Chapter 11: Dandelion Fluff

As requested (by my only reader, Amy) here is a chapter I just wrote today. You should know, however, that this chick lit/suspense novel isn’t really your regular bucket of soup judging from your blog. Enjoy.

Chapter 11

I floated in oblivion, a nothingness so deep and profound that it seemed to coat my entire being, wrapping it in cotton and coolness. The burning and pain and explosion of colors and noises belonged to a different me.

A me that I didn’t even know anymore.

Voices danced through the darkness to me, elongated and distorted as if transmitting through water, then sliding away.

Concern. Palpable.

Voices louder, more insistent. An order.

My eyelids flickered, part of my body wanting to obey that order. The rest of me wanting to stay right here.


            Annoying. Leave me alone.


            A voice making me restless. An urgency, striking a familiar chord, a mournful knell.

“Call her parents.”

            Discordance, loud within my head, shaking me awake.

A call in the night…

            “No,” I tried to scream, my limbs no longer floating. They felt heavy, laden. With weariness and sorrow. “No!” I jerked away from the hands all around me. Grasping hands, dragging at me.

Hands on my shoulders. Strong, insistent.

Green eyes.

Nondescript surroundings. Uniform, utilitarian. Hospital. Military.

Green eyes?

“Look at me, Malory.”

I obeyed, looked up into green eyes so close that I realized they had flecks of gold in them, like the first touches of autumn.

“Jack,” I croaked in a rough voice. I swallowed. A straw appeared before me, and I drank.

“Easy now,” and the straw disappeared, replaced again by those green eyes. “You’re safe here.”


“At the base. In sick bay.”

“Oh.” I really looked at him. Standard working uniform: fatigues, combat boots. “How did I get here?”

He exchanged a look with somebody I couldn’t see.

“Judging by your clothes, I assume you ran here.” His voice held a frown. “Without water.”

Things started coming back. Memories. Pain. Numbness.

I swallowed, trying to swallow back everything that had happened, all the bad in the last few hours. “Don’t call my parents. I’m fine.” I couldn’t burden them right now. Not after everything. Not after Zach. “I just ran too far.”

“You were supposed to be here three hours ago.”

Right. Going through the O-Course. The admiral’s condition for allowing the on-base book signing.

“I forgot.” That was true enough. At about one in the morning I forgot about everything not critical to my immediate survival.

He didn’t believe me. At least not entirely. I couldn’t blame him. Fainting outside the gates of a naval base didn’t exactly spell normal behavior. He excused everybody else, including a corpsman.

Jack helped me sit up, which tugged at an IV in my hand. I frowned; I hadn’t noticed it.

“Dehydration,” he said, not looking pleased. “What really happened?”

I looked down. I couldn’t meet eyes the color of summer, spring, and autumn—and a little winter, if you included the ice in them—and lie. “Nothing. I’m good. I just, uh, you know, ran a little farther than I intended. The weather was really nice this morning and I kept going and…” I shrugged, trying to cut off the string of nonsense that belied my claims.

I couldn’t tell him though. Not if I wanted to keep it together. If I let it out now, if I fell apart, I would never be whole again. I’d be little pieces, scattered in the air like dandelion fluff.

“At least let me drive you home. Where do you live?”

“Sunset Cliffs.”

He raised his eyebrows. “You ran here from Sunset Cliffs?”

Hard core, Mal. Hard core.

His voice, his words. Gone like him.

“Hey!” Jack hitched an arm around me as I swayed to the side. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

A nod. Another lie.

Another bad lie from the disbelief on his face.

“I didn’t get much” or any “sleep last night,” I told him. “I’m just tired.”

“After practically running a marathon? I’d say so,” but those eyes said differently. Said he knew something was wrong, really wrong.

“I’m fine,” I repeated, trying to muster some of my fire, resurrect a few of the scathing conversations we had just yesterday. It didn’t work.

I wasn’t fine. I didn’t think I’d ever be fine again.

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