I was so exhausted. I ached all over. To breathe was torture and he was sitting across my waist with his knife in his hand. Klaid had my hands pinned up above my head. He flashed his knife in my face.
“How about a little breast meat?” he threatened.
I screamed out in excruciating pain as he cut into the top of my left breast.
“3su, wake up,” Attalla said in my ear. “It’s a dream.” He soothed back the hair from around my sweat dampened face. “It’s all right. I’ve got you.”
He was sitting on the edge of my bed. I was still in my clothes from the night before, but he was in some sort of pajama bottom and nothing else. I must have awakened him from a sound sleep. Chee sat on his shoulder her tail curled around his neck. Her dark round eyes were bigger than usual from watching me struggle with my rampant sub-conscious.
Two nightmares in one night were more than I could handle. I put my arms around Attalla’s waist and let him comfort me. He stroked my hair and held me as I cried myself out.
When I came up for air he handed me some tissues from the box beside my bed. I wiped my eyes and blew my nose. I even dabbed at his chest a bit. I tried to smile, but it just wouldn’t come.
“I’ll find you another ride when we get to our stop,” I said. “I’m sorry you had to be here for this,” I apologized again. “I really thought I was ready to go back to work.”
“I don’t want another ride,” Attalla said, as he handed me another tissue. “I like traveling with you.”
“You’re not a counselor. You shouldn’t have to put up with my issues. You’re a guest.”
“I had hoped that I had risen above guest to friend status by now,” Attalla said with a smile. His dimples were deep enough to swim in, and those duel colored eyes were incredible up this close.
That did bring a smile to my lips. “Even a friend shouldn’t have to endure this.”
“I don’t see that it is near as hard on me as it is on you,” Attalla said. He wiped a stray strand of hair out of my face. “You want to talk about it?”
“No,” I said again. Though I thought he deserved an explanation after what I had put him through tonight.
“Talking about it just makes it come to the surface more. It’s too raw a memory right now. I need to bury it, not dig it up.”
“I have found that sometimes if you drag those dark demons out into the light they die faster,” Attalla advised. He sounded as though he was speaking from experience.
“Not now,” I assured him. “Not yet.”
“Well, I am here if you want to talk and I will be here for several months,” he said. He leaned over and kissed me lightly, his lips just brushing mine. “Do you need anything?”
Right then I didn’t feel like telling him what I had wanted since he came onboard. Instead, the first thing that popped into my head was ‘I didn’t want to be alone.’
“Can you sit with me a while until I fall asleep again.” I sounded like a child, but it was too late. It had tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop it.
He moved me over to sit in the bed next to me. He plumped some pillows to put behind his back so he could sit up against the bulkhead. Once he was settled, he pulled me into his arms and covered us both up.
“Get some rest, 3su. Tomorrow’s another day.” He kissed the top of my head and I snuggled down contentedly in the hair on his chest.