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2304_forgeofwar_chapter19

I’ve met all kinds of fathers in my time.  Some aren’t worthy of the name, either because they don’t pay attention to their children, or pay too much bad attention to them.  Some wave shotguns at anyone who looks at their daughters, others don’t care, and some are really scary.  Some fathers never utter a single threatening word, and yet let you know they are completely willing to do whatever is necessary to anyone who makes their little girl cry.

 

Father Knows Best

 

A dim red star shone brighter than the other stars in the night sky.  Streetlights and storefronts blazed light onto the downtown streets.  Men and women filed down the sidewalks, some in suits coming from work or late New Years parties and others in plain civilian clothes.  Some on bikes or boards flew down the street, and larger vehicles floated by overhead, sometimes coming down to land in front of a store with constant beeps warning of their approach.  Landing City never slept according to everything he’d heard, and this night proved those stories true.

Jack walked down the sidewalk, his arm crooked out with Samantha’s slid through it.  It felt good to just be walking with her.  They walked by a store playing a song and Jack recognized it.  His mind went back to the beach and bonfire and singing voices for a moment and he began to hum the tune.

“I love that song,” Samantha murmured, her head against his shoulder pulling him back to the present.

Jack let his humming fade away and pulled in a long breath.  “Me too.”  He swallowed.  “We used to sing it on the beach back home all the time.”

Samantha leaned closer to him and he felt her breath on his neck.  “Are you a fan of T&J?”

Jack chuckled and spread his free arm out wide in a grand gesture.  “My Dear, I am a charter member of the T&J fan club!”

Samantha hugged his arms tighter.  “Me too,” she whispered.  He looked down at her in disbelief.  “Really,” she said in response with a wry smile.  “I have their pre-production vids.  From before they got signed.  I’ve been watching them since before they had a career.  They’ve got talent.”

Jack smiled and watched those vids in the perfect clarity of eidetic memories that he was pretty certain went back further in time than her fandom.  He just nodded though.  “Yes, they do.”

She shook her head.  “I’m sorry,” she whispered.  “I wish we could go see them.  I had tickets for their concert but…” she shrugged.  “I didn’t want to go alone so I gave them to a girlfriend.”

Jack looked at her and wondered if he was ready for this.  “You want to see them in concert?”

Samantha sighed and shook her head.  “Of course, but they’ve been sold out for months!”

Jack nodded his head and reconsidered once more.  It had been a long time since he’d seen them sing.  Maybe it was time for that to change.  “I guess we’ll just have to do something about that then.  Betty, could you ask about backstage tickets for me, plus one, at one of the T&J concerts, please?”

“Of course, Jack,” her voice answered for both to hear.

Samantha gave him a confused voice.  “Jack, they’re sold out!  And they don’t just give backstage tickets to anybody who asks.”

Jack shrugged and gave her a sly smile.  “True.  But I think I can get us something.”

Samantha gave him a sad shake of her head and patted his arm.  “Jack, I’m sorry but they just don’t have anything.  Trust me.  I’ve tried, and I know all the tricks to get them.”

“You wanna bet?”

Samantha’s eyes narrowed, she cocked her head to the side, and pursed her lips in suspicion.  “I don’t know.  What do you wanna bet?”

Jack chuckled.  “Oh, nothing you wouldn’t approve of,” he said with a wink.

She grasped his hand in a firm grip.  “You can narrow it down a little more than that,” she said in a sweet tone.

Jack sighed and pulled in a deep breath.  “Always trying to rush me,” he said with a shake of his head.  “How about another swim on the beach?” he asked with a mischievous smile.

Samantha rolled her eyes and slapped his arm.  “Men.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he answered without hesitation.

She laughed and slapped his arm again.  “Very well.  If you win…if you lose…” she trailed off and cocked her head to the side in thought.  “If you lose, you escort me to a dance.”

Jack chuckled.  “Sounds like a win-win to me.”

Samantha snorted.  “You haven’t been to one of them yet.”

Jack aimed a charming smile at her.  “Ah, but on your arm, any party would be better.”

Samantha patted his arm.  “Flatterer.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” he answered without hesitation.

“So, Mister Flatterer, would you like to walk me home?”

Jack looked at the busy street going through the center of downtown around them with a thoughtful gaze.  “Either you live really close or you like long walks.”

Samantha smiled.  “Didn’t we already establish that I like long walks?”

“Ah, but that was because we took so many breaks down on the beach.”

“True.  So which would you prefer?  Live close or long walk?”

Jack gave her a mischievous smile.  “Yes.”

She bumped her hip against him.  “Well, if you like it that way, I can just let you find out when we arrive.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“You know, if I felt like taking advantage of your ignorance, I could just walk in circles to lengthen the walk.”

Jack smiled.  “And maybe I would let you take advantage of me.”

Samantha slapped him again.  “You’re impossible.”

Jack chuckled.  “Yes, Ma’am.”  He smiled at her and shifted the arm she held.  “Would my lady accept an escort home?”

Samantha sighed and leaned her head against his chest.  “Of course, she would.”

He pulled in a deep breath in pleasure.  He would give her an eternity to stop that.

 

 

 

It turned out to be a long walk, and he enjoyed every second of it, right up until they came to a stop at a large gate in the middle of the oldest neighborhood on all of New Earth.  Not counting the Chinese colony of course.

Jack looked up at the gate in awe and scratched his chin with his free hand, deep in thought.  “This is McEntyre House,” he finally whispered.  Any fan of music had at least heard of McEntyre House.  McEntyre Studios published some of the best musicians on the market, and he was standing at the front gate of the owners of McEntyre Studios.

Samantha smiled.  “Yes it is.”

Jack studied her for several seconds.  “You live in McEntyre House?”

Samantha straightened her frame and ran her free hand down her blouse as if she were straightening it.  “I do.”

Jack studied her for several more seconds.  “Who are you?” he finally asked.

She let out a long breath and her smiled softened, but he could see worry in her eyes.  “I’m Sam.”  Her grip tightened on his arm and he realized she didn’t want him to ask again.

Jack cocked his head to the side, and chewed his lip.  If she was related to the McEntyres, she probably had experience with people who just cared about that connection, not her.  He smiled and patted her hand.  “Sam.  It’s a good name,” he whispered.

Samantha sighed and leaned her head against his chest.  He let out a long breath of his own and would have given her an eternity to stop that.  Eternity as it happened was far too short.  The gate opened and Samantha laughed.

“I think Daddy saw us.”

Jack blinked.  “Daddy?”

“Yeah.  I think he wants to see you.”

A shiver ran down his spine.  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” he quoted.

Samantha slapped his arm.  “Stop that.  He’s not that bad, Jack.”

Jack aimed an upraised eyebrow at her.  “Daddies are never that bad to their little girls.  The young punk who thinks he’s worthy of dating her, though?  Daddies eat them for lunch.  And they tend to start the mixing process with shotgun shells at full rack.”

Samantha laughed at him.

“What?  You think that’s funny?  If I told you a tithe of my Daddy stories you would know why every boyfriend who has met you at the bottom of your stairs has been quaking in his boots.  I’ll give you a hint.  It’s not just because you look beautiful in that dress.”

Samantha studied him for several seconds, brow furrowed.  “What makes you think I’ve ever been through that?”

Jack smiled back and shrugged.  “Call it a hunch.”

Samantha shook her head and pulled him through the gate.  They walked down the brick driveway, under trees that arched overhead and filtered the starry sky.  Jack’s eyes adjusted to the lightless gloom and they traveled the length of the driveway without difficultly.

They walked out of the line of trees and Jack got his first clear look at the house.  The mansion.  It was a huge, Victorian-style genuine wood-built house, painted a bright white.  Jack whistled and Samantha guided him to the front entrance.  They walked up the stairs and Jack’s cowboy boots echoed on the wood planking of the porch.

The heavy wood door opened as they approached, and Jack followed her into the house, pulling his cowboy hat off his head in reflex.  His boots echoed on the hard wood flooring and he looked at the main entry hall in amazement.  He could feel the acoustics, and this room would be amazing with a few musicians welcoming guests.  He could hear the music bouncing off the walls of his imagination and smiled.

Jack looked over at the stairs leading up to a balcony high above them.  “So this is where your quaking boyfriends waited as you walked down the stairs?” he asked with a mischievous smile.

She stopped in her tracks and just looked at him, conflicting emotions running over her face.  “Jack?”

“Yes?” he asked with a smile.

Samantha whipped out of his arm, grabbed his scarf, and pulled him down to kiss him full on the lips.  An electric shock ran through him and he stood still, rooted to the spot.  She pulled away, slipped her arm back inside his, and bumped him with her hip.

“Let’s go.”

Jack licked his lips and stepped forward with her, feeling invincible.  “Yes, Ma’am.”

Samantha guided them past the stairs and into a small hall at the end of the main entry.  She opened a door on the side and the soothing smell of fire and true paper books wafted out into the hall.  She pulled him in and his eyes adjusted to the dim lighting without a pause.  He scanned the room, taking in the dark wood walls and the crackling fireplace.  Books filled one of the walls from floor to ceiling and wall to wall.  The painting of a ship dominated another wall, and a beautiful rug covered the center of the hard wood flooring.

What dominated the room itself, though, was the red leather chair in front of the fire, and the man who sat in it.  A confident smile covered the man’s face, and a black suit and crossed legs showed that this man had power.  This was his domain, and this man was king of it, with no worries that some upstart was going to take it from him.

“You must be Jack,” the man said, waving one of the hands draped over the chair arms.

“Yes, Sir,” Jack said with a half bow.

The man shifted in his chair, head cocking back and forth with a wry smile on it.  “Which makes you the one hanging around my daughter lately.”  It wasn’t a question.

Jack cleared his throat.  “Sir, I think it more accurate to say that she chooses to spend time with me.”

Samantha’s father chuckled and waved his hand towards a pair of chairs under the ship painting.  “You can sit down if you’d like.”  While the man was courteous enough to speak softly, Jack recognized the command that he would like to sit down.

Jack stepped over and sat down in one of the very comfortable chairs while Samantha took the other.  He hung his cowboy hat off one chair arm and held her father’s gaze, keeping his back straight to show he respected the man.  “Thank you, Sir.”

Her father waved his hand and turned his head to the side as if it was nothing.  “Tell me, Son, do you know how many young men try to court my daughter because they want a piece of this?” he asked, waving his hand around the room.

Jack pulled in a deep breath and considered his words for a moment.  And then he dove in with a smile.  “Sir, I’d wager that a lot of boys have stood at the bottom of that staircase out there, quaking in their boots because you put the fear of God in them.”

The father’s smile turned proud.  “You would be right.”

“I’d also wager that none of them have measured up to what either you or her demand and deserve.”

Her father chuckled and reached for a drink on the table next to him.  “You do have a silver tongue, Jack,” he said and took a sip of the drink.

Jack spread his arms out wide.  “I’ve always found it better to talk nice, Sir.  It’s saved me from getting shot more than once.”

Her father laughed in between sips.  “You, Jack, are a scoundrel.”

Jack smiled.  “Yes, Sir.”

Samantha’s father placed the drink down and rubbed his jaw before giving Jack a speculative look.  “I was quite the scoundrel in my youth.  I had a lot of fun with the girls.  Tell me, Jack, have you had a lot of fun?”

Jack recognized the minefield being laid before him and decided to jump right over it.  “Sir, life would not be worth living if it wasn’t fun.”

Her father scratched his chin with one thumb and aimed a shrewd look at Jack.  “My daughter’s very attractive, isn’t she?”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack answered with a nod.

Her father leaned forward in his chair and stared at Jack.  “Do you know how many guys latch onto her just because they want to get in her pants?”

“Daddy,” Samantha growled through pursed lips.  Her father ignored her attempt to derail him and continued to stare at Jack.

Jack raised one finger.  “Probably many, Sir.  Though I’d like to note for the record that she wears skirts.”  Her father’s eyes flashed and Jack figured he should hurry up with the second point.  “But I can assure you that my ultimate goal is not to get inside her skirts.”

Samantha shifted in her chair, and he knew she was staring at him.  Her father simply cocked his head to the side and raised a disbelieving eyebrow at Jack.  “So…what?  I’m supposed to believe you’re a harmless poofter?”

“Daddy!” Samantha shouted in a far more aggrieved tone.

Jack just cleared his throat though.  “No, Sir.  I’d never expect you to be that foolish.”  Her father aimed a measuring look at him and waved for him to continue.

“Don’t answer him, Jack!” Samantha shouted at him

Jack looked at her and smiled.  “What I mean to say is, I don’t do casual affairs anymore,” he whispered, and her eyes opened wide.  “They always end badly, with a lot of pain spread around.  And pain’s the last thing I want for you.”

Samantha’s breath escaped and she leaned back in her chair again, a soft smile appearing on her face.

But when Jack turned to her father, the man’s eyes were narrowed.  “You would not be the first young man to come in saying that.”

Jack smiled.  “But I bet I’m the first who really meant it, Sir.”

“And what make you think that some other boy never did?” her father said.

“Because I’m here, and he’s not,” Jack said, raising his palms to the man to show that he was being utterly truthful.

Her father leaned back in his chair and considered Jack for a long time.  “Okay,” he finally said in a gruff tone.  “What do you think of my daughter?”

Jack smiled and sucked in a deep breath.  It was time to impress the man.  “Sir, you raised a lively and intelligent young lady.  She’s got a wit that is fun to spar with.  She knows she’s amazing and that she’s worth a good man.  She’s not going to take the first young punk off the street, which I suppose is why I’m here right now.  She’s smart enough to know what she wants, she’s proud enough to demand it, she’s strong enough to grab it, and she’s stubborn enough not to let go.”

Her father nodded slowly.  “How do you feel towards my daughter?”

Jack sighed.  “Well, Sir, I like her.  I enjoy spending time with her, and love the feel of her arm in mine.”  He chewed his lip and looked away for a moment before looking her father in the eyes again.

“You’ve got an amazing daughter, and I want to know her favorite color, the name of the first boy she kissed, her favorite teacher.  I don’t want to be there for this,” he said, waving his hand at the library.  “I want her to want to spend time with me rather than without.”

Her father leaned back in his chair again and rubbed his jaw.  “You are not what I expected.”

Jack shifted to the side with a smile.  “I get that a lot, Sir.”

Her father’s eyes narrowed and he grabbed his drink again.  “So what should I do with you?” he asked and took another sip.

Jack looked at Samantha and saw her smirking at him.  He remembered his answer to a very similar question from her.  He doubted the same answer would work with her father.  He smiled back at her father.

“Sir, you have raised a very smart and lively young woman.  I think that you should trust her and respect her enough to give your blessing to her choice of men to spend time with.”

Her father pursed his lips, flicked his eyes over to Samantha for a moment, and turned back to Jack with a grunt.  “And what should I do if she turns out to be wrong about this young upstart?  What if he’s just a really good liar with a silver tongue that is really good at getting what he wants before he leaves town?”

Jack let out a long breath and spread both arms out again.  “That’s a risk we all take, Sir, when we seek to enjoy the time of another.  Are they who they seem to be?  Most of us make ourselves better than we are to attract someone, and then when we don’t need to anymore, we drop that mask and show them who we really are.  It is often not the person we claimed to be.  How many marriages have you seen break up because of this, Sir?”

Samantha’s father chewed on that for a few seconds.  “Too many,” he finally said and looked at her again.  “And I don’t want to see her hurt like that.”

Jack looked him full in the eye and smiled.  “Neither do I, Sir.”

Her father pursed his lips and frowned at Jack.  “Tell me, what would you do if I told you to leave and never come back and to never see my daughter again?”

Jack let out another long breath, and judged that now was not the time to stop telling the full truth.  “Well, Sir, I would leave your home, your property, and I would never come back.  And I would see your daughter whenever and wherever she wanted to see me outside your property.”  He looked at the man and smiled.  “I will respect your property and your wishes, Sir.  And I will respect her, and her wishes.”

Her father mulled that over in his mind for a few seconds before answering.  “Have you ever regretted treating a father’s wishes like that?”

Jack sighed and shook his head.  “No, Sir.  Oh, it’s not always ended well, and I have the scars to prove it.”  Jack cleared his throat and his face darkened.  “But there was one case.  There was this girl who was…fantastic.”  He chewed his lip and shook his head.  “She had so much talent it was scary.  First time she saw me, I was plucking away at some stupid tune on my guitar that I just couldn’t make sound the way I meant it to.  I could hear the note in my head but I couldn’t make it.  She grabbed the guitar out of my hands and played the tune the way it sounded in here,” he said with a tap of a finger against his temple.  “She had a natural talent that blew my mind, and her father wouldn’t let her use it.”

Jack shook his head again.  “We played during every study period, and she snuck out at night to see me, and at least once he waved a shotgun in my face when he caught me with her.  We got…close…and one day she trusted me enough to show me why she always wore long sleeve shirts and jeans.”  Jack pulled in a deep breath and tried to keep the flash of anger from taking over.  He breathed in and breathed out, felt it fade, and the present snapped back into focus.

Her father leaned back and rubbed his jaw.  He glanced at Samantha for a moment.  “I see.”

Jack sighed and shook his head.  “That’s not the end, Sir.  We skipped school the next day while he was at work and I helped her move out and drove her to her aunt’s house.  She was free to sing with her cousin there, and soon she started wearing short-sleeved shirts and shorts, sundresses, or whatever else she wanted.  She came alive in ways that were wonderful to behold.”  Jack released a long breath before continuing.  “She was…away…when Yosemite fell and killed everyone in International Falls.”

Jack shook his head and returned his gaze to Samantha’s father.  “If I’d let her father chase me away, I never would have seen the bruises under her shirt, she would probably be dead today, and nobody but me and a few others would even remember that she ever lived.”

Samantha’s farther nodded with an impressed look on his face.  “So you saved her life,” he said, and Jack knew he had the man.  It wasn’t done.  It would never really be done, but the man knew at least a bit of what to expect now, and was willing to live with it.

Jack smiled at him.  “No, Sir.  She saved her own life.”  The father frowned and Jack smiled.  “She knew what she was doing when she let me see those bruises.  She wasn’t looking for someone to save her.  She knew what needed doing.  She just needed someone else to say it.  Like I said, Sir, she was…fantastic.  And because of her, I will never, ever, regret the fact that I have ignored fathers’ wishes when it comes to their daughters.”

Samantha’s father shook his head slowly and glanced at her for a moment.  “You stood by this girl when it counted.”

Jack glanced at Samantha to see her looking at him in calm acceptance.  He turned back to her father with a smile.  “And I always will, Sir.”

Her father chuckled and extended his hand.  “I never thought I’d be approving of a man who just told me to my face that he would ignore me if I told him to never see my daughter again.”

Jack took his hand and smiled back.  “We live in strange worlds, Sir.”

“That we do.”

Her father shook his head once and released it.  “You know, Son, I have this whole song and dance speech about what I’m going to do if you hurt her.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Her father furrowed his brow.  “I have a feeling you’ve heard it all before,” he said and took another sip of his drink.

Jack smiled.  “Possibly, Sir.  There’s lots of versions of the speech, Sir.”

Her father grunted.  “Well, I’m not going to bother with the speech, Son.  If you live up to your speech, I’ll be real happy.  If you don’t…” he trailed off with a wicked smile and placed the drink on the table.

“You’ve got a shotgun, Sir,” Jack filled in.

Her father laughed and reached behind his chair.  “Better than that, Son,” he said and pulled out a drum-fed shotgun for Jack to see.  “I’ve got an automatic shotgun, with full recoil suppression so I can use it at full auto.”

Jack whistled.  “That’s a beautiful machine, Sir.”

‘Yes it is, Son,” he said and slipped it back out of sight.  “Beats a double-barreled shotgun any day of the week.”

Jack chuckled.  “Absolutely, Sir.”

Her father nodded towards Samantha.  “Now you two go and have fun.”  He raised one finger in the air.  “Just not too much fun, you hear?”

“Like crystal, Sir,” Jack said with a smile.

Samantha sprang out of her chair and tackled her father with a hug, her previous anger obviously shelved for the moment.  Jack watched, thoroughly enjoying the sight of her stretching out to hug her father.  She was…fantastic.  “Thanks, Daddy,” she whispered into his neck.

“Always, Peaches,” her father whispered back.

She pushed herself off him, stepped over to Jack’s chair, and pulled his hat off it.  She gave it a mischievous smile, passed it back and forth between both hands for a few seconds, and then placed it on his head.  Then she grabbed the scarf by both ends and pulled.

He came to his feet and she nodded in approval.  “Let’s go, Cowboy,” she murmured and turned to pull him towards the door.

“Yes, Ma’am,” he answered and let her guide him out of the library.

She aimed a sly smile at him.  “Would you like a tour of the house, Jack?”

He pulled in a deep breath and smiled back.  “I would love a tour, Ma’am.”  He stepped up beside her and crooked his arm out for her.

She looked down at the arm, slipped her arm in it, and gave it a gentle pat.  “The first thing you’ll see here is…” she began, guiding him through the house.  He paid rapt attention to her the whole time, but his mind wandered far afield.  It was a beautiful house, one of the first built on New Earth when the British came.  It was all a blur though, indistinct images and words fading behind the fantastic young lady he walked with.

The pool he loved though.  It was a great big Olympic-sized pool with slides and diving boards dominating one end.  They had a great deal of fun using that for its intended purpose, and he would forever remember that in vivid, living color.

He also enjoyed the music room.  A piano dominated it.  He couldn’t play that, but a pair of guitars hung from one wall as well.  He strummed some of T&J’s songs on one of them and watched Samantha dry her hair.  That was one of the best parts of the night.

When she was done drying, she graciously allowed him to escort her up the stairs.  They reached what he assumed was her bedroom door and she pulled her arm from his to open it.  She stepped in, turned, and reached up to hold the scarf with both hands.  Electricity filled the air and he felt an attraction pulling him forward onto the balls of his feet.  He wondered if she was going to pull him in.  He wondered what he would do if she did.  The moment the answer crystallized in his mind, she smiled and patted his chest, pushing him back on his heels.

“Green,” she said in a mischievous tone.

He blinked in confusion, trying and utterly failing to figure out what that single word meant.  “What?” he finally asked.

Samantha laughed and patted him again.  “My favorite color.  Green.  Emerald actually, but I know you guys are handicapped with sixteen color vision.”

Jack sucked in a deep breath, enjoying the feel of her hand burning his chest.  He’d give her an eternity to stop doing that.  “I see,” he said with a wry a smile.  “Yellow.  Bright, sunshine, yellow.”

Samantha gave him a knowing smile and nodded.  “Good night, Jack.”

“Good night, Sam.”

Her smile grew softer and she pulled him down by the scarf so she could kiss him again.  She stepped back an eternity later with a smirk and gently shut the door.  He leaned his forehead against the door, trying to get his breath back, and trying to slow the beating of his heart.

After a very long time, a throat cleared behind him.  He straightened up tall and turned to see her father examining him with a lopsided smile covering his face.  “You know, Son, it’s normally customary for a suitor to escort the young lady to her house’s door, not her bedroom door?”

Jack cleared his throat to gain control of his vocal cords.  “Sir, there is nothing customary about your daughter,” he croaked out.

Her father laughed.  “Very true.”  He pulled in a deep breath and finally held a hand out.  “My friends call me Bruce.  You can call me Mr. McEntyre,” he finished with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

Jack smiled and took the man’s hand, even as confirmation of just who she was settled into his mind.  And it didn’t make a single difference to him.  “Nice to meet you, Mr. McEntyre.”  They shook and released.  “My friends call me Jester, by the way.”

Mr. McEntyre chuckled and patted him on the shoulder.  “I believe it.”  Then he paused for a moment and gave Jack a very pointed look.  “You never said the name of the girl you helped.”

Jack shook his head.  “I don’t kiss and tell, Sir.”

Mr. McEntyre nodded slowly.  “That’s good.  But you need to know something.  I’ve heard that story from the other end.  She and her cousin don’t share names either, but I put some people on it a while back.  I know who you are, and I know how it ended,” he said in a hard tone.

Jack’s mouth went dry because he knew how it ended too.  In pain. 

“Was that one of your casual affairs?”

“No, Sir,” Jack answered without hesitation.  “They were…the most…real…”

He shrugged to show that he didn’t know how to explain them.  They’d been his best friends.  And then they’d left.  And he’d played with every girl he could find hoping to fill the hole they left in him.  But they left a real big hole to fill.

Mr. McEntyre smiled at him.  “They’re here you know.  On New Earth.  Right now.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack answered the unspoken question.  He knew exactly where they were.  He always did.

Samantha’s father aimed a long and searching look at him.  “And you’re here.  In my house.”  He glanced at his daughter’s bedroom door.  “With my daughter.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack said as if there was nowhere else he would rather be.  And maybe, just maybe, there really wasn’t.  For the first time in years, maybe this really was what he wanted.

The older man just stared at Jack for nearly a minute, and Jack met his gaze.  It was hard.  It was real hard.  But Jack understood.  The man was looking out for his daughter, and Jack would like to think that he would be just as protective if he had one.

“Good night, Jack,” he finally said and turned away.

“Good night, Mr. McEntyre,” Jack said as her father left him alone, in front of her door.  Jack swallowed as that sunk into his already addled mind.  The man trusted him.  Damn.  That made everything harder.  Jack took a deep breath, and stepped away from the door.  It was a real hard step, but at the same time real easy.  He didn’t want to go.  That made it hard.  But he would see her later, and her father would not try to chase him off with a shotgun.  That made it easy.

2304_forgeofwar

2304_forgeofwar_chapter19.txt · Last modified: 2018/01/14 11:29 by medron