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SEQUEL TO RESCUE ME
Life consisted of surviving-getting through one terrible situation before conquering the next. For Alicia there had always been little choice but to simply endure; first for herself, then for her only child. There was no such thing as a white night in her world. No one was going to save her…
Then came Claus.
Alicia’s heart constricted, feeling deeply for the boy Claus had once been. In her life she’d been at the mercy of monsters, sold by one careless fool to a heartless beast. She couldn’t imagine having to sell herself to a multitude of Grgurs.
“Claus, you don’t have to tell me this.” For one thing, she wasn’t sure she wanted to hear it. The passage of time and Claus’ gentleness had healed her somewhat, but her past was never far from the surface. Listening to someone else’s nightmare sent all those horrible memories rushing back. As much as she didn’t want to hear it, she didn’t try to stop him. For the first time she could clearly see emotions from him; she could feel his pain. This was what she’d wanted all along—for him to let her in, even though it was breaking her heart.
“Then ask me what you want to know, Schatzi,” Claus responded gravely, lifting her chin with his finger so she was forced to look into his face.
Oh, God, that look! No one had ever looked at her with such tenderness, such longing. Everything she’d wanted to know was right there in his eyes, bared naked for her to see. He looked at her as if she were someone special, precious even. And he was in pain. She was no young girl; she’d seen that look in others as they focused on the one thing they desired more than anything else. But, never had that look been toward her. All this wasn’t simply because he had chosen to save her on a whim. He cared. Deeply.
Why? How? Yes, she had wanted to know, wanted this, but she couldn’t imagine for the life of her what he could see in the broken woman she had been, and in some ways, still was. Maybe she reminded him of his mother or sister. Maybe he couldn’t save them, so he was determined to transfer those feelings, the care he had for them, to her.
“Why me?” She had to know. As much as she wanted Claus to want her, she didn’t want to be some kind of surrogate for the family he’d lost.
“I’ve seen a lot of things. Things worse than the way I grew up, worse than your life before. And I have done a lot of ugly things, Alicia. I’m the farthest from an angel you can get.” Not once did he blink as he spoke, keeping constant eye contact. Every word might have been heavily accented, but they were clear and concise. “I didn’t save you because I felt sorry for you. You’re not the first woman in a bad situation I’ve ever witnessed. In the past, I have walked away because it was none of my business. But you—there was something about you that called to me. From the moment I first saw you, I knew I had to protect you. I needed you as much as you needed me. Maybe more.”
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