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Authors: Lauren Nicolle Taylor

The Wounded (The Woodlands Series)

BOOK: The Wounded (The Woodlands Series)
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LAUREN NICOLLE TAYLOR

 

Clean Teen Publishing

 

 

This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogues are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

The
Wounded

Copyright © 2014
by: Lauren Nicolle Taylor

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information address:

 

Clean Teen Publishing

PO Box 561326

The Colony, TX 75056

www.cleanteenpublishing.com

 

 

For my children, Lennox, Rosalie and Emaline.

This is your story
.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

Chapter 49

Chapter 50

Chapter 51

Chapter 52

Chapter 53

Chapter 54

Chapter 55

Chapter 56

Chapter 57

Chapter 58

Chapter 59

Chapter 60

Chapter 61

Chapter 62

Chapter 63

Chapter 64

Chapter 65

Chapter 66

Chapter 67

Chapter 68

Acknowledgements

About the Author

I’m collapsing into a dream. Folding in on myself over and over until I’m nothing but a pinch of paper.

I know I’m not where I’
m supposed to be.

The arms
holding me are the wrong arms—wiry and warm. But it is unwelcome warmth.

 

The slosh of mud lapping around boots was my first reminder. I screwed my eyes tightly shut, trying to keep it out as it rapped loudly on my aching head. My boots swung limply back and forth past the trees. My trees. I let the smell of wet fronds and bent pine needles swirl around me, grateful I was at least back in the forest. I imagined myself cradled in a bough: Leaves swept across my face, branches held their slender limbs across the tree’s mouth-like hollows and whispered, ‘shh’.

“S
hh! She’s waking up.”

Movement
ceased, ejecting me from my dream. Smooth fingers grazed my face. The wrong fingers. I opened my eyes warily. It was unfamiliar, yet not, like half of me wanted to nestle into his chest and the other half knew not to.

As I let the light in,
the exposure cleaning up and drawing the fuzzy shadows into sharper images, the first thing I saw was my own eyes staring back at me. I closed mine slowly, hoping the view would change like a slide clicking over. But when I reopened them, I still saw my eyes in a man’s face. A worn face, which once you rubbed back the lines and pulled up the skin, was a face that looked just as I remembered. A ghost. I shouted out and sprung from his arms, landing in the mud and splattering everyone’s concerned faces.

“You
,” was all my feeble head could come up with as I stumbled woozily for several seconds, pointing my shaky finger accusingly at the tall, dark man in front of me. As I connected the random pathways that brought me here, threads of sense drifted in front of my eyes, but I couldn’t quite pull them together. The daughter in me was stubbornly fighting against the truth.

I ran my hands through my hair and grasped at the strands, pulling them together into a thick rope in my fist.
I shivered, the air wet and sludgy around me. My aching head took in the darkness creeping away as morning peeled back, slow and heavy like the night didn’t want to give in.

He approached
me gently, hands held out in front of him like he expected me to climb back into them. I shook my head, feeling nauseous and upended. When he made a sudden move towards me, I startled like a deer. He pulled back, looking hurt. He would never harm me, but I was afraid of what he might say. I leaned airily, putting my hand out to steady myself, but connected with nothing. Rash was quickly at my side, and I held onto his arm to stabilize myself physically and mentally.

Rash. I had Rash.
My heart pumped faster, and my blood warmed as I felt the real fleshiness of him.

I looked down at my feet, twisting my ankles and burying
them in the mud. “How long?” I asked the ground, little bubbles popping around my sinking boots. I felt childish, like I was eight years old again.

“You’ve been out for a few hours…”
Careen said, her face creased with relief.

“No
,” I said, my index finger up in her misunderstanding face. My mouth quivered with held back sobs. I raised my eyes to meet this stranger and half-yelled, half blubbered, “How long?”

His eyes
drooped in the corners, his mouth building up to what was going to come out. “Since before you were born,” he said, his smooth voice grating, like someone was raking sandpaper across my ears. So, always. He had been a Spider, always.

I nodded, resignedly. Some part of me, some tiny shard that had been sitting in my chest for
years, slowly loosened and came out of my mouth with a huge sigh. “Yeah, I thought so,” I said, as my shoulders pulled in around me. If I could curl into a ball, maybe I could shut this out. Roll away.

He
tentatively approached me, stalking me like I was a wounded bird with a small plea in his eyes, “I tried… I’m sorry…” Then it sounded like…
Something, something, something
. I couldn’t listen.

I put
one hand up to stop him, the other cradling my aching head. “I just… I can’t…” I shook my head slowly like it was caught in a thick web and walked away from him, leaning heavily on Rash. Careen stood there, blinking her big, blue eyes, the light starting to curl around her feet.

A morning like any othe
r, except this morning I would like to have clamped down and shoved back in the ground.

 

*****

 

My father was alive. He stood in front me, unwavering like a solid ghost. I should have been happy to see him. But after everything I had been through, all I could think was,
you deserted me
. And
what do you want from me?

T
he world slanted. I walked almost sideways, and Rash leaned me rather roughly against a tree before I tipped to completely horizontal.

BOOK: The Wounded (The Woodlands Series)
8.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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