“Father! We don’t have time!” Frieda cried.
“Honey,” Heidi said gently, “until we have a complete picture of this situation, there’s nothing you, Anders or we can do.” She reached out and laid her hand softly on Freida’s shoulder, but her daughter twisted away from her, walked to the window, yanked away the blinds and stared outside, her cheeks flushed red.
Anders sighed and looked at Freida’s profile, hoping she’d turn to look his way. Competing feelings stormed within his chest. It was hard to breathe. Growing fear for Paign pummeled him like the tidal surges he’d seen at the sea’s edge. But he didn’t know what to do for his cousin. Anders was smart, a thinker. He could solve problems. He was very handy with a bow and forceful with his sword. In this situation, though, he was powerless.
“What can I say, Mr. Skulstad, that I haven’t already told you?” he replied, more heatedly than he wished. “The long and the short of it is that we need to find Paign. He’s been gone too long to simply have been camping. Like I said before, I believe the smartest thing for us to do is head up to western rim of Ruar’s Ridge, you know, where Paign loved—loves—to camp.”
Anders immediately felt terrible for his stupid word choice. He already was choking down the lump in his throat when Freida whipped her head around with a stricken look when she’d heard “loved” in the past tense.
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