chapter xviiiMature

Waking up did not come easily.  His body fought him, struggled to remain idle and unaware.  Dimly, he could feel a throbbing ache in his stomach, vague and peripheral, it hung inside of him like a ghost.  He didn’t know how long he had been asleep, but he knew he needed to rise, to feel his feet beneath him and the rush of air in his lungs.  He needed to breathe out everything he’d dreamt.

His room was dark; the curtains were drawn and the lights had been turned off.  One of his lounge chairs had been pulled up to sit beside his bed and a petite figure lay draped in it, her limbs stretching at awkward angles, her head tilted nearly to rest on her shoulder.  Naomi could not have been comfortable, but she was probably exhausted.  A pang of sympathy rippled through him – had she stayed with him the whole time?  Had she been watching over him?  He was practically a stranger to her.

Though he wanted to get up from the bed, he realized he couldn’t do so without disturbing her.  She’d positioned the chair directly beside him; with the wall blocking his only other exit, he would have to swing his legs right into her in order to stand up.  A curious part of him wondered if it had been intentional on her part.  Admittedly, he wasn’t certain he had the strength to swing his legs around on his own as it was.  The pain had increased immensely since he’d woken up.  Breathing had turned into a struggle.

Even in the low light, he could make out the angle of her nose and the curve of her lips.  What stirred just behind his ribs was foreign to him, like a muscle spasm in a place he’d never realized a muscle was.  It almost felt like a tugging to be nearer to her.

She stirred and he panicked.  Feign sleep or assume the role of the creep who watched her sleep?

The End

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