Disembodied screams woke him. Before he hardly recognized what he was doing, he found himself in the doorway of his sister’s bedroom.
“Hush!” Tabetha hissed at him as she wrapped her arms around her friend who whimpered like a kicked puppy. Zoe’s eyes were wide open, but unfocused.
“What’s wrong?” he asked hoarsely, the young woman’s distress making his heart pound inside his chest. He practically vibrated with the need to hold her, to gather her close to his body and shield her from whatever terrorized her dreams. And then he’d give her greater pleasure than she’d ever known.
“She has nightmares,” Tabetha answered and rocked Zoe back and forth, murmuring childish nonsense to her in a soft, sing-song voice.
“She won’t talk about it. They’ve have been less frequent these past several months, but I suppose recent stress stirred up whatever lurks in her memories.” She sighed. “Sometimes she cries out his name, but I’m never sure if he’s her tormentor or rescuer.”
“What can I do?” Lars asked, wondering who “he” was.
“Go back to bed, Lars. She’ll be fine for the rest of the night.”
“I’ll sit here for a while longer.”
Tabetha shook her head and said wearily, “She’s not yours, Lars.”
“She will be.”
“Oh, God, not you, too,” she groaned.
“Please tell me you don’t believe Dad’s ‘pow’ theory of love at first sight.”
“I didn’t until today,” Lars admitted sheepishly. He reached over and ruffled his sister’s hair. “You’ll find your true love.”
“I’m not looking for him, that’s for sure. I have things I want to do with my life before settling down with a husband and popping out babies.” She looked at her friend, now sleeping peacefully. “I think she has plans, too, that don’t involve marriage and children.”
“Plans can be changed.”
“Oh, you’re such an obstinate man,” she grumbled and threw a decorative pillow at him. He caught it.
“Go back to your room and go to sleep. And keep your hands and dick to yourself.”
Lars tossed the pillow back and reluctantly rose from the trundle bed. He cast one last concerned glance at his sister’s roommate and returned to his own room, making a mental note to investigate her background. If she wouldn’t tell him, then he’d find out what haunted her through other channels.