Day 3 – Chapter 7 – 11

            It was raining again by the time J.T. came to check on them, carrying a bag in one hand and a crutch in the other.  His hair was still wet, but his clothes were dry as he tossed the bag down onto the mattress next to Thom.  Thom blinked a little at him, frowning.
            “What’s that?”
            J.T. shook his head and sat down in front of him in the grass.  “Something we thought you’d need.  Both of them, really.”  He eyed his friend for a long moment, then smiled briefly.  “Don’t tell me you thought no one saw your ass limping over to her earlier.”
            Thom smiled weakly.  “I’d hoped.”  His arm tightened around Marin.  She was asleep, curled up against his chest with her arms around his waist, forehead resting against his neck.  “There wasn’t anything else I could do,” he said quietly.  “Matt was pissed at me, which meant that I’d done something wrong again.  So I came to her, since she wasn’t coming to me.”
            “You guys were fighting again, weren’t you?”
            I hate how everyone can tell when we’re fighting.  Thom shook his head slightly.  “It was stupid shit again.  I lied to Jacqueline in front of her and she took it as a betrayal.  I shouldn’t have done it, but it’s still a stupid thing for us to be fighting over, you know?”  He took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly.  “That’s the problem with her knowing me too well, I guess.  She can tell from my face when I’m lying even when no one else can.”
            “Probably why you guys are so good together when you’re not fighting,” J.T. said.  “Anyone else tell you not to fuck things up this time?”
            Thom tensed up for a moment, wincing as his ribs protested.  He forced himself to relax, not only because of the sudden pain but because it wasn’t worth getting offended by.  I’m not sure which side of this is fucking things up, but if everyone thinks it’s me, I guess that’s my cross to bear.  “More than one.  Not sure which side is actually responsible for anything getting screwed up, but whenever something goes wrong, it’s apparently my fault.”
            “Well, can you blame them all for thinking that?”  J.T. shook his head.  “You’re the one that abruptly hauled back on the reins, y’know.”
            “I know.”  Thom looked down at her, just listening to her breathe for a moment.  I did it to save her.  I did it because…because I’m an idiot, I guess.  I’m not sure anymore.
            “Not sure what the hell that nightmare you had months back was, Thom, but whatever it was…was it worth all this?  All the shit?”
            Thom shook his head.  “I don’t know, J.T.  I just feel like there wasn’t any other choice.”  If that nightmare was more than just a nightmare, I’m going to lose her and I can’t handle that.  I can’t let that happen.  “Glad I stopped short of what I almost did, though,” he mumbled.
            “So are the rest of us, if running off to Chicago’s what you’re talking about.”  J.T. shook his head again.  “Never understood any of that, bro.  You’re not the running type.”
            Some things are just too much to stand for.  “I know.”
            “Did she say no or something?”
            Thom blinked at him.  “What?”
            J.T. looked vaguely uncomfortable for a moment, a rare sight.  “I mean, did you propose or something?  And she said no?”
            Something fluttered inside of Thom’s belly as he stared at J.T., struck dumb by the question.  I almost wish that was it.  By god, did they think we were that serious?  Did they know that I was that serious about her?  He shook himself and looked down at Marin.  She stirred a little, then pressed her face a little harder against his neck and settled again, drifting deeper into sleep.  Thom shook his head slightly.  “No, Jay,” he said at last, voice quiet.  “That wasn’t it.”
            “Good.”  He sounded relieved.
            A shiver went through the ground beneath them, rattling the pinned furniture that made their cubby within the tent.  Thom frowned.  “I wonder when those are finally going to stop.”
            J.T. shook his head.  “Don’t know.  Maybe never.  Ask Matt at dinner.”
            Thom grimaced.  “If Matt decides I’m worth his attention.”
            “You and Marin apparently kissed and made up.”
            “That won’t mean anything to Matt.  He’s protective as hell.”  Thom rested his cheek against Marin’s head for a moment.  In some ways, I’m sometimes glad he is.  If I ever really fuck things up, he’ll be there to take care of her.  “He’ll lay off when and if she tells him to.  You ask him at dinner when these quakes are going to stop.”
            J.T. shrugged.  “Maybe I will. Y’should be the one to ask, though.  For your sketches.  He’ll listen.”
            Thom glanced at the bag his friend had brought.  “Is that what that is?”
            The other man nodded.  “I chanced Kirkhof and made out pretty well.  Leah helped.  Not sure how long the building’s going to stay standing, though.  I don’t think any of the windows are still intact.”
            “There aren’t many big windows still intact anywhere on campus, Jay.”  Thom peered at the bag, but didn’t reach for it.  “What’d you bring me?”
            “Couple sketchbooks, pad of graph paper, a drafting tablet, two sets of tech pencils with extra lead, some erasers, set of technical pens and a ruler.”  J.T. grinned, looking proud of himself.  “We stowed some more of the same with the rest of the supplies.”
            “Thanks, man.”  Thom smiled.  “Davon’ll have to help me with some of the engineering here and there, but I think I’ll be able to get a start in the morning.”
            J.T. waved a hand.  “Wouldn’t worry too much about that.  I’m sure Davon’ll have to coordinate building for the first little bit anyway.  Get your sketches together first.”
            Thom nodded.  “I’m pretty useless for heavy lifting right now, but the drafting I can do.”
            “You bet your ass you are,” J.T. grinned.  “And don’t let anyone catch you pulling any stunts in that direction, either.  Jac’s liable to tether you to something.”  His smile faded.  “Do you want me to have a look and make sure you haven’t done any more damage?  Knocked anything out of true?”
            After a moment’s hesitation, Thom nodded.  “Really would rather have some kind of splint I can walk on, but I’ll have to take what I can get, right?”  He shifted with a wince, stretching his leg out toward J.T. to give the former volunteer EMT access to his injured ankle.
            J.T. shook his head.  “The crutch should help and a splint you can’t walk on prevents you from doing shit you shouldn’t.”
            Thom smiled wryly.  “Like heavy lifting?”
            “I see we understand each other, young Skywalker.”  J.T. gently started to unwrap Thom’s ankle.  Thom rubbed Marin’s back, distracting himself.  He really didn’t want to see if he’d done additional damage to his ankle.  It already ached enough as it was.
            “You’re bruised all to hell, Thom,” J.T. announced as he got Thom’s ankle unwrapped.  Thom tried to suppress a grimace at J.T.’s touch.  The other man’s fingers were like ice.
            “You been dunking your fingers in ice water, Jay?”
            J.T. snorted.  “I wish.  Your ankle feels like I just pulled it out of an oven.  Does it hurt?”
            “That’s a pretty stupid question.”
            J.T. grimaced, handling Thom’s ankle gently with cold fingers.  “Right.  Maybe this’ll discourage you from walking on it again.”  He gently ran his thumb along the bones of Thom’s ankle, which was swollen up to the size of a grapefruit, Thom noted with a wince.
            Yeah.  Maybe it will do that.  Thom pressed his nose into Marin’s hair again, inhaling sharply as pain shot up his leg.
            Marin suddenly went tense against him and started screaming.


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One Response to Day 3 – Chapter 7 – 11

  1. Erin M. Klitzke says:

    Did Marin go tense because she sensed Thom’s discomfort, or for some other reason…? Stay tuned next week for the answer to this and more questions on As the New World Turns!

    All kidding aside, the reason why Marin just started screaming will be revealed on Monday. I’m not so cruel as to make folks wait longer than that. It’s a good thing that she’s got friends willing to circle the wagons around her, but before you start to feel sorry for Thom…well, just don’t. They’d be willing to do a lot of crap for him, too, don’t you worry about that. Monday’s post is also the end of the chapter, so Wednesday will stick us back into Marin’s head on Day Seven. At some point, I’m going to have to make a timeline of major events, simply for reference. Of course, I’m also going to have to finish the characters page at some point, too. That’s kind of back-burner when writing the story itself (and a couple other projects) remains the major focus of my efforts. As JA Konrath and Barry Eisler pointed out in Be the Monkey, the most lucrative thing a writer can do is write. Period, end of story.

    Awakenings of course is free for those who read it on the internet (though donations are appreciated greatly) and available as a blog subscription for Kindle on Amazon at a low cost (hopefully to go lower as soon as Amazon decides it should go lower). Pretty nifty, huh? I do plan to release a low-cost ebook of Year 1 once I get that far. There’s a lot of story that needs to happen between now and then. After all, a year is 365 days long, and we’ll be on Day 7 next week.

    That said, I’m planning for a little more reader interaction and posts that are a big longer overall in the future, especially in the Marin chapters, more than likely. It all depends on how things shake out. Keep your eyes peeled for a post about something pretty pivotal in a character’s life coming soon.

    Until then, thanks for the visit and happy reading! I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I like writing it.

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