Casey scheduled my press conference to react to Friday morning’s talk-show troubles that very evening. The whole PR department was astonished by his efficiency in putting this together so quickly.
“It’ll make your day more hellish but you’ll be free to dive into the investigation once it’s done.” Casey told me. As I walked off the stage hours later, I decided it was an understatement. Between directing the readers’ team investigating the whirlpool, handling Samuel and detailing my own plan of attack with Rebecca, I barely had time to learn my speech. A speech cluttered with lies to calm the crowds. Ironically, it doubled my stress; the lies meant we had nothing reassuring to communicate.
I stumbled on the last step down the stage. Casey caught me by my elbow. Anxiety waved from me to him. By reflex, he pulled me into a hug. I rested my head on his shoulder, tears streaming on my cheeks for the second time today.
“Is she alright?” Rebecca asked through Casey’s mind. She was at the office to process the result of Samuel’s interrogation and determine if we should factor his information in our research. She wanted to accompany me here but knew I wouldn’t want to lose one second in the investigation.
“Barely. I’m taking her home.” Casey answered before I could. I buckled within the cage of his arms.
“No! I need to go back.”
“No! You need to rest.” Both telepaths answered. The strength of the broadcast overwhelmed my senses for a moment. My knees gave in and so did the wall within my head. I dived for a few seconds before Casey caught me, body and mind.
“Hey, Cass, stay with me, okay?” The warmth of his hand on my cheek steered me back to reality. “You can’t afford to be tired.”
“I’m not tired.”
“Yeah, right! Just exhausted.” Rebecca snarled.
“Can’t lie to us, hon. I’m taking you home.” Casey pulled me back up against his chest. I needed to find my mom. “I know. I know…” He lulled in response to my thoughts.
Never releasing completely his hold on me, he led me to his car and seated me in. The whole scene reminded me of the morning of the New York bombing. It happened barely a month or so ago and yet, so much had changed since. Nadina Perez’s trial would be coming up soon. On top of everything else.
I fell asleep on the passenger seat, only to wake up sweating and yelling.
“Cass? Cass, it’s alright. It was just a dream.” Casey was bent over me. He had pulled over and walked to my side of the car. My senses rushed back in place. Casey made sure I was okay and returned to his seat.
“We’re almost there.” He shifted in first gear and wove into the light Friday night traffic. I laid my hand over his, eager for his calm demeanor to keep me away from my stress. He smiled and breathed reassurance in my system. We drove stick in tandem until the tires scrunched along my driveway’s gravel.
“Would you stay, please?” I asked. Between the explicable nightmares and the call of the Ocean, I doubted I could sleep tonight without a little support.
“Becky would kill me if I left before she got here anyway. Or if I try to take advantage of the situation.” He winked.
In the end, I fell asleep in his arms, in my bed and all my clothes.
When I woke up, Rebecca was the one sleeping by my side, her hand wrapped around mine. Her eyes snapped open seconds after mine.
“Casey’s cooking breakfast.” Becky muttered. “I’m going to get a couple more hours of sleep. Keeping your head calm requires an effort.”
I nodded and slipped out of bed. My alarm clock informed me I had slept for 12 hours, thanks to Casey and Rebecca. I shouldn’t have Ocean-containment problems today. My stomach growled. I tiptoed out of my bedroom before my body stirred my partner out of slumber again. I made a stop by the bathroom to relieve myself and take a quick shower. I abandoned my old clothes for a clean bathrobe.
The smell of sausage, coffee and potatoes welcomed me in my kitchen along with Casey’s “Good morning, Square… err… I mean ‘Beautiful!’” He took in my dripping hair and bathrobe with a crooked smile. I jabbed his shoulder by principle as I passed him by on my way to the coffeemaker. I sniffed the mouth-watering smell of grilling meat.
“Did Becky put you up to this?” I ask, leaning on the counter.
“As if any thing kind I did was coerce out of me. You’re underestimating me, lady.” He waved his grease-coated spatula my way. I cocked an eyebrow.
We laughed. He transferred the sausages in a pan and put them in the oven to keep them warm. The way he navigated my kitchen with ease made me smile.
“You both forced me do to this.”
“If I know you and Becky one bit, you’ll spend the whole day neck-deep in your investigation, missing lunch and probably dinner. At least now, you’ll start off on the right foot.”
Colors drained from my face for a second while my mother’s kidnapping caught up with my morning clouded mind. They soon reclaimed their place, the shock passing quickly, leaving only determination in its wake.
“I’ll go get dressed.”
“No problem. How do you want your eggs?”
“Don’t trouble yourself. Just make a batch of scrambled for three.”
That last bit sounded horribly wrong in his mouth. Too full of double-entendres for my liking. I ignored it. Becky was half-dressed when I reached the bedroom.
“I thought you wanted to sleep some more.”
“Huh huh, but I don’t want to sever my monitoring of your thoughts. And the dreams they bring in my head are just way too weird. I’m a married woman, you know.”
I blushed so hard I thought my head might explode from the blood pressure. Becky threw me one of my suits.
“Let’s find your mom.”
I dressed while she packed her dirty clothes in the army back-pack. She was definitely ready for war.