“How did it go?”
Frederick shrugged slightly in response to his wife’s question, easing down into a chair on the back porch at Halo Ridge. The sun was slowly setting and autumn’s bite had settled in the day before, hinting at a winter to come. He took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, staring out toward the sea beyond the ridge.
“I think they’ll come,” he said quietly, stretching as he settled in. “There’s too many questions she wants answered for them not to come.”
“I imagine one of those is how the hell you’re still alive when the universe thinks you’re dead.”
He snorted a laugh and nodded. “That would be one of them.” He looked at her sidelong and smiled faintly. He’d always liked the way the sun looked when it caught in her hair. Even as tired as she seemed right now, she was still beautiful.
Daci noticed him looking and raised a brow. “What?” she asked, a faint smile curving her full lips.
“I love you,” he murmured. “You know that, right?”
She laughed and got up. “Of course.” She leaned down and kissed his cheek, then his lips. He ran his hand down her arm, then pressed his palm against her belly, imagining he could feel their baby already, feel him or her moving even though it was far too soon. Daci’s hands covered his.
“Tell me what you’re thinking, Freder,” she whispered. “There’s something bothering you.”
“Nothing that you’re not already aware of.” He smiled. “We’re at war, Daci. We’re at war and the enemy is unknown but everywhere.” He kissed her wrist and sighed, leaning back. “It’s bad on New Earth.”
“Didn’t we know that already?” She perched on the arm of his chair and followed his gaze out toward the water. “Everything’s been pointing in that direction for months, maybe years. Everything we’ve heard, everything that Lindsay’s seen…we’ve been planning for this day since the Foundation was created.”
“Yeah,” he whispered, closing his eyes for a moment. “That’s true.”
“So what’s bothering you?”
“Something’s not right, that’s all.” He rubbed at his temple. “Something that’s just beyond my reach.” He shook his head. “I’ll figure it out—sometime before things come unglued, I’d hope. How was your meeting with Aidan and Grumpy?”
“Productive enough,” Daci said softly. “We’re having a sit-down with Mugabe and Mission Systems tomorrow morning. It might help if you came.”
Frederick smiled. “I thought you wanted me to stay hidden.”
Daci snorted. “Something tells me that ship left port a long time ago. I’ll just have to settle for making sure you’re safe in every way I know how.”
“You do know a few ways.” He rubbed her back gently. “I’m sorry, Daci.”
She shook her head. “I never should have asked you to keep hiding for so long. I know it was hard and I know that you didn’t always enjoy it. You faked it well enough, though, and I appreciate that. We had some good years.”
“There’s more ahead of us. You know that, right?”
Her lips thinned and she nodded.
It didn’t take a psychic to know that she wasn’t convinced.
Frederick closed his eyes and sighed.
I’ll just have to convince her, that’s all. Nothing’s going to happen to she and I—not if I can help it.
Gods know that I’ll find a way to help it.