Sleep was not a guest in our rooms that evening. We made no intentional offense that might have made him stay away. And, though we made every effort to invite him in, no amount of cajoling would persuade him to cross the threshold.
Cross paced the sitting room. His face tight and set, except for the handful of times a heavy step sent pain rushing through him. But, each pause in his steps and each wince only lasted a few seconds, before he continued pacing.
I waited for morning much the same way I had entered the evening, sprawled across the sitting room sofa. I did not yet trust the stability of my legs or the strength of my stomach. Whatever I had been exposed to might still be lurking, waiting to bring me crashing down the moment I set foot on solid ground. Though, even if I hadn’t been unconscious for most of the afternoon, I would probably have spent the night awake. Waiting for the daylight that evening was the best way of ensuring it did not come, such was our agony of the crawling seconds.
As soon as light crept in through the window, I expected there to be a knock at the door. I expected a messenger to be at the door with an answer to whatever Cross had scribbled on that note. And, I had to continually remind myself that the note would not have been delivered at dawn.
Daylight did not deter Cross from his pacing. If anything, it increased the frantic pace of his steps. The pained expressions that flew across his face now were met with no stop in his steps. His fevered energy didn’t allow him to stop with each twinge of pain.
We said nothing, nor changed our positions the entire evening. I searched my mind for some topic of conversation, some question I could ask. Now that daylight had broken, I knew it would only be a matter of minutes before the response to his note came. And, though he would not admit it, or accept it, I could see the frantic energy draining from Cross. His face showed signs of exhaustion, the heavy eyes and sagging jaw line of someone who would pass out instantly the minute their brow caressed a pillow.
When the knock at the front door did come, we were both so focused in our routine of waiting, that we almost didn’t believe that the sound was actually there. Cross stopped all motion and turned his face toward mine. Had there actually been a knock at the door?
When the second knock echoed through the sitting room, an electric energy lit up in Cross’s face and he dashed from the sitting room. I sat, startled by his reaction, my heart suddenly pounding in my chest from the anticipation of what Cross’s note might bring.
Muffled greetings wafted in from the entranceway. When Cross finally did return, he led through the sitting room and to an overstuffed chair next to my sofa, none other than the lovely, and at the moment very shaky, Miss Mary Adell.