CHAPTER 9

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DeeDee was roused from her peaceful sleep by pins and needles poking at her arms and legs. She began to scratch at the irritation just as her body was slung into a downward curve. She was thrown to the right, then quickly rocked left in the darkness. After a brief moment, DeeDee felt as though she were being carried up hill on a gondola – suspended – swaying. Left. Right. Where was she? Her head felt like it would explode. Her stomach lurched with the next drop. Like a freefalling elevator and then it suddenly stopped. By the time the climb began again, DeeDee had fought her way up through the layers of sleep and broken through the surface. Was she on a rollercoaster? In a cattle car? Bobbing in an ultra-light airplane?

DeeDee reached for the bell on her nightstand and gave it a ferocious shake. If I raise my head, there will be consequences, she thought so she inched to change position on her pillow. Clarence rushed into the room and stood before her bed in his emerald pajamas. No slippers. No dressing gown. No glasses.

"What is it, love?" he sputtered, his eyes bulging, his narrow face pinched. He took DeeDee's hand. "Heart? Stomach? Head?"

"I have this overwhelming motion-sickness."

"Dry toast and weak tea. That'll do the trick," said Clarence.

Men are such problem-solvers. "Feels like I've been shooting rapids on a raft or riding mountain passes on a runaway train," continued DeeDee, catching her own meaning as the words tumbled out. "And call Mac." Her husband bustled to the kitchen.

When DeeDee propped herself on trembling elbows, her head spun. She glanced at her arms and recognized the rash on her skin from childhood. A reaction from bales of straw at her Uncle Archie's farm when she helped with the harvest. The tiny red blotches covered her tender skin. Ha, riding a farm vehicle, perhaps through the mountains! She ran a quivering hand through her hair. No hope of getting myself in order today. She sank back into the bedding until Clarence returned with the meager spread. He fed her slivered morsels and held the cup to her lips.

"Mac will be an hour or so."

"That's probably a blessing."

"Your colour's coming back," said Clarence, his face brightening. "Keep eating. The B-witch won't be landing here today. I told her not to come. Now, I'll go make myself respectable." He left the room with a quick nod.

She eased herself into a sitting position, took a gulp of tepid tea and opened her cosmetic tray.

By the time Clarence poked his head in, DeeDee had primped, back-combed, contoured and glossed the appropriate areas. She luxuriated in bed wrapped in a velour bed jacket of just the right melon shade.

"She is reborn!" he announced with flourish. An incessant clamour of the doorbell interrupted. Clarence left to answer it.

After the chaos of an almighty struggle, Clarence shouted, "Sir, you are no gentleman!" Joseph Pritchett burst through DeeDee's door, his wild eyes terrifying her.

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