As you'll recall in last week's episode, Dallas' ex tantalized him with the idea of returning to Wonderland and then ran out on him. What's a guy to do? Find out in this week's chapter of Dallas in Wonderland. Then see what the other Briefers are up to, their links follow my tale. And look for the FLASH VIRGIN this week.
Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter Nine
Dallas’ eyes snapped open, even as his back began to protest. Eerie shadows floated in front of him, shapes that bore no resemblance to anything found in his bedroom. A scream formed in his throat, growing larger and larger, demanding exit. But just before he released the unholy sound, memories of the night before flooded his brain, and he closed his eyes, working to re-orient himself.
He wasn’t at home, he was in Campbell’s apartment. Sleeping on Campbell’s couch. The screaming had actually taken place in the wee hours of the night. A confusing jumble of images flooded his mind: tentacles and hatchets and blood red eyes and soft tender lips. Campbell had rescued him from the nightmare, calmed him into quiet, and insisted on bringing him home with him. Dallas had been in no condition to argue, and he didn’t.
More than a week had elapsed since Dallas’ unsatisfying conversation with his ex at Chaucer’s. Not a word had he heard from Quentin, not so much as a syllable. He half expected to find him lurking in the hallways, whenever he went for his sessions with Samuel. But every corner he looked around was bereft of Quentin’s presence, leaving Dallas even more depressed than he’d been before.
What was that? Dallas sat up in alarm. The blanket Campbell had draped over him fell to the floor. Dallas’ heart beat fast, until his brain played catch-up with his imagination and he realized what he’d heard was the sound of a spoon in a cup. He smelled the fragrance of fresh-brewed coffee, his nostrils flaring in anticipation. Moments later, Campbell appeared, a cup in each hand.
Dallas dove for the blanket with a murmured apology. To keep Campbell from tripping on it, he spread it across his lap. Okay, maybe it was also about warmth, not just safety
Campbell handed him a cup, before taking a seat beside him.
“You’ve touched my heart... and my stomach.” Dallas tried to keep his tone light, to show he was fine.
Maybe it was himself he needed to convince the most.
Campbell took Dallas’ free hand in his own, clutching it while he searched Dallas’s eyes. Dallas tried not to flinch from his scrutiny.
“I know something’s troubling you. I’m worried about you, Dallas. What can I do to help?”
What indeed, Dallas wondered, almost bitterly, wishing for the umpteenth time he could have met Campbell first, before Samuel. But the heart wanted what it wanted. And what Dallas’ heart wanted was Samuel Levi. Dr. Samuel Levi, he reminded himself with a grimace.
He turned his head, afraid of what Campbell might see there. Such as the truth.
At Campbell’s next words, Dallas jerked his head around so quickly, he considered himself to be a candidate for whiplash.
“What does Wonderland mean to you, Dallas?” Campbell’s voice was soft and soothing.
Something in Dallas’ eyes must have warned Campbell he’d hit the nail too close to the head. He tightened his grip on Dallas’ hand.
“I don’t mean to pry, honey, honestly, but you kept saying it in your sleep. After I... well, after you came over here last night.”
“What else did I say?” Dallas fearfully asked. Did Campbell now think he was loopy too? He couldn’t bear to lose the only real friend he had left. Not counting Samuel. Could he actually count Samuel as a friend? He wished he knew.
“Something about tarts, I think. And maybe your doctor’s name. Isn’t Samuel your doctor?”
Dallas gulped and nodded.
He raised the cup to his lips, surprised that his hand was as steady as it was, took a long soothing sip. The warmth and the caffeine fortified him as it slid down his throat.
“I’m here for you, Dallas,” Campbell murmured, and every resolution Dallas had ever had melted in that instant.
He began to speak, as if a dam had burst, baring his soul, spilling his secrets, both old and new. And never once did Campbell interrupt or comment, listening with a solemn expression and trusting green eyes.
When he was done, Dallas laid the forgotten coffee cup aside, releasing a shuddering breath. The next moment, he felt himself enveloped in Campbell’s warm embrace. He made no move to disentangle himself, his head on Campbell’s chest, content to listen to the rhythmic beat of Campbell’s heart thudding quietly against his ear.
Then Dallas heard the words he’d been longing to hear for so long, those precious words he never thought would be directed at him.
“Dallas, I believe you.”
He raised his head, his brows drawn together as he searched for answers in Campbell’s steady gaze. And everything he saw indicated Campbell meant what he said. He relaxed his face, felt the first tears as they slipped from his eyes. Campbell brushed his thumb across Dallas’ cheeks and caught them.
“I want to help you get back there.”
Campbell nodded solemnly. “Not just that. I want to go with you. Make sure you’re safe.”
No one had ever tried to make Dallas feel safe before. Samuel had promised... what had he actually promised? Dallas couldn’t remember. Samuel’s words tended to dissipate once spoken, leaving only residual heartache behind.
“I don’t know how to get back,” Dallas confessed, feeling helpless at this unexpected onslaught of emotion. “Much less take you with me.”
“Your ex knows, doesn’t he?”
“Then we’ll get him to talk. He was almost ready to tell you, wasn’t he? Before he was interrupted?”
Yes, Dallas was sure Quentin had been on the verge of confession. Damn phone call ruined everything.
“Do you think he’d hurt you?”
At first Dallas, thought Campbell meant Samuel, but then he realized they were still talking about Quentin. He thought for a moment.
“I don’t think so.” Hope not.
“Then invite him over and we’ll loosen his tongue.” Campbell smiled.
Dallas arched his eyebrows, but held his questions inside. Hope blossomed like a flower in his heart.
to be continued
Now go visit with the other Briefers!