“Three months and I still feel like we rattle around in here.”

“Do you not like it?”

“No, Jory. I like it very much. It’s just hard to adjust to after so long.” She limped from the kitchen with two cups. Jory grinned as she moved slowly and she scowled. “Don’t you dare.”

“After all that time you teased me? No, I shall never stop.” Jory reached up for a cup and she sat with only her own. “Did you see the news report?”

The news was, well, a new thing. They hadn’t seen news of any type ever since they were conscripted. Not that she believed anything she saw. The border area they’d found themselves settled in received news from both sides of the fight. Both sides lied.

“Which news?” she asked.

“About him.” They never did refer to him as anything but him. Jory might call the president dictator something else, but when she was around he didn’t have a title or name.

Feathers ruffled and the cup in her hand trembled so she leaned forward to set it on the table. Best to not hold something hot when bad news is soon to be shared. Jory’s free hand settled on her thigh and she tensed up. How bad was this going to be if he thought she’d need physical contact?

“He’s announced a new push. Along the whole border. Regardless of any neutral lines drawn.”

“He knows I’m here.” The sentenced was whispered.

“Marcelina, we don’t know.”

She surged to her feet and hurried to the window to look out. She saw no one, but she closed the curtains. Her fingers shook and she almost pulled down the curtains in the process. The door should be locked. Was the door locked? No, first she had to get Dosia. They needed to get her home where she would be safe until they could flee.

Someone screamed. Marcelina looked around and realized it was herself. Jory stood beside her, his hand on her arm. Why did he look so calm? Didn’t he understand?

“Marcelina, it’s ok. He doesn’t know where you are. We’re safe.”

“It’s not. Jory, where’s Dosia? Why isn’t she here?”

Jory pulled her closer and she whimpered against his shoulder. Her fingers dug into his back as she huddled closer and wrapped her wings around them both. They needed to get Dosia safe.

“Shh. Marcelina, I promise we’re going to be ok. He doesn’t know-”

“He has spies. They’re everywhere, Jory. You know that. We’re not safe here.”

He didn’t say anything. He did listen as she worried aloud about what would happen and how they needed to leave. The door opened and Marcelina disentangled from Jory and shoved him behind her.

“Mama? Daddy?”

Oh, thank goodness. She was safe. They could leave.

“Dosia, terror? Go up to your room. Mama’s not feeling well.”

“Is it because of, you know?”

“Yes. Go on.”

“Ok. Love you, mama. Love you, daddy!”

Marcelina pulled away and raced to the door to lock it. Then she went around the rest of the house from the basement to the attic to be sure nothing was unlocked. Jory followed her, not speaking. Once everything was secure he steered her toward their bedroom.


“Is safe. Marcelina, you should lie down.”

“It’s not safe.”

“I promise. We’ll be safe.”

“You think I’m crazy. Doctor Shepherd said I was paranoid. I’m not.”

“No, you’re not. It’ll be ok. We’ll sit here. We’ll be fine. When you’re feeling better, we can talk.”

“I don’t want these people to die.”

“Well, neither do I. And we’ll be sure it doesn’t happen.”

Jory continued to speak, quietly and calmly, until Marcelina stopped shaking. Eventually she was able to think rationally once more. Although, for the next week she could think of nothing but what trouble might be coming their way.