War of Honor is coming, slow and sure. Camp NaNoWriMo added another 25k words.
Here are some of them.
The girl got up, still holding the object in her hand. It dangled down, a string of beads that flashed in the light of the moon, with a heavy cross underneath it. She paused at the foot of the steps, and he could hear clearly enough to make out her words now. “Je vous salue, Marie, pleine de grâces.”
Hail Mary, full of grace.
She grasped the cross firmly and pulled something else from around her neck. Ben pressed further back, ignoring the ache in his heels.
It was time to reach for the gun now.
“What is the end of it all?”
Jaeryn. Charlotte. Matthew. Terry. An earnest, dark-haired girl in France.
There was no happiness in this for all of them.
When he came the next night, Terry sat on the edge of his mattress smoking and looking in a dreaming sort of way across the room. Jaeryn followed his gaze to a polished wooden baby cradle standing alone in a shaft of sunlight. He choked. “What is that?”
“It’s for babies to sleep in, doc. You’ve seen ‘em before.” Terry grinned and blew smoke.
“But why do you—please don’t tell me you promised to look after a baby for someone.”
He picked up the chair and smashed it through the beautiful stained glass in a rain of tinkling ruin. The blue and yellow shards fell like a shower and Gina ducked, throwing her arm over her face. Jaeryn smashed it again and dropped the chair, then picked her up by the waist and raised her to the sill. “Get out and run. Don’t let them see you.”
Far away in the grass, a boy tumbled with his golden puppy, shrieking with laughter. Ben’s face softened as he watched him. If he had a son with curly hair like that, and he could come home after work to family and a puppy and unadulterated joy—
It would be wonderful.
He dropped the crusts into the crumpled brown paper parcel and pulled something else from his pocket—something worn and smooth and wooden, beads that had been between his fingers since he stood in church on tiny legs, looking up at the gray-haired, imposing hero beside him.
“Sé do bheatha, a Mhuire, atá lán de ghrásta,” he breathed, “tá an Tiarna leat.”
Closer to the house, a gray cat sat on the porch as the cab pulled to a stop, crouched into fighting stance with Percy. Percy crouched low, his fur melting over his paws and shoulders like blue-black ebony. Jaeryn ran up past them both, causing them to break their glare and hiss at him.
He took her out to the cabby. “I may need you to kidnap someone. Or break in somewhere.”
Gina shot him a sideways glance. “When have you ever known me to have a compunction about kidnapping?”
Jaeryn smiled in spite of himself. “Never.”
Ernest picked up the basket and threw back the lid. Inside was a wooden box, two thin books, a dirt-stained hand trowel, and a Browning handgun. He picked up the Browning. The chamber was empty. His eyes met Nathan’s, and Nathan glanced again at the precious bundle of exhaustion lying on the bed. Wordlessly, Ernest picked up her hand and kissed it. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” he whispered. “You are worthy to be saluted.”
All words copyright 2018 by Schuyler McConkey, McConkey Press.