In a semiconscious state, Callie Daniels could feel the exhausting weight heavy in her eyes. It made the simple task of merely opening them impossible. When she tried to move her arms and legs she frantically realized they were leaden and helpless, leaving her unable to flinch at the sudden chill that isolated her forehead.
In a flash, panic rushed over her. Blinded and immobile she felt more trapped than a fly in a spiders web.
She couldn't see, but she could still feel. And what she felt sent a tremor of fear swimming through her blood. She could feel the weight of something or...someone...saddling her forehead.
She couldn't see, but even through the hammering of her own heart she could still hear. And she could hear the steady breaths of air coming from someone standing close by.
Too close by.
All of a sudden she could taste the heaviness of icy breath.
The moment she started to stir he jumped up from the beige upholstered chair and was immediately at her bedside sitting nearly on top of her, directly above her face.
"Come on kid," His voice was soothing and gentle. He rubbed her forehead cautiously then reapplied the cold compress to the top of her head.
She could feel the iciness on her forehead again yet this time it felt much colder. Panicking, she began to claw her way out of unconsciousness.
She could feel her eyelids begin to flutter like that of a baby bird's first flight. Slowly they began to open. Blinking back the fuzziness surrounding her, Callie blinked her eyes several more times until the fog finally began to lift then slowly fade away.
"Callie?" The sound of his voice immediately had her bolting upright.
"Whoa." He instinctively placed a palm on her chest to stop her.
"Take it easy kid." Gently he pressed her back into her pillow.
"You need to rest for a little while." He positioned the compress back across her head, pulled the blankets under her neck, then stood up.
"You just scared twenty years off of my life." He teased.
"You passed out kid." He finished for her.
"Ray...what are you doing here?"
"I wanted to make sure you were okay after you left your party. I left shortly after you did and came right over. I figured you heard me pull up because you opened your front door before I even got out of my car. When I was walking up the walkway I saw you standing there and you just dropped." He bent down and kissed the top of her forehead.
"Get some rest kid." He said. "I gonna go make you some tea."
She grabbed his arm before he had the chance to depart.
"Where's Sloan?" She asked nervously, knocking the compress off her head.
Sitting up, her eyes darted around the large bedroom in search of him as if he were standing in the shadows around her.
"What the hell do you mean where's Sloan?"
"He was here Ray!" She screamed.
"I didn't hear you pull up." She continued. "I opened the door cause somebody knocked...and dammit it was Sloan!"
"Callie, nobody was on the porch when I pulled up."
"I swear to you Ray," Her voice trailed off "He was here."
"I promise you kid, nobody is here but the two of us. I'm gonna go make that tea now." He got up from the side of her bed and left the room, quietly closing the bedroom door behind him.
The kitchen was massive. It was decorated in shades of salmon and stainless appliances. A recently waxed floor gleamed bright white, while acres of black marbled countertops glistened under the sparkle of a crystal chandelier. It was nearly emptied now he noticed, except for the cardboard boxes that lined the length of a wall and a few essential items that were neatly arranged in a single cabinet.
He removed two cups and the large box of assorted varieties of tea bags then set them on the vacant countertop. He filled the tea kettle with water, set it on the stove then turned the gas flame to low. Finally he took a seat at the six chaired dining room table and while waiting for the kettle to whistle began rummaging through papers that were neatly stacked.
He wasn't exactly sure how long he had spent trespassing through sheets of paper but the sudden whistle of the tea kettle alarmed him, and as if he were a kid with his hand caught in a cookie jar he jumped.
Assuming Callie had fallen back asleep, Raymond turned off the screaming pot of tea, and hoping to steal a few extra minutes went back to the table, sat down and immediately began reading where he had left off.
He wasn't sure how long he had sat there sorting through the assortment of papers but slowly he thought it was beginning to make some sort of sense.
Without thought, his face paled and he suddenly knew it would be safer for Callie to skydive without a parachute than move to Laurel Ridge.