Smith is an eccentric genius when it comes to solving crime. Early draft.
During cases, our nights are often filled with silence as Smith writes down notes from the day and works through all of the minute details. I tend to stick to myself, out of his way, reading, writing in my journal or surfing the internet until I go to bed. Tonight, while similar, started down a different path.
It is often up to me to make sure Smith does normal tasks like eat – otherwise, he’d wait until his body was nearly ready to give out, his blood sugar and stomach crying in frustration, because he had more important things to worry about. But after the stress I had experienced over the course of the day, normalcy failed me. Smith stepped up and took charge. Neither of us had eaten, and he refused to let me skip another meal. He stopped at the diner where we first had dinner together and grabbed a meal to go.
I’m sure Smith purposely placed the boxes on the console between the two of us so the smells could tempt my queasy stomach. It worked. The bacon-cheese-chicken combo of my club sandwich brought out a loud gurgle that caused Smith to chuckle. Even his standard cheeseburger and fries smelled wonderful. Damn that sexy genius.
At home, we sat down at our Formica diner-style table to eat. I dug into my sandwich and salad as though I had been on an all-liquid diet and could no longer stand the lack of fat. The sourdough was perfect, as was the crispy, ripe tomato and tangy mayonnaise combining with the rest of the sandwich to create heaven in my mouth. Earlier, I was certain that days would pass before I could even consider food, yet here I was eating myself content.
Smith took his time eating, and as I popped the last of my sandwich into my mouth, he stopped. “I know today was rough,” he said, drying his hands on a napkin, “but I am really proud of you. You found a vital piece of evidence. I cannot thank you enough for that.”
Praise of this sort was rare in coming from Smith, not because he wasn’t proud but because he was often so preoccupied. I flushed, looking down to hide my reddened face, not used to such compliments. “I just did what you asked me to.”
Smith reached across the table, and I gave him my hand.
“You faced your fears today,” he said. “I know it might not feel this way, but you will get through this case okay, just as you have with the rest. This time, you can say you stood up to yourself and won.”
I didn’t think I had done so well, but Smith did have a point. “Thanks. You really helped by giving me a chance,” I replied.
“You are far smarter than you give yourself credit for. I could not solve any case without you.”
“Smith, I don’t help that much!” I couldn’t help but laugh.
“You do. I mean it. Stop selling yourself short.”
I knew that there was no point in arguing with him, even though I didn’t think I was that influential in his work. I just couldn’t be that vital when all the major breaks came from him. Instead, I nodded, ending the discussion.
______ ______ ______
After dinner, Smith headed downstairs while I sought the long shower I had desired all day. Instead of the cold water I wanted earlier, I went as hot as I could stand so I could work out the stiffness in my back from falling off the ATV. I swayed under the pulsating beat of the water, my body longing to slip to the base of the tub and sleep under its touch. As I enjoyed the feel of the water, I coached myself to believe Smith’s words. He never told lies. I needed to remember that. My stress then sluiced down the drain. Tomorrow, I’d be back on my game.
By the time I stepped into bed, I had done a great job of forgetting about the bodies. I even called it an early night, feeling as though I could sleep fifteen hours. Unfortunately, while I felt drained, sleep slipped away from me. Minutes snuck past, and the longer I went without falling asleep, the more frustrated I became. Adding to my stress was the fact that, each time I closed my eyes, I found myself looking at a drowned corpse. The tossing and turning began.
Midnight had nearly stepped forward when Smith’s bedside lamp flipped on. Blinking away the dark, I found Smith stripping down. My brow knotted. “You’re going to bed early,” I said.
Smith stopped, his eyes widening as he glanced up at the sight of me propped up on my elbow. He turned back to undressing then crawled into bed, wrapping me tight in his arms. “I’m done for the night.”
My face found my favorite spot, the familiar curve of Smith’s shoulder, and I leaned in to breathe in his scent. The rest of my body spooned against Smith’s warmth. I lay there, feeling much more at peace, just as I had in the shower. “I’m glad you’re here,” I said, my words muffled by my husband’s chest.
Pulling back a few inches, Smith touched my temple then ran his finger down to my chin. Goosebumps danced across my flesh, and Smith’s finger continued on down my throat then across my collarbone. As the finger reached my shoulder, its companions curled softly around my bicep and slid down to my elbow. I looked up into Smith’s eyes, then leaned in to kiss him. He returned the kiss with a hunger that caught me by surprise. I pulled him tight and rolled onto my back, inviting him in. We both would sleep well.