“You still frettin’ over your body?” His words met her closing the bathroom
For a moment, she stayed silent while she washed and got ready for sleep.
Then she stepped out. “I shall always fret over my body. You’ll be disgusted
by it soon. You’ll see. Who wants to make love to a withered old hag?”?
Ray inhaled, obviously frustrated with having to deal with this again. “You
know,” he drawled out, “there’s two of us aging here. You don’t hear me
worrying ’bout my old broken down body appearing in front of you with all
its flabby bits. I’m not in love with your body, Carrie. I’m in love with
you, you dang fool.” He reached out a hand and drew her over. “Find
something else to worry about, will you?”
He was right; she knew she didn’t give a damn what the hell he looked like.
To her, he was the best looking damn man on earth. Worry about something
else? “I have,” she finally answered him. “I should have phoned Paige again
today. She sounded too crisp and business-like to me on the phone
yesterday.” It was going to be a long night. Her mind was turning over too
Ray stole a glance at the bedside clock. “She’ll be fine,” he assured her.
“First thing tomorrow, you can call, but I’m sure she’ll be fine.” He lay
back on the pillow. “Anyway, I didn’t know Paige had anything but ‘crisp and
business-like’ when speaking. Seems that’s the way a lawyer should be...even
with her mother,” he added quickly. He patted the bed beside him.
Carrie curled herself in again as Ray switched off the low bedside light.
“You think again about how long you can stay? Not that I want you to go—I
want to make that clear.”
“Oh.” She gave a quiet giggle. “I guess maybe as long as Mabel lets me.”
Lying against him, the quake of his laughter quivered against her skin.
“Seriously, I don’t know. It sort of depends on
“You miss New York? Your friends?”
“Yes. But then, if I were there, I’d be missing you, so which is worse?” She
craned her neck to meet his gaze. A sudden feeling of contentment washed
over her, and she curled up again, resting her head against him.
For a while, she listened to the broken record song of the cicadas and frogs
until that was joined by the soft whistle of Ray’s even breathing. But such
satisfaction did not send her to sleep; it was a night when her mind would
not rest and the restlessness won.
Carrie slipped one leg down and then the other to stand and quietly make her
way out the door, drawing it shut behind her. The hallway was pitch black, a
night in which clouds blanketed the moon, and, like a criminal, she stole
her way to the sunroom. Feeling for the switch, she inundated the room in
the white light of the ceiling fan bulb and flipped the computer open,
jabbing in her password and sitting, waiting for the home page to appear.
And then the dogs started barking.
Slipping back from the table, she rose to see if she could spot a deer that
might have set them off as Jake had mentioned. The void of blackness was
menacing, a complete emptiness of life as if she were the last person left
on the planet. The glare of the light bulb and her own reflection forced her
to lean right up to the cold glass, but nothing greeted her, a vacancy was
all there was.
She decided it was nothing more making them bark than a passing animal she
couldn’t see, and she started to sit down when she became aware of
something. Dogs were still barking, but it sounded like there were only two
of them barking now, which puzzled her. They were barking more frantically,
too, with a sort of whining cry emitted, a terrible yowling of desperation.
And then came the screech of the kennel door.
Hurriedly rising from her chair again, her heart pounding as if it wanted to
escape her chest, Carrie rushed to the glass of the sunroom windows,
desperately searching the emptiness for a sign of movement. The room’s
reflections in the glass sketched specters outside, unnerving doppelgangers
in an alternate world. Her hand instinctively went to her chest as she
searched the void franticly.
And then, two staring, disembodied eyes came floating through this ghostly
setting and, catching the light from the room for a second, a knife held
out, red stains of blood just dulling its sheen.