Edward shifted yet again, grateful to Gail for finding the new bed. It wasn’t any softer, but it was wider, originally designed for the obese that no longer existed in Jericho. It fit two skinny people fairly well. He managed to slowly move his leg to a position where it would wake up and Heather would stay asleep. It was so easy to wake her these days. That was why he was here, leg going numb, and why Gail had brought the new bed.
Aside from the first twelve hours of exhausted unconsciousness, Heather had had trouble sleeping more than two hours at a stretch due to the nightmares. As a result, neither she nor Edward had any real rest for two days, until after comforting her yet again, they had fallen asleep together. They had woken up five hours later, feeling better for the rest but worse for the contorted positions they had slept in. Within a day, Gail had located the larger bed for them. And while Heather had yet to make it through the night, she could at least get some decent sleep before she woke from the dreams.
Beck had taken to sitting on the bed even when he wasn’t sleeping, so that Heather could. Her unconscious knowledge that he was there delayed the inevitable, and softened the blows when they did come. He would sense her tensing, hear her mutterings, and then speak softly, cajoling her awake as he held her hand.
He learned quickly not to restrain her, even as she struck out at the figure in her nightmares and bruised him instead. Never to hold her wrists without warning, or grab her suddenly. He memorized the places he could caress her without irritating cuts or bruises, and the places that caused her to flinch though there was no injury there. He relearned Heather in the space of days.
He’d had her bedding and pajamas brought in to help her sleep. He’d been flattered when she chose his arm over her teddy bear, even if it meant his arm felt the numbness of pins and needles with alarming regularity.
He’d taken to reading to her. She’d tried to read on her own, but most of her books were trade paperbacks, making them hard to hold with broken wrists. He read her her favorites, sci-fi and fantasy, of places that were far away and extraordinary, as far away from this hospital room as he could take her. He sang her soft lullabies to help her drift off.
He ate with her, he slept with her. And in those hours where she slept – or tried to – he read reports, trying to keep up with what was going on with his men. They were going to need to move out of the camp soon. Those tents were on their third tour of duty and would not survive the coming winter…