Alana stretched her arms over her head letting the morning sun warm her body. It was early springtime here now and she was looking forward to waking up like this more often. The comfort the heat brought had a way of shaking off all the bad feelings her nights left her with.
Night time hadn’t always left her uneasy. In fact she used to love standing in the darkness, admiring the moon, counting stars, feeling a cool breeze play across her face. At one point in her life nights were her haven. The one place where peace and serenity ruled.
That was shattered the night her ex, Ben had showed his true colors. They’d been apart for weeks, but he still felt like he had a valid presence in her daily life. He made it known to everybody he had every intention of winning her back no matter what he had to do to do it. Losing a possession wasn’t an option for him.
She had known he was a jealous man, but she never thought spending an evening with an old high school friend would send him into a murderous rage. Especially since the guy had been a mutual friend of theirs since grade school. They never knew he was watching them until he jumped out from behind some bushes in front of her friend, Paul’s house and stuck a hunting knife in his neck.
After Paul hit the ground, gasping for air, blood pooling around him, Ben had jumped on her and started punching her mercilessly. When she couldn’t stand anymore, he resorted to kicking her. He hurled every awful name he could think of at her, each one punctuated by a kick to the gut of the head. She had no idea how long the beating lasted. She couldn’t even recall when Paul had thrown his body over hers, but he had. He’d died protecting her as best he could with what strength he had left.
The attack had happened over a year ago. Paul was arrested that same night and after pleading guilty to all charges sometime later, he was sent to prison for life. For months horrible dreams plagued her sleep. She relived the beating every time she closed her eyes. Paul’s lifeless blue eyes haunted her even now. In her mind it was her fault he was dead. Had it not been for her he would still be here. His wife wouldn’t be a widow and his son would know who his father was.
As time went on the nightmares began to fade. The visions lingered, never letting her forget her role. Day by day waking up grew easier. For the most part she thought things were starting to get better. That is until last night. What she’d dreamed of she couldn’t place, but whatever it was had scared the hell out of her. She woke up the same way she had so many times before; grasping her neck and frightened beyond belief.
“Damn you, Ben!” she mumbled. Even from behind the walls of a cell he had control over her. Tears stung her eyes as she pictured Paul’s body, the knife still lodged in his neck, blanketing hers. The memory as vivid now as it had been that night. “You won, didn’t you?”
Miles away Nicholas lay in his bed helpless to do anything to make the pain she felt stop. He’d seen the possible effects his actions would have had on her. Having survived such a brutal experience some regression was to be expected. That didn’t mean he had to like it. Truth be told he hated it. She was reliving the worst night of her life because of him. Because of his need, his desire to have a worthy companion. His consolation? One day he’d be able to take the offending memories away forever if she asked him to.
That thought and that thought alone urged him to sleep. Once she wore herself out working, cleaning running errands trying to forget, she’d need him. Alana’s nights were his now. He’d opened up a wound and it was his responsibility to help heal it. Whether she knew he was there with her or not he planned to stay by her side until she could finally let go of the past and embrace the future; their future.