- Discussion - Child Abuse
- Explicit Sex
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- First Time
Author’s Note: The child abuse tag refers to neglect. There is no physical abuse.
Abbie was running through a forest everything around her was a deep sapphire blue. She meant that literally. The trees, the ground beneath her feet were all blue. The color enveloped everything around her. The blue should have been cold but it felt almost warm, it shifted around her almost as if it were a living thing. Some part of her suspected she was dreaming but if it was a dream was the most unusual dream she had ever experienced.
This place seemed to be welcoming her, and there was something very familiar about it. She felt that she had been here before, but she had no memory of it. Still, it called to her, beckoned her forward.
The forest was endless, and in the way of dreams, time seemed to have no meaning. Yet she could feel the wind on her face, and the ground felt rough beneath her bare feet. She wore her favorite t-shirt and her oldest most comfortable pair of jeans. The ones she’d reluctantly thrown away last winter when they had finally torn beyond her ability to repair. A part of her was very happy to be wearing them again.
Branches brushed by her face, occasionally scraping her skin and causing little prickles of pain. The pain, however quickly disappeared as if it had never been and when she reached up to touch her face she couldn’t feel any marks. Though she continued to run endlessly on, her muscles never grew tired. She did not grow winded, and her breathing remained deep and even.
As she ran, she became aware of a feeling of complete joy flowing through her. She felt carefree. She had never experienced such exhilaration or such a sense of rightness before. She knew she belonged here in the forest. Within this dreamscape she was safe. Out of the comer of her eye she saw a yellow blur, running with her, keeping pace yet moving in and out of the trees.
The intermittent splash of golden color against the deep blue was startling and for a moment she felt herself falter but she quickly resumed her previous pace. The dream urged her to accept what was happening, and overlook the strangeness of the circumstances. She knew there was somewhere she needed to be, and she couldn’t stop running until she arrived. It was vital she get there as quickly as possible. She didn’t question this knowledge. She gave herself up to the feeling.
What might have been an eternity later or only a millisecond she couldn’t be sure, without warning, she abruptly came to a stop. As she stood there in the dark, she became unexpectedly, and most distressingly aware of the peculiarity of her surroundings. The easy acceptance of the dream deserted her along with the feeling of joy and well-being, which had suffused her. She felt uncertainty and fear rush in to take their place. She pinched herself hard trying to wake herself up. But it didn’t work. She grunted at the pain but it too quickly faded.
She realized the forest was completely silent, no birds or animal noises could be heard. Why was it so quiet? She was reminded of the strange white trees in her childhood nightmares and shivered. What was she doing here she wondered?
“Ok Abbie,” she muttered out loud to herself. “It’s time to wake up now.” Her voice, while comforting, felt disconcertingly loud in the unnatural silence of the forest.
Ahead of her she could just make out a break in the trees. She moved toward it and abruptly came upon a clearing. A full moon shone directly overhead. She gasped in surprise and gaped at the incredible sight before her. Directly in front of where she stood, a large and majestic temple rose several feet into the sky. It felt ancient as if it belonged to a time long past, yet it looked brand new. It glowed with a bright golden light against the blue of the dreamscape. Like the forest itself, the temple too felt strangely familiar.
She felt drawn to the building and, despite her unease, in the way of dreams she was standing before the door of the temple without being aware of having moved at all.
She stood before the doorway to the temple. From inside a warm bright light spilled out and when her skin tingled wherever the light touched it. She realized the feeling of safety was coming from the light. She knew if she entered that temple she’d never suffer fear or pain again. It called to her. She felt the need to enter, and began moving closer. Before she could reach the door, however, she was brought up short by a loud roar, and there was suddenly a large jaguar standing in front of her barring her path into the temple.
Some deep and primal part of her recognized the sound of a predator on the hunt, and she froze in place. Her heart began beating rapidly in her chest as fear filled her. She closed her eyes and forced herself to take a deep breath. She fell back on her police training and forced herself to remain calm and in control. If she wouldn’t wake up she would simply have to play the dream out. She tried to tell herself that nothing could hurt her in a dream, but in her heart, she knew she didn’t believe it.
Don’t run, she told herself. If you run, it will most likely chase you. Grace Abigail Mills wake up now. She demanded of herself.
The dream world did not fade and the jaguar continued to stare her down looking disconcertingly and solidly real. She looked around on the ground for something with which to defend herself but found nothing of use. She snorted, at the strangeness of her subconscious mind. She was in the middle of the forest, yet there was not one branch or stick in sight, it figured.
She heard a grunt, and she immediately turned her attention back to the large cat in front of her. Before she could stop herself she met its eyes and cursed her own stupidity. She needed to be more careful. Despite this being a dream, she feared she was about to get eaten. To her surprise the jaguar did not pounce on her. Instead it mewed, sounding like an over large house cat and lay down in front of her. Blocking her path, to the temple, she realized.
The animal seemed content now that Abbie could move no further. Why is he trying to keep me away from the temple she wondered? She barked a laugh at her own ridiculous thoughts. She heard the cat chuff and looked up to see its tongue lolling out of its mouth. She shivered as she got a look at its large teeth. Abbie would swear the animal looked amused at her reaction to him. Somehow she knew she was female and that she would not hurt her.
Later she would remember this and wonder at her certainty, but at the moment was all she felt was intense relief.
She heard a rustling in the trees and another animal came limping slowly into the clearing. As it got closer Abbie could see it was a red wolf. The wolf looked strange. It was far less solid than the jaguar, almost translucent. It seemed to be in pain. It lay down next to the jaguar, and much to Abbie’s shock the big cat allowed it licking the wolves face as it whimpered. The big cat moved closer and wrapped itself around the wolf protectively.
The jaguar looked up at Abbie intently, a surprising amount of intelligence in her gaze. Abbie could have sworn the jaguar recognized her and it was waiting for her to act. As if asking what she was waiting for, she huffed and turned away. The jaguar returned to his ministrations licking and cleaning the wolf’s fur, apparently trying to soothe the smaller animal. To Abbie’s amazement the wolf returned the gesture licking the jaguar’s nose with obvious affection and relaxing easily against her.
Abbie could only stare at them in shock. She had never seen such a thing. The sight of two predators cuddling, for lack of a better word, was incredible. They looked content and relaxed in each other company. She became aware of a deep desire to touch them both. The jaguar’s spotted coat looked very soft and inviting. Two words she’d never thought she’d used to describe a wild animal. She looked closely at the wolf and realized he looked far more solid as if contact with the big cat was helping him regain his strength.
She inched forward slowly. She told herself she was being reckless and that one or both animals would bite her hand off. She shook her head at her own actions and continued to move closer.
“This is only a dream. These animals aren’t real. They can’t hurt you” She reminded herself out loud. She was developing a disconcerting habit of talking to herself. Perhaps she was going crazy. At the thought, the old and familiar fear, mixed with a healthy dose of guilt, welled up but she resolutely pushed it away. She would not end up like her mother and Jenny.
“Everything is fine,” she promised herself. “In the morning I’ll wake up and go to work and forget this ever happened.”
This was all a product of her subconscious. It meant nothing. The thought reassured her. Reminded her that, strange dreams notwithstanding, she was perfectly normal, capable woman. She could take care of herself. Strange things did not happen to Abigail Mills. She refused to allow it. She had a plan for her life, and nothing would cause her to deviate from it.
After all, in the ordinary lay security and sanity,two things that had often been missing from her childhood. As an adult they were precious to her and she guarded them fervently. She owed it to the scared little girl she had been. The dream is too real her inner voice whispered she resolutely ignored the part of her that felt uncertain.
She eased herself down next to the animals that didn’t seem at all bother by her proximity. She still hesitated to touch them, however, but the wolf reached up and nudged her gently whining softly. Abbie was charmed despite her misgivings, and she reached out and petted the wolf’s head softly. His fur was even softer than she thought it would be. She felt a strong sense of recognition stirred in her. She had felt this fur before. A vague but comforting memory from childhood came to mind. She remembered feeling safe and warm as she curled up and listened to the wolf breathe. She had loved her wolf.
This couldn’t be the same one could it? That wolf hadn’t been real. Yet she couldn’t deny the surge of recognition running through her. This was her wolf. It had come to visit her in her dreams. She smiled warmly at her old friend.
“Where on Earth did you come from?” “It’s good to see you,” she admitted softly. “But I don’t understand why I’m dreaming about you now. I don’t suppose either of you knows what’s going on?”
Neither animal seemed to have any answers for her but the wolf nudged her hand again, and Abbie smiled as she petted him more firmly, the jaguar watched them both with what Abbie could only describe as an indulgent expression. She decided not to question any of this for the moment.
She allowed herself to relax and enjoy the peace and comfort the animals gave her. It was an unexpected gift. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt this good. Despite the roller coaster she’d been on tonight, she almost regretted that she would have to wake up eventually.
“You are both amazing. I just wish could remember why you’re so familiar,” she told the animals.
“Grace Abigail Mills, I have some of the answers you seek. But do you have the right questions?” said a voice out of nowhere shattering the peace and quiet of the night. Abbie was so startled she jerked and accidentally dug her nails into the wolf’s fur. He did not seem to notice but he did look at her rather reproachfully. She stifled the urge to apologize. She was hearing voices now? Wonderful.
For a moment she wondered if one of the animals had spoken, and she looked at them suspiciously. She heard a light, amused laugh from behind her.
“These animals are quite special, but even they do not possess the power of speech.” Abbie leaped to her feet and whirled around to face the new intruder.
Abbie came face to face with a beautiful black woman dressed in a gorgeous and authentic looking 17th-century dress. She radiated power, yet Abbie was not afraid of her.
“Who are you?” Abbie demanded. Then she shook herself, What was she doing? This was just a dream. She told the woman as much.
The woman laughed. It was a lovely musical sound. “Deep in your heart you know this is much more than a dream, Abigail. You simply aren’t ready to accept the truth.”
Abbie felt herself growing angry. “What the hell are you talking about?” she asked. She decided it didn’t matter. “I’ve had enough. I’d really like to wake up now,” she yelled at the sky.
She felt a rough tongue lick her hand. She knew it was meant as a comfort and he patted the jaguar’s head. She instantly felt calmer.
She took a deep breath. “Ok, if this isn’t just a dream then tell me what is happening. I don’t understand any of this.”
The woman smiled gently and her look was almost maternal as she gazed at Abbie warmly. It made Abbie vaguely uncomfortable. Only her mother had ever looked at her like that.
“You aren’t ready to hear the truth.” Abbie opened her mouth to protest but the woman held up her hand.
“Please let me finish. You aren’t ready, now but I have every faith that in time you will be. You were so young when all this started. You weren’t ready and you shut yourself off. To protect yourself from an evil you should never have had to face, much less alone.”
Abbie shook her head.
“I don’t understand. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Yet in her mind’s eye, she saw four white trees and her breath hitched despite her best efforts. Could that be what the stranger referred to? What did she know?
The woman smiled again. “Yes, you do. But you need time. You have some but not as much as you’ll want I’m sure. Change is coming. I just want you to try to keep an open mind. I’ve kept you here too long already. Too much time her can be dangerous.”
She looked almost apologetic. She reached out her hand as if to touch Abbie. Perhaps in an attempt to comfort her.
Abbie quickly took a step back.
“Dangerous,” Abbie repeated flatly. “Where are we? What do you think you know about me?”
The woman looked sad as she dropped her hand. “The answers are coming. Soon it will all make sense. Be patient. One last thing Abbie, trust him. You will need one another more than you know. ”
“Trust who?” Abbie asked. She was so frustrated and confused. However, she also knew something important was happening. Clearly, this woman knew something about her past.
“Be patient. You’ll understand soon I promise. I almost forgot. This is important. I’ve left you some things that can be of help. I don’t have time to tell you where they are. You will find them when you are ready but not before. Have faith. The witnesses have a very special destiny. You are the keepers of a secret that has been safeguarded for centuries.”
Everything began to fade away. The blue bleeding away to the blackness of unconsciousness. “Wait” Abbie called “please!” But there was no reply.
She woke to the sound of her own cry fading into the night.
Despite the mostly sleepless night, she arrived at work early the next afternoon. With the help of a long shower and an energy drink Abbie had managed to convince herself that the dream had just been the result of working too hard. She ignored the voice in her head that insisted on reminding her how real it had all felt and decided to put it all behind her.
Easier said than done, of course; the dream had been more disturbing than she wanted to admit, even to herself. Ever since the dream she’d been feeling off like she didn’t quite fit in her own body. He skin felt too tight, and her uniform seemed to scrape unpleasantly against her skin. The police uniform had always been a little uncomfortable but it had never bothered her like this before. She hated the idea that she’d let the dream get to her. She decided what she needed was a distraction.
The familiar sight and sounds of the bullpen were reassuring as she strode into the room, Abbie felt herself relax. This was where she belonged. Here was the one place where she was completely comfortable and certain of her place. She was a cop and a damn good one.
She was greeted by several of her fellow officers as she made her way to her desk. She had half an hour before she had to be on duty. She might as well try to get some paperwork done.
She heard someone call her name and looked up. There was an officer making his way toward her desk with a very serious look on his face. Something was wrong. Abbie instantly went on alert. She stood up.
“Hey Mike, something wrong?” she asked
“We just got a call. A homeless man was found beheaded behind the Starbuck’s on Main. The Sheriff is already on his way, and he wants you to meet him there.”
Abbie was sure she must have heard wrong. “Did you say beheaded?”
Mike nodded and swallowed hard. “Reports are his head was cut clean off. That’s all I know.”
Abbie nodded. “I better get going then. Talk to you later.”
She patted Mike on the shoulder, checked her weapon, and made her way to her squad car.
There was only one Starbucks on Main St., an attempt to maintain the street’s old world charm. An attempt to con more tourists out of their money, Abbie thought. Thankfully, it was only a few blocks away.
Abbie thought about the apparent strangeness of her latest case as she drove. Sleepy Hollow was a small city and had its fair share of crime, including murder, but it was nothing compared to a larger city. Abbie spent a lot of time breaking up bar fights or rounding up stray animals. Abbie didn’t have that much experience investigating murders. She had only seen a handful since joining the force, and most of those were easily solved. It was true that a lot of strange things happened in Sleepy Hollow, but she chose to ignore most of those cases, despite the Sheriff’s obsession with anything even remotely strange. Someone running around with an ax certainly qualified. The Sheriff would want to handle this case personally. She was sure.
A beheading though was a whole other level of nasty. The idea of a maniac running around chopping off people’s heads was crazy, and it made her gut itch in a way she couldn’t quite explain. The idea of so many of her people being in danger set her teeth on edge. She had always believed it was a cop’s job to protect innocent people, but the desire had never been so intense before. She was determined to find the perp and stop him no matter what it took. It felt vital, like an imperative, and Abbie couldn’t even bring herself to question it.
She was only a block from the murder scene when suddenly there was a red wolf standing right in front of her car. Abbie automatically hit the brakes, she was lucky the next car had been several feet behind her or she would have caused an accident. She recognized the small wolf like the one from her dream.
God, she thought. Now I’m hallucinating. An even worse thought occurred, what if she was asleep at the wheel? No, she told herself. As crazy as it seemed she was awake. She had to be.
The wolf was staring directly at Abbie. He gave her a look, almost as if he could read her thoughts, and he was not impressed. She had the strongest feeling that he wanted her to follow him. Suddenly, he loped off turning away from the murder scene and toward the woods.
Abbie sat there for a moment, fighting the instinct to follow the wolf, while a couple of brave people honked their horns behind her.
With a curse she turned the corner and followed. The wolf led her out of town and towards the woods. She parked the car and exited to find the wolf waiting for her. “Where the hell, are you taking me?” she asked him. He growled softly, almost reproachfully, before running off into the woods.
Abbie followed the wolf for what seemed like miles. The wolf never seemed to tire. He would stop every so often as if making sure Abbie was still following, If she stopped he would growl. Occasionally it would double back behind her as if it was watching her back. What it thought she needed protection from she couldn’t even begin to imagine. Although, the wolves protectiveness did give her a warm feeling. She felt cared for. It was a very strange feeling but not unwelcome.
She could hear the sound of water nearby. The wolf suddenly stopped. He howled. The sound made the hair on the back of Abbie’s neck stand up. The wolf turned to stare at her intently and then ran off into the trees. Abbie ran behind and came upon the river.
The wolf was pacing and looking very impatient.
“What are we doing here?” Abbie asked him. What did it say about her life that talking to a wolf had stopped being weird?
A strange sound caught her attention. She was shocked to hear what sounded like a mechanical whirring and the sound of something moving. It was surprisingly loud. She would have expected it to be drowned out by the water, at least a little. She realized that an opening was being revealed in the rock formation in front of her. A man slid out with a gasp and tumbled into the water.
For a moment Abbie was too shocked to move.
Then her training kicked and she rushed forward to assist the man, who was struggling to stand in the rushing water.
“Sir,” she called out, “I’m Lieutenant Abbie Mills with the Sheriff’s department. I’m going to help you.”
The man looked over and nodded, but he couldn’t seem to find the energy to speak. She made her way over to him and helped him up.
She had to half drag him out of the water and helped him over to a nearby tree. He slid to the ground and rested his back against the trunk. Crouched down in front of him, Abbie was finally able to get a good look at him. The cop part of her brain took over and supplied a description. He looked to be in his early 30’s, brown hair, blue eyes. He was about six feet tall. He was also filthy and wearing old-fashioned clothing. She guessed it was from the 18th century.
Just like the woman in her dream.
Abbie shivered but she realized there was a part of her that wasn’t in the least bit surprised. She acknowledged that her description didn’t do the man justice. Even dirty and weak he was absolutely gorgeous, and there was a part of her that found him very attractive. She tried to push it away. This man was someone who needed her help, that was all.
The man was looking up at her, and there was a strange look in his eyes she couldn’t really identify. He was deathly pale and clearly exhausted. The man opened his mouth as if to speak but a cough wracked him; his whole body shook with the force of it. She reached out to support him as he coughed, cursing the fact that she didn’t have any water to give him. She needed to get him to a doctor, she found herself very reluctant to leave him alone.
“You’re going to be alright,” she tried to reassure him, as the cough finally subsided and he was able to take a few ragged breaths. “I’m going to go get you some help; you’ll be in a hospital in no time.”
One she was sure he was going to fall over, she grabbed for her radio.
“Charlie 101, this is Lieutenant Mills please come in.” Static was her only response. She tried again but still no response. She reached for her phone but of course she had no signal.
“It’s you.” said a voice behind her. “I can’t believe it. I found you.” She heard the awed tone in his voice. His voice broke over the words, and he tried to clear his throat.
She sighed, He wasn’t making much sense. Great. Maybe, he had suffered some kind of injury. She turned back to the man. Kneeling down in front to him, she asked his name.
For a few seconds she didn’t think the man had understood but then he answered.
“Ichabod Crane.” His voice sounded hoarse. Wow, that was some name. His parents must have hated him to saddle him with a name like that. He was staring at her intently as if he was afraid she might disappear. The look in his eyes made her feel warm all over. She tried to ignore it.
“I’m Lt. Abbie Mills,” she began firmly. However, he interrupted her rather rudely.
“Yes, you told me with the Sheriff’s department. I believe you said? Then he looked embarrassed. “I’m sorry for interrupting you, Lieutenant. It was unforgivably rude of me. I’m just so pleased to see you. I cannot believe you are finally standing here in front of me.”
He gazed at her earnestly. He did look inexplicably happy, she acknowledged in the back of her mind but the strangeness of his behavior didn’t matter at the moment.
His voice washed over her as he spoke, and she was hopelessly distracted by it. His voice was much clearer now and it was one of the most beautiful she had ever heard. She wanted to close her eyes and listen to him talk for hours. His voice made her feel calm and secure.
She shook herself out of the slight trance his voice had caused. She frowned at her fanciful thoughts. What the hell was wrong with her? His voice was hardly relevant to the matter at hand. She forced herself to focus on the job.
“It’s fine. I’m not offended. Yes, I’m with law enforcement,” she clarified.
“They allow women to be law enforcement officers, how extraordinary,” Ichabod said excitedly. “I am pleased to hear it. I have always said a woman is as capable as any man, perhaps more so. During the war, I worked with several women. They make excellent spies. I assume your people have been emancipated then?” He looked at her expectantly, waiting for her reply.
Abbie couldn’t believe her ears. Was he kidding? The nerve of this guy.
“Yes. We have. Slavery has been abolished for a hundred and fifty years. They let us vote and everything,” she said in annoyance.
“That’s very good news.” He didn’t seem to hear the sarcasm in her tone. He did look very pleased. “I have always been an abolitionist.” Then he frowned. His pleasure gave way to agitation. “A hundred and fifty years you said. Surely I have not been asleep so long. What year is this? Where am I?” he demanded in an urgent tone.
Abbie could only stare for a moment. What year was it? Did he really not know or was this some sort of game? She needed to be careful, although her gut told her he wasn’t running some sort of scam. She wanted to believe the confusion, and the uncertainty she saw was real. She wanted to trust him.
“It’s 2013, and you’re in Sleepy Hollow, New York. In the United States,” she added. Just in case. He sounded British, after all.
He looked annoyed, “Yes, I am well aware of the location of Sleepy Hollow, thank you. I’ve been asleep for two-hundred and fifty years. Katrina warned me it could be a long time, but I never thought-”
She interrupted his babbling. She was beginning to think he was insane.
“Katrina?” She asked. The affection she heard in his voice made her uncomfortable. She wasn’t sure why.
He nodded. He looked uncertain for a moment but continued. “Katrina was my wife.”
The idea of him being married hurt her deeply. She gasped softly. She didn’t know why but she felt like she’d lost something she never knew she wanted.
“You’re married,” she said flatly.For some reason it made her heart hurt. Her skin graduated from uncomfortable to itchy, and she stifled the urge to rub her arms.
He reached out as if to touch her and then seemed to think better of it and dropped his arm back to his side. “Please don’t be upset. It isn’t what you think. I was married at one time, although I suppose she’s long dead now. We loved each other. I won’t dishonor her memory by denying it, not even to spare you pain. She was very important to me, but we both knew our association was only temporary. I am he paused as if searching for the right word- meant for someone else.” He smiled tentatively at her.
That look was back in his eyes, the one she didn’t understand and he looked right into her eyes. She felt he was expecting some sort of response and when she didn’t give it, he looked disappointed.
“Perhaps you aren’t ready,” he murmured more to himself than to her.
What was he talking about? She felt a flash on annoyance; this man knew nothing about her.
“Ready for what?” she couldn’t help but ask. She winced a little at the sharpness of her tone. It was no way to talk to an injured man. She’d have to apologize.
He opened his mouth but whatever he was about to say didn’t on his lips as they both heard a wolf howl and the answering roar of a jaguar.
“What the hell,” Abbie said as both animals appeared on either side of Ichabod. She couldn’t help but think of him as Ichabod. Crane seemed too impersonal. Abbie sighed. She didn’t even know herself anymore. What she called him hardly mattered. Why did being near this stranger feel so good?
He looked startled but not afraid. Instead he smiled and reached out to pet the wolf. The wolf whined softly and nudged him playfully. He laughed when the jaguar licked his face, apparently not wanting to be left out.
“It is so good to see you, my old friends,” he said addressing the animals.
He recognized them. What’s more they seemed to like him. It shouldn’t have felt reassuring but it did. She knew the animals wanted only to protect her.
He looked at Abbie. “They are very satisfied with themselves.” He turned back to the animals. “What mischief have you been up to hmm?” He asked in a teasing tone. The jaguar’s head butted him gently in response.
“You can understand them?” Abbie asked somewhat disbelieving.
He nodded. “I can sense their emotions, yes. It’s feelings but no real words.”
He could sense their emotions. He said it as if it was the most natural thing in the world. She was beginning to think, maybe it was. This just got weirder and weirder, why was she playing along? She should go and go and get help. Strangely reluctant to leave, she couldn’t bring herself to move. Instead she studied the three beings in front of her.
In her heart it felt good to see the three of them together. It felt right. Like something she had been missing slid into place. It was the last straw.
“Enough is enough!” She sounded angry to her own ears. “You are going to tell me what is going on right now. You will tell me everything. I am so tired of animals popping in and out and bizarre dreams. People dressed in strange clothes, being all cryptic, and mysterious. I just want some straight answers, please.” Her voice broke a bit at the end much to her embarrassment.
He looked surprised by her outburst. Then his expression softened, and he looked sympathetic.
“I understand you’re confused,” he said gently. “There is so much I have to tell you. I am here to help you. You are my priority, my destiny. I am simply asking you to keep an open mind. Do you think you can trust me?”
Without even needing to think about it, she had her answer. “I have no idea what’s going on, and I can’t explain it but I do. I do trust you. I have no idea why.”
She shrugged helplessly. Destiny. The woman in her dream had also spoken of destiny. She knew there was a connection. She decided to trust herself too.
He smiled brightly, looking distinctly relieved. “I can sense you are skeptical but, I’m gratified by your trust in me. It’s enough for now, thank you. I will not betray it or you. I can promise you that.”
She didn’t know what to say, so she smiled slightly in return and nodded. Something inside her shifted. It was a strange sensation; she resisted the urge to rub her breastbone.
The animals moved away from them. With no explanation, they ran toward each other and disappeared in a flash of white light. Abbie was too surprised to move. She felt suddenly at peace in a way she couldn’t explain. It was as if an empty space inside her she hadn’t been aware of was suddenly filled. Instinctively she reached for Ichabod just as he did the same. Their hands met, and the instant their skin touched her whole world turned upside down.
She felt as if something inside of her broke open and a barrier inside her exploded, blown wide open. Her senses went crazy, and she couldn’t make any sense of the input. She could suddenly hear everything around her for miles, a painful cacophony. Her brain struggled to make sense of all the things she heard and felt. Her skin felt like it was on fire. Suddenly through all the noise she heard a voice. It broke through loud and clear, a lifeline. It was Ichabod. She couldn’t make sense of what he was saying.
“Miss Mills – Abbie, focus on me, only on me. You’re coming online. I know it’s painful, but you have to listen to me.”
He wasn’t making sense, she thought exasperated. Why did he never make any sense? She felt more amused than really upset though. Truth be told she already liked him a ridiculous amount. She tried to do what he said. She struggled to focus only on him. She immersed herself in his voice, and his scent. She focused on it. There were a lot of unpleasant scents covering him. Dirt and sweat, and mold, but underneath was a scent that was all Ichabod.
It filled her nostrils. It was amazing. She leaned into him and inhaled deeply wanting more. She wanted to feel his hands all over her bare skin. She looked up into his eyes. They were the most amazing shade of blue. Her world narrowed down only to him. He was everything. She could lose herself in him. She felt everything beginning to right itself, the world felt more normal again. She took a deep breath.
“Feeling better?” Ichabod asked softly. She nodded. “This is only temporary, I’m afraid. There is a lot I have to teach you. You blew wide open. You must have already been on the cusp for some time. I’ve never seen it happen so fast outside a feral episode. Thank the Lord, we were together or you might have gone into shock.”
Abbie wasn’t really listening. Oh, she was enjoying the sound of his voice but he could have been reciting dirty limericks for all the attention she was paying the words. She was focused inside where something primal was waking up. A part of herself that had laid asleep, waiting for her. It told her she needed to claim the amazing man in front of her. Acting purely on instinct, she looked up at Ichabod, right into his eyes and spoke the word that came to her; they were foremost on her mind.
“Guide,” she said quietly. The word resonated deep within her. She felt another piece of a puzzle sliding into place. This moment felt sacred. She spoke the words it felt almost as if her mouth moved of its own accord, “Guide, I am yours and you are mine. Now and for always,”
Ichabod’s joyous smile was one of the most beautiful things she’d ever seen. He didn’t hesitate either. “Sentinel, I am your and you are mine. Now and for always,” he replied.
Then together, “We are one.”
A link snapped into place between them. She didn’t know what it was, but she felt connected to this man, her guide on a deep level. She had never realized how alone she felt until suddenly she wasn’t. She was still confused, but she no longer questioned where she belonged. For the first time in her life, she felt like she was home.
Ichabod was looking at her intently; there were tears in his eyes. “I’ve been alone for so long. Living with this dark place deep inside me, I was afraid I’d never know what it would mean to feel so complete. It’s hard to believe there’s more to come.”
“More?” She asked softly. She wanted to keep looking at him forever.
Ichabod nodded. “We’ve completed spiritual part of the bond. It is the first layer. Like a foundation. The bond is anchored but it can still be broken. There is still the physical and mental layers to complete.”
This was already so much the idea of more was overwhelming. The thought of the bond being broken made her angry. She was shocked when she actually growled and pulled her guide closer. She scanned the area for threats,
Ichabod grinned at her, impishly. “I am yours, and no one will ever take me away.” He reassured her. “You’re beautiful when you’re angry by the way.” He tightened his hold on her. She didn’t mind.
The words did the trick, and she began to feel calmer, even as she felt the need to smack him for his comment about her looks. Even though she couldn’t help but be pleased with the compliment. He didn’t need to know. She didn’t let Ichabod go, and he seemed content to be held.
After several minutes she became aware of a strong need to make sure her guide was healthy. If what he said was true. He’d been underground a very long time. It was vital that he been taken care of.
“We need to get you to a doctor. I can go on ahead and get help.” She trailed off. She was extremely reluctant to leave him, and she could see he felt the same.
He shook his head. “I can walk,” he insisted firmly. “I’m fine. I’m not letting you leave me behind.”
“God,” he was stubborn. She gave him a stern look, and he returned her stare levelly. She should be annoyed but she wasn’t.
She would be much faster without him, but she found herself nodding. She didn’t want him putting himself in danger, but she also didn’t want to leave him behind. “Ok, we’ll take it slow.” Once I know you’re healthy, we really need to talk. I want to know everything.” She had so many questions. They needed time to figure everything out.
He reached over and took her and in his he kissing her palm and lacing their fingers together. They began the long walk to the car, side by side.
During the walk Ichabod explained that in a sentinel all five senses were heightened, and that explained why everything had gone haywire when she’d come online. She needed to learn to control them, but as her guide, it was his job to help her and keep her centered. He explained he had empathic ability, he could feel the emotions of others. The news overwhelmed her. Although she could see that having sharper senses would make her a better cop.
By unspoken agreement, they both decided they needed a break, so the rest the walk back to the car was spent talking about inconsequential things and getting to know one another. Abbie learned her guide had a dry sense of humor and photographic memory. He could rattle off facts at an alarming rate.
Rather than find it annoying she was somewhat dismayed to realize she found his excitement adorable, and his intelligence extremely desirable. Still with the joy of the bond humming between them she didn’t really mind.
He protested the frequent breaks she insisted on taking, to give him time to rest, but his exhaustion spoke for itself. As a result, it was getting dark by the time they reached the car.
When they reached the car the first thing she did, was get a fresh bottle of water from her trunk for Ichabod. Without thinking she opened it and sniffed it before handing it to him. He smiled and took it, chugging it down
“Slow down, you’ll make yourself sick.” She admonished.
“You’re turn, you must be dehydrated too.” He held out the bottle and looked at her expectantly.
“No that’s for you. I haven’t been sleeping underground for over 200 years.”
He shook his head. “I am fine, I assure you. I was protected. I won’t have any more until you do,” he insisted.
She sighed exasperatedly. Stubborn man. “Fine, I have another bottle right here.”
She reached into the trunk and took another bottle. She opened it and made a show of drinking. He nodded and finished off his own water. She glared at him for ignoring her, but he merely raised an amused eyebrow in response.
Once they were in the car and moving, she asked: “What do you mean you were protected?”
He hesitated. “This may be hard for you to accept, but I’m asking you to keep an open mind. My wife, Katrina was a witch.”
Abbie felt her stomach twist at the affection in his voice. She took a steadying breath. You appreciate his loyalty and his honesty she reminded herself.
The rest of his words sunk and she glared. “A witch? No way. There is no such thing as magic.”
“After everything you’ve seen today can you really doubt it? How else could I have survived?” Ichabod asked steadily as if he didn’t sound completely insane. He was clearly telling her the truth as he knew it.
He had a point, she conceded. After everything she’d seen was a witch really so strange? It did explain how he’d survived being in the cave. Katrina had kept him safe for her. It couldn’t have been easy on the other woman. She felt a stab of sympathy. Besides they were connected in a way he and his wife had never been. With effort she pushed her jealousy away
She gave him a quick apologetic smile before turning back to the road. “I’m sorry. I’m a cop and I deal in facts. Everything I’ve seen. All this strange dreams and spirit animals and magic. It’s a lot to take in. Denying it was a knee-jerk reaction.”
“I understand. You’re doing very well. Your instincts are good, trust them. I am here to help you, to guide you if you’ll pardon the pun.” He grinned at her, amusement dancing in his eyes. He reached over and squeezed her hand. She found herself smiling in return. “I know you have a lot of questions. I’ll explain everything I can, although there is much I don’t know either. We will have to learn together.”
She opened her mouth to ask what he meant, but just then her phone rang, and she heard a voice over the radio. Damn it she’d forgotten to check in, where was her head? Strange that both had been silent until now. She laughed to herself at the silliness of the thought. It seemed strange was her new normal.
She looked at her phone, it was Sheriff Corbin. She was going to be in so much trouble. She turned to Ichabod. “This is a telephone. It’s used to talk over long distances. This is my boss. I have to answer.”
Ichabod nodded, “Of course,” he said. “I understand.” He was staring at the cell phone like he couldn’t wait to get his hands on it and learn all its secrets. She could tell he was holding back questions. His love of learning new things was endearing, Abbie couldn’t help but smile at him which he returned, happily. It was a sight she planned to get used to.
She pulled over and started to answer, but she realized she had no idea what to say. How could she explain why she hadn’t checked in or why she’d disappeared for several hours? The phone in her hand went silent.
The best lies were as truthful as possible, she thought. Taking a steadying breath, she answered the phone just as it began to ring again.
“Abbie, where the hell are you? I know I trained you better than to just disappear while on duty.” Corbin irate voice sounded tiny on the other end of the phone.
“Yes sir, you did. I can only say that I had a very good reason for going off on my own today. I received an anonymous report, I followed up, and I found a man in old-fashioned clothing wandering around the woods. He was confused and dehydrated. I can’t seem to get a straight answer from him.” She strove to sound as professional as possible.
She could hear the disbelief in Corbin’s voice when he answered. “You got an anonymous tip, decided to follow it without checking in, and found a man wandering in the woods. You really expect me to believe that?”
“Yes sir, I do. Because it’s the truth.” She said infusing her voice with as much as conviction as she could.
“It had better be Lieutenant. Why didn’t you call it in earlier?”
Abbie winced at the use of her rank. He was pissed. Ichabod touched her shoulder; she looked over at him and read the concern on his face. She smiled at him and held up one finger. He only looked vaguely reassured.
She heard Corbin call her name, and stifled a sigh. So far this conversation was not going well. She hastily turned her attention back to the conversation with her boss. “I tried to, sir. I was out by the river, and my cell phone wasn’t working and neither was the radio.”
“I see. Where is this man now?” Corbin asked crisply.
“He’s with me I was going to take him to a nearby hospital before reporting to you,” Abbie lied. She hated to lie to Corbin, but she had no choice. She had no intention of leaving Ichabod’s side
“Good then report to me directly as soon as you’re done. I need your help with a case.” She was relieved to note his tone had softened somewhat.
“The beheading, I heard.” Next to her she felt Ichabod jump. She looked at him and he was staring at her eyes wide and fearful. He opened his mouth to speak, but Abbie laid her fingers across his lips, asking him to stay quiet.
“I want to catch the son of a bitch, as soon as possible Abbie.”
“Yes, sir.” She agreed determinedly. It was a goal that the sentinel inside her wholeheartedly agreed with. The idea of such a danger to her guide going unchecked made her nearly homicidal. Beside her Ichabod touched her hand, looking concerned. He can sense you’re angry she thought, rather than finding the idea intrusive, she was reassured by his nearness. She focused on his scent. It surrounded her and calmed her.
Corbin’s tone turned lighter. “So this guy of yours, what’s he dressed as a civil war soldier? Not a confederate I hope?” he was teasing her now. Abbie sighed in relief. She was forgiven.
“No, sir. His clothing looks like something out of the 1700’s so if anything he must be from the revolutionary war, but don’t worry I don’t think he’s a red coat.
The chuckle she was expecting didn’t come; instead there was a long pause.
“Did you say the revolutionary war?” He demanded brusquely.
Abbie was puzzled by the sudden shift in the conversation. “Yes. Corbin, what’s wrong?
“You said you found him by the river, where you near the underground caves?” She could hear the urgency behind the question.
She decided not to lie but she had to tread carefully. She trusted Corbin with her own life, but her guide’s was another matter. “Yes, we were near them, now that you mention it. Why do you ask?”
“Describe the subject,” Corbin ordered briskly. Abbie complied. Her description was followed by another silence that made her uncomfortable.
“Don’t take him to County. Take him to Dr. Lawson’s clinic. I’ll meet you there. Abbie, you can trust Dr. Lawson. You both can.” Corbin was trying to reassure her but why? What did he know?
“Dr. Lawson why?” Abbie asked curious but wary. Corbin was acting so strangely. Abbie had to admit that going to the clinic was actually a good idea, one Abbie should have thought of first. She had known Hank for a long time. He was a good man. But she wasn’t sure what to make of Corbin’s behavior; he couldn’t now anything about Ichabod could he?
“If your friend is confused, the clinic will be easier on him, fewer people around,” Corbin said in a reasonable tone.
Abbie decided to play along, for now. She understood he was being careful. Fair enough, but there had to be more.
“Good idea. I’ll do that. Is there something more I should know?” she asked purposefully vague. However, she was sure he understood.
“I’ll fill you in when I see you. Abbie, I have a feeling your man knows something about these killings. We’ll talk about all this in person. I hope to god I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am. If I’m right you could both be in danger. Please, be careful.” Corbin’s confident yet caring tone was reassuring, but she hated that he seemed to know more than he was telling.
Abbie felt a rush of anger overtake the confusion. She spoke before she thought.
“I am so tired of people knowing things I don’t,” she snapped.
Corbin laughed softly. “You never have liked feeling stupid, I know. Be patient and trust me, ok. Have I ever steered you wrong before?”
Abbie took another deep breath. Damn, she’d sounded like a spoiled child. I can trust Corbin she reminded herself. “No, you never have. Okay, I’ll wait for now, but I need answers ASAP.”
“You’ll have them,” Corbin promised. “I’m real glad you’re ok, kid. See you soon.” Somehow Abbie knew he was speaking the truth.
She hung up and turned to Ichabod. “Someone was beheaded?” he asked quietly, but he was watching her with a serious expression. “I thought I’d left all this behind,” Ichabod said. His heart which she had subconsciously been monitoring sped up. Outwardly he gave every appearance of being calm. It was easy to see the soldier he had been.
“I don’t have any details. That’ll change soon, but for now just tell me. Are we in danger?”
“If the murder you seek is who I think he is, we are in grave danger indeed,” he said seriously. He turned away to look out the window.
She nodded. She hated the certainty in his tone. Any danger to him was unacceptable. She wanted to comfort him, but she recognized he needed a few minutes to himself. His heart had begun to slow. She relaxed a bit in response. It was enough for now.
She started the car and left him to his thoughts. The silence was heavy between them. She was left with plenty of time to think about Corbin’s strange behavior. His obsession with the weird things in Sleepy Hollow began to make more sense. Maybe there was more to his hobby than Abbie had realized. She realized that her insistence on burying her head in the sand made her a serious liability.
The four white trees rose in her mind’s eye and for the first time she wasn’t afraid. She had someone to fight for now. She didn’t have enough to fill in the entire puzzle, but it was a big relief to know she wasn’t crazy. It had all been real. Thanks to her guide she was absolutely certain. She knew she could trust her herself. Ichabod was already changing her life for the better.
They were still a few blocks from the clinic when they heard a blood-curdling scream, and a half naked woman ran out in front of her cop car. The scream still ringing in her ears, Abbie hit the brakes; the sound of the tires squealing filled her ears and threatened to overwhelm her.
Ichabod was trying to help her. She fought to focus on his voice, his touch but for once the newly awakened part of her was focused somewhere else. The woman was still screaming as Abbie fought to get her hearing under control. Slowly the words the woman was repeating over and over began to make sense. She was screaming about a headless monster.
Abbie didn’t know how much time had based before she became aware of Ichabod’s voice.
“Abbie, Abbie! Come back to me. You need to focus on my voice. Can you hear me?” He sounded panicked. She hated to hear the fear in his voice. She needed to let him know she was back, from wherever she had gone.
“I hear you. I’m okay,” she assured him. “What happened? How long was I out?” Her head was pounding.
“Not very long, a couple of minutes perhaps. You entered a fugue state. I’ve seen it happen to unbonded sentinels before. You were overwhelmed by one of your senses.”
“I zoned out,” she said slowly. “Like an absence seizure?” she asked, trying to figure it out.
“I’m sorry I don’t know what that is, but I don’t think so. There is nothing wrong with you. I’m not familiar with the word zone, but I think the general idea is correct,” he assured her.
Abbie felt a stab of real terror for the first time since she’d met Ichabod. She hated feeling out of control. How could she do her job, how could she protect her guide, if any loud noise could bring her down like this?
“Abbie, stop. I can feel your fear. I have an idea what you must be thinking, but … a zone as you call it, is very rare for bonded sentinels, as far as I know.” She smiled at the way he slowly pronounced zone as if tasting it. She imagined he was filing it away. “You simply have to learn to control your senses. I have every confidence that you will. Once the bond is complete we should both be able to access are gifts fully.”
That meant her senses were going to get stronger. Awesome. Was she ever going to fully understand what was happening to her? She sighed in frustration. “That thought isn’t as comforting as you think. But if it means more control that’s something at least. How can you be sure?”
“My empathy is already stronger, and we are only partially bonded. I have noticed a marked increase in what I am able to sense since we entered the city.” He sounded calm, but his heart stuttered slightly. She wasn’t sure what it meant.
She looked at him more closely; he was a bit paler than before. She could have kicked herself for not noticing.
“Are you alright? Does it hurt you?” she asked concerned.
“All the feedback is a bit overwhelming, but I’m handling it. However, I will need to meditate sometime soon.” He sounded confident.
Abbie nodded. She suspected he might be playing down the effects. But she decided to let it go for now
Then he frowned. “You’re in pain,” he said. He reached out and placed his palm against her temple, instantly the headache eased. Ichabod removed his hand.
“Thanks,” Abbie said gratefully. “That’s a neat trick.”
He smiled. “Indeed it is. I am glad I could be of service to you.” He smiled happily, and some of the color returned to his cheeks.
Abbie was about to ask him what else he could do, but she was distracted by another thought. She remembered what set her off, a woman had screamed. Where was she? Damn it, Abbie needed to get it together and do her job.
“The woman who was screaming, where is she?” she asked urgently.
He looked confused. “What woman Abbie? You stopped suddenly and then zoned. I didn’t see any woman.” Ichabod insisted.
“But she was right there, she ran out in front of the car. You must have seen her.” Abbie protested.
“I believe you when you say you saw her, Abbie, but I did not, I am sorry.” He looked at her closely, obviously worried.
Abbie closed her eyes. What the hell was going on? She’d been so certain. She felt the old fear creep back but she pushed it away. She was not crazy. Everything she’d seen as a child had to be real. There had to be an explanation for this too. She just had to find it.
Should she get out and investigate the area? She was tempted. She’d seen the woman for a reason.
She turned to her guide, he looked pale and drawn, and he must be exhausted. The need to take care of him overrode everything else and she decided getting him looked at was the priority.
“We’ll worry about it later let’s get you to the clinic.” She said. Ichabod nodded.
They arrived at the clinic quickly, and she wasn’t really surprised to find Dr. Lawson waiting for them in the waiting room. Amanda, the receptionist, had already gone home.
“Hey Hank,” she called.
Hank gave her a big friendly smile and a quick hug. “Hey Abbie, I hear you have a patient for me.”
She nodded and made the introductions.
Hank held out his hand for Ichabod to shake but Ichabod didn’t take it instead he was staring intently at Hank. He pulled Abbie back so that she was standing further away from Hank. Suddenly his red wolf appeared and growled menacingly at Hank. He too tried to push Abbie further away.
Before Abbie could ask him what was wrong. Ichabod actually growled “What are your intentions toward Miss. Mills?” he sounded furious.
Hank grinned. “You can sense what I am,” he said to Ichabod. Abbie could hear the amusement in his voice.
“Yes, I can. Were you going to tell us?” Ichabod demanded harshly. Abbie was confused by the strange tone the conversation had taken. She reached out and put her hand on Ichabod’s shoulder. Much to her surprise, he didn’t relax in the least.
Hank raised his hands in surrender. “I promise you, Mr. Crane. I mean you and your sentinel no harm. I only want to help. Your sentinel is newly online and she needs care.” His tone was slightly admonishing.
Ichabod bristled as if the comment had deeply insulted him. “I can give her whatever she needs,” he bit out angrily.
Abbie stared she had never seen Ichabod be anything less than polite. He usually oozed old world charm which she secretly enjoyed very much. It was cute that he was jealous apparently, but Hank was no threat.
She needed to calm him down. Abbie squeezed his shoulder gently to get his attention. “Ichabod, what is going on?”
“This doctor of yours is a guide, a powerful one,” Ichabod said. He glared at Hank.
“He isn’t mine,” she responded automatically, still amused despite her surprise. Hank a guide, Abbie couldn’t believe it.
“There are other guides in Sleepy Hollow?” Abbie blurted out.
Hank laughed, but it was kind. “Yes of course. Sentinels too. There are about 1500 total in the U.S. There are twice as many guides as sentinels though. No one knows why. Most guides live their whole lives unbonded.” For a moment he looked sad, but it was fleeting.
Hank turned to Ichabod. “Guide Crane, I promise I am no threat to your bond or your Sentinel. I welcome you to Sleepy Hollow.” The words had a formality to them. Then he gave an old-fashioned bow.
The words seem to make Ichabod relax. “I apologize, Dr. Lawson, I don’t know what came over me.”
“Call me Hank, please. You aren’t bonded yet. You see any guide as a possible threat to the bond that you’ll have with your Sentinel. I made matters worse by hugging her. Please forgive me; it’s been a long time since I’ve interacted with an unbonded pair. You responded as any guide would. I’m honestly surprised you didn’t knock me on my ass.” His tone was welcoming, and his expression openly sincere.
Ichabod chuckled. Abbie was enthralled by the sound. She wanted to hear him laugh openly.
“Actually we do have a spiritual bond in place” Ichabod admitted he looked faintly embarrassed.
“Just a spiritual bond, that is unusual,” Hank said in an intrigued tone.
Ichabod cleared his throat, still looking a bit self-conscious. “Our spirit animals took matters into their own hands. They were very impatient it seems.”
Hank seemed surprised and amused. “Your spirit guides bonded on their own?”
Abbie nodded. “Yeah, why, is that weird?” she asked very curious to hear the answer.
“It is somewhat peculiar,” Ichabod admitted. He still looked uncomfortable, and Abbie stifled the urge to glare at Hank. No one was allowed to make Ichabod uncomfortable.
“There’s no need to be embarrassed,” Hank assured. “I’d wager when it’s complete your bond will be very strong. You are likely also a very powerful pair. Given you are a wolf guide that isn’t surprising at all.” He motioned toward the red wolf that was still standing in front of them as if guarding them against Hank.
Abbie was about to ask what he meant, but Ichabod caught her eye, shook his head. Hank pretended he hadn’t noticed the exchange.
She accepted his request not to discuss it in front of Hank and remained silent. As soon as possible she was going to get him to tell her everything she wanted to know, even if she had to tie him down to get him down to the bed to do it. A mental image of Ichabod on her bed sprang up unbidden along with a rush of desire, and she blushed. Both guides turned to look at her, obviously entertained by her discomfort but luckily neither commented on the redness of her cheeks.
Hank took pity on her and motioned toward the back of the clinic. “Come on back, and we’ll get started,” he said cheerfully
Without asking he led them both to an examination room. Abbie offered Ichabod his privacy, but he declined. He seemed as reluctant to be separated from her as she was from him.
Hank’s exam was thorough but efficient.
He pronounced Ichabod healthy pending the return of his blood tests. Abbie sighed in relief to hear it. She was also relieved she wouldn’t have to tell Hank that Ichabod was from the 17th Century. Guide or not she didn’t want them both to end up in a mental institution. He also promised to give Abbie some information on how to best get her senses under control.
After Ichabod, the traitor pointed out the growing rash on her skin, Hank insisted on examining her. She glared at Ichabod for interfering, but he seemed immune to her annoyance. When had he noticed it anyway? She’d completely forgotten about her itchy skin, he gave her a list of more Sentinel friendly products he could use. Ichabod also promised to make sure she bought them. Abbie realized she was outnumbered, and in for many more changes whether she liked it or not. She did not pout. No matter what Hank claimed.
He asked permission to do an emphatic scan, Whatever that was, which Ichabod immediately refused. His tone left no room for argument. Hank didn’t look pleased, but he let it drop. His expression told her that they’d be hearing the request again in the future. Abbie let it go as well, but she made a mental note if it was something Ichabod needed then he’d get it. Part of her wanted to push, but she decided that judging by Ichabod’s reaction, it was important to let him decide.
Hank took a deep breath as if to steady himself. “There are a couple more things.” Hank looked at them both seriously. “I’ve been waiting for one of you to bring this up, but apparently it isn’t going to happen so I’ll just come out and say it.”
“If Ichabod is who I think he is. He’s going to have to be careful what he eats for the next couple of weeks. His body won’t be used to the chemicals in our food, and I’m concerned about his lack of immunity to many modern diseases. I’d like to begin his vaccinations as soon as possible.”
Realizing Hank knew more than he should, Abbie jumped up, ready to get them both out of there. She stood protectively in front of her guide. She reached for her weapon, but Hank held up a hand.
“Abbie, I mean you both no harm. I’m here to help you I swear. I’m just going to reach into my pocket,” he said in a soothing tone.
Abbie nodded. She noted that his heartbeat was steady. He was probably telling the truth. “Slowly,” warned him. He nodded and carefully pulled out a ring unlike any she’d ever seen before.
“An inverted square and compass. You are a freemason. If I had not been so distracted I would have noticed the mark on your finger,” Ichabod said quietly. He looked upset to have overlooked it.
Hank nodded again, looking relieved. “Every Freemason knows the story of how Ichabod crane chopped off the headless horseman’s head and was laid in a cave to wait for the arrival of his sentinel into the world. We are sworn to protect you and to aid you when the time came, although unfortunately the exact location of your burial,” he winced and looked at Ichabod apologetically, “Was lost to time. I can’t tell you what an honor it is to meet you, Captain Crane.” He held out his hand.
Ichabod looked flustered but he reached out and shook it. “Are all sentinels and guides Freemasons?” He asked.
Hank shook his head. “No, but most are aware of them. We allow women to be members now, of course. No one wanted to tell the female sentinels they couldn’t join, and of course they insisted all female guides be allowed to join as well,”he said drolly.
Abbie was very glad to hear it. She felt a surge of pride in those unknown women sentinels who had come before her.
“I know you have lots of questions, and I’m happy to answer them. We’re just waiting for Sheriff Corbin. I’d like us to stay here,” Hank said firmly. “These rooms are private. I know he’ll want to talk to you. Afterward, you can both go home.” He assured them.
Suddenly, Abbie remembered what he said about the vaccinations. The information had finally had a chance to sink in. She felt panic rise. The feeling of protectiveness she associated only with Ichabod rose to the surface. Her sentinel wanted to take control, but she kept her at bay. Was Ichabod in danger, how could she protect him from viruses. She moved over to Ichabod and began running her hands along his skin, trying to prove to herself he was ok. He’s here with you, she reminded herself.
“Abbie, what’s wrong?” Ichabod demanded “I can feel your panic,” he added clearly concerned.
She ignored him and turned to Hank. “Why didn’t you mention that he could get sick sooner? Should we both be wearing masks?” she asked frantically. “I’ve touched him, have I made him sick?”
“Abbie no, he’s fine. He is healthy, and we’ve both been vaccinated. That protects him. For the most part the North East still has herd immunity. There’s nothing to worry about,” Hank said in his most reassuring tone.
Abbie sighed. “If you’re sure. I want him to have everything he needs,” she added authoritatively. It came out sounding like an order, but Abbie didn’t care.
“Of course,” Hank said. “God save me from protective sentinels,” she heard him mutter under his breath as he turned to gather up some papers. She chose to ignore him.
Ichabod was gazing at her affectionately “Abbie I’m fine.” He reached over and touched her face. She pressed her cheek against his palm. “You’ll do whatever the Doctor thinks is best,” she ordered. Ichabod merely smiled in answer. She glared more fiercely, and he sighed, but he was smiling.
“I promise,” he said affectionately. “I will take care of myself.”
She nodded. He was already so important to her. Instead of scaring her, it felt just right. For the first time in a very long time she had no desire to run away. The revelation was startling. She wanted to kiss him so badly, but not in front of Hank. Not the first time. She focused on his scent, his heart beat. She focused on it, and only it, the sound filled her mind. Ichabod’s heart beat was so beautiful, she could get lost in it. The steadiness of it calmed her down.
After that, Hank decided they should all try to relax. “Doctor’s orders,” he teased. They waited another twenty minutes making idle chit chat until finally, Corbin came walking in the door.
“Sorry I’m late. There’s been another murder,” he said solemnly. He sounded exhausted.
Abbie was instantly on alert “When did it happen Corbin?” she asked. The idea of this guy striking again made her skin crawl. Her gut was telling her it wasn’t the last.
“A woman this time,” Corbin said. “Just like last time we have no leads.” He rubbed the back of his neck in frustration.
Abbie felt a chill run up her spine. “A woman?” she asked, more harshly than she intended. “I’m sorry sir,” she said contritely.
Corbin didn’t call her on tone though. He moved on to the matter at hand. “That’s right. She was killed in her home. She was getting undressed at the time.”
Abbie didn’t want to ask, but she knew she had too. ‘What did this woman look like?”
“Blond hair, brown eyes about 5’4.”
Just like the woman that ran in front of the car, the one who had screamed. But it couldn’t be could it? Abbie could not have seen the ghost of a murder victim could she? She began to shake, and Ichabod was instantly by her side. He put an arm around her.
‘Do you know something, Abbie?” Corbin asked.
Abbie hesitated, you trust all these people she reminded herself. It was time to take a leap of faith. “It sounds like the woman I saw jump in front of my car. She was half naked, bleeding and screaming about a headless monster,” she admitted. Her heart pounded. What if they don’t believe me, she thought fearfully.
She felt Ichabod straighten up, she glanced at him, and he was staring at her intently. That same look he’d had when she mentioned the previous murder. She really needed to find out what that was about.
“I know it sounds ridiculous, but I swear it’s true.”
“Actually,” Corbin said, shocking her. “It doesn’t sound crazy at all.”
Abbie rolled over in bed and smiled at the sight the greeted her. Ichabod slept soundly beside her. Almost a week had passed since their bonding and in that time they had gotten to know one another better. Corbin had given her two books on sentinels, an old text written by Sir Richard Burton, and a thesis paper was written by Blair Sandburg, that had never been published but was used as a sort of unofficial textbook for new sentinels.
Corbin had an entire library devoted to not only Sentinels and Guides but the supernatural, Abbie had been afraid she’d never be able to pry her guide away from the books. She smiled at the memory of the way his eyes had lit up when he’d seen them. She had a feeling she’d better get used to being surrounded by books. It was a comforting thought; she wanted Ichabod to be comfortable in their home.
With Ichabod’s help Abbie had learned a great deal about her abilities. It turned out sentinels could see ghosts. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that. Ichabod had also found Sandburg’s paper quite useful. He had taught her to control her senses, it had been far easier than she’d feared it would be. Apparently she was a natural. She felt much better now that she had gained better control.
Things were better than she could have imagined, except that she and Ichabod had not yet completed their bond. Abbie could admit that the sentinel part of her she was growing impatient, the few kisses and the light touches they’d shared weren’t enough, not by far.
However, Ichabod had been determined they should wait until she was more comfortable. He had sensed her discomfort when he’d informed her what the mental bond entailed. It was true she didn’t like the idea that someone else would have access to her memories, there were many unpleasant things buried in her mind. She felt bad for making her guide wait but she was grateful he was willing to give her space.
They had found, however, that they could not tolerate being far from one another more than an hour at most, which was why they were sleeping in the same bed. It was sweet torture, but Abbie knew that neither of them would have it any other way.
Beside her Ichabod opened his eyes and smiled sleepily at her. She grinned in return.
“Good morning Abbie,” he reached out and touched her cheek gently.
“Morning. Did you sleep well?” She couldn’t help but lean into his touch.
Ichabod nodded “Well enough. He moved to sit up and winced.
Abbie automatically tried to help him, but he waved her off. “What’s wrong?” she asked alarmed.
“Nothing it’s just a headache” He tried to assure her. He shook his head and winced.
He’d had a headache yesterday as well. She frowned in concern “Again?” She asked.
“Still,” Ichabod admitted reluctantly. “The pills you gave me while useful in dulling the pain did not alleviate it completely.”
Abbie sat up and glared at her guide. “Why didn’t you tell me? I thought you were feeling better. You shouldn’t hide things like this from me. I think you need to go back and see Hank, today.”
Ichabod frowned at her and got up from the bed. “I’m fine, Abbie. There’s no need to bother Dr. Lawson. I just need to meditate more that’s all.”
“You mediated just last night,” Abbie pointed out in what she hoped was a reasonable tone. She took a good look at Ichabod he was pale, and there was a pain in his eyes. At her words his pulse jumped.
“I said I’m fine, Abbie,” Ichabod said, and Abbie could hear the annoyance in his voice. “We’re going to be late for work. Is it alright if I take a shower first?”
She caught another wince though he strove to hide it. Abbie decided not to call him on it and only nodded and Ichabod stalked off. Damn it, there went any hope for a good morning kiss.
Abbie sighed and ran her hand over her face. She didn’t want to push Ichabod, after all bond or not they’d only known each other a week, but she was getting very worried. His harsh reaction was just more proof something was wrong. Abbie hated to think Ichabod was hiding something from her, but anyone could see he wasn’t well. She guessed his empathic abilities were the problem. He’d explained to her about his shields.
However, he claimed he was handling, his increased empathy well without any help. She was going to have to insist he talk to Hank, in the very near future. That’s going to be fun, she thought derisively. She sighed again and went to start the coffee. It was going to be a long day.
Just like the white trees, Abbie knew this was another of those moments that she’d look back on later and brood about, despite assurances from several people that it wasn’t her fault; she’ll have a list of all the things she should have done differently. It won’t matter what anyone else says, she supposed to protect her guide, and give him everything he needs and she failed.
They arrived at work a bit early. The tension from the morning’s argument still hung in the air between them. They had a couple of witness interviews to do first thing, and Ichabod was doing some last minute prep work. He had taken pain medication and was obviously feeling somewhat better.
They had quickly discovered that Ichabod was exceptionally good at talking to people, his presence put them at ease, and they would be far more forthcoming than they would normally be. Apparently this was normal for Guides, but Ichabod didn’t just use his senses, he had an uncanny ability to read people. It was amazing to watch. Sheriff Corbin was already dropping hints about the police academy. They all knew Abbie wouldn’t be going to Quantico; she wouldn’t go anywhere she couldn’t take her guide.
Detective Morales entered the room, he smiled and waved at Abbie but then he looked at Ichabod and frowned. If looks could kill her guide would be dead. Abbie knew she was going to have to talk to Lucas. She couldn’t tolerate even a perceived threat to her guide, even from a friend. She hadn’t realized that Lucas had been so invested in their relationship. She’d obviously underestimated his feelings.
Abbie was pulled from her thoughts when Ichabod slammed the book down on the desk and stood up, He stalked over to Lucas, and punched him right in the face. “Stop it!” He yelled. “I can’t take it anymore. It hurts too much. She’s not yours, she’s mine.” Lucas had grabbed his nose and he was trying to back away.
“Stop it,” Ichabod yelled again. “I can’t take it anymore. You can’t have her. She was never yours.” He swung again, but he missed.
For a few precious seconds Abbie was too shocked to move ten she rushed over to try to stop her guide. Something was horribly wrong. Ichabod had stopped trying to hit Lucas again. He was standing still now grabbing his head, and then he groaned, and his legs collapsed out from under him. Abbie wasn’t close enough to catch him, and he hit the floor. Abbie rushed to his side. “Ichabod,” she whispered. “What’s wrong?”
“His anger and jealousy, it’s crawling all over me, Abbie. His sadness, he loved you so much. I actually feel a little guilty for causing him pain, but I’m not giving you up.” Ichabod sounded hysterical.
She looked over to where Lucas was standing a hand over his nose, looking stunned. Thank god, he hadn’t hit back, if he had Abbie would have attacked. She wouldn’t have been able to stop himself.
Ichabod could feel his emotions. Abbie winced that couldn’t be pleasant for him. The anger and jealousy radiated from Lucas.
“I cared for him, but I didn’t love him. He isn’t you,” she assured him. “I’m sorry his negative emotions are bleeding all over you,” he stood from her desk and moved around so that she was standing in front of Ichabod.
“You don’t understand. He was just the final straw. It’s everyone, their fear their sadness, even their happiness is too much. I can’t process it. It’s invading my mind. I can’t keep it out. It’s like hearing a thousand voices at one. I feel everything they do, and it hurts, Abbie the pain is terrible.” Ichabod gasped and grabbed his head. “Please help me” he pleaded.
Corbin came over, concern written all over his face. “I called for an ambulance and Hank. He’ll meet us at the hospital.”
Ichabod groaned again, and Abbie reached for him. She’d never felt so helpless what could she do. She wished there was a way she could shield him from this. Why hadn’t she seen what was going on?
She took over her jacket and helped him lie down, using the jacket as a pillow. “It’s going to be ok,” she whispered to him.
“Don’t leave me,” he murmured brokenly. “You’re the only person in this room that isn’t hurting me. You touch helps too. You keep it all a little further away.” She could hear the desperation and pain in his voice. It broke her heart.
“I’m right here, I’m not going anywhere, and we’re going to get you help, I promise.” She tried to assure him. She stroked his hair gently, trying to comfort them both.
She thought she saw the faint outline of the wolf appear, it was whimpering, but Abbie had eyes only for Ichabod. She needed to find a way to help him. She searched inside herself, and instinctively, she knew how to fix this. They needed to bond, she’d been so selfish, and Ichabod had suffered for it. Never again, she promised herself.
Ichabod managed a faint, pained smile at her words. Then he gasped. “My shield has failed” he ground out. He screamed in agony. The most horrible sound she had ever heard. His eyes rolled back, his body went rigid, and he lost consciousness, then much to Abbie’s growing horror, he began to convulse.
“He’s having a seizure,” someone called. “Clear the area; make sure he doesn’t hurt himself.” Abbie was vaguely aware of the movement around her.
The convulsing continued for an eternity, allow the clock on the wall said it had only been 2 and a half minutes. Abbie was frozen; all she could do was watch. Finally, the convulsing stopped. Sheriff Corbin helped her turn Ichabod onto his side. It was alright she told herself, it was over Ichabod would be fine. However, his heart sounded strange, out of rhythm, the beat was rapid. Something was very wrong. Then suddenly his heart stopped. The silence was deafening. Abbie’s whole world seemed to turn sideways.
How could his heart stop? Just like that? It had been so fast a moment ago but now it was silent. This couldn’t be happening. Her guide had stopped breathing. His heart wasn’t beating. Ichabod was dead. She waited for the pain to hit but instead she was numb. She’d never feel anything again, not without him.
The Sheriff began doing chest compressions, rescue breathing, but Abbie knew it was too late Ichabod was gone.
Abbie screamed and screamed again, but she was only peripherally aware of it. Her world had narrowed down to her guide’s prone form. She couldn’t hear anything past the roaring in her ears. She was aware of people talking but she paid them no attention. None of those voices were the voice that she wanted to hear. The one she’d never hear again. She pushed them away, and crawled toward her guide, she’d wait for her own death beside him. It was all she had left, her vision began to swim, and then everything went dark, taking the pain with it.
Abbie opened her eyes and groaned she had such a horrible headache. What was going on? From the smell, she could tell she was in a hospital; she slowly opened her eyes and groaned as the bright light hurt her eyes. “Ow too bright,” she rasped.
“Sorry,” a familiar voice said. I’ll turn them down. “There you go. Better?”
Abbie cautiously opened her eyes, the lights were dimmed. She looked up at Hank; his usually smiling face was drawn. “Thanks,” she murmured. “What happened, what am I doing here?”
Before Hank could answer she remembered. Ichabod! He was dead, her guide was dead. Abbie felt despair crush down her, and a sob escaped her throat. The sentinel inside her reared up and took over. Abbie didn’t have the strength to fight it. She dialed up her sense automatically looking for her guide’s heartbeat. Part of her knew she wouldn’t find it but she couldn’t stop herself.
Then suddenly, there it was. Ichabod’s heartbeat she’d know it anywhere. Her guide was alive! Abbie felt tears, running down her face, but this time they were tears of joy.
“Abbie, Abbie can you hear me?” There were hands on her shoulders. She was suddenly aware Hank was calling her name insistently.
“He’s alive,” she sniffled. It wasn’t a question. She felt joy and relief coursing through her.
“Yes, he is,” Hank agreed gently. He went into cardiac arrest, but he was revived on the scene and he’ll be fine.” He assured her. He squeezed her shoulder and let go.
“What am I doing here?” Abbie demanded. She wanted to see Ichabod immediately.
“You’re guide’s death however, temporary, was too much for you. You started screaming and passed out. Your body had begun to shut down. I’ve never seen that reaction in a sentinel that wasn’t fully bonded.” Hank admitted, and Abbie had never seen him look so uncertain. It was very disconcerting.
Hank seemed to shake himself, and his face took on more of its usual cheerfulness. “Once Ichabod started breathing again, your vitals returned to normal.” Hank smiled faintly.
“Why aren’t I with him, I want to see him right now.” Abbie began trying to climb out of bed. She needed to see her guide as quickly as possible.
“Don’t you dare, Abigail Mills get back into that bed,” Hank ordered sternly, and with all the authority of a doctor used to being obeyed.
Abbie ignored him, and tried to get up again, but she was breathing hard. Even keeping her head up was difficult. She stood up and swayed. Reaching back she tried to balance herself on the bed. Admitting defeat, she let Hank help her get back into bed.
“I’m really sorry. Abbie, you can’t see him right now. They’re keeping him overnight. I can’t tell them you’re bonded, and so you should be allowed to sleep in the same room. I know it sucks, but you’ll just have to be patient. We have to follow mundane rules.” Hank really did sound sorry. His explanation did make sense, but that didn’t mean she didn’t hate it.
“Fine. I’ll stay put for one night, but then I want to see him. I mean it.” She wouldn’t allow them to keep her from her guide any longer than that.
“What happened to him?” she asked. She desperately needed to know.
Hank didn’t try to claim patient confidentiality. “Officially he suffered cardiac arrest; complications from a grand mal seizure. Between us, he suffered something called an Empathic Cascade.”
“What does that mean?” Abbie demanded harshly. She felt a rush of fear whatever it was it sounded dangerous.
“He couldn’t maintain his shields, and his empathic pathway began to erode. Finally, his shield failed, and he was bombarded by the emotions of everyone around him for several blocks. It must have been excruciatingly painful,” Hank explained calmly. Too calmly, his reasonable tone grated on her nerves.
Then his words really sunk in. Abbie felt a stab of pain hit her heart, panic began to rise again. She’d almost lost him, he’d been sick, suffering and she hadn’t known. “He said he was having headaches. He said his empathy had gotten stronger, but that he was handling it.” He promised me he was fine.’
He’d lied. Her guide had lied to her about his health. She’d suspected but knowing it was true hurt. Anger replaced the panic. When he was well, she was going to complete the bond, and then she was going to kick his ass.
As if reading her mind, Hank said “I’ve helped him raise his shield, but what he really needs is to bond as soon as possible. Once the bond is complete you will help provide him a natural buffer for his empathy.” He reached out and patted her arm. “He’s going to be fine, Abbie. I promise,” he reassured her.
Abbie wasn’t at all surprised by the news. However, she did appreciate his reassurances. “Thanks, Doc. Let me know if anything changes, immediately.” It wasn’t a request.
Hank seemed to instinctively know it. “Yes, Sentinel,” he said, in a strangely respectful tone. In almost any other circumstance, it would have freaked Abbie out, but she just nodded pleased she’d gotten her point across. If anything happened to her guide, and she wasn’t informed heads would roll.
Then sounding more like himself, he ordered her to get some rest he left the room. Abbie yawned she was exhausted. When Ichabod was released, they were going to talk. She could guess why Ichabod had lied to her, to give her the space she’d needed. He would never put her needs before his ever again. She closed her eyes and let the sound of his heartbeat lull her to sleep.
They were allowed to leave the hospital the next day. That night Abbie insisted Ichabod rest. She wrapped her arms around him and held him close, all night long. It would be some time before she’d be comfortable letting him out of her sight.
Corbin had given them booth the day off. They got up and took turns showering, Ichabod went first.
When Abbie came out of the shower Ichabod was waiting for her. “You should eat something.”
“I’m too nervous to eat,” Ichabod admitted. Abbie decided to let it go for now.
“We need to talk,” Abbie said quietly.
Ichabod only nodded. She took his hand and led him to the bed they both sat down.
“Why did you hide how sick you were from me? I know I was uncomfortable with the idea of the bond, but you have to know I’d do anything for you,” she said earnestly. She knew he could sense her honestly.
“I know,” he assured her. “I would do anything for you as well. I sensed your fear and I wanted to give you the time you needed to get used to the idea of us. Finding you is the best thing that ever happened to me, but the truth is I needed time to adjust. There have been so many changes in such a short time.” His heart thumped a steady comforting beat.
Abbie nodded. She’d been glad that they could take the time to get to know one another too.
She wanted to be completely honest with him, “I’ve also been thinking about your wife. I’m grateful to her for keeping you safe until I found you, but I’m jealous of her too. You told me you loved her, and I worry there isn’t enough room in your heart for me too.”
He reached out and took her hand in both of his, and kissed her knuckles. His eyes were far away, lost in some memory of his late wife. “I loved Katrina, very much, but we both knew what we had was temporary. All online guides have a dark place inside them where their sentinel should be, no matter how much we loved one another Katrina could never stop my pain. She isn’t the other half of me. I think it pained her at times, it pained us both, but we accepted it, and we were happy. I know that she’d be happy for us.” He smiled at her, but there were tears in his eyes.
Abbie felt a surge of gratefulness to Katrina, once again. “I’m glad you weren’t alone when I couldn’t be with you. I really mean that.”
“She had a vision of you once,” Ichabod grinned at her. The sadness in his eyes faded.
Abbie was very surprised, although perhaps she shouldn’t have been. “Really?” What did she tell you?
He smiled. “That my sentinel was waiting for me, that she was beautiful and strong, and perfect for me in every way. It gave us both hope that one day my pain would end.”
Abbie felt tears blur her vision. God, this was so sappy, but right now she didn’t care. Ichabod had said exactly what she’d needed to hear. Some part of her that had still been ready to run, the little girl who had been hurt over and over again who still expected life to kick her, and take anything good away, grew quiet. This man was her other half, they truly belonged together. It might not always be easy but being with him would be worth it. She wouldn’t let life take this from her.
“I want to bond with you, but I want you to promise, you’ll never lie to me again. I’ll always try to be as honest with you, as I can. This can only work if we trust each other. We’re a team, ok?”
“I promise not to hide anything from you again.” Ichabod agreed. “I know you’re still worried about the effect your past will have one me, but I’ve been to war, and I’ve been a spy. I’ve seen and done some ugly things. Nothing in your past will make me turn away from you.” He kept his gaze steadily on her. She could see his absolute confidence in what he was saying.
All Abbie could do was nod. The tears overflowed and ran down her cheeks. Ichabod reached out and brushed them away. “You are so beautiful,” he murmured. They both leaned forward and their lips met. Abbie wanted to kiss him forever, but she pulled back. There was still something she had to do.
“I want to finish the bond, are you ready?” Abbie was relieved that she felt no fear whatsoever. She was completely sure she wanted this.
Ichabod smiled “God yes.” She could hear the anticipation in his voice.
He stood and began to talk of his clothes, Abbie watched avidly. While she removed her own, she was hardly aware of the clothes leaving her body. Sight was already locked in, but she wanted to catalog everything about her guide. When he was naked, he allowed her to look her fill. He turned in a slow circle for her. He was so gorgeous, and he was all hers. Her guide. Abbie felt a rush of pride, followed closely by desire. Scent had been locked in since they meant, but now she could smell his emotions. It was amazing. Ichabod’s scent was thick with desire, and anticipation. It was delicious.
Touch was next. She walked over to him and placed a hand on his chest over his heart. She ran her hands all over him, memorize everything, the feel of his chest hair between her fingers, she needed to know every scar. She brushed a scar on his shoulder, “What’s this?” she whispered. This moment felt too important, too sacred for loud voices.
“A bullet wound,” he whispered in reply, as if reluctant to break the moment, with talking. “I was very lucky it went straight through.”
She leaned up and kissed it.
Taste was next. This would be easier lying down. She pushed Ichabod gently toward the bed, he laughed. It was a beautiful sound. He eagerly complied, lying down. He pulled her down on top of him, and he allowed her to explore him with her lips and tongue. He enjoyed the sensations, making lovely sounds for her. His taste filled her mouth, and she memorized the slightly different flavors, of his skin. She had felt her desire rising, and she could see that Ichabod was enjoying himself too. When she took his cock in her mouth he jumped, she sucked him for a little while but she didn’t stay long. She wanted him inside her when he came.
As he moved and flipped them over, so she was on the bottom, she felt the imprint lock into place, and the bond between them opened, as the second layer locked in place. Suddenly she could feel his desire as if it were her own. It mingled with hers, and it was so overwhelming she felt as if it as going to carry her away.
She was aching for him; she longed to feel him inside her. She needed it now. He knew it too, with her help he guided himself to her pussy and thrust in, slowly. He took his time. She knew he was wary of hurting her, she wanted more, but for now she let him set the pace. When he was finally all the way in they both gasped with pleasure. She wrapped her legs around his waist, trying to pull him even closer. He thrust in and out experimentally until he found the bundle of nerves inside her, and when he hit it pleasure danced up her spine.
“Are you ready? his voice was tender. “I’m going to drop my shields now, your mind will try to fight me, but you have to let me in.” he smiled at her lovingly.
She nodded. She knew the moment it happened because her sense of Ichabod’s emotions grew even stronger. She had no idea where his feelings began and hers ended. She felt his mind prod her own, and it was amazing. Nothing had prepared her for the pleasure of their minds touching for the first time. The fear she was expecting never came, and Ichabod’s mind slid into hers easily.
She was surprised when a shield locked into place, around both their minds, protecting them from the outside world. She felt Ichabod’s wonder and his relief. She felt his gratitude, as the mental bond snapped into place. But it was lost as a rush of memories suddenly flooded her. She knew every part of Ichabod in a split second. It was too much to process all at once. They had time, they were no longer any secrets between them, and they were one. Just as they were always meant to be.
Some part of her was away that Ichabod was still moving inside her, the pleasure circled between them on a loop; still she was surprised when she climaxed. The pleasure so intense, she cried out, he came a few seconds later, and their combined pleasure flooded her system. It was almost painful in its intensity.
Afterward, they lay together enjoying the afterglow and exploring their new bond. Abbie felt more content than she ever thought possible. They still had a lot to figure out, but they would do it together, and for the first time that thought wasn’t scary at all. She was thankful for the unexpected gift life had given her. For the first time, Abbie was content right where she was. In Ichabod’s arms she was home.