Jasen took a single step into his kitchen and stopped. He had not expected to find Jennika standing by his small square table, but seeing her there, he couldn’t muster any surprise to see her pocketing something off the sideboard. He wasn’t sure what it was, wasn’t even entirely sure that she had picked it up or flicked her fingers into the fold of her jacket. Still, he thought he saw her, so he knew she’d done something.
“If you take that, I will hunt you down,” he said.
She looked at him steadily, blinked once, and let her eyebrows drift upward.
“I will hunt you down,” Jasen repeated. He took another step into the room. “With horses, or hounds, or mountain lions, or crocodiles, or whatever it takes to track a little slithering weasel like you.”
She cocked her head to one side, very careful not to move otherwise. “Do crocodiles have a good sense of smell?”
“Probably not, but you stink a long way off,” Jasen informed her.
“You’re always so kind,” she said.
“Put it back,” Jasen said.
Jennika raised her hands innocently.
“I will chase you to the very edge of the sky,” Jasen said. “And don’t think the fact that you’ve been there before will give you any advantage.”
“I’ve never been that far,” she promised him. She gave him a sunny smile that seemed out of place in the dim light, but lit up all the same. “Gravity and I are still in negotiations.”
“There will be no twist or turn where you could hide from me,” Jasen said.
“Because of those crocodiles and their excellent noses,” Jennika said. She nodded.
“Because I will be exactly one step behind you every step of the way,” Jasen returned.
She hesitated, went still again.
“You will never feel the wind at your back again, because I’ll be there, running just that close on your heels.” Jasen moved forward again, two steps, until he was properly looking down at her. “I won’t let you stop running, and you’ll spend the rest of your life listening to your own heartbeat bruising the inside of your ribs and my breath behind you. You’ll never know what it would be like to live another day where I wasn’t behind you. I won’t stop. I won’t quit. I’ll run you down and be the last thing you ever see.”
Jennika looked down, and he thought he saw her bite down on a laugh.
“I’m a very good hunter, Jenny,” he said.
“Yeah. You are,” she told him, quiet. “Better’n anyone I’ve ever met. And honest too, which makes you a sharper, riskier sorta fella than I’d like t’cross. But you’ve got a problem. Your sharpest threats sound like pretty promises.”
And she shifted, just enough to let him see her settle her prize more firmly inside her pocket.