XVII.

Anastasia looked up from the floor at the kind face. Green-grey eyes looked into hers. A blistered tired hand with thin spindly fingers stroked her fair hair. She sighed in content. Her mother was home.

Found in the rubble. Brought back to life. Here with her and her sisters and Rex Hender now. Anastasia had known where to find her mother as soon as the knowledge found her. The instinct.

But not only that.

In a chair at the other end of the room was a tired-looking fair-haired man with lines in his face. He looked as if he had seen more pain and suffering in life than life itself was worth. He had not told his daughters his story, or even his wife; if he had, she was not telling. All we know is that he had never drowned. He was a good swimmer. It was lucky that his co-sailor and attempted murderer had been too much of an idiot to notice how near a desolate band of rocks they were. If he had noticed, then Anastasia’s father may have drowned.

Perhaps Anastasia sensed some of this. She was grave as she saw his grey-tinged face. He was weak. And in pain. Pain was etched onto his face as he closed his eyes and breathed in and out steadily.

Now she saw her sisters. They were also weak and fragile, with brittle bones and misty eyes that filled easily. For once in her life, Anastasia felt superior to Alice and Carolyn and Hope. And it was not just because she had the biggest biceps.

Then she turned to Rex Hender. Handsome, kind and caring, he was the best thing that had come from the whole experience of the past few months. By far the best. And she knew that without thinking about it. She smiled.

She had instincts. She knew she had.

The End

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