[This post is from Matt’s point of view.]
Matt paused in his pacing, staring into the embers. Almost unconsciously, he reached for the bellows, barely stopping himself from stoking the fire.
“You have that look,” Phelan said quietly.
“What look is that?” he asked, though he already knew the answer. It was always the same answer, though it had been a long time since he’d heard those words—at least from Phelan. He heard those words from his wife all the time, but sometimes the look she referred to was different.
“The one where you’re contemplating something you’re not sure you want to be contemplating but have to whether you want to or not.”
One corner of his mouth twitched toward a smile. “You’ve got that one right.” He took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, glancing at Gilad. “Go get cleaned up and have something to eat. You rode hard to get back here with that news.”
Gilad nodded. “I just wish there was more I could tell you—and that we had answers about New Hope.”
“Aye, me too.” Matt shook his head. “There’s nothing for it. Either way, we’ll know in a few days if all’s well or not.”
“Either by someone coming or not, yes,” Gilad agreed. He scrubbed a hand across his eyes. “I think maybe I’ll wait until I’ve gotten some rest to have that food. It was a long ride.”
Matt just nodded. “As long as you eat something sooner rather than later.”
“Don’t worry, I will.” He slipped out, leaving Matt alone with Phelan.
Matt’s gaze drifted back to the embers, though he could feel the weight of his old friend’s stare.
“I don’t like not having answers,” Matt murmured.
“You haven’t for years,” Phelan said. “None of us ever did, really.”
Matt closed his eyes. “Why did I let them do this to me, Phelan?”
“Let them?” Phelan choked on a laugh. “It was going to be you regardless, Matt. Once they were gone? It was always going to be you. There was no other choice.”