Shade's Fall

Page 5


“Not deep like it does in Alaska.” Lily looked at the pictures as he turned the pages, sinking back onto the couch.
“I’ve been to Alaska,” Shade commented.
“You have?” Lily asked, staring at Shade in surprise. She had never met anyone who had ever been there before. “Is it as beautiful as the pictures?”
“Yes, but I was too busy freezing my ass off to appreciate it at the time.”
Lily laughed at his expression.
He began flipping the pages of the book, describing the places he had been to in Alaska. He was describing Juneau when the doorbell rang.
Lily started to get up, but his hand on her thigh pressed her back down onto the couch once more. He went to the door, opening it to the delivery driver, who handed Shade a large bag after Shade pulled out the money to pay him.
Lily watched as Shade closed the door behind the delivery driver. He set the food down on the coffee table before going to the kitchen where he pulled out plates and forks then took out two bottled waters from the fridge.
He returned to the couch, setting the plates down. He then opened the bag of food and began dishing it out onto the two plates.
Lily sat stunned, not knowing what to do except to take the plate he had made for her out of reflex.
“But I thought—” Lily had assumed that he would take the food and leave.
“Eat, Lily. The food would have been cold before I got it back to the clubhouse.”
Lily immediately began eating, satisfied with his explanation. Chinese food was actually one of her favorites, but because Beth didn’t care for it, she didn’t have it often.
Curiously, Lily questioned Shade. “What other places have you been to?”
Lily ate while Shade talked about the different countries he had been to when he had been in the Navy. Listening, she was amazed that he had traveled as much as he had.
“My dad was in the service so we constantly followed him from base to base.”
“I bet that was fun.”
Shade shrugged. “I didn’t mind, but my mother got tired of it quick. That was the main reason they divorced.”
“I’m sorry,” Lily said sympathetically.
“Don’t be. They both remarried and have happy marriages.”
Lily finished her food, setting her plate on the table before curling back on the couch, watching as Shade loaded his plate with food again.
Lily picked up the book about Alaska, flipping through the pages while Shade finished eating then took their plates to the kitchen.
“I was going to do that,” Lily protested.
“Finish looking at your book. I’ll take care of them.”
Lily went back to looking through her book, only half-aware when Shade resumed his seat on the couch, looking through the other books on the couch.

“You have several books here on Texas and Arizona,” he said.
“Um, hm.” Lily turned another page before stopping. Her hands tightened on the book and her stomach turned. She gasped as a blinding pain struck her head again. She dropped the book to the floor as she tried to get to her feet to run to the restroom, feeling as if she was going to lose the food she had just eaten. That was the last thing she remembered.
Chapter 2
Lily woke to a concerned Shade leaning over her. She was briefly disoriented at finding herself lying flat on the couch, but the realization of what had happened came back quickly.
“Lily, are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” She rose up, embarrassed, and Shade helped her back into a sitting position on the couch.
“What happened?” Shade asked, his blue eyes searching hers.
Lily put her hand to her head, but the pain was gone. “I don’t know. I was just looking through the book and suddenly got sick. Maybe I had a reaction to the food?”
“I think if it was the food, it would have just made you sick, not faint.”
“I had a terrible headache. I’ve had them on and off my whole life, but they’re getting worse. Do you think it could be from when I hit my head during the robbery?”
“I don’t think so. Your doctor did several tests to make sure everything was clear. Beth insisted he was thorough since there is so much new information coming out about head injuries.”
“I know. It’s just that I’ve never had two in one day before,” Lily said shakily, reaching for the bottled water sitting on the coffee table.
“When did you have the other headache?”
“On the drive home. I took a nap when I got home and felt better.” Lily sat the bottled water back on the table before reaching down to pick up the books on the floor, sliding them back into the bag.
“I see.” Shade handed her one of the books, giving her a speculative look, which she didn’t understand. She slid the book into the bag without looking at it.
“Is your headache gone?”
“Yes.” Lily brushed her hair back from her pale face. She felt silly for passing out in front of Shade. She consistently seemed to have some incident or other in front of him, which made her appear to be a weakling.
“Maybe watching something on television will take your mind off it.” Shade picked up the controller, flipping the channels until he found a comedy.
Lily sat on the couch watching the screen until the show finally managed to draw her into the silly plot. She was still laughing an hour later when the program went off.
Lily stretched, yawning.
“Go to bed, Lily.” The friendly man who had sat and shared his travels with her was gone, and in his place was the same withdrawn man that she knew.
“I am tired. Thanks for dinner, Shade.” Lily expected him to get up and leave.
“Go on to bed, Lily. I’m going to sleep on the couch.”
“There’s no need for you to stay,” Lily protested.
“You just fainted an hour ago. I’m not leaving unless you want me to call Beth and Razer. I’m sure she would come home.”
“I’m not a child you’re babysitting that isn’t feeling well so you need to call the parents to come home,” Lily snapped angrily. “I’m perfectly fine.”
“No, Lily, you’re not. People who are fine don’t almost do a face-plant onto a coffee table. If I wasn’t here, you could have hit your head again, and no one would have known until Beth came home in the morning and found you.”
Lily gritted her teeth. She had known he was waiting to throw that at her.
“Shade, I’m fine now,” Lily repeated her words, hoping this time he would believe her.
“Lily, go to bed, now. I’ll lock up. I’ll even be a gentleman and leave in the morning before Beth and Razer get home.”
Lily knew from his expression that he wasn’t leaving.
“Fine. If you want to sleep on a couch, go ahead.” Lily angrily left, going up the steps to his mocking laughter.
When she reached her bedroom, she slammed the door behind her then immediately felt guilty. She had never been one to throw temper tantrums and wasn’t about to let that stubborn man make her start now.
She lay down on her bed, leaving her bathroom light on as she curled into a ball, pulling the covers over her even though the bedroom was warm; however, she was too drowsy to get up and turn the air conditioner down lower. She had always burrowed beneath the covers to sleep since she had come to live with Beth and her adoptive parents.