Jack Broad Miniseries: Part 3
It was the second to last night but the routine remained the same. She responded to him without really waking up fully. She was still dreaming even as she called to him. He grew quiet for a moment but shouted out again a few moments later.
Shannon finally woke up, “Jack! Wake up! It's just a dream. You're alright.” It was like a spell she chanted every witching hour. Her mouth could recite it without her, and often seemed to.
Still, he didn't stop thrashing about so she pushed herself out of bed and half hopped- half dragged her left leg to the side of his bed. He was turned away from her, as usual. His back seemed to span the height of a mountain from the bed to his shoulder. She reached out sleepily for him, to shake him awake.
Her hand barely made contact with the bare skin on his arm when he turned on her. He flew up out of the bed like an animal. There was no where for her to go except backward and she felt herself falling out of control. His fist rose like he might hit her but in an instant she saw the flash of his eyes change and he snatched her up before she could fall. Her left foot banged into his shin in the process which made her gasp in pain.
The whole ordeal was so shocking and painful that she started crying like a child before she could catch herself. Mostly because her bad foot hurt but also because Jack had startled her. They both stood by his bed. She felt silly and embarrassed. It took her what seemed like an eternity to clumsily move back to her own bed in the dark.
“Sorry.” Jack said, almost in a whisper.
“It's not your fault.” She answered, sniffing tears of embarrassment.
He started to say something else but didn't. She laid in bed and wished she could pull the curtain between them, but that seemed just as awkward as the moment. Even though the silence was justified by the night it still felt forced.
“Are you awake?” Jack whispered after a long while.
“Yeah.” She squeaked.
“Can you... do you mind...” His voice sounded stretched and tight with emotion and he sighed before the words would come out, “Would you talk about something?”
“You know, like you usually do when you ask me if I'm awake.” He choked it out through another exhale. “It just... it helps. A lot.”
Shannon's heart broke for him. What sort of life must he live that the minute details and random information about her life or likes and dislikes would be entertaining. Let alone soothing.
“Have you ever been to New York?” She began, “It's terrible. I imagine some people love it, but I hated it. My mom would travel a lot for work when I was a teenager. During school, I stayed with the neighbor, but when school was out I'd travel with her. I loved it. She went to New York City when I was probably about sixteen, stayed in the Hotel Pennsylvania across from Penn Station. Or what was Penn Station? It wasn't far from fifth avenue. Everything smells, terribly. And you know the jokes about cabbies all being terrorists? It's probably true. We almost got killed by one yelling in Arabic on his cell phone and he subsequently dropped us off at the wrong place. Only we didn't know it until much later, being from out of state. We were on the wrong side of town.”
She droned on about her teenage years. She talked about meeting Collin and falling in love with him and his family. And about the death of her mother. It was surprisingly cathartic to hear herself say all the things she'd been thinking about all these years. She'd never really talked to Collin about the pain of losing her mother and that sense of being orphaned. At the time she'd only communicated how glad she was for the support of his parents in her life and no longer being parentless.
Jack grew silent and still and eventually she too drifted off to sleep.
The next day was her last full day at the hospital. It was full of testing, including a stress test to check her heart and arteries and also there was blood work. Of all the tests she disliked the most she couldn't stand the ultrasounds. The cold slime they used on the end of the sensor grossed her out. Then when it finally dried it flaked off like spit from sleeping. There was the unpleasant, often painful pressing and prodding to get the right image.
The worst part of the day though was going to be breaking the news to her in laws that she wasn't coming home. As the daylight burnt out she settled down after her adventurous early afternoon and ruefully pulled the phone onto her lap. It took her almost an hour to summon the courage she was looking for. At last, she dialed Collin's parents and explained to them she wouldn't be home.
“Where will you go?” Heather asked through a fit of tears.
“I don't know. I'll figure something out.”
“But you can't even walk!” She argued reason with her.
“I can walk with a crutch, I've made great progress. And I can drive; my right leg is fine.”
“You don't have a car, Shannon! Please just come home for a little while. We'll take care of it. We'll get you back on your feet. Honey, there's no rush.” Heather was sobbing and pleading with her.
“I just can't right now. I bought a truck. I just can't deal with home yet. I'm sorry, I am so very sorry.” Shannon too started crying. She hung up the phone quietly.
Her injured foot dangled off the side of the bed as she hugged her good knee to her chest and cried into her arms. She hated everything all over again. She loathed herself and everything around her. She hated her actions but knew no way around them. All of it made her exhausted. And sore.
“It's a bad idea.” Jack mused to himself in a low voice.
Shannon sniffed and cleared her throat, “I didn't ask you.”
“You don't even have a plan?” He said with dismay.
“No, I don't have a plan.” She dried her eyes, “I don't need one. I'll make it up as I go along. There's a lot of road and I have a cap on the truck bed. I can sleep in it.”
She shuffled over to the main light switch and turned out the lights. Her body was exhausted but her mind reeled. She just wanted to close her eyes and imagine herself accomplishing life. Just surviving long enough to sort her head out.
Jack was already stretched out on his bed as if he might sleep at any moment. There were only a few more hours until freedom. She tried to focus.
Sleep eventually released her from the torment of worry and uncertainty that plagued her mind. But the fear didn't seem to subside. She had a long nightmare of irrelevant situations that required that she run until she couldn't breathe and hide herself in various barren landscapes from an unseen attacker. Jack's cries woke her as usual, although later than previous. It was after two in the morning.
“Jack.” She whispered.
He calmed down for a few seconds before thrashing around in the bed again. The plastic bedding crinkled horribly loud under him.
“Jack! Wake up!” She didn't want to get up and try to rouse him again, but she also didn't want to wait for the nurse to reply to the call button. Nights had become increasingly busy in the ward.
Finally, she forced herself out of bed and cautiously approached Jack. She called out to him again quietly.
As before she reached for his arm and brushed it softly, “It's okay, Jack. Wake up.”
His hand flew out at her and grabbed at her wrist which she had instinctively raised in self-protection. Jack's grip was firm but not too tight and he held her arm as he shook the sleep from his mind. He blinked at her a few times, his eyelids heavy and only half open.
“I didn't knock you over this time.” He said sleepily. Still not letting go.
“I made myself promise I'd not knock you over.” Muttered words.
He still didn't let go of her arm. The ache in his eyes seemed to dissipate as he looked at her. Her stomach fluttered in a single wave. It had been a long while since a man had looked at her like this. This was more than the simple friendship she'd imagined cultivating. Without reason it made her feel afraid. And guilty. Her husband was barely missing from her life. She shouldn't feel this way yet. She felt unjustifiably needy. As needy as the ache in Jack's eyes. Shannon pulled her arm free and stepped backwards to her bed slowly.
“Where will you go?” He said quietly. His voice was vulnerable and thus even more unsettling.
“To bed.” She said flatly.
“When you leave tomorrow, where will you go?” He rephrased his question, sounding more assertive.
“I don't know.” She tried to think of something to talk about. It was her nightly habit to talk him back to sleep, yet she wasn't able to focus on a topic. She struggled to answer his question and decide where to take the conversation, “I'll probably stay in a hotel, honestly. Just until I can walk on my own. Then maybe set off for a road trip. Maybe settle down in a nice place that strikes my interest.”
“What are you running away from?” He interrupted her before she could trail off.
“I'm not running away. I just want to go some where. Get around a little, clear my head.” She shrugged in the dark, her clothes rasping on the rough bedding.
“Running around is the same as running away.” He pointed out.
“By that logic your being in the military is the same as running away.” She said, shooting him down.
“I am running away. How else would I recognize it?” He retaliated, “Anyway. It wont work. That thing, it'll still find you. It lives between your ears.” He poked one strong index finger into the side of his head.
“I don't have a lot of options.” Her whispered confession. “I can't think straight right now anyway. I just want to get functional again. Maybe then the world will make more sense.” She sighed, “Maybe I could head over to Missouri. It's silly, but I always loved Branson. Hotels are cheap there too.”
She heard him settle into his bed as she started talking about a childhood trip she'd taken to Branson, Missouri to see the various country-western shows. She talked about a small zoo that existed in a gravel pit with white tigers and various snakes. And a show about a magician that featured live animals and a woman riding the most beautiful horse she'd ever seen.
“I love horses. The soft of their noses and the heat of their breath and the sound their teeth make while they're chewing. And the sweet smell of their dander.
“Always I'd beg my mom to take me horseback riding when her business trips took her to smaller city locations. She never had the money. She certainly didn't have the money when I'd beg her for a horse. I always wanted one. She leased one for a very short while, but once she proved how expensive it was... I gave up eventually. Maybe that's what I should do. Get into horses...”
“Why do you have to leave, again?” Jack interjected, springing back to life after she was certain he'd fallen asleep.
“What?” She shook her head. She hardly paid attention to the room around her while she relived her memories aloud.
“I'm going to be here for a while yet. I have an apartment in Killeen. It's just sitting empty...”
“No. Jack, thanks, but I can't.” She said before he could finish, then, “Wait. You're based out of Fort Hood?”
“Why are you at a hospital in Dallas?”
“Math.” He plowed through her refusal, “No one's there. It's empty. I have to pay for it if I'm in it or not. Look. I'll just write the address down, okay? There's a key on the top of the window sill on the only window on the side of the house. If you end up down that way you can use it.”
“I won't be out of here for another two weeks at least. Maybe more.” He pulled a piece of paper out of his nightstand and proceeded to scribble on it, “Put the key back when you're done with it, or I can't get back in.” He reached his arm out from the bed towards her, offering her the paper in his grasp.
She stared at him dubiously before reaching out and taking it, “You're suddenly very talkative.”
He shrugged and laid back in the bed. She laid back under her own covers after tucking the paper down in her wallet beside the bed.
“I appreciate the offer.”
“I'd appreciate it if you took me up on it. And just for the record, it's as a friend. I'm not angling at anything here.”
She huffed out a breath, “How long had you been deployed before this accident?”
“Yeah. Not angling at anything.”
“It's not like it was the same detail as a war zone. It wasn't like I was locked down on base 24/7 or out on patrol getting shot at... I did have free time to check out the area.”
“Oh come on! That's gross! Ew. Haji diseases. Ick.”
“I didn't say I DID anything! I just mean it's not like it was as...frustrating... as other tours of duty.” He defended himself. "We weren't locked down and stuffed like sardines in tents! The stress isn't as intense..."
“I'm going to sleep now. Tell yourself your own stories. Yuck.” She rolled over and closed her eyes. A smile pulled at her face as he stammered and huffed a time or two before growing silent. And secretly it did feel good to have some kind of safety net.
Shannon left the hospital in institutional clothing. Hers had been cut off her and stained in blood after the accident. It felt strange to be outdoors. The sun seemed brighter and hotter than she remembered it ever being and somehow the ground felt more solid and less yielding under her crutch.
Her truck smelled like a new car from being detailed and was excitingly clean and smooth inside. It had sounded small when the dealer described it to her, but as she sat in it she felt out of place in the large machine. Even with the short bed is seemed to stretch on behind her farther than she could feel. She had driven Bill's truck before, but it was only a small pick up. Still, she was glad for it and assured herself she'd acclimate.
It had been noon before the doctor signed her release papers and she was free to leave. The nurse that combed and braided her hair was the only one that wished her well and gave her a departing hug. The machine of broken people and medical procedures would continue infinitely without her and no one would miss her.
Jack had been slow to say goodbye. He seemed remorseful and distant but managed to stand beside his bed to see her off. Waves of energy flooded from her chest to her toes at the sight of him standing up before her. A man laying down does not occupy the same formidable space as one standing and it had been the first time in the daylight she'd seen him upright. Other than just reclined in his bed. He had made an awkward face at her before finally offering to shake her hand.
“Thanks for sharing the room with me.” He said, his eyes smiling.
“Thanks for keeping me up at night.” She smirked.
He nervously rubbed the sides of his shorts as she gathered her wallet and toiletries she'd bought. She paused to wave at him from the door before she left.
“You got that paper, right?” He called to her.
"Yep." She patted her pocket, “Yup, I got it. Thanks again, Jack. Get well soon.”
Shannon had two important things to accomplish before she put much thought into where she'd spend the night. The first was getting a cell phone, the second was finding clothes. She couldn't even bring herself to wear her old clothing even if she was able to go home. Those were clothes she'd bought with Collin. Little outfits he'd enjoyed on her. They were who she was to him. He'd touched her in those clothes. Held her, gone places with her, seen her. She couldn't bear it.
Driving down the road to the nearest shopping mall nearly wore her out. The truck bumped and hopped as she curbed the back tire accidentally and she felt like she was taking up the entire row when she drove around looking for parking. She gave up and double-parked in a distant space near a cement median filled with shrubs and a pair of trees.
It somehow took her over four hours to accomplish only getting a cell phone. By the time she left with a functional phone she was too tired to do anything else but limp back to the truck. Her foot throbbed mercilessly from her being upright and mobile for so long. For a brief moment she wondered if she might die from some unexpected cause for all the pain. But shhe eased her booted foot onto the dash and sat for a few moments. The blood slowly drained and the throbbing subsided a little.
She hadn't eaten anything but an overcooked egg and some dry toast at the hospital early in the morning. She knew she'd need to eat something soon or faint. But all her drive through options sounded nauseating. She was too tired to go to a grocery store. She turned the truck on and ran the air conditioner. With the center console folded up, she stretched out as much as possible across the bench seat and let herself doze off.
Shannon woke up to her body screaming in pain. The awkward position she was in offended every nerve and joint in her body. Twilight had descended on the area while she had been resting. As she sat up the parking lot lights flickered on and flooded the dim area with light. She noticed a man standing under the far tree smoking a cigarette and staring at her truck. He didn't look away when she made eye contact with him, instead he only grinned slyly. It made her skin crawl. She locked the doors and curled her lip at him before putting the truck in drive and leaving him behind, still staring.
She wandered around Dallas for three days and nights. She had a cell phone, but no one call and no one knew her number, anyway. It felt good during the day to be dis-attached from humanity but night time left her full of bitter despair and loneliness. She felt ashamed for running away and guilty for being angry. She knew she should check in with her in-laws but with each passing day grew too ashamed by the time wasted to call.
She was in a department store parking lot where she'd recently bought some clothes. The store was open twenty-four hours and the sounds of people coming and going were comforting after the last few nights alone. She'd not been willing yet to break down and buy a hotel room and she'd been too unsettled to think about finding an apartment. As it was she'd promised herself she'd get a job before finding an apartment. She was afraid of using up all the money she'd gotten.
The truck engine ticked as it cooled. The cab smelled like abandoned food wrappers and stale coffee. She labored to gather up all the garbage into a single bag. Dark had settled in for the night as it was well past ten o'clock. She reached for a distant discarded drink and started crying.
Shannon was so tired her body ached apart from her injuries. There seemed to be no energy left in her. Strangely she missed Jack's company at night. She kept waking at the same time every night, during the same hours she'd usually wake and talk him back to sleep. In the time he'd been in her room she'd forgotten how miserable and lonely the night had been since Collin's death and the accident. She felt so terribly alone and isolated, even if it was a self-inflicted exile. Her knuckles grew pale as she gripped the steering wheel and stared at the parking lot around her.
Eventually, she pulled her wallet from the center console and fished out the little folded piece of paper with the address Jack had scribbled down. The truck engine came to life under her thumb on the key in the ignition. It took her over two hours to locate the right housing development that matched the address on the paper. She had to stop twice and ask for directions.
Finally, she pulled the truck along the curb outside a long row of apartments. They were set up like townhouses, alternating between red brick and white siding. Jack's was on the end and featured a brick lower half and white siding on the upstairs. It was also the smaller of the apartments near it. Each apartment had its own sidewalk, but there was nothing in the little flower beds except bare mulch.
Shannon locked her truck and made her way along the side of the building to the window where Jack indicated the key would be waiting. The window was much taller than herself, something the much taller man had likely not considered. Even hopping up and down on her good foot she couldn't reach the top sill. She looked around her in the darkness, wondering if people were thinking she was an intruder. No one but the breeze noticed her. She reached the rubber end of her crutch as high as she could and slid it along the top of the window. The little key glinted in the moonlight as it fell to the ground. She fished it from the grass along the foundation and made her way to the front door to let herself in.
The place was black with darkness and stuffy from being closed up through the heat of summer. She fished around on the wall inside the door until her hand located the light switch there. The whole apartment was barely twenty feet wide. The front door opened almost directly into the carpeted stairs that lead to the second floor. The entry was separated from the living area by a short wall with a decorative wood pillar connecting it to the ceiling. The living room gave access to the kitchen and dining area which was separated only by a space between the kitchen counter and a bank of cabinets that hung above.
She turned on the lamp by the sofa in the living room. The space was obviously put together by a man. There was a small television near the front window and an L shaped leather sofa faced it from its place along the back of the kitchen counter. The walls were painted apartment white and the floors were wood grain laminate. There were no decorations on any of the tables or walls except for a large framed picture of a group of uniformed men leaping from the bowels of a military plane.
It was strange to be in someone else's home. Jack new far more about her than she did of him after all her nights of storytelling. He was really a stranger. She always got the sense she was being watched whenever she was in a strange home. But she did note that the place felt good. It wasn't dank or unclean. It was just obvious a man lived in the space. Alone.
She explored the kitchen, her crutch making metallic noises as she limped along pulling open drawers and cabinets. There was nothing in any of them. Jack apparently used plastic utensils and cups. She did locate some paper plates, but nothing to eat off of them. The refrigerator was propped open and turned off. Nothing was in it.
The tiny dining area featured only a small black table and a pair of wooden chairs. A little stack of mail littered the top. She glanced around her before scooping them up and looking through it. Nothing devious was found. Simply bills for utilities and an auto loan. She replaced them and headed for the stairs.
There was a bathroom at the top of the steps which separated two small bedrooms. One was in the front of the house and quite small. The other was in the back and a little larger. The smaller room was set up as an office and housed a large desk and computer and a tall shelf with books on it.
Shannon sat down in the chair before the computer and switched it on. It sang as the screen turned on and it booted up. She opened the internet browser and pulled up the history, out of curiosity. It was surprisingly tame for a single man who lived alone and was owned by the military most of the time. He spent a lot of time on weapon manufacturer sites and on forums about weapons. As she might have expected. And he had an interest in classic American muscle cars. Satisfied that he didn't appear to be harboring a lust for child pornography or debauchery she shut down the computer and moved to the back bedroom.
Jack's room was nondescript. He obviously did nothing but sleep in it. His king-size bed took up most of the room and it rested on a plain metal frame just a few inches off the floor. She sat down on the floor on the side nearest the door and groped around under the bed. It produced nothing except a small fireproof safe which she imagined probably housed a handgun. There was no nightstand so she stuffed her hand between the mattress and box spring hoping to find the small key that would open the safe. Nothing was there, though.
She continued snooping around, feeling like quite the deductive detective as she shoved his hanging clothes around looking for hidden boxes or safes. The shelf above the clothes in the closet was home to a few shoeboxes. One had various papers crammed into it, the other had a few handfuls of photographs. She put both back without looking through them further.
Nothing in the place seemed out of place or dangerous. He didn't even appear to own a kitchen knife, and the gun in the safe didn't trigger any red flags. It was Texas. He was a career soldier. It was an obvious find. Satisfied that she was safe she limped down the stairs and opened a few windows to let the place air out while she slept. She considered the sofa as her bed for the night but the leather was louder than the plastic covering on the hospital bed and it had a hump in the middle much like her truck bench that would prove to be just as painful in the long run. She settled for the only bed in the house.
In the hospital, everything had an institutional antiseptic smell. Even her own body had taken on a neutral smell while there. Here though things smelled like they ought. The linens on the bed seemed clean enough, but for good measure, and because of the heat, she slept on top of the blanket. There was only a single pillow. She looked at it as she sat on the bed. It made her feel sad. His life was so singular that he apparently could imagine no need for bringing a second pillow home from the store. Did no one ever share his bed?
She lay in the dark with the sound of silence humming in her ears. It was exciting to be sleuthing around a man's apartment, trying to guess who he was and what type of person he could be based on his few belongings. It made it difficult to fall asleep. As did the guilt for enjoying the smell of a strange man's bed.
Shannon was still wide awake when the phone rang in the office. At first she jumped, startled by the sound. But she let it go to the voice mail. It rang again immediately. After the fourth time of the caller repeating these efforts, she shuffled crutchless down the hall to answer.
It glowed in the dark of the office from its station beside the computer monitor. “VA Hospital” read across the caller ID. She scowled at it a few seconds before she finally answered it.
“Hello?” She whispered cautiously.
No reply came except the catching of breath. She could hear the almost silent sounds of medical equipment beeping and the quiet whirring of a fan.
“Jack?” She asked, hushed.
Still, there was no reply, but she did hear the caller take a slow breath and exhale as though relieved. Such loneliness seeped from the earpiece that it crushed her chest. She realized suddenly that the whole house around her was lonely. All the empty space. The empty kitchen. The empty bedroom built for one. The living room with its long sofa that only showed signs of use in one spot. His whole bleak world was a vacuum, a glass cell he lived in all alone.
“Are you awake?” She said, her heart aching with pity for him.
Just as it had been in the hospital he grew silent at the sound of her voice, even his breathing subsided until it was too quiet for her to hear. Shannon hobbled back to the bedroom with the phone to her ear. She eased herself back in bed and started talking.
“I just got here a few minutes ago. I tried staying in my truck. I chickened out of sleeping in the back because I was in the city. After three nights in the cab, my body is aching terribly bad. My foot is doing awesome though. And my stamina gets better every day. I managed to go shopping for some clothes without entirely exhausting myself. Got a pair of pants and some tank tops. I didn't even notice if you have a washer and dryer here, I might end up just hand washing everything in the tub if you don't. I just don't want to go anywhere for a day or two.
“My first night out I woke up to a strange man watching my truck from a few feet away. He was just standing under a tree smoking. He didn't even look away when I sat up and saw him. He just... leered at me. So I drove away.
“I don't know what I'm doing, Jack.” Suddenly she was alone. The phone seemed like a dead thing in her hand and the darkroom around her seemed vast and lonely, “I just wish he was coming home to save me from all this...” Her voice grew tight and suddenly she was crying. “He said he'd be back. Mom said she'd always be there for me. Where is everyone now?”
She finished her tears after a couple of minutes and regathered her composure. She could still hear the faint sound of the fan in the hospital room on the other line. But Jack was entirely silent.
“I'm so sorry.” She confessed. She tried to think of something to talk about. “Your place is pretty nice for a single guy. It's a little sparse. I was surprised how clean it is. The area seems pretty decent too.
“Tomorrow I'm going to go find a grocery store and pick up some food. I haven't been able to make myself eat hardly anything. I just sit in the truck and worry about things. Brooding, really. Like a hen on a clutch of eggs.
“You know. Some times I think I might prefer to just live in the woods. Maybe if I outfitted the back of the truck with a lock somehow, made it a little safer, maybe I could just camp in it. Of course I could just get a slide in camper I suppose.” Shannon went on, voicing all the different thoughts that crept into her mind.
After some time she drifted off to sleep talking. She woke late in the morning. The curtains and blinds were pulled on the solitary bedroom window and the room remained quite dark despite the rising sun. There were no nurses or hospital sounds to rouse her. When she finally crawled out of bed it was after nine in the morning.
She felt embarrassed in the daylight for all her many complaints and confessions into the phone that Jack now knew. She felt like she was a flighty, worrisome, drone just cycling over the same issues endlessly. She resolved to try to have some better conversation topics in mind if there was a next time.
Shannon hung up the phone that had been left on all night. The tiny screen said there were over 40 missed calls. Shannon scrolled through them out of curiosity. The first sixteen were from the same hospital number and had started the night she had left. Jack had called every night at 1 am looking for her. She smiled a little. For a moment the guilt of abandoning the love for her deceased husband dissipated and she felt excited that another man needed her. His need was pathetic and one-sided, it seemed to her, but it was vaguely validating nonetheless.
It didn't take her long to get geared up to leave. She remembered passing a large chain grocery store on her way in during the night and finding it again was simple. Pushing a grocery cart with a lame foot, however, was not. She noticed an endcap with sale items from the pharmacy section on it just as she was about to head to the checkout lines. Bath salts and scented lotions were on sale. In an effort to make the display more appealing candles and back scrubbers had been added. She stood and looked through them all for a long while. The thought of taking a bath sounded heavenly. Jack's bathroom had a bathtub in it, but she was dubious about its cleanliness. As clean as the place looked she wondered just how clean the tub really was. She finally decided on some lavender scented items and a sweet-smelling candle and completed the package with some shower cleaner and paper towels.
It only took a few minutes, back at the apartment, to scrub out the tub. She turned the water on and left it to fill while she made herself a plate of fruit and berries. Rummaging around produced no matches so she lit the candles with a piece of the paper plate she set on fire over the stove burner. She very slowly made her way up the stairs and slipped into the bath. Her injured foot resting on its ledge.
She slipped her head under the warm water and listened to the watery sounds of the apartment around her. The smells of the bathwater and candles left the whole place smelling sweet and fresh. The plate of fruit was cool and calming in the same way the bath was hot and soothing. Lotion felt good on her body after she dried off and the whole effect sent her back to the bed where she took a long nap with a belly full of fruit.
(TO BE CONTINUED...)