“When did you become a Christian?” he asked. She paused looking thoughtful.
“I had been brought up as a Christian but I didn’t really begin believing in it for myself until I started going to my current church. They were so different, informal, but serious about Jesus.”
Sherdan did his best to listen respectfully as she explained. His curiosity was peaked by her words, and he desperately wanted to understand.
“The church believes worship, the music and the band and everything about it, is important. It is modern and the words have real depth. It helps people connect to God and the Holy Spirit,” she paused to think.
“Go on,” he whispered.
“I hadn’t realised the Holy Spirit was something I could tangibly feel. The first time I did, I felt so peaceful. I just knew I was home and had to keep coming back for more of that feeling; those moments when all that matters is God and being with him.”
He nodded. He didn’t entirely understand, but he could see how important it was to her. It gave him a lot to think about. She didn’t speak of prayers being answered, or logical reasons for God existing, but of feelings and experiences.
Her whole answer took him by surprise. It was the first time someone hadn’t tried to argue him into believing but had simply explained their own feelings. Her face had also lit up in the most beautiful of ways. It evidently meant a lot to her.
“Thank you for being so honest. I think I understand more of it.” She smiled and they kissed again. He had never spent time in such a sweet and innocent fashion.
Before long, Antonio meowed at Anya to make a fuss of him so they both played piggy in the middle with the cat for the next half an hour, rolling a small ball between them. Once the kitten was worn out she stood and picked the fluffy creature up.
“I should probably get some sleep.” She stepped towards Sherdan and onto the tips of her toes to give him a kiss goodnight. He hugged her to him until Antonio began to wiggle between them.
It felt odd to be letting her go to sleep without joining her but he didn’t protest. Her beliefs were important to her and every time he had acted against them, it had put a gulf between them.
He let her go and went through to his study. There was still a mountain of work to do and it was already almost midnight. He sat for a few minutes in his favourite chair, thinking of Anya, with no regard to his work schedule. He had not felt so happy in years.
Just before one, his radio squawked at him.
“Sherdan, are you awake, sir?” came Graham’s voice. Sherdan grabbed his radio and pressed the button to reply.
“Yes. Why are you still up?”
“I was called into the command room. A small plane flew over about ten minutes ago.”
“What did it do?”
“As far as we can tell, nothing, it just circled over and went back where it came from.”
“Keep monitoring for now. Let me know if it happens again.”
“Yes, sir.” Sherdan put the radio down again, thoughtfully. They really needed to get some kind of air defence. He went back to his work, thinking no more of it.
“Sir, I think they may have dropped men.”
“You ‘think’, commander?”
“Yes, sir. There have been civilian reports of two or possibly more men trying to sneak around.”
“Have all the guard teams alerted. Let me know if anyone is spotted by officials.”
“Are you going to come to the command room, sir?”
“No, not until we have confirmed sightings. I will stay here. I have things to do.”
Sherdan went back to his work for a few minutes but Graham was soon calling for his attention again.
“No intruders found sir and the security teams have done a country wide sweep.”
“Do a second, just in case.”
“Already doing so, sir.”
Sherdan got up and went through to his own guards. Nathan had already turned to the door, expecting him after hearing the radio chatter.
“I assume you have been listening to the radio?” Sherdan asked.
“Of course, sir.”
“Keep an eye out, just in case.”
Sherdan went back to his study. Normally he would have gone over to the command room but Anya was asleep and he didn’t want to leave without her. He also had a lot of work to do.
Whatever it was that had caused the civilians to report something, it now had Sherdan so distracted that he found continuing the next items on his agenda impossible. He contemplated going to bed but decided on a small nightcap first.
Picking up the decanter, he poured the last of its liquid into a glass. He would need some more brandy in the morning.
“Sir, there’s still no sign of anyone, but the soldiers think they may have seen movement, from a possible non-civilian source, near your house. I’m getting them to search the general area,” the radio came to life.
“All right Graham, keep me informed.”
“He contemplated going to wake Anya to take her to the compound with him but the thought just annoyed him. He left her where she was and paced his study, glass in one hand and radio in the other.
“Sir, we are getting some funky behaviour from a couple of our camera feeds,” Nathan reported.
“What do you mean by ‘funky’ Nathan?”
“They have flashed on and off a couple of times. Just two of them at the back of the house.”
“Ok… Graham can you send a squad of the guards over to the house?”
Sherdan waited for a moment, now more concerned.
“They are on their way,” Graham informed him.
“Sir, I’m now getting the alarm on the kitchen door, someone’s opened it.”
“Come through and…”
“Wait, now it’s fine,” Nathan interrupted. “I think it was a false alarm. There is nothing on the camera feed in the kitchen.”
“Is there or isn’t there an intruder in the house?” Sherdan hissed.
“There isn’t, sir.”
“The extra guards are almost there, sir,” Graham added. Sherdan sat down, noticing that the glass in his hand was very unsteady. His security team had unsettled him. He calmed himself as he decided whether it was best to get Anya and head to the compound.
Just as he was about to get up it occurred to him that to get to her, he had to go past the kitchen and he had left the door open. If it wasn’t a false alarm he would be going towards danger.
He stood up when he decided he did not care. He couldn’t let anything happen to her.
“Anya are you awake?” he called into the radio. Before there was any chance of a reply the door handle began turning.