Chapter Seventeen ~
When the kiss ended Janna stumbled back, her free hand pressed to her pulsing lips. Her heart thundered in her ears, she could barely see. A million thoughts swirled in her brain. This feeling was like nothing she’d ever experienced. “Jedidiah…” She whispered.
“Yes?” He stepped forward and pulled her back into the circle of his arms. His lips crushed down on hers.
Blood rushed into her head and she buried her hand in his hair. It was so silky. She heard a moan. Had that come from her? Time stood still as she reveled in his taste, his lips crushing hers, yet so gentle. His smell. Him. Her senses rushed in and ruined the moment. She pulled away. “No, Jedidiah. We can’t do this.”
“Huh? What did you say?” He looked as dazed as she felt.
She stood motionless, her eyes surveying his face like a feral cat hungry for her next meal. She saw the desire. How his chest rose and fell in quick bursts. Her heart galloped against her ribs. She moved toward him. A desperate “No!” tripped out. She halted, held her good hand up. “Time-out.”
His green eyes screamed confusion and discontent. “But…”
“I’m a Christian Jedidiah.”
He shook his head. “So am I.”
“Then you know we can’t do this.” Her hand rested on her chest as she fought to pull air into her starving lungs. Pain shot up her broken arm as blood seemed to rush to it. She winced, but he seemed not to notice.
He shook his head again, as if trying to come to terms with her words. “You’re right of course. I apologize. I don’t know what got into me.” He turned on his heel and strode out of the room.
A feeling of loss so deep she could scarcely breathe rushed over her. What was going on? She’d never felt this way before. She needed time to examine it. To pray. Dear Lord, please rein-in this attraction. Your will be done, not mine. So much had happened in the last few days. This was all so sudden. She had no strength to fight it. Did she even want to? Yes, of course I do.
Her feet carried her toward the room where Jessie played. Any decisions she made were more important than ever now. She had a child to care for. She rounded the corner to Jessie’s new bedroom and stopped short.
He sat on the floor beside the little boy, holding some colored blocks.
His name washed through her brain as if it’d been there forever. “Oh, I didn’t know you were in here. I’ll come back.” She needed to go, but her feet refused to move.
He jumped off the floor and rushed to stand in front of her. “I’m sorry. It was very unprofessional of me. I don’t know what else to say. I have to concentrate on keeping you both safe. I can’t do that if I can’t keep my mind, and my hands, to myself.” He frowned, and the concern shining from his eyes warmed her to the toes.
She’d never felt so safe and secure. “I trust in your ability to watch over us.” She turned and made a beeline for the kitchen. She would stay busy with supper preparations. Heat rushed to her cheeks as a mental picture of Jedidiah jumped to mind. “No, not that kind.” She gasped. She hadn’t meant to say it out loud. She checked to see if he’d followed her, but she was alone.
She pulled a package of ground beef from the freezer. Two seconds later she realized her mistake. She only had one arm. She would have to ask for help. She sunk onto a stool next to the bar and burst into tears. Why was this happening? How could she deal with it? She didn’t know the first thing about taking care of kids. And she’d lost her best friend. Her only friend.
A few minutes later Janna stiffened. She felt his presence. She raised her head slowly. Faced him, tears still slipping down her hot cheeks.
“What’s wrong?” He pulled a couple tissues from a box on the counter and handed them to her, pulling his hand back as if afraid she might bite him.
She understood. The attraction was strong. She’d felt it in the hospital but hadn’t realized just how powerful it was. Had he? She didn’t think so. He seemed just as blown away as she.
The concern in his voice was obvious.
“What?” She looked into his eyes. Maybe it was the storm, the loss of her best friend, the addition of Jessie, she didn’t know, but she wanted…no, needed, to feel his lips on hers once more. Needed to feel that closeness. That oneness. She rose from the stool, stepped into his arms on tiptoes and kissed him.
He groaned, tried to pull back. “No, Janna. We can’t. I…” But he lost the fight. His arms pulled her close, crushed her to him, and he returned her kiss.
The sounds coming from Jedidiah fueled Janna’s passion and she deepened the already mind-bending kiss. She’d never heard a man make those sounds before. Of course, she’d only ever known one man…The thought turned red-hot passion to ice and she tried to jerk away from him, but his arms tightened around her like bands of steel.
She twisted her head away, parting their lips. “Let me go.” Her voice was barely above a whisper.
He shook his head, tried to pull her face back to his.
She started pulling, frantic to get away from him now. She finally freed her good arm and tried to pry one of his arms loose. He wasn’t budging. She balled her fist, said, “I…said…let…me…go!” Pulled her arm back and punched him full in the face.
Jedidiah’s head snapped back. He pulled it forward, dropped his arms and looked at her in amazed anger. His breath came in erratic spurts. “Why did you do that you crazy woman?” He bellowed. He brought his hand up to check his cheek where her fist had connected. “You kissed me. How are you going to punch me when you kissed me?” He stared at her for a moment longer, turned, and left the room.
The front door slammed and the house was silent.
Janna slid to the floor, her good arm wrapping around her mid-section. Great sobs of anguish erupted from the depths of her broken heart. Would she ever be free of the man who’d taken something from her she could never regain?
Long moments passed, and still she sat on the floor, not wanting to move. How could she get through life without her friend? “Why did this happen, dear Lord? Haven’t I suffered enough? I know You won’t give me more than I can handle, but I’m not feeling the strength. And what’s going on with Jedidiah? That woman who kissed him, You know that’s not me. I’m not promiscuous. Please lead me and guide me and keep me from sinning with him. Please keep my thoughts off him and on You. Please help me be a good guardian for Jessie.”
The sound of scuffling feet caught Janna’s attention and she jerked her head toward the noise. Her attacker’s profile came into view and she screamed.
The front door slammed and Jedidiah thundered through the kitchen doorway like a mad elephant. “What’s wrong?” He yelled.
Janna continued to scream, pointing to the man standing in front of her. “It’s him! It’s the man who raped me!” Great sobs of horror spilled from her very depths. She couldn’t stop. The events of that night raced through her mind at break-neck speed. She was grabbed from behind, thrown to the graveled roof floor. An arm came around her neck, choking the words of the song she’d been singing from her lips, choking the very life out of her while her shirt was ripped from her body. Cold fingers violated her while others pulled her pants down. He lay across her body, holding her down. She couldn’t move. She tried to fight but couldn’t breathe. Dear Lord, Please save me. Please, repeated over and over in her mind. But there was no one to intervene. Darkness began to loom. Somehow he knew and pulled his arm back just enough to let some air in, then he put it back, crushing her throat. He was on top of her now. Bad breath. She broke an arm free and punched him. He growled in fury. Saliva smelling of some fetid chemical sprayed her in the face just before his horrid mouth clamped down on hers, biting, violating, violating.
The voice was so familiar. Not her attacker, but…who was it? She continued to scream, fighting as hard as she could. “Get off me. Get off,” She sobbed.
“Janna, it’s me. Jedidiah.”
Gentle hands cupped her face. “It’s okay, Honey. It’s just me.”
She shook her head. Focused her eyes. “Jedidiah?”
He smiled. “Yes.”
“Oh…I’m so…sorry.” Her screams subsided into quiet sobs of grief as Jedidiah slid to the floor and pulled her into his lap, rocking her like a child.
“I thought he was here. I saw him,” she cried.
“It was just Hairy, Honey. He probably heard me yelling and came to investigate.”
“It was?” She wiped at her eyes, trying to focus on Jedidiah. “I’m sorry.”
“No. I’m the one who’s sorry. I didn’t know. I’m the worst kind of heel.” He rubbed her back in soothing circles as he talked.
“My brother didn’t tell you?” She turned, trying to get a better look at his face and gasped in horror. His cheek was red and swollen. “Oh Jedidiah, I’m so sorry.”
“That’s what I get for ignoring a woman when she tells me no.” He pulled her against his chest and kissed the top of her head. “That’s the extent of my kisses until you tell me different,” he chuckled.
She stayed silent, breathing in his scent. It eradicated the disgusting smell of her attacker from her mind, for the moment. She relaxed. “Thank you.”