Every once in a while, as an author, you encounter a scene that just blows you away. This scene was that for me — totally unexpectedly. I originally intended for Trevor to come around alone, to have to battle his thoughts and personal demons completely alone, to illustrate how much inside of himself he’s gone in order to retreat from what he can’t understand or face. Instead, his disappearance dragged Jaye into the mix, and this amazing bit of character exposition developed all on its own.
Excerpt from SHADOW WALKER (Project Prometheus, Atlantis Silver, Book #3) –
Ten minutes and a gurney trip later, Jaye frowned in true worry as she realized Trevor was still dazed and not at all himself. Even worse, the bright fluorescent lights illuminated the blood on his dark skin that the moonlight and shadows masked.
Helping him to his bed, she left him just long enough to collect gauze, warm water, and antiseptic. She doubted he lost enough blood to need emergency surgery or a transfusion, though the amount was alarming to view. She frowned. Even knowing it was probably a superficial head wound, and looked worse than it was, she was worried.
Standing before him, she dipped a piece of gauze in the warm water and began gently cleaning the blood from his face. If she could get through the blood, she could find out if he needed stitches or not.
Trevor flinched with a hiss, and she raised startled eyes to find him regarding her with clear eyes, as if he’d never been the animal she found hidden in the bushes.
“Jaye?” His voice was weak, and his hand trembled as he lifted it – the only signs he was actually unwell. He glanced toward the window, and his brow furrowed. “What time is it?”
“About two in the morning.” Jaye bit her lip. He lost track of time, and she didn’t like that. Losing time was a bad sign in psychiatric medicine. She wiped away the last smear of blood, and a chill passed through her. There weren’t any wounds. Not a single laceration. She swallowed past her trepidation, but her voice still came out small and breathless. “What happened to you?”
He tensed. “I don’t remember.”
The tone of his voice alerted her something was wrong, even before she met his gaze. His eyes were cloudy and evasive. Damn it, he was lying to her. “Trevor…”
She loosed a small cry of exasperation. Zero-two-hundred hours, when she barely slept last night, was not the time for him to start pulling his stoic routine on her.
“You never were a good liar.”
His gaze darkened as he stared her in the eye. “And you must have a lot of practice at it.”
Those words drove the breath from her even more than his bitter tone did. Had he finally remembered Somalia? Did he know what she did? She sought blindly for a place to sit as her knees weakened with fear. “What do you mean?”
The anger dropped from his face, and he reached out to her, oblivious of the blankets dropping, leaving him naked from the waist up.
“Hey, I’m sorry… I don’t know what that was. I just… I don’t want to talk about where I went, okay?”
For a reason she couldn’t explain if he asked, his secretive attitude annoyed her. She went back to cleaning the smaller blood smears from his face and neck. “Great. Fine. Do you want to at least tell me how you ended up naked and covered in blood?”
“Damn it, Trevor!” She threw the gauze into the biowaste container with more force than necessary and glared at him. “This isn’t a game. I’m trying to help you.”
“Funny. Your boss doesn’t think so.”
“I said, I’m fine.”
His eyes narrowed. “You never used to swear.”
She bit down on words that would turn the air blue, and instead snapped, “Yeah, well I had to get tough.”
The frown on his face pulled her attention from her anger, even before he hazarded, “Because of me?”
She flinched, in spite of her attempt to remain neutral. She couldn’t help it; she’d run from the truth for too long. “Yes.”
His gaze turned away, toward the window, and he looked truly ill for the first time. “I’m sorry.”
The words hit her out of nowhere, and stung because he had no idea how little she deserved them. She should be the one begging for his forgiveness. Jaye bit down hard on her lower lip, and stepped closer.
“Don’t apologize,” she whispered as she stroked his cheek gently. “Not to me.”