Friday, August 3, 2007

Six

Diana was startled to awaken in a strange room with the morning sunlight filtering through the drapes. The bed was comfortable and Will was near, which made things all right, but-

With a rush, everything came back to her. She had married him yesterday and last night he had—

Fighting an urge to bolt, she tried to collect her thoughts. Her stirrings woke him up and he pulled her close without a word, caressing her breasts and belly, then running a warm hand along the curve of a hip.

She stiffened, not ready for anything like this again so soon. Of course she wanted to do her duty by him, but this was too much. She was grateful to hear a tap at the door and the single word, "Breakfast."

Will raised himself on an elbow and looked at the door, puzzled. "They brought us something to eat?"

"That was nice of them," Diana said. "I think I smell coffee." She draped a blanket around herself and went to investigate. Sure enough, someone had left a coffee pot outside their door next to a tray covered in a clean dish towel. She set everything by the bed and looked under the cloth. "This is a lot of food. They must think we're really hungry."

"I worked up an appetite last night. Didn’t you?"

She blushed and handed him a plate. "Eat, then. There's preserves and extra bread things, too."

Will looked at the omelet, slices of fried potato, and fancy biscuit in the shape of a half-moon. "We're going to have to do something nice for these people. They don't even know who we are, and they’re treating us like kin."

Diana nodded. "It's too bad we don't have anything we can offer them, unless they've got enemies that need killing."

"They're not important enough to have enemies, or I'd be glad to do it." He chewed a slice of potato thoughtfully. "Maybe we'll derail another train and there will be some goods we can send this way."

"Seems like they already have most of what they need." Diana tore open a biscuit, marveling at its flaky layers. "I wonder if they’d like a bridge. Didn't you and Coyote. . .?"

"Well, yeah, but the creek here runs pretty shallow. Maybe we could come back sometime and help them fix up their houses. I'm sure it can't be easy to keep up with repairs. We'll find a way to pay these people back. I'll find a way to give you nice things, too."

"I don't want fancy things, just a peaceful life and useful work."

He took her hand. "After we kill Strecker, I’m going to find a way so you don’t have to work."

Diana pulled her hand away. "We've always been equals. If that's changed, maybe we should get a divorce and forget yesterday ever happened."

"If you have a baby. . ."

"I already told you I'm not raising a rapist's child. I'll give it away, and if no one will take it, I'll kill it." She scanned Will's face for a reaction.

"That's up to you," he shrugged. "Anything you want to do, I won't let anyone take issue with you about it."

Diana pushed the potatoes around her plate and sighed. "Why are you doing this, Will? You deserve someone brave and competent, someone who hasn’t been—"

"None of what happened makes you any different."

"How can you say that? I feel contaminated."

"I know."

"You say that, but you don't know, really."

"I don't know what it's like to be pregnant, but I do know what it's like to be raped."

Diana sat back, startled.

"It was a long time ago, when I was a kid. It’s not the sort of thing I tell people about because I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. It’s in the past, and the only thing that matters is now."

She wanted to say something consoling, but the look in his eyes brought her up short. "So did you feel dirty afterward? Like it was all your fault and there was something wrong with you?"

"At first. But living on the street, I met so many kids who'd had even worse things happen to them that after awhile I figured I didn’t have any right to feel sorry for myself."

"You say that like it's easy."

"I don't mean to. Bad things happen to everyone, and it doesn’t have anything to do with who you are on the inside. You’ve got to quit letting those bastards win."

Diana pushed her plate away and lay back among the pillows, frowning.

"What are you doing?"

"Thinking."

"What about?" He moved their breakfast dishes off the bed and lay down beside her. "When I help you out of a tight spot in a fight that's okay, but when the battle is in your head, you won't accept any help at all. How much sense does that make?"

"This is different."

"No, it’s not. You're trying to drive me crazy, aren't you?"

3 comments:

Palm Springs Savant said...

I've lived that last scene before..how to get someone in your head to understand what something is like..

can't wait til tomorrow's installment!

Diana said...

What makes me sad is that Will and I used to understand each other so well! Getting married screwed everything up.

Alice Audrey said...

Diana is sooooo naive.

I like Will more now.