Jean-Guy Beauvoir couldn’t sleep, but unlike the insomnia he’d experienced throughout the last few years, his sleeplessness now had nothing to do with anxiety or terror or the bad memories that dredged those feelings up.
No, what kept Jean-Guy awake now was nothing bad at all.
It was something good.
It was happiness, a bone-deep contentment that drenched his skin like rain on desert sand and then soaked down even deeper to his roots, saturating his bloodstream and finding its way to the very marrow of him where it was drank up like a man dying of thirst.
An apt way of describing himself, Jean-Guy thought. As a man dying because he lacked the most vital thing one needed in order to survive. It wasn’t water in his case, but love. Not the love of others which he had in spades, but a love for himself that, without it, made it impossible for Jean-Guy to recognize what he had. Who he had. The people who loved him, who always had and always would.
People like the one person who kept him awake tonight, who slept soundly herself in their honeymoon suite, curled on her side in bed with a soft sheet wrapped around her and held in a loose fist tucked under her chin with only her bare arms and shoulders and head visible to him.
People like his wife, Annie, who would always be a Gamache but who was now a Beauvoir too and who – this, Jean-Guy would bet his life on – would remain a Beauvoir for the rest of their lives and, if there was an afterlife, would forever be a Beauvoir there too.
That was Jean-Guy’s source of happiness now. The happiness he felt so keenly it kept him awake, kept him with his eyes open next to Annie just watching her breathe, some far-away part of him not wanting to close his eyes for even a second because it would be a second less of having Annie in his sight, a second’s worth of memory he wouldn’t have of her, and such a loss seemed as heinous a crime to him as any murder he’d ever investigated.
Annie was his happiness. Being not just her husband, but her father’s son-in-law. A part of the Gamache family at last, the way he had always hoped to be. That this dream which was never vocalized was now realized gave him joy the likes of which he’d never known the heights of, so great was it that it was almost like a high. Not the kind of high he’d gotten from the pills he’d been addicted to which numbed everything, but a high that made him feel more alive and energized than he’d ever been with no comedown in sight.
Jean-Guy didn’t want it to ever end and so Jean-Guy didn’t sleep.
Instead, he watched his wife and thought to himself, Annie Gamache is now Annie Beauvoir, and smiled like a school boy as his heart leapt at just thinking it and he had to bite his tongue to stop himself from saying the name aloud as he’d felt the urge to do more times than he could count since they’d sealed their vows with a kiss and Annie finally became his bride.
He watched the flutter of her eyelids and wondered what she dreamed about and whether he was a part of it and whether they might be dreams he could make true for her the way she’d made all of his.
He watched the way her hand sometimes clenched so gently at the sheet it was holding that only someone watching her as closely as Jean-Guy was would ever catch the movement and he basked in his certainty that no one else would be able to watch her so closely but him again except perhaps their children one day, when they crawled into bed with their parents and maybe woke up before their mama and watched her with hearts as full of love as Jean-Guy watched her with now.
He even watched the little spot of drool that trickled out of the corner of her mouth and thought of how he’d tease her about it in the morning over breakfast in bed and how he’d tell her she snored like a bear as well and she’d squawk with indignation and maybe give him a whack in the face with the pillow beneath her so infused with the citron-scent of her hair, but she’d be smiling as she did so and he would be smiling too.
Jean-Guy watched his wife sleep and thought of nothing but happy things until, despite his great desire to keep watching her from that moment until the end of time, his eyes slid shut and he fell asleep too.
And then instead of thinking happy things, Jean-Guy dreamed them.
And then in the morning when he and Annie were both awake, Jean-Guy neither thought or dreamed about happiness at all. He lived it. The way he would for the rest of his life.