[This post is from Phelan’s point of view.]
Jacqueline hugged him tightly, though only for a few seconds. She stepped back as her arms loosened, looking up at him. “You know, I did come looking for you for a reason.”
His brow quirked. “Really? You mean it wasn’t just to tell me to get up off the ground?”
She shot him a dirty look but didn’t manage to hold it beyond the first ten seconds. It transformed into a rueful smile as she let go of him, shaking her head. “Don’t be awful. Yes, it wasn’t just to tell you to get up off the ground—that was just the distraction when I saw you laying there.”
“Something wrong?” He took her hand again, squeezing her fingers, stomach lurching slightly. A dozen thoughts—most of them not good—flashed through his head before he quelled them, all things that might have driven her to come looking for him on a rainy morning. A common thread was wondering what could have gone wrong now, or with whom.
“No, not wrong,” she said, studying him. He felt more than a flicker of relief and exhaled a breath he didn’t realize he was holding, earning a faintly amused smile from her. “You were worried.”
“That’s become a normal reaction.”
“True,” she admitted. “Not necessarily a wrong one in most scenarios, either.”
“No. So what’s up?”
“I was just thinking about things.”
His stomach twisted again and he watched her face, searching for clues to where this was going. “What kind of things?”
Jacqueline tugged on his hand to get him walking and he fell into step with her, wrapping his arm around her waist as they wended their way back through the maze of spare furniture and bins of supplies toward the cookfires that were a usual haunt for most of them when they weren’t working on something else. “Ideas,” she admitted. “Plans. Us.”
“Is there something about us that I’m not aware of?” His stomach refused to settle, churning hard now, bile rising. He swallowed, trying to smother the nerves that were probably rising without any reason for their existence.
Her brow quirked. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “But the way you’re talking makes me think there’s something going on that I’m not privy to?”
“I’m not sure I would go that far,” she said with a smile. “Just figuring out timelines and other things.”
“Other things?” The timeline part he could understand—he’d asked her, she’d said yes, now it was figuring out when would be best to do it—to actually get married, something he’d never dreamed would ever happen for him, not after as many centuries as he’d spent alone. “What kind of other things?”
“I think you need coffee first,” she said with a sly smile. “Then we can have this discussion.”
Phelan raised a brow himself but didn’t argue with her. Sometimes, it was just better not to.