We’d made the bed together. It looked comfortable to me. It was time to kiss and part. Ana stood beside the bed in a pose that reminded me of Sa’afia, waiting for me. But Ana wasn’t naked: she wore an old white shirt of mine, because she’d complained that she couldn’t sleep in her clothes, and she couldn’t sleep naked, if I wasn’t going to keep her warm.
I’d thought of some things I could say about keeping her warm, and instead pulled the shirt out of the hall cupboard, where I’d relegated it after the collar frayed.
I know what happens when you lend an item of clothing to a woman. Or maybe it’s just me that gets my clothes stolen. Anyway, I knew Ana would never give the shirt back. It looked better on her than me, though this would be true of pretty well anything.
Ana had suddenly called me, I’d guess at the moment when she’d got her clothes off and hadn’t quite put the shirt on yet. But it’d occurred to me that she might do that, probably at the same time the idea came to her, so I’d said to the wall, “Yes?”
Ana sounded pouty. I was supposed to turn round. “I’m not ready to just go to sleep yet.”
“Put the shirt on. And get in bed.” After assorted rustlings and settling sounds, I’d fetched a lamp and gave her a book. I settled on The Saragoza Manuscript, because it’s too good to swap for anything else, but a bit discursive at the start, so that she’d probably drop off to sleep.
I’d kissed her on the forehead, to show I was fond of her in a chaste, avuncular, sort of way. “We’ve got a lot to do tomorrow, Ana. You should sleep soon. Goodnight.”
She was warm, and she smelled nice and she was pretty, and if I pulled the blankets back she’d be mine. I didn’t kiss her forehead again. I straightened up and said, again, “Good night.”
“Jaime? Come back. No, really, I need to ask you something. Come back, just for a second.”
I looked at the door to the hall, which led to my room, and Sa’afia waiting for me. Take that door and I’d be out of here. I turned and went back to Ana.