The group huddled around the small fire, waiting for Jack to finish burying Sophie and join them. Somehow, Jack had managed to get closer to her in a few days with his lies than any of the others had in the few weeks they’d been acquainted, and yet, the grief hung above all their heads like fog.
Father Daniels had carefully built the fire, citing his fondness for camping (prior to back troubles) with what Jill considered to be an abnormal amount of enthusiasm. However, she was able to recognise his supposedly cheerful demeanor for what it was: a front. It reminded her a little of how Steph had been after Jack had gone to prison.
Jill shivered and drew closer to Lisa. It was cold enough that no one seemed to bat an eye at their cuddling proximity. Quite frankly, Jill wouldn’t have cared if they had. It was nice to have someone to cling to, regardless of temperature, and Lisa certainly didn’t seem to mind.
Andrew, for once, was silent.
“The last time I went camping was with my niece,” said Father Daniels.
Jill reluctantly tore her eyes away from Lisa to give the man due attention. Andrew stared into the fire with a vacant look on his face.
“I’d never gotten on particularly well with her father,” the vicar said wistfully. He paused and let out a wry chuckle before adding, “I suppose we had that in common.”
Jill waited expectantly but the story seemed to end there, if it could be called a story. The vicar’s face was creased in memory and sadness, no doubt wondering where his niece was now. Jill frowned and returned her gaze to Lisa, gently stroking the doctor’s hair. The fire crackled as if it was laughing at them.
“Lisa, if you can’t be there to make mother comfortable -” Andrew began. All eyes were on him but he continued unperturbed, “- what will happen to her?”
Lisa shifted in Jill’s arms. Jill glanced down at her and felt her heart twinge at the sadness in the doctor’s eyes.
“She will be uncomfortable,” Lisa said softly.
Andrew stiffened as if a particularly cold breeze had hit him.
“We have to go back.”
Jill flinched at the sound of Jack’s voice and let go of Lisa, turning to face him. His arm was in a sling the colour of Lisa’s skirt and Jill was surprised that he’d been able to dig a grave with it in such a shape. Given the bandages on the others, part of Jill wondered just how much skirt Lisa had left at this point. She let her hand wander, taking advantage of the attention on Jack.
“It’s too dangerous out here in the open,” Jack continued. “We should all get some sleep now and head back to the house in a few hours.”
Jill stared at him, hoping that her evident shock wasn’t too obvious. Jack lived for danger.
The others, oblivious to her inner turmoil started trying to get comfortable. Lisa shifted in her arms and Jill quickly adjusted her hands so she’d avoid losing the feeling in them.
“I’ll take first watch,” father Daniels decided.
“Andrew, can I talk to you alone for a minute?”
Jill fought to keep her mouth from gaping open at the surprisingly serious address. Jack’s expression was unnervingly impassive and his back was ramrod straight.
Andrew nodded and got to his feet.
“Bring your gun,” Jack reminded. “You never know what you’ll find out there.”
Andrew nodded again, grief having evidently stricken him obedient, and picked up the gun. Jill blinked. This was not good.
Andrew followed Jack into the woods as Father Daniels sat calmly by the fire, staring determinedly out into the distance. Jill glanced down at Lisa who lay half-asleep on her lap already, no doubt exhausted from the adrenaline of the day, and carefully extracted herself from the doctor.
“I’m going to the loo,” she announced.
Father Daniels’ curt nod was the only recognition that she’d been heard.