I avoided going anywhere near their house for the next days. I would stubbornly continue with sitting the nights away on the balcony, hands warming around the large cup, eyes closed and listening tensely on every sound that came from their house.
None of them came to talk to me. They saw me sit there head turned only in one direction and ignored me with equal stance.
I had kept my promise – not one answered Hidden Number calls. The phone remained on my side on the balcony and kept ringing every few hours, but I kept it sternly on my side.
I must have dozed off, sitting there like praying mantis, my cup resting on the legs. I felt my hair move and air go past my ear. I smiled, sensing the long fingers go through my blond strands and pack them neatly and hopelessly on the back of my head before freeing them to fall freely back on the shoulders. Its soothing movement made my head swarm.
“Hi, Malek.” I said, pushing my head back and eyeing his eyes hovering right above me.
“Hi, Eff.” He smiled. “It is quiet now.” He said, pulling up around the post.
“Why you’re telling me this?”
“Can you watch Saul for me?”
“Where are you going then?”
He snorted. “I wish. No, I need some meds to get Saul’s fever down.”
The cup fell against the wood with loud clomp. “He still has a fever?”
“It went down for awhile, but came back. Can you watch him for me, please? I don’t want to leave him alone.”
He didn’t even want to see me last time. That was enough to keep me sitting on.
“He is sleeping.” Malek read my mind.
I nodded and agreed. Despite the weight settling in my chest, I wanted to know, how he was. Just listening in on men, who always fell silent, when they passed my house wasn’t satisfying my curiosity.
I left my phone and the cup on the balcony and followed him in the house. Others weren’t home, but I could feel them everywhere. Rasmus was at work, Janay in patrol and Oliver… I didn’t hear what he said, when I saw Saul’s slumped body quietly sleeping on his bed. The window was open and his naked body was half way covered with white blanket.
“I’ll be going then.” He whispered from the door, when I took the chair in the corner. I nodded and he disappeared quickly.
Saul seemed to be sound asleep with his chest rising steadily and it gave me time to look around the place. It was different in the night, where the lantern’s gloom from outside the window cast beams neatly in rows through the maple tree standing behind the house, painting some of the light landing on the wardrobe green. It was stuffy, even with the window open. There hadn’t been much wind most of the afternoon. His thick duvet seemed out of place with such heat.
I went to the wardrobe and opened the right side, where I knew to be the drawers. Just as I guessed I saw some bedcovers there that had probably never ended up on the bed. I hesitated, but decided it wouldn’t do much good to leave him broiling underneath that blanket, so I took the linen sheet and walked back to the chair. I was about to flap it open, when something fell over on the nightstand. I turned to pick it up and read in the lantern’s light the words “degrading fever”.
I sighed, putting the box back on the stand. The excuse had indeed sounded too fetched. Well, that didn’t mean I wasn’t grateful, but he knew Saul wasn’t keen on seeing me. Damn Malek!
I flapped the sheet open, pushed the blanket away and replaced it with cool sheet before curling up on the chair myself, pulling my knees up on my chest and supporting the toes on the edge of the wood.
“I don’t even know what I’m doing here!” I sighed, lifting my eyes on the unlit square lamp hanging above the bed before watching his breathing again.
I promised I’d stay awake and be the vigilant watcher as Malek hoped me to be, but instead I woke next morning on something touching my toes. I opened my eyes and saw Saul’s hand resting on my foot. I heard loud cough and saw Rasmus standing on the door with glass of water.
I sighed and quietly pulled the leg away, standing up. He stirred, but didn’t wake.
“What are you doing here?”
I came away from Saul’s side and, ignoring Rasmus, went past him, straight out the house, over the bushes and back in mine. I found Malek sleeping on my porch, my phone and cup neatly packed away on the floor next to his shoes while his feet were tucked high in the vines, head resting on his hands.
I gave him a hard punch in his ribs, bringing out a satisfyingly painful cry.
“You earned it!” I yelled and went in the kitchen. He followed me, still in his socks.
“Well?” he demanded.
“Did you talk?”
“Talk? Oh, yes! I screamed, he snored!” I slammed my fist on the counter. “The hell were you thinking? He didn’t want to see me in the first place! And then pull something like that? He is supposed to get some sleep, not get angry on me!”
His shoulders slumped and he sat on the red chair. “I thought he’d sure wake up if he smelled your perfume.”
I let out a soft cry. What a romantic! “Did I miss something?”
“He misses you.”
“Look, Saul…” I began, but was cut off by his sniggering. “What now?” I barked harsh.
“You called me Saul!”
“Oh, for crying out loud!”
“Ok, ok, calm down now, chick. He might not be the man, who paints I’m sorry-s on your doorstep, but I’m looking at a man, and he doesn’t want to get out of bed after a small cut!”
“It was hardly small – he’ll have 3 inch scar!”
“With your personal signature in stitches!”
Did he take anything serious? But it worked – it cut my thought and after a moment I couldn’t remember, what I wanted to say.
“I’ve known him for years – the man is like log of oak in waterfalls! He never falters from his path despite who is sent on his way! And now I get the honored place to sit by his side while he ignores others or pretends to be asleep?”
“He is sick!” I reminded him.
“He is avoiding everyone! And that’s why I am brave enough to come, dare to beg you – on my knees, as you can see!” He fell down on his knees and clapped his hands together. “Go hug that bastard and make our lives livable again! We need him! And he needs you!”
“So you also do begging for him.”
“No!” he resorted and pushed himself off the floor. “I beg for nobody but myself!”
That I could believe.
He grabbed the almond from the small cup on the table.
“He is thinking himself senseless. The more he sits in that damned room, the worse he gets.”
“So? What you want me to do?”
“Get on his nerves? Let that heart of his work for the money again? Make him feel alive?”
“You would make a fine preacher one day.” I said, appreciating his tries. “Look, I don’t think I’m wanted there much right now. He did say specifically that he does not want to see me and I’d like to respect his wishes.”
“This the time you choose to follow his wishes? Girl, are you high?” He huffed and pushed his hands in his pockets. Suddenly his frown cleared. He pulled out a small package. “You can take him this!”
“What is it?”
“His horse tranquilizer!”
I doubted if this was any better plan than his previous attempt. I was reluctant to take the box, but then, no butter was made without beating and no medicine was taken without sugar, I recalled, grabbing half a kilo sugar from the counter as well. Malek refused to come and witness the show, saying he’ll have to be in watch duty soon.
Rasmus was in the living room, when I returned, scratching his head while going through some paperwork which had piled up on table. He had made some aromatic coffee and I put the sugar bag in front of him as peace offering. His angry stare wouldn’t leave me, but he didn’t follow, when I headed for the bedroom.
Saul was still laying on his right side with his eyes closed. At least they hadn’t put the blanket back on him, but the windows were closed. I tiptoed past him, left the box on the table next to the fever lowering medicine and opened the window.
“I said the birds are bothering me!”
“Air as well?” I tried to smile, but it was an empty try.
He shot his eyes up and groaned of the pain, trying to push himself up on his hands. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m sorry,” I started again, meeting his gaze. “I understood you were sleeping, I just wished to see…” I sounded shattered like a glass. I had stopped in the middle of the room and felt confused. “Sorry. Malek asked me to check the stitches.” I lied and he frowned. I was not impressed, but I wasn’t backing down now. I placed the chair next to the bed so I was seated near his middle and gently pulled the sheet lower. His hand remained steadily on my way.
“He said you were having a fever.” I tried, but received another scowl and the hand remained in place.
“I’m not apologizing for their calls! But I will check your stitches!” I gave his hand a painful jolt and it moved out of my way. They had changed the bandage few times, but it felt still moist. When I got it out of the way, I was disappointed how badly it had healed. It should have been nice pink by now. Instead it had red edges and looked swollen.
“When was the last time you had it cleaned?”
He let me fuss with the wound, hands aside and waited patiently for me to finish. I could sense him inches away, breathing slowly in and out as if willing to have more patience. Instead he reached out and pulled my forehead against his. I eased my hands around him and hugged him back, feeling the pressure ease.
“I was so worried!” I whispered, but he shook his head.
“Shh…” He searched my lips before kissing them gently. I responded with all the anger melting away. He didn’t stop on my lips, slowly moving on to the neck and shoulder.
“You can’t go cuddling like that,” I warned, when he cringed, “you’ll pull your stitches!”
“I don’t care.” He sounded hoarse from not drinking enough. I imagined soaking him in a bath, but I couldn’t recall baths in this house. “I want you.”
As much as I wanted him too, Rasmus would have my neck, so I resisted the urge and caught his lips for a kiss, guiding his head back up.
“When you get better.” I promised. “Right now you need to rest.”
“Come here.” He leaned back and opened his arms, waiting till I came close enough to take hold of me. He pulled me on the bed next to him, making me curl up against his side.
“You cried for me.” He said sadly.
It brought tears back with vengeance, but I didn’t want to explain. “Yeah, I cried.”
He pulled my chin up and sealed a long kiss on my lips.
“I should go…” I whispered, when he pulled his lips away.
“Will not come here unless I call. Stay here, the rooms are cold tonight.”
“I can bring you another blanket?” I suggested, but his hold on me only grew stronger on that statement.
“I have you to warm me.”
“As good as that sounds…”
“Searching excuses?” he whispered and closed his free hand around me like a python. “Please stay here. I’ll tell you later, what I thought out, but I’m too tired right now.”
He fell asleep little bit after that and I would have too, hadn’t it stirred up sick feeling that we were being watched.
I tried to look in the direction I felt it came from, but there was nothing besides large bushes that couldn’t hide anybody. Which left the house over the street. There I saw light flash off from something shiny and I knew immediately, who it was.
Tears swell up in my eyes, when I closed the nails around Saul, snuggling closer. I tried to be quiet and not to wake him.
He was getting bold. I hadn’t liked his latest gifts. Taking away Saul would be just what he would do to teach me a lesson. He would tie me up and make me watch. Learn to care for those around you.
I snug out of his hold, when I was sure he was fast asleep, closed the window, eyes fixed on those two flashes of light across the street.
“Watch him for me, will you?” I asked Rasmus, who was still pretending to read the newspaper. The truth was he was on the same page I left him with earlier. “In his room?”
He nodded and I went to wake Malek up. I was joining them on their patrol tonight.