|Chapter 4: Sea of Ice|
Glaring at nothing, Covenant quickened his pace.
But as he reached the ladder leading to the afterdeck, Linden caught up with him. She gripped his arm as if something had changed between them. Her intent seriousness bore no resemblance to her old severity, and her eyes were damp. Her soft mouth, which he had kissed with such longing, wore the shape of a plea.
Yet he had not forgiven himself; and after a moment she dropped her hand. Her gaze retreated somewhat. When she spoke, she sounded like a woman who did not know the words she needed.
"You keep surprising me. I never know what to expect from you. Just when I think you're too far gone to be reached, you do something like that. Like what you did for Sunder and Hollian." Abruptly, she stopped, silenced by the inadequacy of what she was saying.
Covenant wanted to cry out. His desire for her was too acute to be suffered. He had already perverted whatever authenticity he might have had with her. And she was a healer. She had more right to his ring than he did. Self-loathing made him harsh.
"Do you really think I just want to throw power around? Is that your opinion of me?"
At that, she winced. Her expression turned inward like a baffled wail. "No," she murmured. "No. I was just trying to get your attention." Then her eyes reached toward him again. "But you scared me. If you could see yourself--"
"If I could see myself," he rasped so that he would not put his arms around her, "I'd probably puke."
Savagely, he flung himself up the ladder away from her.
But when he gained the open air and brittle cold of the afterdeck, he had to knot his arms across his chest to hold in the hurt.