Don't forget to stop in at the Mine today!!
~ Chapter Twenty-Nine ~
Justin lay still as a board, almost afraid to breathe, fearing he’d wake Arianna.
She lay in the crook of his arm, sleeping like a baby. The glow from a streetlight played across her face, dappling the sharp plains with shadows and light. He had to squelch the urge to trace a pattern with his finger.
One sentence kept going through his mind: What have I done?
Everything was moving so fast, and now he had a moment to catch a breath, uncertainty moved in. Was marrying Arianna the right thing to do? What would his future be like now? Would he come to regret the decision? Up to this point, he still didn’t. Even though he was questioning the right and wrong of it, it was still new and exciting, and…different.
Chance let out a low squall, but fell silent. He would wake-up soon, for sure.
He cupped the back of his wife’s head and moved her closer into his embrace. How could he care so much for someone he didn’t even know? He didn’t know her favorite color, her food preferences, or even whether she was a morning, or night person.
‘Stop it, Justin, you’re borrowing trouble,’ he imagined his mother’s voice in his ear.
He nodded. He was.
Resting his head on top of Arianna’s, he tried to sleep, but it eluded him.
What of ‘the Monster?’ What if he managed to escape again and came after them?
The police had assured him he was under heavy guard at a maximum security mental hospital, but Justin didn’t trust it. The man had an uncanny ability to get loose.
Forgetting about Arianna for a moment, he harrumphed and flopped over onto his belly.
Her voice was full of panic, even in its sleep-inebriated state.
He reached over and patted her shoulder. “It’s okay, I had to turn over. It’s how I sleep.”
A moment of silence, then, “Oh. Okay.”
“Do you need anything?” He felt like a cad for waking her up.
“Nah, I’m okay.”
She fell silent and he assumed she was asleep once more.
One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, four. Justin sighed. It was going to be a long night. He wondered if his mother was sleeping. She probably was.
He rose up and punched his pillow, frustration overcoming him.
Arianna asked, “Are you sure everything’s okay?”
Forcing his reply to be polite when he felt anything but was almost too much to bear, but he managed it. She didn’t deserve to be on the receiving end of his bad mood. It wasn’t her fault he couldn’t sleep.
Dear Lord, what’s wrong with me? What am I not seeing?
Remembering the Lord lightened his mood a whole lot. It was good to know he wasn’t lying here in the dark alone.
Maybe there was a reason he couldn’t sleep. Maybe he was supposed to be thinking about something in particular.
Was there? He searched his mind, but nothing clicked.
His thoughts flitted back to ‘the Monster.’ What were they doing to him in that mental hospital? Justin had heard all kinds of horror stories about those places. But that guy deserved to be there, that was for certain.
How secure was the place? A shiver of fear raced through his veins. He didn’t want to have to deal with the guy anymore. He had Arianna. And he had Chance. The little girl was safe, too. It had ended well.
Justin tossed and turned back over, pulled Arianna back to the crook of his arm.
She giggled. “Are you going to sleep this century?”
“You know, it’s funny.”
She hesitated for a moment, maybe falling back to sleep then muttered, “What?”
He chuckled. When I first mentioned going to bed you looked like a scared rabbit. Now you don’t seem the least bit scared.”
Her hair scraped across his arm as she nodded.
“Yeah. I think it’s because I trust you, Justin.”
He smiled. “You do?”
The hair grazed his arm once more. “Yes, I believe I do.”
“But how could you? After everything you’ve been through?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m amazed too, but I feel…safe…with you. Maybe I shouldn’t—but…”
“No. You should. I mean, I’m glad you do. But I’ve heard so much about people who’ve been in similar situations, and they don’t trust anybody.”
“I don’t trust just anybody, either. In fact, I only trust you.”
“What about Mary Jo?”
“I trust her some, but not like you.”
He gave her a quick squeeze-hug. “Thank you.” He brushed a kiss against her warm forehead and closed his eyes, drifting to sleep.