I rose from my bed and looked around the dorm for any signs of life but everyone was done for the night. It felt empty in the room, like the oxygen had been sucked away.
There was one empty bed—Dan’s, and I felt a smidgen of hope. Maybe I wasn’t alone in my desolation after all. Maybe he was off thinking about her too.
I hurried out of the dorm, plotting my spiel to Dan but when I found him, he was hunched over his desk, his face twisted in a scowl.
He’s not pining over Sasha. He’s working!
That shouldn’t have surprised me. He was always working but it seemed to me that he should have been more affected by Sasha’s departure than he was.
“Hey,” I said, sauntering into the room. “How’s it going?”
He didn’t even bother to meet my eyes.
“I’m a little busy right now, Graham. Can this wait?”
I bristled defensively. No, it couldn’t wait.
“Not really,” I muttered, flopping onto an oxblood chair, facing him but he didn’t look up from his paperwork. “Don’t you miss her?”
I finally elicited a reaction from him but it wasn’t the only I’d wanted. If anything, he seemed more agitated by my question.
“Can we not do this right now? I’m up to my ears in financials.” I could tell he was trying not to snap but I didn’t want to wait. I needed to get this out and unfortunately for him, he was the only one awake to hear it.
“Dan, we let her in, we promised to protect her and we sent her away with those people—”
“Those people are her team. She came to Iceland with ‘those people’. She left on her own accord. Stop asking like she was kidnapped by the evil queen.”
I gaped at him but I realized that was exactly how I felt—like she’d been taken against her will.
“But you could see she didn’t want to go!” I exploded. “It was plain as day!”
Dan sighed heavily and tossed his pen onto the mound of documents before him, sinking back into his chair. He seemed to be choosing his words carefully before he spoke.
“I like Sasha,” he told me reasonably. “A lot. Probably too much for the situation.”
I felt a surge of excitement.
“So you agree then? We need to get her back.”
“No,” he countered. “I think she’s a grown woman who can make her own decisions and she decided to go back to work. The same way I did. She knew that the time we had together was amazing and a lot of fun but it’s time to get back to reality now.”
He looked at me meaningfully but I didn’t move.
“Dan…” I inhaled, determined not to lose my temper. “Didn’t she mean anything to you?”
His eyes narrowed and he frowned at me.
“Graham, she means a lot to all of us but we knew from the start that she wasn’t going to stay. You can’t fall into a pit of despair over this. Shit, I should have known you were going to do this!”
I tensed, my jaw locking.
“I’m not doing anything,” I mumbled, rising from the desk. “I was just thinking that maybe we were all on the same page.”
He studied me pensively.
“Never mind,” I snapped, whirling to leave. “Clearly she was just a pastime for you guys.”
I paused in the doorway and turned to him, my eyes flashing.
“Don’t do anything stupid. She’s not a damsel in distress who needs rescuing. We made it clear that she’s welcome here and she knows where to find us. You need to accept that she’s not coming back.”
“You’ve accepted that without issue,” I spat.
“Because I know that’s what Sasha wants. You can’t force her to be with us.”
“I’m not suggesting—”
“You don’t even know what you’re suggesting!” Dan interjected. “You’re only thinking with your heart.”
I had no answer for him, mostly because I knew he was telling the truth.
Instead, I stormed out of the office and headed into the kitchen, yanking open the fridge to stare inside.
I wasn’t hungry, not with the weight of Bash’s rock meatloaf in my stomach but I wanted to be closer to Sasha somehow and being in the kitchen reminded me of her.
In my mind’s eye, I saw her bouncing around the room, humming softly to herself, despite the pain in her leg, happiest in her element.
Her element was taking care of us and ours was taking care of her. We fit together. How can Dan not see that?
But I knew it wasn’t that he was blind to it. No, he was probably in just as much pain as me, even if he hid it behind the guise of work.
I slammed the fridge door shut and sank into a stool around the kitchen bar, drumming my fingers against the countertop. I could see her sprawled on her back, the seven of us on her, tasting her skin, our mouths on her as her cries bounced off the kitchen walls.