Forty-five – 04

[This post is from Marin’s point of view.]

“So what have you been seeing that’s robbing you of sleep?”

I startled at the question, blinking at J.T. as my stomach sank. “What?”

He just stared at me for a few seconds, then sighed, shaking his head. “Mar, I’ve known you for a long time by now. I’d like to think I have a little bit of a handle on what’s bugging you when it’s bugging you. Am I completely off-base here?”

I blew out a breath in a sigh and shook my head. “No.”

“Do you just not want to talk about it?”

“That’s more accurate,” I said, looking away from him, staring down at Lin instead. Lin wouldn’t judge me—at least not yet. That would still be another few years off, I thought.

I hoped.

J.T. tucked an arm around my shoulders and I leaned into his embrace, sighing again.

“It’s Thom, isn’t it?” he said quietly.

I nodded before I could stop myself, not that I suppose I really wanted to. J.T. studied me, expression softening.

“Is it the same thing as before?”

“Denial or losing him?”

“Either. Both.”

“Just the second one,” I said in a whisper. “Just losing him. I don’t know how or why, just that it’s what I’m seeing, like he’s fading away slowly and neither of us really seem to know what’s causing it.” My voice caught in my throat. It was hard to breathe. “I’m afraid that it’s related to what happened to him before,” I said. “To what happened when he was hurt that last time he fought. I’m afraid something happened that I can’t change or stop—that none of us can do a damned thing about.”

I felt sick and I knew that much was reflected on my face. J.T. turned, wrapping both arms around me and Lin, holding on for a few minutes.

“He’s going to be fine,” he assured me, his tone gentle. “I promise, Mar. You’re not going to lose him. He won’t let it happen.”

“You said that before,” I told him.

“And I still mean it now,” J.T. said, then pressed a kiss to the top of my head. “He’s my best friend, Mar—my brother in every way that matters. I’m not going to let him go without one hell of a fight and you know that I don’t like to lose.”

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