Come lie with me, p.4
Come Lie With Me, page 4
She laughed. “How delicate you are!” she mocked. “There’s a reason for this.”
“Like what? Punishment?”
“In a word, circulation. Your circulation is terrible. That’s why your hands are cold, and why you have to wear socks to keep your feet warm, even in bed. I’ll bet they’re icy cold right now, aren’t they?”
Silence was her answer.
“Muscles can’t work without a good blood supply,” she commented.
“I see,” he said sarcastically. “Your magical massage is going to zip me right onto my feet.”
“No way. My magical massage is mere groundwork, and you should learn to like it, because you’re going to be getting a lot of it.”
“God, you’re just loaded down with charm, aren’t you?”
She laughed again. “I’m loaded down with knowledge, and I also come equipped with a thick hide, so you’re wasting your time.” She moved down to his legs; there was no flesh there to massage. She felt as if she were merely moving his skin over his bones, but she kept at it, knowing that the hours and hours of massage that she would give him would eventually pay off. She pulled his socks off and rubbed his limp feet briskly, feeling some of the chill leave his skin.
The minutes passed as she worked in silence. He grunted occasionally in protest when her vigorous fingers were a little too rough. A fine sheen of perspiration began to glow on her face and body.
She shifted him onto his back and gave her attention to his arms and chest and his hollow belly. His ribs stood out white under his skin. He lay with his eyes fixed on the ceiling, his mouth grim.
Dione moved down to his legs again.
“How much longer are you going to keep this up?” he finally asked.
She looked up and checked the time. It had been a little over an hour. “I suppose that’s enough for right now,” she said. “Now we do the exercises.”
She took first one leg, then the other, bending them, forcing his knees up to his chest, repeating the motion over and over. He bore it in silence for about fifteen minutes, then suddenly rolled to a sitting position and shoved her away.
“Stop it!” he shouted, his face drawn. “My God, woman, do you have to keep on and on? It’s a waste of time! Just leave me alone!”
She regarded him in amazement. “What do you mean, ‘a waste of time’? I’ve just started. Did you really expect to see a difference in an hour?”
“I don’t like being handled like so much putty!”
She shrugged, hiding a smile. “It’s almost seven-thirty anyway. Your breakfast will be ready. I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry.”
“I’m not hungry,” he said, and then a startled look crossed his face and she knew that he’d just realized that he was hungry, probably for the first time in months. She helped him to dress, though her aid managed to send him off into a black temper again. He was as sullen as a child when they entered the elevator that had been installed especially for him.
But the sullenness fled when he saw what was on his plate. Watching him, Dione had to bite her lip to keep from laughing aloud. First horror, then outrage contorted his features. “What’s that mess?” he roared.
“Oh, don’t worry,” she said casually. “That’s not all you’re getting, but that’s what you’ll start off with. Those are vitamins,” she added in a helpful tone.
They could have been snakes from the way he was staring at them. She had to admit that the collection was a little impressive. Alberta had counted them out exactly as Dione had instructed, and she knew that there were nineteen pills.
“I’m not taking them!”
“You’re taking them. You need them. You’ll need them even more after a few days of therapy. Besides, you don’t get anything to eat until after you’ve taken them.”
He wasn’t a good loser. He snatched them up and swallowed them several at a time, washing them down with gulps of water. “There,” he snarled. “I’ve taken the damned things.”
“Thank you,” she said gravely.
Alberta had evidently been listening, because she promptly entered with their breakfast trays. He looked at his grapefruit half, whole wheat toast, eggs, bacon and milk as if it were slop. “I want a blueberry waffle,” he said.
“Sorry,” Dione said. “That’s not on your diet. Too sweet. Eat your grapefruit.”
“I hate grapefruit.”
“You need the vitamin C.”
“I just took a year’s supply of vitamin C!”
“Look,” she said sweetly, “this is your breakfast. Eat it or do without. You’re not getting a blueberry waffle.”
He threw it at her.
She’d been expecting something like that, and ducked gracefully. The plate crashed against the wall. She collapsed against the table, the laughter that she’d been holding in all morning finally bursting out of her in great whoops. His hair was practically standing on end, he was so angry. He was beautiful! His cobalt blue eyes were as vivid as sapphires; his face was alive with color.
As dignified as a queen, Alberta marched out of the kitchen with an identical tray and set it before him. “She said you’d probably throw the first one,” she said without inflection.
Knowing that he’d acted exactly as Dione had predicted made him even angrier, but now he was stymied. He didn’t know what to do, afraid that whatever he did, she would have anticipated it. Finally he did nothing. He ate silently, pushing the food into his mouth with determined movements, then balked again at the milk.
“I can’t stand milk. Surely coffee can’t hurt!”
“It won’t hurt, but it won’t help, either. Let’s make a deal,” she offered. “Drink the milk, which you need for the calcium, and then you can have coffee.”
He took a deep breath and drained the milk glass.
Alberta brought in coffee. The remainder of the meal passed in relative peace. Angela Quincy, Alberta’s stepdaughter, came in to clear the mess that Blake had made with his first breakfast, and he looked a little embarrassed.
Angela, in her way, was as much of an enigma as Alberta was. She showed her age, unlike Alberta; she was about fifty, as soft and cuddly as Alberta was lean and angular. She was very pretty, could even have been called beautiful, despite the wrinkling of her skin. She was the most serene person Dione had ever seen. Her hair was brown, liberally streaked with gray, and her eyes were a soft, tranquil brown. She had once been engaged, Dione would learn later, but the man had died, and Angela still wore the engagement ring he’d given her so many years before.
She wasn’t disturbed at all by having to clean egg off the wall, though Blake became increasingly restless as she worked. Dione leisurely finished her meal, then laid her napkin aside.
“Time for more exercises,” she announced.
“No!” he roared. “I’ve had enough for today! A little of you goes a long way, lady!”
“Please, call me Dione,” she murmured.
“I don’t want to call you anything! My God, would you just leave me alone!”
“Of course I will, when my job is finished. I can’t let you ruin my record of successful cases, can I?”
“Do you know what you can do with your successful record?” he snarled, sending the chair jerking backward. He jabbed the forward button. “I don’t want to see your face again!” he shouted as the chair rolled out of the room.
She sighed and lifted her shoulders helplessly when her eyes met Angela’s philosophic gaze. Angela smiled, but didn’t say anything. Alberta wasn’t talkative, and Angela was even less so. Dione imagined that when the two of them were together, the silence was deafening.
When she thought that Blake had had enough time to get over his tantrum, she went upstairs to begin again. It would probably be a waste of time to try his door, so she entered her room and went straight through to the gallery. She tapped on the sliding glass doors in his room, then opened them and stepped in.
He regarded her broodingly from his chair. Dione went to him and plac
“If I can’t walk, why should I care about my health?” he asked tightly. “Do you think I want to live like this? I would rather have died outright on that cliff than have gone through these past two years.”
“Have you always given up so easily?”
“Easily!” His head jerked. “You don’t know anything about it! You don’t know what it was like—”
“I can tell you what it wasn’t like,” she interrupted. “I can tell you that you’ve never looked down at where your legs used to be and seen only flat sheet. You’ve never had to type by punching the keys with a pencil held in your teeth because you’re paralyzed from the neck down. I’ve seen a lot of people who are a lot worse off than you. You’re going to walk again, because I’m going to make you.”
“I don’t want to hear about how bad other people have it! They’re not me! My life is my own, and I know what I want out of it, and what I can’t…what I won’t accept.”
“Work? Effort? Pain?” she prodded. “Mr. Remington, Richard has told me a great deal about you. You lived life to the fullest. If there were even the slimmest chance that you could do all of that again, would you go for it?”
He sighed, his face unutterably weary. “I don’t know. If I really thought there was a chance…but I don’t. I can’t walk, Miss Kelley. I can’t move my legs at all.”
“I know. You can’t expect to move them right now. I’ll have to retrain your nerve impulses before you’ll be able to move them. It’ll take several months, and I can’t promise that you won’t limp, but you will walk again…if you cooperate with me. So, Mr. Remington, shall we get started again on those exercises?”
He submitted to the exercises with ill grace, but that didn’t bother her as long as he cooperated at all. His muscles didn’t know that he lay there scowling the entire time; the movement, the stimulation, were what counted. Dione worked tirelessly, alternating between exercising his legs and massaging his entire body. It was almost ten-thirty when she heard the noise that she’d been unconsciously listening for all morning: the tapping of Serena’s heels. She lifted her head, and then Blake heard it, too. “No!” he said hoarsely. “Don’t let her see me like this!”
“All right,” she said calmly, flipping the sheet up to cover him. Then she walked to the door and stepped into the hallway, blocking Serena’s way as she started to enter Blake’s room.
Serena gave her a startled look. “Is Blake awake? I was just going to peek in; he usually doesn’t get up until about noon.”
No wonder he’d been so upset when I got him up at six! Dione thought, amused. To Serena she said blandly, “I’m giving him his exercises now.”
“So early?” Serena’s brows arched in amazement. “Well, I’m certain you’ve done enough for the day. Since he’s awake early he’ll be ready for his breakfast. He eats so badly. I don’t want him to miss any meals. I’ll go in and see what he’d like—”
As Serena moved around Dione to enter Blake’s bedroom, Dione deftly sidestepped until she once more blocked the door. “I’m sorry,” she said as gently as possible when Serena stared at her in disbelief. “He’s already had his breakfast. I’ve put him on a schedule, and it’s important that he stay on it. After another hour of exercise we’ll come downstairs for lunch, if you’d like to wait until then.”
Serena was still staring at her as if she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “Are you saying…” she whispered, then stopped and began again, her voice stronger this time. “Are you saying that I can’t see my brother?”
“At this time, no. We need to complete these exercises.”
“Does Blake know I’m here?” Serena demanded, her cheeks suddenly flushing.
“Yes, he does. He doesn’t want you to see him right now. Please, try to understand how he feels.”
Serena’s marvelous eyes widened. “Oh! Oh, I see!” Perhaps she did, but Dione rather doubted it. Hurt shimmered in Serena’s eyes for a moment; then she shrugged lightly. “I’ll…see him in an hour, then.” She turned away, and Dione watched her for a moment, reading wounded emotions in every line of her straight back. It wasn’t unusual for the one closest to the patient to become jealous of the intimacy that was necessary between patient and therapist, but Dione never failed to feel uncomfortable when it happened. She knew that the intimacy was only fleeting, that as soon as her patient was recovered and no longer needed her services, she would go on to some other case and the patient would forget all about her. In Blake’s case, there was nothing to be jealous of anyway. The only emotion he felt for her was hostility.
When she reentered the bedroom he twisted his head around to stare at her. “Is she gone?” he questioned anxiously.
“She’s going to wait downstairs to eat lunch with you,” Dione answered, and saw the relief that crossed his face.
“Good. She…nearly went to pieces when this happened to me. She’d be hysterical if she saw what I really look like.” Pain darkened his eyes. “She’s special to me; I practically raised her. I’m all the family she has.”
“No, you’re not,” Dione pointed out. “She has Richard.”
“He’s so wrapped up in his work, he seldom remembers that she’s alive,” he snorted. “Richard’s a great vice-president, but he’s not a great husband.”
That wasn’t the impression Dione had gotten from Richard; he’d seemed to her to be a man very much in love with his wife. On the surface Richard and Serena were opposites; he was reserved, sophisticated, while she was as forceful as her brother, but perhaps they were each what the other needed. Perhaps her fire made him more spontaneous; perhaps his reserve tempered her rashness. But Dione didn’t say anything to Blake. She began the repetitious exercises again, forcing his legs through the same motions.
It was tiring, boring work; tiring for her, boring for him. It made him irritable all over again, but this time when he snapped at her to stop, she obeyed him. She didn’t want to browbeat him, to force her wishes on him in everything. He’d put in the most active morning he’d had since the accident, and she wasn’t going to push him any further. “Whew!” she sighed, wiping her forehead with the back of her hand and feeling the moisture there. “I need a shower before lunch! Breaking off a little early is a good idea.”
He looked at her, and his eyes widened in surprise. She knew that he didn’t really see her all morning; he’d been preoccupied with his own condition, his own despair. She’d told him that he’d have to work hard, but now for the first time he realized that she’d be working hard, too. It wasn’t going to be a picnic for her. She knew that she looked a mess, all sweaty and flushed.
“A bath wouldn’t hurt you,” he agreed dryly, and she laughed.
“Don’t be such a gentleman about it,” she teased. “You just wait. I won’t be the only one working up a sweat before long, and I won’t show you any mercy!”
“I haven’t noticed you showing any, anyway,” he grumbled.
“Now, I’ve been very good to you. I’ve kept you entertained all morning; I made certain you had a good breakfast—”
“Don’t push your luck,” he advised, giving her a black look, which she rewarded with a smile. It was important that he learn to joke and laugh with her, to ease the stress of the coming months. She had to become the best friend he had in the world, knowing as she did so that it was a friendship that was doomed from the outset, because it was based on dependence and need. When he no longer needed her, when his life had regained its normal pace, she would leave and be promptly forgotten. She knew that, and she had to keep a part of herself aloof, though the remainder of her emotions and mental effort would be concentrated entirely on him.
While she was helping him to dress, a process that didn’t anger h
Dione successfully hid her delight, merely saying, “That’s your second good idea of the day.” Secretly she was elated. From a practical standpoint he was right: It would save a lot of time and effort; however, it would also exclude Serena from most of their meals. That would be a big help.
If wasn’t that she disliked Serena; if she had met her under different circumstances, Dione felt that she would have liked Serena very much. But Blake was her concern now, and she didn’t want anyone or anything interfering with her work. While she was working on a case she concentrated on her patient to the extent that everyone else faded into the background, became gray cardboard figures rather than three-dimensional human beings. It was one of the things that made her so successful in her field. Already, after only one morning, Blake so filled her thoughts, and she was so much in tune with him, that she felt she knew him inside and out. She could practically read his mind, know what he was going to say before he said it. She ached for him, sympathized with him, but most of all she was happy for him, because she could look at his helplessness now and know that in a few months he would be strong and fit again. Already he was looking better, she thought proudly. It was probably due more to his anger than her efforts, but his color was much improved. He could stay angry with her for the entire time if it would keep him active and involved.
She was feeling satisfied with the morning’s work as she walked beside him into the dining room, but that feeling was shattered when Serena plunged toward Blake, her lovely face bathed in tears. “Blake,” she said brokenly.
Instantly he was alert, concerned, as he reached for her hand. “What is it?” he asked, a note of tenderness creeping into his voice, a particular tone that was absent when he talked to everyone else. Only Serena inspired that voice of love.
by Linda Howard / Romance / Mystery & Thrillers have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes