Hannah Black used to be a medical doctor. Back before she was taken by the Imperium, held and tortured via isolation and beatings. She’s a shadow of her former self when Vincenz Cuomo finds her imprisoned in a lab he’s set to blow up. And from that moment on, Hannah grabs hold of her life, of her future and is determined not to let go. She’s broken in a lot of ways. Wounded. Messed up and befuddled. But she’s also strong, intelligent and brave. It’s through her path back to herself, through her growing and deepening connection with Vincenz and Julian that she beings to understand and believe the things they tell her.
“They’ll tie it down. Cover all the places the sand can get in. It messes with the inner workings of everything,” Piper explained.
“I like it that you tell me things. Can I help?”
Piper smiled and took her hand. “Yes. Come on. I’ll show you what needs to be done.”
Piper never treated her as if she were fragile. Though, Hannah thought as she locked the tie into place, Piper had seen Hannah at the very worst. Had seen her that day when Vincenz had come to free her. Then again, Piper had been drowning in her own grief at the time. Still, Hannah liked just how utterly matter-of-fact Piper was. Hannah never felt as if she had to hold herself together so tightly when she was with the other woman. It was a relief to build a slow friendship with someone who never seemed to want to fix her or think she was about to fall apart at any moment.
She only had that with Julian and Vincenz, though they both worried for her.
“Nice job,” one of Piper’s people said to her as he checked over Hannah’s work. “Let’s get inside. There’s a feast waiting.”
Julian approached, his hand out, and she took it, smiling. “Food.”
“I know. You’ll like it.”
The air hummed against her skin as she turned her face up. There was so much chaos in the environment there. The shuss of sand and dirt sliding together off in the distance.
“Do you like how it feels here?” he asked as if she’d said it aloud instead of thinking it.
“It’s raw.” She licked her lips. There weren’t a thousand barriers between Hannah’s senses and the world around her. Not here. Here it was unvarnished. “What’s the smell in the air?”
“Ozone. The spark of the big storms. It builds up and around, like a tunnel of wind and earth. Sometimes so fast it can tear the flesh from bone. Not here, but out in the wild areas. There’s lightning in the center. Out in the wilderness there are patches of scorched earth turned to glass.”
“Really?” How thrilling to see nature do something like that.
“Would you like to see it? After the storm breaks and it’s all clear, of course.”
She squeezed his hand. “Yes. Yes, please. I’d love to see that.”
He pulled her toward the largest building. “Then that’s what we’ll do. Living quarters up here. Vin has taken our bags in already. Come on inside so they can lock down the rest of the house.”
She followed him, breathing in the strangeness in the air.
He paused after he’d closed the door and latched it, setting a seal. “Me? Oh, yes, beautiful Hannah, you always stir me up.”
She smiled, flattered. “Oh. That’s nice. I meant the atmosphere here. It’s twisty and turny. Nothing knows what it wants. So it does it all. Churning. The air, the elements all churn against one another. Beautiful chaos.”
He leaned down and kissed her with so much gentleness it made her heart ache. “Your mind is so beautiful. That’s exactly what it is here. That’s why the storms are the way they are. The magnetic fields in the planet are unbalanced. Not in a catastrophic way. But not everyone could survive here.”
She shook her head. “No.” But she could. Maybe.
Today’s prize is a signed copy of Mesmerized. I’ll choose from the comments to this post and announce in tomorrow’s winner’s post. Good luck!