The constables and agents finally left after what seemed like hours, leaving the house blessedly quiet. Rickie had left with Raine, the precious memory card in his hand.
Meaghan was upstairs sitting on the edge of Tina’s bed; she marveled at the resilience of her younger sister.
“Where did you find that memory card?” Meaghan asked the drowsy teen.
“Abang Rickie asked me to look for it among everything I brought with me from our house. I was going through it all when I noticed the frayed edge of ibu and bapa’s wedding album. I wiggled it a little bit, and that card fell out. I stuck it in my pocket, intending to give to him, but Shel showed up, and she…she…” Her bottom lip quivered slightly, and Meaghan stroked her hair to soothe her.
“It’s okay, Leaf. No one is going to come to this house uninvited again. I’m sure Tuanku Ahmad will make sure of it.” Meaghan remembered seeing the unraveling threads on the corner of the wedding album after she dropped it, but had no idea that the information that had caused her parents’ deaths was hidden there beneath their smiling portrait on the cover.
A quiet knock on the door had Tina rubbing the moisture from her eyes. Meaghan stood up and walked to the door, opening it to reveal the wheelchair of the elder Ahmad.
As JoAnne wheeled him in Meaghan felt a wash of gratitude for their actions that day.
“Thank you, Tuanku Ahmad, and En JoAnne, for protecting my sister.” He made a careless gesture as JoAnne smiled.
“Where did you learn to shoot like that?” Tina asked JoAnne, her eyes aglow with something akin to hero worship. “That was amazing!”
JoAnne negligently shrugged her shoulders. “I am an excellent shot with several different weapons. And I know how to use a grenade, plus I have great aim. I’m just saying.”
Rickie’s father broke in.
“Never mind that. I wanted to make sure the two of you were comfortable.” He shifted in his wheelchair to face Tina. “How are you holding up?” Tina climbed out of bed and gave him a tight hug.
He patted her back as she murmured, “Thank you, Bapa Ahmad, for everything.” Meaghan gave a start and looked at the pair, but the gentleman looked pleased and not upset at Tina’s words. He gave a wink to Meaghan and gently pushed the younger girl away.
“Now, get some sleep, and I’ll see at breakfast tomorrow.” Tina nodded and climbed back into bed; Meghan kissed her cheek and followed JoAnne and the wheelchair out of the room.
Once the door to Tina’s room was shut, Meaghan turned to the pair.
“I can never be grateful enough for everything you two did in taking care of my sister.” Meaghan was alarmed at the tears that threatened but was too tired to stop them. JoAnne stepped over and embraced the younger woman. Meaghan felt her spine almost collapse as the weight of everything that recently occurred. She felt rather than saw her hand being squeezed gently by Rickie’s father before JoAnne led her to another bedroom down the hall.
She barely remembered JoAnne’s assistance in changing into light cotton pyjammas and was asleep almost the moment her head hit the pillow.
After a long interval of dreamless sleep, Meaghan became aware of heat radiating against her back and a warm weight around her waist. Looking down, she saw a muscular arm draped over her. She twisted a bit, and gasped at Rickie, who was spooned against her.
At her movement, Rickie tightened his arm and snuggled in closer, planting a kiss on the top of her head. She thought about elbowing him, but he was still injured.
“Sleep a little longer, sayangku,” Rickie murmured. Meaghan paused in her struggles to hear the rumble of sound, and loosened a tiny bit. Rickie smiled into her hair.
“What are you doing here?” She asked in a hushed tone.
“This is my bedroom,” he cheekily answered, “and this is my bed. I’m happy you were here; it saved me time looking for you.”
Meaghan relaxed further. “JoAnne brought me here last night. I didn’t realize it was your room.” Rickie choked back a laugh, but Meaghan could feel it across her shoulders.
“Remind me to give her a raise.”
Susceptible to Rickie’s charm, Meaghan nevertheless tried to wiggle out of his grasp. He easily held her, and kissed her neck, freezing her in place. She tried reasoning.
“I don’t want your father to know I’m in your bedroom.”
“I’m sure he already knows. JoAnne wouldn’t have done this without his knowledge. We can ask him at breakfast, if you want. Sleep now, my Meggie.”
Meaghan decided to worry about the future later and just stay with the man she adored. “Rickie, please move your arm.”
Reluctantly, he released his hold around her waist, only to have her rotate around until she was facing him. Reaching out a hand that only trembled slightly; she cupped his face and kissed him, a benediction and a promise. His breath went out on a sigh as she laid her head against his chest.
They both fell asleep, their hearts beating together in sync.
~ ~ ~
Meaghan woke up when the sunlight from the mullioned windows moved into her eyes. She stretched, automatically reaching across the bed, only to discover she was alone. She felt a pang of disappointment, then chided herself. It was better that he left the room so they weren’t seen leaving it together.
She noticed a small note left underneath a bud vase containing a single bird of paradise. She carefully slid the paper underneath the crystal and unfolded it.
[Meggie – I wanted you to sleep as long as possible. I wanted to speak with my contacts at the BKN this morning. When you are ready, come down for breakfast; I’ll be in the office which is the second door on the left once you reached the bottom of the stairs.
She felt a giddy leap in her heart as she jumped out of bed and padded towards the bathroom. A thump on the door halted her in her tracks. Cautiously opening the door, she saw JoAnne there, holding a bundle of colorful cloth.
“Selamat pagi, Meg. I hope you slept well. I thought I’d bring you some things to change into. They’re Sethe’s, but they should fit alright. And guaranteed to make Rickie happy!”
Meaghan opened the door and JoAnne stepped inside.