Winnie was on my hip, where she spends most of every night, her weight soft and warm, her nose tucked into a curled paw. Ken was sleeping next to me, his arm wrapped around Pip, whose purrs nearly matched the snores from his dad. The apartment was silent except for the jangle of ice cubes dropping from the maker in the freezer.
I don't remember the dream but it was terrible enough to jerk me out of sleep, disturbing Winnie, who tensed and lifted her head. The light coming from the lunette above our windows danced across her whiskers and caught her eyes as she watched me, waiting for me to settle back down into more pleasant dreams. My body was rigid and hot and weighted down by the single sheet pulled over me. I took a deep breath trying to calm the tears that felt close to bubbling up and spilling down my cheeks. The nightmare was gone but the fear remained. I laid a long time in the dark, turning over onto my belly, slowly so as not to disturb Bean, who had already dropped her nose down into her paw and was breathing deeply.
Sleep was not coming, not until I heard Duncan shift in his bed, climb out of his kennel, stretch once and then jump up at the foot of the bed. He moved carefully between Ken and me, careful of the cats and Ken, and laid down, his body a long warm pillow between us. He laid down and licked my shoulder, slipping a warm paw across the small of my back. He licked again, quietly and with great care, and rested his head on me, squeezing me with one paw and continued to lick until the feeling passed and sleep took me again.
It is good to know I am watched over and guarded, safe at all hours.