CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and THIRTEEN
Somewhere in time
The woman turned to look at him. For a long moment, they locked eyes. As if she were embarrassed, she looked down. She slid into the water.
“Do you mind if I join you?” Nelson asked. “I won’t… I mean…”
“Please,” she said. “I’ve taken the liberty to turn on the warm water.”
“How?” Nelson asked. “Are you a demon?”
“A demon?” she laughed.
He smiled because of her laugh and because this ghost creature seemed so real, so normal.
“The water is warmed by the hot spring.” She gestured to an area he’d never noticed before. “I removed the block on the drain.”
“Has that always been there?” Nelson asked.
She looked at him and then at where the warm water came in. Her eyebrows went up and down as if to wonder what he was asking.
“I’m sorry, I’ve never seen it,” Nelson said. “I usually take cold baths.”
“That sounds lovely,” she said mildly.
He smiled. He pulled off the thick leather under armor. Unbuckled his sword belt. Sitting down, he took off his sandals. He noticed that she was looking at him when he pulled off his wool tunic.
“What?” he asked.
“You don’t have servants?” she asked.
“I…” Nelson started.
“Would you like mine to assist you?” the woman asked.
Two young girls stepped from the shadows. Using his hands, he indicated for them to stop.
“I am all right,” he said. “In my time, people do these things for themselves.”
“Why?” she asked.
He was about to launch into some kind of explanation when he saw that she wasn’t listening. Her back was to him. He slipped into the warm water. To his surprise, the water smelled of lavender and something lovely. The simple luxury of the warm water and scent brought tears to his eyes.
“Why did you stop talking?” she asked.
“You weren’t listening,” he said.
“So?” she said, with mild reproach.
Smiling, he slipped under the fragrant warm water. He felt his grim slid off his scalp. When he came up, he saw that she was still there.
And, she was still watching him.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Anything you’d like it to be,” she said.
He laughed. When she looked offended, he laughed harder. He wasn’t even sure why he was laughing. He just couldn’t stop. Tears felt down his face.
She appeared in front of him. She grabbed his shoulders and shook him.
“Stop,” she whispered.
When he began to sob, she pulled him to her. He wept on her shoulder like a child. His mother had died when his was an infant. He’d always loved men. Outside of Heather or one of his work friend’s hugs, he’d never been held by a woman. Her kindness brought up his most desperate grief. When he thought he’d never stop crying, the feeling disappeared. She kissed his cheek and floated away from him.
“Who are you?” he whispered in a hoarse voice.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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