The next morning was filled with undeniable pain. My brain felt like it may bust from my skull with every movement. My eyes were shaded by sunglasses to escape the beams of light that shone through the curtains while I puked my guts out in the toilet. Vivian rubbed my back soothingly before helping me back to bed. When the covers were pulled up to my chin, a waste basket by my side in case of any more sporadic vomiting, and a few Aspirin to choke down with a glass of water, Vivian left me to sleep.
Hours drifted by with me coming in and out of consciousness. When my door opened and closed, my sleepy eyes gazed at the LED lit alarm clock that read: 3:00 PM. I had slept all day, something I never do.
“Princesa.” He called from behind me, to which I slowly turned on my side to view Dax with a bottle of Sprite. “My mother claims that Sprite helps settle the stomach.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” I smile slightly and accept the bottle. As I twisted the cap, the carbonized air burst from the opening, small bubbles coming to the surface with a soft fizz. I took a small sip and then another, and another. The liquid soon consumed my stomach instead of the bottle, which Dax gently removed from my hands and threw away.
“How are you feeling?” He asked, lounging in the desk chair he had pulled up to my bed. I shrugged, unable to give an accurate verbal representation of nausea and migraines without sounding disgusting. “Well, I was just coming by to see if you were okay.”
“I am.” I swallowed the bile that rose to my throat to prove myself truthful.
“But as the lead on your parent’s case, I have to inform you, there’s been a string of murders within a ten mile radius of Ophelia Avenue. We don’t know if it correlates with Dorian Smith, but it’s oddly coincidental.” I felt sick again, my stomach churning with a mixture of my hangover and Dax’s news. I whipped the blankets away from my feet and sprinted for the bathroom. Falling to my knees, I cradled the toilet and emptied the content of my stomach. I felt Dax’s hands move the hair away from my neck, wrapping it around his knuckles to hold it back from my spewing mouth. Exhausted, I rolled and slumped against the cold porcelain bathtub. “I’m sorry.” He said softly, watching me closely.
“It’s not your fault Dax.” I tried to smile reassuringly, but came up short. After a long silence between us, Dax slipped his hands around my waist and pulled me to my feet.
“I’m going to draw you a bath,” He pulled the lid over the toilet and sat me down. “Warm water settles a troubled stomach and a troubled mind.”
“Shh,” He murmured, placing his index finger against my lips. “Trust me.” And I did. I let him fill the tub with steaming water while I retreated to the seclusion of my bedroom to undress. Once my robe was secured around me, I reentered the bathroom to see mounds of bubbles all across the surface of the water and Dax lighting a candle he had found in the closet.
“Wow,” I mumbled, biting my lip. My toes met the soft fabric of the rug and I felt the steam against my thighs. “Thank you.” He silently pulled me closer and brushed his fingers across plush material of the robe.
“I remember the first time I saw you in this.” He muttered. For a moment, I couldn’t remember ever wearing my robe in front of Dax, but then I realized how we had been introduced. My cheeks burned with embarrassment at the memory and Dax chuckled quietly. We stood there a long time, just him holding me. I took a step back, realizing the lines between us were becoming muddled into something else, something I couldn’t handle right now.
“Well, I guess I’d better get in before the water gets cold.” I laughed awkwardly, but he didn’t move. “Uh, Dax?”
“Aren’t you going to step outside?” I questioned.
“No, why?” He asked quizzically.
“Oh, maybe because I’ll be naked?” I cocked an eyebrow. Dax rolled his eyes and leaned against the sink.
“Oh, please, Princesa.” He chuckled softly. “I’ve seen you naked before, why are you so bashful suddenly? Should I turn on some MC Hammer?” I poked his chest.
“Not funny.” I frowned. He laughed and shook his head fondly.
“Fine, I’ll shut my eyes.” He cover his eyes with his hands and I watched him in disbelief.
“I’m not undressing in front of you!” I hissed playfully, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Well, I’m not leaving. You’re still hung over and Vivan left for work, I’m the only one who could get you to the hospital if your clumsy ass gets hurt somehow.”
“How would I get hurt in the bathtub?” I scrunched up my nose stubbornly.
"You would find a way.” Dax smiled cockily.
“I’m not undressing in front of you-”
“Three...” He began to count.
“I’m not playing around, Dax.”
“Neither am I, now get your ass in the tub; two...”
“One...” When Dax was about to move his hands away from his eyes, I squealed and pulled off the robe, jumping into the hot water as fast as I could. Hitting my elbow on the tiling of the wall, I scowled in pain. “Ha. Told you.” He winked. I rolled my eyes and settled into the warm abyss. A ding sounded from the sink and I looked at Dax questioningly. He placed my phone in my hand.
“It’s been going off for awhile,” He sighed, scratching the back of his head. “It’s Riley.”
“Oh.” I mumbled, scrolling through the messages. “I wonder what he’s apologizing for.” Dax’s brow furrowed quickly, his lips pursing into a thin line.
“You don’t remember last night?” He whispered softly, but I could feel the air become tense.
“No...” I shook my head, cursing myself for being so negligent. “What happened?”
“I think it should come from him.” Dax’s jaw flexed under his skin and he turned away from me. “I better go.” He stood and reached for the door.
“Please, don’t go.” I begged, avoiding his eyes as he looked back at me. With a sigh, he sat on the toilet lid and looked at the floor. I didn’t know what happened last night, or why he was so upset over Riley. But one thing I did know was, I didn’t want to be anywhere but by Dax’s side.