Wade moved beside her. Most people do.

He gave me a dark look as I tugged the branch, giving him room to secure it. Wrapping it tight, he used another piece of my singlet to tie the ends together at the top.

I know. But if I’d been able to hold onto them—They can’t be far. He made his way toward me carefully, stepping on an old magazine and ducking beneath some wiring that’d unspooled. If we find his backpack, we’ll find food. He swallowed as memories of his dad took him.

I didn’t speak as the air turned stagnant with grief.I was as useless and soothing as a discarded tissue. How could I be brave when his misery reduced me to nothing more than helpless sentiment?Sniffing, Conner forced his sadness away with the bravery of a man twice his age. He always has a water bottle and muesli bars in there. He gets really jittery and hangry if he doesn’t have food.

I flinched at the turn of phrase: has a water bottle. Not had. Doing my best to put a stopper in the pain in my heart, I was careful to stay on neutral topics. Hangry?Yeah, you know? Hungry-angry? Hangry.

How is it that I’m in the middle of the Pacific and learning a new word?

Conner smirked, wisely focusing on easier subjects. ’Cause you’re shacked up with me.I blinked. You’re saying falling for each other is...inconvenient?

No, I’m saying it’s the only thing keeping me sane.Well then, I think it’s a perfect time.

His eyes turned to furnace-hardened sapphires. I’ll never hurt you. Ever.And I’ll never stop loving you, now that you’re mine.