A/N: First I must apologise, I am a terrible authour, I do not keep within in deadline as my english lit teacher's will tell you all. I have had a lot going on these past months, exams, stress, work, life!. I can assure they will be some sort of organization within my brain!. Sorry for the delay , I hope you enjoy!
She pushed open the door with little energy, and stumbled in. It was past midnight and her double had just ended, all she wanted to do was crawl into bed and fall fast asleep.
But as soon she opened the door, sleep was suddenly the last thing on her mind. Ray was pacing the living room, in just a pair of sweats with a crying Ainslee and Mr Ted in his arms. Neela's eyes flew to his toned chest, and stayed there for a good ten minutes and then she snapped herself out of it. Dropping her bag on the floor, She walked over to him and mouthed a quick hello and what's wrong.
"Nightmare", He said rocking the child gently.
"I want Mommy!", Ainslee sniffled. She looked up and saw Neela.
"Mommy's not here sweetie, will me and Neela do?" Ray wondered.
Ainslee nodded an approval and rested her on his shoulder again, "How about we sit and watch TV. For a bit that always makes me sleepy", Ray suggested. He placed Ainslee on the couch and Neela happily flopped down too. Ray soon joined them with three glasses of milk; He sat between Neela and Ainslee, who was now laid next to him with her head resting on his chest.
"Terrible, multiple traumas", She yawned. "I hate Wednesdays".
"Its Thursday now, you can't hate them they are great", He said smiling softly at her.
"I'm so tired, Dr Lewis keeps sticking me on these Doubles nearly every day. I can't take it anymore, and I'm not getting any sleep", Neela admitted.
Ray looked worriedly at her, "Why aren't you getting any sleep?"
"Oh its nothing, I just can't sleep sometimes that's all", Neela said starting to get embarrassed wishing she had said nothing at all.
"Is it me? Cause I know I hog the bed, and I fidget. If you want I will sleep on the couch", He offered again.
She shook her head, "No it's fine, I like having you sleep with me", immediately she wished she hadn't said that one, Neela begged the ground to open up and swallow her whole big time.
He smiled, "Yeah you're a pretty good pillow buddy too", He said, trying to make light of the situation.
They were still seated in the living room, both Ray and Ainslee sound asleep.
Neela cursed herself rapidly and regularly under her breath in Punjabi. "Stupid head!" She muttered. Her eyes still battling their war to stay awake, they closed without warning. And in her state of drowsiness she snuggled, closer to Ray's bare chest even venturing to place a hand over it, resting on his rib cage.
She felt him move slightly in his sleep, and his hand crawl up her back to rest on her hip and pull her closer to him. Neela smiled; thank god he was still asleep.
When he awoke bright and early the next morning, His hand had somehow risen in the night from the base of the couch to under Neela's skimpy excuse for a wife beater. Her arm resting on his chest, her face in an image of peacefulness. He just lay silently a minute wondering what to do, Gently he took his hand from under her top which was resting on her flat stomach, he placed her hand from chest on the couch, and moved off to make some coffee, hoping not to wake the two.
When she woke, the apartment was empty; Ray had gone to work taking Ainslee with him. He had left her a note on the counter; gingerly she picked it up and read it.
'Hey sleepyhead, you looked a total goner so decided to leave you sleeping. Hope the kid and me didn't wake you up, I know you're not on shift today. Do you want to meet up for dinner at Mc Donalds? Cheap and Cheerful I know. See ya around six-ish.
Ray and Ainslee'
She placed the note back down, and sighed. Ever since last night, She had been even more confused. In her state of slumber, Neela had placed a hand on his bare chest, and Ray had responded by putting his arm round her waist.
Neela needed to know what it meant, her past record with men hadn't been very good. Gallant was the only she really ever felt anything for, and now that was gone for good. She had ended whatever they had because of these confusing feelings she had from Ray.
Heading straight to the shower, She decided to take a long walk before meeting Ray tonight she needed to do some serious thinking.
"Alright now this is a clocking in card!" Ray said waving the card in front of Ainslee's face.
"Ok!" She giggled.
"No we use it to clock in and out, so work know that I'm here. So we just swipe it here and then we're done", He said handing it to her.
"Ok!" She swiped the card and giggled as she finished her little job. She handed the card back to him, "Are we going to Mc Donals?"
"Yes sweetie we're going to Mc Donalds".
Ainslee nodded, "I know that's what I said Mc Donals".
"Of course you did", He pocketed the card, and lifted her up into his arms as they left the hospital.
She looked up at him, "Are we seeing Neela?"
Ray nodded, "Yeah we are, Do you like Neela?"
Ainslee nodded, and pulled her hood up covering her hair and face from the falling snow, "I do, She's funny and she's nice".
"I think so too".
"Is she your special friend? Mommy says she is", Ainslee giggled leaning on Ray's shoulder.
"Not yet", Ray muttered. "What do you want at Mc Donalds?" He asked her quickly changing the subject.
"Hamburger, and fries, and juice!" She said loudly.
"Ok how about we catch the el and we can go get your happy meal!" Ray smiled.
"Yeah!" She said excitedly, Ray laughed. "Let's go kiddo".
"I wanna watch Nemo, can we see Nemo?" Ainslee begged as she looked through Ray's DVD collection, She held up the DVD and waved it.
"You own finding Nemo?" Neela asked smiling.
Ray nodded, "Dude it is the movie, little orange fish takes the world".
"I'll trust you then, I haven't seen it yet".
Ray looked at her shocked, "Why? Why haven't you seen it?".
"My life doesn't revolve around little orange fish that take over the world", Neela admitted.
"Ok that's where you're getting it wrong, he doesn't take over the world. He looses his dad, and they both embark on a huge journey", Ray explained.
"So can we watch Nemo", came Ainslee's voice again.
"Yeah we can watch it, I'll get some popcorn", Neela said reaching into a cupboard and grabbing a large bag of toffee popcorn. Ainslee had seated herself on the lap of Ray, and Neela sat on the left of him.
Within half an hour, Ainslee had fallen asleep and Neela was on the way too.
"Takin' on the jellies", Ray laughed along with the movie. He jabbed Neela's arm, "Yo Neela, you watchin'?" He demanded.
Neela didn't respond, her eyelids now closed. "Neela!" Ray said a little louder. He poked her in the arm, and she leaned a little closer towards him.
"Neela, Weaver needs you in trauma two!" Ray said loudly, jabbing her in the arm.
She shook awake, her eyes alert. "Huh? Weaver?. What? Where?", She demanded.
" Just playing", He laughed.
Neela gave him a death stare; "I can't believe you woke me up!"
"You're not watching the movie, you can't miss a single bit of Nemo", the punk doctor told her firmly.
"I bet, I'll go put Ainslee to bed, She'll be tired", Neela said getting up from her comfy position she placed the four year in her arms and wandered off to the bedroom.
She placed Ainslee in the bed that seemed all too large for her, and pulled the covers up to the chin, She wandered towards the couch again.
"Right c'mon then let's watch this movie", She said wide-awake. "Ray?" Neela got no answer, She peered to find Ray fast asleep and snoring sprawled out along the couch.
She looked at the letter in her hand, it was from him. He'd only been back in Iraq a week. Neela didn't want to open it; she placed it back on the table. She was well aware of her feelings for him a month ago, but now everything had changed.
Neela stared hard at the airmail letter; She took a deep breath and picked it up again. 'Well its not going to open all by itself is it?' She thought rationally.
Sliding the letter between her hands, She unfolded it and saw Michael's neat handwriting.
She read the usual exchange of words that served as a beginning to the letter.
Her eyes focused on the last paragraph;
'I used to feel alone out here but your letters filled up the gap and I wait eagerly for the response to my letter. But when I came to County, I feel that the gap for you was not closed enough by my letters. You almost needed something more.
It would be better if I could be there, I know. I understand that things would be great if we could spend a day, a night together.
I thought that maybe I would be back here soon, back home.to you. But I feel that I'm still needed out here, so I won't be home. I know I will come back but when I do not know. And I don't want you Neela waiting around for me, for us. For something that might never happen. I owe it for you to move on with your life and find someone who can be there for you. My life has grown greater for knowing and loving you.
I hope we can still be friends.
Yours Michael Gallant'.
Neela dropped the letter; it floated to the floor lightly. She could feel the hot tears pricking at her eyes, and she quickly wiped them away. 'I guess I don't need to think about what to do anymore then', She thought angrily. Heading towards the refrigerator she grabbed herself a beer and popped the top.
How could she move on with her life? She thought Michael was her life?. Why had things changed so rapidly over the weeks?
The door opened and she heard father and daughter's jovial voices heading through the apartment.
"NEELA!" came a screech. Ainslee headed towards her and skidded at her feet. She gave Neela a hug.
"Are you crying?" The child demanded.
Neela shook her head, hoping her hair was covering most of her eyes and the waterfalls of tears that threatened to fall.
"Of course not, I've got a little dust in my eye", She lied.
"Hey Ains, I think its almost four", Ray said winking at her. Ainslee grinned, "DORA!" She cried racing over to the TV.
Ray looked at her, "You drinking at four in the afternoon?"
"Is there a problem with that?" Neela snapped.
He held his hands up in defensive, "No problem".
She rubbed her temples, "I know you're concerned, I'm just in a really bad mood now".
"You want to talk, I hear it helps?" Ray wondered.
"I can't", She began. "I gotta work", She placed the un-touched beer on the counter and grabbed her coat and walked out.
"Skinny latte?" came a voice.
Neela looked up and saw Ray stood in front of her holding out the coffee cup.
"Thanks", She accepted it. He sat down besides her, "Your not on shift, I checked the rotation today".
"I know, I just realised myself".
"You wanna share now?"
"I got a letter from Michael today", She said slowly.
"Oh can he not get any more leave?" Ray wondered looking at her.
"I don't know he didn't say, but he did that he thought it would be best if we threw everything we had, because he's probably staying in bloody Iraq!" Neela said angrily.
She sipped her coffee, "Yeah oh, How could he do that!" She fumed. "And in a bloody letter too!"
"It sucks I know it does, but there's nothing you can do about it. I mean if you love him, tell him and see what he says", Ray suggested.
Her brow furrowed, "But I don't know if I love him".
"You don't? I thought you too. Were all you know loved up"?
She nodded, "We were", 'And then you came along', She thought silently.
Hope your enjoyed the next installment, sorry it took forever. Keep those eyes peeled for the next one!.