People were beginning to emerge from buildings when Ronan and Daniela made it back to the camp. She was amazed that Ronan managed to get them both back inside without anyone stopping them.
“I’ll get rid of this,” he said once they were inside. “You go back to bed before anyone notices you’re not there.”
“Hang on,” Daniela said, grabbing Ronan’s arm before he walked off. “I don’t have any sheets on my bed.”
“OK then, follow me,” he said, leading her down another corridor. About halfway down he turned and opened a door to reveal stacks of clean, white sheets. He pulled some out of the cupboard and thrust them into Daniela’s hands.
“How do you know where all this stuff is already?” She asked, astounded.
“Like I said, I have my ways. Now go put those on your bed before anyone can catch you.”
Daniela nodded and scurried off back down the corridor towards the dormitories. People were stirring as she walked into the room so Daniela made her bed as quickly as possible, throwing the sheets onto the bed and climbing under them. She lay in bed, pretending to be asleep, as the first few people began to get up. A few moments later the bell that rang to signal that everyone should be up and out of bed sounded and Daniela dragged herself into clothes along with the rest of her fellow soldiers.
As she entered the hall to get some food, Daniela was amazed to see Ronan already sitting at a table, breakfast in front of him. Once she had collected her food, Daniela made her way over to the seat beside him.
“It’s sorted,” he whispered as she sat down.
“Thank you,” she replied, not wanting to ask how he managed it when they were in such a public place.
“You’re looking a bit rough,” Ian Jones commented to Daniela as he passed her seat, pausing as if he were waiting to be invited to join them.
“Bad night’s sleep,” she mumbled in reply.
“After all the work you did yesterday? I’m surprised. Most people sleep like a log after a training session with Garrett.”
“Want to join us?” Ronan asked, diverting the conversation away from Daniela. “We’ve got room.”
“Thanks,” Ian said, placing his tray down next to Daniela’s and sliding into the space beside her. “So you guys settling into the routine well then? How are the beds in your part of the camp? Ours are terrible.”
“Not too bad,” Ronan said, shoveling some food onto his fork. “But I’m used to sleeping on roofs so any sort of bed is a step up from that.”
“Sleeping on roofs?” Ian asked, shocked. “Where on earth did we find you from? Join up to take advantage of the free food and bed?”
“No,” he replied calmly. “Someone asked me to join. Someone I couldn’t refuse.” A small smile began to pull at Ronan’s lips, his eyes flashing momentarily in Daniela’s direction.
“Oh really?” Ian replied with a smirk. “And would this someone happen to be a special lady?”
“You could say that.” Ronan replied, Daniela’s heart beating a little faster as she saw the mischievous look in his eyes. “But maybe not in the way you’re thinking. I barely knew anything about too girl who asked me to join the army. I wasn’t even planning on fighting.”
“So what convinced you to change your mind?”
“She had particularly beautiful and persuasive eyes.” Ronan winked almost imperceptibly at Daniela. The adrenaline that had been pumping through her body when she was afraid of being discovered began to drain from her veins. Ronan wouldn’t give her away. He was just winding her up, knowing exactly which buttons to press in order to get the best reaction.
“Will you excuse us?” Daniela said to Ian, rising from her chair and grabbing Ronan’s arm, dragging him up with her. “I’ve just remembered something Ronan and I need to do urgently before training.”
“But you’ve hardly touched your food, Danny,” Ian protested. “You’ll need all the energy you can get.”
“I’m not hungry,” she said over her shoulder as she hurried out of the room, Ronan in tow.
“What’s up with you? Ronan asked jokily when they were alone.
“What was that?” Daniela said, ignoring his unworried tone, her remaining fear turning to anger. “You could have blown my cover, he could have guessed who I was.”
“I didn’t say anything that would point him towards you.”
“Yes, but a little bit of asking around and he’ll find that we joined up together. He’s not stupid.”
“Why would he look into where I joined up and who was with me? We’re just unimportant foot soldiers. Besides, it’s a big leap for him to assume that you were the woman who convinced me to join up. He’s more likely to think that the same woman convinced us to join, or that we just happened to bump into each other. Ian might not be stupid but he’d never think that a woman could fool enough people to make it to training. You need to relax, Danny.”
“I’m sorry,” Daniela said as she began to realise that Ronan’s words did make some sort of sense. “I’m just on edge. I can’t afford to be caught.”
“And you won’t be,” Ronan reassured her. “I’ll look after you, I promise.” The mischievous glint had gone from his eyes and his face was deadly serious. Before Daniela could do anything about it, her face was pressed against Ronan’s chest and his arms were holding her in a tight hug.
After the initial shock of being embraced, Daniela began to relax and remember how good it felt to have someone’s arms around her.
“Thank you,” she mumbled into his chest, breathing in the musky scent that clung to Ronan’s clothes.
The sudden sound of footsteps approaching down the corridor made Daniela come crashing back down to earth, pushing Ronan away from her and escaping from his embrace. Her face flushed when she saw Garrett coming towards them, a confused expression on his face.
“You alright?” He asked, pausing as he reached the spot where Daniela and Ronan were standing.
“Yes, sir,’ Daniela replied a little too quickly, immediately realising how guilty she sounded.
“Good,” Garrett replied. “Don’t be late for training then.” He walked away, his eyes lingering slightly on Daniela before he turned his head the other way to turn a corner.
“I should go,” Daniela said, not waiting for Ronan to reply. She was angry with herself for letting her guard down and allowing Ronan in. Now Garrett was suspicious that something was going on. But the fear Daniela felt when his eyes were on her wasn’t the kind she expected. It was a simmering, excited fear, like she wanted him to look at her.