[This post is from Hecate’s point of view.]
“We’ll deal with it when they do. We’ll have time—probably not as much as we’d like, but we’ll have it.” Matt held her eye steadily for a few seconds. Neve reached up and grasped his shoulder.
“Angie and I can take the twins,” she said softly. “You can do what you need to do.”
He shook his head, adjusting the basket in his hand. Kurt was fast asleep despite the storm and the rain. “No,” he said quietly. “The only thing I need to do is this. Come on. Let’s get you guys back to where it’s warmer.”
The hairs on her arms and legs had risen in goosebumps. She hadn’t noticed the ambient chill until Matt’s mention of it. That left her a little unsettled—both that she hadn’t noticed and that the chill was so pronounced.
That’s probably not a good sign, if he’s right about Thordin holding the storm—and I think he is. This feels like other people doing the same thing. She had experienced that more than once in her lifetime, though she had only held the weather a bare handful of times, she had been in the presence of more than one of Olympium’s masters controlling the weather. It explained the ambient buzz in the air, the ache that gripped the back of her head, one she’d been fighting to ignore since it had begun.
Matt wrapped his arm around her shoulders and she leaned into that embrace. Standing next to him, her heart quieted and breathing got a little easier; panic that had started to well up without her knowing began to ebb just as quickly as it had come. His breath stirred the hair over her ear.
“Are you okay?”
Hecate nodded. “Mostly, anyway.”
“What happened out there?” Neve asked quietly as they began to move toward the main cookfire. People moved around them, hanging up sodden clothes to dry and shifting supplies, the activity of their camp-turned-village returning to normal in the wake of the attack. The tension was still there in the air, though, hadn’t quite drained away.
“A lot of camazotzi,” Matt admitted. “A few made it inside the wards before we were able to push them up high enough. J.T.’s having a look at Thom right now. One got him pretty good and it’s—it seems different than before. It’s like the claws did more damage than they have before. I’m not sure what the hell that could mean.”
Concern flashed through Neve’s eyes and Hecate felt a flutter of discomfort ripple through her guts. There were a dozen things that it could mean and most of them weren’t good.
I’ll need to talk to Jameson. I wonder—
“How many got inside the walls?” Neve asked. “Was Cam—”
“He’s fine. Not a scratch. He came out onto the field with me after Thordin, after Sif—” Matt broke off, making a soft noise of frustration. “He’s fine. He’s probably getting cleaned up and changing into dry clothes. Go on.”
Neve took a deep breath and nodded. She squeezed Matt’s arm before she broke off from their little group and headed for the corridor beyond one edge of the tents, seeking her lover and the father of her children. Hecate watched her go for a few seconds, a tightness gripping her heart before it eased. Matt squeezed her gently before he glanced down at Angie.
“Your brother’s okay, too,” he said. “A little sore because a camazotzi decided to throw Thom at him, but he’s fine.”
“And Mr. Phelan and Miss Marin?”
“They’re okay, too.” Matt gave Angie a reassuring smile. The girl nodded.
Hecate’s guts twisted and she squeezed her eyes shut for a few seconds. No one, least of all a child, deserved to witness all that Angie had. She could only imagine how much worse it had been in the months before she’d come, in the months since the end.
How much more will she see? What will it do to her? She opened her eyes, looking at the three infants in their care. What will it do to them?
She exhaled a shaky breath. Matt looked at her, worry in his eyes.
“I’m all right,” she assured him softly, then kissed his cheek. The words did nothing to erase the concern she saw when she meet his gaze, but it was all right. She loved him even more for that concern, that he cared enough to worry. “It’s okay.”
He pressed a kiss to her temple, squeezing his eyes shut for a few seconds. She sighed softly.
Angie smiled and looked away, continuing on with little Gwen in her basket toward the fire. There were voices there, a little weak laughter, but laughter just the same. That gave Hecate a little hope back, hope she’d lost somewhere in her thousands of years. Even in dark hours, there was still laughter, and light, and hope.
Perhaps they had a chance after all.
“Come on,” she said softly. “We’d better catch up to Angie before someone wonders what’s keeping us.”
A soft sound that was almost a chuckle escaped Matt and he nodded, cheek pressed against her hair. “Right. You’re right.”
He squeezed her gently and guided her toward the warmth and light of the cookfire and the cluster of people around it, people they both hoped that someday she’d be able to trust as friends.