( Levi's POV)
It was probably the way she lived her life considering death was an everyday thing to her. “Um, were you with my uncle when he died?”
“Yes.” She replied, but didn’t offer anything else.
Yeah, this was as hard getting information from his uncle had been. Despite spending his teenage years with the man, he felt like there was much he didn’t know. The sun was on its descent causing the trees to throw long shadows.
He’d need to watch the ground carefully because sometimes shadows hid holes or uneven ground. The question was on the tip of his tongue to ask if his uncle ever talked about him, but he stopped it. It would be better not to know. He could have savagely cursed him with his dying breath. “Did he die at home?”
Oh, great another lengthy answer, but she surprised him by looking at him.
“If you are wondering if he died in the bed you’ll be sleeping in tonight. The answer is no. He rented one of those easy lift chairs so he could get out of it on his own. Independence was very important to him.”
Levi nodded, keeping eye contact with her. They were at the stairs to the lake, he gestured for her to go ahead. The stairs would be easier than rambling down the hill, but he’d prefer not to have her see him manage the stairs in case he stumbled.
Charmer took the lead plunging down the hill while she negotiated the ground behind the canine. The view was very fine behind, another reason he let her go ahead. There were things he might not be able to do, but he could still appreciate a nicely rounded pairs of hips.
Her voice drifted over her shoulder softer for facing away from him. “The place he rented the chair from came and retrieved it.”
“Makes sense. Roy was always a frugal one.” He understood the sense in renting a chair for a short time. A pang of guilt still twisted his gut. His uncle would value being able to do for himself as long as possible. The bachelor was not in the habit of depending on anyone else. It must have hurt his pride to have a hospice nurse rooming with him.
The feminine ponytail bobbed and swayed in front of him as Melody and Charmer negotiated the sloping terrain. No doubt, his uncle appreciated a pretty girl fussing over him too. What man wouldn’t? At least Roy hadn’t died alone. His cane dug into dirt with a little more force than necessary when he realized he owed Melody some respect for being there when he couldn’t.
The stairs beckoned him with a promise of an easier walk while the other two plowed down the hill. Melody’s voice floated on the wind as she sang to the dog something old fashioned about a valley and a true love. Her lilting voice touched something he thought long dormant. No, it couldn’t be. Get that thought out of your head, soldier. That type of thinking leads to danger.
The same words his field sergeant used to train him, he used to lecture himself. One foot was on the wooden platform leading to the steps. A breeze slid across the lake bringing coolness and a mist as it wafted up the slope. The familiar landscape comforted him, but it didn’t clear his head as he hoped. Instead, his eyes drifting over to where Melody waited as Charmer investigated a fallen branch, before baptizing it.
For Pete’s sake, he was only in his twenties, was he going to spend the rest of his life watching other people live. The thought caused him to step off the platform and scramble after the disappearing pair. Luckily, no one looked back to see his ignoble half slide down the hill. His cane and a convenient sapling or two slowed his descent. His pride remained intact since he managed to stay upright this time.
Charmer decided he’d walked enough and settled in a low mossy spot as an impromptu bed. Melody tugged on the leash. “C’mon, boy. You can’t just stop walking. You have to go back up the hill.”
In answer, the dog rested his head on his paws. Not getting any response, Melody eased down beside the dog, dropping the lease and stretching out her long legs on the spongy greenery.