So you know what that means, fair readers! It means a teaser. Here is a shiny new scene from my senior project, The Long Road Home. Maire was a bit ill the night before due to scarfing down her dinner after not having eaten properly in months at least, and Caleb helped her out. She still doesn't want him telling anyone about it, though.
I hope you enjoy this!
“You didn’t have to kick me,” Caleb said, his voice quiet.
“You were going to tell her about last night,” she snapped, noting that he looked rather like a defeated puppy but not quite caring. “I don’t want her thinking I’m weak.”
“She wouldn’t toss you out on your ear after one day if you were ill-”
“I can’t afford to take that chance.”
He tilted his head to the side then, looking puzzled, but she did not explain; instead she gave him a pointed look and turned away, walking further into the kitchen. Elizabeth greeted her with a “good morning,” a small plate of food, and another mug of tea. Maire made herself smile in return, even though the food made her nervous, before heading for an empty table at the back of the kitchen.
It did not remain empty for long.
“Eat slowly, remember,” Caleb said, sitting down across from her with his own half-finished breakfast.
He smiled casually, then picked up his fork and began finishing off his egg.
“I’m not going to shake you, am I?” she asked. She eyed her breakfast warily – she didn’t want to waste it, she could think of few things that were worse. But just then, with the memory of last night’s illness, eggs and porridge had never seemed less appealing.
“Not a chance.”
“I can look after myself, you know. I don’t need saving.”
“I’m sure you can,” he said, looking up from his plate. “Doesn’t mean I can’t help. Stick with the toast today, it’d probably be best.”
Maire resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at him, and suddenly she felt like something cold and hard had sunk into her chest. She wasn’t teasing Michael about all this. Michael wasn’t here; she’d never tease her brother again.
She took small bites of the toast, chewing slowly, half afraid to swallow anything, but that cold weight in her anchored her, and even after she’d been forced to accept Caleb’s toast as well, she did not feel like vomiting any of it up. She turned to her tea, hoping the warmth might melt the cold out of her enough that she could work that day, when Caleb dragged her plate across the table towards himself and began eating her portion of porridge.
“Oh, I see how it is,” she said, not quite certain whether she wanted to shout at him or burst out laughing. “You’ve only been kind to me to steal my breakfast.”
“No sense in wasting it,” he said with a shrug, his blue eyes bright with laughter. “You won’t be able to enjoy all this for a few days yet, so, in the meantime-”
“You’ve decided to help yourself.”
He nodded, incredibly pleased with himself, and returned to her breakfast.
“Caleb Monaghan, you are incorrigible,” she said, rolling her eyes and sipping at her tea.
“Coming from you, I’ll take that as a compliment.”
“It wasn’t meant as one,” she told him.
“Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t. But I’ll take it that way all the same.”
Maire shook her head, falling silent as she watched him finish off her breakfast. She’d never met anyone with whom it was so useless to argue; not even her father had had such a relentlessly cheerful manner of refuting everything she said. It was strange, speaking to someone so very optimistic. And yet at the same time – whether from the tea or Caleb’s smiles, she couldn’t quite tell – the hard, cold lump in her chest had eased somewhat.