She sat up with a start, ramrod straight. Her breath caught in her throat. Her hand to her chest, she breathed in and out in short, quick gasps.
Dixon stirred at her side. He opened his eyes and then, with the bedding rustling beneath him, reached for her. He rubbed her arm. “Are you all right?”
She covered her face with her hands, and took in a deep breath. “Y—yes.”
He sat up. “What is it?”
“Just a nightmare.”
“Want to talk about it?”
“You’re shaking. Come on now, tell me. It’ll take away its power.”
“Right.” She inhaled deeply and then exhaled slowly. “Well, it was strange. It was like I was dreaming that I was someone else.”
He pulled back. “Oh? What happened?”
She bit her lip. Then, “It was . . . odd,” she said, “but so real. It was almost like it happened and I was re-living it.”
He took her hand.
“I dreamed that I was carrying the twins and that some grut chased us. I was so afraid I’d lose them and—” She fought back a sob.
“Mara, it was just a nightmare. Rowena died when they were born. You know that. She never carried the twins and ran from the grut. They didn’t show up until she was already in the wayfarers’ hut where I left her. And besides—”
“No, when I said I was ‘carrying’ them, I mean that I was— You know.” She patted her abdomen. “Carrying them. I was pregnant with them.”
“Ahhh, I see.” There was a smile in his voice.
“We were talking of children earlier. It seems your dreams took that into account.”
“But I was so afraid I’d lose them.”
He rubbed her back. “What happened?”
“The grut chased me. I ran through the forest. Branches reached out and snagged at me, as though trying to hold me back. Then I saw a place of refuge—like the wayfarers’ hut where Rowena birthed the twins.” She shook her head and closed her eyes, struggling to recollect further details.
“Then, I—” She turned to him with tear-filled eyes that sparkled in the scant moonlight coming in through the window. “I had these pains—these contractions, I guess they were. The next thing, I saw blood—lots and lots of it. It was what happened to Rowena, you know. Anyway, that’s when I awakened.”
“Shhhh . . . Shhhh, now.” He put his arms around her. “You’re fine. You’re safe. The twins are safe.”
“All that blood, Dixon,” she said, shuddering.
“You’re all safe,” he repeated.
“I don’t think I ever really considered things from Rowena’s perspective. How awful for her.”
“Yes,” he agreed. As he rubbed her back again, her breathing slowly returned to normal.
“Come on now,” he said, patting her pillow.
When she was comfortable, he stroked her hair and kissed her forehead. “Get some sleep now,” he said as he snuggled around her and held her closely.
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