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“This is going to need a lot more than a nail.” Kolton shook his head and stood up, turning to Victoria and Monica.

Victoria had been talking about her thought that the gate over the path from the road would work if the diagonal cross piece where nailed back in place. She insisted that it had just come loose and was letting the gate sag to the ground so that it couldn’t be closed. Kolton had finally agreed to make time to go look at it, partly because he liked the idea of things working properly, but mostly because it represented some irrational fear to Victoria of the whole farm being beset by Legionnaires. Even when he had told her that being able to close the gate would also mean being able to open it, she still went on about it until Kolton made time to give it a look.

Rett and Alex had been right about her level of distress. She had confided in Eliz about the terrible history she had with the Legionnaires starting when she was only thirteen. Eliz had included Kolton in the confidence because her care would fall more directly and most often on him. Kolton was proud that his work over the last two years with Eliz had earned him her esteem such that she considered him a partner in her service. He was very careful when she shared care of others with him, and treated their situations with the utmost respect and confidentiality.


Victoria’s mother had been an inn maiden, working from before lunch to well after dinner to provide a home and food at the inn for Victoria and herself. Her father had been among the many who died in the early fighting, so it had been just the two of them. The inn where they lived had not been in the best part of Briarwood, to start with, and the influx of Legionnaires that followed the invasion only made things worse. Kolton could barely let his mind touch on the things that she had been forced to endure, so her anxiety about the gate was understandable to him.


“Well, we can’t just leave it like it is.” Victoria took the hammer from Kolton as he dusted off his pants.

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Copyright 2018, 2019, 2020  —  Bill Snodgrass