God, he was hot, sweating. What could he say? What could he do? Strangely, he knew what he had the desire to do, and it was scattering to the winds all his previous decisions, for at this moment he wanted to go behind that couch and put his arms about her, comfort her. Just that, comfort her Nothing else, just comfort her. Then why wasn t he doing it?

He was surprised to hear himself saying in a voice that sounded quite ordinary, Come and sit down. He was holding his hand out to her, and slowly she put hers into it. Then he drew her round the head of the couch and on to its seat, and still with her hand in his he sat beside her, and as he looked at her an excitement rose in him. He seemed to be drawing it from her. Aye yes, that was the other word he wanted for what he felt for her, excitement. It was almost akin to the feeling he got when he was in a good game. He hadn t been aware of it, but that was why he had liked to be in her company, liked to hear her talk; even when she was getting her sly digs in at him, she was exciting.

If she hadn t been so tall and thin and plain what was happening now would likely have happened months ago. But now he realized that her thinking, her voice, her manner, the way she dressed, all the things she did were in a way a compensation for her looks. In fact, they formed a kind of cloak over them because there had been times lately when in her company that he had forgotten how she looked. He hadn t realized this until now. Suddenly he felt at ease with her as he d never done before. He knew he could talk to her now, aye and comfort her. He bent towards her and said, Can I tell you something?

Her eyes had a moisture in them when she answered, I m eager to hear whatever you have to say, Rory.


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