Chapter Five Part Five - Fair Deal

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Annalise pulled the car to a halt a few feet from the gate and hopped out. Joan too exited from the passenger side.

"'Lise, you're back," said Sarah as she began unlocking the gate.

"Aye, I'm back," she replied. "Everything OK here?"

"Fiona and Jackie went out looking for you. They left a few hours ago and we've not heard anything from them," she said in a very matter-of-fact manner. "'Course they might have decided to stay out once night rolled in."

"Aye, I suspect you're right," Annalise replied. "I imagine I'd have done the same thing."

"Who's the girl?" she asked, nodding towards Joan, still struggling with the gate.

"This is Joan, I found her living in a boat a few miles down the coast. She's living proof we don't have to worry about pirates this far north, and she's not too bad with a crossbow, either."

"Fair enough. My God, we need an easier way to open this gate!"

"I'll give you a hand," Annalise replied with a chuckle. "Joan, why don't you drive the car through once we've got this gate open, and come the morning we'll see if Jack can rig up some sort of pulley system."

Joan did as she was bid and pulled the vehicle through the gate. She parked it rather neatly between a couple of the large four-wheel drive vehicles as between them, Annalise and Sarah locked the gate behind her.

The girl retrieved her crossbow, quiver and Annalise's sword from the back seat, and hurried over to the other two women as James exited the building.

"Good to see you're back, 'Lise," he said as he made his way over, nodding a greeting to Joan. The girl's cheeks flushed rapidly, though she did manage a smile. "Hey listen, sorry for being a total knob earlier."

"Don't worry about it," she replied, punching him playfully upon his arm. "Caught me at the wrong time is all."

"Yeah, yeah I get that," he said. "Thanks for being so cool about it."

"No worries."

"Did Fi and Jackie find you?"

"No, I was just talking to Sarah about that. We figure they probably decided to park up and stay put overnight."

"Yeah, you're probably right," he replied. "Don't like the thought of Fi being out there all alone is all."

"She's not alone, she's with Jackie. I trust that girl with my life, she knows how to look after herself."

"I know, yeah..."

"Look, we'll give them 'til noon tomorrow. If they're not back by then, you and I can take a truck, see if we can find them," she said, smiling. "How's that?"

"Yeah," he replied, smiling weakly. "Yeah, that sounds fair."

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