My body jerks awake. I pant, frozen in place, my eyes spinning around the room. Where am I? I’m lying in a bed, but I don’t recognize this bedroom, decorated in navy blues and golds. A dark curtain separates the bed from an adjacent light-filled space. Donovan reaches over to cradle me in his arms and I instinctively flex in a defensive pose and try to pull away.
“Relax, Kenna,” he sooths, his sea-green eyes caressing mine. “It was just a nightmare. You’re okay.”
“Where’s Richard? Where’s my mom?”
“I don’t know. I guess back in California. They’re not here. You’re safe. You’re on a cruise, remember? We’re on our way to see Alaska.” He gathers my wearied body into his folds and strokes my hair. “It was just a bad dream baby, that’s all.”
A dream? It seemed so real. I exhale deeply and melt into Donovan’s arms, allowing his caresses to comfort me the way only he knows how, massaging away the bad memories afflicting my subconscious.
Awareness of my surroundings comes to me. I remember now. I’m on Spring Break and we’re on a cruise to Alaska with Donovan’s family.
“Was it the same dream you had in Mammoth?” Donovan asks tenderly, smoothing my hair.
“No, it was different this time.” I shake my head, lifting it from his strong chest to look into his distressed eyes. “You were there this time.”
“I was? What was I doing?”
“I decided to go visit my mom and my stepdad showed up and started attacking me, acting and saying gross stuff like that sleazy drug dealer from the alley. Richard was even wearing a grey sweatshirt and had his head shaved like him. You appeared out of nowhere and pulled him off me. You saved me.”
A smile grows on his glorious face, my favorite smile of his, side dimple and all. “That’s because your subconscious knows that I’m here for you. And I won’t let anyone hurt you. Not even in your dreams.”
My ultimate protector, who literally stood in front of a bullet to shield me from the deranged drug dealer. This time last month we were all standing around Donovan’s hospital bed hoping and praying his head injury from the alley attack by Gray Hoodie Guy hadn’t caused any permanent damage. I shudder at the thought. I almost lost my man, my savior of light, the only man capable of removing the darkness shadowing my heart and freeing me to be open and vulnerable to his healing, unconditional love.
I shake my head, clearing the image. “But then Richard morphed into the drug dealer and threatened to hurt you and your family if you stayed on the task force.”
Donovan blanches at my words. “No one is going to hurt me or my family. These are wannabe gangsters who run the drugs in Santa Monica.” He strokes my back. “And my team are the most sophisticated undercover officers and SWAT members in the state, with resources to match.
He laughs. “One time, our local gang members went over to Culver City to attack a rival gang who was trying to move in on their territory, and the dumb asses couldn’t even shoot strait. They shot the Culver City gang member in the foot and in their attempt to get away, they crashed their car. The Culver City guy was able to hobble up to the wrecked car full of Santa Monica gang members and shot and killed them all.” Donovan lifts his hand from my back, exposing the warmth to the chill. I shudder. “So you see, harmless. We’ll probably wrap this up in a few weeks.”
I try to let my concern go, but something about this dream was different than my others. It felt so real, more like a premonition than a dream, and my gut is twisted with alarm. My mom used to say she had a sixth sense about things, that she could “see” things before they happened. Could this be a warning? No. I’m being silly.
“You’ve got me for the long haul. I’m not going anywhere, so don’t worry yourself about such things.” He leans down and kisses my forehead. “Oh, you still have a fever. I think it’s time for you to take some more ibuprofen.” Donovan shifts to get up but I hold him back to me.
“No, don’t get up yet. I want to just lie here like this.” His arms are like a safety blanket around me and they reaffirm in my mind the safe haven Donovan represents in my life.
He shifts back next to me and pulls me close to his body. “Okay, baby, but only for a few more minutes. The appointment to see the ship doctor is at nine.”
I’ve been quarantined in our ship’s cabin for the past two days because I caught the stomach virus going around. They try to keep everything clean and sanitized, but the turnover on these ships is so fast that one infected group leaves and within hours another unsuspecting group of potential hosts boards. Fortunately, I didn’t miss any of the ports. We’ve only been cruising at sea, although most of my time has been spent in the bathroom.
Donovan chose to stay with me and take care of me, even with the risk of catching the virus himself. He said he couldn’t enjoy the cruise, knowing I was in the cabin alone suffering. “If you can’t go out, then neither will I,” he said like a true martyr. If I get cleared today, we can go out on an excursion at the next port.
I lay silently in the warmth and comfort of Donovan’s arms, my mind trying to analyze the context of this latest dream. The words of my nightmare may not be a warning from the grave, but could my subconscious be telling me to tread cautiously with my mom’s attempts to rekindle our dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship? Her letter last month assures me she left Richard and wants me back in her life, but maybe I’m sensing a potential threat when my past and present come clashing together.