Excerpt from CRUSH (INSATIABLE: BOOK THREE)
Gordon Monroe loved his wife Aurélle so much that sometimes when he reflected on the depths of his feelings for her it made his heart hurt. But sometimes Aurélle scared him. Like now, when he’d come awake in the middle of the night to find her sitting up in bed—again.
It wasn’t the jumping out from around a corner and yelling “Boo!” type of scare that Aurélle gave him. Rather, it was the same low-level trepidation he felt when he took the trash out before going to bed—that hair-prickling-on-the-back-of-the-neck sense that something was lurking in the night, watching him.
He’d tell himself that it was only a stray cat and nothing to worry about, but he’d offload that trash bag and step a little quicker to his back door (never running, because primal instinct warned that if he ran, whatever was watching him would stop watching and give chase, and then he’d find out that it was something much worse than a cat).
That was Gordon’s feeling when he’d wake up in the middle of the night to find Aurélle sitting up in bed—a silhouette against the darker shadows. It was a creeping sense that all wasn’t right; a sense that the shadowy form next to him in bed wasn’t the woman he loved with everything he had in him to use to love. He’d tell himself that it was only because he was just waking up and couldn’t see Aurélle in the dark that he felt creeped out, just like when he’d tell himself that it was only a stray cat watching him when he took out the trash.
On those occasions—two or three times a month—that Gordon would wake up to find Aurélle sitting up, sometimes she’d be turned his way and looking down at him with eyes he couldn’t see in the gloom of night. Other times he’d catch her gazing toward the dresser mirror, and a deep-rooted, instinctual fear that was like a lost memory would grip him because he’d feel certain that Aurélle wasn’t looking at her reflection, but at something that existed in a realm beyond the mirrored glass. And on other nights he’d find her sitting in bed facing the window with her head cocked, as if she thought something might be outside—maybe something trying to see into their bedroom—or maybe trying to get in. Something worse than a cat.
Aurélle had told him that it was her dreams that woke her up in the middle of the night. She told him that she had to pay attention to her dreams—had to ponder their meaning—because sometimes her dreams came true.
At first Gordon had laughed that off. His wife was an intelligent and rational woman, but she was also a Southerner, born and raised in the Louisiana bayou. Southerners were notorious for their superstitions and wives tales. So he’d laughed it off. But then one night five months ago he’d come awake in the middle of the night to find Aurélle sitting up in bed and staring down at him.
Looking down at him with eyes he couldn’t see in the dark and her long hair hiding her face, Aurélle had said in a voice barely a whisper, “She won’t need a cast, but she’ll need a brace for a little while, and she’ll need to keep her weight off it.”
With the fog of sleep still thick in his head Gordon croaked, “Babe…what?”
“Her ankle,” Aurélle said, and then had lain down and fallen back into her dreams.
The next day at school Kia—his daughter and Aurélle’s stepdaughter (though as time passed they’d become as close as any biological mother and child)—stepped on another kid’s foot while playing basketball in Gym class and suffered a hairline fracture in her ankle.
Because Gordon was the Food Service Supervisor at Monmouth Medical Center he was waiting in the emergency room when Kia and the school nurse arrived. While Kia was being treated the school nurse told him that she was glad that she’d been running late; that she’d been just about to leave to meet friends from college for lunch when Kia hurt her ankle.
Now convinced about the validity of Aurélle’s claim about her dreams coming true, that evening Gordon asked his wife why if she’d felt so sure that Kia was going to get hurt she hadn’t kept her home from school. Aurélle had said, “Sometimes we don’t like the path ahead, but it’s a better thing if we walk it because other paths are connected.” It took three days for that to make sense to Gordon.
Three days later they learned that one of the school nurse’s friends from college—one of the women she would have met for lunch had Kia not broken her ankle—was in the midst of a bitter child custody battle with her ex-husband. Had Kia not been hurt, the school nurse would have been at the restaurant table with the woman and their other schoolmate when her husband walked into the establishment armed with a .9 millimeter handgun. The man thought his ex-wife was meeting with her attorney. He opened fire, killing both women.
Now Aurélle was awake in the dark and looking down at him again. Gordon didn’t want to hear anything. He didn’t want to know anything. He loved his wife desperately. He would die for her without hesitation. But her premonitions were a tough thing to deal with. He closed his eyes and hoped she’d think he was asleep.
Aurélle whispered, “We need to call Paul.”
Gordon’s eyes snapped open. “What?” Paul was his younger brother.
“We need to call Paul, honey.”
Gordon sat up with visions of Afghanistan and blood-soaked sand flashing across his imagination. Paul was in the military. Right now he was stationed a couple of hours away at the Air Force base in South Jersey. “Why babe? What’s going on?”
“I don’t know. We need to call him and tell him to come home.”
“No…but soon, I think.”
And then Aurélle burrowed under the covers, snuggled against him and went back to sleep.
Gordon didn’t get back to sleep for a while.