“Edges are starting to firm up nice,” J.T. said, his quiet voice carried on the breeze as I approached. “There’s going to be a scar, but not as bad as it could’ve been. Been keeping the antibac on it?”
“Yeah, and uncovering it when I’m not working on something so the air can get to it.” Matt’s gaze flicked toward me as I ducked into his cubby. J.T. was seated next to the mattress on the ground, his back to me and my brother’s hand in both of his, examining the healing gash there. “Hey Mar.”
I smiled faintly and stepped around J.T. to Matt’s side. “Hey. Giving Jay any trouble?”
“Tons. He doesn’t smell as pretty as Jac and Leah.” He grinned up at me, then looked back down to his hand. I winced a little as I watched the stitches down near the lower corner tug, but it apparently didn’t bother him that much.
J.T. glanced up over his shoulder at me and shot me a smile, then turned back to Matt’s hand. “Well, you’re doing all the right stuff, and that’s as much as we can really do. Just keep on keeping it clean.”
Matt nodded and withdrew his hand. “Thanks, J.T.”
I forced a grin. “Is he going to live?”
J.T. snorted. “Without a doubt. I’ll let you two be.”
“Actually…I came looking for you.” I tousled Matt’s hair. “Seeing my little brother is just an added bonus.”
Matt muttered a curse and tried to put his hair back in order, getting up from the mattress. “Hate it when you do that, Mar.”
“Where’re you going?”
“Going to watch people try to dig a well.” He grinned at me and headed off.
J.T. glanced at me while he was packing up his kit, chuckling. “I’m really glad I got off that detail.”
I smiled wryly, nodding. “I think I would be, too, but I think Matt’s a little upset he can’t be getting down and dirty with the rest of them, even if it is hard work.” I crossed my arms. “He’s really going to be okay?”
“Good as new in a few weeks, when everything’s fully closed up, yeah. They were deep, but not too deep, and he’s doing everything right.” J.T. straightened up, his smile warm as he touched my elbow. “So you can stop worrying about your little brother and get back to worrying about Thom.”
My nose wrinkled and J.T. laughed, shaking his head.
“Yup, that’s how Matt said you’d react to that suggestion.”
Well, at least everyone’s sense of humor is intact. I snorted softly and shook my head. “He’d know it, too.” I glanced off in the direction Matt had disappeared in, then looked back at J.T. “Carolyn said you might need to talk.”
J.T.’s mirth faded and his expression blanked out, eyes momentarily going cold. “That’s why you came looking for me?”
I shrugged slightly. “It’s either me or it’s Kellin, Jay, and I guess Carolyn thought I was the better choice. She knows something’s bugging you.”
“Bullshit,” he muttered, looking away. “She told you more than that.”
Damn straight she told me more than that. I shrugged helplessly. “She thinks you need to talk to someone, Jay. Especially about whatever dreams you’ve been having since one of those shadows chased you guys back here.” I frowned. “Did she tell you that she talked to me?”
“She tried,” he muttered, shaking his head. “I was trying not to listen, but I heard anyway.” He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes and sighed deeply. “They’re just dreams, Mar. I want to believe that they’re just dreams.”
“But they’re not,” I said quietly. Damnation, Jay. What’re you seeing? What’s woken up inside of you? Bottling it all up inside is too damned dangerous. We’ve agreed about that, you and I, when it comes to Thom. So what makes you think you’re different when it comes to all of that?
His hands dropped and he looked me square in the eye, exhaling slowly. “If we’re going to talk about this, we should take a walk,” he rumbled, shaking his head slowly.
“Why?” I asked quietly, taking a step closer to him.
J.T. wet his lips and stared at nothing, looking toward the fire without really seeing it. “Because I don’t think it’s a conversation that you’re going to want Thom to overhear. My gut tells me it’d just make things harder. More complicated.”
My stomach started to knot up again. Shit, J.T. What are you dreaming?
Ghosts, Carolyn said. She said he was dreaming about ghosts. “Jay?”
He shook his head slightly, eyes sliding shut. “Better safe than sorry, Mar. I don’t want him to overhear us and think that it’s not safe to talk to me anymore. We’ve been over this—he needs an outlet sometimes, and that’s me.”
“Right,” I whispered, nodding slightly. He was right—if Thom couldn’t talk to him, who would he talk to?
“Let me stow my kit, then we’ll walk. Down to the river, maybe.
“All right,” I said softly. I squeezed his arm and he smiled slightly.
“He doesn’t think there’s anything wrong, does he?”
“With you?” I shrugged a little. “I don’t think so. He hasn’t said anything.”
J.T. nodded, sounding tired and relieved all at once. “Good.”
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