by Amber Nation
I peeled back the covers to the full-sized bed and opened the curtains to the window that was placed to the left of where the bed sat. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping, it was going to be a glorious day.
Since I took a shower last night, after Mike left and after the little incident in the hallway that I would really like to remember, but I didn’t really want to discuss. I went ahead and picked out a pair of cutoff shorts and just a red slim-fitting V-neck t-shirt and slipped them on.
I placed my duffel and my keyboard on the bed, so everything would be ready once I called a cab to take me to the nearest hotel until I could find out what I was going to do. Looking at my Yamaha PSRE433 Portable Keyboard, it wasn’t as fantastic as my fully restored 1906 Steinway & Sons Model A Grand Piano that was collecting dust in my parents’ garage. It was given to me by my late grandmother after I received my acceptance letter to Juilliard right before she passed. It would’ve killed her to know that I never got the chance to play a single concerto with the Juilliard Orchestra or that I never even made it to the threshold of the front doors to the school.
I let love lead my path for my future. And in the end, all that love did was destroy the things that led to my happiness. Looking down at my hands and curling them into a ball then extending them to where my hand was stretched out, they actually didn’t feel half bad today. I was sure that they would ache after playing last night, but I wouldn’t overdo it by playing again today. I knew my limits.
I grabbed my brush and ran it through my long, poker straight black hair and secured it with a simple ponytail holder. Most women hated their hair and wished they had the opposite of what they had. Take for example, they had brown curly hair, they wished that they had blonde, straight hair. I was the exception, I absolutely loved my straight black hair. I was lucky that it was completely natural and I had never colored it once in my life. It was long and reached almost to the top of my tailbone, it was the one thing that I truly loved about myself, the one thing that he had never tainted. I slipped on a plain black flip-flop, I needed something that was easy to walk in along with this stupid boot. I was going to see if Mike cared if I had a cup of coffee before I called the local cab company.
Opening the door the guest room, Sadie came charging down the hallway towards me. For a minute, I didn’t think she was going to stop before she skidded across the hardwood floors and straight into me. “Sadie, stop!” I yelled a little more aggressively than I intended, but she stopped dead in her tracks and laid down on the floor. Great, now I’ve upset his dog.
I walked closer to where she was stationed and bent down so I could scratch her tummy and give her some lovin’. “Hey there, Sadie. I didn’t mean to yell, but I didn’t want you to run into my foot.” She showed her acceptance of my apology by licking my hand and letting her tail wag a mile a minute. She was such a beautiful and well-behaved dog.
“Where’s Mike?” I asked as if she would actually answer my question. “Is he in a better mood today?”
I walked through the living room, the sound of my boot hitting the wooden surface made an echo throughout the house. I would be glad when I was able to get this thing off, even though I had six grueling weeks left ahead of me.
I made it to the kitchen and approached the coffee maker, still without hearing a peep out of Mike. Perhaps, he was sulking in the confines of his bedroom, well that was alright with me. I would get my coffee fix, call the cab company, and write him a note thanking him for letting me stay at his home for one night.
There was almost a full pot of coffee still sitting in the carafe, all I would have to do was reheat it up in the microwave. I would much rather have freshly brewed coffee, but this coffee was better than no coffee at all. After opening up his cabinets, which were neatly organized if I might add, I shuffled through them and found a clean coffee mug. Making it just how I liked it, one sugar and a splash of milk, I was going to make myself comfortable on that wondrous bay window bench.
Seeing a notebook perched up on a bowl on the end of his countertop made me stop my trek across the kitchen. I didn’t want to be rude looking through his things, but the way it was situated made me think that it was meant for me.
I sat my mug down beside the notebook and picked the bound papers up in my hands. Reading over the note, I felt a smile spread across my face at his chicken scratch writing and the words that were written.
I’m working a twenty-four hour shift at the station so I won’t be off until around five am tomorrow. Sadie is used to it, so don’t worry about her. As long as I don’t have a run, I should be able to run by to let her out this evening around seven.
P.S. I’m sorry for being an asshole last night. Please stay…
I supposed that there was still some goodness lurking around in that man’s heart. He wasn’t entirely hopeless.
Looking at the clock on the microwave, the green numbers illuminated the time, it was two pm, which meant I still had another five hours before Mike would possibly be home to let Sadie out. He would have no way of knowing whether or not I stayed, so to show my gratitude, I was going to make him dinner.
This would be the first time I made dinner for a man who didn’t order me to. I was completely giddy in knowing I would never have to take orders from a man, one man in particular, ever again.
Several hours passed by pretty quickly, but that could’ve been the fact that I took the opportunity to soak up some sun in that gorgeous backyard of his. I relaxed in the hammock while Sadie laid down below. I was able to imagine living in Brown County for good, so far, except for my wreck, it had been an extremely quaint and forthcoming little town.
Having a family and making a life here, that sounded like a pretty decent goal and hopefully it would be easily obtainable.
I ended up making something pretty simple, spaghetti. It sounded amazing at the time and it was one thing he had all of the ingredients for. I was extremely pleased with the vast array of spices he had circulating in his cabinet. I was able to add garlic and basil, a staple in any good tomato sauce.
I waited around until seven-thirty before I fixed myself a heaping plate full of al dente spaghetti noodles topped with my homemade tomato sauce and brought it into the living room.
I tucked my right leg underneath my body and rested my boot on the coffee table in front of me. Having my plate rest on my lap, I flipped through the channels on his sixty inch TV until I stopped on one of my favorite sitcoms from the nineties, Roseanne. Sadie whimpered from the floor and placed her head on the edge of the couch.
I stuffed myself so completely full that I felt as if I would burst at the seams at any given moment. It was totally welcomed though just to be able to eat as much as I wanted whenever I wanted.
I moved the plate from off of my lap to sit it in the middle of the coffee table and shifted to where I was laying on my side, my boot propped up on the other arm of the couch.
It was eight pm now so I guessed Mike was having a rather busy night. I greatly hoped that his runs weren’t anything too terribly horrific or extreme.
Now that my stomach was stupid full, which I almost regretted eating too much, I felt too lazy to do anything else at the moment. I decided that I would rest and watch another episode of Roseanne then I would clean up the kitchen and store the leftovers away in the fridge.
Patting my left hand on my side, I called for Sadie to come up beside me on the couch.
She stood and walked in front of me, taking her time roaming her cold, damp nose over my face as she sniffed making me cower back as it tickled.
“Come on, Sadie,” I said again as I patted my leg and made a kissy noise.
Hesitating only a second longer, she leaped up and over my legs and laid down behind me with her head resting on my hip. She sighed with what I would like to think was contentment as I scratched behind her ears.
It took absolutely no time at all before we were both sound asleep.
Getting off of work this morning, I didn’t know what I would be walking into, and the picturesque scene that was before me never even crossed my mind.
It would almost be endearing if Sadie wasn’t breaking my one constant rule; no getting on the furniture.
Sadie’s head was buried behind Sheridan’s back and they were both completely out. And by the looks of it, they’ve been there for quite a while.
Sadie hadn’t even moved a muscle when I came through the front door which was extremely abnormal. Normally she would be standing there at the door waiting for me with her tail wagging back and forth a mile a minute ready to pounce.
Now it seemed she was entirely wrapped up in Sheridan. Traitor.
I decided to leave them laying on the couch while I was able to quickly shower and change out of my uniform.
I really had tried to come home last night because my curiosity was piqued more than anything on whether or not Sheridan had stayed, but it was one run after another, almost nonstop.
After our last call, my partner and I had finally caught a break around midnight and was able to catch a few hours of uninterrupted shut eye until the next shift came on to relieve us.
I was normally able to come home sometime during mid-shift to give Sadie some attention, but it wasn’t exactly unheard of if I didn’t.
Sadie always had a bowl of kibble and water at her disposal and my back door had a doggy door so she was able to get out in the fenced in backyard to attend to her business.
I took one last glance at Sheridan as she was sleeping peacefully, I’ve watched her sleep more in the last few days than I’ve spent with her awake.
“Sadie…" I said in a heavy-handed tone, which seemed to be the common reoccurring theme going on.
Her chocolate brown head quickly perked up as if she had just realized I was there. And all I had to do was cock my brow and she was getting up off of Sheridan and the couch and rushed towards her bed in the dining room with her tail in between her legs.
Little shit knew she wasn’t supposed to be up on the couch.
I sat down on the edge of the coffee table and the force of Sadie’s moving must have jarred Sheridan awake because the next thing I knew she threw herself into a sitting position on the couch. Her eyes completely bulging out of her head as she shook her head to the sides and then rushed towards the kitchen while repeating, “I’m sorry," over and over again.
Everything happened so fast I didn’t exactly comprehend everything at the moment, her skittish actions kind of took me aback. She then rushed into the living room and retrieved her plate that was resting on in the middle of my wooden coffee table, her eyes were completely glassed over as she kept on apologizing. Was she even awake or aware of what was going on?
I decided to let things be for the moment, I didn’t want to scare her but I was quickly becoming concerned with what was going on. When I heard the crash of pans on the floor, I knew it was time to take action.
I ran into the kitchen to find the kitchen floor painted in red tomato sauce and Sheridan on her hands and knees picking up strands of dried spaghetti with her fingers.
“Sheridan?" I asked coming up behind her and grabbing her waist and hoisting her up on my granite countertop.
She had yet to answer me and kept staring at the mess on the floor. Her hands were shaking which made her entire body tremble. It was almost like she was someplace else.
“Sheridan?" I asked once again, only to get the exact same response, none.
I spread her legs wide so I could step in between them, at the time I wasn’t thinking anything sexual because I was trying to get to the bottom of the situation. But when the inside on her parted thighs came in contact with my stomach and her legs seemed to squeeze in a bit around me, I felt that unfamiliar pull again.
Her hands, which were still covered in spaghetti sauce had calmed down from the relentless shaking and were now resting on her thighs, but she still had yet to look at me.
I cupped my hands on her face and directed it to where she had to see me, but her eyes were still glassed over.
What the hell had happened to her? I thought.
“Sheridan," I said once again, but with an ever so soft tone, I was almost whispering.
She seemed to snap out of whatever trance she was in and those fierce green orbs focused into mine glistening with unshed tears.
By this time, my heart was beating just a bit faster and my breathing, a bit heavier. My thumbs rubbed circles on her cheeks without my brain directing them to.
“What happened, Sheridan?" I didn’t want to pry, but there had to be some kind of logical explanation for this.
She looked down at her hands as she turned them over in front of her, noticing the red substance from the discarded tomato sauce. She finally spoke up, “I’m so sorry, Mike. I have arthritis in my hands and sometimes they just forget how to function and drop things." A single tear cascaded down her cheek and I quickly brushed it away.
That solved the problem about the spaghetti mess on my floor, but she didn’t emphasize on the apparent trance she had been in.
I was at a loss on what to say or do. Being a paramedic I knew that arthritis could sometimes affect the use of extremities it was settled in, and hearing the level of expertise she had on just a musical keyboard, her fingers could definitely have arthritis in them.
Her eyes continued to linger on mine then she moved to hop off of the counter, but I caught her around her waist so I could set her gently on the floor. She was covered in spaghetti, so she quickly excused herself to the bathroom to wash up, leaving me to clean the kitchen.
I looked over to see Sadie lying on the outskirts of the mess on the floor. I imagined that if she could speak that she would say, ‘What was that all about?’ the look in her eyes conveyed exactly that.
“Your guess if as good as mine, girl." Don’t worry, I haven’t lost my mind, at least I didn’t think I had. I knew several people who talked to their dogs and imagined them answering you. No? Just me?
That’s alright, I rather liked that Sadie couldn’t answer me. I didn’t have to deal with back talk or smart attitudes.
After cleaning up the mess, in which I had to throw out my mop because it was now stained red, I went ahead and started preparing breakfast.
Sheridan still hadn’t emerged from the other end of the house, so I hoped that she was a fan of omelets.
I placed my skillet on the burner closest to me on my right and turned the knob to my electric stove on high, to get the pan nice and heated. Next, I diced up some ham, peppers, and mushrooms into bite-sized pieces and placed them to the side, letting a few ‘accidentally’ fall to the floor. I was really surprised that Sadie didn’t try to gobble up the leftover spaghetti with her vacuum of a muzzle, but she was very quick to snatch the ham off the floor.
Cracking a few eggs into a bowl, I scrambled them up with a fork.
A light “ahem" stopped me during my assault on the eggs.
I casually peeked over my shoulder at Sheridan leaning against the counter and the fork I was holding slipped out of my hand, making a loud clang as the metal from the utensil clattered against my glass bowl.
I had instantly felt my lungs deflate as all of my oxygen left my body.
Sheridan had emerged freshly showered with a haphazard braid cascading over the front of her shoulder. She was dressed pretty casually in a pair of short cut-off shorts, much like what she was wearing earlier, and a black, white, and green striped top which hung off of one shoulder.
The creamy flesh of her shoulder was very enticing and I felt myself longing to wrap my lips around the juncture where her neck and shoulder met.
But that wasn’t all, she had done something to her eyes to make them stand out and appear more prominent. Mascara or something, I wasn’t one who paid attention to the beauty terms and what not.
And her lips. Those beautiful, tempting, sultry lips were painted a deep crimson.
Red the color of love
, lust, and seduction.
Dear God, my resolve was almost non-existent within a day of being around her. She had bewitched me. How did I think this arrangement would be possible?
Once the word slipped from my lips, I tried my best to think of something to cover up my accidental word oversight.
“Mike?" she asked questioningly as her face morphed into a look of pure confusion.
“Yeah," I said as I quickly recovered grabbing the fork and remembering what I was supposed to be doing at the present time.
“Omelet?" I held up the bowl that contained the eggs and fork.
“Yes, please." She said as her eyes suddenly got wide and she raised a hand to where she was pointing past me to my stove. “But uh, your pan is smoking."
Jesus Christ, if we needed a sign that neither of us should be in the kitchen for any reason, we definitely had it.
I quickly moved the scorching pan to the cool back burner and turned the exhaust fan above the stove on high. I hoped it would get rid of the billowing smoke quickly.
I rested a hand on my hip and lightly chuckled. “Contrary to what just occurred, I can cook," I said while cracking a small smile.
I heard Sheridan’s breath hitch and I looked back at her and saw she had a bewildered expression on her face.
She went to the cupboard to retrieve two coffee mugs. I had only went as far as to make the coffee, and hadn’t even had a cup.
“How do you take your coffee?" she softly spoke to me.
I had resumed my omelet making process and lifting the cutting board up showing what all could be put in the omelets.
She quickly eyed the choices and immediately said, “Everything in it, please. Oh, but extra mushrooms." She finished a bit sheepishly and I began adding in chopped bits of ham, peppers and fulfilling her request of extra mushrooms.
I guess I was taken aback because Erin never asked or hell even offered to make my coffee. Now that I think of it, she never ever cooked me a meal, and we were married several years. Sheridan cooked dinner for me last night, granted it was left uneaten and ended up covering my kitchen floor, but it was the thought that counts.