“Ma, Dixon is a friend of Ted’s. Are you expecting him back soon?”
“Should be here any minute. He was at sanctuary and intended to stop back for a late lunch.”
The front door opened.
“Why, that’s him now.” Faith placed her honeyed bread down and stood. The table wobbled. The plates and cups jiggled.
“No, let me,” Dixon said, his hand on her arm, urging her to stay put. He went to the doorway facing the front entrance.
“Well, as I live and breathe!” Ted exclaimed from the next room. When he reached Dixon, he embraced him and clapped him on the back.
“Ted, my dear friend, it’s so good to see you.”
“Whatever are you doing here?” Ted’s eyes glistened.
Dressed in his Oathtaker’s garb, which was unlike that generally worn by those in training, in that it sported a series of decorations depicting his training and rank, he stood with his arm around Dixon’s shoulders, smiling.
“How is Rowena? Never mind that,” he continued as he glanced about, “where is Rowena? Why, I haven’t seen you two since . . . When? A couple years ago or so, right? Certainly not since I came back here to Polesk.”
Dixon’s smile fell. His eyes welled with tears.
Ted stopped cold. “What’s going on?”
Mara thought how quickly she’d become devoted to the girls and found herself, perhaps for the first time, truly empathizing with Dixon over his loss. Tears suddenly and unexpectedly sprang to her eyes.
“We need to talk, Ted.”
Ted looked around the room. Francis’s eyes held a question. There was confusion on Faith’s face. His gaze shifted to Mara. He nodded at her. Turning back to his old friend, he said, “Let’s go, then. I know just the place.”
Dixon glanced at Mara, who tipped her head in response. She was fine now that the girls were nursing well.
“Take your time now. We’ll have a bite for you when you get back,” Faith called out.
Ted moved a basket of clean laundry to the side, straightened out a rug at his feet, then opened the back screen door. It squealed in protest. He gestured for Dixon to take the lead.
Mara stepped to the door as they walked away, grateful Dixon would be able to speak openly with someone he clearly trusted and held in high regard.
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