30 March, 2008

Chapter 8

Well she had an aching head to go with the rest of her aching body and wanted to just crawl under the cushions of the chair they were sitting on. She couldn’t believe she’d said all that. She’d seen the horror in his eyes and actually fed on it, wanting to make him understand. Maybe even to shock him.

She sat up and turned her face away from him, studying the snow outside, anything to not look at him.

Cam,” he said softly.

She couldn’t make herself turn around. She’d been a fool to tell him the whole story. The less people involved the better, she knew that. Hell, hadn’t she learned her lesson? He’d found her here in the middle of nowhere.

He took away her choice by firmly turning her head with a single finger. “Cam, I’m glad you told me and as soon as we get cell reception again I’m going to make some calls.”

She climbed off him and forced herself to stand up straight. “No. No way. I’ll handle this on my own, otherwise people could get hurt.”

He stood up right in front of her and clasped his hands over her forearms as much to steady her as to hold her still. “You can’t do it alone anymore, Sweet-“ he cut himself off again. “You can’t do it alone,” he said firmly. “I may not be the bodyguard type,” and he motioned to her hodge podge bandages, “Nor am I a doctor, but I have connections.”

“I can’t ask-”

He cut her off. “You’re not asking, I’m offering.”

Honestly puzzled she held onto him, starting to feel a little steadier. “Why?”

His eyes went dark, the blue changing yet again to mirror the stormy grey outside. “You need help and I can provide it, simple as that.”

“But why? I don’t mean anything to you.”

“C’mon there’s gotta be something between us. I’ve already seen you naked. We’ve slept together.”

She blushed and felt her mouth drop open. “Jon!’

He shrugged and laughed. “If you can’t call that intimate then what do you call it?”

“Circumstance? Crazy awful, bad timing? Temporary psychosis?”

“Fate,” he said with absolute certainty.

She shut up, the small spurt of hope was too much with all the rest that she’d been through. “You’re a really nice man-“

He cut her off with a laugh. “I’m not a nice man. You need someone to believe in and I need someone to believe in me. That’s all there is to it.”

She frowned, following him as he led her back up the stairs. “Where are we going?”

“We’re going upstairs to get some rest and I’m going to check your bandages.”

“I-“ she stopped at his sharp look. “Umm, we need to plan, to find a way to get out of here.”

“We’re not going anywhere, Cam. There’s ten inches or more of fresh snow out there. I don’t even think the plows have been taken out of storage yet. We’ll listen to the radio and figure out how long this freak storm is supposed to last and you need to get your strength back. The only way you’re going to do that is by sleeping.”

“I don’t have time to sleep. He’s out there and it won’t take him long to figure out where I am.”

“You’re talking to the guy that rarely gets more than five hours of sleep, but in this case I’m going to have to insist. You need to sleep. It’s the only way you’re body is going to recharge.”

He walked behind her as she navigated the stairs herself this time. She could feel his eyes on her back and, she turned around and caught his glance on her ass. He just grinned and she turned back around. She wasn’t sure how to take that. Lucas’ touch had been abhorrent, especially after the cutting. She’d closed herself off from feelings like that for months.

She made it to the landing and he veered off into the bathroom as she settled herself on the bed. Maybe she was feeling tired. God knew she hadn’t slept through the night in months.

Jon came back into the room with the first aid kit and a towel. “Let’s see what Dr. Jon can do for you.”

She smiled as he unloaded his supplies.

“Hey! A real, honest to God smile,” he said playfully.

She didn’t say anything, just curled her toes under the covers. “I can take care of the cuts, Jon. I swear,” she said conscious of the fact that her legs were in sore need of shaving.

“C’mon let me have my Florence Nightingale moment.”

She just snuffed out a laugh and leaned back into the pillows. His touch was gentle and she closed her eyes, unwilling to watch his hands on her body. The sense of revulsion she was expecting never came. She relaxed as he gently peeled away the thick gauze pads, hissed when the A & D ointment was applied and finally opened her eyes when he lifted her arm.

“Looks like the worst of it has heeled over, though you might have a few extra scars to add to your collection,” he said.

She blinked at him and laughed at the horrified look in his eyes. “It’s okay,” she laughed again. “It was funny.”

His hand covered hers. “It was uncalled for and I’m sorry. I can really stick my foot in it with my twisted sense of humor.”

Somehow she knew he didn’t apologize often for who he was, but she appreciated it. “It’s okay.”

He leaned in and pressed a soft kiss at the crest of her cheek and her heart stuttered. He pulled away and pressed the last bit of tape into place and pulled the sheet and quilt up until her hands met his. She pulled it up the rest of the way and they didn’t say a word.

He rounded the bed and stoked the fire then settled himself in the chair beside the fire. She curled into the pillows, breathing in his scent as her eyes grew heavy. She flipped the covers back. “It’s okay, you can sleep here.”

He simply stared at her, not saying a word for the longest time then he stood and tucked a lock of hair that pulled from her rubber band behind her ear. “Are you sure?”

“I’m in no condition for you to take advantage of me and anyway…we need to get some sleep.”

“I can sleep anywhere,” he said.

“Then sleep with me,” she said softly. And maybe the dreams won’t come. Maybe I’ll sleep deeply and dreamlessly. “Please.”

He climbed in beside her and smoothed the sheets, tucked the blanket and didn’t move beneath the covers. A sudden tension grew between them until he swore and tugged her close, pressing her cheek against his chest. “Sleep, Sweetheart.”

And she did.

17 March, 2008

Chapter 7

Jon helped the stubborn woman down the stairs. She was hell bent on doing everything herself and that included navigating two flights of stairs she just wasn’t ready for. She was shaky and sweating by the time they got downstairs and his temper was brewing way past a low simmer.

He walked away from her before he could throttle her, leaving her to lean on the oversized table that took up a quarter of the great room. She lowered herself gingerly into the chair and Jon immediately felt like shit that he was even pissed at her. Jesus, he just needed to relax. She didn’t need him to cop an attitude.

He opened the fridge and pulled out some ham, cheese and eggs and whipped up a huge four egg omelet and cut it down the middle. He’d set coffee to perk and poured juice into a couple of glasses. Loading it all on a cookie sheet to get it to the table he set it before her.

“You didn’t need to go to all this trouble, cold cereal-“ she cut herself off when he sent her a scathing look.

“You need to get your strength back. Protein and the sugar from the juice should start things off right. Coffee’s just fuel.”

She didn’t argue, just started eating in the same no-nonsense way he was beginning to associate with Cam. She drank her coffee black like he did and finished everything on her plate.

“Should I make another?”

“No, you don’t…” she closed her eyes and then took a deep breath. “No, thank you. It was perfect,” she said in a perfectly modulated recital of what his kids said to grown ups. Well, at least she had decent parents in her past.

“What’s the plan, Cam?” he said, pushing his plate away and folding his hands.

“I’m going to get out of your hair as soon as the storm moves through.”

“And then?” She hesitated and he reached over to her, brushing the tips of his fingers with hers. “I’m not going to tell anyone.”

She pulled back. “It’s best if I just don’t give you any details.”

“C’mon, it’s not like he’s going to torture it out of me.” He felt like he was in a surreal episode of the Sopranos.

“The less anyone knows the less chance he has of finding me. I don’t know how he found me here anyway. I didn’t tell anyone.”

”Not even your family?”

“I don’t have family. My parents died a few years ago and I don’t have any siblings.”

His stomach bottomed out. She didn’t have anyone at all? That couldn’t be possible. “Not even a girlfriend?”

“I have a few friends, but no one that I could or would involve in my mess.”

“That’s what friends do, Cam. They get involved, even in the ugly stuff.”

“Not with this.”

“Didn’t they know when he cut you? Didn’t they come and see what he did to you? Didn’t you report it?” He couldn’t understand the battered woman syndrome. She couldn’t be protecting him.

“You don’t get it, Jon. You don’t need to get it. You’ll have my undying gratitude for helping me out last night, but that’s all you need to know.”

He didn’t know why he needed to know, but he did. He had to find a way to get her to open up to him. “Just who is this Lucas guy?”

“You don’t want to know, Jon. Seriously, just back off.” She stood up and evidently the juice and food had helped even her out because she walked over to the couch herself and stopped abruptly. She lifted up her blood soaked coat and he watched her head hang in defeat.

Never one to miss an opportunity, even if it was sneaky and underhanded, he got up and stood behind her. He put his hand on her shoulder, “That’s how I found you. Please let me help you. I promise we can figure out something between the both of us.”

Her laugh was cold and nearly soulless and it shook him to his core. “Yeah right.”

“What on Earth could be so bad?”

“He’s a cop, Jon.” When he couldn’t find a single word to say in response she turned around and met his gaze. “Yeah, see even the great Jon Bon Jovi doesn’t have much to say to that one. I’ll even do you one better.”

Jon moved in closer and she backed up.

“No, you’ll really love this one, I promise.”

Cam,” he whispered gently. He could see the chilly disdain in her eyes and feel it with every word she spat out.

“You wanted to know, didn’t you? You really want to know the deep dark secrets to my ugly little life?” she asked darkly. “Do you really want to know?”

He swallowed and met her icy cold blue eyes. “Yes,” he said tightly. “I want to know.”

“He’s the chief of police in a little city named Manhattan. Yeah, I know there are tons of different cop shops in the city but this one is really good. He’s the chief in the Upper East Side with all the trappings of lawyers, judges of the rich and influential. He can’t be touched.”

“I’m not up on my city politics, but no one’s untouchable,” he said disbelievingly.

Adrenaline gunned her motor and she came at him in a slow, steady walk. “Oh but this one is as close to untouchable as they come.” She pulled down her neckline to show off the scar she once tried to hide. “This little gift from Lucas came with a love note from a plastic surgeon that he owed a favor. See how lovely it is?”

Jon stood his ground as she came toe to toe with him.

“You should have seen it when Lucas was done with me the first time. All the blood and all the fun and he didn’t even flinch. He cut me open like a fish and watched me bleed. Then he calmly held a towel to my neck as he drove and met the surgeon at his clinic. He was kind enough to let me stay awake as the plastic surgeon put me back together again.”

Her head was tilted up as she poured out the horror of her life at his feet. Her eyes were so cold, like she was reciting a recipe that meant so little to her.

“Did you know that you can feel stitches pull even while you’re loaded up on a local? I can tell you how man stitches I had. Do you want to know how many stitches I had?”

His voice was rough and every part of him wanted to tell her to shut up. That he didn’t want to know any part of it. “Yes, I want to know.”

“I had fourteen staples and sixty-seven stitches from here,” she pulled the t-shirt down low and he saw the tiny silver edge of her scar as it opened up into a wide line that tracked across her neck and up behind her ear. “He even made an appointment for a follow up visit to make sure the scar would be taken care of. He wouldn’t want to mar the skin of his precious bride to be. She’d learned her lesson after all.”

He caught her as the adrenaline faded and she sagged under the weight of her confession. He cradled her in close and pressed her face into his neck as he rocked her. She struggled a bit, he could feel her embarrassment flowing hot and her flight instinct was strong. Instead of letting her sink back into memories he hooked an arm under her knees and settled them both in the oversized chair next to the fireplace.

She tried to get up, but he pulled her back gently, but firmly and wrapped his arms around her and held on. She stayed so still for a very long time, not letting herself lean against him, staying apart from him, but he could be stubborn and he knew she needed the contact. She needed to know she could lean on him, even if it was just for a day.

And when she melted into him and laid her head on his shoulder, sliding her hand around the cotton clad pecs of his chest and burrowed behind his back for warmth he let out a sigh. Then his heart broke as he felt her silent tears bleed into the cotton of his shirt.

He slid his fingers into her hair and just held on.

12 March, 2008

Chapter 6

Needing to stand up, Cameron shifted on the bed until her feet dangled. Pain seemed to radiate from every muscle and…she winced, hell…every bone.

“Hey now,” Jon implored as he stood up to help her. “Maybe we shouldn’t try to stand up yet.”

“I need to make sure I’m mobile. I need to get out of here today,” she said and stepped onto the icy hardwood floor and grabbed onto the closest thing as her knees buckled beneath her. “Shit,” she whispered as she hung off his shoulders.

“God save me from stubborn women,” he muttered and swung her up into his arms. “Maybe we should try something a little smaller like sitting up and getting some food into you?”

She blushed and her bladder made itself known. “I need,” she cleared her throat and hooked her arm around his neck for stability. Christ, she was beyond embarrassed. “I need to use the facilities,” she said with gritted teeth.

His lip curled up in the corner in a half smirk. “Think you can do it yourself?”

“Doesn’t matter if I fall on my face in there, I’m peeing on my own,” she said darkly.

His head tipped back and he laughed. “You are something else, Sweetheart.”

“Don’t call me that,” she groused.

“What? Sweetheart?” his ever changing blue eyes zeroed in on hers and his smile slowly faded.

“I’m not your sweetheart,” she said and turned her gaze to the room.

“Well, let’s get you into the bathroom, huh, Cameron?”

Cam,” she corrected. She’d never like the sound of her full name again. She should have changed her first name instead of just her last when she’d bought her new identity, but the guy had said to keep things as close to her real self so she wouldn’t get caught up in a lie. That’s what she would be, forever a lie.

His eyes went from friendly to intense as he said her name. Cam. I won’t forget.”

He started walking to the bathroom and she squeezed his shoulder. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be difficult. I just-“

“You don’t have to explain yourself, Swe—“ he stopped and corrected himself. “Cam. If I had to go through what you did and the simplest thing you wanted from me is to say your name a certain way then you got it.”

Her eyes closed and hopelessness crashed in like a Summer storm, strong and fierce. She hated that she was so touchy. She used to be so easy going. Would there be no end to how Lucas’ actions would affect her? He lowered her gently and his hand slid over exposed skin along her back as he righted her into a standing position.

Her eyes snapped open as she looked up at him and she saw the flare of awareness in his eyes just before it was banked back into that eerily cool blue that had no discernible color name. He tugged down her shirt and let her lean on him. “Your bandages are going to need to be changed,” he said quietly.

“I’ll take care of it.”

His jaw clicked as he eased her into the bathroom and transferred her hands from his chest to the vanity. “Let me know if you need anything.”

“I’ll be fine.” She leaned heavily on the vanity feeling every aching muscle in her torn legs until she wanted to scream with it, but at least she felt the pain. Pain meant she was alive. She pushed the door shut until it came into contact with his hand.

Cam, you’ve got to trust someone.”

She didn’t say anything, just closed the door as he stepped back. She pressed her forehead to the door and willed back the hopeless tears that were forever threatening. It took a helluva lot out of her to even just get to the toilet and take care of business. She saw the tube of whitening toothpaste on the counter and snagged a washcloth from the rack above the john and cleaned her mouth.

She looked like shit. Dark circles dug deep under her eyes and her cheeks had hollowed out with the stress of the last month of running. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a meal that didn’t include a burger or a sandwich after a number on a menu. That was when she remembered to eat.

His t-shirt was a bit big on her and hung low on her neck exposing the angry pink line of her scar. It was a rare thing for her to actually look at it. She avoided mirrors until after she pulled a turtleneck on. She specifically looked away from it and focused on the disaster zone of a hairdo she was sporting.

She picked around in his travel kit and found a small rubber band and scraped her gold hair back. She’d tinted it a darker blonde when she’d started running, not quite able to die it the dark brown she should have gone with.

She opened the door and Jon quickly walked back across the room from the window. “Looks like,” he paused and took in her slightly groomed self with a half smile. “The snow still hasn’t let up.”

“Snow?” she asked sharply.

“Yeah, I know, last week of October and we’ve already got snow. Gotta love the Northeast.”

“No I don’t gotta nuthin’,” she said with a touch of panic. She swore as the world spun and she had to lean on him again. “Goddamn it,” she snarled and grabbed his shoulder.

“Take it easy, Cam.”

“I can’t take it easy. I need to get moving today.”

“Well unfortunately,” he groaned as she dragged him with her across the room. She hobbled with his help until she could see the large picture window with her own eyes. “Mother nature is not cooperating.”

“Shit,” she muttered and stared out at the endless snow dotting the normally picturesque Adirondacks. The lake looked cold and grey as the snow came down in huge, fluffy flakes. The only good thing about the snow, was that it would slow Lucas down a bit too.


“I guess I have time for that food after all,” she said with a sigh.