The heat pounded down on Bernie. Dust from the vehicles ahead was almost blinding them and grit from the road was spattering her constantly.
She came to, after the blast, trapped on her side. She couldn’t move, couldn’t scream, everything hurt and she felt so cold, suddenly. She shivered. She tried to scream again but no noise would come out of her mouth. The cold was gripping her, drawing her away. A tear trickled down her face.
“Bernie!” A voice pierced her panic, but she couldn’t hear where it was coming from. She tried to move again. “Bernie!” A soft hand pressed to her shoulder and she blinked – she was so close…
She opened her eyes to find herself looking straight into Serena’s concerned face. “Serena,” she gasped, “Oh.” Serena’s warm arms slipped around her and she was ashamed to find herself shivering uncontrollably.
“I’ve got you.” Serena stroked her back and Bernie pressed into her, trying to relax into Serena’s safe embrace. “Do you want to talk about it?”
Bernie didn’t raise her head, stayed where she was, carefully tucked under Serena’s chin. “The explosion. I dream about it, sometimes.” She breathed deep and slow, letting the shivers run through her body. “In my dream I wake up trapped in the car. Can’t move, can’t do anything, just wait and – and -” She suppressed a sob. “It didn’t happen like that. I didn’t regain consciousness until I was in the helicopter, being airlifted to safety. But it doesn’t stop my mind playing these tricks.”
Serena’s fingers carded through her hair. “Do you dream about it often?”
“Not often. Too much, though.” She sighed as soft lips pressed a kiss to her head. “Thank you.”
“Waking me up. Being here, like this.”
“No need to thank me, Bernie.”
“It’s a lot to ask of somebody I just met.”
Serena’s fingers paused momentarily in her hair, before resuming their task. “You mean a lot to me. I know – I know we haven’t known each other for very long, but, you do.”
Bernie finally raised her head to look straight into Serena’s dark, shining eyes. “You mean a lot to me too.”
“Maybe we should talk about it, in the morning. In the meantime, would some hot chocolate help? Or we could raid the minibar.”
Bernie laughed shakily, “I don’t think alcohol would be a good idea right now, but hot chocolate would be lovely.”
“Coming right up.” Serena untangled herself gently from Bernie and crossed the room to put the kettle on.
Bernie watched her and the way her nightdress hung just so and the soft lights sparkling in her hair.
“You’re beautiful,” she murmured.
“Hmm?” Serena set the kettle down and climbed back into bed.
“I said, you’re beautiful.” Bernie pulled Serena to her, one hand resting on her shoulder, the other finding its way into her hair. “You’re beautiful.” A bubble of pure happiness burst inside her and she laughed. “I’m so lucky to have met you.”