Good morning. It’s Tuesday Tales’ time again. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend and wish you the best in the week ahead. As we count down to Christmas, I want to take the time to acknowledge the my Jewish friends celebrating Hanukhah this week. May the coming year bring peace and prosperity to you all.
We’re back to Hello Again this week. Charley’s made it through another night of dreams and tears.
Charley slowly awoke to the aroma of fresh brewed coffee and cinnamon, not the morning combination she remembered. Dawn bathed the room in a deep pink glow. She glanced at the alarm clock beside the bed. It was barely after five. Obviously, her hostess was an early riser, but then Charley was generally up by six, and considering the time change, she’d already slept an hour longer than usual.
Admiring the magical appearance of the room, she grimaced when reality set in. How did that adage go? “Red skies at night, sailors delight; red skies in the morning, sailors take warning.” As she recalled, yesterday’s horrific storms had moved in from the east, so as pretty as the light was, it might not be a good thing.
Why would it be? Nothing’s gone right for me in five years.
Determined not to get sucked in by depressing thoughts so early in the morning, Charley stretched and winced. While the evil minions bouncing on her brain had settled down, the bruises on her shoulders were sore, and her bladder begged for attention, and now that she’d acknowledged the need, it intensified with every breath.
Forcing herself into a sitting position, she noted the second pillow propped against the headboard. Her cheeks heated at the memory of Mike—no make that Bill—holding her in his arms during the night after that devastating dream. That vision had been so real, and she remembered it clearly. If she closed her eyes, she could smell the aftershave he wore, the herbal scent of the shampoo he’d used. Her hands remembered the smooth plane of his chest, the soft tangle of hair across his pectorals, the scar next to his heart…
Her eyes popped open.
Mike had no scars on his chest. Married to a soldier, the one thing she was familiar with was the texture of puckered skin from a gunshot scar. Mike had been shot twice—once in the shoulder and once in the leg, but the scar imprinted on her fingers had been far worse than either of those. The body she recalled so distinctly belonged to Bill, an RCMP officer who’d been shot, too. She’d lain in his arms for what had seemed like ages, sobbing her heart out until she’d fallen asleep. If that wasn’t service above and beyond, she didn’t know what was.
The sound of someone moving around in the other room grew louder and her door opened.
“Good morning,” Shirley said stepping into the room and opening the curtains.
Her hostess wore a loose fitting dress similar to the one she’d worn yesterday, reminding Charley once more of Nana who’d always worn house dresses as she’d called them.
“How are you feeling?” Shirley asked, moving over to the window to open the curtain. The pink glow intensified. “It’s a beautiful morning. I thought we might sit outside on the veranda later.”
“You must be psychic,” Charley said and chuckled, “I need to get up and … you know. Otherwise, I feel fine.”
“I’ll get Bill.”
Before she could protest, Shirley was gone.
Pivoting, Charley managed to turn her body so that her legs hung over the side of the bed, and with considerable effort, she pulled down the nightgown that had twisted itself up around her waist during the night. By the time Shirley and Bill were back, she’d covered her “parts is parts” enough she hoped not to embarrass herself.
“Hello,” Bill said stepping into the room. “I take it Mother Nature calls?”
“Screams, actually,” she answered. “Thanks for … last night.”
This morning, he wore jeans, stretched taut across well-muscled thighs and a white t-shirt, which emphasized rather than hid highly developed biceps and washboard abs. His hair was still damp and his cheeks pink from the razor—his scent had her libido doing handsprings. She swallowed a sudden longing that left her lightheaded.
What the hell’s wrong with me?
“Don’t worry about it,” Bill answered, and for a moment she thought she’d spoken aloud. “With everything that happened yesterday, you were entitled to a meltdown.
Expecting him to help her stand and walk, she let out a surprised whoosh of air when he picked her up, the skin on her thighs burning at his touch, the nightgown barely covering her butt, and carried her to the bathroom where Shirley waited.
“Put her down, Bill, and let’s see how the leg feels.”
Bill gazed into her eyes, his brow furrowed. “Are you ready?”
She nodded, her teeth clenched, ready for the pain … that never came.
“It doesn’t hurt,” she said, unable to hide the awe in her voice. “It’s a little stiff and tight, but not anywhere near as sore as I thought it would be.”
“Good. But don’t think you’re ready to run a race. That means the salve is working, numbing the nerves,” Shirley commented, a smug smile in place. “I told you I was a good medicine woman. Now, do what you need to do, and then come and have coffee and breakfast. I’ll have you shower afterwards and then I’ll put on a clean dressing. Bill is leaving us for a few hours.”
Charley had tons of questions, but her bladder was demanding attention. She nodded, and closed the door.
A few minutes later, she stood in front of the basin washing her hands and examining the cut on her forehead. The bruising had turned an angry purple and extended into her hairline. She certainly didn’t look like any femme fatale she remembered from the myriad movies she’d watched of damsels in distress. She was a mess—plain and simple. She’d never been a great beauty—at least not in her mind although Mike had told her she was countless times. Love was blind, and he’d loved her, so that would account for it. She was as ordinary and unremarkable as they came, and today, no one who saw her would look at her twice. The lump above the temple was still tender to the touch, but the headache was gone. Dark circles under her eyes testified to her difficult night, but other than that, Charley felt good to go for the first time in years.
Well, that’s it for now. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales