Jay kicked off his shoes and dropped onto the hotel bed. He lay there with his eyes closed. His tiredness made the inside of his head swim and swirl.
His thoughts were a muddle of words and wishes.
His heart ached with grief and frustrations.
In the back of his mind, a question pounded over and over – “What else can I do?” But his mind provided no answers.
No words other than those miserable five.
And, like an aggressive rapper’s lullaby, those five words pounded rhythmically inside his skull until he gave up and fell asleep.
Isellta lay still, still unconscious.
His eyes were closed.
His eyebrows were calm lines.
His lips rested in peace.
No frown lines.
No signs of fear.
Dave had fallen asleep in the nearby rocker with his head tilted to the side.
Hank rose from the bed and approached his lover. He crouched in front of him. “What are you dreaming of? Are they good dreams? Are they dreams of me?”
Dave smiled in his sleep.
“Aww, man. I just can’t help it.” Hank pulled out his cell phone and took a quick picture. He admired it before taking another.
He kissed the side of Dave’s knee. “I wish I could scoop you into my arms and carry you back to our room. But.” He stood and stretched. “Ngh! That will have to wait till later. I got a job to do.”
Hank looked down at Dave’s sleeping face. He smiled and took one last picture. “I love you, babe.” He kissed his forehead. “Stay asleep and have wonderful dreams.”
He returned to the bed and sat beside Isellta. “I’m here, you pretty thing you.” He squeezed Isellta’s hand. “I’ll be here until Jay gets back. I’ll keep you safe. I promise.”
The nae bi sha watched Isellta sleep in the darkness.
The fey’s face was calm and restful.
But the nae bi sha did not sleep. He stayed awake and watched Isellta sleep.
Raven stood at the right side of her hospital bed.
Jeff stood at the left side.
Neither one spoke.
They stood there, watching her, waiting for her to wake up.
Jeff stayed by her side as the minutes became hours. He became too tired to keep his eyes open, much less stand in one place. He retreated to the arm chair and settled down.
Raven stayed by Missy’s side and watched over her.
Sarah slept in Barbara’s arms.
In her dreams, she was safe. Nothing chased her. Nothing hurt her.
There were no needles.
Just fleeting memories of safety and happiness.
She smiled as she slept.
Barbara dreamed of Ambrose.
In her dreams, there were no barriers.
No more “Sorry. we can’t do that.”
He touched her.
He held her.
She touched him and relished every minute of it.
The feel of his skin.
The sound of his voice as he whispered over and over, “I love you.”
She knew that it was just a dream.
She didn’t want it to end.