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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Here is Chapter Twelve...


                                            Awesome clouds!!






Chapter Twelve ~


Janna shoved a corner of the cover in her mouth to stop the loud sob trying to escape. What was wrong with her? She’d never felt so miserable and excited at the same time. Jedidiah did that to her. She wasn’t ready. That was all there was to it. His dark, curly hair and deep blue eyes popped into her mind and tears fell in silent streaks down her face. Her eyes flew toward the metal bed beside her own. She should be thinking of Jessie, not Jedidiah. JJJ…it suddenly dawned on her that all their names started with a J. Was that coincidence? Was there such a thing? She rolled over to grab the phone. She had to call him back. The ache in her gut was too pronounced. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think of anything else but him.

“Hi there.”

Janna squeaked. “Oh my goodness, you scared the daylights out of Me.” Sudden anger washed over her at the feeling of humiliation she felt at being snuck up on. “I thought you were leaving?” The rudeness in her voice caused an instantaneous feeling of wrongdoing.  Too bad, she wasn’t going to apologize.

“He’s out Janna. One of my contacts texted me to let me know he’s heading this way.”

Janna didn’t say a word, but she felt the color leave her face. Icy-cold fear enveloped her. “Are…you…sure?” She croaked out. She didn’t care if he saw her fear. He was her bodyguard, after all.

“Yes Honey, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t call me that. You barely know me for Pete’s sakes,” she snapped.

“I’m sorry, it’s just a habit. I don’t mean anything by it. I call lots of people honey.”

Disappointment engulfed. He did? She’d thought it meant something… She looked at him in silence, trying to pull her feelings in. “Oh okay, that’s good then.” She tried to smile, but couldn’t. “What if he gets to me? He said he was gonna…”

“That’s not going to happen. Regardless of how you feel about me, I’m good at my job, Janna. Your brother wouldn’t have chosen me if he didn’t think I was up to the task. You’re the most important thing to him in the world. He isn’t going to let some incompetent fool protect you.”

The truth of his words hit home. “That’s true. What do you plan to do?”

Jedidiah sat down and put his fingers up, ticking off his plans. “First, I intend not to let you out of my sight. Second, I intend to order a pizza because I’m hungry, and third, I’m going find out how soon we can get you out of here. It’s going to be very difficult to watch you in a hospital.”

She started to protest his statement, “But…”

He held up his hands and interrupted her interruption. “I know what you were about to say, and it isn’t true. I know the hospital has security, but they aren’t giving you any special attention. I mean, yeah, they might keep an extra eye out if you voice your concerns, but they aren’t trained to take down the enemy before he strikes, only afterward.”

She shook her head. She had to admit he was right. “I can’t let anything happen to Jessie. I promised I’d take care of him.”

He gave her a hard stare. “And I promised to take care of you, so both of you should be okay.”

She smiled. She’d hurt his feelings. She could only bet he wasn’t used to people turning him down or telling him no. “I’m sorry.”

“What for?”

“Earlier.”

“Don’t worry about it. I was out of line, anyway. It won’t happen again, I can assure you.”

His tone was businesslike and cold. It made her cringe. She already missed his lazy-sexy drawl.  This was a side of him she hadn’t seen yet and she didn’t like it. “You…you weren’t out of line, Jed. Can I call you that?”
He shrugged in an off-hand manner. “I guess so.”

She gave him a small smile. She couldn’t believe her fear had turned to light-heartedness so quickly after his information bomb. He did that to her, too. “Jed, I feel what you feel, but I’m scared. My whole life just changed again.” Her heart tripped at the look he gave her. It was pure attraction.

“You do?”

And again, another side of him she hadn’t seen. Now he sounded vulnerable and child-like. What was up with him, anyway?

“I do. I can’t explain why I would feel an attachment to a total stranger, but I do. I think I would trust you with my life, and it’s a good thing because I may have to do that.”

He came to her bedside and grabbed her hands in both of his. His voice was gruff, sincere. “I’ll guard you with my life. And him too.” He gestured to the sleeping child.

His words caused her eyes to water. What was wrong with her? She never cried this much. “Thank you.”

 

 

Jedidiah’s lips came down on hers, soft and reassuring. She groaned, her arms coming around his neck and pulling him closer.

He groaned too, knowing he had to stop. He gently pulled her arms away. “We can’t, Janna. Not like this. Not here, and not now.”

He looked into her amber eyes and saw the disappointment, and it caused him physical pain. “I’m sorry.”

Her fingers came up to touch her swollen lips. “I am too.”

She looked so small and innocent. Tenderness welled-up in him and he sighed. He sat down in his chair and looked at her from the safer distance. “I stopped and got Jessie some clothes.”

“Thank you.”

He could see she was trying to pull it together, and so was he. He’d almost blown this whole thing, again. What was it about her, anyway? “I would’ve gone to your place and gotten you some things, but you called.”

“I know. Thank you. Maybe you can go get them before…he…gets here.”

He shook his head. “I can do that. I’ll check on Hairy, too. He isn’t going to be happy with all the time spent in the car in the last couple days.”

“I bet not. He’s such a beautiful dog.”

The look she was giving him was almost his undoing.

“Don’t look at me like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like you’re starving and I’m your next meal.”

She laughed. “I guess you better feed me then.”

“We just ate a little bit ago.” He gave her a quizzical look.

“I know, but I eat a lot.” She smiled.

He laughed. Awkward. What he really wanted to do was pull her back into his arms and…He shook his head. No, he couldn’t. “What would you like?”

“How about some of that pizza?”

He gave her a confused look. “Pizza?”

“Yeah, your number two thing you were going to do…”

“Oh yeah, I already forgot.” He smiled down at her as he stood to leave. “Go ahead and order that pizza while I go get you some clothes. If the boy is okay, and you’re okay to leave, we might have to sneak away into night.” He waggled his brows at her, trying to lighten the moment. He didn’t want to leave, and he could already see the uneasiness settling on her pretty features.

“What do you want on it?”

He gave her a questioning look.

“On the pizza…”

He laughed again. He felt like a teenager on his first date. “Whatever you like, unless it contains anchovies.”

She giggled. “I think we should be compatible then. I don’t like them, either.”

“Good. A match made in heaven.” He left the room, his words leaving behind a feeling of hope in his chest. Maybe they could be a couple someday…

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Let me know what you think...

                                       

                                                Pretty things...













Chapter Eleven ~


Janna lay Jessie in the metal crib and stretched her good arm. Her broken arm was aching, but she didn’t care. Jessie had needed her.

“You’re going to make a wonderful mother.”

She gasped. “How do you even know about that?”

“You kept talking about it all the way to the hospital,” Jedidiah said.

“I did? I don’t remember any of it.” She pursed her lips, trying to remember the scene, but it wasn’t in her brain.

He moved over to his chair and sat down. “You were out, but you were talking.”

She could feel her face begin to burn with embarrassment. “I’m sorry you had to witness that. I’m usually a very private person.” She got up into the hospital bed and turned around to face him.

“There’s no shame in what happened here, Ja-Ja.” He gave her a playful grin and her face grew even hotter.

“Wow. Are all my secrets out?”

He shook his head, a smile curling the edges of his lips. “Pretty much, yeah. Jessie and I had a talk while you were away.”

The smile slid from her lips like ice cream off the cone on a hot summer day. “Poor little guy. And what was she thinking anyway? I don’t know the first thing about kids.”

“I don’t even know you that well and I know better than that. You know love, and that’s the most important thing.”

She shook her head in agreement, “Yeah, that’s true. I just can’t believe she’s gone. Just yesterday morning…” She broke off, sobs taking over her words.

 

Jedidiah moved toward her before he realized his feet were moving. He pulled her into his arms and stroked her long, silky hair, breathing in the faint scent of some kind of citrus, and a faint musty smell, probably from the basement. “I’m so sorry.”

She sobbed even louder, but cuddled up to him like a teddy bear on a cold winter night. “I…am…too. She was the best friend I ever had. I don’t understand why God took her away from me,” she sniffled.

He continued to hold her, rocking from side to side, not caring that the cold metal of the bed railing bit into his legs. “I don’t know, either. I don’t understand the ways of God, but I know they’re true.”

She stilled, and then pulled away to look up into his face. “You do?”

“Yes, of course. Why, are you surprised?”

“I am, actually. You don’t seem the type.”

Her words cut into him, but he was quick to hide it. “Oh.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you,” She said.

“It’s fine. I’m actually new to all of it, but I do believe in everything the Bible says is true. Do you?”

She smiled up at him and he caught his breath. She was so beautiful. “Yes, of course. God has sustained me through these last few years, I...”

It was Jedidiah’s turn to pull away. He put a finger against her lips. “You don’t have to talk about it right now.”

“I know I don’t, but I want to. I know you know.”

“I’m here to listen then.”

He tried to extricate himself from her iron-like grip, but she just squeezed tighter when he made to pull away. His heart did that funny little flip-flop again and he took a breath.

“Are you okay? Am I hugging too tight?”

“No I’m fine. You hold me as long as you need to. Talk to me, tell me everything.” A fierce possessiveness came over him and he tightened his grip, splaying his huge hand across the back of her tiny skull. “I’m not going to let him hurt you again. You know that, don’t you?”

Silence. And then, “Yes, I believe you.”

“Good. Now talk Janna. Tell me everything. Let it go.”

And she did.

“I loved to sing. I even planned on being a singer someday,” she began.

“What genre do you sing?” He asked quietly, stroking her hair and pulling in her scent with each movement of his hand.

“Different ones. I love country, but I also love Gospel and Bluegrass, and even some soft rock.” She harrumphed. “Well, I used to love them.”

His heart ached for the hurt in her voice. “You still love them, don’t you?” He asked into the silence that fell between them.

Her answer was slow in coming. “I do, but I don’t listen, or sing anymore.”

He moved away from her, put a hand up to smooth a silky strand of tangled blond hair from her wet lashes where it had attached, and stared into her beautiful amber eyes. “Why?”

“I can’t. I’ve tried. When I turn on the stereo it just makes me cry, and when I try to sing my throat closes.”

Her head came to rest on his shoulder once more and he stroked her hair. “We’ll overcome it, girl. I’m right here with you.” He couldn’t understand the feelings pulsing over him in waves. They were something new, almost tangible. Was this what love felt like? It was so close to pain he cringed, yet so close to tenderness he could feel the tears prick his eyes. He shook his head. He had to get it together. She needed him.

“You barely know me,” she said.

She stared into his eyes, a look he couldn’t discern shining in the depths of her amber-colored ones. He’d heard of people having amber eyes before but never met anyone with them. Her brother had green eyes so when he’d gotten his first glimpse of hers he’d been surprised. And he was afraid they would be his undoing. She could ask him anything when she looked at him this way and he would be forced to comply.

“Jedidiah, are you okay?”

He shook his head, pulling himself out of her eyes. “Yes, why?”

“I was asking you something and you just stared at me.”

“I’m sorry. What were you asking?”

“I was asking why you felt you had to stand beside me when you don’t know me. I mean, I’m just a job to you.”

Anger coursed through his veins at her words. “That’s not true. You’re not just a job to me.” He could hear the fierceness of his loyalty to her in his tone and it scared him, and it must’ve scared her too, because she pulled away and shrunk into the safety of her hospital bed.

“I don’t understand.”

“What?” He forced softness into his tone.

“Why do you act like you know me? Like I’m yours?”

He didn’t say anything at first. He wanted to collect his thoughts and choose his words carefully. “That’s how I feel. I can’t explain it, but I feel like I know you, like we’re meant to be together.” He stopped, looked at her and waited for her reaction to his shocking admission.

He didn’t have long to wait.

“And do I get a say in this?”

He was confused. She didn’t seem angry, maybe playful, flirty. “I guess. What do you want to say?”

She opened her mouth and started to speak, and then shut it tight.

Disappointment filled him. He was sure she’d been about ready to agree with him.

“I’m still waiting,” He prompted.

“Look, I’m really tired. Could we talk about this tomorrow?”

Hurt swept through him so sharp he gasped. “I suppose.” He hung his head for a moment to hide the pain, pulled himself to a standing position using the arms of his chair and said, “Do you need anything when I come back tomorrow?”

“I’m not sure you should come back tomorrow.”

The words hung between them like an exploded bomb. Humiliation swept through him and he groaned. He wasn’t used to this particular feeling. “Okay.” He walked away without another word.

He was walking toward the entrance of the hospital when his phone beeped. It was one of his contacts out at the prison. The message read: ‘He’s out and headed your way.’

Jedidiah pulled his shoulders back and set his face in a mask of resolve. Regardless of how Janna felt about him, he knew he would protect her with his life. He dialed a number and brought the phone up to his ear. “Jorge, it’s me. Are we ready?”

“Yes boss, it’s all set.”

“Good. Due to the chaos in the area I want two more men brought in. I’ll be guarding the hospital. You take the main road and set the others up where you see fit.”

“Yes sir, consider it done.”

Jedidiah turned around and walked back inside. Dear Lord, please give me what it takes to keep her and that boy safe. I’m pretty sure they’re my life.

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Chapter Ten

In remembrance of the:
 
 
Let's all make time to say a prayer for those who lost loved ones that day...
 
 
Chapter Ten
 
Jenna tossed and turned, but couldn’t go back to sleep. That was probably a good sign. She was ready to get out of this bed. Rolling over, she grabbed the TV remote and turned it on. She switched channels until she found a local news station.
Images of mass destruction filled the screen as the newscaster spoke in a tone of urgency. “Rescue workers have discovered a leaking gas main and this whole area you see behind me is being evacuated.” He pointed with his hand to the neighborhood behind him.
Jenna’s eyes were drawn to a policeman urging a man to leave, but he wouldn’t budge. “My baby is in there!” The huge man had tears running down his face and her heart ached at the frustration he must feel.
“I’m sorry sir. We’ll find someone to look for the baby but you have to go.” The cop gave him a gentle nudge, but he stood his ground.
I’m not leaving until I get my baby,” the distraught man said.
All the sudden he turned as if to leave and then twisted back around and ran behind the cop and into the house. The policeman yelled for him to stop, but he didn’t listen.
Jenna watched, mesmerized at the live story unfolding right on live TV.
 “They shouldn’t be showing this on live TV,” she said out loud, just before the house exploded.
The reporter was thrown out of view of the camera and the house was engulfed in a red-orange ball of fire, consuming the policeman. She gasped, turned the TV off and hid her face in the pillow. Why can’t this nightmare just be over? “Dear Lord, please give me the strength to get through this.” She turned over and grabbed her phone. She would just call Jedidiah…
Tears of frustration fell down her face when she realized she didn’t have his phone number. She sat up and began sorting through the wrappers and boxes from lunch, readying them for the garbage. A small slip of paper caught her attention and she picked it up and read what it said. ‘Here is my phone number if you need anything.’ She sighed. “Thank you Lord, You do take care of your own.” She dialed the number on the paper, making a mental note to add it to her contacts list when she was done.
 
Jedidiah was cart-deep in little boys’ clothes when his phone rang. He pulled the ringing object from his pocket and looked at the number. It was local, but unfamiliar. He flicked a button and held it up to his ear. “Hello?”
Silence.
“Hello?”
“Jedidiah?” Her voice was small and she sounded scared.
His heart did a painful lurch he was sure would send him to the ER for a EKG if it didn’t stop. “Janna? Are you okay?”
More silence.
“Janna, answer me.”
“No, I’m not okay. I just want all this to go away…”
She began to sob, causing his heart to ache in compassion. “Oh honey. What happened?” Did I just call her honey? I don’t even know her.
“I couldn’t sleep, so I turned on the TV and was watching the news and this house blew-up. There was a guy and his baby in there and it killed a police officer and maybe the reporter, too.” She sobbed into the phone and Jedidiah knew what he was going to do. He had a cart-load of little boys’ clothes and toys, pull-ups, even though he wasn’t sure Jessie even needed them, a few sippie cups and four pairs of shoes. He rushed to the counter while she was still on the line, grabbed two of every candy bar on the rack and threw it all up on the conveyor belt. “I’ll be there in just a few minutes, Janna, sit tight.” He ended the call and tapped his foot while the cashier took her time folding up each piece of clothing. “Just throw it in the sack, okay? I’m kind of in a hurry, if you know what I mean.”
“I’m sorry, sir. We’re required to fold each piece before we put it in the bag,” the elderly lady said with a tight smile.
“What ever happened to ‘the customer is always right?’”
“It flew out the window with ‘respect your elders.’” She gave another tight smile, but sped up the folding process.
Jedidiah liked her. She had spunk. He bent over and examined her name tag. “Beth is it?”
She shook her head yes and smiled, this time showing a full set of dentures. “That’s me.”
“Did anyone in your family suffer from the tornado?” He asked.
“Yes, my whole street is gone. My husband Charles and I were lucky because we had a full basement under our house reinforced with steel. It’s like a whole other house so at least we have somewhere to stay.” A hint of sadness tinged her faded blue eyes.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.”
“Thank you son, and thank you for shopping with us.” She finished putting the last pair of shoes in the bag and gave him the total amount.
He paid her and rushed out the door, in a hurry to reach Janna.
When he walked into her room about ten minutes later, she wasn’t there, only a nurse.
“Where is Janna?” He asked, sitting the bags on the floor in front of the wardrobe.
“They took her down to do another x-ray of her arm,” the nurse said while she several tubes out on a white towel.
“Why, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, it’s kind of routine for Dr. Waither.”
“I take it that’s her doctor?”
“Yes. He likes to do an ‘after x-ray to make sure things look good.”
“Oh, okay.”
The nurse finished what she was doing, smiled at him with a spark of interest in her eyes, and left the room.
Jessie began to whine and Jedidiah walked to the metal crib and stood looking down on him as he tried to get comfortable.
The little boy blinked his eyes a couple times, fighting the drug they’d given him so he could rest and opened them up.
Jedidiah stepped back in surprise. His eyes were a deep gray color and held the light of intelligence.
“Hi Jessie.”
The boy’s lips trembled and he began to cry. “I want my mommy.”
Jedidiah put his hand on Jessie’s arm and patted it awkwardly. “Janna will be back soon. My name is Jedidiah.”
He stopped crying immediately. “Ja-Ja?
Jedidiah liked the pet name and couldn’t keep back the smile. “Yes. She went down the hall but she’ll be right back.”
The child looked like he was absorbing those words, and then he looked directly into Jedidiah’s eyes and asked, “Is my mommy in heaven?”
Dread gripped Jedidiah’s throat and for a moment he couldn’t breathe. Should he answer the question or wait for Janna?
 There was a noise at the door and Jedidiah turned toward it, and then sighed in relief. “Janna. Look who is awake.” He gestured toward the little boy behind him.
She rushed to the bed and pulled the child to her chest, trying to keep him pulled up off his legs. “Jessie! I’m so glad you’re awake.” She kissed his cheek and hugged him to her once more.
“Jediah didn’t answer my question,” was his reply.
Janna looked up at him and said, “He didn’t? What was the question?”
Jedidiah could see the child’s eyes were getting heavy, but he knew he was waiting on the answer to his question.
“Is mommy in heaven?”
Jedidiah had stepped to the other side of the bed so he could see Janna’s reaction and he almost gasped at the look that crossed her face. It was halfway between pain and compassion.
She pulled the small boy up to her chest and stroked his matted red hair. “Yes, baby. Mommy is in heaven now. God had plans for her there.”
“But I want her.” He pulled himself tight up against Janna’s neck and cried.
She stroked his back and rocked him back and forth until he cried himself to sleep.
By the time she was done, Jedidiah was in love.