“Do you know how to sail the boat?”
Her quick topic change annoyed Adrian and he grunted, “No.”
“We don’t have a captain yet. Find me one.”
Adrian grinned at the order, the choice. “Yes, ma’am.”
Angela began throwing the darts, and neither of them was encouraged by the bad aim.
“You haven’t been practicing,” he scolded.
“No.” She didn’t tell him she’d been too busy trying to keep it all together alone. He knew what that was like.
“Maybe you should teach that lesson to Marc,” he suggested, retrieving the darts. Most of them had bounced to the ground.
“I’ve been trying not to corrupt him like we are, but there’s no choice, right?”
“Not really,” Adrian answered, dropping the darts into her open palm without touching her, as she’d commanded. “Time will do it anyway. Right now, he doesn’t understand what it’s like to have two awful choices to pick from. If he knew what that felt like, you two might be able to bridge the gap and actually have a conversation.”
Angela didn’t ask if he’d gotten that from her. It had come from Marc, who was desperate to have her recovered and back in charge so that he could return to his sullen attitude of accusations phrased as questions.
“I haven’t told him anything,” Adrian said quietly, moving away so she could throw again. “He’ll ask for an update on you soon, I think.”
Angela’s mind was already overcrowded with the thoughts and plans that she’d refused to allow in until now. She shoved it all out in one huge slam of the door. Her shoulders drooped. “I’m not ready yet, am I?”
Adrian hid his smile. “No. Let him cover things for a while.”
“What will I be doing?”
“Recovering, I assume,” Adrian sent back evenly. “Doing things that don’t remind you of your pain. Things like working on that aim.”
The darts from her latest throw were again mostly on the ground.
“You could also spend some time with me,” he suggested. “I could resume your private lessons. With a chaperone, of course.”
“You could teach a class, outside the gates,” she agreed, thinking it would be nice to go back to being a rookie in training. The pressure back then hadn’t been staggering.
“Be happy to,” he conceded, unable to keep the smile hidden this time. He also liked the idea of just being a trainer for a class. Let someone else handle the stress and harsh choices, the constant fear of not being good enough, of missing something. Marc could handle it, and then they would see if he was still smug and superior afterwards.
“It hurts me to be around you,” Angela said suddenly, exhausted again. “I need to rest.”
Adrian watched her curl into the chair and blanket as if she wasn’t coming out, burrowing in until he couldn’t see any skin. Her recovery would truly take a while. It wouldn’t be an act for Marc or the camp. She needed a real break and Adrian was suddenly determined that she would have one. But not a long one. He hadn’t exactly told her the truth about the final issues coming for Safe Haven. Crossing that ocean wouldn’t be as easy as he’d implied.
Shattered Dreams, book 9 of Life After War. Keep an eye out for a preorder page to go up next month. I'm well into the file.
Waving at you,
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