Heart of Gold

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6

By the time night rolled in they’d found a decent-sized town with a few inns, shops and even a small local barracks. Genevieve joked about spending some time in looking for work. Jeff tried to make an equally relaxed comment in reply, but instead stuttered and stumbled, as he tripped over some complicated feelings that neither of them was ready to talk about. They then picked the inn with a royal suite, complete with fireplace for Bertie, and before she could stop him Jeff had ordered them some drinks and some food. She wasn’t against the food, but had noticed that he drank even more than she did and that it worried her even more than she thought it should.

“Should you be drinking? I mean, what happens when someone like you gets drunk?”

Jeff frowned and felt a familiar frustration creeping into his mind. Magic users weren’t banned from drinking, but it was always highly discouraged. It wasn’t that they could lose control, but was often paralleled with the idea of a drunk showing off their crossbow, accidents happened.

“It’s fine.”

His voice was harder than he meant it to be, so he took a deep breath and tried again.

“As weird as it sounds, drinking was for a long time the only normal thing in my life. I don’t really aim to get drunk, just be a normal person sitting in a bar having a beer and maybe some food. Just like everyone else.”

Genevieve took a long breath of her own as she couldn’t help but feel that while he was being honest, it was still an excuse. But she also recognised that she’d hit a nerve by being so direct, so she changed tactic.

“That makes sense.’

She put her hand on his and let her voice go low.

’I was just hoping that we could get an... early night tonight?”

A smile spread across his face and as soon as they were done eating, they made their way back up to the room. Then while she slipped out of her clothes, Jeff made sure that the curtains around their bed were closed so that Bertie couldn’t see what would happen next. A few hours later Jeff breathed a long sigh as his eyes opened, resenting the fact that he barely slept. Part of him enjoyed just being in bed with Genevieve, but another part was getting bored, so he slipped out from under her arm, put on some clothes and decided to go try find a drink. The bar in their inn was closed but the one down the road was still going and he quickly found himself a barstool and started taking in the locals and the local ale.

A couple of hours later Genevieve heard the creak of floorboards and rolled over to once again find the bed empty. A habit she was not loving. She rubbed her face and sat up wondering about how long she’d been asleep.

“Hey, are you checking on Bertie?”

She waited a moment then frowned,

“Hello? Am I talking to myself here? Come back to bed.”

The curtain next to her flew open and a broad-shouldered man with a few missing teeth smiled at her as he threw his fist at her face. To his surprise, she moved out of the way, rolled and kicked him with both feet, one in the stomach and one groin. Then the curtain behind her came down as another man swung his club through it, catching her on the forehead, sending her into a daze. The first man managed to recover enough to grab her by the wrist and pull her into a seated position, then just before finally landing his punch said through clenched teeth.

“Tell the wizard that Frank sends his regards.”

A few more hours after that, when Jeff finally stumbled back into the room, he could see through one eye that Genevieve was still asleep in bed and so passed out right next to her.

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