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Nature Abhors a Vacuum

trusting himself to speak. Aiden saw the look in his eyes though, and could see he was
barely holding himself together.
“Armin is a kind, stable man,” she continued, “and frankly he's a little closer to my
age. I mean, when you think about it, you and I being together is almost like robbing the
cradle, right?”
“Yeah, makes perfect sense,” Colt replied unemotionally. “Well, if you‟re happy,
I‟m happy.” She smiled faintly, then stood and reached for her equipment.
“I‟ve hurt you, I can tell. Now that you and your friends are recovering, I shall take
my leave. Commander Armin is still quite put out with you Dante, so I suggest you steer
clear of the area for another week or two. If you find it within you to apologise for
knocking two of his teeth out, I‟ll put in a good word for you when it‟s time.”
“I‟ll consider it,” Colt said with a shrug, as stubborn as ever. “Take care of yourself
Mona.”
“Be well,” she said with a husky voice. On her way out the door, Aiden thought he
spotted a tear rolling down her cheek, but he couldn‟t be sure.
“You knocked his teeth out?” Pacian blurted as soon as the door was closed.
“He was moving in on my woman, what‟s a man supposed to do?” the big man
grunted.
“Use words instead of fists,” Nellise advised, clearly unimpressed with his actions.
“Alright Aiden, that‟s as much as I can do for you now. Just take it easy for the next day
or two and you‟ll be fine.”
“Thanks,” he replied, distracted by the growling in his stomach. He dressed in his
dry clothes and together, they ate the stew Mona had left for them, with Sayana putting
away more than double what anyone else managed. All things considered, everyone
seemed to be in fairly good shape as they finished off the contents of the pot and rested
next to the fire.
“That hit the spot but our supplies are ruined and there‟s nothing else to eat,” Colt
grumbled. “If we're all able to move now, I think we should get back to Bracksford right
away. I dreamed of roast pork last night and after what we just went through, I'll be
damned if I'm going to sit around here all day and go hungry.”
“I suppose they'd have fresh supplies coming in by now,” Aiden mused. “Maybe we
can have a drink in the memory of Clavis MacAliese, without whom we wouldn't be
sitting here right now.”
“In more ways than one,” Pacian added caustically. “And before you get cross with
me, just remember that he tricked us into going with him, with lies.”
“You wouldn't have that axe without him,” Aiden reminded him, pointing at the
gleaming axe lying next to Pacian‟s bed. “You know it's going to be worth a fortune
when you go to sell it, so don't try telling us you didn't benefit from all this.”
“I don't even care about the axe,” Pacian shot back, “it just seemed a waste to leave it
there, that's all. His family might like it back maybe.”
“I'm sure you wouldn't try selling it to them for a King‟s ransom,” Colt growled
sarcastically.
“You know what? I don't even want this damned thing anymore,” Pacian yelled with
a rising temper. “I didn't take it to get rich, but you don't want to believe me? I'm fine
with that. Here Sy, have a priceless heirloom.” He grabbed the axe and passed it over to
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