The fog is descending upon the houses outside my window. And it’s freezing cold. I don’t think Nero and I will go for a walk after all. Good news is my desk faces a big window. Also, it’s my mom’s birthday today. Have a wonderful 70th birthday, Mom. Love you.
“I was worried for you.” Julius moved the few steps from the wall to the bed and then sat on its edge, without coming any closer to her.
It wasn’t right. Touching for them was a necessity regulated by guide-and-guided code of conduct. Allegra felt his warmth and longed to reach out and take his hand, but she didn’t, which only increased the awkwardness. “Thank you.” Her voice came out too low.
But he had heard. “Of course.”
Of course he’s worried about me? Or what? “Couldn’t you sleep?”
“No. Do you mind if I stay with you for a while?”
She finally outstretched her hand and found his closer than she expected. “Can you help me relax?”
“Of course.” He moved on the bed to lie side by side with her, his head on the pillow, only a few inches from hers.
It wasn’t the first time they slept on the same bed. Before exams, they used to quiz each other the whole night. Sometimes, they did it just to prove they could without being caught. A few times, Allegra had asked him, like now, if he could ease her tension. Yet, now it was different.
She felt his gentle invasion at the edge of her thoughts. Spring and singing birds. The scent of washed linens drying outside. Warm breeze playing with her hair. Her eyes closed and she let him in.
Words echoed in her head.
She turned the other side.
Hands turned her over.
“Smell the air.”
The request was repeated twice before she managed to open one eye and find Julius sitting on her bed. Memories of a few hours earlier rushed in. “What’s going on?” But she had already activated her senses. “I can’t feel her.” Clarissa’s smell was gone. She inhaled deeply and then shook her head. “I can’t feel any of them.”