As the battle wore on, Aella rushed Dallas home.
As soon as he lay down, she began nursing him. At the same time, she told him the truth.
“When Boss called me into the cave that day, he was sending me on a mission. It had nothing to do with the mistake we made. Your extra shifts and his yell were only for show.”
Loved the way she said “we”.
“After that, I went to Craig’s forest and started convincing him thereafter. Boss told me, ‘in order to fool your enemies, you must first fool your friends.’ Did I succeed, Dallas?”
“You’re a heartbreaker, Aella. Do I even need to answer?” Dallas took Aella’s hand and pressed it against his chest. “I think…you knew how you were doing every time you saw me.”
“I…think I know how you caught the cold too.” Aella whispered. Tears welled up in her eyes as she stopped what she was doing to look at him for real this time. The last two times they met, she couldn’t bear to see the look in his eyes. “I’m sorry, Dallas. I’m sorry…”
He sat up and held her close, stroking her hair again. “While you were gone,” he said, “Some scenes from the past replayed in my mind. Every promise we made…I don’t think I ever stopped believing.”
She hugged him just as tightly. “I meant every word I said then, and I still mean them…I thought Craig was going to kill you! How’s your leg? It was only half Smoke, so it should—”
“Shh…it’s fine. I’m fine. You’re fine. We’re fine.” Dallas reassured her with the simplest words. “Stop talking.”
Obediently, she stopped. But then, she wanted to tell him so much more. Even as she merely batted an eyelash, Dallas shushed her again.
“It’s been too much Stella lately,” he said. “Like Boss said, you’re not Stella.”
So, holding each other they remained until Dallas fell asleep.