Dreyfus stood up and offered his hand in invitation. Emily took a slice of pear and put it in her mouth, stood up and they walked wordlessly out through the big double doors. The lights in the next room came on automatically and Dreyfus hesitated, then stopped. There were three other doors.
“You’ll have to show me which way,” he said. “I’m a little lost.”
Emily’s eyes widened. “I don’t know where we’re going.”
“Oh, alright,” Emily said, a touch of uncertainty in her voice, “This way.” And took Dreyfus’ hand.
They retraced their steps back to the entrance hall that blazed with Christmas when they got there. And they climbed the big staircase just a little too quickly — like anxious travellers, barely pausing at the top. Emily’s bedroom was the first on the right. Dreyfus opened the door and put his hand on Emily’s waist with enough pressure to make her go in first. She stepped through the doorway.
The lights were on, but it was all wrong. It was moving, reflecting, dancing, like – like — fire. Fire! Emily had a twitch of panic before her head snapped to the fire in the fireplace.
“How did you do …?”
Emily suddenly turned to Dreyfus, “We can’t do this.”
“Of course we can. It’s your house.”
Emily stepped forward and saw the pile of quilts and pillows and duvets on the floor in front of the hearth.
“No, you don’t understand, we ….” Emily turned back and gestured, “How did you do this?”
“Billie did all this?”
“I think he likes you.”
Dreyfus moved past her and knelt down on the quilts. He opened the glass doors on the fireplace and put in a short log from the stack that was sitting there. He closed the doors, twisted around and unzipped his boots. He took them off, bent his knees and pulled his feet up.
‘I should have brought the brandy,” he said.
“I’m confused.” Emily said, standing there.
“Don’t be. Come down here where it’s warm.”
“What is all this? What’re we … What’re we doing?” Emily moved her head slightly back and forth.
“Well,” Dreyfus paused, “Most people get caught up in the moment, and then when the storm’s over and they’re lying around all naked and sticky, they have to figure out what happens next. Or – even — worse, what just happened. But you and I – um – we’re not most people, so I thought we should do things the other way around.”
Standing there, looking down at Dreyfus surrounded by flames, seeing him like she did yesterday in the doorway, like she did the first time they ever met, she knew exactly what he meant — exactly what he was doing. This was her Dreyfus Sinclair, and she could feel the ache for him.
“Besides, if you think we could have had sex in this refrigerator, you don’t know much about the male anatomy.”
Emily gave a very small laugh. “I’m probably too tired to do it properly anyway,” she said and kicked off her shoes.
“Just a minute.”
She went over to her night table, pulled open the bottom drawer and brought out a small bottle. She held it like a prize, came back to the pile of quilts and gave it to Dreyfus.
“You little drunk!”
“Just in case,” she said and awkwardly sat down.
Dreyfus took a swallow from the bottle and passed it to Emily.
“Janet’s going to kill me,” she said and took a sip.
“She really does manage everything around here, doesn’t she?”
“No, the fire,” Emily rolled her eyes and passed the bottle back. Dreyfus set it down behind him.
“Don’t worry: tomorrow, Hudson and McCormick are going to make her an offer she can’t refuse. Anyway, we just won’t tell her.”
“There are no secrets in Pyaridge Hall, Sinclair.”
“Well, we might as well make the best of it then.”
Dreyfus lifted himself with one hand and pulled one of the quilts out from underneath him. He put a pillow under his head, stretched his legs forward and reached out with his left arm.
“Come,” he said, moving his fingers.
Emily curled into him.
“Watch your hand,” he said and dragged the quilt over both of them.
“What do we do now?” Emily asked, taking her bandaged hand out from under the quilt and putting it across Dreyfus’ chest.
“Figure out what happens next.”
Emily snuggled in closer. “That better be obvious,” she said, slightly pushing with her hips.
They lay there for a few seconds, feeling the warmth of the fire and their bodies together. Then there were a few seconds more and they were long and cozy. And Emily closed her eyes, and there was more time — somewhere. And drifting, Emily could feel Dreyfus, the lines of his body against her, and they touched everywhere. And there were sounds from the fire, and it smelled like Christmas, and she wanted to tell him. But then there was more time, and the fire was warm, and he was warm and …
“What do you want for Christmas, Dreyfus?” she thought she said. But before he could answer, he felt Emily’s breathing drop, deep and even. And he closed his eyes, and a few second later — for the first time in their lives — Emily and Dreyfus fell asleep together.