CHAPTER SIX
11.30am, thirty-nine hours in

She swapped her pajamas for the torn jeans and sweater she had on earlier, added shoes and socks, and went downstairs to inform the desk that she felt like walking the property. As she took her winter outerwear from the clothes tree she asked the desk to pass on that from now on she’d like to be known as “Dee.” Outside, the police guard interrupted their routines to follow her walk along the stone path that edged the property line, following it as it morphed into a worn earthen walk through a stand of holly trees, fading into a scarcely observable rabbit-run hidden under a proliferation of dormant poison ivy vines, ending at the edge of a desolate marsh over which a pair of resident hawks keeping soaring watch lest some careless rodent go unpunished. She about-faced back to the house, repeating the linear walk once, twice, and a third time. Invigorated but cold, Dee returned to the comfortable indoors, leaving the chickadees singing their appropriate seasonal melody.

Returning to her room, Dee changed back into her pajamas, toasted in the sauna, and slid into bed, lying quietly on her back, hands folded on her belly, feeling physically at ease for the first time in more than five weeks. Getting drowsy. She turned on her side bending her knees to her chest to stretch her quads, hands between her legs squeezing her thighs to relax them, her knuckles collaterally stimulating her genitals.

For the first time in many, many weeks her thoughts turned romantic, crowding out the tortures of withdrawal in search of a cathartic moment. She pushed harder against her crotch, rolling and pressing her knuckles and fingers, conjuring increasingly passionate images of any-man until soft gasps of pleasure signaled a most welcome orgasm, she lingering in that place, drawing down every tingle and spasm, floating away into undisturbed slumber.