This is a quick one-shot that wouldn't leave me alone and, if I do it right, can fit into either one of the universes I've created: the Jack Thorpe universe, and the Bay City universe. I get a lot of my inspiration from music, and this story is no different; parts of three songs helped inspire this story: "Eternal Flame" by The Bangles ("I watch you when you are sleeping/You belong with me"); "When You Lie Next to Me" by Kellie Coffey ("Everything that matters is in this room...Life is so sweet when you lie next to me"); and the image I couldn't get out of my head that really kickstarted this story, as well as the title, come from the song "In the Still of the Night." You may have heard the original version of that song, by The Five Satins, in the movie Dirty Dancing, but my favorite version is the one I heard over and over again as a teenager in the early '90s: the acapella version by Boyz II Men.
The freezing rain pelting against the windows registered in Holly's lightly sleeping consciousness. Just barely awake, drifting between the stages of sleep, she turned onto her side, pulling the covers more tightly around her and catching Roger in the ribs with her elbow in the process. He grunted softly at the unexpected but light blow, and his grunt wrenched her into full wakefulness. "Hol?" he slurred sleepily, faintly.
"Sorry," she whispered into the darkness, moving to peck a quick kiss to his lips. "I didn't mean to catch you. Freezing rain woke me up. Go back to sleep."
"Mmmkay," he murmured. "Love you."
"Love you too," she said softly. Roger shifted then, moving closer to Holly beneath the covers, settling back into his pillows, and quickly falling asleep once more.
Holly lay on her side facing Roger, who was lying on his side facing her, his hand resting on her hip beneath the covers, and studied him in the dim glow cast by the porch light filtering through the closed blinds from outside.
Not for the first time since their remarriage, she watched Roger sleeping there beside her, and marveled, also not for the first time, at the change from her many years of a soup-for-one life to the life she had now with Roger, so happy and fulfilling. For most of their lives, the marriage they now had with each other had seemed to both of them to be just a pipe dream. Holly was thankful every day that this was no longer true. They finally knew what it took to make marriage...at least, their marriage...work and last and be happy, and they put in the time and the work every day. They had fought long and hard to get to this place, and the fight was completely worth it.
The woman Holly was now had only one thing in common with the 19-year-old girl she had been when she had first met and fallen in love with Roger: she believed that they belonged together. And now they were together, and in her wildest fantasies, she hadn't known marriage could be like this, especially marriage with Roger. But oh, the fact that it was like this made her happier and more content than she ever thought she could be.
She gazed at Roger's sleeping face beside her once more and moved closer to him, resting her head on his pillow and her hand on his chest, and she was lulled back to sleep by his deep, even breathing in just a few minutes.
They both slept peacefully for the next few hours. Then, shortly after 3:30 AM, Roger was startled awake by a loud cracking noise and a crash coming from outside. His heart pounded as he immediately looked to his left. Holly was sound asleep, undisturbed by the noise, which, as his heartbeat slowed, Roger realized was a branch from the oak tree in the front yard breaking under the weight of the freezing rain and ice that had accumulated on it, breaking off the tree, and falling to the ground. The freezing rain had not stopped, and was pounding against the window, accompanied by a strong wind. He glanced at the alarm clock, seeing its digital numbers glowing, and was relieved that they still had power.
The covers had slipped down to Holly's knees, and Roger carefully, gently drew them up to her chest. Still she didn't stir. In the dim glow of the porch light coming through the closed blinds, he saw her eyes rapidly moving beneath their closed lids and knew that she was deep in a dream. He hoped it was a good dream. He had been personally responsible for too many of her nightmares throughout their lives, and he had noticed that bad dreams were few and far between for both of them since they had remarried.
Roger lay there in the peaceful darkness beside Holly, listening to the wind and the freezing rain outside and listening to her breathe next to him, and remembered saying to her once, "The only dream I have in my head is the one where I wake up and I find you next to me in bed every morning for the rest of my life."
How many years had he slept alone, or with some other woman, and wished all the while that Holly was there beside him in bed?
And now, at last, she was here beside him in bed every night, by her own choice and by their joint initiative and determination to get their marriage right this time.
For so long, Roger had thought he knew what he wanted. He had thought control of Spaulding Enterprises would make him happy.
But he was so wrong about that.
And thank God he had found that out in time to make a difference with Holly.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."
The fact that Roger knew these lines of the poem, and knew that Robert Frost was the writer, was only one of countless examples of the many ways, big and small, that his and Holly's lives intersected.
She and their marriage were what mattered most to Roger.
And waking up with her next to him in bed every morning was no longer just a dream in his head. Now it was his reality, and it would be for the rest of their lives.
Holly snuffled slightly and rolled over, moving even closer to Roger. She lifted her head from the pillow and settled it in the crook of Roger's neck, stretching her arm across Roger's chest and resting her hand on the pillow beside his head.
Roger gently kissed Holly's temple and adjusted the covers around them, then rested his head lightly against hers, tightened his hold on her ever so slightly, and closed his eyes, he and Holly wrapped in each other's arms, and drifted back to sleep thanking every deity there ever was or would ever be for a sweeter life than he had ever dreamed was possible for him.
In the still of the night
I held you, held you tight
Oh I love, love you so
Promise I'll never let you go
In the still of the night
In the still of the night