Brendan couldn’t believe he was doing this. He was dog-tired, having been up for pretty close to twenty-four hours straight. But still he hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep since he brought Tracy back to his place. She was sleeping a peaceful sleep, her head on his chest, one arm wrapped about him while he tried not to think about how well she fit in that space, how good it felt having her there. And then he tried not to think about the many nights that Meghan had tried to maneuver her way into sleeping at his place; nor about how readily he’d offered up that privilege up to Tracy.
But she was scared, he argued with himself. What was the alternative? A hotel?
Yes, as a matter of fact. What difference would it have made? She just wanted out of her townhouse. She would have settled for the Holiday Inn if it came to that.
But instead, he’d made the call to drive all the way back across the Brooklyn Bridge and bring her here. Because he wanted to. She’d stepped across the threshold and looked around, her face devoid of make-up, dressed in sloppy sweats and a t-shirt, and scuffed Keds that looked like she used them as house slippers. She took in the décor and turned to smile at him; a little smile, a sweet, very un-Tracy-like smile.
This is nice, she said. I like it.
And for some reason that pleased him. It pleased him more than it should have. But he could tell she was tired. Her eyelids were slower to reopen each time she blinked. She’d been up most of the night too, and he didn’t much want to think about some of what she had to have been doing and with whom.
I don’t have a guestroom, he told her apologetically. But you can have my bed.
He led her into his bedroom suite where once again she looked around, taking everything in. Without all her usual finery, she was prettier than he’d ever seen her before, and he wondered whether she knew that; that she didn’t need all those extras.
If you need anything, he said, feeling inexplicably nervous. I’ll be just out . . .
But Tracy just shook her head, and saying nothing, led him over to his bed as if it were her own. She sat on the edge and extended a hand, pulling him down toward her. When he lay back, she just fit herself in the crook of his arm, rested her head just over his heart and within minutes was fast asleep. He had toed his shoes off and when she was asleep, Brendan did to same to hers, and just watched her for awhile.
The key, he told himself now, was not to think. Just go with it. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the feeling of his chest rising and falling, with the weight of Tracy’s head. Her hair was damp, and smelled like coconut. He exhaled and felt a few strands stir with his breath. She sighed as though mirroring his actions back to him, and moved even closer. Before long, Brendan felt the beginnings of a dreamless sleep begin to tug at the corners of his mind.
He awoke what seemed much later to the smell of bacon and was momentarily confused about where he might be. He didn’t have a single thing in his refrigerator except for Vitamin water, of that he was certain, and in his freezer, there was only vodka. And yet someone was cooking . . . who the . . ? And then it came back to him. The long evening at Lounge Two-Twelve. The panicked phone call. The trip to Park Slope and then back.
Brendan sat up and rubbed his eyes. He was wide awake now, well-rested and clear-headed. He brought Tracy here but it was a mistake, made in a moment of weakness. She was feeling unsafe and vulnerable and he felt protective, but it was time to erect those boundaries once again.
He washed his face, brushed his teeth and headed up to his kitchen, taking the stairs slowly, hoping she didn’t get all emotional on him when he told her he was driving her home. But when he got to the top of the stairs the sight that greeted him stopped him dead in his tracks.
Tracy had changed while he was asleep and was now wearing one of his dress shirts, which looked immense on her small frame, and she had belted the waist with what looked like one of his ties. Her feet were bare and she had let her hair out so that it was a semi-kinky, wavy mass about her face, not the severely straightened bob he was used to seeing. She didn’t even notice him at first because she was so busy moving about the kitchen, taking strips of bacon out of the oven on a cookie sheet he hadn’t even known he owned. She bit into one slice and licked her fingers, closing her eyes in pleasure at the taste. Brendan had never seen anything so sexy in his life.