He was sleeping. Sherra lay draped over Kane’s chest, exhausted, unwilling to move, yet unable to sleep. She could feel the imprint of the scars on his chest, hear his heart beating beneath her ear and fought the swirling, twisting emotions that began to churn inside her chest. Hold it back, she ordered herself fiercely. It’s over. It’s been over. There’s no sense in dredging the past back up. She had buried it in the deepest reaches of her mind years ago in order to survive. Now wasn’t the time to drag it back out.
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Kane shifted beneath her. His hands smoothed up her back, his head turning so he could bury his face in her hair.
“Mmm. Love you,” he muttered as his arms contracted around her and the band around her heart tightened.
He was so fierce, so hard and yet a part of him was so filled with confidence that his love alone could heal the wounds on her soul, the demons in her mind. Perhaps, over the months, he had in part eased that pain, but there was still so much more left inside her.
Kane, help me!She flinched as the memory of her own screams echoed through her mind. Her stomach clenched, razor-sharp pain streaking through her womb at the memory of that blinding moment she had realized she was losing the child he had given her. She wanted to get up then. Wanted to rush from the room and hide from the memories as she always
had. She needed to escape, but something more powerful held her where she was. Held her locked tight in Kane’s arms while everything inside her mind rejected the memories and the emotions that being there caused.
It wasn’t meant to be, Sherra.Dayan’s voice was a demonic resonation from the past. It was an abomination. There was no humanity in it…
She flinched as she remembered the words. Doc Martin had told her differently years later, of course, that the development of the fetus had been perfectly normal. But then, horror had singed her. I saw him leave, Sherra. Escaping to save his own skin. He won’t be back.She had screamed Kane’s name as Dayan was forced to hold her down while the scientists and doctors attempted to save her life. But there had been no saving the baby that had barely begun.
She didn’t want to remember. She closed her eyes, trying to hold back the tears as the memories began to rip through her. Violent, filled with her screams, demonic laughter and images that she had hidden from herself for so long.
The guards had raped her less than a month after her miscarriage. The drugs that had been forced into her body had mercifully dulled the memories, but nothing could dull the knowledge. She could hear their laughter in her nightmares.
“Take it, bitch. You can f**k that bastard Kane, you can f**k us…”
No! Despite her exhaustion she attempted to jump away from the man holding her, to escape the nightmarish visuals playing out inside her head.
“Sherra.” His arms tightened around her, his lips pressing to her forehead. “You can’t keep running, baby. You have to stop. Now.”
“Let me go.” She realized then that tears wet her cheeks, dripped to her br**sts. Sobs were ripping inside her chest as she fought to hold them back.
“I can’t let you go.” The sound of his voice had her staring down at him as she jerked back. Shock held her still for a long moment before her hand reached out, her fingers touching the moisture on his cheeks.
“Don’t,” she whimpered, shaking as her own tears fell faster. “Oh God, Kane, don’t let me do this.”
“It was my baby, too.” His voice was husky, filled with regret, with pain. “But even more than that, Sherra, you’re my soul. You’re every breath I take. I would give my life to have saved you. I would give it now if it would mean I could go back and spare you this pain.” The dampness from his eyes soaked the swarthy complexion, lined with pain and regret. “I would do anything, everything, baby, to ease this pain for you.”
She was shuddering with her sobs now, fighting to hold them back, to keep the pain inside, buried, where it could never hurt her again.
“I wanted to die,” she suddenly wailed, feeling him flinch, seeing the pain that tightened his face and
made his own tears run faster. “I begged them to kill me.” He rolled her to the bed, his arms wrapping tightly around her, sheltering her, holding her steady as her soul collapsed and her sobs echoed around them. “I begged them to let me die because I couldn’t face it… I couldn’t survive without you…” She was beating at his chest, her blows weak and ineffectual as the years of resounding agony poured free. “I wanted to die without you… And now, I don’t know how to accept that you’re here… I don’t know how to live…”
“It’s okay, baby.” He rocked her, soothed her. Against his scarred chest he allowed her to shed the tears that she had held back for so many years. “One day at a time, Sherra,” he told her huskily. “We’ll both learn to live again, one day at a time…”
The heart that had shattered within Kane’s chest so many years ago broke again. The temporary patches he had effected to survive ripped apart, leaving his soul bleeding as he held his woman in his arms and shared her agonized tears. The child he had never known had been taken from him, but the woman he had loved beyond life had been scarred in a way that had never healed, would never truly heal.
“I would dream of you,” he finally whispered, clearing his throat as he tried to talk through the emotions tearing him apart. “After they told me you were dead, I would dream of you. Dream of rescuing you, holding you. I would dream of what could have been, what should have been. When I awoke, the pain would nearly destroy me, because it was only a dream. But it’s not a dream now, baby. I’m here with you. I’m holding you. And God help me, if I have to let you go again, it will kill me.”
Her breath hitched.
“I didn’t want to love you,” she whispered. “But when I saw you again for the first time, I knew I had never stopped.” She shook her head, weariness filling her voice. “I never stopped, Kane. No matter how hard I tried.”
“I won’t let you go, Sherra. Not ever again.” He held on tighter to her, flipping the blanket over her when she shivered, cocooning her with his warmth. “Just hold onto me, baby. I’m right here. I’ll always be here.”