Beth was walking down to the gym in a pair of Isabella’s black leggings and Isabella’s long-sleeved t-shirt.
“I swear, these are the most decent things you own,” Beth murmured.
Ibby laughed. “I think so.”
“You don’t even own any pyjamas,” she muttered.
“I’ve never needed any,” she grinned with a wink.
Beth cringed inwardly. “I need no more details, Ibby.”
“You wouldn’t want them,” she giggled.
Of course, at this slightly awkward point, Jay walked into the corridor from the firing range.
Beth and Isabella stopped in their steps, looking at him. They glanced at each other and both burst out laughing. Jay’s face turned into one of complete and utter bemusement, a confused smile on his lips.
“What are you two giggling about?” he asked.
“Doesn’t matter,” Isabella managed to say between fits.
He grinned and looped an arm around Isabella’s waist, pulling her to him.
“What are you giggling about?” he said again, smiling slightly.
Ibby caught her breath and tried to hide her smile. “Nothing.”
Beth felt like an intruder into this tender moment, watching Jay and Isabella in a lover’s embrace. Their affectionate smiles for each other obvious and warm.
She felt a pang of envy for her friends, wishing Robert was here for her to hug and to hold like this. Envy wasn’t something she was either used to feeling or had expected.
She felt no great depression. The misery she’d been used to feeling was nowhere to be seen. Sadness, however, was omnipresent; a tear came to her eye but she dashed it before either of the happy couple could notice.
“You look very... sporty, Beth,” Jay noted, stepping back from Isabella.
“Yeah, well, Elijah said he wanted to see if I could defend myself,” she shrugged in response, forcing a weak smile.
He frowned. “Why? You’ve got eighteen—seventeen,” he corrected himself, “in this place to protect you.”
Beth found her face to be the one frowning now. Seventeen? Not eighteen? Of course, she realised, Robert wasn’t here. Even Jay had forgotten Robert’s presence—or lack thereof. The thought was a sobering one; if his Brothers, who’d known him a hell of a lot longer than she had could move on, even a little – yes, they’d never fallen in love with him (as far as she knew, at least) but she found comfort in the thought nonetheless. And she felt guilty because of it.
“You think I don’t trust you to take care of me?” she asked rhetorically, her anger surging unexpectedly. “More than anything. You went to that slayerhouse to save me. Yeah, it was on Robert’s orders, but you still came. You saved my life, on more than one occasion I’m sure; you run this thing like the secret service it is so there are loads of things I don’t know. I trust in you more than anyone else, pretty much. So don’t pull that card with me.”