Monday, 29th May 2023 - 14:41:43 pm

Sabrina had been straining her ears for the sound of the returning plane. When she finally heard it, her heart started beating so fast that she became slightly dizzy.

She was wearing a chador to hide the wound on her head and the bruises on her face. Only her eyes could be seen through a small slit in the veil.

What to do? She didn't want to be standing there when the plane landed. She might fly into his arms like a foolish schoolgirl.

A small knot of the off duty people gathered at the side of the strip. She stood behind them. The Rhade eyed her curiously.

The plane landed very near. Hao went forward to the door, the rest held back. Kincaid stumbled and nearly fell getting out of the plane. He was supported by Hao and hands from inside the plane. Sabrina rushed forward.

"Are you hurt?" Hao asked. "Are you okay?"

Kincaid shook his head. He had trouble talking. "Just ran out of gas," he said. "I better lie down."

Hao and Sabrina each took an arm to support him.

"Who the hell is this?" Kincaid's words were slightly slurred.

They walked him toward a tent.

"It's me," Sabrina said quietly.

"Sabrina? Is that you under there? Who you hiding from?"

"I look awful," she said. "I don't like anyone to see me."

"Wounded," Kincaid mumbled. "Badge of honor, badge of honor."

"You sound drunk," Hao said.

They maneuvered him into a tent and sat him on a cot. He flopped back before they could get his boots off.

When they got the boots off, Kincaid rose up on one elbow. "I decided to keep her," he told Hao. He looked at Sabrina. "Did I tell you that I decided to keep you?" Then he flopped back and was immediately asleep.

Hao looked at Sabrina and shook his head in mock disbelief.

"What does he mean by that?" Sabrina asked. "Am I going to be in his gang?" But she had a good idea what he meant.

Hao took his leave with a meaningful wink at Sabrina.

Sabrina secured the tent flap and started undressing Kincaid. It was a lot of work but she wanted him naked. He didn't help a bit. It took the better part of an hour. But she wanted him naked. Then she took off all her clothes, got in the cot with him, and pulled a blanket over them. She held him while he slept. She couldn't be happier.

He had a nightmare. She shook him awake. He mumbled something, held her close and went to sleep again. She couldn't be happier.

"Where did you come from?" he said when he finally awoke.

"I've been here the last fourteen hours," she told him. He was big against her. "Did you want to do anything first?"

"First? Before what?" he teased her.

She decided for him, taking matters into her own hands.

Later, she asked him, "Do you remember what you said yesterday?"

He didn't want to play a game. "Yes. I said I've decided to keep you."

"You can't make a decision like that," she said. "I'm a human being." She looked into Kincaid's eyes. "You can't just decide to keep a human being."

He stared back deep into her eyes. "Yes I can," he said, smiling.

And she knew it was true.

"But what does that mean?"

"It means I want you to share my life with me."

"Well, see, that sounds a whole lot better. Why didn't you say that in the first place?"

"Doesn't it mean the same thing?"

"Maybe, but it sounds better."

"You knew what I meant, didn't you?"

She wanted to change the subject. "You lead a dangerous life. Will you lead me into danger?"

"What difference does it make? You should have been dead yesterday. You are already one life ahead."

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