Chapter 3

Attaining Belief in Yourself

The First Encounter

Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it.

—Hardy D. Jackson

The faint scent of sandalwood tickled Pierce’s nose. Feeling warm and snug amongst the soft, plump pillows and blankets supporting him made him acutely aware of the freezing icepack strapped to his head. Reaching up, he gently touched the pack, gingerly patting it, a blind man exploring his surroundings.

“Here, let me get that.” The alien tone startled Pierce; he’d expected to hear Sarah’s voice, not a man’s. Warm air rushed in, kissing his cool forehead as the stranger gently peeled the ice pack away. “You had quite an accident, my friend.”

“Who are you?” Pierce rasped, trying to sit up, the pain in his head vengefully returning the instant he moved. “Ouch . . . Argggh.” He froze, holding his head in his hands, willing the pain to stop.

“It’s okay, take your time . . . slowly now . . . I’m Jon.” The stranger smiled warmly and offered, “Would you like some water?” Pierce nodded, regretting it immediately as his head throbbed in protest. Jon helped Pierce to sit up, plumping pillows and propping them behind him. Even as he carefully sat very, very still, Pierce felt like a Mexican marching troupe was stomping wildly inside his head.

He took in the unfamiliar surroundings as he suspiciously watched Jon cross the spartan room and fill a glass with water from a carafe. An open fire cracked and popped, sending a ...

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