twirled the tubes between her fingers until she could see the indications. Arnica montana for injuries with bruising. Five of those under her tongue, while she looked at the rest, desperate for physical and psychological relief. Chamomilla and Pulsatilla for restlessness, irritability. Ten more pellets.
Clutching three tubes in her hand, Liz maneuvered back upstairs and to bed, lowered herself to the mattress, then slipped the crutches underneath. She arranged things on the nightstand, adjusted pillows, and eased down.
Mike turned off his back to face her, still sleeping. As soon as he sensed her close, his arm instinctively draped over her. The length of his body pressed against hers was the only solace she needed at that moment, even if he was unaware that she was there. She slipped her good foot in between his ankles. So deep in slumber, he didn’t react to cold skin against warm.
Being reconnected to her living, breathing husband banished the eerie afterglow of Jared’s ghostly vision. The contact meant nothing to Jared, and likely nothing to Mike. But being among the living was far more comfortable than among the dead. That would be where she’d stay–and be grateful for the second chance.
Every time Liz dozed off, a radiator’s hiss compelled her to check if Jared had returned. Whenever Mike stirred, the gap between them widened and cold air slipped in, insolating them further and further from each other.
Mike’s sudden, rapid departure depressurized the cocoon. The chill flooded the quiet, intimate space. He quickly tucked the covers around her, no doubt thinking she’d slept as well as he.
As soon as he disappeared into the bathroom, and the pinging of water against the plastic curtain began, she hauled herself to a sitting position and inched toward the edge of the bed.
A cloud of medication hangover and exhaustion clouded her head. The dull pounding in her immobilized ankle was background music, but the pain in her knee rose to a crescendo. She struggled to her feet, got the crutches under her, and made her way to the closet.
Liz ignored Eddie’s empty crib. The painful tension in her overfull breasts dueled with an ache in every muscle. Her body was locked in a vise of misery, and she welcomed every twinge if it served to silence Elisabeth.
Where had Mae put the dress, and what condition was it was in? No local dry cleaner could handle an antique, and no seamstress she’d met outside the museum would know how to repair and restore it. Should she just burn the damn thing, or bury it with the crystal? The thought conjured a wave of terror, of foreboding. That dress held special significance to Elisabeth, and great power. If it was destroyed, who knew what might be unleashed?
Liz chose loose fitting, terribly unattractive sweats, then contemplated whether to take off the knee brace and reapply it over them, or just leave it under. Mike startled her just as she’d pulled on a bra and panties.
“Need some help?” He rubbed his damp curls with a towel, then readjusted the one cinched around his waist.
She shivered looking at him. “Aren’t you cold?”
“Nah. Take off the brace, and I’ll help you get the leg into those pants.”
Embarrassed by her helplessness, her nudity, she pulled the sweatshirt on, then unhooked the straps on the brace. Whatever wedge the restless ghosts–or Sandra’s spells–had driven through the heart of their intimacy had affected her, too.
Mike’s well-practiced hands guided the elastic band over the cast, then eased it over her sore knee. How the towel didn’t pop off, Liz couldn’t imagine. She quickly thrust her good leg into the pants and struggled to pull them up.
“Stand and lean against me.” Mike rose, his makeshift loincloth still holding fast as he pulled her against him.
It might have been very sexy, she half-naked, pressed against his bare chest–if she wasn’t clenching her teeth. Or if his embrace held any trace of passion, or