Lucien and Jean walked through the hotel room door snickering to each other. Jean flopped down on the bed. Lucien removed his coat and loosened his tie.
"Honestly Lucien I had no idea there were so many treatments for bowel diseases."
Lucien rolled his eyes.
"Neither did I. At least we didn't have to sit next to Dr. Clark during dinner."
"A nice group of people, all together."
"Yes. I told you there was nothing to worry about. And you did well."
Jean was about to respond when her eyes focused on something on the dressing table.
"Lucien, what is that?"
Lucien turned around to see a bottle of champagne on ice with two glasses. A note lie next to the chiller. He picked up the note and read it aloud.
Dear Doctor Blake,
I apologize for the mix up with the rooms and for failing to confirm the change with you before hand. Please accept this with my compliments.
Jean put her head in her hands.
"You've got to be kidding me."
"I thought it was rather nice of them. You can enjoy a glass before bed. But it's time for me to be going."
Lucien closed up his suitcase and grabbed the handle, hesitating for a moment before lifting it up.
Lucien turned around, his hand still ready to lift the case.
"It's almost midnight. You can't go wandering the streets of Melbourne with a suitcase. What if no one has a room? You'll be out all night."
"I've been in worse. I promised you I wouldn't make you leave and I am not going to put you in a bad situation."
"Honestly it will be alright. We have a spare blanket and lots of pillows. I think we can manage if you don't mind sleeping on the floor."
Lucien looked down at the floor and appeared unconvinced. Jean walked over to him and put her hand on the bottle.
"Besides I can't drink all this champagne alone. I'm not even sure how to get the bottle open."
Lucien tried not to look too enthusiastic.
"Well, if you insist. Maybe one glass before bed."
Lucien poured two glasses and brought them over to the reading chairs. They ended up draining several glasses trying to put off the inevitable. They made polite conversation, going over the days events, discussing plans for tomorrow, all while glancing nervously at each other from their reading chairs. The alcohol did not seem to put either of them more at ease. Eventually Jean looked over in the direction of the bed.
"Well, I guess I'd better go wash up and get ready for...well, you know."
Lucien set down his glass.
Lucien watched her carefully as she picked up her things and disappeared into the wash room. When the door closed he quickly changed and put on his dressing gown. He found the spare blanket and threw a pillow on the floor before settling back down in the reading chair with a copy of the conference program. A few minutes later Jean stepped out, wearing a hairnet and clutching her pink chenille robe against her body. Lucien tried not look disappointed. Jean forced a nervous smile.
"Is there anything you need before I go to sleep?"
Lucien stammered a little.
"Uh, no, thank you Jean. That will be all."
Jean looked over at him unsure.
"Really Jean, have a good night. I think I'll just sit-up for a while."
Jean looked up at him sharply.
Lucien repeated what he said.
"Oh no, you can't do that. Just sit there where you can see me? I thought you'd be down there."
Jean pointed over to the other side of the bed. Lucien opened his mouth to argue but thought better of it.
"Alright then, it is getting late. Have a good night."
Without making eye contact Lucien took off his robe and settled down on the floor next to the bed. He could hear the rustling of fabric indicating Jean was doing the same, followed by the room going dark and an unsettling silence. Lucien lay as still as possible, listening for Jean. He thought once she fell asleep he would feel more at ease. She did not make a sound. She didn't move; Lucien wondered if she was even breathing. He became nervous. To make matters worse, the floor was hard. The lush carpet did little to pad the floor. It had been many years since Lucien slept rough and he was finding it more difficult than he remembered. He tossed and turned for a long time, trying to find a comfortable position, willing the knowledge of the comfortable bed just inches away to leave his mind. An exasperated huff caught his immediate attention.
"Are you going to do that all night?"
"Um, sorry Jean. This isn't as easy as I once remember it. I'll try and keep quiet."
After a few more minutes of trying to avoid muscle aches he heard another angry breath. This time the light turned on.
"I'm sorry Jean. Maybe I should have gotten that hotel, eh?"
"Maybe. But it's too late for that now."
"I could try the chair."
Jean surveyed the room and then leaned over the bed and looked down on him. She appeared to be assessing the situation.
"Look, maybe you need to come up here, just for tonight."
"I can't do that to you, Jean. I promised. I won't put you at risk like that."
"Well neither of us is going to getting any sleep at this rate. And we won't be sleeping together."
Lucien got off the floor with a grunt and stood over the bed. Jean instinctively pulled the covers over her chest despite wearing modest pajamas.
"I'm not having you sleep down there, Jean. I forbid it. I'd rather leave."
"That's not what I meant. Here, watch."
Jean got up from the bed and made a loop around the room. She picked up all the spare decorative cushions from the bed and the chairs plus the pillow Lucien had on the floor. She lined them up carefully down the center of the bed.
"That side it yours, this side is mine. Everything will be fine if you stay on your side."
Lucien looked at her in surprise. She sounded more confident than she looked.
"You don't have to do this, Jean."
"Well you haven't left me with me any choice. I won't get any sleep with you rolling around on the floor all night, and I certainly wont sleep knowing you're wandering the streets of Melbourne at two in the morning. We'll have to make do for the night. Though I promise you this is the last time I am going with you anywhere ever again."
"Right. Well, let's call it a night, shall we?"
Eyeing each other nervously they both crawled carefully into the bed, trying not to disturb the cushions or each other. Jean lay down under the blankets, Lucien stayed on top with the spare blanket for extra protection. When they had both settled down Jean turned the light out. Lucien tried not to focus on the awkwardness of the situation though he found the sound of Jean's breathing comforting, despite her being so agitated he could feel it through the wall of cushions.
Lucien could feel Jean reach out across the cushions towards him and then quickly pull back her hand.
"Don't mention it."