As she wriggles under the covers and into a mound of pillows, I walk to the kitchen and remove a tall, clear glass from the cupboard, filling it an inch from the top with iced tea I had brewed that afternoon. "Do you want anything to drink?" I ask, but the only response is the sound of rustling sheets. I walk back to my bed, taking a sip before placing the glass on my nightstand and climbing in. She hands me the book, then climbs over my lap, reaching for the nightstand. Again, that faint fragrance dances through my nostrils, only now the added stimulation of her fragile body against my chest is almost unbearable. Fortunately, once the glass is in her hands, she retreats to her previous position, giving me time to regain my composure.
I open the book to the preface, but quickly reviewing the story in my mind, I decide to go ahead to the first chapter. It's a classic story of heroes and royalty, of wild beasts and devilish fiends that would likely give her nightmares if her attention span held--an unlikely scenario. I began to read, slowly at first, pausing every few lines for any questions she may have. Her vocabulary was impressive, understanding far more of the story than I would have at her age. I gradually hasten my pace, pausing only after the gentle tugs on my shirt she used to signal some detail that needed explanation. With each paragraph and page, she slowly creeps closer as if trying to read it herself, the heat of her body overwhelming the warmth of my own. I can feel her heartbeat, soft and ever so slightly more rapid than mine. She squirms under my arm and snuggles against my shoulder, and though instinct insisted I hold her tight against my chest, my conscience demanded I continue to read.