Taylor's Time


You want to know something?

I'm really enjoying this story!


Seriously, I like the characters, I hate their situation, I think that their kidnapper is a real piece of work. The plot is moving well, the tension is racheting up.


The only thing?


I still don't know the narrator's name!


It's drivin' me nutty!


Maybe one of these days Taylor will tell me.


Ha!


- Kendra


Chapter Twenty


The bath became our saviour.


Through the pain, I washed our wounds. Through the pain, I wrapped Avan's feet with the shredded pieces of my shirt. Through the pain, I watched his eyes fill with tears, then blink them away at the last moment.


He wanted to speak. I could see it. But he stayed quiet, his fingers in my hair. Mine were in his. Our foreheads rested together as we lay in the bathtub, waiting for our wounds to heal, waiting for rescue, and, somewhere in the back of our minds, we waited for death.


My chest, my ribs, my belly burned. A searing heat spread through me with every breath, preventing me from getting the sleep that I craved. I knew that Avan's wounds, the cuts to his feet, were keeping him from sleeping too. His ribs were visible now, the bones of his shoulders showed. It was as if his skin were nothing more than a thin sheet hung over his body. I imagined myself looking like him, my cheeks sunken, my lips cracked, my eyes empty of any hope.


"Go," he mouthed.


I shook my head against the blanket beneath us. Leaving him behind was out of the question.


“We go together, or not at all,” I hissed.


He mouthed my name, his hand running over my hair. His words came in a sharp, almost angry whisper.


"I can't walk."


With a jolt I realized he was right. As much as it hurt to admit it, he was right. It had taken everything in me to get him to the bathroom, so how would I go about getting him upstairs, dragging him through the woods, through the snow, carrying him down the busy highway until I flagged down a car?


It was all speculation anyway. I didn’t actually know what was out there, just what I constructed from my imaginings. Was it enough to bet our lives on? Because I smelled pine trees? Because I thought I heard the distant whooshing of cars?


Then again, if we stayed here, we would die.


That was certain.


Attempting an escape wasn’t a question, no matter what I faced outside. No, the bigger question was this:


Would Avan even be strong enough to survive the journey?


I shook my head again, harder this time, shooing away my questions and doubts like they were gnats, and focused on Avan instead.


"I'm not leaving you." I whispered back, fisting a handful of his hair.


It was greasy now, a little stringy from lack of washing. Perhaps mine was like that, too. My hair was tangled. I knew that, but Avan's fingers were so gentle that it was easy to forget. His long beautiful fingers, his hands, his skin, his being, so precious.


"I. Can't. Walk." He said it again, putting emphasis on every word. As much as I loved him, though, I fought him on this. I knew I would keep fighting him, too. Why?


Loyalty.


It was an attribute that had been ingrained in me as a little girl. Loyalty to ourselves and to each other was everything to my family, and so to me. I wasn't ready to throw that away. Yet if I didn't attempt to leave, to find help? My best friend, my lover, my future husband and father of my children, would die. The loss of my brother had damaged me to the point where I doubted I would ever be whole again. That was before I met Avan. Before I discovered pieces of my brother in him. Losing him would be like losing my brother all over again. Losing Avan would leave me forever broken beyond repair.


I nodded. I inhaled slowly, took his face in my hands and kissed him. I didn't tell him that I loved him. I didn't fill him with false hope by reassuring him that everything would be okay. I just looked into his eyes, my voice strong and steady as I said, "Stay alive for me."



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