He achingly leant against the doorframe of her room, head held low, shoulders slumped and feeling a chill gathering on his flesh...odd, as the air around him hung heavily hot and stagnant with fear.
He knew that his daughter had promised to be here when he returned, but her behaviour had been ever more erratic of late, and despite his pleas, she was increasingly becoming involved with Duke and his questionable friends. It wasn't that Duke wasn't a good man, just that he was so much older than Elizabeth and as much as she acted like an adult, she was not yet quite sixteen.
The last time this happened she had not returned for three days and he still hadn't been able to obtain the truth from her as to her whereabouts. Her fighting alongside him had not been an option that he had entertained, but he was fairly sure that she had sought acceptance with Duke's friends, and now it was not just the fighting issue that he was concerned with.
He sighed heavily, and for the thousandth time experienced deep regret that he had not been able to prevent his wife from leaving him. She had been so much better at controlling Elizabeth.
He sank to the floor, his rifle slung across his legs, the feel of the cool metal pressing into his thigh being the last thing he was aware of as he fell into a troubled, dark sleep.