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It's getting cold, I should get up, Deborah thought while staring out the window of her studio; to the cloudy dark sky. Cara's little head was resting on her foot, and she whined when she got up and left the folder Marcus had given her a few hours ago in the coffee table beside her. She closed the window feeling goosebumps on her bare arms and put on her slippers as Barry made an appearance, immediately throwing himself on top of Cara, forcing her to play. Deborah looked at them for a moment, in silence, thinking about how these two little unwitting animals were her only company in this big house; she felt incredibly lonely yet watching them play, filled her heart with tenderness. She pressed her heart firmly in an unconscious attempt to get rid of the sudden happy pain it caused to see them playing around. 

Marcus was right, damn it! We do need a new water system; I’m spending way too much with these god damn old pipes ; she thought while turning off the lights of the empty living room and walking to the kitchen. Tidying up a little here and there, she kept thinking about the summary of expenses for the month. It's not like I don't have the money... She reminded herself with an air of pretended petulance as she stared at her antiques collection.  —Isn't that right, baby?  —She said out loud in that particular upbeat voice reserved only for them when the pup jumped on her leg. —Still, —Deborah continued her inner monologue out loud now that she had company. — it's just stupid to spend more than needed, right? —Barry barked, showing his agreement, and followed her while she kept doing her nightly routine, getting everything ready to go to bed.  —Although, I gotta say. I've never worried about fucking pipes before or water systems or whatever Marcus said , repeatedly, I must add; all he does nowadays is talk about water, as if! There's bigger problems, that's all I’m saying. What is it now, my darling? —She said in that upbeat tone again after her little companion complained. —Still afraid of going down there, huh? Honestly.  —Now alone, she went down the stairs to the basement, just to check if everything was in order, God knows that girl knows how to make a mess, she thought . See! She even left the lights on, for heaven's sake... She turned the lights off and stood for a moment; moonlight coming from the hopper windows; full moon; she sighed and looked around. Everything was a mess.   

Absent-minded, she moved a big cardboard box out of the way after almost tripping on it, thanks to miss sloppy, and noticed Barry's lost shiny toy on the floor, on the other side of the room. How did that get down here? God, this room is a mess, she thought while grabbing the blanket from the armchair of the improvised couch. She stopped for a moment to look down at the old green couch. I have to tell Marcus to sell this old thing; it'll sell nicely, she thought as she covered her younger employee with the blanket, after making sure she wasn't still wearing those obnoxious shoes on top of the over-priced fucking sofa. It'll have to be in the dark market or something, 'cause if Janice found out.. good lord! She'd have me killed! A twinge of pain in her back made her groan in displeasure as she bent down to grab the little toy, and the pain didn't go away when she got up. Just then she realized, to her surprise, that Ava was asleep in her basement and not in her expensive casino hotel room. 

Deborah stood there, shocked that she didn't notice her before, and stared at the sleeping girl. Should I? No ; she decided she wouldn't wake her up. The moonlight illuminated her young, unaware face; she looked newborn, Deborah thought. But then something in Ava's features changed, and the blood in Deborah ran faster, making her feel alive with anticipation and embarrassment. What if she woke up? I’m sure she would make some comment about me being some creep and then start again with the employer’s boundaries, good lord. Why am I even staring? swear to god. But she hadn't woken up. Instead, she looked like she was frowning. A sudden expression of discomfort; of sadness. Deborah thought she might be having a bad dream, but still decided she couldn't wake her up. Her heart was beating loudly, and she took it as a sign to leave, but something compelled her to get closer to Ava first; so, she did. 

Slowly, she took the cellphone Ava was holding and placed it on the computer desk; then, she grabbed the blanket once again and covered the young girl up to her chin. Immediately after, Ava moved to get closer to the warmth. God, please don't wake up , Deborah thought while making sure Ava's feet were covered as well. Once she saw that Ava was comfortable enough, she turned off the computer and, trying not to breathe, left the room before she could see Ava's features change once more. She wasn't frowning anymore; her nightmare had become a dream, her face was peaceful and she buried it inside the soft blanket, still asleep. 

She wasn’t cold anymore.