~The Dress~ pg 2

The sun shown down too brightly from its high perch over the trees but a constant breeze cooled his skin in the afternoon heat. Alex squinted across the yard to where his recovering brother sat. Chink held a bowl in one hand and a napkin in another while Borris spooned the contents into his mouth. It wasn’t a perfect process – more often than not the broth on the spoon ended up running down his chin – but Chink was ready to wipe it off before it fell to his lap. They talked and laughed in between bites reminding Alex of everything that had gone into building their friendship. 

When they first caught sight of the two of them, their expressions darkened. Chink hid a flash of anger while Borris looked white as a sheet, eyes shining. Alex’s heart went out to both of them. He understood and offered an apologetic nod in their direction. Fiora seemed oblivious to the pain her choice in wardrobe caused, but there was nothing for it. 

Before Nivia had left, she had sat down with all of them, giving them an earful for their fault in all that had happened the previous day. She explained in unnecessary detail how the girl’s efforts to right her wrong was the only reason he was alive, and insisted that all of them let bygones be bygones. Alex wasn’t sure he could. He had seen the blood soaked fabric the girl had worn yesterday - his blood - right before Nivia had thrown it into the fire. They had checked her pack the day before; they all knew she owned nothing else. The girl had to wear something, but Alex wasn't happy about it. He cast an involuntary sideways glance at her profile. As uncomfortable as it was to see her in it, the dress suited her. He turned to face forward again, blowing out a slow breath the burning in his lungs told he was holding.

Chink and Borris did their best to ignore them both, going back to the task of getting the soup into Borris’s belly. Fiora had Alex circle the house a few times and every time they passed the two men he couldn’t help but smile. On the third round her curiosity at his glances and smiles must have been more than she could stand. “Copper for your thoughts,” she offered.

The End

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