Jeff verified the directions with Barbara one more time before letting her go. He ended the call and put his phone back into his pocket. “I don’t know, Tessa. I don’t know what I want to do. I mean, it is nice to be retired, to not have to dance with death every single night.”
He held her hand. “But I am still strong. I am still alive. I still feel that…that drive to serve and to protect. I am still capable of fighting. I’ve kept myself in shape. I don’t have any physical impediments. It’s just—” He sighed. “—-psychological. I don’t have the self-confidence I used to have. I’m scared that I’ll freeze up. I’m scared that I’ll get bitten. I’m scared that I’ll be changed. The change is hard enough for normal humans. But for us hunters…It’s torture. It’s torment. It always leads to madness.”
Her fingers twitched in his grip.
“I don’t want you to see me go mad. So, what? Should I take up Barbara’s offer? Should I go to Sammy Borscht and try again? Seems like that would be my safest bet.”
But do I want safe?
Yes, I do.
No, I don’t.
“But I don’t live alone anymore. I have you. But you’re not a little girl anymore. How much do you really need me?” Jeff sighed again. “I’ll just have to wait and see what happens with you before I make any decisions.” He raised his head. “LM!”
The half-fey came over to him. “Yes?”
Jeff gave him an assessing look. “You offered me your full loyalty. Did you mean that? Can I trust you?”
“Yes. What do you need me to do?”
“If I leave you alone with Tessa, will you keep her safe? Can I trust you to keep my daughter safe?”
“Yes. I will protect her. You have my solemn promise.”
If I leave her alone, that will be it. She’ll disappear again. She’ll be gone for good. I’ll never see her again.
LM groveled before the ex-hunter. “If I fail to protect her, my life is forfeit. I will surrender myself to you to bend, to break, to tear asunder. I swear this and I will abide by my words.”
“I will hold you to your words and to your promise. You can get up now.”
LM obeyed. “Where are you going?”
“Barbara wanted me to meet up with her dad, herself, and Ambrose. Apparently, she needs to discuss something with all three of us at the same time.”
“I will keep your daughter safe.”
“I know. If anything does happen, wake Raven. Tell him.” Jeff smiled as he knew one thing for absolute certain. “Raven will chase after her any time of the day to save her life. I know he will.” He released Missy’s hand. “I will be back as soon as I can. Stay in here with her. Do NOT leave her alone. Not even for a second. Is that clear?”
“Good. I will be back. I promise.”