Choices Ch. 04byCaraDailey©
I found myself waking alone sometime after midnight. The bright red flashing of the clock in the strange bedroom felt oddly comforting. I think it probably had to do with the realization that I wasn't at home and in my own bed. It took my mind a moment to register where I was. It took, however only a brief second for my mind to comprehend the terrible pain that my body was in.
Before I could stop myself a loud cry tore from my lips as I tried to roll out of the overly soft bed. I couldn't help but wince as I heard her foot falls coming from the living room into the bedroom. Thoughtless of the head ache that she couldn't possibly have known that I had, she flicked on the light switch. That one tiny action, sent a torrent of pain into my brain that seemed to consume my entire body, as the room was flooded with a hundred watts of illumination. I was helpless to do more than bury my face into the pillow, pleading with her to kill the lights.
"Oh Cara..." she breathed, returning the switch to the off position as she crossed the room to sit on the edge of the bed. "I'm sorry Baby. I should have guessed that you would have a head ache." Gently, she pressed her cool hand to the back of my neck trying gently to sooth me with a massage. "Am I helping or making it worse?" she asked as I let out a small whimper of relief.
"Helping." I whispered, annoyed that my voice sounded far more gravelly than it had before we'd drifted off.
"You're losing your voice Cara." she sighed, rising abruptly. I was able to catch that whimper of pain as the sudden jumping of the bed caused my head to start throbbing again. "I'm going to go get you something to drink. Don't try to get up. Okay?"
"Yes Ma'am." I agreed through clenched teeth, listening to her leave the room and move about her house.
"You must be starving." she said thoughtfully as she returned to the room. With cautious hands, she helped me move into a reclined position, once again resting on the head board. "Drink this." she demanded, pressing a plastic glass to my lips.
I almost gagged when I realized the cold liquid she was attempting to fill me with was orange juice. Instead I dutifully choked it down to preserve her feelings. It wasn't her fault that I didn't care for the bitter taste of anything citrus flavored. I was extremely relieved when I heard her set the glass aside.
"I'm guessing from the scream a minute ago that it's safe to assume that you're still in a lot of pain." she said, the grim tone in her voice gave away the look of concern that I knew had to adorn her beautiful face.
"Yeah. That's a pretty safe guess." I smiled, trying to make light of the situation.
"And you still don't want to go to the hospital?" she stated. I wasn't terribly sure if her words were in the form of a statement or a question.
"Still not going to the hospital." I confirmed just in case it had been a question.
"That's okay. I have some pain killers around here some where." she said thoughtfully.
"No thank you." I refused. I'd seen far too many people in my life battle with an addiction to pain killers and alcohol to be overly receptive to the use of either. "Do you have any aspirin?"
"I think so." Again, I felt her rise from the bed and listened to her disappear into the bathroom to search her medicine cabinet. "I got Tylenol Cara." she called from the bathroom. "Will that work?" she asked
She was oblivious of the fact that I was in the process of forcing myself from the bed despite the pain. The room began to spin violently as I made it to my feet. Anxiously, I grabbed on of the wooden foot poster of the bed to maintain my balance as my world slowly stopped turning and came into dimly lit focus. "That's fine." I called back softly as I experimentally released the grip I had on the bed.
"What are you doing hard head?" she asked as she came out of the well lit bathroom to see that I'd already made it half way to the bathroom.
"I'm going to the bathroom Hailey." I laughed as though she were silly for asking.
"You can barely move Cara." she scolded, rushing to my side to slip her arm carefully around my waist.
"Well I thought you might get a tad bit upset if I wet your bed." I said playfully, trying to cover my embarrassment over the predicament that I found myself in. "I can make it to the bathroom on my own Honey. I promise." I assured her, closing the door between me and her as I stepped into the over whelming brightly lit hell that she called a bathroom.
"You know you're about a stubborn one." she called from the other side of the wooden bathroom door.
"Well you picked me. What does that say about you?" I called back jokingly, taking care of my needs as she fretted impatiently outside the bathroom.
"I don't know." She said thoughtfully as I opened the door allowing her to enter as I surveyed the damage to my appearance in the bathroom mirror. "Maybe that I like a challenge." she frowned, easing her arms around my waist as she noticed the stream of tears that was rolling down my bruised cheeks. "They'll fade." she assured me as she gave me a gentle squeeze, being cautious of my bruised aching ribs.
"I know." I frowned, wiping the dampness from my cheeks, not wanting to evaluate the fact that the man I promised my life to was capable of doing such damage to me.
"You're still beautiful." she said softly against my ear, pressing her chin on my shoulder and nuzzling my neck playfully. I think at the time that was probably the only part of my body that didn't ache too badly.
"And you need glasses." I sighed, turning in her arms to face her. Hesitantly, I ran my index finger down the length of her nose. "I'm starving." I lied, wanting to distract her from trying to baby me. "You promised me breakfast, now you have to feed me." I demanded firmly.
"I'll make you what ever you want..." she said seriously. "After you take these." she said handing me two Tylenol.
"Done." I smiled, popping the pills in my mouth and swallowing them dry before she had a chance to retrieve more orange juice.
"What do you want to eat?" she asked seriously as she pulled away from me. With a warm smile, she caught my hand and led me through the bedroom, then the den and finally into the simply decorated kitchen.
"I'm not picky." I admitted, realizing in that moment that I was standing in her kitchen completely naked. "I have really got to go home." I sighed, trying to shake my embarrassment as I retraced our footsteps to go retrieve the t shirt she'd given me earlier that morning.
"Why would you want to do that?" she called, her voice carrying softly through the wooden framed walls.
"Well for one..." I sighed as I returned to the kitchen to lean heavily back against the bar type island that sat in the center of the huge kitchen area. "I live there. And two, because I can't run about naked all the time. There are laws against that sort of thing, you know." I said teasingly, flashing her as much of a charming smile as I could manage as I watched her flutter about the kitchen purposefully.
"Oh. I guess that makes sense." she said looking at me with an incredibly nervous expression.
"What?" I questioned curiously, trying my best not to let my stomach knot up with anxiety over what causes such a look on her face.
"Well, I didn't think you would be wanting to go back home, well at least not until after you were healed up any way." she said, turning her attention to the pan of eggs she'd seconds earlier been intently scrambling.
"Uh huh." I nodded slowly. "And what exactly did you have in mind?" I questioned, my confusion absolute in my heavy gritty voice.
"I figured that you could just stay with me until you had an idea of what you wanted to do. I mean, I do have an extra bedroom. You would have all the privacy you could possibly want. And I'm not really home that much with my crazy schedule down at the club." she explained, as she spooned the fluffy yellow eggs onto solid white ceramic plates.
"I don't think that is the best of ideas Hailey." I said honestly, praying that she wouldn't ask why.
"I think it's a great idea." she said firmly. "I can't stop you from running back to that ass hole if that's what you want to do, but I can at least give you an option other than having to go back to him." she said seriously as she sat the plate on the bar next to me.
She was standing far to close in that moment for me to ignore the heat of her presence. Even the allure of the floral scent of her perfume seem to draw me to her. I couldn't deny that the sheer attraction I felt for the woman that shared the room with me bordered heavily on insanity. It took every ounce of will power I possessed not to draw her firm body against mine. I knew I needed to keep my head if I was going have half a chance of saving her heart from the train wreck that seemed to follow me and consume every one around me.
"I appreciate that Hailey, truly I do." I said honestly, staring down at my bare feet in an attempt to distract the desire that was building steadily with in me. "But I don't stay with John because I have to and if I go back to him it's not because I have to. It's because I'm married to him and marriage is forever." I said repeating the words I'd heard since childhood.
"I agree with that. But a marriage is only a marriage when both parties are equal. Not when one is the other ones punching bag." she said, her voice full of barely suppressed anger. "You don't have to make a decision right now. All you have to do now is eat your eggs." she smiled, brushing my hair back over my ears, allowing the conversation to drop as she began to sense my distress.
"Thank you." I breathed a sigh of relief, turning my attention from my feet to the plate of eggs and whole wheat toast. Four bites into breakfast, the waves of nausea became far too much for me to bare. I felt horrible that I wasn't able to eat after she's been so eager to cook for me. To my surprise, she was more than understanding, clearing away the dish as I sluggishly made my way back to the bathroom.
"Are you alright?" she asked sometime later. Stepping into the bathroom, she found me sitting leaned with my face hanging over the toilet unproductively.
"Yeah." I nodded sluggishly. "My stomach is just feeling a little unsettled. But I'm not throwing up so that has to be a good thing." I smiled tiredly, turning my pitiful blood shot eyes up to face her as she knelt on the cold tile floor next to me.
"Maybe you should try to take a cool shower. That might help your head ache and nausea." she suggested in the soft concerned voice that had become the norm for her in my presence. "Of course that would also help stiffen up those muscles even more." she said thoughtfully.
"So basically, I'm just fucked either way." I frowned. I don't know what possessed me, but I instinctively turned and leaned down to lay my head lazily on her thigh. The cold of the tile floor did seem to help alleviate the nausea as I curled up into a small tight ball on the floor.
"Pretty much." she breathed. Slowly, she sat flat on the floor offering me more of her lap to snuggle into with out disturbing the position I'd already found suitable.
"Why are you so damn nice?" I asking in a slow almost slurred voice as her fingers brushed through my long dark curls soothingly. I couldn't help but relax under her soft calming caresses.
"Why do you find it so hard to accept some one being nice to you?" she asked seriously.
"I married the last person that was nice to me and that hasn't proven so prudent." I said only half teasing. "Have you even thought about how dangerous what you're doing is Hailey?" I asked, deciding to go into preaching mode, before she delved into questions and admonitions about my marriage.
"What?" she questioned innocently. "Stroking your hair?"
"No... Taking in what amounts to a total stranger." I said seriously. "You don't know anything about me. You don't know where I come from, who I am, or what I'm capable of. For all you know, I could be a mass murderer."
"Well if you're a mass murderer, then I hate to tell you kitten, but I think this time that the mass got the better of you." she said with a dismissive giggle.
"I'm serious Hailey." I countered, struggling to sit up to study her unconcerned face firmly. "I could be dangerous."
"Oh, I have no doubt that you are." she smiled suggestively. "But the only danger I'm in is of never seeing you again once you walk out of this house."
"And I'm the stubborn one." I sighed with a half hearted crooked smile as I grabbed the porcelain sink and pulled myself to my feet. "Okay, granted... I'm not dangerous. But whose to say that the next stray that you try to take in won't be. All I'm saying is that you need to be more careful." I said sincerely before making a slow escape from the bathroom.
"If you want to shower I picked you up some clothes earlier while you slept." Hailey said nervously as she rose and followed me back into the bedroom. "I figured that you would want more than just a t shirt if you were going to stay for a little while. I gotta turn on the light Cara." she warned softly, before following through with her words.
"So that's what you were acting so anxious about in the kitchen when I mentioned going home." I sighed as she pointing to several full shopping bags that sat in the corner of the room.
"Sort of. I just didn't think about how presumptive it was of me to go shopping for you." Hailey shrugged, gathering the bags up to carry them to the bed.
I frowned as she dumped the contents out onto the bed for my perusal. I studied her face intently as her hands picked at the various fabrics disinterestedly. I knew she was doing every thing in her power to avoid making eye contact for some reason. I began to feel a slight tug of concern. After knowing me for give or take twenty four hours, this woman had gone out and damn near purchased an entire wardrobe for me.
"Why did you you do this Hailey?" I sighed, shaking my head tiredly. "How much did all of this cost you?"
"It doesn't matter Cara." she replied in a tone that I can only describe as full of rejection.
"It matters to me." I pointed out, trying to think of how to soften the blow to her ego.
"I just figured you had clothes you would stay." she explained softly, sounding far more like a broken child than I could stand.
"So you thought you could buy me?" I questioned, taking her explanation out of context, something I am still to this day famous for.
"No. God no." she gasped, looking up to meet my offended gaze. "I would never think I could. I just figured that if you didn't have to go back to that son of a bitch to get clothing that there would be less of a chance of him convincing you to take him back. You don't have to stay with me Cara. That's a given, but going back to him is going to get you killed eventually and I don't want that to happen."
"So you went out and spent a fortune on me, even though you barely know me, because you wanted to keep me safe?" I questioned, with as much of a smile as I could manage. I couldn't stop my heart from reacting to the selflessness in her actions.
"Yes I want to keep you safe Cara. Is that so weird?" She asked with a heavy frustrated sigh.
"God this is fucking crazy." I breathed thoughtlessly. Before I could stop myself, I caught the back of her slim neck and pulled her down to me.