I groaned quietly, rubbing my eyes and fighting the urge not to tell the smooth voice very politely to get lost. I was trying to sleep, and the prospect of having to get up now and look after animals who quite frankly couldn't give a toss, wasn't very appealing.
"Jacob Jankowski you get up now."
The voice was sharper now, and a rhythmic slap was occurring on my arm every couple of seconds. I sighed and blinked a couple of times into the face of my very displeased wife, who was sat with her arms folded, glaring at me murderously. I sat up further, ignoring the bruise I could feel starting to form on my right bicep.
"Marlena?" I croaked, "What's wrong?"
She folded her arms over her chest and glared at me. I sighed and glanced around when I realised how quiet it was, and just how dark it was outside.
"Jesus Christ why'd you wake me up now?" I groaned and slumped back onto the mattress. She continued to glare at me as through I was missing something very obvious where she was sat beside me, the wring way in the bed with her legs crossed so she was facing me.
I was either too tired to thoroughly process what was going on, or she moved faster than I thought she could, because the next thing I knew, she was straddling my chest whilst hitting me all over.
I was very close to winded with the first punch she aimed at my chest.
"What are you doing?" I gasped whilst trying to gently prise her off of me before she hurt herself, or hurt me more than she had done.
"I'm tired and I can't sleep because it's so bloody hot." She shouted at me and I felt my eyes go wide with surprise as I caught her wrist about in inch from my face.
I kissed her wedding ring gently, looking at her calmly, although underneath I was trying not to laugh. I was very careful not to laugh though; I knew that it wouldn't help my case for reasoning with my pregnant wife at all.
"So you attacking me for being able to sleep is helping you relax how?" I asked.
She let out a breath and her arms loosened and relaxed in my grip, although I didn't let them drop.
I leant up to kiss her gently, "I know its hard okay, but you need to try and get seem sleep, you're lucky I'm letting you work at all, you wouldn't be if it was up to me." I reminded her and she sighed, laying down next to me and resting her head on my chest, her arm over my waist.
"I know." She whispered. I kissed her hair and she rested my hand on her side in firm protection, a symbol that I would protect her, one I vowed to keep more than any other promise I had ever made in the rest of my life.
"Starkey says I'm alright to perform until the end of the month, and then I can make up the money helping the Monday man." Marlena said quietly.
I sighed, not sure I liked this idea much more than her riding Rosie around all day.
"I bet he did." I muttered, eyes focused on the ceiling of the carriage that was now our home. I shook my head, apparently being a Cornell vet with a pregnant wife, eleven horses and an elephant, as well as greying dog and a chimp, rated quiet high on Albert Starkey, the Ringling Circus owners list.
It became apparent that the nickname Starkey wasn't all as friendly as it first sounded. His workers and employees labelled him that for his apparent scare way of handing out money on pay day.
I didn't like this circus owner any more than I had liked Uncle Al or... him.
The last time I thought about August was the day before yesterday, and then it was the day before that, and the day before that. I thought about him nearly every day, every time I returned to our car, number forty eight no less.
It was more or less the same as his and Marlena's had been, although I had to entertain to idea of letting Queenie sleep on the foot of our bed, and Idea I quickly grew used to, more tolerant than happy about.
She kept Marlena company most days. I had made it crystal clear when we first arrived at Ringling three months ago that my wife was not to perform more than twice a day, although my preference was still with her riding Rose once in the evening and simply standing with the horses afterwards.
Marlena had liked this very little, but let me have my way, in my eyes; I was being more than generous.
Starkey had all but dismissed us when I reached the part in my speech about my wife expecting our child, although when it soon became apparent to him that I was a vet, owned the elephant, horses, chimp and dog, and was the only on the elephant listened to, he was more than prepared to be generous with the terms of my wife's contract.
When he also saw what Marlena and Rosie could do, under my watchful eye as always, he all but snatched my arm off when I signed the all important piece of paper, which I hadn't had to when I joined the Benzini bothers.
Marlena had taken my hand as we were shown to where we would be living from place to place. In all honesty I had been more than prepared to argue my point about getting my wife a proper bed to sleep in due to her condition, but when we were shown to our car, I had to keep my mouth shut, because really, aside from the number, I had nothing to complain about.
I looked down at Marlena, sleeping peacefully in m sighed, the bruise under her right eye all but gone. Keeping the secret from her was starting to weigh heavy on me, and although I knew she would ever cause any harm towards Rosie, I was more than sure the Elephant would sense if there was a change in my wife, and I couldn't risk anything like that happening.
I kissed her hair and relaxed back into the mattress, closing my eyes and smiling slightly.
Yes, I was sure that things were going to be okay.
I just had a feeling.