Chapter 19

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"You've shown remarkable improvement, but there are still a few key elements I believe we should give a little more attention to," Tavington said. He, sword in hand, stood before Juliana, who also wielded a sword. She was nowhere near expert level. After all, he'd only been working with her for three weeks. But she was decent. 

Tavington continued. "As I've told you before, my goal is that you're able to adequately defend yourself in the event of an attack. I want to be absolutely sure you have a fighting chance, at least."

"I understand, believe me," Juliana said. "I do believe we're working toward the same thing."

Tavington smiled. "We'll see. Defend yourself."

Juliana raised her sword. She lunged at Tavington first, having learned her first lesson well. When they'd first begun their lessons together, Tavington had instructed her that in combat, it was not enough to merely anticipate an attack. A good soldier captured the upper hand early on by forcefully attacking first.

The simulated sword fight commenced. Tavington came at her with a few standard moves, and Juliana held her own against the experienced officer. Everything was well until Tavington reached a point where he was able to knock Juliana's sword from her grip.

Tavington stood back, analyzing. "Do you know what you did wrong?" he asked Juliana. Before she could answer, he answered for her. "You got too confident, too comfortable, and dropped your guard. If this had been a real attack, you'd be dead now."

Juliana let the prospect sink in. Tavington was right to remind her of the possibility of death, even if it wasn't pleasant. He stepped up to her. "I'm only doing this so that I can have some hope that you'll be alright while I'm away. Peace of mind is what I need."

"I'll be okay, Will," Juliana insisted. "You know I will. I'm not one of these fragile socialites. You remember who you're talking to."

"Of course," Tavington said. "How could I forget?" He bent down and kissed her.

"I don't see how that's supposed to help me fend off colonials," Juliana said.

"It isn't," Tavington said. "It certainly isn't supposed to help you fend me off."

"Now, why in the world would I want to do that?" she asked innocently. She kissed him, wrapping her free arm around his waist. His free arm, in turn, encircled her as he kissed her back. He gently pulled away from her.

"I'm leaving tomorrow," he revealed.

Juliana was taken aback. "Tomorrow? I thought there was one more week?"

"There was originally," Tavington said. "I received a dispatch a few days ago, however. It seems I was correct in my initial assumptions; Cornwallis wants me back early. As soon as possible, according to the letter."

Juliana was stunned into complete silence. Now that she had spent so much uninterrupted time with him, she didn't much welcome the prospect of being without him.

xxx

Juliana stood outside and watched while Tavington made final travel preparations to his horse. When he was done, he walked over to her, and they both knew it was time.

"I know you don't have anyway of knowing when you'll be back," Juliana said, "so I won't even ask."

"It could be very soon if the war keeps its current pace," Tavington pointed out.

Juliana nodded. "I hope so."

"As do I," Tavington said.

"You'd better get going," Juliana said. "You don't want to keep Cornwallis waiting on you."

Tavington stroked Juliana's face and tried to take in every detail. He wanted to remember her exactly as she was at this moment. Then he kissed her goodbye and quickly turned away from her. He walked back over to his horse, pulled on his helmet, and mounted. He looked at Juliana one last time before turning and riding away from her.

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