I dreaded the thought of seeing Alex again, worried that his reaction to me would be more volatile than previously.  I didn’t understand what I had done to upset him and I contemplated confronting him, but knew myself well enough to know that I never would-I’d just try to find a way to avoid him for the next few weeks.

Everyone bid me a cheery good morning which I valiantly attempted to mirror.  I accredited it to being a mother’s instinct that caused Constance to halt mid sentence to tell me that I looked like I felt awful.  I noticed that she didn’t say that I looked awful-the gesture made me smile.  Miles and Evie watched with genuine concern as she came over to feel my face.  Thoroughly humiliated by the attention, I insisted that I was simply hungry and would be fine after breakfast.

Matt was the first to mention it.  Between bites of his omelet, he joked that it usually takes him several weeks to infuriate someone the way that I did Alex.  Constance shot a warning glance at him while Miles explained that Alex simply had a lot on his mind-assuring that his reaction was nothing I provoked.  His voice was confident but I wasn’t convinced.  I saw how he looked at me.  I felt his contempt as his gaze seared through me.  Evie sighed, but otherwise remained silent.  Too silent for her.  Though there was no tangible explanation, what ever set Alex off, I had caused.

I spent most of the afternoon miserable and out-stretched in a hammock on the deck.  Gusts of salty, ocean air blew hollow cries through the trees, pushing from the sky any trace of threat.  It was difficult not to feel serene when surrounded by such undeniable beauty.

Constance tended to various tasks around the house occasionally making her way to me to assess my condition and need for anything.  The heat from her slender fingers sent an odd, almost electrical tingle through my head and neck as she brushed the hair from my face.  It wasn’t painful but, it was enough to catch my attention and make eye contact.  The sun illuminated her eyes like stained glass-they were prismatic today, with several hues of the peculiar green.

Her accommodating nature was sweet, but I preferred to suffer alone and didn’t care much for doting; it made me feel weak and needy.  I assured her that I was fine, and I really was beginning to feel better.  My stomach had settled and the stabbing pain in my head had become more of a dull throb.

I decided I felt well enough to walk around and take a closer look at the garden.  The plush green grass was cool, and soft on my bare feet like carpet.  Even the best of yards back home were plagued by patches of stickers.  I resisted the temptation to roll around in it like a child and continued to walk towards the gazebo.

I noted its grandiose size was rather deceptive from the house.  White columns and rails elegantly contrasted the deep cherry stain of the wood floor.   The ornate depiction of a compass rose caught my immediate attention.  My dad had the same painting on top of his desk.  I never really looked closely at since his desk was always piled high with papers and files.  I dismissed it as part of an emblem from the unit they served in together.  The center of the rose held an inscription-Latin possibly.  I made a mental note to look it up on the internet later.

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