There was a rap at the door. “Your hot chocolate is ready.” “Thanks, I’ll be right down.” There was a pause. “You sure you’re all right?” “Why do you keep asking me that?” “Oh, I don’t know. I can hear something in your voice.” “In my voice? What are you, part dog or something?”
Derrick chuckled. “There might be a girl from college that may just agree with you on that.” Again there was a pause. “May I come in? “Actually, I was about to get dressed.”
“So, you’re saying you’re not decent?”
“No, I’m wearing a bathrobe.”
“Well good, because I’m coming in. “No, Derrick…” But he had already opened the door, and setting the cocoa aside he came over standing before her as she sat on the bed.
“Okay, now I know something’s wrong. Annie, why didn’t you tell me how bad you hurt yourself?”
“It’s not that bad. I’m not about to make a big deal out of nothing.”
“You don’t need to be brave for me. If anything it’s really important that you be as honest as you can, with both yourself, and me, about this. I don’t want you doing any more damage because you are trying to force yourself to do something you shouldn’t be.”
“All right, I’ll admit, my ankles are a little sore. I must have stretched the muscles or something.”
“It looks like they are a lot more than a little sore.”
“Well you know what they say. A sprain is a lot more painful than a break. Although that would obviously depend on the break. But I’ve sprained something, and I’ve broken something, and I’d have to agree with that assessment, the sprain was much more painful. But as far as that goes this isn’t even that bad.”
“Pain is our body’s way of telling us we are hurt.” Derrick looked concerned.
“You do realize you sound like Mr. Rogers?”
“Those people that feel you have to be in pain to accomplish something.” He shook his head.
“Well, I’ll agree with you on that score.”
“If they hurt you need to stay off them. You don’t want to make it worse.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Well, look at it this way, by using them while they’re sore you will probably lengthen the time it takes for them to heal.”
The idea of experiencing what she was now for any longer than she absolutely had to, was not an appealing concept, to say the least. “I’ll try to take it as easy as I can.”
“Well I am not going to spend the remainder of the weekend in this bed.”
“What are you saying?”
Before she had a chance to reply, Derrick had slipped one arm beneath her knees, the other around her back and under her arms.
“Whoa! What are you doing?”
“Well, I would have thought that was obvious.”
“Oh, you have to be kidding me.”
“What makes you think that?”
“You are not serious.”
“What? So, you’re going to carry me everywhere?”
“Oh now that’s just too much!”
He was already lifting her into his arms as though she was nothing, and she wrapped her arms around his neck as he carried her out the door and onto the balcony. He was wearing a sweater but she could still feel his taut and rippling muscles beneath it. The muscles in his arms flexing against her as he carried her carefully down the stairs. The heat from his body reached through her bathrobe as she held her face close to his, the scent of soap and aftershave wafting up around her as he grasped her tightly to him. Setting her on the sofa next to the fire, he turned his face to hers. For a moment they just stayed like that, holding each other, their lips close as his eyes moved down her face to her mouth.