She woke up in a pile of blankets. She appeared to be in a tent, although it was one she didn’t recognize. She tried to sit up, but she found that her head ached and her entire body spasmed with pain when she moved.
“Drink,” a voice said, supporting her head and setting a cup of water against her lips. She obeyed gratefully and sighed with relief as she felt the cool water slide down her throat. “Again,” said the voice, and she obeyed again.
The hands withdrew, and soon a face appeared over hers, looking down at her. Could she be dreaming, or was it Greyson? Those eyes, those lips—“How do you feel?”
She thought for a moment and then said truthfully, “Like death would be a good alternative.”
The face broke out into a rueful smile, and she knew immediately that she was not imagining things, that it really was Greyson who now took care of her.
“Can I sit up?”
Creases of worry appeared on his forehead. “Maybe. We can try.” She felt his hands supporting her head and back firmly but gently. He grunted. “Up you go.”
A stab of pain went through her left shoulder as he lifted her, and when she gasped, an even sharper pain pierced her chest. He held her up for a moment, fussed with something behind her, and then gently let her go. Her back was being supported now by a bag or two—this felt strangely familiar. Her head lolled, and he supported it with his hand again.
She breathed slowly and tried to nod reassuringly. “I’m okay.”
“Your wrist is broken,” he said. “Along with a couple of ribs. And your leg.” He paused. “The cut in your shoulder has been healing nicely, though, over the past few days.”
Ah, she thought. The broken ribs would explain the pain when she breathed. Now that she could look down at her body, she could see that nearly every part of it was wrapped in bandages—and not much more. “How did you know what was broken? Do you know how to—?” She glanced down at her body and back up at him. She tried to finish her sentence but found that she was too dizzy.
“I set your wrist. I’m not sure what to do for your leg, but I put a splint on it, at least. You might need to see a real healer.”
She nodded. “How did you find me?”
“I was coming after you to try to apologize.” He sighed. “I went home, but then I felt bad… so I went back to Miltinoth, but you were gone. I found out which direction you’d headed and followed you.”
She was impressed. “How?”
He shrugged and grinned. “I told the warriors at the gates that you’d forgotten your sword and that I had to deliver it to you, and one of them at the west gate told me.”
She chuckled, wincing at the pain it caused. “Clever. The fools believed I’d forget my sword?”
“Apparently. I eventually found your tent and a number of dead men…” He cocked an eyebrow at her.
“They attacked me.”
“I figured. You fought off all five of them?”
“Of course I did.” An involuntary surge of pride followed.
He shook his head. “Well, I’m impressed. But you barely made it out alive. You do realize that?” He waited, but she didn’t respond. “I had to cut off your leathers. I’m sorry. There was no better way to get to your injuries.”
“I—” She swallowed. “I no longer need them, anyway.”
“What do you mean?”
“Those men. The king sent them to kill me.” Somehow, saying it aloud made it seem much more real.
He stared at her.
“I tortured the information out of one of them before he died.”
“The…” Greyson still stared at her. “The king sent them to kill you? Mathais?”
She nodded. She hated King Mathais with every ounce of her being. “I should have killed him first.”
Still Greyson stared at her. He said nothing.
She forced her rage back down. No good could come of getting worked up now, not while she was so incapacitated. “I can’t go back to Miltinoth, Greyson,” she said quietly. “I’m headed for Naraloth.”
“No. You have a home. You have a business.”
He met her gaze. “I’m coming with you.”
One corner of his mouth twitched up in a smile. “You’re in no position to refuse my help right now.”
He was right, of course. She couldn’t even move on her own. If he hadn’t found her, she’d probably be dead. And if she was honest with herself, which she tried not to be, she had grown used to his company.
There was no point arguing any further. “Thank you,” she said instead. “For finding me, for taking care of me. For coming back in the first place.”
He smiled. “You’re welcome.”
They sat together in silence for some time, lost in their own thoughts.
“I’m sorry,” he said finally.
She looked up at him. “For what?”
“For what happened in Olekoth. I shouldn’t have—I’m really sorry. First the kissing,” he flushed and looked away from her, “and then on the ship….” He looked back up. “I want you to know that I respect you and never meant to—to betray….” He trailed off, paused, and then took a deep breath. “I just want us to be friends.”
A lump in her throat formed, but she swallowed it down hastily. “Yes,” she said, “that’s what I want, too.”
He searched her eyes for a long moment. She tried to read his expression but couldn’t; his eyes were dark and, if he was trying to get something across in them, she wasn’t picking up on it.
Finally, he nodded. “Okay. Well, you should get some rest. I’ll come check on you in a bit.”
Without waiting for a response, he lowered her back down to the ground, covered her with a light blanket, and walked away.