HOLDING ON TO HOPE

 
 

By Carol Sandford

 
 

Chapter 13

 
 

"I...I can’t go. Antony will be here any minute to pick me up. I...I rang him a little while ago."

Time stood still and silent as Will swallowed her words with disbelief. Now he understood why his friends herded around Deanna. They knew. They knew that Deanna had rang her fiance to come and get her, and they also knew how he was going to react when she told him.

Will stood still for a long time as his head raced around the fact that the woman he loved was running out on him again without explaining her weird behaviour the night before. What the devil was she trying to achieve. To make him mad!? To make him jealous!? To make him understand that she wasn’t going to succumb to his dreams as easily as he thought?

As he mind churned over and over, Will watched Deanna visibly squirm on the spot as his eyes bored into her very soul, searching for an answer. Searching for a way into her heart and managing to stay there long enough to show her that there couldn’t possibly be any other conclusion.

They were made to be together. They had love on their side, a past, a life and an Imzadi bond. Somehow Will had to find a way to get through that invisible wall Deanna had surrounded herself with.

Will crossed his arms and relaxed his posture some. So Carstair’s was coming after her. A feint smug smile settled across his handsome features and Deanna glanced worriedly at Juanita as an intense feeling of dread began to invade her body. Will watched Juanita shrug, and Deanna swallow painfully. The ball was back in his court.

Deanna tried to search Will’s mind but was unsurprised when she found she couldn’t get in. He had effectively blocked her out, and she had no idea what he had up his sleeve. She was confident that he did have something up there and it involved her fiance. Suddenly it occurred to her that Will was going to fight Antony. She was mortified. Will was at least six inches taller than Antony and probably 25 pounds heavier. He would annihilate him!

She had to stop him somehow, and she knew of only one way. Deanna had to reach his compassionate side. Only when she approached him, she hadn’t known he’d left it at home. When the chips were down, Will was ready to defend what was rightfully his. Deanna was his woman and no man was going to stand between him and the woman he loved.

Will’s eyes never left Deanna as she slowly approached him. He didn’t know if the sultry sway of her hips was intentional, or if it was sheer fatigue. Either way he watched it with fascination. The hazy lighting shone through the thin material of her skirt, not only outlining her slender legs, but what lay at their apex.

Will’s loins instantly reacted and he seriously began to wonder if he was going to pull off the stunt that he had in mind. He sure as hell hoped so because it was his last chance of proving that Deanna and he could make it together, with or without ghosts.

Will saw through Deanna’s charade as soon as she’d reached him, but even so, he still couldn’t help losing himself in her huge obsidian eyes as she looked up at him, her hands resting lightly on his forearms.

One movement, that's all it needed to pull her against him and take what she was so innocently offering, but the time for seduction was over - for now. Now was the time for tactical manoeuvres.

Deanna’s husky voice held a hint of fear amongst the misplaced excitement, and just then Will belatedly realised she was enjoying having two men fight over her, "You aren’t going to do anything....stupid, are you, Will?"

Will’s eyes hardened, causing Deanna to take a step back with their intensity, "I don’t think fighting for my woman is stupid, Deanna. I’m not letting you go without a fight, I’ve waited too long for you, and when Carstair’s gets here, he’s going to have to prove that he loves you more than I do, because, Imzadi, that is the only way he is going to get you away from me now."

Deanna stared at him open-mouthed, stunned into temporary silence at the nerve of his words until finally, indignation registered, "I am not a prize for you to win, Will! I am a human being with feelings, and emotions, and I have a life of my own, and a mind of my own too."

Will hated doing it, he hated what he was doing to her. But hell, she was making him behave like a boorish bully. Stepping out of arms reach, Will turned and headed for the door, but not before leaving her with something to think about, "You want a fight, Deanna, you’ve got one. You may have given up on me again, but I haven’t. I’m going to prove to you once and for all that we belong together."

Deanna stared at the closed door for a long time allowing his words drift around and around her, making her sway with so many different sensations, she didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, scream, stamp her foot, or throw something.

She jumped when she felt a soft hand upon her shoulder and Juanita’s soothing voice calming her, bringing reality back into focus. "Why do you continue to fight it, Deanna?"

Deanna dropped her head, sighing heavily with misery, fatigue, worry and a little resignation, "Because it's our future we’re fighting for, Juanita. But our future begins in our past, and it's our past is what we can’t forget."

"Do you love him?"

Her eyes welled with tears just thinking about a life without Will, her voice was filled with longing and sadness when she spoke only the truth, "Oh, yes, yes, with all my heart."

She felt Juanita’s fingers squeeze her shoulder with tenderness, and heard the relief in her words, "Good, then the fight is already over, but maybe the two men meeting will show you were your future lies. It's time to let your heart guide you, Deanna, not your fears, and I know you are afraid, of many things. But so is the man outside. But that man is trying to let go of those fears, it's time you did too."

Tears ran freely down her face when she turned into the old woman’s welcoming embrace, her words muffled against her plump shoulder, "Oh, God, I want to, Juanita, I really want to. Help me."

They both stiffened as they heard the approach of a shuttle, its engine seemingly loud against the quietness of early morn. Deanna went stiff in the woman’s arms and tried to pull away, preparing herself for whatever lay ahead.

But she was surprised when Juanita held her back, her determined voice breaking the silence, "No, this part of the fight is not yours. Your time will come in a little while."

Deanna was beside herself with worry, "But what if Will hits him? Antony wouldn’t stand a chance."

Juanita Black Horse held Deanna’s cold fingers within her own, and forced Deanna to look at her face on, "He will not use his hands to fight your fiance. Will is going to fight him with his heart."

Suddenly Deanna’s legs couldn’t hold her up any longer and she sunk into the nearest chair, dread pouring from every fibre of her being. What had she done. What was she doing. Why was she doing it? She didn’t need things to go this far.

It was as plain as the nose on her face that Will loved her as much as she loved him. But even so, she still felt she owed something to Antony, even if it was just an apology for not being true to her own heart, especially when it belonged to another. It always had.

But it was too late now. She heard the shuttle door close and heavy footsteps make their way towards the club only to stop close to the entrance. Deanna couldn’t bare it any longer. Raising her hands, she covered her ears, put up her mental shield, closed her eyes and shut out what was about to happen out in the street.

 
     
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