The Fire Within

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Liam

It’s been a week since I met the Governor and his family. A week since I officially became Dawn’s personal bodyguard.

Governor Ozric told me some ideas of keeping his daughter safe for when she woke up. He said he will buy her a place of her own close to the best high school in South Carolina. He is moving her to a new school. Half because of how she was treated in the old one and because the old one turned into ashes. I am to attend school with her for every class as a student though I am way older than the students there. I said it would be best if I lived with Dawn for extra protection. Mr. Ozric agreed with me.

Today, I am helping Mr. Ozric choose a house for Dawn and me to live in together. I told him that it’s his money so he should choose. But then he ordered me to help him since I will be living there too.

“This one is nice,” he points out and I look at the house he is looking at. He said he wants us to get a two-story house so we can be as comfortable as possible. I tried saying a one-story house would be fine but he disagreed immediately. So, I gave up that argument and just went along with his game.

Looking at everything, I nod with him before my eyes find a picture of a pool as they have found in all his other choices.

“I am guessing Dawn likes swimming?” I conclude and Mr. Ozric chuckles.

“I swear she is secretly a mermaid. If it were possible to live underwater, she would without a second thought. She absolutely loves the ocean, though,” he says with a sad smile and I nod.

“I think this house is nice. Five bedrooms. Three bathrooms. A nice sized kitchen. A big living room. A pool. I like it. But will Dawn like it?” I ask thoughtfully.

“I think she will,” Mrs. Ozric pipes in as she peers over her husband’s shoulder. “She likes having stairs in the house because she likes to walk up them. She likes saying “I am going upstairs” and she likes to slide down them.”

“On the railing?” I ask.

“Nope. The actual stairs. I swear dad dropped her on her head when she was born,” Devan says and I chuckle.

“Why does it have to be me? Your mother birthed her,” Mr. Ozric defends himself, and everyone laughs. “She’s one odd girl. But that is what makes her, her.”

Silence falls over us as we all look at Dawn. In three days, the doctors are going to remove life support. Not because they have given up on her. But because she is getting better. She is making wonderful progress and her wounds are healing nicely.

“Well. I am going to purchase the house and do all that boring stuff. Agent Cross, why don’t you get some rest at your place? The boys can watch Dawn while you’re away,” Mr. Ozric says and I shake my head. “I am sure the couch is uncomfortable for you.”

“I’ve been raised with the marines. I’ve had to sleep in more uncomfortable locations. Besides, it is my duty to stay here and protect Dawn,” I say, staring Mr. Ozric straight in the eyes and he nods with an appreciative smile. He steps out into a hallway to do everything necessary with purchasing the house and I sigh.

“Wanna play a game?” Devan asks and I face him with questioning eyes. “I brought a deck of cards. I thought it would be fun to play BS with trained professionals like the three of us. Challenging, if you may.”

I shrug, always up for a challenge. I sit on the couch beside Mrs. Ozric who is watching us with a smile. Declan and Devan moves a small table in front of us before they pull some chairs up to sit in. Devan shuffles and deals the cards out. Once he is done, I grab my cards and I position them. It’s Declan’s turn first and he lays down his card. I look at his face, looking for his telltale signs of any lies. I find none.

The objective of the game is to run out of cards and you win. You lay the cards face down, in order from ace to king. If it’s your turn to lay down a five but you don’t have it, you have to lay down a different card, hoping you won’t get caught. If you do get caught, a play calls out Bullshit or BS and you collect the card pile and add it to your cards. But, if a player makes the wrong call, they have to take the cards and add them to theirs. Since all of us are trained in keeping our emotions in check and keeping lies hidden, this game is super challenging.

It’s my turn to lay a king down but I don’t have it so I lay a queen down. I feel the two brothers staring at me intently and I maintain eye contact until Devan lays his card over mine. I see a small smirk on his face and I lean back. His mouth is twitching slightly and I see he is lying.

“Bullshit,” I say and Devan looks at me with wide eyes. I flip the top card over and I see that instead of an ace, he laid a king down. I smirk at him as he curses and takes all the cards into his own cards.

We continue on for a while. Mrs. Ozric laughs every time one of us makes a wrong call or when we get called out.

I am down to two cards and I hold down a sigh. It is my turn again and I have to put down a two. My last two cards are both twos. I lay them both down with a smirk and Declan immediately calls BS. I nod to the pile as I lean back with my hands behind my head and both the brothers curse before checking the cards. Declan throws his cards at the table and Devan bangs his head on the table.

“Good game, boys. But it’s time for us to be heading home now to rest,” Mr. Ozric says and we all stand. I help Mrs. Ozric to her feet and she gives me a small hug before walking over to her smiling husband. The brothers pat me on the back before they all leave. I put everything back in its place and I neatly put the cards on a neat pile before putting them on a small table beside the couch. I lay on the couch and stare at the ceiling, sleep nowhere in sight.

Another sleepless night. Great.

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