Just because she was better didn’t mean she was all better. Renee didn’t think there was such a thing as ‘all better’. There was ‘getting along’ and ‘getting by’ and that perennial preference ‘at peace’—if that meant sheltering roughly seventy dogs, corralling a pack or three of canine shapeshifters and occasionally playing hostess to a pack of werewolves.
Funnily enough, doing all those things brought her as close to ‘at peace’ as she could get. With the latter, she only felt comfortable letting the werewolves come by if she had plenty of silver in the house, but they understood why she smelled of sterling while putting out a picnic spread. Their understanding was one of the reasons she kept letting them in. If anyone grumbled about it, Kelly, Malcolm or Damien would probably tear them a new one.
But to Renee’s knowledge, it had never gone that far. Fighting against a crazed religious zealot of a sorcerer had a way of bringing disparate people together, even shapeshifters and werewolves, who would normally hate each other’s scents and guts. Now they could share lemonade while lounging naked on blankets like civilized Dionysians.
Renee didn’t lounge naked. She preferred clothes, regardless of Damien’s shameless but harmless flirting and her best friend and girlfriend, Britt, encouraging her to test her boundaries. Still, the being-clothed thing wasn’t a point of modesty. She was far more comfortable emotionally when she got naked these days, especially when Britt or Jake were there with her. But she was also far more comfortable physically when she wasn’t naked. There was nothing wrong with liking the feel of denim, cotton and flannel on one’s skin. Renee thought that was the only reason Britt didn’t push too hard on the clothing issue.
She continued to push Renee to go out in public, though. Right now, Britt was riding shotgun in her dog form, grinning, the air conditioner blowing her long fur like a photo-shoot fan. Renee did leave the dog sanctuary now and then, but she still needed Britt there with her on those occasions.
It reassured Renee to have Britt press her malamute bulk against her leg when she had to be in the real world. The sanctuary was real enough, of course, but it wasn’t the real world. Things happened within its borders that Renee was nearly certain didn’t happen much outside of it.
For instance, when Renee let herself think about her parents, she wondered whether they were rolling in their graves or frowning from heaven at the relationship arrangement between her, Britt and Jake.
Because of how contented her shapeshifters made her, Renee didn’t think so. There was precious little happiness for someone as high-strung as Renee—hence the valuing of peace over happiness. But Renee had to admit, happiness had felt almost within arm’s reach over the summer and into early autumn.
It had chilled a bit, however, over the last month.
Renee glanced over at Britt but not for too long, because she was driving. She was a stickler for safety, except when it came to accepting a certain werewolf pack onto her property, which was an acceptable risk. And Renee didn’t take many risks, acceptable or not. It was a big, strong truck, though, and she didn’t want to hurt anyone else on the road—not that there were many other people out and about. It wasn’t like Antoine was anywhere near an urban hub.
Behind her, the covered bed was filled with autumn supplies, some perishables, preparations for a potentially early winter, et cetera. Renee was a small woman, but as far as the rest of the town of Antoine knew, she ran the sanctuary by her little self. She certainly never accepted volunteers to lift all the big, heavy things she purchased on her quarterly visits to town. It wasn’t as though Britt could help while in her dog skin. The hardware store knew she was good for getting one of their dollies back to them, but she carried all her groceries in duffel bags that she brought for just that purpose. Renee had never been averse to working hard or getting dirty, as long as she could wash herself promptly afterward. Sex was sometimes an exception.
Renee glanced over at Britt again. This time Britt noticed.
She transformed back into her human skin. Unlike werewolves, who inflicted every painful muscle creak and bone crack upon those witnessing their transformation, all Renee’s shapeshifters changed in a blink—hardly a blur or supernatural fanfare. Like werewolves, though, they couldn’t transform their clothes, so when Britt emerged as human, Renee got an eyeful of an awful lot of skin.
She was used to it by now. Other people’s nakedness hadn’t bothered her since she was seven, when she and her parents had learned that some of the dogs they were taking care of in the dog sanctuary were actually people. However, she and Britt weren’t presently in the sanctuary, where nudity was a viable option. They were driving on a highway that wasn’t crowded but also wasn’t empty, and the upper half of Britt’s amazing body was bare for anyone around them to see and double-take.
“Are you okay? If today’s visit was a little too intense, I can take the wheel,” Britt said.
“You don’t have a driver’s license—or clothes,” Renee said. “I’m fine.”
“You sure? I’ll drive so legally that no cop would dare to flash his lights.”
“Once again, you don’t have clothes,” Renee said, focusing on the road.
Britt reclined her chair so that she could lie out of drivers’ line of sight, although her body kept drawing Renee’s eyes, because lying out like that only drew attention to all the things that made Britt beautiful.
Renee sensed Britt’s gaze on her while she drove, as well.
“I could take a minute,” Renee muttered. She swerved onto an exit to a rest stop, the last before reaching her land.
“You seemed to do really well today,” Britt said. “Sometimes it’s like you don’t even need me. But you keep looking over like you want to say something.”
“It seems like I don’t need you because you’re there,” Renee said. “Do you have to use the restroom? Or the grass, I guess.”
Britt laughed, her hands resting on her stomach. “Sure.”
She turned back into the giant, wolf-like malamute, and Renee strapped her into her service vest and clipped on the leash. It was a lot of effort just to let Britt go out and pee, but the illusion had to be maintained, and leashing a dog was the law, even when that dog was human half the time.
There was a big-rig truck close to where she’d parked. Its driver was eating a sandwich at one of the stone picnic tables. He raised a hand to her as she led Britt away from the picnic area and into a less maintained patch for Britt to do her business. Renee waved back, but she kept her eyes downcast.
When she returned to the sidewalk to lead Britt into the bathrooms with her, the man said, “Hey, not that it’s any of my business, but you don’t move like you’re blind.”
“I’m not,” Renee said, still not looking up in more than half-second fits and starts. With Britt right there, she wasn’t afraid of the man, per se, but he was a stranger and more than twice her size. She also tended to have a harder time meeting the eyes of men than women. “Britt’s a service dog for anxiety.”
“Ah. Is that a real thing?” The man wore a trucker’s hat over his gray hair and sported a generous moustache and beard. His question seemed genuine rather than skeptical, drawn out by his Southern accent.
“It is,” Renee said. “It’s different from emotional support animals or even therapy animals. Panic disorder’s considered a disability. Letting people like me have service animals is one of the few decent things Congress has done.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” the man said, grinning under his moustache. “I got a niece. She takes pills for depression. Sees a therapist too.”
“I have pills. I don’t have a therapist. I have a dog. She gives me what I need.”
“Well, that’s a mighty fine dog you got there. And you ain’t so bad yourself. You take care, little sister.” The man tipped his hat and gave his attention back to his sandwich and soda bottle.
“Thanks. You too.”
After the trip to the bathroom, Renee and Britt returned to her truck. Renee switched on the vehicle to get the air flowing, but she didn’t take the car out of Park.
Britt emerged again out of dog skin, reclining on her side and propping her head up with a hand. “See? You did well with him.”
“If you think mumbling, lack of eye contact, needing a dog at your side and hands shaking so hard you could barely use the toilet paper is ‘well.’”
Renee rubbed her face with her palms and sighed. Now that she was in her truck, she was fine. The truck was an extension of her land, her property. She was next to normal in places that were hers, and she’d gotten better in Antoine. That man had been a complete stranger in a place that wasn’t familiar to her. She couldn’t help it when her mind immediately pegged him as a threat equal to a rogue werewolf with obsession issues, even though she intellectually knew how ridiculous that was.
“Well, if you’d met him a year ago, would you have been able to talk without stammering? Or at all?” Britt asked.
Renee shrugged. “It’s just frustrating.”
“What’s frustrating?” Britt asked. “I mean, I know most of the things that are frustrating to you, but which one are we talking about at the moment?”
“The part where the townies are afraid of me now, but I can’t even talk to a single man thirty feet away from me without seeming like a scared little girl.”
“Oh, that part.” Britt shifted closer, resting her elbows on the cushion partition between the driver and passenger’s seats.
“I know there’s no magical cure,” Renee said. “If there were, Kelly would have given it to me. But how do I go from the person who would stand on a battlefield with a shotgun or stab a werewolf to save my dogs and my people, then turn into…this? How could I have gone through all that and have nothing productive to show for it?”
“You got me,” Britt nudged Renee’s thigh with her nose, like a dog seeking affection.
“I got you before the trouble really started,” Renee said. She let her fingers tangle in Britt’s wild, dark curls. “Are you saying that without Grant, you would have never kissed me?”
“No,” Britt replied with a grin, “that was on the agenda way before Grant came sniffing around. He might have pushed it earlier, but I was feeling protective and proprietary after that other guy threatened you first, so…I probably would have kissed you pretty close to the same time.”
Britt crept her hands over Renee’s thighs as Renee ducked down and pressed her lips against Britt’s. Whenever they did this, the presence of her clothes and the absence of Britt’s became more noticeable, as though the comforting layers suddenly became constricting.
Renee paused when Britt started to undo her jeans.
“There’s just that man,” Britt whispered. She continued to pull at the zipper of Renee’s jeans. The clicks of the teeth seemed louder when the zipper moved slowly. “He’s not watching. And so what if he is? He won’t see anything.”
“I don’t know.” She’d only had sex in public on one occasion, and that had been under the influence of an aphrodisiac. This wasn’t exactly having sex in the middle of several hundred werewolves or having it out in the Antoine grocery store. But it was technically public, so Renee was technically nervous.
Britt took Renee’s wrists in her hands and looked up at her from Renee’s lap. She exerted subtle pressure—pressure as comforting as it was menacing—but the menace was deliberate and not ill-meant.
“Okay,” Renee whispered.
“You are so weird,” Britt said with a laugh, but she released Renee’s wrists and yanked at her jeans instead.
Renee pulled the lever that brought her seat back, lifting her hips at the same time for Britt to peel her jeans and underwear down her legs. She couldn’t see over the dash or through the windows, so she couldn’t tell if the man was still there, whether he’d noticed a ginger girl disappearing in her own car, whether he’d be suspicious, whether he’d assume it was just a girl taking a nap before getting back on the road or whether he’d come over and peer through the windows to make sure she was okay. Then he’d only see a gorgeous naked woman drape herself over another half-naked woman whose legs had been cold until Britt had distracted her from such trivial things as goosebumps.
Renee shivered for reasons that had nothing to do with cold or with Britt flicking her tongue over the closed line of Renee’s folds up to her clit. But Renee gripped the sides of the chair, gritted her teeth and tried to let the fear of discovery exist without it taking her over. It helped when Britt eased one of Renee’s white-knuckled hands off the chair and brought it to her full breast. Renee couldn’t clench her hand around that, which forced her to unlock the muscles of her fingers.
In the meantime, Britt hummed in enjoyment as she licked Renee like summer-ripened fruit in winter, devoting all her energy to her girlfriend from cleft to clit as Renee kneaded Britt’s breast, occasionally catching the nipple between her fingers and twisting it to the side until it was hard in her palm.
Britt finally breached Renee’s hyperaware defenses when the first stifled moans struggled past her closed mouth. Britt teased her tongue around Renee’s clit, glancing up as Renee shifted her touch from Britt’s breast to the lean expanse of her back, pale with a touch of olive that would tan in the spring and summer, unlike Renee’s translucent paleness that could only burn. Britt’s freckles were darker and fewer. Renee liked to kiss them when she could, but for now, she contented herself with tracing them like constellations.
Britt rested her cheek on Renee’s thigh, her hair soft and titillating where it caressed the skin. She wasn’t in any hurry, perfectly content to eat out Renee until her tongue ached, tasting the juices that dripped from Renee’s cunt, bringing Renee up and down without ever bringing her over. Sometimes that much was all Renee needed before the moment passed, which wasn’t a failure, just a different sort of making love. However, it was agonizingly sweet torture when Britt did it right.
Renee finally lay back again, the tension in her spine dissolving as the tension between her legs built, a far more welcome kind.
Britt massaged Renee’s mound with her thumb above where she mouthed and licked, which pulled the flesh taut and increased the ache where Britt wasn’t touching her—until Britt worked her arm underneath her body and pressed two fingers against Renee’s wet entrance. Renee exhaled sharply through her nose as Britt slipped her fingers in.
Now the sensual battle came at Renee from three fronts. She shuddered, tightening her hands on the side of the seat again. Her chest rose and fell sharply as her breath quickened. Her breasts felt swollen in her bra, pressing against her shirt.
“I’m going to make you come in here, in public, whether you like it or not,” Britt said, licking her lips. She moved her fingers inside Renee while she took her moment, curling them up to beckon each wave of intense arousal forward. It throbbed through Renee, pulsing in her fingers and chest and toes, over her scalp.
Britt lowered her head again and flicked her tongue once more over the tight, flushed nub of her clit, building up her desire, before Britt closed her mouth around it. Britt’s fingers were stroking inside and out, the fast, hot, wet undulations against her clit…
Renee whispered Britt’s name. Any sound her lovers evoked were sounds well-won, because Renee wasn’t nearly as vocal as Britt or Jake. Her hips jerked up as her orgasm tightened her cunt around Britt’s fingers and wrenched through the rest of her like nails tearing through skin. Renee’s vision clouded as she gasped for breath, biting her lip to hold as much in as she could. Her truck wasn’t soundproof, after all, and she hadn’t heard the rig lumber away yet.
Britt continued to thrust and work her mouth around Renee’s clit until Renee nudged her back. Britt raised her head, licking her lips like the cat she definitely wasn’t. When she removed her fingers from Renee’s cunt, she took them into her mouth, sucking with relish as she crawled up Renee’s body.
“He’ll see,” Renee whispered.
“No, he won’t. And so what?” Britt trailed her wet fingers over Renee’s lips.
Renee enveloped Britt in her arms, enjoying the weight of Britt’s body over hers, the softness of her skin, the way their legs slotted between the other’s. Britt hovered above her mouth. She smelled like Renee’s arousal.
Britt’s low laughter was rich and familiar as Renee strained up to meet her lips. Renee kissed and cleaned all traces of herself away, inside and out, until Britt couldn’t resist any longer and deepened the kiss. She moved her body over Renee’s in a simulation of sex, although when Renee brought a hand between Britt’s legs, Britt pushed it aside.
“I’m good, honey,” Britt murmured against her cheek. “Don’t you worry about me.”
“It’s not a worry,” Renee said.
Britt still eased Renee’s hand away and settled back to rest her chin on Renee’s chest.
“You don’t usually say no.” Renee adjusted herself on the seat. She didn’t like seeping onto the fabric. She thought there might be a towel in the glove compartment, but she couldn’t do anything while Britt was on top of her.
“I wasn’t saying no. I was saying that what I got from giving it all to you was enough,” Britt said. “Vital difference.”
“Okay. Then enough usually isn’t enough for you,” Renee said. “I’m not complaining. I’m commenting. There’s a reason Jake and I are always satisfied. You have enough drive for both of us.”
“You’re one to talk,” Britt said, nuzzling her chin.
Not as much as before, though. Not since Britt had started pulling away. Still, Renee knew about keeping things in. It was kind of her modus operandi. So it would be a special kind of hypocrisy to demand that Britt tell her every problem all the time.
“This was to help you relax,” Britt added. “I’m already relaxed.” She turned her head, listening to Renee’s heartbeat between her breasts. Renee continued to stroke the valley of her spine.
“I’ve been meaning to discuss something with you,” Britt said. “Jake wanted to do it with me, but I told him it might be better for you coming from one person instead of two.”
Renee loosened her hold on Britt instead of tightening it, which was her first impulse.
“What?” she asked.
“If you think you fooled me into thinking you didn’t just get nervous, you kind of failed, babe,” Britt said, rubbing Renee’s arm. “Relax. Are you afraid it’s about you? It’s relevant to you, but you aren’t what we need to discuss. So you can put Mr. Tension back into his cage where he belongs, okay?”
“You don’t want to be only best friends again, then.”
“I don’t go down on someone I’m about to break up with. And I don’t go down on my friends,” Britt said. “I just don’t.”
“No, I’m not leaving you anytime soon, Renee,” Britt said with chocolate warmth in her husky voice. “You can’t get rid of me that easily, unless you want to.”
“No,” Renee said quickly.
“Good. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but I’m still not sure how you’ll feel about it. We’ve never discussed what would happen when nature decides to take its course.”
“Now it sounds like someone’s dying.” Even though Renee knew that probably wasn’t the problem, both of her parents had died too early and the old, familiar, far-from-nostalgic worry gnawed in all the places that pleasure had recently vacated.
“God, no! Jake and I want a baby.”
Something indeterminable swept through Renee’s mind. She stiffened.
“Are you okay?” Britt asked. She lifted her head, her brow furrowed, with that young look that showed how vulnerable she was feeling right now.
Renee couldn’t convince her brain to function. She couldn’t even move her mouth.
“I know it hasn’t come up yet,” Britt said. “The shapeshifters who come here to live more in their dog skins or want to be left alone, that kind of mentality doesn’t lend itself to breeding. But Max and Ki have been talking about children, which got Jake and me thinking. I guess that for so long I was just happy to have a home and people like myself around, to have someone like Jake, to have someone like you. Now…I can’t get the idea of a baby out of my head. Could you imagine the house with children? Little shapeshifter pups that keep tripping into their dog skin? We don’t get a lot of puppies in the sanctuary, but you like puppies, Renee.”
Puppies. Dogs. She was good with dogs—so much better with dogs than with strange people—and she had no experience at all with children. It hadn’t occurred to her that babies might eventually be a factor in hosting shapeshifters. They had a steady stream of birth control coming in through Kelly’s potion business. The dogs were all fixed when they came in. Everything had been set up to prevent accidents.
But this wouldn’t be an accident. This would be babies on purpose.
“Renee, if you could give me an expression that wasn’t of terror, that would really be helpful. Or you could try to speak.”
It didn’t feel like she had any expression at all. Maybe that was her terror expression.
“I know it’s a big change,” Britt said. “And I was worried it would make you feel left out of what Jake and I would be sharing. But I want you involved. I mean, not in the actual conception. Or maybe so, but not biologically or anything. I’d just stop my birth control. Just let—”
“Nature take its course,” Renee finished.
“Exactly. And you don’t have to be involved if you don’t want to,” Britt said quickly.
Renee could practically feel Britt backpedaling, which sent little needles of guilt through her stomach.
“I’ve never heard you wish for kids. I know you’re a dog person. But if you decide to, I’d be happy with you as the pup’s other mother.”
“What do—?” Renee swallowed. Her mouth was dry. “What do shapeshifters do for prenatal care? Where would you do the birth? Do shapeshifters have as many kids at once as dogs?”
“Only when we breed as dogs. That’s a whole other train wreck,” Britt said, giggling, but her heart didn’t seem to be in it. “Ki’s parents are a vet and a doctor, so we’d be covered either way. And they know of a midwife who does home births for shapeshifters who don’t want to deal with the potential questions from doctors if the baby comes out and spontaneously shifts.”
“Does that happen?” Renee asked.
“Not often. But all it takes is one puppy in the delivery room to arouse suspicions,” Britt said. “You haven’t said what you think about me being pregnant, Renee.”
“I’m just… It’s a lot to take in. What does it matter what I think anyway? I’m not the one having the baby. It would be yours and Jake’s, and isn’t that up to you?”
“But you’re part of the family, babe,” Britt said. “It’s your house. Your sanctuary.”
“So, what? You wouldn’t have a baby if I said I didn’t want one?” Renee asked.
That was the wrong question to ask. Britt looked as though Renee had slapped her. She tried to swallow it back before Renee noticed, but Britt had always been an open book. Renee was the one who was always getting misinterpreted.
“I didn’t say I didn’t want you to have a baby, Britt. I just asked you if you wouldn’t have one just because I didn’t. Look, I don’t know what to think about this. Can I think about it?”
“Sure.” Britt rolled off Renee and lay back down on her passenger’s seat. She crossed her arms over her chest, but not out of a sense of modesty. “Sure, Renee.”
“You’ve been thinking about it for over a month. You just told me today. I need time too.”
“No, I get it,” Britt said, staring at the ceiling. “I really do. It’s a big deal, and you need to think about big deals.”
“If you and Jake want a baby, I won’t stop you,” Renee said. “You can start…trying whenever you want.”
“You’re a special girl, Renee. In many ways.”
Renee got a sense there was a jab in there somewhere. Even though Britt had been kicked out of her house and lived as a stray before coming to stay in a hippie commune of a shapeshifter and dog sanctuary, she had managed to have loads more socialization than Renee. There was something about social interaction that didn’t translate with Renee, either giving or receiving. She did better with Kelly. Kelly was psychic. Besides, she was an odd duck herself, so when Renee said something wrong, Kelly usually responded with her own weirdness.
Sometimes Renee thought she disappointed Britt when she couldn’t respond right to things like this.
What Renee wanted to say was that even though she was twenty-five years old, on birth control and most of her friends were around the same age, virile and sexually active—hard not to notice in a communal living space—pregnancy hadn’t entered into the equation yet. She was still reeling from being best friends with Britt to becoming her girlfriend, from being friend and partner with Jake to having him as an occasional lover, and from being a timid little girl to turning into someone the townies feared because killing Grant had made it into the papers. No charges had been filed, and it had been written up as self-defense—which it had been—but she’d done it. She’d felt his heat as she watched silver poison his veins. Watched the first man who’d ever kissed her, fucked her then broken her heart, die in the snow because of her.
It had been the right thing to do. Renee had come to grips with that. But the blood on her hands had never fully washed off, righteous or not. Britt and Jake could sleep soundly now, protected in word and deed by the alpha’s alpha of the werewolf region as well as one of the most powerful witches in the country, who happened to run with him. Renee didn’t always sleep so soundly, and though Britt was there after the nightmares, she didn’t always understand why Renee still had them.
Everything had gone back to normal except her. Then again, she’d never been normal to begin with.
She’d started a relationship, had a sexual awakening, murdered a man, nearly killed Kelly in the midst of a magical battle that had also risked her life—and all in less than a year, when, previously, an accomplishment was going out into the world without hurling. It was no wonder that she hadn’t thought about things like having a child in the house when she was still trying to forget that winter was coming and the snow might remind her of him again.
Renee wanted to tell Britt that she was happy for her and Jake if they were happy, but she still wasn’t sure about the whole co-mothering thing when she could barely take care of herself. She thought Britt would look gorgeous pregnant, but Renee wasn’t stopping her own birth control potion for a million dollars, because, although her parents had been normal, there had been enough not-normal in their genes to create her.
She wanted to tell Britt that she would be thrilled with whatever Britt and Jake did and that they really didn’t have to include her in their side of the relationship, even if it would drastically affect her side of it too.
She wanted to tell Britt that her inability to look excited or enthusiastic immediately after the bombshell didn’t mean that she wouldn’t be later. Expressions had never been her forte, on top of everything else. She smiled, she laughed, she frowned, she showed confusion, but there had never been much nuance.
Britt and Jake were usually the ones who could interpret her feelings like no one else. But that didn’t mean Britt was always right, especially when she was already fragile on a subject that required more expressive investment than Renee could provide.
Renee was aware of her own grocery list of problems, just not how to fix them, and because of how much they could hurt Britt, they hurt Renee all the more. It was bad enough dealing with her shit without it spreading. The crazy things that went on inside her mind never just stuck with her. Everyone around her had to deal with it too. Most days, taking care of the dogs was a universal balm, but she wasn’t in her sanctuary now. She wasn’t with her dogs.
And Britt was right. This was a big change.
Renee opened the glove compartment then took out the clean hand towel that she usually kept in there for potential condensation. She tucked it underneath her then pulled her panties and jeans back up.
She felt pressure to say something, but with all the things she wanted to say, none of them could come out, as though they crowded at the open door of her mouth and became trapped behind her tongue.
Instead, Renee put her seat back into position then started the truck. She and Britt rode the rest of the way in silence until Renee turned on the radio.
At the first jolt from hitting the gravel road of the sanctuary past the gate, Britt turned back into the malamute. Usually it was the other way around—becoming her human self after the gate—but Renee didn’t mention anything about it when they pulled into the garage shed. She just opened the passenger door for Britt to get out.
Jake was working on the roof of the log cabin that used to be Renee’s parents’ house, now the residence of Renee and five other shapeshifters. There were three other buildings in the compound. One housed the dogs. Another was a hostel-like home for the rest of the shapeshifters who, for reasons of their own, didn’t take on as much responsibility as the ones who lived in the cabin. The third kept farm animals that helped the sanctuary stay as self-sufficient as a largish small-scale operation like theirs could be.
Jake looked up when Britt barked. His long blond hair had been tied away from his face, and distance couldn’t hide his size and strength, all a smokescreen for how much of a softie he was. When he went into his dog skin, he became a golden retriever—which said all there needed to be said about him.
He grinned and held up a hand to Renee in greeting. She raised hers in reply. If he noticed that she didn’t smile, he didn’t think anything of it. She often didn’t smile, even when nothing was wrong. He wouldn’t know that Britt had told her.
He would come down from the roof. He’d go get Britt and Renee something to drink. He and Ki would make dinner with something special Renee had purchased at the grocery store. They’d finish out the evening with board games and a bottle or two of wine—just like always. Neither she nor Britt would want to interrupt the routine just because the question was out and they weren’t satisfied with the answer.