3/10/16

Aimee Martin Day 4


And finally, from Forever Grateful, the second in the Lake Shores Series



                Alex stared at the frightened woman in front of him and felt helpless. She was pale, like someone who hadn't seen the sun in years. She was shaking all over like she had been left out in freezing temperatures all night. And her breathing was so fast that it looked like she had just run a marathon.
                Melanie was stuck in some memory, some horrible event from her past that had literally rendered her speechless and immobile. He needed to find a way to bring her back to the present. Fast.
                What the hell am I supposed to do? How do I help her now?
                Gently, he leaned forward and laid his hand on her left knee. When she didn't flinch he gave her leg a little shake. Nothing. He wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her but he held himself back.
                Alex remembered a buddy of his from the Air Force, Jim Stanton, who had come back from the war with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. All the bombing he'd had to do in Afghanistan had taken a toll on Jim's peace of mind and he suffered for it. Tremendously.
                Jim had told him once that when he was in the throes of a flashback, the worst thing someone could do was grab at him. That sometimes it would make the person suffering lash out.
                Regardless of what had happened in Melanie's past, Alex was sure that this was the same thing. And it was killing him to sit by and watch her go through it.
                Not caring what would happen to himself, Alex placed his hands on either side of Melanie's face and held her, softly but with purpose. He angled her face up so that her eyes–still seeming to be staring off somewhere else, somewhere in the past–were aimed directly at his own.
                "Melanie."
                He waited, hoping his voice would bring her back. Still nothing. He tried again, gave a gentle shake to her head.
                "Melanie, look at me. Look at me now!"
                She let out a loud yelp and flung her arms up, trying to wrench free from Alex's hands but he held fast, refusing to let her leave.
                "It's me, Melanie. It's Alex. Look at me."
                He kept repeating it over and over, ignoring the hits his arms were taking from her hands. Finally, like a thick morning fog clearing with the rising sun, her eyes slowly started to refocus. Her arms settled slowly back down in her lap. She blinked, twice, and then looked directly into Alex's eyes.
                "That's it honey. It's me. You're okay," he spoke quietly. "You're going to be alright."
                He knew the moment she realized what had happened. Her eyes got wide with realization and there was no hiding the glossy moisture filling them. She took a deep breath, tried to regain her composure. But when her lower lip started to tremble, Alex pulled her into his arms, trying to give her comfort.
                "Shh. I'm here, Melanie. I've got you," he murmured when her shoulders started shaking, soft moans breaking free from her normally poised self. "Let it out. Just let it go."
                Alex pulled her from her chair and set her down on his lap, rocking her back and forth. He gave no thought to propriety or his vow to take things slowly with her. She needed reassurance that she was safe. So he held her head tight against his chest, rubbed her back soothingly, and let just her cry.
                Melanie latched on to the front of his shirt, grabbed tightly to the red material like it was a lifeline. She buried her face even deeper into him, like she was afraid he would disappear if she let go.
                I'm not leaving you, sweet Melanie. Not now. Not ever.
                The declaration that only he had heard made his head come up in surprise. They barely knew each other. He shouldn't be thinking about forever. But he had, subconsciously at least. And he recognized the truth behind it.
                Alex wasn't going anywhere.




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