“You didn’t need to do this.”
“Probably not. Might not again if that’s the thanks I get.”
But she knew by the twinkle in his eye that he was only joking. It didn’t stop her going to him though. Or taking his hands and standing on tiptoe to kiss the corner of his mouth softly.
“Thank you.” Her voice low and the words sincere, saying so much more. Then she was pulling back just a little, tugging her sleeves over her hands and feeling strangely self-conscious. “I must look a mess,” she said, managing a little almost-laugh as she ran a hand through long dark locks.
“But you’re my mess,” he shrugged, offering her the ghost of a grin as he sat down on the top porch step and pulled her with him. His demeanour softening and the fingers of one hand lacing through hers. “How is she?”
The answer was a long time coming.
Looking out over the yard, lit against the growing dusk as it was with what seemed like a million tiny lights, she turned her gaze back to the dark house behind them. Her eyes naturally drifting to soft glow of the upstairs window – the only sign of life.
“Dying.” It was barely a whisper and she couldn’t look at him. “She’s dying and there’s nothing I can do.”
And then she simply leaned in against him, her head on his shoulder as they watched the darkness fall.