Crossing the Bridge

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My beautiful dream gets interrupted by incessant banging. For a while I think I am still dreaming and the dream has turned into a nightmare.

I am finally woken up by loud shouting. I can hear Sam outside my front door. I stumble out of the bed and hobble to the door. Feeble dawn light is trying and failing to get in my room. I have managed to get only one or two hours of sleep.

I am tempted to leave him outside and go back to sleep, but I won't be able to go back to sleep if he keeps on banging and shouting. The door will eventually break if he keeps at it. In fact I think he is trying to break the door now.

I open the door before he manages to break it down. I narrowly miss getting hit by Sam's next kick that he was going to deliver to the door. He shows impressive bit of footwork and stops mid kick. The SOB even recovers smoothly and does not stumble over when stopping the kick.

"WHAT" I shout. For a minute he is speechless but unfortunately it does not last long. "Get dressed and Come, Luke is sick." he just turns his back and starts to walk away expecting me to follow him meekly.

I am still standing in the door trying to understand what is happening. Now he looks back and starts yelling, "For god's sake Alice hurry up, Luke is sick."

Finally my brain processes what he is trying to say. I want to give him lesson in manners and make him say Please, but this looks like an emergency and he clearly looks frantic. I nod to convey that I have understood what he is wants me to do.

He looks satisfied and strides back to his rooms. I put on a blouse as quickly as possible. I don't bother with anything else including my hair, which currently look like a rats nest.

I cross the connecting bridge. I am worried about Luke and in a hurry, I don't even realise that I am using the bridge for the first time.

I am greeted with noise of a child's violent retching followed by strong scent of vomit. I am thankful for my empty stomach as I feel like throwing myself. I manage to push down the bile that builds at the back of my mouth.

As I enter I can see Sam holding Luke up on a huge bed and Gary is holding a sick bucket under Luke's mouth. I am glad of their presence. I don't know the first thing about looking after a sick person. In fact my usual reaction to someone retching is to give them company in their misery.

Solid dependable Gary with his love of animals is not afraid of Luke's condition and knows exactly what to do. Sam is frantic and worried but is holding up and trying to soothe Luke.

After the vomiting bout is over, a big pandemonium breaks out. I see Joe threatening a gaunt and scared looking man wearing an ill-fitting coat standing in the corner. I can identify him as a doctor by a stethoscope hanging around his neck.

I ignore them all and literally jump on the side of bed closest to where I am standing. I feel Luke's head to find that he is burning up. At least I know the basics of what to do in case of a fever.

I don't have time to explore and navigate Sam's rooms to find what I need. I quickly cross the bridge again and get a jar of ice water, bowl and clean cloth.

I jump on the bed again and offer Luke some ice to suck. Then I pour some water in the bowl and start to wash his face and hands with the cloth.

I notice Sam getting up from my side to start pacing the small confines of the room. I disregard him and continue washing Luke.

He gets sick again and this time I am holding Luke and Sam is holding the sick bucket.

After some time Luke settles down and starts to get sleepy. I breathe a silent sigh of relief. I smile at Sam and he smiles back. I look around to find myself alone on the bed with Luke in the middle and Sam on the other side.

"Where....? Where is everyone?", I strutter. "Joe went to take the doctor home. Gary was up all night, I asked him to go to bed", comes Sam's answer.

I am suddenly conscious of my position on the bed, so near Sam. We are practically touching each other. Luke is asleep and is dead to the world. Sam senses my discomfort and chuckles.

I get up from bed as quickly as I can to sit on a nearby chair. Sam pulls a second chair and sits on it backwards. So he is facing me but the chair is facing the other side. He is looking at me with some unknown emotion.

I feel like a deer trapped looking at Sam with wide fearful eyes. I am literally frozen on the spot unable to move. I am hiding my face as best as I can under the curtain of my own hair.

Sam gently tucks my hair behind my ears. "The buttons of your blouse are put the wrong way you know" Sam mentions softly. I look down and sure enough I can see a large gaping neckline showing off my flimsy singlet as well as my bra.

I quickly start to fix the problem, but Sam smoothly brushes my hand out of the way. He takes all my askew buttons down slowly one by one and puts them on properly again. He is concentrating on the task so much he looks like an artist creating a master piece.

"I didn't think you would be a red underwear kind of woman", he states. "You should thank your lucky stars that Luke was sick when you entered."

I get my courage back and I ask, "Why otherwise you would have pounced on me?" "Not me, Gary, he was looking at you as if he would like to eat you up". Suddenly I am baffled "Gary?" "You didn't know did you? He even asked me if I would mind if he pursues you, as I am not interested in you anymore".

I am shocked at this revelation. Gary is a good friend but I never saw him from that angle. In fact I was looking at Gary like a brother I never had. But is it possible to have something more.

I start thinking loudly to list all his attributes, "Gary is steady, dependable, reliable, comfortable, good friend, good provider, good with kids" "Is that what you are looking for comfort", Sam asks. I really can't imagine myself with Gary. I can't even see Gary being interested in me either.

Sam continues on "Ok I will let him know that you are interested" "Look Sam if I am interested in someone I will ask him myself. I don't need you of all people to play the matchmaker"

I get up from the chair and start to leave what must be Sam's bedroom. "You shouldn't really cross the bridge in your current dress" I notice the shorts I am wearing are quite skimpy. I must have given a peep show to everyone.

Now I want to get out of here as quickly as I can but Sam is blocking my exit. He picks up his jacket lying on the floor and helps me put it on. He takes his time putting on the jacket. I feel his hands lingering on the sleeve.

He starts touching me, my hair, my cheek, my hand. I think he is doing it almost unconsciously as if he can't help himself. I am just standing there like a dumb scarecrow drowning in his too large jacket. He touches my chin next and makes me lift my head up so I am looking up at him.

"May I?" he asks. Before I can guess what he is asking he touches his lips to mine. The contact is so soft that it is barely there and gone. I can feel my heart galloping like wild horses.

Suddenly he stops himself. "I think I better take you to your room before we do something we will both regret" he says in a firm voice.

He puts some distance between us. He extends his hand to me as if offering a hand to a child. I silently put my small hand into his too large hand.

He starts taking me to my room through back door in a roundabout way. I am so befuddled that I follow him without any protest.

He continues to speak to me "I tried to leave you alone you know, as you are a good girl and I am a bad man all around, but I do want you and I have never denied myself what I want until now. It's been very hard to keep my distance. So how about we make a deal, Alice"

I am still meekly following and listening to him and the Devil is offering me a deal which I may not be able to refuse. I have really crossed the bridge this time.

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