The Long Road Home (Chapter #1)
Sara clinched her jaw and painfully lifted the ten-pound weight attached to her left ankle once more. Her knee and leg muscles hurt like hell but at least her knee worked properly now. Dispassionately she gazed down at it. Deep curved scars that were slowly turning white lay near newer ones that glared back at her with angry red. The last pins had been removed and the doctors had assured her that with continued physical therapy her new stainless steel knee would finally work just as good as new, so long as she didn't overly abuse it.
Beads of sweat glistened on her fine boned brow as she determinedly lifted the weight again and again until Hilda gently touched her on the shoulder, and smiling, told her in a thick Swedish accent, "You did real fine today Sara. Now you can soak those tired muscles in the hot tub and I'll give you a good rub down after."
Giving a sigh of relief Sara watched as Hilda unbuckled the weight around her ankle and felt like a ten-year-old child when Hilda quickly and gently lifted Sara into her massive arms as if she weighed no more then a feather and deposited her on the side of the hot swirling tub.
Thankfully Sara slowly lowered herself into its hot embracing warmth and let her aching body slowly relax and float to the surface, riding on the bubbles of air rising to the surface.
Her thick brown hair spread out like a fan around her fine boned head as she floated. Long dark lashes closed over soft velvet brown eyes that could sparkle with laughter and mirth but now held pain. Not just the physical pain she had schooled herself to endure for the last two years but a pain of longing and rejection that touched her very soul leaving a dark shadow at the back of her eyes that only a few who knew her well could see. To Sara, floating like this was the best part of her physical therapy. After a long soak in the hot tub Hilda would have her way again and Sara would have every muscle in her small body stretched and pulled and slapped until Hilda was satisfied that she had carried out the doctors orders.
Today thoughts of Dancer kept nagging at her brain as she floated. She tried to push them away but the harder she tried the more strongly her memories of his piercing blue eyes that had looked down on her with love and desire filled her brain. Giving a shutter as her stomach curled with a deep longing for the touch and feel of his strong hands and body on hers again she waited as the need was driven away by the memory of his pain filled body and tortured eyes as he had finally broken his silence to save her life. He had told their captors what they had wanted to know and her heart still ached at the knowledge of what it had done to him. She had wanted so badly to tell him it was all right. That he was only confirming a well conceived lie instead of spilling the vital information he thought he had to protect. She still could not push past the guilt she carried in her heart at not being able to tell him the truth, even though she had been ordered not to.
It seemed all too soon when Hilda touched her shoulder again and giving a resigned sigh Sara lowered her feet and slipped to the edge of the tub pulling herself out with her strong lean arms. Leaning lightly on Hilda's extended arms she limped over to the rub down table and after slipping out of her wet bathing suit, climbed up onto it. Hilda draped a large warmed towel over Sara's body and expertly wrapped her wet head with a smaller one. Starting at Sara's neck she slowly worked her way down until she had kneaded every tight muscle on her slim body. Not an ounce of excess fat was to be found, only lean hardened muscle met Hilda's hands until her came to Sara's left leg and knee. Here the muscles were smaller and softer due to the injuries they had received. It had taken three painful surgeries to mend and strengthen the shattered bones and knee to a semblance of normality.
Hilda's liking and respect for Sara had grown with each passing surgery. Unlike many others that Hilda had worked with Sara didnít moan and groan and curse their fate. She would just smile, tell Hilda a funny joke and clinching her jaw set to work with a single minded determination that had amazed the doctors and allowed them to cut the time between surgeries in half. Hilda couldn't help but like and admire this thirty one year old woman who had never looked her age until deep lines of pain and sorrow had been carved into her face. She had first met Sara six years ago with Hilda had first been recruited into the Agency. As now, Sara had been in excellent shape but as the years had gone by she had slowly acquired odd scars here and there until her last assignment in the field two years ago.
Hilda had never allowed Sara to see the horror and dismay she had felt when Sara had been brought to her looking more dead then alive. The plastic surgeons had done their best to remove the evidence of the deep whip scars and other injuries that had been deliberately carved into her skin but their greatest concern had been for her leg and knee that had been shattered almost beyond repair. In had taken a long time for her body to heal but with Hilda's help Sara had recovered in record time but, privately, Hilda still wondered when the unseen scars that Sara hid deep within her would be allowed to finally heal too. She knew that something was eating at Sara deep down inside that she would not talk about. Hilda knew better then to ask, as whatever it was, was in all likelihood classified and Sara could not share it anyway.
Hilda did know that for over a year now as Sara had hobbled around with crutches and braces she had been teaching new recruits what she had learned the hard way. Hilda had no doubt that Sara was good at her job but she also sensed the tension and restlessness that had slowly grown as time passed. It was as if Sara was waiting for something to happen or, Hilda paused in her thoughts and ran a keen eye over Sara's relaxed form, someone?
For Sara, the Agency had become her home and way of life ever since it had recruited her at the age of eighteen. Since then she had given it all she had. Sometimes wondering if she had given too much of herself after waking up with a bad case of the shakes, drenched with sweat and her throat raw from silent screams.