Just Once - Page 39

“Because it's not!” Gwen said indignantly. “When Mommy got hurt she was too surprised for us to become one person, but I knew she wanted me to go somewhere safe, so I did! I went to Daddy!” She punctuated her point with an emphatic nod.

“How did you know who--?” Caleb started to ask, but Gwen interrupted him.

“Mommy and Daddy were one person when they made me,” she reminded him with exaggerated patience. “I knew. I know lots of things, but 'specially about my Daddy,” she added, sounding proud.

Caleb exhaled slowly as he processed that. “Yeah . . . I guess you would at that . . .” he began, but this time he was interrupted by a distinctly different voice than Gwen's.

“What in the name of sanity is going on here?!” a commanding voice bellowed.

“Speaking of 'Daddy' . . .” Caleb sighed at the same moment Gwen squealed, “Grandpa!”

At the sound of the king's voice, people began to snap out of their reveries, though none as reluctantly as Art and Annika. The two shooters were a close second though, seeing as they had been stripped naked and bound by the expediency of their own clothing, with their incriminating (if profoundly inoperable) weapons twisted around their hands.

While disparate security forces (Annika's and her father's) came together smoothly to establish order despite being unclear what had just happened, Annika's father only had eyes for the foreigner he had seen holding his daughter's hand.

“You!” the king thundered. “Stand away from her!”

Demonstrating truly heroic levels of self-control, Art silently complied.

As the King got closer, he stopped, his eyes widening in recognition. "You!" he hissed.

“And thus fadeth the hope he wouldn't realize who Art was,” Caleb sighed.

Recognizing the storm about to break over Art, Caleb forcibly reminded himself that he was holding not just a child, but the king's granddaughter in his arms. Even Caleb could see that saying or, even worse, doing something rash would only exacerbate matters, so he bravely stood his ground and did his best to hold his tongue. Even so, Caleb couldn't stop himself from thinking, King or no king, that man needs an attitude adjustment if he can't see everything you've done for him and his, O brother 'o mine, and I wish I could be the one to give it to him for you!

Page 39

Previous ~ Index ~ Next