I didn’t know if it was the worsening conditions of the storm forcing us together, or if it was something deeper, but I wanted to be near him. Even if I told myself it was just for warmth.
It was well after midnight, and yet again, I was wide awake. Only this time it wasn’t just the thoughts of Mina that were keeping me up; it was the damned cold. The cold was overtaking my thoughts and forcing everything else out. The shiver in my bones locked me up every few seconds, and the leather couch was icy to the touch. Rather than absorbing my body heat like I hoped it would, it seemed to be doing the opposite. It was essentially acting as a very effective heat extractor, making me colder every time I moved.
Shivering against the sensation of cold, I looked over at my phone sitting on the coffee table. I had turned it off to maintain as much battery as I could, but I did have the power bricks in the truck. I would have to go out to find them, but maybe Carl would get the team to us quickly and it wouldn’t be all that necessary. Knowing that the storm had finally stopped and the skies were clear meant that the service should be good enough for me to stream something stupid was definitely tempting.
But I held off. For one, I didn’t have my earbuds. I kicked myself for that one for a long while that afternoon when I realized it. I must have left them at the hotel when I dumped my pockets out. Being able to pop those in and listen to music probably would have helped me sleep too, but it just wasn’t an option.
So, I lay there, wearing my hoodie and sweatpants, wrapped in a sheet, on top of one blanket, under another, and one more on top of that. I should have been delightfully warm. But anytime my skin touched leather, it was like someone dumping snow on me. That kept me aggravatingly alert.
I grumbled as I rolled on my side, almost wishing that the storm was still raging out there. At least then, the sound of the soft snow pelting the window would be some kind of soothing drumbeat to get me to sleep. Usually, I slept with a box fan or some other kind of white noise on. This absolute dead silence was driving me insane.
I was so tired. I just wanted to get some sleep. And be warm. I was suddenly very jealous of all that time I spent yesterday wearing nothing but a t-shirt. How warm I had been. How much I had taken it for granted.
Still mulling over my wanton disregard for future troubles the night before, I was snapped out of my line of thought by a sound in the bedroom. It sounded like Mina getting out of bed. She was probably headed to the bathroom, but I listened intently all the same. I was bored and unable to get comfortable. What else was I going to do?
Then the door handle clicked, and I heard a faint creaking sound, but only for a moment, as the door swung open. I looked toward the darkness where I knew the door was and saw her face come into the light of the moon from the window. She blinked and then seemed to squeeze her eyes almost shut in order to peer down at me and see if my own eyes were shut.
“Are you awake?” she asked, her voice so light, I wouldn’t have heard it if I wasn’t listening for it.
“Yes,” I said.
“Oh,” she whispered. “Good. I didn’t mean to wake you.”
“Nope, wide-awake. What’s up?”
She came a little more into the light, and I could see now that she was wrapped up in a blanket that went over the top of her head and down to the floor. It was dragging on the ground at the bottom, but the top made her look like she was doing a terribly cheap impression of a Star Wars villain. It made me smile.
“I was just… wondering…”
“Wondering what?” I asked, sitting up a bit. Cold leather be damned.
“It’s just so cold,” she said. “If we stayed in the same bed, we could keep each other warm.”
“You want me to come join you?”
Rather than speaking, she simply nodded, then turned around immediately to return to the bedroom. Only she didn’t shut the door this time.
I sat there, rubbing my chin, thinking about it. While being invited to share a bed with her was something that I absolutely wanted to do, there was a clear line there. We were going to keep each other warm. Nothing else. Just body heat.
Standing up, I took the blankets with me and went into the bedroom. The bed was filled on one side but empty on the other, and I laid the blankets down across both sides. Chivalry and all that, I supposed.