Chapter 7

I pull the heavy blankets back over my body and I am almost fast asleep when someone pokes me.

“You still alive?”

I sit up and lock eyes with Axe.  Axe’s dark red curls are limp and resting on his forehead.  His eyes are sleepy, but they narrow as he gazes back at me.  As I gaze at him, red eyes come to mind and I have to look away.

“Barely,”  I say as unshed tears sting my eyes.

Axe grunts and walks into the kitchen.  “How’d you sleep?”

I didn’t, not until the sun came up.  “Pretty okay.”

“Liar,”  Axe says.

I look up from my shaky hands to see Axe gazing at me.  He’s staring at me in concern with no hint of malice on his face.  Axe clears his throat and heads to the fridge.

“Your voice shook.”  Axe mumbles loud enough for me to hear.

“Oh,”  I rasp.  I fall silent while Axe pulls out a pitcher and pours himself a cup.  He glances over at me and arches an eyebrow, smirking.

“It’s Constance’s recipe.  Sweet tea.  Want some?”

I nod without a word and Axe grabs a second cub from the cabinet.  I walk to the kitchen while he pours the cup and sets the pitcher back in the fridge.  He hands me my cup and we tap glasses.

“To . . .”  Axe’s voice trails off and he shrugs before taking a sip of his tea.  “Fuck.”

“What?”

“I’ve got a potty mouth so they never let me do the toasts when we survive tough calls.”  Axe says, a blush settling in his cheeks.  “I didn’t know what to say.”

I smile and hold my glass up.  “To happy days.”

Axe tips his head to the side.  “Not to happy endings?  What happened to your princess days?”

“I grew up.”  I murmur.  “Not everyone gets a happy ending.”

Axe frowns, but he nods and taps his glass against mine and takes a long sip.  I sip the tea from the glass and almost choke.

“Good, right?”  Axe asks with a cheeky grin.

I nod and take a deep gulp before I lean against the fridge.  “That’s really good.”

“Thank Momma Digby,”  Axe says.  “Constance is the only one who knows it, all thanks to her mom’s secrecy.  We’d have to hunt Momma Digby down and threaten to ruin her pots before she’d tell us the recipe.”

“How’d she manage to be a Keeper and have Constance?”  I ask, eyes widening.

Axe nods with a smile.  He sets his glass down and says,  “Believe or not, Lucy, some Keepers do get to retire at thirty nine.”

I think over his words and say,  “I’d call that a happy ending.”

“Me, too,”  Axe murmurs.