For King and Country – Chapter 21 Excerpt

Saba signed the letter, dated it the tenth of Magnius, and then placed it, unfolded, in the large official-looking envelope.  And so officially ended his term as chief of police.  Twenty-two years with the Port Dechantagne Police Department.  That was a lifetime.  Maybe it was time to let that lifetime go.  He had time for another one.

Hearing footsteps, he looked to see his daughter enter from the kitchen.  She was wearing a white day dress trimmed with black that made her look older than her sixteen years.  Almost seventeen years, he thought.

“Where have you been, DeeDee?”

“I’ve been staying with the Stephensons.”

“You what?”

“It’s all fine.  Gran has been my chaperone the whole time.”  She crossed her arms and gave him a look that he had seen from her mother on many occasions.  “You know, you haven’t even asked where Mummy is.”

“I know she’s not where she’s supposed to be,” he said.  “She’s not right here supporting me.”

“You know how she is, Dad.  You have to be the strong one.  I know you’re having a terrible time.  I do.  But you’re able to see yourself through.  Mummy’s never been strong, but she is your wife.  It’s your duty to take care of her.”

“When did you get so bloody inciteful, little girl?” he growled.  “Is this wisdom a product of your vast sixteen year’s experience in life?”

He licked the envelope, placed it on the table, and then sealed it shut by slamming his fist down on it with only slightly less force than it would have taken to splinter the sturdy pine.

“I’m going to my room,” said DeeDee, turning and starting up the stairs.  “Julius will be by to speak to you later.  He wants to ask you something.”

“Perhaps he should come another day,” said Saba, pointedly.  “I’m not in a very agreeable frame of mind.”

She didn’t answer or look back, just continued up the stairs.

 

* * * * *

 

“What else can I get you?” Bryony Baxter asked her husband, as she hovered around the breakfast table.

“More beans would be ace,” he said.

She hurried into the kitchen and returned with the pot, hot off the stove, ladling more of the sweet, smoky beans onto his plate.

“I could do with a few more beans,” said Sen.

“Of course, dear.  How about my big boy?”

Kerry shook his head, though his attention was on a tiny wooden replica of a battleship, parked just to the left of his plate.

“I believe the future navy man is full,” said Baxter.

Bryony returned the beans to the kitchen and then took her seat next to her husband.  Just as he was reaching out for his teacup, she snatched his hand in hers, and pulled it to her breast.

“When do you think you’ll be leaving?” she asked.

“Leaving where?”

“Leaving here… for Yessonarah.”

“Oh, not for weeks.”

He looked at Sen, who swirled her finger next to her head, forming a crazy gesture.

“You need to stop fixating on my trip,” he said.  “It’s not a big deal.  I won’t be leaving until the princess goes home, and by then, the train line will have covered a great deal of the distance.  It will be no more exciting than taking the train from Brech City to Booth.”

“Then you won’t mind if Kerry, Addy, and I come along?”

“Don’t be silly.  Being safe enough for a man and safe enough for a little girl are two very different things.”

“Well, at least you’re taking Sen with you.”

“That hasn’t been decided,” said Baxter.

“Oh, it has,” said Sen, taking a bite of bacon.  “We all voted, and you lost, so you have to take me.”

“Getting to spend time with you is not something that I consider a loss, but I do think I should be informed ahead of time when these so-called votes are taken.”

“We’ll be sure to let you know in the future,” said the thirteen-year-old with a smirk.

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