Page 28 of There I Find Light

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Chapter 9

“So the duffel isn’tvery soft, but I guess we can use it as a pillow. And we have two more bottles of water.” Eleanor bit her lip again. She’d been doing it so much that evening that it was actually sore.

She let go of it, knowing she didn’t have any chapstick or anything to put on to make it feel better.

But it was a little disconcerting. Not being stuck with Franklin. That had turned out to be...not as bad as what she would have thought; even the awkwardness when they talked about her incoherent invitation to dance hadn’t been that bad. But this...this trying to agree to sleep together despite the fact that she really didn’t know him, and would never dream of doing this in her normal life, had made things the most awkward yet.

Still, she couldn’t fault Franklin. He had been as good as a person could be under the circumstances and far better than she would have expected.

Without saying anything, he walked over and got the duffel. He set the bread out, along with the meat, which they kept in the far corner, on top of an old stand which was the only piece of furniture in the place and looked like it might collapse at any time, but so far, it kept the food off the floor.

Zipping the duffel back up, he set it at the head of the blankets.

“All right. It’s after midnight, although I honestly don’t feel the slightest bit tired.” She didn’t want to be the first person to lie down. But she knew she needed to. It was time. What else were they going to do?

She should have known that Franklin would make it so it wasn’t awkward.

He lifted up the blankets that she set on the floor. “You lie down with your head on the duffel, I’ll lie down behind you, and we’ll arrange the blankets over the top. I’ll try to get out without waking you up when I load up the fire.”

“I can take a turn doing that,” she volunteered immediately. She didn’t want him to have to be the one to get up every time all night. Plus, she was going to be keeping an eye on it anyway. There was no way she would sleep soundly with the thought of a flue fire in her head. She had no idea when the last time anyone had used it was, and they didn’t exactly have the tools or equipment or knowledge to clean it out.

“All right. Then we’ll just assume that we’ll add wood to the fire every hour or so. I think I’ve added it twice. It’s small and doesn’t last long.”

“That sounds good to me. You’ve been putting about three pieces on. That’s all that will fit.” That sounded reasonable, and she liked that he wasn’t trying to split hairs. They were just going with whatever was working.

“All right, you’ll get up the next time, and I’ll get up after that. I’m guessing that neither one of us are going to sleep very well.”

“I think you’re probably right,” she said as he picked up the blankets and she knelt down, lying on her side facing the fire with her head on the duffel.

She felt him lie down beside her, and the blankets settled down over top of them. She adjusted it in front and then said, “Do you have enough to cover your back? That would probably be the most important thing, since it’s the furthest from the fire.”

“It’s good.”

He didn’t say anything more, and she didn’t for a while either.

They lay in silence as she watched the flames crackle and pop and the logs slowly be consumed. She’d always loved watching fire. It was kind of like watching water in a stream or river. Just always something different to see, and a nice, easy, relaxing thing to watch. Where she could let her mind wander, just think about the fire, and allow whatever came into her head to linger as long as it wanted to before it floated away.

After a while, he shifted behind her, and she realized his breathing had never settled down into the deep breathing that she would have expected from someone who was asleep.

Quietly she said, “Uncomfortable?”

He breathed out a puff of air. “Yeah. It’s the floor and a duffel. I wasn’t expecting to be comfortable.”

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