“You want to do what?” Jessie shook her head in disbelief. “There is a band of murders out there somewhere. Lord only knows who they will be terrorizing next, and you want to play a board game?”
Skyler laid the draughts’ board on the table, setting the painted wooden pieces across each end of the checkered board. “Can’t you see we need this break? We have been so consumed in finding Graham Connors and his gang that we’ve barely had time for ourselves.”
Jessie pulled out a chair, sitting down across from Skyler. “What’s the stakes?” She’d known him all her life and there was always stakes when he challenged her.
Skyler settled in the chair across from her. “Take your first move.”
Jessie shoved her first piece in a diagonal move across the board. Skyler followed suit. For five minutes they avoided one another’s moves, until Skyler made his first jump capturing one of her pieces.
“Who waits for you back in Boston?” Skyler tossed the piece in the air catching it with his opposite hand.
Skyler’s rules to this simple game of draughts came back to her with his spoken question. Ever since they were children she and Skyler had always used this simple board game as a means of truth or dare. Whoever captured the other’s piece had the right to ask one question in which the one captured was required to answer truthfully.
“Then why is it so important for you to finish this and catch the first train back?”
Jessie moved her next piece, jumping one of Skyler’s pieces. “Only one question per jump, remember. Now, why are you and Chris arguing?”
Skyler’s eyes never left the board as he figured his next move. “He wanted me to dismiss the idea of you ever returning to the territory. He wanted me to go to school in Georgia.”
Skyler moved his next piece, jumping another of her pieces. “Now, why the hurry to go back to Boston?”
A tremor shook Jessie. “What is here for me? This makeshift cabin you and your brothers erected for me?”
“You can’t answer a question with a question. It’s the rules.”
Jessie stormed out of the chair. “Your rules. Skyler, what we had is history-“
“Yes, our history.”
Skyler stood, “If I win this game, you stay. If I lose, I will let this go and never mention it again.”
He motioned for her to return to her chair. Her stomach turned. Would he give up? Did she want him to quit trying to win back her heart? It would be easier. This place held too many harsh memories for her to ever consider staying here.
They finished the game in silence. No more questions, just an unsettling silence making the air around them suffocating. Her fingers trembled as she picked up his last piece on the board, lifting her gaze to meet his eyes.
Pain, raw and true, stared back at her. She knew Skyler would be true to his word, in twenty years of knowing one another he always had been. The sound of his chair raking across the wooden floor grated against her sensitive nerves. “Skyler-“
He held up his hand, exiting the cabin. She knew he wasn’t a sore loser when it came to games, in fact, it had nothing to do with losing a game of draughts, it was losing the privilege of trying to convince her they still belonged together.