Her embarrassment was in complete control of her response, "Ummmm... I think I'll just stay here a minute." Inside her head she thought, where I am at least SOMEWHAT modest!
Her rumbling stomach forced the issue, however, and she added, "I am awfully hungry, though. Could I have something warm to eat? Soup perhaps?"
Dalton's face brightened as a smile etched its way across his lips; bigger and bigger until at last he showed a little teeth. It seemed genuine and warm, and despite Sara's compromising predicament she felt its tangible glow spread to her. She returned the smile, even though she didn't know why she did so. Maybe he was a seafaring cannibal who was salivating in anticipation of his next meal while looking at her.
Sara shivered. A thought like that was NOT what she needed inside her head at her current state of vulnerability. She nervously wiggled her toes beneath the blanket and winced as a few of them cracked loudly, forcing both of them to look down at her covered feet. At this point, Dalton's smile turned into a grin and his eyes danced merrily as he looked back up into hers. He seemed rather jovial, but Sara didn't know him at all, and he could have been planning something gruesome at her expense, for all she knew.
But instead of saying something creepy about the amount of meat on her bones (which surely would have made her pass out, she was sure), Dalton instead commented softly, casually, "Yes. I believe soup would be perfect for you. The ship's cook is surprisingly good, better than you'd expect, I'd wager. You'll like it."
"That good, huh?"
He turned toward the doorway, from which a bed sheet had been hung to give Sara a modicum of privacy. He turned his head back to once again meet her eyes, and his large smile had returned as he said, "Welllll, I wouldn't expect him to win any culinary awards, mind you, but I think you'll enjoy his soup. I'll bring it up to you so you can have a few minutes to get dressed."
"Thank you, but can you stay?"
A flash of surprise darted through his eyes briefly, before he returned, "I thought you wanted privacy to get dressed..."
Sara's eyes were wide with wonder as well. What had she just said? Normally she was hesitant to undress if there was another guy somewhere in the building, lest he somehow caught a glimpse of her. She didn't even like undressing in front of other girls at the gym. She certainly would have shooed this stranger away without a second's hesitation. Yet her mouth seemed to move of its own accord, and before she could edit her tongue she said to Dalton, "Could you stay a minute? My head is spinning."
He knelt down to a knee at her side and put one tender hand to her forehead. Shockingly, Sara did not flinch.
Actually, she found something almost soothing in his touch.
Dalton frowned, "You don't have a fever. Did you strike your head in any way before boarding?"
A ghost of a smile touched Sara's lips and she shook her head, "No, no. I don't mean dizzy. I mean my head is swirling because I am confused. A lot has happened to me and I think I'm having difficulty processing everything."