Chapter Nine : Morning
Disorientation. That was the only way to describe the way she felt when she woke up. Her head pounded, her body ached, and a dreamy haze blanketed everything. The only thing that seemed coherent was the warmth that enveloped her. Jamie blinked owlishly.
It was still dark.
Slowly, she shifted her body. Through the darkness, she made out the vague outlines of books and shelves.
In the shop then... though she did not remember how she got there.
More from the smell than from the feel or sight, she found she was curled up on the overstuffed couch with the same ugly pea green blanket she slept with on the first night. Something heavy on her effectively trapped and stopped her from getting up.
Slowly, she wiggled an arm free and reached out to touch the weight on her chest.
What her hand touched was greasy and matted hair. She froze. Even without any lights on, she knew who was sprawled on top of her. The stench of cheap wine was unmistakable.
Her heart thumped against her chest. You can be serious! The distance between them was suffocating and after all that had happened, this was the last thing she needed right now. Wait... what happened to Kevin?
She blinked. Fuck Kevin, it's Edmond who was on top of her now.
What happened last night?
With a brain that had temporarily shut down and a hand that trembled slightly, she combed back the matted hair to reveal the large forehead that she knew was there. Gently, as to not wake him, her hands played with his brow and the bridge of his nose. With a small, almost wistful smile, her fingers traced the jaw line, already overgrown with rough stubble, to the lips.
She paused, as if terrified of what might happen.
Then slowly, painfully slowly, she drew her thumb over his upper lip... and almost jerked back when his lips opened and welcomed the intrusion of the digit.
She shuddered. This was just too strange.
Then he licked her thumb and her mind went numb.
Was...was he even awake??
It was slow, lazy, and strangely sensual. She felt the warm tongue gently probing the skin of her finger...
Gods, how did he make sucking her thumb sensual?!
The wine, her mind reasoned, it must be from all the alcohol she drank last night. Yes... that's the reason why.
The reason... to what?
A shudder passed through her as she gently extracted herself from his warm inviting mouth.
Jamie frowned down at the unconscious Irishman. Why was this normally anti-social, misogynistic alcoholic sprawled across her? For one thing, he wasn't dead. For another... well, he was an anti-social misogynistic bastard.
She exhaled sharply and tried to gather her thoughts in the darkness. The last thing she remembered was the stagger back from dinner on Kevin's arm. Everything after that remained entombed in a cloud of haze. She remembered being frustrated and cold. But she also remembered the inviting warmth that enveloped her body. That, really, was all she made out from her foggy memory.
When he groaned softly, her hand jerked and she realized that she had been unconsciously stroking his hair...
Immediately, she removed the offending hand and wiggled it under the blanket to be trapped, yet again, under the weight of the Irishman. His head was on her chest which made it hard for her to manoeuvre around because she did not want to wake him.
It was made infinitely harder by the fact that half of his body was on top of her and the other half was in a position where a fall off the couch was not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
Despite herself, Jamie sighed in content. True, he was not the easiest person to get along with but here, now, (him being passed out and all) he was warm and created a cozy cocoon for her to bury herself into.
Without much further thought, she closed her eyes and willed herself to fall asleep. He should deal with the awkwardness of this situation, not her. With fervent hopes of being the latter to wake up, she drifted off.
As in accordance with her horrible luck, Jamie was the one to wake up first.
Of course, it stood to reason.
Lady Luck was a bitch.
Especially to her.
Sunlight streamed and sputtered through the dusty windows and she blinked as she stared down at the weight on her chest. He was still asleep.
And he snored.
Jamie sighed in defeat. Alright, she admitted it. He was cute. He was also dirty, messy, and had the hygiene of a poop-flinging monkey... but he was cute.
Her arm had somehow wriggled free during the night and it was rested on his greasy matted hair. Despite the obvious disgusting state it was in (admittedly, it was always in such a state), her hand remained tangled in it. Inwardly, Jamie winced, torn between the removal of her hand to the stroking of his hair. In the end, she merely left it in there.
Gods, everything ached. She will never sleep on this couch again.
The twinge in her back became increasingly impossible to deal with.
Cautious, she shifted and tried to wiggle herself free without waking him.
"Whu-at are you doing?"
She froze and looked up to find two orbs of brown that looked straight through her to her very soul. In the back of her head, she noted how he over-pronounced 'H's when he was annoyed.
"Trying to move? You're crushing me."
"Well forgive me your royal highness for caring about your well being."
She glowered at him, "What are you talking about? You're on top of me you heavy bastard."
"Oooh, we've resorted to name calling have we?"
Jamie stared down at him in disbelief. He glowered back at her with his chin still on her chest. His matted hair stuck up in all directions with her hand still entangled in his locks.
It was all too much.
She tried to stifle it.
She did, she really did.
Unsuccessful in that venture, she exploded into a fit of laughter. It was not the easiest thing to do as his head crushed her chest. Instead, she simply wheezed and wheezed... and wheezed.
Frantically, Edmond rolled off the couch and promptly crashed to the floor. This only made the wheezing worse as she clutched her chest and tried to breathe amidst the chuckling fit. He, on the other hand, struggled to his feet and turned to face her. A hand shot out to grab her by the front of her shirt and he bodily (where he got that kind of strength was unbeknownst to her) lifted her up.
Jamie gasped and took gulps of air as she stared at him in disbelief.
He slapped her.
"Why the fucking hell did you do that for?!" she practically screeched at him as she clutched the injured cheek. He deposited her bodily on the couch and wiped his hands on his trousers, as if the touch had somehow soiled them.
"You," he stated with an accusatory finger, "weren't breathing."
"So you SLAPPED me?!" she asked incredulously. He shrugged nonchalantly, "It worked."
"Well yeah, only cause it did me bodily harm!"
"Quit your whining, woman. At least you can breathe now."
Jamie snorted and muttered under her breath, "Barely."
The two of them stared at each other for a moment before Jamie sighed and ran a hand through her hair, "Well that certainly spoiled the mood."
"What mood?" he muttered as dragged a chair over and sat on it with his arms crossed like a sulking child.
"Is that a bruise?"
"That," she pointed out with a frown, to his cheek, "Is that a bruise?"
He stared at her with disbelief, "You don't remember?"
She stared at him blankly.
"You really don't remember?" he asked incredulously. He was not on his feet and gesticulated wildly in her direction as if it was his hands that were the ones which led his thought process.
"I remember drinking too much wine and Kevin-"
"Kevin brought me home."
Again, he snorted before he sprung out of the chair, strode over to her and placed his cheek close to her face so she was able to observe the indignity his face suffered.
"This," he said with an accusing finger," was from that bastard."
She stared at it dumbly.
"Why did he punch you? He must've had a good reason," she reasoned with a chastising frown.
"Reason! That's rich! That bastard has no reason. He just is," Edmond spat out vehemently as he rubbed the bruise gingerly.
"Oh, it can't be that bad," she said as she squinted at the dark miscoloured skin. He gave her a levelled stare. In a deadpan voice and a stony look, "Would like me to reciprocate the effect on you?"
She flushed, "Right fine, alright it hurts. Jeez, you're being such a big baby."
His look grew darker.
The store was silent for a few uncomfortable minutes.
"Soooo..." she said as she sat down on the couch and pulled the puke-green blanket around her protectively (the blanket was still warm from his body heat), "What did happen last night?"
"You honestly don't remember?"
"No, do you remember last Wednesday when you came back after a pub visit?"
"My point exactly. So tell me what happened! I mean, the one night you're sober and you won't tell me a thing?"
"Well you came back with him," he said slowly.
"...And... we got into a fight."
"You fought with Kevin? Why am I not surprised?" she asked rhetorically in a dead-pan voice. He shot her an annoyed look and she sighed.
"So what started it?"
"Nothing! Not-thing alright?!" exclaimed Edmond and glowered at her. Jamie blinked. Wow, she definitely hit a nerve there.
She signed and threw her hands up in defeat, "Whatever. You can mope as much as you want."
"I'm not moping," was the sulky reply. She narrowed her eyes at him before she went into the back to fetch a towel and ran in under some cold water. When she re-entered the main part of the store, she gave him a meaningful glance.
"What?" he demanded as he edged away from her.
"What do you want?"
"I want you to sit."
"Would you just sit down?" she asked exasperatedly, "You need to tend to your face or else it's going to get worse."
It was with some obvious reluctance that he finally complied to her wishes. She scowled at him. He was cute, but damn was he a stubborn bastard. She made him lie back on the couch and with a bit (okay, a lot) of coaxing, pressed the compress against his bruised face. She was actually glad that he didn't fly into a rage of complaints. Instead, he remained quiet and stared up at her while she inspected him.
It made her incredibly uncomfortable.
"What?" she asked.
"You're staring at me."
"You're fixing my face. I have to stare at you."
"No you don't," she pointed out with some irritation.
"Why do we argue all the time?"
Jamie paused and looked at him with suspicion. Was this one of his tricks? Instead of the cold sarcastic look that was always there, he actually looked sincere.
"I don't know," she mumbled. This strangely sincere man before her spooked her.
"Am I really... that bad?"
She froze. Then swallowed the lump in her throat that she didn't know was there. Normally, she had a snappy comeback but the tone of his voice startled her.
"Did the beating make you human?" she joked somewhat awkwardly. He fell silent and she immediately regretted the comment.
Oh gods. This was awkward. There was a tension that was never there before, even when they were strangers.
They weren't getting intimate were they?!
She cleared her throat, "You should probably open up shop now."
His eyes looked away and he made a noncommittal grunt. She rolled her eyes, "Do you want me to just keep the shop closed?"
Again, a non-committal grunt.
"Edmoooond," she called in a sing-song voice and prodded him with a finger.
"Oh go away," came the muffled grunt. Jamie sighed. There was no understanding this man.
"Fine," she sighed and wrapped the blanket around her tightly, "I'll be upstairs if you need me."
She turned to go but an arm shot out and grabbed the edge of the blanket to stop her. She froze in surprise. What was he up to? Jamie glanced over her shoulder at the bruised and ragged Irishman. He stared at the ground, brows furrowed and his body limp.
"Wait... Don't... don't go."
Something about those two words struck her and she paused. Then, with a small tired smile, she turned around to face him. He still had a tight hold on the blanket around her so she had to step closer to ease the tension.
The warmth of his hand reverberated against the small of her back...
Her heart thumped against her chest. Her blood rushed to her head and stomach and left her hands cold. She felt a bit light-headed and dizzy.
"Noth... nothing... I just... just maybe... want you to stay... I mean... down here... maybe... a little..." he mumbled under his breath. She felt her heart race. He sounded so vulnerable and... and... and... She felt her chest swell.
"Edmond..." Jamie stepped closer and placed a hand on his shoulder gently. He still refused to look at her despite the tight hold he still had on the blanket around her as if she would disappear.
He exhaled a slow and shaky breath and for a brief moment, she saw a vulnerable lonely man
Her stomach went through a jerking sensation.
He inhaled and opened his mouth to speak.
Oh no! Not now!
Edmond glanced up at the woman he had physically fought for yesterday night with a sort of vulnerable expectancy.
Then, she promptly threw up on his lap.
End : Chapter Nine
A/N: Thanks for all the reviews so far guys! =D Please continue to R&R! It will keep me warm and happy inside... which is good since the Winter is coming!