I cried out every thing I hadn’t dealt with for the past 30 hours I spent awake. I cried for the deaths hitting me hard, for the bundle of fear and stress knotted deep around my guts. I cried for Becky who failed by my side and would beat herself over it for the next week or so. I cried for Daniel who stepped up to support me, unprepared and tired. I cried for me. Mostly for me.
The pain burnt my cheeks.
My head rested between my arms atop my folded knees. The hospital gown grew mushy against my face. If it wasn’t for the wall, I wouldn’t be able to sit. I had no control whatsoever. My muscles’ spasms matched my feelings’ jerks. I had no strength left. I’d given my all. And despite all my efforts, on some level, the criminal had won.
She had successfully scarred someone for life.
I was so deep in my bubble of pain that I didn’t hear him rush to me. He scooped my heart off the floor and forced it back into my chest with the pressure of his own. Staggering in a rosemary and mint hug, I hung to his shoulders. He smoothed my hair slowly. His arms held me straight and his shushing brought me back to reality.
“It’s over, Cass. It’s over. I’m taking you home.”
Conference rooms were his domain. I wasn’t surprise that Casey had found me. Or known to look for me; Rebecca probably called him. She felt too guilty to face me but she wouldn’t leave me alone.
Casey picked up my clothes on the ground in a swift movement, releasing his hold for a second. He didn’t want me to collapse. His touch barely left me, and then I was in his arms again. He folded my glasses in his breast pocket.
“Before or after?” He asked.
“Now” I muttered.
I hated the hospital gown. It was my physical leaden weight and I wanted it off. He carried me to a bathroom and locked the door behind us. He sat me on the counter and stripped me to my underwear. He quickly dressed me up, not an ounce of lust in his care.
I helped him as much as I could which basically amounted up to sitting or standing straight. It was a daunting effort but I did it. When we exited the bathroom, the gown stayed behind, discarded.
I walked. I was heavily supported by Casey but I walked.
The drive home was a silent one. Casey knew I had to sort this out myself. He was in PR now but he had been a psychic’s telepath in the past. He wouldn’t read my internal turmoil unless he wanted to risk being crippled too. He wouldn’t feel helpless like a human would, and try to hide it with unsolicited words of fortune cookie wisdom. He would drive me home. Period.
He chose a soothing music with hints of sunshine to fill the silence. It was perfect. I closed my eyes and forced my face slack in the light of the afternoon. The tears were temporarily quenched. Sounds told me the city was alive and well, unaware of the disaster that almost hit a couple hundred miles north.
I was jealous of its innocence. I felt so torn. The city didn’t have the right to be out in the sun while I was so deep in darkness.
Casey parked in my driveway and came around the car to get me out. He fished my keys in my purse and unlocked the door for us. I didn’t remember him getting my handbag from the locker room. He must have grabbed it before he came to me.
Casey had been here a few times. We had supper with coworkers and friends. He knew where I dropped my purse and where the rooms were.
“Bath or bed?”
I’d wash away the suffering later. I needed to sleep. He dragged me up the stairs and laid me on my bed after pulling the covers. While he worked on my boots, I fumbled with the buttons of my blouse. I gave up and he undressed me without complaining. Once I was naked, he tucked me in and bowed to my ear.
“Daniel beams me to tell you that you’re not welcomed at the office tomorrow.” He breathed against my neck in a low lover’s tone. The tenderness soothed my pain.
“Amy will throw a fit when she learns I undressed you… twice… during office hours.”
He was still murmuring against my ear and through his cheek touching mine, he sent a flash of amusement. I laughed softly. Satisfied, he kissed my forehead. After putting my glasses on the nightstand, he left. I was asleep before he locked the front door.
I woke up the next morning. My muscles were still aching from yesterday’s artificial effort. I hadn’t moved much but the nerves had tensed every contractible part of me the night before. I suffered the aftershock.
I walked to the bathroom sluggishly. Twenty hours of sleep and emotional baggage will do that to a person. I glanced at myself in the mirror. My dark eyes looked like empty holes, my hair was flying every which way but down and the folds of my linens appeared in red streaks on my face’s right side. Such was the warrior’s morning mug.
I turned on the water and filled the bathtub. I added a handful of dry bergamot peels, an equal amount of sage and a dollop of lavender oil to kick it off. The anti-depressor, the healer and the soothing agent would fix me in no time.
I immersed myself in hot water and fragrance, allowing my spirit to soar. When the water cooled, I reheated it and wrinkled in it some more. I wasn’t ready to get back to the real world just yet but I had to.
I finally forced myself out of dwelling and patted the water off my body. I netted the herbs out of the bath and drained the water. I dressed up in cheap but comfortable clothes.
I was ready for step two of my rehabilitation.