Soldier Mine (Chapter Six: Petr, page 2 of 5)

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Civilian communications don't always contain information of value, and their priorities are almost foreign to me. I'm patient and quiet and don't interrupt her.

"… and that's why the pie tower has to go in the corner." She finishes and gazes at me expectantly.

"Sounds like you have everything under control," I say and look around at the wide space.

"You don't think that's a problem?"

"Putting the pies in the corner?"

She nods.

"As long as there's a logical flow to everything. You can't have people jamming up the process of getting food, eating or exiting to the latrines."

By her puzzled expression, it's not the answer she expects.

"Look, Bev," I say. "You know what you're doing. I have no idea how to help, unless you need more money. In that case, I'm useful to you. Otherwise, I'll just get in the way. Why not call me if you run into a problem that needs to be elevated, and I promise to fix it?"

"You're very different than Katya," she replies. "Katya would have a meltdown if I told her about the pie tower."

"I trust you," I say and rest both hands on her narrow shoulders. "You can put the pies wherever you want."

She brightens once more. "I have to show you the decorations!" She moves away towards a hallway leading to a storage room.

I trail, even less interested in decorations than I am pie towers. I know what this celebration means to the town and my family, so I do my best to chime in when prompted.

Two hours later, I head to my doctor's for a quick pre-holiday checkup and return home. There's another text waiting for me, and I pause to read it, not recognizing the number.

Claud bought me a phone. PLEASE don't tell her I texted you. I'm going to ask her again about karate. (Todd)

Either his sis really doesn't want anything to do with me, or she has something against letting Todd learn karate. The sense of puzzlement that's followed me around since I met her returns. I can't imagine it's me.

Unless it's the leg.

I hate this sickening sense of insecurity. The man I was before wouldn't have felt it, and I can't shake it. I send Todd a quick response.

Got it. If you need anything, let me know.

I tap send and then read over Brianna's texts again. She's asking me to go as her date to the Thanksgiving feast Thursday.

I'll be there anyway. Theoretically, there's no harm in saying yes.

Except that I'd be perpetuating the cycle of insecurity.

Let's go as friends, I respond then sigh. I can't just say no, and I need to.

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