Lucien awoke to find Jean already dressed and reading. With a quick hello he disappeared into the wash room to get ready for the day. They walked down to breakfast in silence. It was some minutes before Lucien found the courage to speak.
"So did you, ah, sleep well?"
"No, not really."
"Oh dear, I see. I hope I um, wasn't the cause of, well..."
"Oh no!" Jean laughed nervously, "Just a strange bed, that's all."
Lucien caught Jean's embarrassed look and quickly corrected himself.
"No! I mean, you know, like you said. Strange bed, strange room, that sort of thing."
"But the room is yours for the day, you can rest if you'd like."
"Mmm I might."
There was a long silence before Jean spoke again.
"So, you? Did you sleep?"
Lucien thought for a moment and then look surprised.
"Yes, actually I did. I don't think I've slept that soundly in a while. Must have been the excitement of the day."
"Yes, must have been." Jean replied quickly. They did not speak for the rest of breakfast.
Lucien left for the conference leaving Jean to spend the day on her own, morning at a museum and the afternoon browsing some of the shops. They had agreed to meet before dinner, hosted by a subgroup of family practitioners. When Lucien entered the hotel room in early evening Jean was curled up on the bed fully clothed, sound asleep. Smiling, Lucien sat on the bed and gently touched her arm.
"Jean? Oh Jean."
Jean's eyes fluttered open and she looked up at him confused.
"Lucien! I'd forgotten you were here."
Jean sat up sleepily and looked around.
"I don't usually fall asleep like that. It's been a busy day."
Lucien looked over at the shopping bags on the floor.
"So I see."
"Yes well it turns out being a doctor's wife has it's advantages. I told them to send you the bill."
Jean shot him a defiant look. Lucien gaped at her for a moment and then shut his mouth.
"Well, whatever you say dear."
"Don't call me that!"
"Oh, so not the doctor's wife anymore then?"
Jean looked indignant and forced and insincere smile.
"I'll ring for some tea."
They sat in silence for a while sipping tea and contemplating the day's events, Jean in a reading chair and Blake leaning against the dressing table. After a while Jean spoke up.
"You never told me how your day was. How was the conference?"
Lucien's eyes lit up.
"It was great!"
Lucien expounded at length about the workshops he attended, the people he met, and the newest research. He was positively gushing. Jean couldn't help but be charmed.
"That sounds wonderful. Maybe you need to take a job in a hospital? Someplace that does research."
"Well, I'd have to move to Melbourne or Canberra, maybe even Sydney. Ballarat is just a regional hospital, they don't do surgical research, very little anyway."
"You could always move. You've spent most of your life outside Ballarat."
Lucien looked surprised at the suggestion.
"Well yes, I could, but you wouldn't leave Ballarat, would you? Would you move to Canberra?"
Jean sat up straight.
"What would I have anything to do with it?"
"Well you'd have to come with me."
"And do what?"
"Well I...I just assumed?"
Lucien put up his hands in defense.
"All I'm saying is if I did move, you'd have a job if you wanted it."
"What, pretending to be your wife?"
"Well, it has its advantages."
Jean stood up and crossed her arms.
"Speaking of which, did you have any luck finding a hotel for tonight?"
Lucien looked crestfallen.
"I ah, no. I'm sorry. In all the excitement of the day I forgot all about it. I could go now..."
Jean rolled her eyes.
"Let's just go downstairs. We'll be late for dinner."
A few hours after they arrived back in the room. Jean was determined to make an early night of it, and told Lucien he was on his own for the rest of the evening.
"I think I am going to stay here and read and try to go to bed early. I know some of your doctor friends were going to meet at the bar, why don't you join them?"
"You know I might. I am sorry again about the hotel. I know it's put you in a bad position."
"It's fine. It's just for another two nights."
As if to make a point, Jean walked around the room, collecting up all the pillows and cushions the hotel maid had so carefully put back. Jean carefully constructed her pillow wall down the center of the bed. If anything it was a sturdier structure than the one hastily constructed the night before. Afterwards, Jean disappeared into the wash room to change and came out in pink satin pajamas with her hair carefully tucked away under a hair net. Getting into her side of the bed, she sat up against the pillows and opened her book, only then noticing Blake was still standing by the door.
"Are you going downstairs?"
Lucien smiled a little.
"You know what, it's been a long day, I think I'll stay here and read too."
Jean shrugged noncommittally and a few minutes later Lucien was in his pajamas, propped up comfortably against the headboard next to her. Jean wondered what was wrong with the reading chair but decided it was rude to ask. It was his bed too.
Jean was surprised how easily she feel asleep that night. When she lay down Lucien was still awake reading, but somehow she found his presence soothing. Maybe the shock of the other night had worn off. Sometime during the night Jean rolled over in her sleep, her fist closing around a bit of pajama fabric. Immediately alarm bells started going off in her head. Awake but afraid to move, she took stock of the situation. Her hand was against his chest, his pajama top balled up in her fist. Her foot had somehow slipped between his and she could feel his breath in her hair. Remaining motionless Jean tried to detect her carefully constructed barrier of pillows. The middle section was intact, but the top and bottom were gone. Clearly he had kicked the pillows off in the night. It must have been him, Jean reasoned. She certainly would not have done it, even in the depths of sleep. Jean sat up in a huff, determined to put things right. When she did so Lucien turned in her direction. Letting out the most pathetic mew, Lucien reached out for her hand and tried to pull her back to him. Jean looked down. She wanted to be outraged but the sight of him sound asleep, his face contorted in displeasure, melted her heart. Jean lay back down and let Lucien take a hold of her arm. He sighed contentedly, squeezing her hand and pressing his forehead against her shoulder. As she drifted off to sleep she made a mental note to wake up early and replace the cushions. What he didn't know wouldn't hurt him, or embarrass her.