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The proposition, p.28
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       The Proposition, p.28

           Jessica Schlafer
Chapter 27

  I woke up some time later, completely disoriented. I reached out, not knowing where I was or who I was with.

  “Who’s there?” I cried out, feeling around. “Where am I?” I was starting to panic

  The bedside table lamp came on and Nick sat up, “Abby, shh, you’re in my house. You’re with me. You’re safe.”

  He was petting my hair, soothing me. “Oh, Nick, I don’t know what happened. I must’ve had a bad dream.”

  “It’s ok, baby.”

  “How long have I been asleep?” I asked, yawning.

  Nick glanced at a clock on the bedside table, “Well, it’s two a.m., so about four hours.”

  “What!? So, you went out and came back and didn’t wake me up?”

  Nick laughed, “I tried but you called me a 'meatball' or something and started swinging.”

  I could feel myself turning red, “Oops.”

  “Are you hungry?”

  “Yes, but it’s the middle of the night.”


  “Who cares? It’s not like you have to go to work tomorrow. You’re on bed rest, remember?”


  “Okay, what did you get me?”

  Nick grabbed the back of his neck and looked sheepish, “I didn’t know what you’d like, so I got Chinese. Everyone likes Chinese.”

  “I love Chinese.”

  We walked out of the loft and Nick helped me down the stairs. I found out that it was much easier to go up the stairs than it was to go down. In the kitchen I saw exactly what Nick meant when he said he got Chinese.

  “Did you order everything on the menu?”

  “Um, no, not quite.”

  “Wow, it sure looks like you did.”

  “Well, take your pick. We can go into the living room and watch a movie while you eat.”

  “You’re not gonna eat?” I pouted.

  “Well, I already ate,” he started, noticing my pout. “But I guess I am still a little hungry.”

  “You did mention once before that you’d eat a fried shoe…”

  Nick laughed.

  We reheated the food and made ourselves comfortable on the massive couches. We managed to agree on an old comedy pretty quickly and busied ourselves with eating the late dinner/early breakfast.

  I had finished all the food I could handle and put my plate aside. Nick was still working through his and when I stood up to stretch.

  “The worst part of all this,” I said, waving my hands over myself, “is how stiff I feel.”

  “Yeah, after they released me, they said I’d be stiff for a few days. I’m finally starting to feel human again.”

  “Ughh, not me,” I said, doing some stretches. “And, whenever I move around too much, I get dizzy.”

  “You’ll feel better in a couple days, Abby. Come sit with me,” he patted the couch next to him.

  I snuggled against him and he put his arm around me. He was warm and comfortable and I knew immediately that this is where I always wanted to be. We watched the entire movie, without moving or talking. Nick was drawing circles on my arm or running his fingers through my hair. When the movie was over, Nick carefully stood up and then helped me to my feet.

  “Well, Abbs, it’s five in the morning. Do you need another pill?”

  I sighed, “I do.”

  “Go on upstairs, I’ll get your pill,” he said, stretching.

  I dragged myself up the stairs, used the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and got into the bed. Nick followed shortly afterward and gave me the pills and another bottle of water.

  “I think I was a little presumptuous before, when I got in bed with you. Do you…”

  “I want you here, Nick.”

  Nick climbed in the other side of the bed with me, snuggled up next to me, slinging his arm around me.

  “You smell amazing,” he said before drifting off to sleep.

  It wasn’t long before I was asleep myself.

  I woke late the next morning to find Nick still asleep beside me. I took a moment to admire the view before I hauled myself out of bed and into the bathroom. Since I had taken a bath the night before, I didn’t bother with a shower. I washed my face, brushed my teeth and attempted to tame my hair. My hair had always been long and I was lucky enough to be a natural blonde, but it was also naturally wavy, so it was always a disaster. I gave up on taming my hair, threw the brush on the counter, and tied my hair with a rubber band.

  I looked in the bag and found that I didn’t have any more clothes to wear.

  Great! They’re hiding me in a cabin in the woods because I need protection, but I didn’t have any clothes to wear.

  There was a knock on the door and a sleepy Nick came in. “You were gone. Are you okay?”

  “Yeah, it’s late, so I got up to get dressed. Then, I realized that I don’t have any clothes.”

  “Shit. We’ll have to make a run to Paul’s house and to a grocery store to get supplies. Do you think you’re up for that?”

  “Um, y eah, I guess so.”

  “I mean, if you’re not, I’ll go do it. I just don’t know what you’d want there.”

  “Nick,” I laughed, pulling him close to kiss him. “I’m up for it. I’ll bring my pain pills and I’ll be fine.”

  He smi led and licked his lips, “Mmmm.”

  “I don’t have any clothes to wear.”

  He kissed me, “I think that’ll be okay.”


  “Huh, what?” He shook himself and smiled. “Okay, what I meant to say was I think I’ll be able to find something for you to wear. You can probably manage to make one of my old tee shirts look great.”

  “What about pants?”

  “I guess you’ll have to tie up a pair of shorts or sweats or something. Come on, let’s see what I can find.”

  We found a shrunken tee shirt that said ‘Bikini Inspector’ on the front and a pair of sweat pants that I was able to pull the string on and wear. I slipped on my sneakers and we headed out the door. I hadn’t noticed the day before, but in the garage, on the far end, there was an SUV parked. We climbed inside and Nick drove us the long distance to Paul’s house. We didn’t talk much on the drive, mostly listened to music and enjoyed the scenery. Nick held my hand most of the trip.

  When we arrived at Paul’s house, I noticed a few differences. First, we had to wait at the gate. There were more guards on the grounds and Paul didn’t greet us at the door.

  “Does he know I left the hospital?”

  “Yeah, I texted him that I was taking you to the safe house. Abby, he doesn’t need to know where the safe house is.”


  Inside, we found Paul in the living room, reading some papers.

  “Abby, honey, how are you feeling? Sit down,” he jumped up and kissed my cheek.

  “I’m uncomfortable and stiff, not in too much pain, though.”

  “We came to get her some clothes and supplies for the safe house,” Nick said. “She’s gonna be outta commission for a couple weeks.”

  “Of course, Abby, take what you need.”

  I excused myself and went to the bedroom and packed as much of my clothes as I could. By the time I had emptied my closet, I was out of breath and exhausted. I threw myself on the bed. I had only been lying down for a few minutes when there was a knock and Nick and Paul walked in.

  “Abby?” Nick said. “Are you in here?”

  “Yep,” I said, sitting up. “I just needed to rest a minute.”

  “Do you need a pill?”

  “No, I was just tired. I’ve got just about everything I need.”

  “I’ll get a couple of the guards to come help carry this out,” Paul said. “Abby, you take it easy.”

  “No problem,” I said.

  Nick started picking things up to carry out. He was almost to the door when he stopped and turned around, “Abby, I don’t trust Paul anymore.”

  “I understand.”

/>   Nick continued out the door, leaving me in the bedroom alone. I considered what he said for a few minutes before I was joined by Paul and two guards. I hadn’t gotten the names of many of the guards. These men were huge and fairly handsome. I could see that they were also carrying guns and did not enjoy acting like moving men.

  "Just let them know what needs to go and they'll take it to the car," Paul said.

  I pointed around the room and explained what I needed to the guards. The hauled off all of my things and I limped back through the house to the living room. I found Paul and Nick in a heated conversation that ceased the second I walked in.

  "Did you get everything you need, Abby?" Paul asked.

  "Yep," I said. "What's going on in here?"

  "Oh, we were just having a disagreement," Paul said, waving his hands. "It's nothing. Sit down for a minute. I wanna catch up with you."

  I sat beside Paul and Nick stepped out of the room.

  "Paul, thank you for everything..."

  "Abby, there's no need to thank me. I just wanted to let you know that anything you need, you know, after the accident, it's taken care of. If you need more meds, need to see more doctors, whatever. It's handled for you. Okay?"

  "Wow, yeah, that's really generous."

  "Well, I'm sure you've figured out that the accident was no accident. We need to take care of you. It won't happen again."

  "I know."

  “The police called earlier, they’d like to talk to you again. Call them tomorrow.”

  “I will.”

  "Nick has you at the safe house for a while. I'll be checking in by phone and he'll bring you to the house. Mary and the girls are coming home soon."

  "They are! I can't wait to see them!"

  "Yeah, I talked to Mary last night and they said they're ready to come home. I was able to talk them into another week. We'll see from there."

  "That's great!"

  Nick came back in with the last box from my room that held my shoes. "Are you ready, Abby?"

  "Um..." I looked at Paul and he stood up, extending his hand to me. "Yes, I guess, let's go."

  I feel like I’m saying goodbye.

  I took Paul's hand and he helped me to my feet. Nick led the way as we walked to the packed SUV. Paul helped me into my seat as Nick loaded the box.

  "Don't forget to call me, at least once a day," Paul said, helping me buckle.

  "I will, Paul."

  Why do I want to cry?

  "Keep her safe, Nick."

  "Yeah," Nick said, getting into the SUV.

  Paul shut the door and we drove away.

  "He's mad, isn't he?" I asked.

  "He wants to know where the safe house is. I told him that no one needs to know where the safe house is, otherwise it wouldn't be safe."

  "And you said that because you don't trust him?"

  "That's right."

  "I felt like that was the last time I would see him."

  "I don't know Abbs," he reached for my hand and kissed it. "I want to trust him. I want Paul to be Paul but..."

  The silence extended between us for a few minutes.

  "What, Nick?"

  "Money does things to people, Abby. Bad things."

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