Sojourn (Bellator Saga, #3)
Haunted by her experience at The Fed, Caroline tries to create a new identity. A new present, a new future. She can’t escape the memories that dog her when she least expects it, leaving her mired in a depression that she finds difficult to escape. Caroline needs to regain her physical and mental strength if she intends on surviving the journey to find the elusive rebellion. But that’s easier said than done with the ghosts of the past constantly whispering in her ear.
The road is long and dangerous, and there are no guarantees. She and her companions have no idea what they will find when they arrive at their destination. And what they finally discover may change everything.
Part Three of a Six Part Saga. Sojourn (approximately 89,000 words) is not a standalone and must be read after the first two books in the series. Ends in a cliffhanger. For readers 18+. This book contains adult situations including explicit sex and violence.
A wide, flat box on the table next to the door. Jack expected her to open it automatically after years of them hemming and hawing and flirting and flaking. Playing their little games that ended with them in a tangle on the floor or in the bathroom or in their bed. They usually started against the wall but sometimes gravity got the best of them. This year would be different. Their passion tempered, their minds scattered.
Caroline gasped when she opened the box. Freshwater pearls. Jack had given her a different necklace every year. Whatever jewels he could think of, and as grandiose as possible. She wondered why he’d done it when so much was in flux. Whether it would even matter as time went on. All those presents, all those gestures, all those expensive purchases. Caroline wondered if they’d all someday disappear.
Such talk was silly. Nothing would happen. Life would go on as it always had. The excesses of the Santos Administration couldn’t last forever. All her worrying and all their planning wouldn’t matter and everything would return to normal. Just like Jack had said.
She stared down at the box. At the brilliant, almost perfectly shaped orbs catching the light. She knew better than to ask. They were expensive as hell. One more pretty prize to add to her collection. One more present from a man whose grand gestures grew with each passing holiday. Caroline was determined to appreciate the gift, though she had her reservations.
“You didn’t have to do this,” she whispered.
He took the box out of her hand, carefully removing the necklace. “It’s tradition.”
They didn’t have many but he made sure to observe them all. “Does any of that matter anymore?”
“It matters to me.” Jack placed the pearls around her neck and kissed her softly. “Did you know that no two pearls are alike? Each one is completely unique, like a snowflake. The ancient Romans only allowed their emperor to wear them. They were that valuable. That precious.” He kissed her again. “Like you.”
She blinked and tried to look away from him, but he tipped her chin up. He didn’t stroke her cheek, didn’t kiss her, didn’t do any of the things that he did on their Christmas nights. Her eyes were drawn to his and for the first time in months she looked at him. Really looked at him.
They’d spend their days hustling around, doing whatever they could to keep themselves occupied. There were times when Caroline would barely see him. How often did they study each other? They had very few emotions or thoughts left unsaid but Caroline very rarely made the effort to focus on him. On his features. The way his eyes crinkled when he smiled, or the sound of his laugh. The way his hair would fall into his face when he was working late at night. The way he’d stare at her when he thought she wasn’t looking.
He was starting to look his age. They both were. Stress could destroy the body in a way that nothing else could. But she didn’t care. It didn’t matter whether Jack was young or old. Whether he was healthy or not. Whether he was angry or sad, joyful or indifferent. He was hers and always would be.
The ballroom remained silent save for the ticking of a clock. Neither one of them moved. The world ceased to exist. They were alone but they were together, and that was all that mattered. They stood there, their eyes locked together, until Jack lowered his gaze. The briefest of moments passed before he took her in his arms again.
“You are my everything, Caroline. My world, my life, the reason I exist. We’re going to get through this. I promise.”
How could he say that? She could sense that things were changing, that they soon might spiral out of control and neither one of them would be able to stop spinning. She was terrified to verbalize what she was thinking but said it anyway, knowing it would upset him. Caroline hated that her declining mood might ruin Christmas.
“I’m not sure I can believe you,” she whispered. “I’m sorry.”
“I don’t expect you to,” he said. “I can believe enough for both of us.”
Oh man, you guys. Book 3 in The Bellator Saga was every bit as awesome as Dissident and Conscience but the tone was so different. Caroline’s managed to survive her horrendous abuse at the Fed and is now trying to get through each day as someone new. She believes all of her loved ones have been disappeared or murdered, and she is essentially living underground with a new identity. She’s come into contact with some other members of the rebellion who have nursed her back to health.
The friendship that blossoms with her underground compatriots is tentative albeit special. Long gone is the easy going Punky and in her place is a woman who has lost everything and is trying to recover. So much about her has changed, even her physical appearance after so much abuse, but Caroline Gerard is still there, fighting to find her way back.
As with the other books in the series, Sojourn is told in a series of present and past flashes, and we get many more intimate moments with Jack in these flashbacks. Over the course of their marriage, Jack and Caroline challenged each other in and out of the bedroom. Their connection and chemistry is palpable and the sex is scorching hot. I’m talking down and dirty and sweet and sensual and so damn erotic. We all still need a Jack!
Once again, a Cecilia London book has filled me with despair, heartbreak, longing, fear, and so much hope. Hope in the little things like Caroline’s new friends, hope that she will somehow find the old Caroline in there somewhere, hope that someone, anyone she loves has survived. Is it even possible to find yourself when you’ve been through so much? If her time at the Fed was torturous to watch, her time outside the Fed may be even more so. I know this seems strange, but trying to acclimate and survive after enduring what she did makes me think of POWs and people suffering from PTSD. Caroline doesn’t have the ability to get professional help to see her through this. She can only depend on herself to work through her triggers.
Sojourn takes Caroline on a journey from who she used to be to who she has become. Along with her personal growth, is her group’s attempt to get out west to try to find the rebellion. It’s a dangerous plan to get across the country, and the whole time I was wondering if they would make it and what they would encounter when they got there. What exactly is the rebellion doing to stop the Santos administration? Is there any hope for the United States? Is there a chance any of Caroline’s loved ones have survived? So many questions! You have to 1-click to find out!
This series will have a lasting impact on me, and anyone who reads it. It’s a great epic story, and I just can’t get enough. I’m counting down the days until book 4. Bravo, Ms. London! This series leaves me wanting more, more, and more!
Click here to read my reviews of Dissident (Book 1) and Conscience (Book 2).