I hope that you are enjoying the chapters so far. I’ve been battling on yours and my behalf with Full Circle as the idea presented to me was to cut the story into two books. I stood firm because it is one story, although a large one, and I have always envisioned it as such.
So, print copies will be produced in a different way to how they have been through the series ensuring that the printed version is viable for my publisher but you get Full Circle as I intend you to read it so I hope that you will cheer me (and thank Bedazzled Ink because it is not a great business move for them but they, like me, want you to enjoy Aeron in full.)
I’ve been told that I will receive my edits fairly soon (which I’ll keep you updated on) and I hope that gives you an even bigger smile.
So, here is Chapter 5…
My thoughts: This chapter was hard for me to write (and edit!) because Aeron’s own experience with her illnesses soon became very like my own. Although this chapter worked on a more spiritual side and Aeron’s battle is such in this scene, it soon felt very reminiscent of how a mind can be as mean as Sam. It made me smile how she fights back and how, just by being her, she’s given me a few tips. It’s so uplifting how she teaches me a great deal when she’s on the page…
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Copyright © 2018 Jody Klaire.
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Please note: all scenes are the intellectual property of the author and that online exclusive scenes may differ from the published version.
Pain prickled at me and I opened my eyes. I was in a cold damp space that was not Serenity, not a cell and I was standing up which meant there was no way I was conscious.
I felt the stabbing needles over my body and glanced up. There was a cloud I recognized: a fear cloud. Wherever I was, it wasn’t a physical place but I’d never seen any place like it in my dreams or anything else.
It was like I was stuck there, waiting.
“Looking lost there, Al,” Sam said with his snide tone. His voice felt close somehow. He felt close but I couldn’t see him. “Feeling guilty?”
“Surprised you know what the word is, Sam,” I snapped. Whether the place was real or not, my patience for the jerk had gone long ago. “Why don’t you try looking it up?”
Sam laughed. It was cold enough that I hunched: a hollow sound, echoing, no soul in it at all. “Why don’t you tell me, Al? You know all about it.”
Memory or flash? I was in front of Jake, he was telling me it was illegal, that Sam and I needed to stop stealing, that someone would catch us. The ground rumbled as a high-speed train hurtled around the corner. Jake tried to grab for me, my hands stretched out.
Then, he was gone.
The blast of air hit me backward and I always woke up, bolt upright, clutching my pillow, desperately trying to pull Jake back.
It was always too far, too late. Jake was gone and it was my fault.
“Yeah, you had me fooled, Sam.” I could hear the raw pain in my voice until my body ached with it. “How could you kill your own brother?”
He stepped from the far wall. Sam was always so much bigger than me when we were kids but now I bested him a little, a lot. He was the kind of guy women loved. Big square jaw with a cleft in the chin and brown stubble. His smile was perfect like a model’s, his eyes were like the pit of a cave they were so brown. It was so hard even to see his pupils. Long eyelids, charm, chestnut wavy hair. He was handsome but it was false. There was nothing handsome about him inside.
“I didn’t kill Jake, you did,” he said, with a sly smile. “Remember, you’re the one feeling guilty.”
“I know I didn’t.” I folded my arms. That had worked for the longest time. I’d torn myself up over it. I’d blamed myself.
“Then you’re wrong. It’s your fault that bitch got her head checked too.” He tapped his head. “Yours, you said so yourself.”
Renee was cold, not moving. Her breathing had stopped. I rolled her onto her back and frantically pulled at the debris in her mouth, clearing the airway. I didn’t know how to do CPR, I didn’t know how to help her.
A shallow breath hissed out at me. The rain mixed with the blood from her head wound. A roar overhead sparked a monstrous tremble through the ground and I staggered to my feet, hauling her up into my arms.
“Stay with me. Please.”
I blinked back the memory of Renee damaged in the storm. Sam had done that. He’d driven her off the road. I hadn’t known the depth of her injuries and the depth of her scars but even so, she’d been there to protect me.
Yannick had caught her, sliced open her face and hurt her in ways I could never understand. He’d hurt her and I wasn’t allowed to fix it. I couldn’t cope without her around. What would I do if she stayed locked in her mind? Was I just meant to watch her fade?
I lifted my hand up, I couldn’t do that. I wasn’t brave like her. I couldn’t just stand back and watch her slip away.
Yeah, it was my fault Yannick had done that. Renee hadn’t said much about it up on Black Ridge Mountain but she’d been MIA when she met me in Serenity Hills and she’d been meant to walk away. She hadn’t. Then she’d signed her real name for the cops when Sam did get arrested… to protect me. All it had taken was that one act of kindness, and the man who ripped her life apart, Yanick Bucher, had come hunting. My fault… was it?
Renee took my hand and shifted around to face me. “What I can’t figure out, is why you believed in me when all the evidence pointed to me having shot an innocent man.”
“I just knew . . . deep in here,” I said, tapping my chest, daring Frei to roll her eyes again. “I trusted you.”
“How?” Renee asked. “It was hardly as if I was entirely stable before it happened. How didn’t you think that I may have lost my mind? You’ve seen people do worse.”
Yeah. I hadn’t hurt her. Yannick and Sam were the guys who’d attacked. I had trusted her. I’d always trusted her and I was done feeling sorry for someone else’s crimes.
“I help when I can. I know I can’t fix everybody but I try my best.” I felt the light grow stronger.
“Al, you think a freak like you can help anybody?” Sam laughed, eyes full of that need to hurt me.
“I try with my heart. I care.” I met his eyes feeling the light glow around me. I believed that I could help.
“Heart?” He laughed harder, nastier, emptier. “What you gonna do with your heart.” He swarmed around me. “You ain’t helped nobody and you ain’t nobody. How you gonna help?”
I focused on my armor which shone around me, shielding me. “All things are possible.”
“You gone crazy like them freaks in that place you got locked in?” He swirled around me, probing, eyes glinting. “How’s your heart gonna fix anythin’?”
“’Cause love never fails,” I stared him square in the eyes.
“I ain’t seen nobody fix nothin’ with a heart,” he hissed, laughter louder, cloud thicker.
“Blessed are those who’ve not seen and yet have believed,” I mumbled to myself then realized these were passages I’d been meditating on. “I just got to persevere… and I’ll get there.”
He folded his arms but the cloud around him shuddered. “Persevere?” He swept his hand at me but he couldn’t get close to me now, there was light between us. “How you think a freak is gonna fix anythin’. Tell me?” He glared into my eyes. “What weapons you got that will help all these people you think love you?”
I smiled. “All I need is living water.”
He blew out a breath like I was crazy but he was fading and the cloud shrank back. “An’ what is that gonna do?”
I closed my eyes ‘cause my new passage had been swirling through my head when I’d been dragged and put back in Serenity. “My faith will heal me.”
He scowled and faded, the fear cloud vanished, and I dropped to my knees as a quiet stream of light reassured me.
Sam was set on draining the rest of my energy from me but I weren’t gonna give in. I had love on my side and I had folks I loved to protect.
Yeah, I was gonna stand firm.