Chapter Seventeen: Arise

A rustle of sheets and a motion at his side woke Aaron from a dead sleep. His core muscles contracted, ready to leap out of bed and dive for his gun. It took less than a moment to register his surroundings and realize it was Marta turning away from him in her sleep. Neither of them had moved for hours. He smiled to himself as he slowly pulled his arm from underneath her and rubbed feeling back into it before lying back down beside her.

It was before sunrise but the sky had begun to lighten, just enough that he could make out the curve of her shoulder blades and the line of her spine. He kept himself from reaching out to trace the shadows on Marta's back, not wanting to wake her. But he did want to wake her. And touch her. And make love to her. Again.

Again.

Aaron's serene smile widened to a lurid grin. He had finally relieved his carnal need for the doctor. Well, maybe not relieved so much as achieved. It was so much more than just physical desire, but he couldn't help feeling a victorious thrill of conquest long fought for.

Unable to deny himself, he grabbed for the sleeping vixen. I'll make up for waking her, he reassured himself, as he pulled her in tight against him with guilty insistence.

Afterward, as he draped his arm over her, Marta heard him murmur something into her neck, but didn't quite catch it before sleep overtook her once again.

Aaron clutched Marta's back to his chest and buried his face in her hair and apologized for waking her, though he felt no remorse. She was asleep before he could admit his lack of regret. The thought of regret triggered brutal images and acts of violence he had executed himself, to flood his mind. The familiar crush of guilt weighed on him, but it felt much easier to bear as he gazed down at the woman in his arms. He would never say so to her, but the fact she shared the responsibility of a lot of that guilt was a relief. It was probably twisted thinking, but he was glad it was a burden they shared.

Together they would face the consequences, and together they could try to make things right. Neither of them was alone in this. If nothing else, they had each other. For now.

Aaron's body curled around Marta and as he drifted back to sleep, he thought, This is enough. Right now, we have each other, and that's more than enough.