Dusk fell gently, like the cotton nightshirt which hung softly around her bristly, unshaven legs. Not long ago the sound of children had echoed through the hallowed halls around her, but tonight, finally, all was quiet. And then, without a word, he appeared in the doorway. She glanced over at him: he stood tall and strong, his shock of blond hair undisturbed, save for a small child’s tiara perched playfully atop it. His eye were soft with weariness, and yet he looked at her with deep concern.
“They’re finally down.” He lilted, his lips moist, his voice husky. “But more importantly, how are YOU?”
She looked at him, her eyes glimmering. “I’m fine.” She managed, her voice quivering slightly. “But I do … feel slightly faint …” Suddenly breathless, her knees delicately buckled under her. In two strides he was beside her, catching her and holding her soundly in his arms. “You should lie down!” He said, gently, his hands cradling her head. “You’ve had a long day, my darling.”
She looked up at him, her eyes wide and sparkling. His brow was furrowed, deep concern etched in the lines of his ruggedly handsome face. Leaning forward, he kissed her gently on the forehead. “You should REST.” He said, gently, but firmly. With ease, he lowered her down onto the sofa and tucked a blanket around her. Leaning into her ear—she could feel the heat of his breath—he spoke; “I’m going to go clean the kitchen. You rest, and I’ll put on a Gilmore Girls for you.” He tucked a soft, heathery pillow under her swan-like neck. His eyes were bright with concern and determination. “But before I do, I’m going to just run out quickly and get you several doughnuts from the Tim Hortons drive-through.” He touched her lips and smiled a half smile. “You don’t have to say anything. I’m going. And don’t you dare lift a finger around here while I’m gone.” His eyes darkened slightly at the thought, but his mouth still held it’s boyish grin. “I’ll be back with those doughnuts before you know it.”
She looked deep into his eyes and laughed musically, “You had me at doughnuts,” she said with a cute wink. He laughed; a laugh that was strong and sure. “Well, you NEED them!” He said gently, touching her cheek, her hair, the soft curve of her lip. “You’re practically wasting away!” With that he stood up. “Need anything before I go?”
“… a pudding? From the cupboard?” She smiled, shyly. “I know they’re supposed to be for the kids’ lunches, but …”
He held up a finger, “Say no more. A pudding it is.”
He returned shortly, doughnuts in hand, and handed them to her with a kiss before departing for the kitchen. She could hear him, then, tinkering in the kitchen; scrubbing pots, wiping counters, his shirt sleeves rolled up and taut across the tanned, muscular flesh of his arms. Before she knew it she was drifting off to sleep to the sounds of his soft humming and the droning voices of the Gilmore Girls. Her stomach, full of doughnuts and pudding, felt empty compared to the fullness of her heart. Contented, her head sank into the pillow and her eyelids fluttered closed.
Before she knew it, a soft whisper was floating into her ear, startling her from a sound sleep. “Sweetheart. You fell asleep. Let me take you to bed.” Gently, she nodded, looking dreamily up at him. Effortlessly he scooped her up in his arms and carried her upstairs to the bedroom. Barely awake, she enjoyed the smell of him, the throbbing of his heart as her head nestled into his chest, the soft scent a mix of laundry detergent and dish detergent that lingered on his downy cotton t-shirt. Slowly, he lowered her onto the bed. She could feel the softness of the mattress underneath her body, cradling her, enveloping her. Tucking her feet in, he slowly pulled the covers up over her with his strong, rough, dishpan hands. “Goodnight, beautiful,” He whispered, breathily, “I will take the kids to their lessons tomorrow morning. You sleep, sleep as long as you need to.”
Their eyes met. He lowered his face slowly to hers for a kiss. She reached her face up to meet his, and pecked him on the lips; “Sa-weet. Thanks!”
And with that she turned to her side, buried her head in the pillow and was instantly asleep. And she slept, and slept, and slept, and slept, AND SLEPT.