Naira lay awake, staring at the ceiling of her bedroom. It was still and peaceful, but the invisible claws of worry clutched at her heart. This should be one of the happiest moments of her life, but something was wrong. Somewhere, someone she cared for was hurting. Her slender hand fingered the necklace around her neck, her far-seeing eyes straining to discern the cause of her distress. Her thoughts turned to James, her wonderful James. She wanted his arms around her, and instantly threw back her covers.
Just before her feet hit the floor she stopped. She couldn’t go down the hall to him. He was in bed… his bed. It would be indecent to go to James in the middle of the night, even if it was just to hug him. She flopped back down, letting out a sigh of exasperation. She still hadn’t gotten used to sleeping in pants. Naira was wearing flannel pajama bottoms and a t-shirt, and though they were comfortable, they were somehow not as comforting as the loose nightgowns of Middle-earth.
“Well,” she said to herself quietly, “if I cannot sleep, if I cannot see James, than I shall read.” She nimbly got up, opened the door without a sound and silently glided into the study next door to her. She scanned the metal shelves for an interesting volume. She did enjoy the work of Charles Varden, but that would only make her think of James. She selected a book without reading the spine or the cover. Naira curled up in the chair that sat behind James’s desk. She pulled her knees up to her chest, her body agile and willowy. She began to read, amazed to find that she was reading a volume of poetry.
The simple beauty of the words enchanted her, and she read for the next several hours, lost in the passages, memorizing some to heart. This was among some of the most beautiful writing she had ever read. She had to admit, the selection of books here was astounding. I love Earth books, she thought, so much more interesting than the histories of Middle-earth I had to read in my studies. Fiction and poetry of this nature were new to her, and dear to her heart.
She was still consumed with the book when a sleepy James shuffled into the room. He blinked his eyes a few times before coming over to where she sat. He leaned down, kissing her gently on the top of her head, proceeding to sit on the edge of the desk. Naira smiled at him brilliantly, her eyes catching the morning light like prisms.
“What are you reading, milady?” he asked, his voice thick with sleep. James looked decidedly cute with pillow creases on his cheek and rumpled hair. Naira flipped back a few pages, and began to recite:
” I knew you thought of me all night,
I knew, though you were far away;
I felt your love blow over me
As if a dark wind-riven sea
Drenched me with quivering spray.
There are so many ways to love
And each way has its own delight —
Then be content to come to me
Only as spray the beating sea
Drives inland through the night.”
Her voice was even more melodic in recitation, clear and beguiling. When she finished, James had a broad smile on his face, making him look even more adorable. His cheeks held the slightest blush, and he looked irresistibly sheepish.
‘Sara Teasdale, eh?” he said with a small laugh. “I must say, for never having read anything like that before, you have exceptional taste!… As always.”
James held her gaze for a moment, and suddenly remembered he was running late. He got up and started gathering papers that he placed in his backpack. Naira had forgotten, it was Monday. That meant James would be going off to classes and then the newspaper all day.
“When will you return?” she asked, standing up gracefully. She placed the book on the desk, her fingers reaching again to Narya around her neck.
“About six, I think, if I don’t get bogged down at work. I am gonna jump in the shower before I go, but I’m glad you’re up. I’d have felt bad if I left without saying good-bye, and I wouldn’t want to wake you.”
“I didn’t sleep very well. So, I got up and read… and then you were here.” Her voice softened and she walked over to him. Her forehead came up to his chin, and kissed it gently before enveloping her in a tender kiss.
“Why didn’t you sleep well?” he asked as her let her go. He looked concerned, his mouth frowning slightly.
“I just felt… I do not know how to describe it… like there was something out of place last night. As though someone I care for was in trouble.”
“Like your brother?”
“I hope not, but it felt closer… I cannot describe it. I just couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t be with you, so I just read.” She reached up to play with Narya again, it was becoming her nervous habit to run her hands over the stone. James glanced at the necklace for a moment, then his eyes widened in surprise. His large hands cupped the dainty treasure, and he held it up for inspection.
Almost the top quarter of the necklace had turned pitch black. Narya let out a gasp of surprise. She had totally forgotten about the stone changing color. Her heart began to race with fear. James’s brow was furrowed. He didn’t say anything, he just held the jewel for a moment before his arms devoured her in a tight hug.
Don’t take her from me Gandalf, he thought, please let this just be a sign she can stay. Please…. His thoughts were broken by the phone ringing. James hesitated to let her go in order to answer. It sounded again, then stopped. He heard a voice, Eli had answered. A moment later, the door to Eli’s room was opening and a partially asleep Eli wandered into the hall, looking for James.
“Morning, sunshine!” James said, laughing at the way his best friend blinked at the sunlight in the hall. Eli walked into the study, and said groggily, “It’s the office.”
He handed James the phone, nodded to Naira, and shuffled back to bed. James said into the receiver, “Hello?”
“James? Is this you?” barked a gravelly voice.
“Yes, Phil, it’s me. What’s up?” James asked, pulling the receiver back from his ear a bit as Phil started yelling.
“You better not be busy this morning, I want to you to cover a breaking story. Doctor committed suicide last night at the County Hospital, in his office! The photographer will meet you there in an hour.”
“My sister was there yesterday. Wonder if I saw him… What’s the guy’s name?”
Naira watched as James’s eyes bugged out in surprise, his mouth falling open slightly. James mumbled an agreement into the phone. He looked at Naira in disbelief, hitting the power button in a daze as he set the phone down on the desk.
“Naira, you won’t believe this. Clara’s doctor committed suicide last night, in the hospital!”
“Dr. Wallace?” she said, shocked, “That is odd. I wonder why?”
“Well, I better get going and find out, huh?” he said as he jogged into the bathroom, flashing her a dazzlingly loving smile. Clara smiled after him, but inside she was concerned. Why on earth would Dr. Wallace want to take his own life? Something about that horse faced man hadn’t seemed right… I just hope James can find out what it is, she thought as she picked up her book of poetry and began to read again.
“It was April when you came
The first time to me,
And my first look in your eyes
Was like my first look at the sea…”