Author’s Note: A short bit to get past the waiting and take care of some practical things.
“I’d forgotten what it felt like to have clean clothes.”
“I’d forgotten what it smelled like when you had clean clothes.”
Enya glared at Sherwin, shaking her head. Sometimes he could be such a child. She had a feeling she knew what had prompted that comment, but she didn’t regret what she’d done. She didn’t love him, and Cress needed someone to hug him, and it couldn’t always be Occie. She needed her own chance to rebuild as much as Cress did, shouldn’t have to put aside her own feelings all the time to keep her brother even close to balanced. In some ways, she was just as self-sacrificing as he was. Maybe even more so.
“You should just tell the lady she cleans up nice and be done with it,” Flint advised. “That’s what you need to remember. Advice to live by, especially with a fire elemental. My sister would have burned your ass for that.”
Enya smiled at him. “Thank you.”
Flint gave her a slight bow. “You’re welcome.”
Sherwin gave her a look. “You two getting a bit… cozy all of a sudden? I know you’ve been gone for a long time, Enya, but you know better than to get too comfortable with a rogue.”
“We have to be willing to work as a team if we are to have any chance of taking down Aether, remember? Don’t tell me that you’re really going to throw that away because I rejected you.”
Sherwin gave her a dark look and walked away. Flint shook his head. “Some of us don’t get it until we’re hit over the head with it. Sometimes not even then.”
She ran her hands over her arms. “It wasn’t just him. I gave in way too many times in the past.”
“Huh. You and Mr. Hot Air. Hadn’t gotten that vibe.”
She shook her head. “It was over a long time ago. No vibe to get. It’s just been a long time since he saw me, so he thought he’d try and pick up where we left off. Timing sucks, and he hasn’t grown up as much as he wants to think he has. I wish it wasn’t taking so long for Cress and Oceana to get back. I know he’s got the key and she’s the only other person authorized to open the stupid thing, but it’s so…”
“I’m not a fan of waiting, either. At least you had a few distractions. Though… I’m not sure anything could take away the worry.”
“Why would I be worried?”
“Why, indeed?” Flint asked, giving her a grin as he walked over to join Moira. Enya laughed. That’s what Sherwin should be worried about right there. She didn’t think that Flint was interested in her, but Moira… the air elemental was in trouble.
Terra came up next to her. “This should get interesting, don’t you think?”
Enya gave her a look. “Look who’s head is out of the sand. If a change of clothes was all it took, I guess we should have stopped for them a lot sooner.”
“Ha ha. No, I’m leveling out. I think we’re getting closer to Stone, and that seems to help. Either that, or Cress is back.”
“I hope so.”
Terra gave her a look, and Enya winced. She hadn’t meant to say anything out loud. She turned toward Moira, making sure to watch as Flint went to work at getting under her skin again. She had a feeling there would be plenty of entertainment on this trip, even knowing what they were going to be doing and what they were up against.
“You think that Sherwin is going to get the message any time soon?”
“Maybe what he needs is for earth to knock him on his butt. No, wait, that doesn’t work with him. Moira’s tried. If I knew anyone I could throw in his path, I just might toss them that way. You haven’t done that, have you?”
Terra rolled her eyes. “Please. I’m like the only woman besides his sister that he hasn’t hit on. I must be too… dirty for him.”
“If you wanted him, you could get him.”
“Only a fool would want him.”