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Gene lay beside me in bed, like a dream after the year he’d been gone to fight under the Gordians. His skin seemed paler, although that could have been the moon playing tricks on me.

And my heart.

I spent every day worrying over him, wondering if and when he might come back. If he’d be all in one piece.

And he was.

Thank the gods, he was.

But he had accumulated a new mass of scars—light and glowing against his usual tan—along his sides and arms. My fingers found a patch by his armpit, following them down to his ribs.

Gene opened his eyes like he’d feigned sleep.

“What are you doing awake this late?” His husky voice pulled me closer to him, but only barely.

“A habit, that’s all.” The intensity in his blue eyes unnerved me. My husband had never left me intimidated before.

My father told me that he might return different. All soldiers did.

And he was.

Warmth cupped the back of my arm, and I wormed closer, wanting to sink into him.

“What keeps you up?” His voice dipped in my ears as he pulled my head against his shoulder.

“I worry—worried—about you. Out there. Fighting.” The truth was I’d spent an hour or more each night in front of our window with a bowl or herbs and oils and salts, begging the gods and the universe for Gene’s return.

“You don’t need to worry about me anymore.” The sweet scent of him lulled me into comfort, removing the layers of stress and anxiety from between my brows.

His heat surrounded me, relaxing me past the fear of waking up without him again.

“I can protect you, now. Provide for you. And I’m not going anywhere,” my dreams said in his voice.

I wanted to believe him.

But I knew better.