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To the Wind

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Robin stumbled at the foot of the stairs, so Strike walked her up to her room, and opened the door for her.

"Thanks." She turned to him as he handed her the key.

"You're welcome. Good night."

"Cormoran."

"Yeah?"

"Stay with me?"

"I don't think that would be a good idea."

"I don't want be alone tonight."

He hesitated, she looked so lost, so vulnerable.

"I don't mean that we'd sleep together." She gave a big sigh. "Just sleep. Together."

She looked nearly ready to collapse. And he honestly felt bad for her. He went in.

Cormoran watched as she pulled off her jacket and plopped it on a chair, then struggled a bit to get her boots off before sliding into bed. "Thanks again," she mumbled as she drifted off.

He was still standing at the foot of the bed. Well, at least it was a big bed. He could sleep at the far side and never come near her. He put one of the extra pillows between them, just to be sure.

In the middle of the night he awoke to a strangled noise. He thought for a moment that she was being attacked. Then he realized that she was talking – or rather fighting and crying – in her sleep. It was a nightmare. He rolled a little her way and shook her gently, saying her name, and announcing himself clearly.

She came awake and blinked at him in the dim light – he'd left the bathroom light on with the door ajar for just this situation – her chest heaving with her heavy breaths.

"Cormoran?" she whispered.

"Yeah. It's OK. No one's here. Just us."

"It was him. I keep dreaming about him again."

"Sorry. That sucks."

Cormoran could see her nodding in the darkness – and could see that she was desperately trying to be brave. He should have let her be. But the protector in him wouldn't let her. Moving the pillow barrier, he slid over in the bed and took her in his arms. Just platonically, of course.

She gave a little sob, hesitated, then relaxed in his arms, crying a little. He smoothed her hair, murmured little consoling things, and waited until she fell asleep again. So not a professional situation. But he'd stopped caring somewhere along about the second bag of crisps.

 

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