Shade's Fall(9)

By: Jamie Begley

“I know. It’s just that I’ve never had two in one day before,” Lily said shakily, reaching for the bottled water sitting on the coffee table.

“When did you have the other headache?”

“On the drive home. I took a nap when I got home and felt better.” Lily sat the bottled water back on the table before reaching down to pick up the books on the floor, sliding them back into the bag.

“I see.” Shade handed her one of the books, giving her a speculative look, which she didn’t understand. She slid the book into the bag without looking at it.

“Is your headache gone?”

“Yes.” Lily brushed her hair back from her pale face. She felt silly for passing out in front of Shade. She consistently seemed to have some incident or other in front of him, which made her appear to be a weakling.

“Maybe watching something on television will take your mind off it.” Shade picked up the controller, flipping the channels until he found a comedy.

Lily sat on the couch watching the screen until the show finally managed to draw her into the silly plot. She was still laughing an hour later when the program went off.

Lily stretched, yawning.

“Go to bed, Lily.” The friendly man who had sat and shared his travels with her was gone, and in his place was the same withdrawn man that she knew.

“I am tired. Thanks for dinner, Shade.” Lily expected him to get up and leave.

“Go on to bed, Lily. I’m going to sleep on the couch.”

“There’s no need for you to stay,” Lily protested.

“You just fainted an hour ago. I’m not leaving unless you want me to call Beth and Razer. I’m sure she would come home.”

“I’m not a child you’re babysitting that isn’t feeling well so you need to call the parents to come home,” Lily snapped angrily. “I’m perfectly fine.”

“No, Lily, you’re not. People who are fine don’t almost do a face-plant onto a coffee table. If I wasn’t here, you could have hit your head again, and no one would have known until Beth came home in the morning and found you.”

Lily gritted her teeth. She had known he was waiting to throw that at her.

“Shade, I’m fine now,” Lily repeated her words, hoping this time he would believe her.

“Lily, go to bed, now. I’ll lock up. I’ll even be a gentleman and leave in the morning before Beth and Razer get home.”

Lily knew from his expression that he wasn’t leaving.

“Fine. If you want to sleep on a couch, go ahead.” Lily angrily left, going up the steps to his mocking laughter.

When she reached her bedroom, she slammed the door behind her then immediately felt guilty. She had never been one to throw temper tantrums and wasn’t about to let that stubborn man make her start now.

She lay down on her bed, leaving her bathroom light on as she curled into a ball, pulling the covers over her even though the bedroom was warm; however, she was too drowsy to get up and turn the air conditioner down lower. She had always burrowed beneath the covers to sleep since she had come to live with Beth and her adoptive parents.

As soon as the thought came to mind, Lily pictured an imaginary door blocking all thoughts of her life from before. It was a trick she had learned when she was a little girl, and she still used it to keep all the memories at bay.

She became angry when everyone treated her like a child, yet she used childish tricks to keep the negative tide of emotions away instead of facing them. She didn’t want to remember the memories that were locked away behind that door, though. She fought her fears and anxieties every day, terrified that what was behind that imaginary door would take what little sanity she had left.

* * *

The next morning she woke, sitting up, covered in sweat with her pajamas clinging to her. She took a shower, washing her hair and enjoying the cool water on her overheated flesh. When she dried off, she dressed in a cool, pink sundress that had little cap sleeves. Lily preferred wearing dresses to jeans, liking the loose feel of them on her body than the more constrictive clothes women of her age preferred.

Going to her bed, she pulled the sheets off then put fresh sheets on, making it carefully. She picked up the dirty ones, carrying them downstairs as she hoped Shade had kept his word and left.

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