Kaitlyn opened her eyes and squinted against the sudden bright light. The bales had been removed and Pearce was staring at her. The last of the bales in his hands. She must’ve fallen asleep while she waited. He tossed it aside and offered her a hand. She gratefully accepted and let him haul her out of the hole they’d created in the bales. She met his concerned brown eyes.
“They mean to kill you Kaitlyn.”
“I know. I’m the last one in my family.”
“Why do they want you dead?”
“I didn’t do anything. I have a power they want to control.”
“What power?” Kaitlyn met his gaze and sighed, she’d known this would come up eventually and had dreaded it. Dreaded people knowing what she could do. The fear she would see in their eyes, but he deserved this much. They all did.
“I can manipulate people’s thoughts.”
She waited for the fear, for the recoil but he just looked at her.
“Have you ever done that?”
She nodded, looking at her toes.
“Once, some masked men tried to steal my purse. I just wanted them to stop. Well, they did. Frozen like a statue. I wanted them to go away. I was so scared. They did. I ran and never looked back.”
She could hear the cows mooing in the milk stalls below and the rustle of pigeons in the rafters. He was silent and she ventured a glance up at him. He did not look afraid.
“Aren’t you upset with me?”
He frowned and shook his head.
“No. It’s a bit to process, but I’m not upset. You were in trouble and you saved yourself.” He casually began stacking the bales over her hiding place. “Have you used it since?”
“My parents had me test it on them and it worked. I can control it now, but I never use it. To alter a person’s mind…” She shuddered. “I don’t want to use it unless I have no other choice.”
He nodded and pulled her into a hug. Kaitlyn was startled. Pearce wasn’t one for hugs, but it was so comforting she didn’t resist. He smelled of hay, sweat, and dirt, she sighed, it was a wonderful mixture. Comforting and masculine all in one. He stroked a hand over her hair and Kaitlyn did start then. That was an unusually familiar gesture for someone as reserved as Pearce.
She tilted her head to look up at him. He smiled crookedly down at her.
“Let’s go saddle the horses and say our goodbyes. We have a long ride ahead.”
“What?” Kaitlyn stepped back in disbelief. She’d thought to make this journey on her own.
“I’m going with you.”
He raised his eyebrows at her and took her hand twining his fingers with hers.
“I’m not going to let you face this alone.”