There had been several months of quiet. They hadn’t even been sent out on any missions. Marcelina was going stir crazy, but she didn’t dare say anything lest it be taken the wrong way. The last thing she wanted was for Jory to think she wanted to be away from him. Dosia had been thrilled to have her mama and daddy around all the time. It was all going well.

“You’re bored.”

Marcelina looked up from the comic she read to Dosia. Despite the shake of her head, Jory grinned at her. Dosia slapped her hand against the paper.

“Mama. Read.”

“Dosia, take the comic to your room. Let mama talk to daddy.”

“I don’t want to!”

“Then you do not want pudding.”

“I do want pudding!”

“Then go to your room.”

Dosia glared at her parents, but she took the comic and stomped her way to her room.

“You know, that will stop working eventually.”

Jory pulled himself up from his chair and made unsteady steps to the sofa. Marcelina helped him sit. Today had been a bad day and he’d taken a fall while in the lab. As hard as it had been, she hadn’t freaked out. Not while he was awake.

When he’d been in bed, sedated and resting, she’d locked herself in the bathroom and cried until Dosia had demanded she come out and give her lunch. Jory leaned against her and she wrapped her arms around him.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m worried about you.”

“No, you’re not. Marcelina, what’s wrong?”

“I can’t stop thinking about it.”

It had been a year, but she could still hear the president dictator’s words. His whispers of controlling them here. He’d never lied to her.  And now, after everything she'd been through, she very likely lived on his sufferance.


“Don’t say I shouldn’t worry, Jory. Don’t say it was only- that he only- just don’t say it!”

“Have I ever?”

No, he hadn’t. She’d told him what she’d been told. After she’d managed to make it back to the base. He’d promised he would look into it. More importantly, Jory’d never said she shouldn’t believe what she’d been told.

“I’m sorry, Jory.” She kissed his cheek and hugged him tighter.

Jory grinned and poked her in the side. “I haven’t forgotten it either, Marcelina. I promise, we’ll sort it out. Only, not tonight.”

He sounded too tired and she worried even more about him. The last thing he would do was admit he didn’t feel well. Not that he had to since she knew him. Marcelina slid out from under him.

“I’m going to go read to the terror. Then I am going to take her to get pudding.” He made to stand and she shook her head. “No, you rest. I’ll wear her out and then get her to bed.”

“And then, Mrs. Couch?”

Marcelina winked at her husband as he stretched out on the sofa. “Then I will do the opposite with you, Mr. Couch.”

“I get pudding in bed?”

The pillow on the chair was tossed at his head before she went to fetch Dosia.