Daniel scrunched up his face as he debated if an explanation was needed. "You can come in if you wish," he stalled, and stepped away from the door. The tips of his ears felt hot. Normally this situation wouldn't have caught him off guard, but the innocent surprise on her face triggered a bashfulness he hadn't felt about such things in years.
The expression was shaken off as she shook her head. "It's fine. I can just go on my—I'm sorry. I should just leave," she said with a nervous laughter.
If he had called out for her to wait, she was moving with such focus that she wouldn't have heard it. The goal was to move as fast as she could to put space between them. Even storming past a few shops before she realized how far she had gotten.
With a grimace she settled and was left with a sour taste in her mouth despite smelling the bakery nearby. Amilia pushed on towards the blacksmith's, who gave her curious and downright strange looks as she eyed their goods.
"You know I'm a trained tracker, right?" Daniel said. Amilia jumped, and spun to see Daniel dressed and a few feet away.
"Did you have to give me a start, though?" Amilia objected.
He shrugged. "Leave a girl with money and where does she end up?" His intent had been to joke around, but when Amilia's eyes fell to the floor, he frowned. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean..." He sighed. "You wanted help with weaponry?"
Amilia bit her lip, completely different than what he had seen just recently. This time full of worry and uncertainty. It made Daniel want to kick himself for being the cause of it. "Yes, please."
Daniel gestured for her to go first, moving away from men sweating by fires to fix cracked armor. They walked in silence towards shops that sold already completed weapons.
"Did I—um..," Daniel started, but now that he had opened his mouth he was unsure if he wanted to finish the thought. "Embarrass you this morning?"
Amilia turned back to him, and this time she was able to look him in the eye. While some nervousness subsided, she still seemed unsure as she tucked her hair behind one ear. "It was awkward. I don't know I'd go as far as to say I was truly uncomfortable. I guess I was more concerned with embarrassing your...girlfriend?" She paused and shook her head. "Either way, it didn't really matter."
"Friend," Daniel corrected before he realized what he was doing. He had to stop this. Stop the enjoyment; stop the endearment that was starting to sprout. It wasn't like she was going to swoon over him not being taken.
Daniel decided to play the whole thing off, for his own sanity if nothing else. "If I didn't know better," he said, leaning close to look over daggers, axes, and swords. "I would have guessed you were jealous." Despite his tease, he didn't wait to see if a nerve was hit. Instead, focusing on the fine wares in this part of the market, items that were forged in blood, sweat, and tears. Rather fitting considering their use.
"Well, it's a good thing you know better, then," she said after a moment.
Daniel looked up from a collection of daggers that lined a vendor's table. This time he ignored their banter altogether. "A lighter weapon would be good for you, something with a lot of reach," he said. He wandered a little, trying to find one that would be right for her. He could afford the best they had to offer, but nothing at this table was catching his eye.
In the back, bows were lined up in a careful row. He reached out to pick up one carved from redwood. Steel extended up and off at the ends at a sharp point, becoming a weapon of its own. It seemed perfect for her, with use in both close range as well as at a much longer distance.
Amilia fell into place next to him. Eyes bright like a child's who longed for something they knew they couldn't have. "But I've never even handled one before."
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Bone Diggers (Paperback out now!)Science Fiction
When everyone IRL lies, the only person you can trust is an NPC. Dirty little secrets can't be hidden behind player avatars, because Bone Diggers like Owen expose the lives behind the code. When his two worlds blur, he must decide which is more impo...