Opening her eyes, Emma squinted against the light. They felt dried out and raw, her tongue was plastered to the roof of her mouth and when she tried to move it around no salvia to speak of formed. What had she done?
Lifting her head the pain shot right through her skull from front to back. That was when she remembered the wine.
The good news was she’s slept through without another nightmare of Allen—the bad was she’d get to suffer the rest of the day because of him.
Nothing new at this point.
She needed water and aspirin. Sunglasses would be nice too, but those would be really reaching what she was capable of locating right now. Holding the top of her head in place, she pushed until she was at the edge of the bed. There was no way to get up that wasn’t going to hurt ten different ways.
Maybe she should eat something too, she thought briefly until the idea of food made her stomach lurch. Okay, no food.
Gritting her teeth, she swung her legs towards the floor and sat up. The pain hit her at the same moment the wave of nausea did. Bad idea, but it was the only way to get her closer to that aspirin.
With movements that were most likely slower than a snails invisible inching, she got up from the bed and headed in the direction of the bathroom.
By the time she was in front of the vanity, she felt like she had just sprinted half a mile. Opening her bag, she fished around for the bottle—refusing to open her eyes and actually have to see the result of her drunken bliss. Some things didn’t need visual confirmation.
By the time she had those infuriating arrows lined up on the bottle and the lid off, she was ready to lie down on the cold tile floor and weep. Anything to stop the throb of her brain.
Next time she was bypassing the wine and taking painkillers to fall asleep, the wine in theory had seemed fine but in the end it just wasn’t worth it.
Clutching the bottles of water like they were her life line, Emma almost crawled back to the bed. Lying back on the pillows she sighed with the slight pause it gave to the throbbing of her head. She sipped the water slowly. Why did drinking give you that cotton dry mouth? Carefully capping the water she slid down and pulled the pillow over her head wishing she’d thought of pulling the curtains closed before now.
As she drifted off into a spinning, buzzing state that couldn’t quite be described as sleep she had flashes of her sitting on the dock with the bottle of wine. And the fact that she had been sitting with her invisible man that came out of the mist. That was pure drunken hallucination—wasn’t it? Had she just imagined shaking his hand?
She must have.
That was sure some kind of wine! And that was a lesson to be learned for buying on impulse instead of what she knew.
Emma’s second nap took her into the late afternoon. With a few pieces of toast, water and painkillers she felt like she might survive. When she lifted her head off the pillow, the veil was still covering most of her intellectual thought process but complete sanity had returned.
Daring to try tea, she took her cup and stepped out on the deck hoping maybe some fresh air would help add some clarity. When her foot tapped against something, she looked down to see the wine glass and empty bottle sitting beside the door. She could have attempted to reason that it had been her that had set them there as she staggered in the house—but with the single yellow flower sticking out of the bottle she knew her story wasn’t going to fly regardless of how hung over her brain was.
Picking up the flower, she studied it. Just holding the narrow stem in her hand raised questions she wasn’t entirely sure she wanted answers to. Questions like—how had an imaginary man put a real as life flower in the wine bottle that he’d brought up from the dock? Or, another good query that filled her mind was if she hadn’t actually hallucinated, how had she actually touched a man that appeared out of mist? Where was he now also crossed her mind as she lowered the flower and looked around?
Mrs. Polson had told her when she rented the cabin that all nearby properties were empty at this time of year so if he wasn’t some neighboring man who exactly was he? And why had it been dark both times she’d seen him?
If Roz were here she’d be spinning theories of vampires or rare skin conditions, but Emma didn’t fall prey to her own imagination.
Taking her tea and the flower she wandered down to the dock. What had they talked about? Maybe there was some sort of give away in their conversation that would tell her what the guy was trying to pull. She was done being the unsuspecting victim. Allen had seen to that.
Trying to recall what had been said was a lot like solving a mystery without one single clue. The wine robbed her of her usual perfect memory and left her a few small bits and pieces. Something had happened to him but she couldn’t remember one detail or what he’d asked her. The year though, she seemed to know that. Why had he asked her something about 1973? A chill went up her spine, what if he was some sort of deranged recluse that had been hiding here around the lake for years?
Staring at the bright petals of the flower she gave herself a reality check. That scenario is as farfetched as something Roz would come up with. Trying to remember the night before wasn’t helping the dull ache inside her head. Having no choice, she let it go and would try again later.
Looking around, she tried to commit to memory the beautiful view so she’d still have it later when she went back to her life. There was a depressing thought. What life? Emma had to acquire a new one. With a heavy feeling resting on her shoulders, she turned to head back inside. It was time to focus on a few details involving her future—like what was she going to do to ensure she had one?
Dinner consisted of a can of soup and some more toast. Emma vowed to never drink that brand of wine again; actually at this point drinking anything that contained alcohol was on her not-to-do list.
Emma spent several hours reading through all the sites she’d saved in her quick search the day before. There wasn’t a lot she could do in her line of expertise and still stay off the radar. Endless ads had been listed for people wanting to do on-line promotion, but just the idea of sitting in a room somewhere and emailing clients and sending out press releases without ever leaving the computer paled in comparison to what she’d been doing before.
The sad reality was though unless she wanted to move to the other side of the globe there wasn’t anything PR out there that wasn’t going to run her into a head on collision with Allen’s firm.
The only thing she could think of doing at this point was to leave a few ads of her own at various message boards and hope that someone out there needed her to smooth over some media aspect of their life and make it what they desired. If only she could work that same magic on her own life, then she’d be performing miracles.