And then I knew. I knew where she was. You’re welcome. Nice to see you.

You’re going too fast! I screamed. Why did I even bother? He never listened to me.

She bit her lip, hating that she had to disappoint him. I’m, uh . . . I’m actually just on my way out for a while . . .He kept his answering grumble low, as if it took some effort for him not to demand she report to the Darkhaven because he said so. Instead he cleared his throat. Very well. I’ll bring this to Lucan now, and we can talk some more tomorrow, then.

He grunted. I suppose one of these nights I’m going to have to meet this fighter of yours.I’d like that, she said. And his name is Rune.Another grunt. What kind of name is that, anyway?

Carys smiled. I’ll see you when I get home.She ended the call, then closed up her equipment and office and raced out of the museum to head for La Notte. Rune would already be in the cage, but she’d only miss the first couple of rounds.

Except when she got to the red-brick, former church that housed the underground club, instead of hearing the pulsing throb of music the place was quiet. Instead of seeing excited crowds bursting at the seams of the building and spilling out onto the street, people were leaving. Most didn’t look happy about it.

Carys wove her way through the thinning streams of exiting patrons at street level, then headed to the arena below. Only a handful of stragglers remained in the cavernous space, and even those were focused on making their way out.It just felt a lot emptier without Josh.

The halls of the combat support hospital in Kandahar were unusually quiet as I walked back from my flight physical. Then again, at eight a.m., the day was just getting started.One month. I’d been in Kandahar one month, and even though it had been years since my first deployment, it somehow felt like I’d never left. In a gross, unexplainable way, it seemed like this was where I lived, and I’d simply been away for a few days.

There were some improvements, of course. Now, I slept in a concrete bunker, spoiled with my own room instead of a giant tent with fifty other guys—on a good night—which meant I had some semblance of privacy when I Skyped Ember.It was only nine-thirty at home, and if I hurried back, I might be able to get a call in to say good night before I was due on the flight line.