Beneath the desk, I saw her hand pressed against her stomach. Tilda had always been so toned, and while lately there had been a very subtle bump to her normally taut stomach, I had barely even registered it, let alone considered that she might be with child.
“Of course, in your condition, you don’t need to be on active duty,” King Evert said.
“When this meeting is over, I’ll have you come into my office to fill out some paperwork,” Ridley added, then gave her a smile. “Congratulations.”
“Thank you,” Tilda said softly and smiled at him.
The King spoke for a few minutes longer, summarizing what he’d already told us, and saying that we should all be ready to move next week. He ended the meeting by saying that he’d be in contact with Ridley later on, and then reminded us all to keep everything he’d said under wraps.
After King Evert left, Ridley dismissed the rest of us, and while the other trackers left quickly, talking among themselves, Tilda, Ember, and I were slow to get up. Ridley was at the main desk, gathering up some paperwork he’d apparently brought in with him for the meeting. I sat hunched over my desk, trying to absorb the newfound revelations.
“You’re pregnant?” Ember asked Tilda, echoing my own disbelief. She’d gotten up from her desk to walk over to where Tilda still sat at her desk. “You’re one of my best friends. How could you not have told me this?”
“I wanted to tell you,” Tilda said emphatically, and she looked over at me. “Both of you. I was just waiting for the right time.”
“How could you have let this happen?” I asked. My voice was quiet, but the accusation in my tone was unmistakable, and Tilda sat up straighter, her eyes widening with indignation.
“Let this happen?” Tilda asked incredulously.
“You should’ve been more careful,” I went on, unabashed. “Weren’t you and Kasper using protection?”
“My sex life with Kasper is none of your business,” Tilda snapped.
“I just can’t believe you would do this.” I shook my head. “Just throw your career away.”
“Bryn!” Ember admonished me, but I ignored her.
“I’m not throwing away anything,” Tilda said, growing more defensive. “I just don’t want to fight while I’m pregnant. Once I’m done with maternity leave, I’ll go right back to work.”
“Yeah, that’s what they all say, and then they never come back,” I muttered.
“Things are getting a little heated,” Ridley interjected, attempting to be a voice of reason, but both Tilda and I were staring daggers at each other. “Everyone should calm down, and talk about things later.”
“They all who? And who gives a damn what other people do?” Tilda was nearly shouting by now. “I’m talking about me. And this is about me and my baby. Not you. It’s not like I did this to you.”
“I just can’t believe this.” I stood up, pushing the chair back from my desk so hard it tipped over. “I always thought you were better than this.”
“Wow, Bryn.” Tilda’s voice was cold and flat, but hurt flashed in her gray eyes. “I could say the same thing about you.”
Ember rushed to defend Tilda, but I barely heard her. I just turned and stormed out of the room, dimly aware that Ridley was calling after me. But I just kept going. The muscles in my arms felt tight and electric, and I nearly punched in the door to the girls’ locker room. My breath came in angry, ragged gasps, and it was hard for me to think or focus. I wanted to hit something, and I didn’t even know why.
“Bryn!” Ridley shouted, busting into the locker room without knocking. I stood next to my locker, my fists balled up at my sides, and I cast an annoyed glare at him. “What the hell was that about?”
“You’re in the girls’ locker room,” I pointed out lamely and struggled to get hold of my temper.
“No one is here, and it’s not like they have anything I haven’t seen.” He put his hands on his hips and stared down at me. “Everything you said in that classroom was totally uncalled-for. You were being a huge asshole.”
“I’m the asshole?” I rolled my eyes and laughed bitterly. “She’s the one that was negligent and immature! She’s abandoning her job for some stupid boy!”
“No, she’s not,” Ridley corrected me as reasonably as he could. “She’s an adult woman starting a family with someone she loves. That all seems relatively normal and healthy to me.”
I slumped back on the bench and took a deep breath to calm myself. “Our priority is to this kingdom and these people. We took an oath when we were sworn as trackers, and now there’s something major going on, and she’s going to be off playing house.”
“We’re allowed to have lives, Bryn.” His tone softened, like he was sad that he needed to explain this to me, and he sat down on the bench across from me. “We can date and have fun and raise families and fall in love.”
Running a hand through my hair, I refused to look at him and muttered, “You would say that.”
“What does that even mean?” Ridley sounded taken aback.
“Because you’re in love with Juni,” I told him pointedly, as if I were accusing him of a crime.
“I never said that. I just started dating her, and that doesn’t even matter.” He brushed it off. “The point is that you’re acting insane right now.” I scoffed, so he continued. “Tilda is your friend, and you’re scared and pissed off and you’re taking it out on her for no good reason.”
I bristled. “I am not scared.”
“You are,” he insisted. “You’re scared of losing her, that she won’t be able to work with you as much anymore. But what I think is really bothering you right now is that the King wants you to go kill Konstantin, and you’re not sure if you can.”
“That’s…” I shifted on the bench and shook my head. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I know exactly what I’m talking about.” He leaned forward, trying to get me to look at him, but I refused. “I know you, Bryn.”
My shoulders sagged, and I hung my head low, staring down at the cracked tiles of the locker room floor. I put my head in my hands and let out a long, shaky breath.
“I don’t want to kill him. I should, and I know I should, but I don’t.”