Missy beamed at Jeff. “I did it and it wasn’t so bad this time!” The nurse covered her with a blanket. “I made it all around the whole block without stopping to take a breath.”
“That’s my girl.”
“Have you ever been hospitalized before?” Missy asked.
“Who, me? Plenty of times.”
“Is there anything you need?” the nurse asked Jeff. “Any questions?”
“Nah. I’m good.”
“I’m good too.” Missy said.
The nurse left the room.
“Yeah, you’d be surprised how many injuries a hunter can get in a lifetime of hunting. And that includes training injuries.”
“Would you ever want to go back to it? I mean, back to being a hunter, not back to being injured.”
“I know.” Jeff shifted his weight. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. See, right now I’m a singer for hire. Bar mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, Christmas tree lighting festivals…You get the idea. If the price is right, I’ll sing at it. It’s a good job. Pays well. No insurance, but it’s something I love doing.”
Missy sat up. “But?”
He elbow-propped on the bedrail. “But I had a talk with Hildreth the other day.”
“That hot guy in the tuxedo?”
Jeff smiled. “Yeah, him. He thinks I should come out of retirement. At least, come to Havaton and do some hunts with him. And, honestly? I want to, but I don’t know. I just got you back and you’re finally conscious again. I want us to be a family again, Tessa, even if it’s just you and me. But if I’m still able to hunt—I don’t know.”
She frowned. “Why would you want to go back? Sounds like you get injured a lot. What if you get injured really bad? What if a vampire bites you? What if you get changed into a vampire? What if—-”
“I know. I know. I have those fears too. That’s why I’ve stayed retired. But I’m still strong and healthy. I still have the stamina. I could still do it.”
“But you aren’t sure if you should.”
“Yeah. I know what happens to hunters when they are changed. I never want to be like that. I don’t want to put Hildreth in that position where he has to put me down.”
“Then, don’t do it. Stay as you are. Would that be enough for you?”
He held her closest hand. “You are more than enough.”
LM watched their conversation unfold.
Jeff isn’t as cold and uncaring as he seems. He has a heart and I don’t know what to think about that. If Capernaum were here…
If Capernaum were here.
Am I going to spend the rest of my life thinking ‘If only Capernaum were here’? Will I ever want anything else? Or anyone else? Does it even make sense to feel this way? He’s dead. He’s gone. He isn’t coming back. He travels with the Ancient Ones. He is free and safe.
But I still miss him.
It doesn’t make any sense.
He looked at the four matryoshkaed March sisters on the book’s front cover. No matter how he looked at it, those four girls seemed to be utterly terrified of giant Marmee…which was reasonable. “Wait.” He squinted and brought the book closer to his face. He focused on Possibly Professor Bhaer/Mr. Laurence/Mr. March. “What? What?” The mysterious male figure was wearing a black dress. “Is that supposed to be Aunt March? Why does she look like a man? And why? Just so much why?”
LM shook his head in dismay.
It obviously wasn’t drawn by a fey. A fey would never draw such an inferior attempt at a woman. A fey would draw it right. A fey would…
He frowned. “But I’m not full fey. I’m only half. My other half is human.” He traced the mannish shape of Aunt March’ face.
Just half and half. Only Capernaum saw me as whole. Will anyone else see me that way?
He thought about Kalyla’s words and lowered the book to his knees again. “The answers aren’t in my head. I need to take it one step at a time. One doorway. One line. That’s all I can do.”
Jeff laughed at something Missy said.
And it was a good sound.
So, I’ll take a step forward.