Angelic Hosts Book I, Episode 2
Hannah woke to a very dark house illuminated only now and again by flashes of lightning. She rubbed her eyes as one streaked across the sky setting the bedroom aglow for a split second. Something large in the corner caught her eye. Thunder boomed, and the room went dark again. She slowly slid her leg off the small twin bed preparing to run. Another flash lit the room, and the corner was empty. Shaking herself, Hannah rose thinking she was going crazy for surely a very tall man was standing there a moment ago, a tall man with golden hair and muscles. Wow, she really needed to get a grip. Her stomach rumbled reminding her she hadn’t eaten anything since the toast Jen made her that morning. She simply couldn’t eat then, and she wasn’t sure she could eat now, but a voice in her head told her she should try. Jack would want her to.
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In the kitchen, she rummaged around in the cabinets and the fridge trying to decide what to eat. Nothing seemed appealing.
Peanut butter and banana sandwich.
The words ran through her mind. Jack’s favorite before he could no longer keep food down. As luck would have it, Hannah happened to have a banana left that wasn’t yet beyond eating. She spread some peanut butter onto two slices of bread and cut the banana in slices just like Jack liked it. She poured a small glass of milk and sat down at the breakfast bar to eat. She could only take small bites, but it was better than nothing. At least she drank the milk even if she left half the sandwich.
She rinsed her glass and set it in the sink. Her whole being felt drained. Tomorrow would begin the rest of her life without her son. She didn’t know how she would manage it. She didn’t want to manage it. What was left here for her now? She headed back to her own bedroom in a daze. There was no sound, no sense of purpose in her life anymore. No child sleeping in his room who would need to go to school the next day. No son in need of care or medicine or company. In her bathroom, she stared at herself in the mirror. Bags under her eyes, and smeared mascara greeted her. Gaunt, hollow cheeks said she hadn’t been eating much lately. But it was her eyes that told her what she already knew—the spark that animated her was already nearly gone. Hannah reached into her medicine cabinet and found the valium her doctor prescribed two days ago. The directions said to take one every 6 hours as needed. She dumped all twenty pills in the bottle into her hand and looked at them. Without any further thought, she popped them into her mouth and turned on the sink where she cupped water into her hand to help swallow them down.
She didn’t let herself think about what she was doing. If she just went back to sleep, she could be with Jack again. That’s all that mattered.
“Hannah! Wake up, Hannah!” Something was shaking her, and it felt like an earthquake. “You have to throw up. Here.” Someone’s finger was jammed down her throat causing her to gag and retch. Hannah leaned forward over the toilet and heaved. Her head swam. Her vision was wonky. She just wanted to go back to sleep.
“No! You can’t sleep, not yet. Wake up!” A hand slapped her cheek, and next thing she knew, she was under ice-cold water as it sprayed down over her head in the shower.
“Wha..!” She sputtered and groaned and began to cry. Pain wracked her body, and she knew she was still alive. Someone incredibly strong had her and was holding her up under the water. She tried looking down and saw muscular arms around her waist.
“Stop!” She held up her hands to block the cold water. “Leave me be. I want to die…”
She cried as she begged this intruder to let her go. She didn’t know who he was or how he got in, but she didn’t want his help.
“I know you do, Hannah, but it’s not your time.” His words were straight-forward, but his voice was soothing. “It’s okay to be angry with me. Anger is good. It makes you fight.” She could feel his warm breath on her ear and despite the cold water, heat flowed through her limbs.
“I hate you, whoever you are.” She tried to turn, but he held her tight and kept her doused. “Who are you?” She sputtered and spat like a wet cat. Mad as heck.
“I’m Cam.” That’s all he offered. Hannah didn’t know anyone named Cam, she was sure.
“Cam, please let me go. I think I’m okay now.” She tried to sound reasonable. Maybe then he’d leave. How did he get in her house? Who was this man who came to her rescue? And didn’t he know she didn’t want to be rescued?
“I’m well aware you didn’t want my help, Hannah. Nonetheless, you have it. You need to calm down and let the drugs get out of your system. Then we’ll talk.”
“What, are you some kind of mind-reader?” She couldn’t believe he’d just answered her thoughts as if she’d spoken out loud.
“Something like that, yes.” He chuckled, and the low rumble was comforting as she was wrapped up in his arms with her back against a very solid and muscular chest.
“Well, stop that!” She didn’t know what to say in this very awkward and embarrassing situation. She was in pain, physical and emotional. Her head hurt something fierce, too.
“Don’t worry. It will subside when the drugs are completely purged. I’ll stay with you.” He lifted one hand and massaged her forehead gently. The heat from his fingers slowly crept in and most of the head pain began to fade.
They stood like that for another thirty minutes, until Cam was satisfied she was awake, and staying that way. She’d vomited up most of the pills, but there was enough in her system still that could drag her off into unconsciousness, if she let it. He wasn’t allowing it. Staying awake kept her organs pumping, and that is what would help filter the rest of the sedatives out of her body. Then he would see about getting some food in her.
She’d lost weight in the last months of Jack’s life flitting between home, work, and the hospital. Finally, her employer had given her paid time off to take care of her boy once it was realized he wouldn’t be recovering this time. But even with that extra time, she spent it all with her son, rarely remembering to care for herself. It was Jack who made sure the nurses brought him a tray, one he couldn’t eat since he was on a feeding tube until the last week, and he’d make his mom eat—just to make him happy. She couldn’t say no to that. She’d do anything to make Jack smile. Since he passed, she stopped eating except for a few bites here and there when her sister forced her.
Finally, the water stopped flowing. Hannah opened her eyes; aware something was strange. He never let go of her that she noticed, but somehow, the shower was shut off. She felt groggy, and very wet. Her clothes clung to her. He lifted her effortlessly out of the stall still facing away from him. Next she knew, she was standing on one towel while he dried her hair with another. She felt like a kid, being taken care of that way. He left the towel over her head saying, “I’ll be right outside the door. There are some dry clothes on the counter.” He walked out so quietly, she had to turn to make sure he wasn’t still standing there.
She managed to get her wet things off and dried herself. Her clean pajama pants and t-shirt felt comfortable, like old friends. Her mouth felt like cotton, so she brushed her teeth. After running a comb through her hair, she turned off the bathroom light and walked out into her bedroom. She stopped, and her jaw dropped.
Sitting on her bed was the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. Golden hair falling in waves over his shoulders, which were broad and attached to those strong arms that had been holding her up for close to an hour, now rested at his sides as he looked up at her. His eyes were the bluest she’d ever seen, and his chiseled jaw and cheekbones emphasized rugged masculinity. His gaze was serene by contrast to his obviously warrior-trained physique. Cam was stunning, but Hannah was also positive she did not know him, and that made this whole situation suddenly very dangerous. She backed up a step.
“Please, don’t be afraid.” He remained seated so as not to frighten her further. “I won’t hurt you, Hannah.”
“How do you know my name? How did you get in my house? What do you want?” Panic began to seize her as she glanced around the room for a weapon and an escape route.
“Jack.” His eyes were sympathetic.
“Jack? You knew Jack?” Her heart soared at hearing someone else say his name.
“I did. We met in the hospital.” His explanation seemed simple enough to her. How many people would have known Jack, and knew who she was otherwise? Maybe he was one of the nurses or medical caregivers. Hospice?
“You knew my Jack then?” Hannah felt slightly reassured. Hospice made the most sense. They probably sent him to check on her. They’d been ever so nice to her and to Jack at the end.
“Yes. He’s a fantastic boy…was, I mean.” Cam corrected himself quickly.
“So, you came to check on me…” She felt herself relaxing. He’d already had multiple opportunities to hurt her if that’s what he wanted to do, and instead, he’d helped her. Saved her life, actually. Now she felt embarrassed.
Cam read her thoughts as quickly as they passed through her head. He could see she was rationalizing a reason for his presence, which worked in his favor. He remembered the hospice nurses sitting with Jack around the clock in his final days. They did great work helping comfort the dying and those left behind.
“Yes.” He kept it simple.
“But…how did you get in?” That seemed to be the gist of her uneasiness.
Cam stood with his hands on his hips. “The front door, of course.” He silently begged forgiveness for his lie.
“It was locked. Did you break it down?” She started walking out into the hall to the front of the house.
Cam followed. With only a thought, he flipped the lock. “No. It’s not locked.” Technically, it wasn’t a lie at the moment.
“Oh!” Hannah reached the door and saw that the door was, indeed, unlocked. “I could have sworn…” She turned and faced Cam.
“You didn’t answer when I called your name. I tried several times, but you didn’t respond. I knew something was wrong, and then I saw the empty bottle of pills on the bathroom floor. That’s when I knew…” All of that was true. He just didn’t tell her he’d materialized inside her room because he felt a desperate need to check on her. His alarm grew when he couldn’t read her mind. In her unconscious state, she wasn’t thinking and was rapidly approaching death.
Hannah began to feel foolish and confused. Her head still throbbed, and her body felt weak. It was only her panic that a stranger was in her house that gave her the energy to make it down the hall with the sedatives still coursing through her system, what was left of them. She leaned against the wall and slid down. Cam rushed forward and scooped her up in his arms and carried her to the couch.
“I’m so sorry, Cam. I thought I’d met everyone from hospice, but I wasn’t really all there all the time. I’m sorry I doubted you.” He placed her on the seat and lifted a pillow under her legs.
A small smile pulled at his lips. Hannah’s eyes were drawn to their shape; full, firm, and sensuous. Kissable, she thought. Cam’s eyes caught hers as his smile spread into a full grin revealing dimples on each side. Hannah blushed, feeling as if he’d read her mind somehow. The heat in her cheeks made her uncomfortable.
“I understand.” He held her within the warmth of his gaze a moment longer before he stood and broke the spell. “You really need to eat something.”
“I’m not hungry–”
“You threw everything up, Hannah, and food will help absorb the drugs. I’m going to make you some soup, and you’re going to eat it.” His authoritative words left no room for argument. He walked toward the kitchen and stopped. “You do have some kind of soup in there, don’t you?” He looked doubtful.
Hannah wondered why he would ask. Did he think she never ate? “Yes. Of course, I do. Pick one.” He continued on and she looked down at herself. Have I lost that much weight that someone would wonder if I even kept food in my house? She knew she hadn’t been taking the best care of herself. But thinking of herself was not an option for a long time. Jack needed her. And now Jack was gone, and she couldn’t remember how to focus on herself and her needs. The only need she had was to be with Jack again, and to that end, she’d attempted the worst possible solution, suicide. It was something she would never have even considered before today. It was the easy way out. It would have left her sister with the same grief she, herself, was now engulfed in.
What was I thinking? Tears clogged her throat making it tight as the full impact of her actions began to sink in.
Silent as a cat, Cam was there wrapping her in his arms and holding her tight. He stroked her hair and mumbled soothing words that made no sense but helped calm her all the same. With her face buried in his neck, Hannah cried.
“I’m so sorry,” she mumbled into his now tear-stained shirt. Thankfully, it was black and a cotton blend, so her grief wouldn’t ruin it. “I don’t know what I was doing. I didn’t mean it.”
“Sssh. It’s okay, Hannah.” Without thinking, he kissed her cheek. It seemed very natural, but for Cam, it was a first. In all his lifetime, he’d never kissed anyone. It was a purely human thing to do, and Cam wasn’t exactly human. The sensation was pleasant.
Hannah felt the warmth spread where his lips touched her skin and turned her head. Without thought, her lips found his seeking more of the comforting intimacy and compassion he offered. Cam caught his breath. The sparks that ignited within him the moment their lips came together was explosive. He buried his fingers in her long, black silky hair and deepened the contact.
Hannah opened to him like a flower to the sun. Sensations like he’d never before experienced swamped his body and sensual languor invaded his limbs, but that wasn’t all. Hannah’s tongue darted out and skimmed his own, and his mind was blown. They shared kiss after kiss; soft kisses, deep kisses, long kisses, and teasing kisses that skipped over cheeks, noses, eyelashes, and jawlines. In between, Cam pulled back and stared into her eyes, filled with awe.
“The soup,” Hannah said.
“What?” Cam spoke in between tiny kisses he was dropping like the softest of flower petals along her cheekbone to her ear.
She laughed. “On the stove. The soup. It might be burning by now…” She closed her eyes as he rained those soft kisses over her lashes and brows again. She’d never met a man so completely into kissing. It was wonderful, and in her need for comfort, they were welcomed with desperate enthusiasm.
Cam suddenly remembered the soup on the stove. “Oh! Hold that last thought.” He grinned wickedly at her and went quickly to the kitchen to take the pot off the burner.
Hannah tried to recall what her last thought was, and if he really knew what she was thinking. It may have had something to do with her sheer appreciation for his generous kisses.
“It’s really hot so you’ll have to let it cool a bit.” Cam sat the bowl of soup down on the coffee table along with a glass of water. “Here. Drink this in the meantime. You need to hydrate.” He was back in caretaker mode.
Hannah smiled, not quite sure what to make of her hero. Still, he was caring for her more than anyone had in the past year. After spending all that time caring for another, it felt both strange and wonderful to have someone do the same for her. She drank her water in small sips, still feeling a bit raw in her gut. “Cam…what’s that short for? Cameron?”
He was back sitting at her side. “Camael.”
“That’s an unusual name. Is that biblical?” Now they were making small talk when only minutes before they were making out like teenagers on her couch.
“You could say that.” He didn’t offer any more. But his smile said there was far more to it.
A horn blasted and Cam looked up at the ceiling. He knew that sound. He was being summoned. Of course, Hannah heard nothing. He looked back at her, and she eyed him curiously.
“What is it?” She looked up at her ceiling.
“Nothing. It’s just that there’s somewhere I need to be.” He reached out and checked the temperature of her soup with his finger. “Here.” He lifted it and handed it to her. “Eat this. All of it, please. I’ll come back around and check on you tomorrow.” He leaned in and kissed her, slowly and softly, leaving her breathless holding her chicken soup.
Hannah stared at the beautiful man with golden hair and captivating blue eyes, stunned. His kisses did that to her. Where has he been hiding all this time? And why now? It’s like fate saw my pain and sent Cam to me. Her thoughts were jumbled, and her heart skipped a few beats feeling excited for the first time in what seemed like forever.
Cam tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear and kissed her cheek. “Tomorrow?” He stared into her brown eyes.
“Yes. I’ll see you tomorrow.” For the first time, she looked forward to the next day.
Cam stood, and with a huge grin on his handsome face, turned and walked to the front door. At the door he looked over his shoulder. “All of it, Hannah. Don’t leave a single drop. I’ll know.” He winked and walked out, closing the door behind him.
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