This new bonus scene has been added to the back of Fighting Temptation. Feel free to update your ebook version if this was purchased before December 2016. This is a glimpse of all the men and Faith in the hospital in Germany, after they escaped that fateful week. Even Jaxson and Anna’s scene has been revamped from the previous one I had written on this website.
Please note, this scene has been written in third person. It was the only way to hear everyone’s thoughts.
Alone in his hospital room, Jaxson stared up at the ceiling, lost in his guilt and the overwhelming despair that continued to plague him. The tortured memories continuously assaulted his mind, offering no reprieve from the hell he now called home. His body was broken, soul fractured and life irrevocably changed in a way that no human could fully comprehend.
Yet, there he was, heart still beating with vigor in his chest, air still pumping through his lungs. Deep down he knew there was only one reason for that.
The light knock on his hospital door pulled him from his haunted thoughts. He was too weak to call out until he saw who it was. The nurse slowly wheeled Anna in, her face covered in scrapes, cuts and bruises. Some deep enough to leave scars for the remainder of her life.
His chest twisted with agonizing pain at the sight of the sad broken fourteen-year-old girl, adding to the suffering he was already experiencing.
“Hey, kid.” He finally summoned enough words to greet her. They were weak and it hurt like hell to talk, but he’d found them anyway.
Anna’s cracked lip trembled as she fought to hold her tears at bay. “Can I stay with you for a little while?” she asked, a tiny morsel of hope lying just beneath the fear in her voice. “I don’t want to be alone. I’m scared.”
The admission came as a shock to Jaxson. He couldn’t understand why she felt safe with him. Not when he failed her like he did but he would not turn her away. He’d do anything for her. “Yeah, you can stay with me.”
The nurse wheeled Anna closer to his bed. “I’ll come back in an hour to check on you,” she said, before leaving them.
Anna’s cheeks hollowed and her chin quivered as she tried to hold herself together. “You look like you’re in a lot of pain.”
“Nothing I can’t handle. How about you? Any pain?”
She shook her head. “I haven’t felt much since they gave me the medication. I’m just… afraid.”
“Don’t be. No one can hurt you now. Your parents will be here soon to take you back home where you belong.”
She swallowed thickly, her tears finally escaping down her cheeks. “Is it horrible for me to say I wish you were coming with me? I love my parents, but my dad isn’t the kind of guy who knows how to use his fists or a gun. He’s a surgeon.”
“Well, I’ll bet he’s good with a scalpel and that shit can cause some serious damage to someone,” Jaxson said, hoping to get a laugh from her.
Anna busted into laughter and he couldn’t help but smile. It quickly evaporated though, when the beautiful sound broke into a sob.
It killed him, like a cruel blade twisting in the center of his chest. No girl should ever have to go through what she has, especially one as young and innocent as her.
“Listen, kid. I know we just got out of some crazy shit but you’ll be safe with your parents. I’ll bet your dad will take all precautions necessary to keep you safe.”
Anna nodded and reached for the Kleenex next to his bed, dabbing her cheeks with it and erasing the tears. If only the pain on the inside could be wiped away as easily.
“Maybe you can come visit me sometime?” she asked, hope thick in her voice
“Yeah, maybe.” Jaxson’s reply was wary. He didn’t know if he would be able to face her again. To look her in the eyes months from now and know his best wasn’t good enough. “I’m going to a rehabilitation clinic for a while, but I’ll come check on you when I’m out,” he promised her in the end.
It was enough to bring a soft smile to her face.
Silence fell between them but their demons were loud, consuming the room.
Anna broke it a moment later. “Who was the girl that just left?”
Jaxson tensed at the question. “What girl?” He knew exactly who she was talking about. The pain was still fresh from the decision he made to send her away, the self-inflicted wound in his chest was as painful as the physical ones he wore on his body.
“The pretty one who was crying. The one your friend took away.”
“Her name is Julia. She’s my best friend,” he answered, his voice as hollow as the organ in his chest.
“You didn’t want to see her?”
“I did. I just didn’t want her to see me,” he explained. Even speaking of her hurt in a way he couldn’t describe.
“Was she the one who gave you the necklace?”
Jaxson nodded, the fire in his chest growing hotter by the second.
“Are you in love with her?”
He glanced over at Anna, his eyes narrowing. “Do you always ask this many questions?”
She cracked a smiled, embarrassed by her curiosity. “Yeah, I do, sorry. I won’t ask any more.” A yawn escaped her, exhaustion slipping over her tired body and she laid her head down next to his arm.
“Why don’t you go rest if you’re tired? You can come back after. I’m not going anywhere.”
“No,” she mumbled, tiredly. “Please don’t make me leave. I want to stay with you or I won’t sleep.”
Her plea had his burning chest tightening further. “You can stay as long as you want,” he told her.
“Thank you.” She reached for his hand, gripping it tightly in hers.
The feel of her small fingers clinging to his shifted something inside of him. He held on tight, staring up at the ceiling, his thoughts fixed on Julia.
“Can you keep a secret?” he asked her a moment later.
“Yes.” she whispered
“I’m in love with her. I have been since I was nineteen years old.”
It felt good to confess that to someone. He wished he had been brave enough to tell Julia, but he knew in the end it was better this way. She was better off without him, especially now. There was no way he could drag her into this hell with him.
He was forever changed by this fateful week and she deserved so much more than what he could give her.
Anna never replied but her fingers squeezed his, as if she felt his pain, knew it. It wasn’t long before her breathing evened out and she fell asleep.
When the nurse came back an hour later, Jaxson ordered for a bed to be brought in for Anna. The nurse obliged and woke Anna only long enough to get her situated. After she left, Anna grabbed Jaxson’s hand once more and fell back asleep. He was glad he could offer her comfort. He wished he could find some of his own, or even a couple of hours sleep.
But sleep never came for him and peace was even further.
Jaxson spent the remainder of the night staring out into the darkness, wishing for a love he couldn’t have, and remembering all the reasons why he didn’t deserve her anyway. He stayed awake until morning came, until the promise of another day offered him a temporary escape from the demons that would continue to haunt him for the rest of his life.
Out in the hall Catherine and John Evans, along with their two daughters, ran up to the nurses’ station, fear and agony plaguing the worried family.
“Excuse me. We’re here for my son, Sawyer Evans.” Catherine said, her voice thick with tears. Her heart had been in her throat since the phone call. Her entire world was in shambles and it wouldn’t be righted until she knew if her son was still alive.
God help her if he wasn’t. If she had come all this way to find out he didn’t make it, she would not survive. Not without her only son.
John held his crying daughters close, feeling helpless and lost in his own grief. He’d been trying to stay strong for his family. He’d always been the rock they needed when times were hard but they’d never experienced anything like this before and the thought of losing any of his children or his precious wife frightened him more than anything else.
“One moment while I check with the doctor and make sure he’s clear for visitors.”
“Can you at least tell us if he’s okay?” Catherine asked, desperate for answers.
The nurse gave her a sympathetic look. “Please, just give me a minute. I need to get clearance from the doctor first.”
As the nursed picked up the phone, Catherine turned to her husband, sobbing into his chest. He wrapped his arm tight around her also, offering what little comfort he could. He knew she was just as scared as he was. Their children were their world and life without them would be destroyed.
“Mr. and Mrs. Evans.”
Catherine stepped away from her husband and looked up at the stranger approaching them, the concern etched across his face matched that of their own.
The man extended his hand to them. “I’m Cooper McKay. I’m a good friend of Jaxson’s. He was with Sawyer and Cade.”
Another sob slipped from Catherine. “Cade too?”
“Please tell me they’re okay. Please,” she begged.
Cooper seemed to hesitate before answering which made John’s anxiety spike in fear.
“They’re alive,” Cooper finally answered, sending relief to sweep through them all. “I’ve spoken to your son but not Cade. He isn’t seeing anyone at the moment. Both are in stable condition though.”
“Oh thank God,” Catherine cried, while Samantha and Jesse hugged one another.
Cooper cleared his throat and shifted on his feet. “I feel like I must warn you though. They are in very bad shape. It’s not easy to see.”
John could see it in the young man’s eyes, what he saw of them was something he would live with forever. It brought his own concern back up to the surface.
Catherine shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. As long as he’s alive we will get him the help he needs. Both him and Cade.” she added.
The nurse hung up the phone and turned to the family. “The doctor will be here shortly to speak with you. In the meantime, you are free to see your son. Please, follow me,” she said, leading them away.
Catherine offered Cooper an appreciative smile. “Thank you so much.”
Cooper gave her a nod and John reached out to clasp the man’s hand, thankful for his help.
The family followed the nurse closely, except John. His steps weren’t as fast as his mind had wanted them to be. His chest contracted, his worst fear making his feet feel like heavy anchors.
Once they arrived, he hung back as the nurse opened the door, watching his wife and daughters walk in. The sound of his wife’s shattered sob pulled him closer, no matter how scared he was to see his son, he wouldn’t leave his beloved wife to face it alone.
He stepped in behind her, his hands moving to her waist to steady her as her hand flew to her mouth. His own knees threatened to buckle at the sight before him but he’d remained standing by some miracle. His only son, his flesh and blood. The boy he raised to be a killer on the ice who went on to kill for his country, lay there motionless, his face almost unrecognizable due to his injuries.
Sawyer slowly twisted his head to the side, his swollen shut eyes making it difficult to see his family. His body was mangled, and it was obvious to everyone just how much pain he was in but he hadn’t lost his trademark smirk or the playfulness in his eyes. “You all can thank me later for getting you a trip to Germany,” his voice was rough as he breathed through the pain.
“Sawyer!” His name fled his mother’s lips on a sob. She leaned over him, hugging his broken body carefully as she cried. His sisters fell on his other side doing the same, wrapping him in a cocoon.
“I’m all right, Mom,” he choked out, his throat burning with emotion. His eyes lifted to his father’s, where he stood rooted near the door.
John was frozen. His mind still running through hundreds of scenarios on how his son ended up here in this condition. He’d always seen his son as strong, courageous, but not invincible. In his heart, he knew a day like today could easily become reality, which is why he never wanted him to do this in the first place. Seeing it with his own eyes broke him.
John couldn’t stand there for another second. He turned and fled the room, his feet eating up the hospital floor as he found the nearest exit. Once his lungs took in the fresh air outside, he was finally able to catch his breath. He walked several feet away from the entrance where he knew he would be alone.
It was there he was able to let go to feel the tremendous weight of what his son had gone through. It was there that John fell to his knees on the concrete, and cried for his son.
It would change his family forever.
Cade lay silent in his hospital room. He ignored the nurse at his bedside as she diligently changed the bandage on his head. She again tried convincing him to take the pain medication but he declined, like he had the last several times. It wouldn’t matter if she gave it to him anyway, nothing could take away the permanent ache in his chest.
His mind constantly conjured up the most unbearable things as he imagined what they did to her. The beautiful red head who had not only captured his attention but had somehow made him feel again. The knowledge hurdled through him, the revelation almost as painful as his tortuous thoughts. And when he wasn’t thinking about her he was thinking about his little sister, the one person he could never save no matter how many times he’s tried inside of his mind. So he wallowed in his guilt, burned there, convinced it was what he deserved.
“Sir, are you sure you won’t reconsider about Miss Williams?” The nurse asked.
He refused to answer that question again, his response would be the same. He couldn’t face her. Not now. Probably not ever. He couldn’t look her in the face and know how much he had failed her. Or even worse, to see the fear in her eyes, fear of him, because she had got a glimpse at what exactly lived inside of him. It killed him, he ached to see her, to know she was okay. To watch precious air fill her lungs and know she was still breathing life into her beautiful soul. A soul so bright but was no doubt shattered from what those bastards did to her.
The nurse sighed at his silence. “Okay. What about family? Are you sure there isn’t someone we can call for you? Anyone?”
“No,” he spoke past the guilt and shame, his attention diverted to the darkened window. Night had fallen and with it came the promise of darkness, when his demons would swallow him whole. “I have no one.”
The nurse sighed with sympathy then turned and left the room. Cade hit the button on the side of his bed, shutting out the lights, plunging himself into the hell he deserved. The hell he’d earned. The hell he called home. But it did not stop him from thinking about the woman who irrevocably changed his life. The little bit of light he was lucky enough to have for a brief moment before it was all stolen from him, thrusting him back into the dark where he belonged.
Faith’s innocence had been stolen from her. She’d been tortured and abused in the worst way imaginable. But nothing broke her more than knowing that a little boy died for her or the man she fell in love with endured the same hell in order to save her.
Faith’s attention drew to the door as the nurse stepped into her room, her face twisted in disappointment. “Did you tell him?” she asked.
The nurse nodded. “I’m sorry, I tried. But he’s still refusing to see anyone.”
Faith tried to keep the tears from falling but they slipped down her bruised cheeks anyway, betraying the broken state of her heart. She ached so much to be with him, to hold his hand, the sight of how badly he was hurt was still fresh in her mind. And it was all because of her. He suffered through it just to save her.
“Your parents will be here early in the morning,” the nurse said, trying to make her feel better.
It didn’t work. Her heart hurt too much and she knew how difficult it would be on her parents to see her this way or hear what she had been through.
“He asks about you,” the nurse told her quietly.
Faith’s tear filled eyes lifted back to her.
“He asks about you anytime one of us goes in to check on him and tells us to make sure all of your needs and wants are met. It’s easy to see how much he cares for you.”
That should have made her feel better but it didn’t. If anything she longed for him more, to tell him how sorry she was for the pain he endured because of her. To thank him for saving her life and… to just be with him.
Faith’s voice trembled as she thanked the nurse. The moment she walked out and closed her hospital room door, Faith crumbled. Turning on her side, she let go of all the sorrow that suffocated her. She cried for Cade, for his friends and for Aadil. She cried for herself and the shame she carried now in her soul. She cried until there were no more tears left and the loneliness sucked her into a deep slumber.
Unbeknownst to Faith, Cade changed his mind later that night and sat for hours next to her bed while she slept. He held her hand and watched her take in those precious breaths. Just one last time, he needed to see her. He stared down at her with longing and regret, wishing like hell he was worthy enough to hold her in his arms. Because if he had been, he’d never let her go.