"So that's alright with everyone?" I asked, adding a little power to my voice. "I mean there's a lot more to go through but I suppose that can wait until morning, eh?"
I smiled widely as my friends nodded. "Anyone for another drink?" I chuckled before wandering away.
"Everything alright?" Lara asked, placing a comforting hand on my shoulder. I turned to face her and made sure that the smile was still covering my face.
"Of course!" I declared.
"You just seem a bit..." Her voice trailed away.
"Old? Frail?" I suggested, a little mock horror on my face.
She looked at me intently. "Worried." she finished, her feelings penetrating her face.
"It's risky." I muttered. "But you already knew that."
"And I'm still doing it. We all are." She smiled as she spoke. I knew that she was just saying what I wanted to hear - something that she had become pretty good at in our line of work - and I simply let her words wash over me.
"And I'm a little worried about her." I watched my hand rise to subtly point at the girl.
"Who? Nik?" she asked, turning slowly. "She's Jazz's sister. She'll be fine."
"Let's hope so." I muttered. I looked down to my shoes and wondered if I could still touch my toes. Probably not any more. I frowned before facing her again.
She was looking away from me. "But we will all be ready." she said to me and I smiled. I patted her on the shoulder and watched her walk away. I ordered a drink and looked at it for a moment when it arrived.
I started to question myself - was this the right thing to do? Could I seriously risk their futures? I saw the younger faces laughing and grinning. They were the best of the best. Hell, they were better than me now my arthritis was kicking in.
What was I thinking? Of course they can handle it! I laughed at myself. "What's so funny?" Lara asked.
As my laughter slowed, I felt the urge to cough grow and so I pulled my handkerchief from my pocket and coughed into it. It was loud and sounded rough, gaining me a couple of sympathetic looks. I pulled my face back and looked at the cloth.
My heart slowed as I looked at the droplet of crimson on the white sheet. I stopped myself from reacting further and folded it away. I released my hand from the grasp of the handkerchief and my pocket and liberated my pack of cards in the process.
I put on a brave face and told everyone that I was fine. "Anyone for a quick game?" I grinned.