by Kaye Jeffreys -
Only one voice on Avenir had the power to slow Jereth down…and that was it. Jereth stopped pushing through the crowd in the narrow corridor and turned. A man in a flight suit cussed him. Jareth lifted his chin and stared him down. The crew member looked away and scooted around. Social status had its perks.
Jaren caught up with him. "Are you leaving without telling me?"
"If I told you, then I'd have to explain." Jereth looked up at the silvery lighting system rather than at Jaren. Regret hollowed his stomach.
"I know why. It's him. You had another fight."
"You heard us?"
"Not just me."
"So much for maintaining appearances." Jereth adjusted his pack's strap on his shoulder. "How did you know I was leaving?"
"I found the note that you scheduled for tomorrow. The 'take care of Neenah' note. Where are you going that you can't take your cat?"
Jereth deflected him. "Will you take care of her?"
"I will spoil her. Where are you going?" Jaren wasn't thrown off.
"Zirconia. I explained in the note." Jereth lied but gave Jaren the best believe-me look he could summon. After all, he was going there first.
"I come of age soon. You couldn't wait?"
"He would have expected it and stopped me. I can't risk that. These walls are closing in on me." Jereth scanned the bobbing heads of people rushing to and fro. A woman glared at him as she pressed by. This time Jereth smiled. They were in the way and he didn't care. He was over this place.
"Don't forget me." Jaren's words brought Jereth out of his small enjoyment.
"I could never forget you, brother."
"Half brother." Jaren hung his head.
Jereth rested his hand on Jaran's shoulder. "You are the only brother I have."
Jaren wouldn't look up.
This was what Jereth was trying to avoid. An emotional separation. Neither of them were good at it. He fought off a tear that pricked his right eye.
"Look at me." Jereth released Jaren's shoulder, brought his forearm in front of his chest, parallel to the floor, and fisted his hand.
Jaren reluctantly brought his arm up so that his fist touched Jereth's elbow and Jereth's fist touched Jaren's elbow, making the sign for the Farewell Promise.
They said in unison, "Until again."