Home (Part 2)
Her body reacted to the quick emotional upset: her breathing rapidly formed into hyperventilating, the tension in her caused her to feel chest pains, and by the time the man had strode towards her weeping tears were escaping her eyes. A feverish heat rose in her face as he guided her to the nearest seat and gently sat her down. Though the whistling sound had only lasted a moment, it was enough to set off the broken sobs leaving her throat as her hands pressed more tightly against her skull.
The man crouched before her. His face was blurred between the wet spots in her vision, but she could see his expression waver between calm observation and concern. When he caught her looking at him, he demonstrated himself taking a deep breath for her to replicate. The first breath she took was staggered, it made her chest tighten and caused her to keen, but he repeated the act again.
It must have been her nerves. The only thing she could seem to focus on as she tried to breathe was that the man’s eyes were a deep blue, not black, like they had appeared to be from a distance.
When she had successfully completed several deep inhales, he motioned for her to uncover her ears. As she did, he slowly came to a stand and ran his hand through his hair, sliding his bangs away briefly before the white strands fell to cover his face again.
Her hands fell to her lap only to wring the fabric of her shirt in their grasp. A small hiccup left her throat.
“You ought to relax,” he said. “That amount of stress can hardly be healthy for you.”
She sniffled loudly, flinching slightly when he unexpectedly reached out and pressed the back of his hand to her forehead. His expression became tense.
“You’re running a temperature.”
As his hand fell away, her own replaced it. Her shoulders slouched. “Great.”
“Are you allergic to any medications?”
Suri furrowed her brows at him as he walked away before she could answer. He entered the kitchen, reaching into the upper cabinets for what appeared to be a small blue box. While he searched through its contents, her eyes caught the ceramic teapot on the stove and the white teacup on the counter.
The whistle. It was just the teapot.
She sighed heavily and rolled her eyes. Of course, she thought as the man returned to her side with glass of water and a white medicine bottle. He handed her the pills and gently placed the glass atop the coaster on the large table for her.
“Drink two of those and that entire glass of water,” he directed. “Once you’re ready, you should move back to the bedroom and lie down.”
She cleared her throat and took the pain relievers as he had instructed—if only to drink the water she required. What was he going to do, kill her? He would have just left her in the tracks if that were the case. Though his tone left little room for debate, she tried anyway.
“I’m not tired.”
“You’re sick,” he said, “You need to rest.”
“I can’t sleep.”
“No matter. Simply stay in the bed until you fall asleep.”
Her eyes narrowed at him, causing him to return her challenging glare with a mild one of his own. He was bossy and blunt; not exactly what she envisioned when she pictured a heroic savior. Except as his expression hardened, she faltered, blinking her glare away and curling up on the chair. Apparently, that was a mistake too.
“Feet off of the furniture.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Mind your manners, young lady.”
She stood abruptly then, causing him to cross his arms over his torso. He seemed to take issue with everything she did. She was the one who had almost died right? Most people would be throwing looks of pity and consolidation at her, but he just continued to watch her with a frigid gaze, cataloging all her subtle movements and expressions meticulously.
“You’re not my dad,” she said finally, squaring her feet off. “You don’t get to tell me what to do.”
“Is that so?” He scoffed when she nodded and maintained her challenging demeanor. A tense smirk appeared on his features, revealing the dimple in his cheek. “Splendid. Then why don’t we return you to his sound keeping, so that you can stop accosting me? In my own home, nonetheless.”
She flinched. Her entire attitude wavered before she quickly dropped her gaze to the floor. His tone had done this thing, something she had noticed while he was talking to the paramedics and police at the station. The words that he chose were nice, but the true intentions of his words were layered with sardonic undertones and condescension. Her head bowed slightly in apology.
If she kept pushing, he would surely kick her out. And right now, with her uniform being washed and patched up and her wallet and keys missing after the disaster at the train station, she didn’t have the means to be disagreeable.
“The couch,” the man said. He gestured towards the couch and nodded at the television. “Lie there and watch something until you’re properly tuckered out.”
His demeanor eased, and he returned to the kitchen, leaving her to stand there foolishly or do as he had suggested. So, Suri sat heavily upon the couch.
She may not have been tired enough to sleep yet, but she no longer had the energy to argue with him. Not to mention that she wasn’t sure why she was fighting with him in the first place. This was the man who had brought her to his condo after she had blathered and cried. He had saved her. Shouldn’t she be grateful about that?
She leaned to the side, letting herself fall into the couch cushions in defeat and grabbing one of the fluffy white throw pillows to nuzzle into. The cool leather soothed her warm skin and the smell of rosewood which had been obvious as the man held her earlier that day faintly scented the fabrics surrounding her. She quickly realized that her body was aching.
A white teacup was gently placed on the table before her. Her eyes timidly looked back towards the man. How could she be grateful when she didn’t even remember his name?
“Um, thank you…?”
Suri let the unspoken question linger, hoping the implication would land on the man. At first, it didn’t. He looked at her blankly and raised his one visible brow at her. Then he nearly snorted to try and restrain a smile, his amusement revealing both his dimples. Her cheeks turned scarlet.
“Don’t laugh,” she said, propping herself up on her elbows. “I, well, I think you told me your name, but I totally forgot.”
“No. I never gave you my name.” He continued with a sardonic humor in his tone, “And to think that you were so quick to follow me home.”
She pouted. This guy was starting to infuriate her. Instead of answering her question, he scoffed with a smirk and sat in the chair across from her. He gestured for her to lay back down and she reluctantly complied.
“After that narky attitude you gave me, I’m inclined to not tell you a bloody thing.”
She tugged at the corners of the pillow in her hands in a nervous fidget. As the man placed his own teacup on the table, she sighed heavily and curled in on herself. Her voice lowered itself to a whisper, but she could feel that he was still indirectly observing her, so she figured he would hear her in the increasing quiet slowly filling the room.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her eyes falling to wood grains in the gray floors. “I didn’t mean to be rude. I’m, well, I didn’t mean to bother you. I’m sorry that you had to help me.”
He didn’t answer. He didn’t even acknowledge that she had spoken as he reached for the television remote and turned it on to whatever network it had been set to. The room fell so still that her rapid heartbeat felt like it would make her leap from the couch and fall to the floor.
She was about to tell him to forget it, to not bother telling her his name because he was probably just going to take her home soon anyway. What did it matter?
“What was your name, young lady?”
She perked up at his sudden question. “Um, S-Suri. Suri McAllister, but, uh, just Suri is fine.”
His eyes watched her, sipping from his cup, almost as if he were debating with himself whether to tell her or not who he was. He seemed guarded, but he set his teacup down once more and rose to a stand, lifting the pillows by her feet to get to the throw blanket beneath them.
“You’re ill, Suri. You should sleep,” he said, loosely draping her beneath the plush fabric as she tucked herself beneath the folds. “My name should be of little consequence to you.”
She pulled the blanket up to her face and frowned behind it but to her surprise he continued.
“However, I suppose it would make your stay easier to know that my name is Trenton. Trenton Merrick,” he watched her carefully as he moved to sit back down and pick up his teacup once more. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Suri.”
Suri was glad that the blanket was still covering her face. She felt a feverish blush tint her cheeks at his softened demeanor as she nodded an acknowledgement. The room fell quiet again, only filled with the soft sounds of the man flipping through the channels on the television.
The leather fabric of the couch trapped the warmth of her skin and the smell of herbal tea lead her to take several deep inhales. While she still felt sore, she knew the medicine she had taken would soon take effect and hopefully calm her fever and her wounds. Her hand naturally brushed against her forehead. Though she had recalled blood being on her uniform blouse, there wasn’t so much as a bruise on her head now. However, she dismissed the thought when a mild dizziness convinced her to close her eyes.
Trenton had won the battle before she had realized she was fully participating. As he flipped through the channels on the television, she yawned. After only a short while, her breathing evened out. And within moments, she was finally able to fall asleep.
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