Prologue – 02

Kestrel glanced away from the fire and grinned as Aoife emerged from Gray’s shadow as they came into the main hall of the lodge. The building housed a dozen survivors of the end out here in the woods of northern Pennsylvania, including a widower and his two teenage children and a group of college students who’d been enjoying the parkland together before school started up again.

I never thought I’d stumble across a group of people who would accept a raving stranger so willingly. I’m lucky. Aoife smiled back. “Smells like venison.”

Kes nodded. “That’s because it is. Wat and Gray took down a deer this morning. Gray didn’t tell you?”

Gray looked at Aoife for a long moment before he answered. “We were talking about other things. Besides, she’d have figured it out after the first bite.”

Aoife forced a smile. “He’s right, I would have.” She came over to the fire. “Is there anything I can do to help, or are you about done?”

“You can hand out bowls,” Kes said, nodding toward the stack sitting on the hearth. “That’d be a help.”

“What were you and Aoife talking about?” Teca Ramsay asked, her dark brows knitting as Gray seated himself on one of the benches near the fire. “Something wrong?”

Gray shook his head. “No. Just rehashing an old discussion.”

At least he’s not screaming it from the rooftops that I’m thinking about leaving, Aofie thought with a grimace, picking up the first bowl and holding it near the stewpot for Kes to fill. Thank the powers that be for small favors.

“You’re worrying about your brother again, aren’t you, Aofie?”

She winced at Teca’s question and barely managed to suppress a sigh. “Wouldn’t you be in my shoes? Look at everything we’ve seen and look at what we had to do to help him—to help them. Trouble finds him whether he goes looking for it or not. Of course I’m worried about him.”

Teca grimaced. “After dinner, we can look if you want.”

I don’t want to scry him again. I want to be there.

Still, she nodded. “I’d like that, Teca. Thanks.”

“Anytime,” Teca said softly. “Anytime, Aoife. All you have to do is ask.”

If only everything was so simple.

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