Even worse.”

I know. You could just turn around with the ship if you wanted. I’m not asking you to be here.”

Hewryn laughed, a deep, hearty sound of mirth that matched his massive frame. “You never ask. I’m here because you need me, and I’d prefer if you stayed alive until you’ve had a chance you pay off your debts.”

I’ll never be able to do that, Hew.”

Then you should never die,” the man said simply.

Cal nearly smiled. “I don’t intend to. Roland might have other ideas, however.”

He likes you.”

Liked,” Cal corrected. “There was that little misunderstanding that came between us, if you recall.”

Hew shrugged. “You did him a favor when you married Geilya. No one was going to take her off his hands after the Sepami came. She was damaged goods, in his eyes. He should be thanking you.”

Don’t talk about her like that,” Cal said sharply, fighting down the stinging ache that shot through him every time someone mentioned her name. Every damn time. “You want to swim home? Without any arms?”

Sorry,” Hew said, raising his hands in a gesture of surrender. “Sorry. Put it away, Cal,” he warned when his friend seemed to have no intention of backing down. He placed his hand on his own sword’s hilt. “Do you hear me? I said to put it away, soldier,” he repeated, snapping like their old sergeant in the Guards in a voice his hindbrain instantly obeyed.

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