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A Shadow Past 


Chapter Seven:

Cam sat very still, the shadows hiding the way his fingers dug into the cushions of the sofa, his grasp the only thing revealing the turmoil inside him. Every instinct he had was screaming at him to hunt down the animal that had hurt the woman he loved, and to kill him. No, that wasn’t exactly right; torture him slowly, thoroughly, until the ultimate result was his death. But the one thing that pulled him out of the blinding rage, where he was seeing nothing but red, was the way Jessica had shrunk before his very eyes. This strong, resilient, self-confident woman had become one of the shadows, the fear and hurt acting as a shroud, holding her captive.

Concentrating on Jessie, and pushing back the primitive emotions raging through him, Cam moved toward her slowly, carefully. Using no words, he reached out to her, beckoning her beyond the nightmare, giving her something to cling to.

Jessie saw Cam hold his arms out to her, but for the life of her couldn’t fathom why. After knowing what had really happened, how could he want to embrace her? Self-preservation won out over her disbelief, though. Needing something, someone, to hold on to, she reached out blindly, feeling the warmth and security of his embrace surround her. She didn’t ask; just welcomed the comfort, the relief of finally sharing the burden she had carried for so long with another human being.

Sitting on the floor of her living room, Cam held Jessie in his arms. Although Thoyetlini had said with the wolf Jessie could face her darkest fears, Cam had no idea how difficult it was going to be for him. Even with setting aside the rage and anger he felt, the emotions that were radiating from Jessie washed over him like an acid—sharp, caustic, painful. It was as if he were filtering the attack, and the buried emotions that had festered deep inside her as time had passed. He understood her initial actions and reactions; trying to protect herself, to just…cope. But nothing had prepared him for the darkness, the raw pain washing over him. Only then did he realize the true nature of their bond, far deeper than anything he had ever experienced before. Instead of turning away from the pain, Cam tightened his embrace, holding her closer, deliberately trying to pull that poison from her.

Jessie didn’t think, didn’t reason, and didn’t try to hold anything back. For the first time in almost three years, she let her guard down completely. She felt the tears start, and she let them come. She cried for an innocence lost, for what she had thought had been a true love, and a betrayal beyond her wildest imagination. And this all happened while being held by someone who truly loved her. The paradox was almost inconceivable.

Slowly the onslaught abated, and Cam felt the tumultuous emotions flowing through him begin to ebb. At the same time, he noticed the tenseness in Jessie’s body beginning to dissipate. Turning slightly, he pressed his lips against her forehead in a gentle kiss.

"You’re still here," came the whispered reply.

Leaning into her, he pressed his cheek against hers in a sweet caress. "Yes, I am. Should I be someplace else?"

Jessie closed her eyes, marveling in the sensation of his face against hers. "I don’t know. I wasn’t sure…"

Cam looked into her eyes. "You weren’t sure I’d stay if I knew what had happened?"

She shrugged slightly. "Something like that," she whispered.

Cam tightened his arms, hugging her close. "You’re not getting rid of me that easily."

The rush of emotion caught Jessie by surprise. "How…why…" She tried to verbalize her thoughts, but couldn’t get the right words to come out.

His reply was simple. "I love you." Brushing her hair away from her face, he repeated, "I love you," emphasizing the words. "It doesn’t matter to me what happened; what that bastard did doesn’t change the way I feel about you."

Jessie looked at him closely. "So, you don’t think I’m insane for not telling anyone?"

"No. It was your way of dealing with it. I wish the bastard had been arrested and thrown underneath the jail, though."

"That would’ve never happened, even if I had gone straight to the hospital and notified the police. He had too many connections, knew too many people. It would have all been swept under the rug."

Cam leaned his back against the front of the sofa as he cradled her in his arms. "The important thing is you survived; you made it through. And he won’t hurt you any more." The last part he whispered, and if Jessie hadn’t been so totally drained she would have recognized the promise within it. It wasn’t long before Cam felt Jessie relax completely against him, the absolute exhaustion finally catching up with her as she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.

He sat there for the longest time, occasionally reaching out to stroke his fingers over her cheek, memorizing the delicate features and the incredible softness of her skin. He thought about all that had transpired—Thoyetlini’s predictions, Jessie’s past, the time they had shared—at work, as friends, as lovers, as well as his feelings for her. Something had changed, grown, evolved—something that hadn’t been there before. Whatever it was, it was almost tangible, the way they were connected.

In the silence of the night, he made several decisions, but everything else would have to wait until the light of day. Holding Jessie close, he stood slowly, being careful not to wake her. He had nothing to worry about, though. Jessie would sleep through the night, and most of the following day. Carrying her down the hallway, he laid her down gently on the bed, covering her with a lightweight quilt. In a routine he had established when she had been recuperating, he checked and locked the doors, turned out the lights, then took a shower before climbing into bed next to her.



Cam woke early the following morning. Checking on Jessie, he was relieved to see her sleeping peacefully, the dark circles beneath her eyes already beginning to fade. Climbing quietly out of bed, he dressed before going into the kitchen to make some coffee. He called Jack, letting him know that he and Jessie wouldn’t be coming in until tomorrow, and assuring him she was doing much better. After hanging up, he looked in on Jessie one more time before getting his cup of coffee and going out on the back patio. Using his cell phone, he dialed a familiar number.


"Hey Mom. I didn’t wake you, did I?"

"Cam! No honey, you didn’t wake me. Is everything okay?"

"Everything’s fine, Mom." Cam watched as a chickadee landed on the birdfeeder in the corner of the yard. "You and Dad doing okay?"

He listened as his mother gave him the run down on what had been going on with them. When she finished he smiled to himself, imagining his mother’s expression in response to what he was about to ask. "The reason I called Mom, is I’ve got a question for you…it’s about great-grandma Abigail."

It took a moment for the significance of those words to sink in, but when it did, the smile on Wendy Mitchell’s face grew until it rivaled a Kansas sunrise. ‘It’s about time,’ she thought as she went to the back door, phone in hand, looking for her husband so she could give him the news.


To be continued…

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