Coffee Break Read – Sniper

The next morning, Dai was rested enough to pull Julia into a teasing embrace which she returned with some enthusiasm. She smiled to herself as she pulled his handsome head down for a tender kiss. Was it any wonder she asked herself that she loved this complicated and sometimes difficult, man more with every day they were together. After a late breakfast, Dai ambled off to complete the arrangements for men, boats, vehicles and weaponry, while Julia involved herself with some of the many tasks associated with running a household as large as theirs.
Around mid-morning Dai ran her to earth – in a room Julia would have been willing to bet a sizeable sum of money he hadn’t even noticed before. It was a small, well aired, storeroom where she and Elfrida were busily counting linens. He opened his mouth to speak but Julia hushed him with an upraised finger. She finished the pile she was counting and made a mark on a neat chart on the wall.
“Wifely duty calls, Elfrida,” she said jauntily. “I’ll leave you to finish off.”
She whisked out of the room dragging Dai behind her and didn’t stop until they reached the small winter sitting room with its comfortable chairs, huge log fire and view into the glass-roofed winter atrium. Dai looked bemused as she smiled up at him.
“What?” he asked crossly.
“I think that’s my line,” Julia could barely suppress a giggle. “You had such a thunderous face on that I thought we’d better row in private.”
He took her face in his hands, tenderly stroking his thumbs across her cheekbones, his special caress for when he was trying to comfort himself as much as her. She put her own hands on his wrists, saying nothing as she watched him battle whatever demons were plaguing him. In the end he managed a smile.
“We are,” he announced with some pride, “doing better than I had hoped for in the matter of vigils with experience of boats. I’d forgotten how many of my boys had done time in river enforcement back in Londinium. Gallus is pissed off because none of his men knows the front of the boat from the back, but he is coming along with half a dozen of his boys to guard the vehicles and help with any prisoners. One of his happy band is being told he will have to grow sea-legs as we need an explosives expert and he is the only one we have.”
And none of that, Julia thought to herself, is what made you so out-of-reason cross, but she was wise to him, saying nothing and waiting for him to come to the point. He kissed the end of her nose.
“Gallus,” he said crossly, “is an arrogant Roman cunnus and one who is not only annoying but also right. We have been looking at maps and he pointed out that the takeover of the boats would be simplified greatly if we had a sharpshooter positioned on a convenient bluff that overlooks the precise point we have earmarked for our ambush. Which is true enough. But sharpshooters aren’t exactly a common species. When I said that he just looked at me.”
Julia laughed gently.
“And would this hypothetical sharpshooter be in any danger?”
“Not if she had a man-mountain and two wolfhounds at her back. But I still don’t like it.”
“Honestly, I don’t much care for it myself, the position of sniper has never appealed. But if it would make you and yours safer then I will do it. Give me a laser-guided rifle and a set of night goggles and I can pretty well guarantee a trouble-free takeover.”
He stared into her eyes for a long moment.
“It may have to be shoot to kill.”
“Yes, but better a clean kill than some poor cunnus getting gut-shot and dying in agony hours later.”

From Dying on the Tide, one of the stories in The First Dai and Julia Omnibus by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook

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