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CHAPTER 10: SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS
As she drifted out of sleep and into consciousness, Brigid became acutely aware of two things: one, her head was pounding dully as though someone had taken a sledgehammer to the inside of her skull; and two, a warm arm – not her own – was draped across her collarbone.
It all came back to her as she lay there, staring up at the dusty shafts of morning light streaming over her bed, feeling the heat of his breath on her shoulder. The whisky. The music. The smoke. Him.
Oh, Christ, what had she gotten herself into? It was one thing to get a little tipsy, pick up a good-looking sort at the bar, have a lay, and be done with it. It was quite another to engage in carnal relations with your…
Your what, exactly, Brigid Jean? Said a sharp voice in her head. Brigid clapped a hand over her eyes, trying to silence the voice; it was doing her hangover no favors. But the voice would not be silenced. Your employer? Your benefactor? Your…captor? You don't even know who he is. You said it yourself, last night.
Brigid considered this. It hadn't seemed so important, last night, but now, in sobering daylight, she felt confused and unsure. There was a reason she was still single – she just wasn't cut out for this sort of thing, even under the most normal of circumstances. The emotional well for her characters ran deep, but that required her to make sacrifices in other parts of her life; her capacity for romance remained largely untapped. She wasn't sure how wise it would be to tap in now, when she was living in complete isolation save for a handful of sheep, a surly bodyguard, and a man about whom she knew almost nothing.
And yet, she felt as though she knew everything. Everything that mattered, anyway.
Well, that's stupid, the voice interjected. Who are you to say what matters? What if he's a serial killer, hm? Would that change your opinion?
"Oh, sod off," Brigid muttered out loud, then clapped a hand over her mouth as James stirred beside her. He frowned, eyes still closed.
"Did you just tell me to sod off?"
"Erm – no –"
"Who're you talking to, then? Jesus, if you've let the sheep back in here –"
"No, it's not the sheep, I was talking to myself if you must know."
This got his attention. His eyes slid open lazily and he propped himself up on one elbow so that he was looking down at her. She twisted her hands nervously in the sheets, feeling exposed.
"Why were you talking to yourself?"
"Oh, um…just habit, I suppose…spend a lot of my time alone, you know…"
"But you're not alone now," he whispered, grabbing hold of her jaw lightly and leaning in to brush a kiss across her lips. She felt faint for a moment and struggled to get control of her thoughts. She couldn't get him to tell her who he was – but who was she? Her head throbbed viciously – the kissing, the thinking, the hangover, it was all too much. She pulled away.
"I –" she began, without knowing quite what she was going to say. He cupped her cheek; they were very close, and he gave her a penetrating look, his eyes still deep and dark with sleep.
"I know what you're thinking, love—" he started, but Brigid brought a finger up to his lips.
"Stop. I know you do, but let me work this one out on my own first. Please," she added.
"Alright, love, go on then," he said, parting his lips quickly and giving her finger a playful bite.
"Well, I…I don't know how to say this, exactly – I've never been good with speaking, I wish I could just write you a letter, but that doesn't seem very practical at the moment given the circumstances."
"Right. So, ah…what I mean to say is…I wonder if I've been changed in the night. I don't feel like the same me this morning as the me I was yesterday. Does that sound mad?"
"It sounds absolutely mad. Go on."
"Well, do you?"
"Do I what?"
"Do you feel changed, too?"
He laughed, eyes crinkling up at the corners. "Love, you've no idea. I change from one person to the next every second of every day."
"That's impossible," she said, wrinkling her nose in annoyance.
"Sometimes I believe in six impossible things before breakfast," he said with a grin.
"Ooh, speaking of breakfast –"
"Oh, don't, breakfast is boring—"
"What! And you making me six-course meals weekly –"
"That was before we had better things to do with our time."
Brigid could think of no intelligent reply to this, so instead she laced her fingers through his messy hair and pulled his face back down to hers. She stopped just before their lips touched.
"One more thing."
"If we're not the same people we were yesterday…who are we now?"
"My dear," his breath floated across her parted lips, "we are the authors of our own destiny."
They spoke no more.
He had to leave before the sun was fully up, and since they'd committed their time to other endeavors, there was no breakfast. No matter; Brigid felt too strange and jittery to keep anything down. She felt like maybe she should shower, but that would wash the smell – his smell – away. As soon as this thought crossed her mind, she hated herself for it, and resolved to shower right away. The cold water would do her some good, and Lord knew she needed it; she'd nearly forgotten she had a job to do, and she couldn't very well write a half-decent murder mystery with James's scent floating up around her ears. Floating. The word had struck a chord in her, and she snapped her fingers, inspired. She nearly tripped twice in her haste to get to her desk before the line escaped from her mind:
Call me Ishmael.