even look angry.
* * *
“I keep thinking this strange thought,” she began. But she changed her mind on revealing it. “Nevermind.” It felt strange inside her head.
Jensen was a pretty great guy. But even so, there was only so much that he could handle. Her going nuts was probably not one of them. It wasn’t fair that they had to deal with this. Her going nuts. It hadn’t been in the plan.
He cleared his throat. “Um, Kyle said that it would be better if you talk about it. You know, clear the air and all.” Jensen looked uncomfortable just thinking about talking about it. “He said that if you need to talk to someone, if you couldn’t talk to me, that he would be willing to, you know.”
He put his hand on her shoulder. She cringed, stiffening her back.
“Honey, this isn’t working,” he told her, his voice barely above a whisper. He only called her honey when he was trying to be delicate with her, like she was some fragile doll. It made her angry. She felt her temper flare up, but she tried to push it back down. It wasn’t so easy. She was never this angry before. She hated. . .but she pushed the thought back out.
She tried to smile at Jensen, reassure him that she was indeed fine.
“Nice try,” he said. “That’s the worst smile I’ve ever seen. You look like you’re in pain.”
She shook her head. “I just don’t want to talk about it.”
“Look I know that I am not the best, I mean, I’m not good at all this. But I want to help. You just can’t shut me out.” He wasn’t looking at her when he spoke, as if he couldn’t bear to meet her gaze.
She reacted without even thinking. “I’m not!” she all but yelled back. Damn, she hadn’t meant to be angry with him. She wasn’t angry with him, not really.
“Honey,” he began. That fragile doll word.
“Don’t honey me!” she yelled back. Anger was better than tears. She wouldn’t let the tears fall again. Not ever again. I am strong. I will be strong. I won’t let him hurt me anymore. I am strong. She pushed her fingers into her eye sockets, forcing the tears away and shrugged off Jensen’s hand as he placed it against her back.
“Look, either you tell me, something, anything, I mean, or this will only get worse.” He pulled her towards him. “Ignoring, trying to pretend nothing happened, it, well it’s obviously not working. You were,” he began.
“Don’t!” she yelled at him again, as she forced him away from her, less because of his attempted embrace and more because of what she was afraid he was about to say. Only then, she just couldn’t keep the tears away, couldn’t force herself to hold herself up anymore. She crumbled to the floor like a limp doll.
He hunched over her, not really touching her, but coming as close as he probably thought she would allow. “You can’t do this alone. I’m here. I want to be here.” He lightly touched her back.
“Honey, please, talk to me.” Fragile doll word.
But she didn’t want to talk, was desperate to not talk. She didn’t want it to be real, didn’t want to acknowledge it for fear that it would be more real. She relived it every night.
“I’m fine,” she growled through clenched teeth. “Just leave me alone!”
He sat up, as if trying to decide. Then he sighed, sliding to the floor, and said finally, “No.” His voice was very soft, but resolved.
Her anger flared once more. “What do you mean, no?” she asked as she sat up straight. Now her anger was directed right at him. It was a relief. Someone to be angry at, someone else. And something to stop the tears. She hated crying. No more crying.
But he didn’t look angry. “Just listen,” he began.
“No, I don’t want to listen,” she spit out, enunciating each word as if she was spitting out pieces of rotten meat.
He put his hands on both of her shoulders, pulling her upright and said, “I know that you are not really angry with me. Not really. I get that you don’t want to talk about it, but this isn’t healthy. You have to talk to someone.”
“No!” she shouted, shoving him away, trying to escape. But he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to him.
“I won’t let go,” he said as she struggled against him. “You can’t push me away that easily. I won’t let go.”
“Stop, please,” she sobbed, fighting against him at first, but slowly giving in to his embrace. And for the first time since that night, she just gave in. She had fought it for so long, tried to be strong. But now she could only collapse against him.
“I’m sorry,” she cried between sobs.
“Don’t be sorry,” he crooned. And he wrapped his arms around her more tightly, holding her closer, tight against his chest.
She risked a glance at him, terrified of what she would see but unable to stop her eyes from traveling in his direction. The rims of his eyes were red and his face carried a depth of pain she immediately wished she’d never seen. She felt guilty and ashamed for causing him this pain. But her humiliation overwhelmed even these feelings.
He knew. She couldn’t escape his knowledge.
She looked down at her hands in shame. She just couldn’t face him.
“Please let me in,” he begged. His hand was behind her head, cradling it.
“Just say whatever it is. I can handle it. I swear. I just can’t handle this.” His other hand gently lifted her chin, bringing her eyes up to meet his. She felt her face redden.
“Rachelle, I can’t handle you not speaking to me. You avoid me, push me away. You’re angry, all of the time.” He lifted one finger to cover her mouth and then went on, “You have every right to be angry.” Suddenly, he looked down at his hand, away from her eyes. “I just don’t think I can take much more of this. We have to talk it out.”
“Talk it out?” she questioned. “Talk it out? Talk what out? It’s not like, I mean, I can’t, it’s just,” but her words were only a jumble. She couldn’t speak. Not about that. Not ever this. He knew.
She shook her head.
“I won’t take no for an answer,” he began, stopping as he felt his words. “Sorry, I didn’t mean that.”
She said nothing. Her eyes stayed on her fingers. Her mouth closed tight.
“No, I did mean it. Just not the way it sounded.” He lifted her head again. His face looked like he had been crying hard, but she saw no tears. She had not seen him cry, not since that night. And then, only then. Never before. She did that. She had hurt him enough to make him cry.
“I can’t undo what happened,” he began, his voice breaking. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault,” he whispered softly in her ear. If I could make it go away. . . .” His voice was barely audible to her. “I’m so sorry.”
His words brought new tears to her eyes. She longed to look at him, to see him, to be seen by him, but all she could feel was the coldness of his knowing.
The crack in her chest erupted hearing his sorrow, that he felt responsible. How could he?
She wrapped her arms around his neck, the first time since that night. And she clung to him as if he was life itself.
* * *
She felt spent. Her head ached, her joints ached, and her stomach felt as though she hadn’t eaten in weeks. His arms were still around her, holding her to him so tightly that she felt as though she couldn’t have even been dragged away by hellhounds. Her arms were still around his neck, his shirt wet with tears.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly.
He cleared his throat. “Can I say something? Please?” his voice pleaded.
She nodded her head lightly, but said nothing.
“I don’t know why you can’t look me in the eye anymore.” His voiced dropped low. “But I imagine it has to do with that night. I don’t know if you are angry with me, if you blame me.”
She did not blame him. She just shook her head, unable to speak.
“I should have been there,” he continued, his voice on edge, soft and husky. “If I had been there,” his voice broke off, as if he was unable to finish the thought. “Please say something, anything. Tell me that I’m right, that it is my fault, just don’t sit there without saying anything at all.”
She shook her head again. No words would come.
She shook her head once more. She couldn’t bring her eyes to meet his. She couldn’t give voice to the terror in her mind. The shame. The humiliation. He knew.
His knowing was in the forefront of her mind. She could think of nothing else. Maybe only the humiliation. He knew.
If only he could un-know it.
He jumped up and fled the room. She was shocked.
But he was back before she could put much thought into where he was going. In his hand was a half a bottle of vodka. She hadn’t seen the bottle since two weeks before that night, when Robert and Izzy had come over for the evening. She had drank so much that she had passed out on the sofa, she didn’t even remember half of the night. Not like that night. She remembered everything, every moment of that night. She pushed the memory from her mind. Relived it nightly.
“Drink this,” he said, handing her the opened bottle.
“I don’t want that,” she responded.
“Drink it,” he said again. “You always had a loose tongue when you’ve been drinking.”
“No, please,” she sighed into his neck.
“You won’t care about telling me anything and you probably won’t remember anyways. At least you’ll have it said and be done with and maybe we can move on.” When she didn’t respond he continued, “Honey, please. I’ll do anything. I just don’t want you to push me away, to walk away from me. I can feel you,” his voice caught again, but he went on, “I can feel you pulling away and I don’t know how to stop it. We’ve tried everything else.”
Something inside of her let go, and she reached for the bottle. She drank half of its contents in one long swallow, followed by another that drained the bottle. And then she laid her head against his shoulder and waited for the numbness to begin. Blessed numbness.
It leaked through her, numbing her insides, until finally her lower lip felt slightly numb. He just kept his arms around her, holding her to him, as they waited for the deluge to begin.
Finally he said, “Are you angry with me?”
She shook her head no.
“Are you disappointed?” He left off the ‘in me’, but she knew that’s what he meant.
She shook her head again.
He kissed the top of her head. She could feel his head nod. But their eyes never met. She couldn’t stand to see that look in his eyes. Knowing.
“Speak, say anything,” he begged.
Finally, she answered, “I can’t.”
“Do I need to open another bottle of vodka?” he asked, a slight hint of humor in his voice.
She shook her head again. She was never one to open up easily. Not even to Jensen.
“Are you angry?” he asked.
She nodded her head, the first hint at what was inside. But she shut it in tighter, gripping it as though it was her life raft.
“But not at me?”
She shook her head again.
“Is the only way that you’ll be willing to say anything going to be through twenty questions?”
“Jensen, I can’t.”
“I just can’t.” She buried her head into his shoulder. The alcohol was coursing through her veins and she felt half drunk already.
“Tell me what you can’t do,” he urged.
“Nothing, anything. I just can’t.”
“I know its hard, but if you hold it all in, it won’t get any better. You know that.”
And for whatever reason, the torrent broke loose. “I can’t talk about it. I don’t want to make it any more real than, than,” but she stopped.
“It’s already real. It happened. But not talking about it, trying to pretend that it didn’t happen, it won’t make it so.” His fingers slide up and down her back as he spoke, his voice gentle.
She held the sob inside, refusing to give in. But the vodka made her feel soft and warm.
“I have nothing to say,” she said, meaning it.
“What’s going on in your head, right now? Are you telling me that you aren’t thinking about it? How about when I kissed you earlier? Nothing going through your head then either?”
She stiffened, “What do you want me to say?” Her voice edged higher, “That when you touch me, I see his face? When you kiss me, I feel his mouth hard against mine? That the thought of you inside of me makes my skin crawl? What do you want me to say? Do you think me saying any of that is any better than me not saying anything at all? How is this better?”
His body was stiff, his arms like anchors around her shoulders, his face a mask of pain, her words etched across his face.
Sobbing, she cried out, “I’m sorry, but what can I say? It’s like I’m there, all the time. I hear a loud sound and I jump, sure that he’s right behind me. When I close my eyes I hear his breathing, feel his hands on me, feel him inside of me.” Her face showed the disgust that lay at the pit of her stomach. But she continued through her sobbing, “I can’t escape him. He’s always there. I can’t imagine ever having sex again. I mean, it just . . . .” She shook her head, trying to push the images in her mind away. “I don’t know, it seems so brutal, so cold, so odd. Why would anyone want to do that anyways? Doesn’t that seem like an odd thing to do?” Her eyes took on a maniacal look to them, as she went on, “My body feels the pain of him. I wake up in a sweat, sure that I can feel his, his, God.” She covered her mouth with her hand as if it could erase the horror, “I can feel it right beside my leg. It’s cruel. Everything reminds me of him. Why. . . why would anyone want to force themselves onto someone else?” Her voice, her eyes shone only desperation now. “I don’t want anyone to touch me. I just want to forget.”
He nodded his head, averting his eyes. She felt calmer now. But then she saw the pain in his face, and knew that she had caused it. If only she had been more careful. She didn’t want to hurt him, hated herself for it. And she knew that she had caused all of this. Not just the pain now. All of it. She had been there, let that man find her.
She studied his face, while his eyes never came back to hers. Certainly, she had done it now. She’d been the wedge that would come between them. This was the end. She had caused it.
He inhaled sharply through his nose and nodded his head again. Then he asked, “Do you want me to stop touching you? Is that what you want?” He eyes stayed on the window, studying it as if it held the answer.
Softly, she answered, “I don’t know.” He looked at her after she spoke, waiting.
“Honestly, I don’t know.”
He said, “Please be careful. Don’t say anything you don’t really mean.”
She nodded her head. “I know. I know, but I don’t know how to answer that. Part of me cringes every time anyone touches me, but part of me wants you to touch me.” She lowered her head and whispered, “It’s not you. It’s him. But my brain, I can’t stop it. It just replays it over and over. I want it to stop.” she leaned against him, sobbing. She felt terrible unburdening herself on him, especially after how mean she had been to him. Over something that was her fault anyways.
“I’m sorry I did this to us,” she said into his shoulder, her words slightly muffled by his shirt and her tears.
“Honey, it’s not your fault,” he comforted.
“It is. It is. I shouldn’t have been there.”
“Rachelle, don’t let what that cop said, I mean, he was an idiot. It doesn’t matter that you were in a bar or that you had been drinking or how you were dressed.” She was frightened by the rage she saw in his eyes, somehow seeming to cast a dark shadow over his face.
“Just because you looked hot that night doesn’t give that guy any right to, to. . . .” Revelation dawned on his face, “Is that why you’ve been dressing in sweats and my shirts?”
She buried herself deeper into him. She wanted to bury herself so deeply that she disappeared.
“I want to kiss you,” she said. “I want to remember you, not him. Not him,” she finished as she touched her lips to his. He melted against her, let her kiss him. He didn’t even push into her at all and his hands stayed in his lap. Her kiss was soft, hesitant. But then the fury in the pit of her stomach erupted with new intensity.
“I don’t think this will work,” she said, as she pulled away from him.
“Take it easy,” he soothed. “I’m not pushing for something, or expecting anything.” He touched her arm gently. She tried to not stiffen in response, but it was involuntary.
“No, I can’t,” she apologized, feeling guilty but unable to do anything else. They had been fighting this chasm, something so deep and unyielding, hovering at its mouth, daring to not fall in, that she couldn’t remember what it felt to be free of it. It’s funny how things change in such a short time, just a few weeks really. She moved back inside of herself and away from him.
If only for that moment, he gave up.
* * *
She fought against that chasm. The abyss in her mind. And as bad as her days were, she knew that nights were the worst. She fought against it, but night inevitably arrived.
She lie awake, with Jensen beside, neither touching the other, an invisible wall between them that neither had erected nor knew how to dismantle. Who would ever want her again? She was broken. Damaged beyond repair. Tainted. Unworthy. She fruitlessly tried to stop the torrent of unwelcomed thoughts.
But the thoughts encroached. What was wrong with her? She couldn’t even stand to feel Jensen hands on her. She was certain that he would surely leave her. She again tried to push all of the negative feelings away, but in the middle of the night like this they flooded her mind like a hoard of bees disturbed from their nest. It left her worn and beaten by morning, unable to deal even with the dawn of a new day.
It was always the same day.
The same night.
By morning, her head full of the all the worries and fears, her mouth dry and her words tightly held down, she knew that he was right. As much as she hated the idea of telling him anything about that night, she just couldn’t keep it inside any more. She knew that otherwise they would never breach the chasm between them.
“Jensen,” she began, half thankful that they were both off all day and wishful that she had somewhere else to be.
“Yeah,” he said, half asleep. His arm was over his face, blocking the morning sun from his eyes.
It was now or never, she thought to herself.
“Don’t open your eyes, okay?” she asked softly.
His body stiffened expectantly. His arm remained over his face, shielding her face from his.
But her tongue felt numb, her words lost, her mind frozen.
She tried again. Speak, she told herself.
“I,” she began, her heart racing. But the words refused to surface. “I’m sorry,” she whispered as she lowered her head in shame. She felt like she couldn’t do anything right.
Jensen laid very still next to her, their bodies not quite touching.
She took a deep breath, mustering whatever strength she needed to just spit it out. Her exhale sounded like a balloon deflating and her mouth grew impossibly drier.
“I, um, I don’t even know. I can’t come up with anything that I want to say. I just want, I mean, I just want to stop feeling, um, like this. It sucks. And I,” she continued, clearing her throat before going on. “I can’t shake it.” As much as she wanted him to respond she thought facing him might actually kill her.
“I’m sorry I did this to us, I,” she started.
He sighed and moved toward her, keeping his eyes shut. “Rachelle, you did not do this,” he said softly, putting his arms around her waist.
“But I did, I,” she began again.
“Did exactly what a million other women do every weekend night,” he responded, leaning his head into hers.
Sobbing, she wrapped her arms around his neck. “I’m sorry, I wish I could go back, undo it all. I hate crying. I wish that I felt any other way.”
“Me too,” he responded, his voice thick and full of emotion. His eyes still closed, he reached for her face, pulling her toward him. But instead of kissing her, he simply placed his lips against her checkbone and waited.
“I can’t make the bad feelings go away,” she said, not sure how to explain.
“I guess you can only try to write over them, huh?” he said.
“But I just don’t know how. It feels impossible. I feel stuck.”
He suggested, almost as if he was afraid that she would say no, “Just kiss me.” His voice trailed off and she couldn’t even hear him breathing. He was just waiting as if he was too afraid to even breathe.
Even though it made her stomach ache, she tilted his face towards hers and kissed him.
The images flooded her mind once more. But she tried to think of the way Jensen held her, how he had sat with her on the kitchen floor for hours as she had cried, the way he asked if she needed anything when she was working in the study or the way he always bought her favorite fruit when he bought groceries, or the way he touched her shoulders when she’d had a bad day. And mostly she thought about how he had been so gentle and kind over the last few weeks. She kissed him, focusing her mind on these things, driving the bad images from her mind. She kissed him softly, letting the tears leak out.
The kiss felt artificial, without passion, but it was all she could muster. He accepted this, gently responding, without any sense that he wanted anything else. The tears only fell harder. She brought her hands to his face, pulling him towards her. She wanted to feel anything but that bad feeling.
“Jensen,” she whispered, never stopping. She pulled herself towards him, crawling on top of him, straddling his waist. He rose up, facing her, holding her lightly by the shoulders, his arms reaching around under her arms. She felt angry, a seething rage at the bottom of her spine. Not at him, just in general, and it fueled her kiss. His hands moved to the back of her neck, his fingers snaking their way into her hair. And her tears continued to flow.
She opened her eyes. And she saw him.
His eyes were closed, tears hovering, ready to fall. He looked lovely. And sexy. And beautiful.
And she wanted to kiss him; not because she knew she had to because it was only way to move past this despair, or because she wanted to stop rejecting him, or even because she was afraid of losing him. She just wanted to remember the way his lips felt against hers. It couldn’t be like it had been. It could only be whatever it was.
And so she kissed him with every ounce of what she had left, pulling his face further towards her, holding him to her. She could do no more.
They stayed there, together, trying to remember what was lost and, at the very least, attempting to relish what was left. His hands soothed her back, reminding her of his gentleness, his attempt at relieving her anxiety, her anger. It was all there was.
“Rachelle,” he breathed as he kissed her softly, his words in his eyes. He didn’t have to say anything because she knew what he meant.
Her lips left his for long enough for her to touch his gently with her fingertips. “I’m sorry I’ve been so awful lately.” And then she kissed him again. He said nothing, he simply kissed her back.
* * *
She lay against his chest, his arms around her, holding her tightly to him as if he was afraid that she would disappear again. He kissed her forehead gently.
“Rachelle?” he questioned.
“Mm-hmm,” she murmured softly, a little afraid that he would want her to speak.
“It’s okay. You don’t have to talk about anything if you don’t want to.” His voice was thick, full of the words that he didn’t say, couldn’t say.
“Thanks,” she replied. She just laid against him, relaxed in his arms. His bare chest felt good against her check, especially with his arms securely around her.
“Thank you for kissing me,” he said softly. She wrapped her arms around his neck. He pulled the blanket up around her shoulders, holding it tightly to her.
“I missed your lips,” he said. She giggled softly, holding herself to him more tightly.
“Me too,” she whispered back. She had felt so tiny and insignificant, but now it felt okay in his arms.
“Jensen,” she began, barely above a whisper. “I promise I’ll have sex with you again, some day. Just please, don’t leave me, um, you know, because I can’t right now.”
She didn’t relax until he said, “Honey,” there was that fragile word again, “I am not leaving you. There is no rush for us to have sex. Not today, not any time soon.”
He pulled her face toward him so that she was looking directly into his eyes, something she had hardly done for as long as she could remember. It had been too hard, too hard for her to see the knowledge in his eyes.
“I am right here. I’m not going anywhere,” he said, his voice full of emotion. The intensity took her breath away. She just nodded. She wanted so badly to believe him, even though the pit in her stomach told her otherwise.
He slid his fingers down the back of her head and he kissed her gently. His lips were soft and warm. She traced his jawbone with her fingers, sliding herself over him. His hands were pressed gently against her back, reassuring her but not holding her to him. And this time, no tears came. It was a relief. She kept his gentleness in her mind, framed it around her thoughts. It was enough that they cradled one another, kissing one another softly and slowly. It reassured her mind. Nothing was forced, nothing contrived. It was just a kiss.
And each night after, as they ended their day, he kissed her softly. Some nights they kissed for a long time, other nights it was fleeting, yet warm. Each day he kissed her gently on the forehead and reassured her that he was right there, often without any words at all. They laid awake at night watching some movie or listening to music or reading side-by-side. As they cooked dinner together, his hand would linger on her shoulder, reminding her that he was there. And they continued this way for weeks. She felt no demands from him. Cuddling with him on the couch, as they did so often, both now and before, she realized that what she loved about him was how patient and kind he was. It was something that she had seen in him from the very day that they had met, standing in line buying groceries. She saw him over and over before either had actually spoke to the other. But he had always been patient, no matter how long he stood there waiting for the cashier to move things along. It was something that she admired in others, probably because she had absolutely no patience herself. He never rushed her, not even when they were late. And he didn’t rush her now.
“Jensen,” she said.
“Mm-hmm,” he responded absently, flipping through an issue of National Geographic.
“Will you have sex with me?” she asked softly.
His eyes instantly met hers. “Whenever you like.” He made no move toward her.
She took a deep breath, and then she moved toward him, inching her way onto his lap. She kissed him, pulling him toward her so that there wasn’t any space between them.
The feeling had been growing inside of her, melting it’s way into her, down deep into her bones and cells, carefully filling in the empty spaces. She wanted him. She didn’t know what that really meant, just that she craved him again, not exactly as she had done when they had first met, before that day, before the endless night. But it was there again just the same, urging her to touch his skin, feel his warmth, crave the heat of his body against hers. His fingers were entwined in her hair, gently pulling her toward him, almost into him. Their bodies accepted the rhythm of one another. He made no move to push it further than they had been. He accepted that she needed to lead them wherever they were headed.
She lifted his shirt over his head, kissing him gently on his stomach and chest as she went. No bad feelings lingered in her. Then she lifted her own, allowing him to kiss her breasts as she did. His touch was not aggressive. It was open without demand. And she was intent that they move beyond whatever was still holding her back. She told herself that she could do this. She wanted him. This felt no different than each of the days before, as they had made their way back to this place. It was something inside of her, a safe place, one where most were not welcome. But she wanted him there. It wasn’t awkward like being with someone that you didn’t know, but there was a sense of the unknown just the same.
She pressed herself into him, felt him beneath her. There was no fear, no sick jolt racing its way through her. She knew that he would never hurt her like that man. For just a second, this thought brought him back into her mind. But instantly she knew that that man couldn’t hurt her now. Jensen was with her, soft and gentle with her, protective and yielding. She was safe here, swimming in the warmth of his arms, his eyes closed, her vulnerability safe in the depths of his. His touch was welcomed. The line that they had dared not cross, had been too afraid to press against was there now, a firm door to be opened.
“Are you sure?” he asked. He kissed her again, with reassurance and not demand.
“I think so,” she said as she kissed him back.
He moaned softly, almost thankfully, as he removed the last of their clothing. And she pressed against him, pulling him into her.
An instant feeling of panic engulfed her. “Wait,” she said anxiously, fear swelling inside her.
He sat up straight, not seeming to know what to do. He didn’t move at all.
She breathed out sharply, the anxiety tensing her, making it hard to breath. “Just wait.”
“Do you want to stop?” he asked softly.
Then his eyes caught hers, and the fear melted. She shook her head, knowing that she didn’t. “No, don’t stop. Just give me a minute, okay?”
“As much as you need,” he responded. “Just don’t let go.”
Copyright 2014 Sionainn Gealach/ Shannon Moon/ Shannon Motter