I would like to thank JP Barnaby for taking the time to talk to us about Spencer. She has for us today a little . Check out my review of Spencer here.
The first time I read this scene, my only response was “Wow”. I am so proud to be hosting this scene.
Aaron in the Hospital
The sand cementing my eyes closed cracked as I blinked away sleep. A weight from inside my soul made my limbs too heavy to move. My head spun as my eyes finally opened and I recognized the same high ceiling of the hospital room I was barely awake long enough to remember. I could have made a pillow out of the cotton that lined my mouth. It might have been more comfortable than the institutional thing under me. My head fell to the side and I found my mom dozing in a chair, her feet up on the second chair, and a glaring white blanket across her. She’d snuggled down in it. I wished I could find that same comfort.
I watched her for a few minutes, panic bubbling up through me like a drowning man expelling his last breath. Tiny impenetrable bubbles, huge angry bubbles, they filled my lungs until I couldn’t breathe. The worst part was—I had no idea why. The terror came from nowhere in my well-lit hospital room, feet from the one person who make me feel safe. Even through the fog of pain medication, the fear pressed on my chest, replacing the air with empty panic.
“Aaron, honey, it’s okay.” My mother’s voice came from far away, the other side of a long tunnel. I wanted to get out of the tunnel so I looked around for her and she was right beside me. The circles under her eyes, her sallow pale skin, they surprised me. She didn’t look like my mother. She looked older somehow. My mother grabbed something next to the bed, like a remote, but with a long cable that attached to the railing. She pressed a button on it and I didn’t even have time to ask before a voice came through the little box.
“Can I help you, Mrs. Downing?”
The disembodied voice confused me further. I closed my eyes again, surprised by the tear that slipped down my cheek.
“I’ll page Dr. Limmick. Does he need anything for pain?”
My mother turned to me then and I flinched away as she tried to brush my hair out of my eyes. I don’t even know why. Something grated against my bones when I thought about being touched.
“Are you hurting?”
Yes. I wanted to scream it. I hurt. My heart hurt. The very fibers of my being ached and the pain was almost physical. Something, some fundamental truth swam just below the surface of my consciousness. But it was like fishing with my bare hands, I touched it, but couldn’t grab it in my trembling fingers.
“Yes,” I whispered.
Flashes of memory, wisps of nightmares, fragments of ideas slammed into my mind with horrifying brutality. I tried to sit up, but blinding pain shot through my legs and back, but none worse than—
The knife slashed across my memory in a dizzying spray of blood. Juliette was dead. I knew that. My mother had told me during one of my very few lucid moments in those first few days. But, they’d cut me too. I remembered the fiery pain across my face, my throat. With everything they did to me, those two things stood out stark and vivid against the kaleidoscope of horrors.
“How…how bad mom?”
“What do you mean, Aaron?” The question seemed genuine except for the terrible knowledge in her brown eyes. She knew exactly what my question meant. Either she wanted me not to ask again, or stalled for time. On either count, she would be disappointed.
“How bad am I hurt?”
“Pretty bad, honey,” she conceded. I broke her gaze to assess what I could see. Bandages littered my forearms, and if I were to pull back the blankets, I’d probably have the same if the stinging in my shins and thighs was any indication. I couldn’t face where they’d hurt me most, so I moved back up to my throat, my face. I lifted a hand, and almost slapped myself as I misjudged the weight and flexibility of my own arm. A bandage ran across my throat, but when I touched my face I felt the pin pricks of stitches. I’d had stitches before when I fell against a jagged shard of glass as a kid. I remembered how angry and scary they looked. I remembered the scar they left behind.
“I need a mirror.”
“That can wait,” she said and I heard the tremor in it. She didn’t want me to see, at least not until they could dope me up again. But I knew it wouldn’t be any better then.
“Mom, please.” I tried to keep my voice calm, but fear and pain laced the ledges, curling them like burnt paper. She stood, but didn’t move for a long moment. I nearly asked again, but then she picked up her purse with shaking hands and dug through it for far longer than it should have then to find the small mirror.
“Mom…” I let the word trail off, suddenly unsure. My mother didn’t want to give me the mirror. Her reluctance was almost tangible, a living breathing animal that would burrow into me and feed of my self-doubt. I didn’t reach for it, and before I could tell her no, she set it in my hand. The cool glass sucked the warmth from me as I lifted it.
My entire life changed in the span of a three-inch diameter circle of glass.
With the softest touch, I grazed the skin, pulled tight across six inches of stitches. My face, which I’d taken for granted most of my life, had been ripped open in a patchwork of red angry gashes. The worst, from the knife instead of debris on the floor, dug a chasm in my skin. It took all of my focus until a tear rolled down into the reflection and onto the gash. I couldn’t speak, the horror of my ruined face far beyond words.
I didn’t sob.
I didn’t rail.
I didn’t scream.
I simply sat watching my sorrow pour down my ravaged face.
From the Publisher:
A Survivor Story
It’s been nearly five years since Aaron woke up in the hospital so broken, he couldn’t stand the sight of his own face. The flashbacks no longer dominate his life, but he’s still unable to find intimacy with his lover, Spencer Thomas. With time, patience, and the support of his family, his therapist, and his loving partner, Aaron has figured out how to live again. The problem is, Spencer hasn’t. His life has been on hold as he waits for the day he and Aaron can have a normal relationship. Hoping to move things forward for them both, he takes a job as a programmer in downtown Chicago, leaving Aaron alone.
Reeling in the wake of Spencer’s absence, Aaron receives another shock when his attackers are caught.
Now, he must testify and verbalize his worst nightmare. Publicly reliving his trauma without Spencer at his side destroys his precarious control. But he finds someone who can understand and empathize in Jordan, who watched his brother cut down in a school shooting. With Spencer gone and the DA knocking at his door, Aaron seeks solace in Jordan, and Spencer will have to risk everything to hold on to Aaron’s love.
About the Author
Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Working Boys series, the Little Boy Lost series, In the Absence of Monsters, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
Web site: http://www.JPBarnaby.com
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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