This is the seventh part in a serialized story. If you’ve missed any of the rest of it, you can find it here.
Bob Shihs watched Miggs stalk down the gangway, reach the end and then turn around and march back the way he came. Reaching the end there, Miggs again pivoted and caught sight of Shihs.
Shihs was soft spoken. “What’s the hold-up, Miggs?”
Miggs shrugged. “Stupid woman went running after her brat kid.”
Shihs nodded. “We have a few more minutes we can wait, but then we’ll –” He paused as Miggs’s wife rounded the corner. Her hair was flowing behind her as she stretched her legs as long as she could. She was limping, but trying to hide it. Her son was jogging beside her, and her attention was on him. Raising her eyes, she caught sight of the two men and slowed. Her child, sensing a problem, immediately fastened himself to her leg. Beside Shihs, Miggs turned and scowled at his approaching family.
Shihs asked, “Darcienne and Brenden Miggs, is it?” He reached his hand forward, taking hers to shake it. Pulling her close, he leaned in to whisper in her ear. “Did you honestly believe I wouldn’t find out who you were and what you’ve done? Knowing that, I’m permitting you onboard my ship. Remember that when you wake up on the other side.” Abruptly, he turned on his heel and walked back into the ship, calling over his shoulder. “Miggs, from now on, make sure they’re on time.”
* * * *
Miggs watched Shihs go, and then lunged down the gangway, fiercely cuffing Avdonina’s forearm. “You stupid woman! I ought to leave you here!” As he spoke, he twisted her arm more and more, forcing her to walk in a hunched hobble beside him, the pain in her ankle biting at her.
Quenden whimpered beside her and she reached down with her free hand, jostling his chin and tickling his neck with her thumb. Abruptly his whimper stopped and he tucked his chin onto his neck and her hand, squirming. His half-giggle, half-sigh softened the harshness of the situation.
Miggs continued, oblivious to Quenden’s changed manner. “I don’t need that kind of attention from Shihs. Get me?” They reached the door to the ship and he flung her ahead of him.
Avdonina stumbled. Her injured ankle didn’t hold her and she fell to the ground, Quenden crying sharply beside her. Miggs snapped his attention to the boy, and his face twisted with fury.
Avdonina caught her breath and snatched Quenden to her, huddling around him. She had no idea what Miggs would do, but she didn’t want to find out.
Miggs lurched toward the two of them, but then seemed to change his mind. He straightened and stalked silently past.
Did you enjoy this excerpt from Palindrome? Don’t miss a single scene. Sign up below for email delivery.
If you don’t want to wait to read the whole story, it’s available in “Sunlit Night, Coffee and Sweet Dreams“.