Word of the Week: Surreptitious

The word of the week is:

Share a snippet of your work that uses this word or evokes the nature of the word!

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Managed to find an example from each of my current work’s chapters.

Chapter One

Dov’s attention returned to Lander. ‘How will I explain Freyja being in my company when we’re travelling? How should we present ourselves to the world?’

Lander smiled and shrugged. ‘The normal world vanished when you entered this theatre, so its opinion is irrelevant. As for my perspective, how you view your relationship with Freyja is what it will be. A student and teacher, or a sister and brother, or–’

‘Something more romantic?’ Krista volunteered.

Dov groaned. ‘Back to that are we?’

‘Freyja’s not complaining,’ Krista said. ‘She’s smiling.’

Lander’s gaze snapped to the medical monitor then to Freyja’s shifting features. ‘That’s muscle reflex. Freyja’s patience is gone. Now everyone must leave. Freyja’s first memories should not be of this place.’

‘In short, pack and run,’ Dov said. ‘Will I carry Freyja?’

‘Of course,’ Lander said. ‘She remains clasped to you.’

‘Where are the monitor’s cords?’ Krista asked.

‘Freyja’s bed is filled with sensors,’ Lander replied. ‘But for good readings there must be no obstructions.’

‘Any time to fit a gown?’ Polanski asked.

‘No. We improvise.’ Lander gathered up the bedsheet’s lower hem, drew it up to the top hem, and then turned to Polanski. ‘May Dov’s new friend borrow your coat?’

Polanski nodded and shrugged off her suit’s jacket. ‘Krista, you have a project for tonight. There are two VISA cards in my coat. After I’ve dropped you three at the Tel-Aviv beachfront, pick the best restaurants and find the cards’ limits. Tomorrow I want a full report on Freyja’s first Shabbat with Dov.’

‘Wish I had more homework like this,’ Krista said as Polanski and Lander lifted the drowsy Freyja upright, tucking the folded sheet around her like a sundress.

‘You do not wish to stay with us, Polanski?’ Dov asked as Lander laid Freyja against Dov’s chest. ‘This may be suspicious otherwise. A large foreign guy touring expensive restaurants with these two.’

Krista giggled. ‘There’s no problem. You’re with girls your age. Fourteen and fourteen is twenty-eight.’

‘Should have guessed.’ Dov grunted as he lifted Freyja off the bed, hooking his left arm beneath her waist. ‘Krista has all the questions and all the answers.’

Chapter Two

Krista slouched against her seat. ‘I just want Freyja to see a happy Dov when she wakes up.’

Dov offered the blonde girl a brief smile. ‘Better?’

Krista nodded. ‘Dah.’

Dov glanced down as Freyja yawned and shifted beneath her borrowed jacket. ‘I think we should change tonight’s plans and skip our dinner in Tel Aviv.’

‘Aw!’ Krista sulked. ‘Why?’

‘Being in a restaurant full of families, soldiers, and waiters is guaranteed to spook Freyja,’ Dov answered her. ‘Besides, if the typical Israeli has your blunt curiosity, a young skittish girl dressed like this will draw attention. More than I have the energy to deal with.’

‘Ah, yes,’ Polanski sighed as the highway swept northward. ‘Severe jetlag can defeat even our coffee, and we have no ID for Freyja. Everyone will ask for ID, even on Shabbat eve.’

Krista pouted and crossed her arms. ‘Stupid adults spoiling my fun. We need to celebrate this night somehow.’

‘I understand,’ Polanski said. ‘But we cannot overwhelm Dov’s companion.’

‘Oh, okay,’ Krista groaned. ‘This is only Tel Aviv. A place for deluded douches with more money than brains.’

‘You do not like this city?’ Dov asked.

Krista sank into her jacket. ‘Those dummkopfs don’t like the military, so I don’t like them. Nyet. I despise them.’

‘Such an understatement.’ Polanski flipped down her sun visor as the highway veered westward into the retreating sun’s glare. ‘There is a compromise for tonight. We go to the beach, have some snacks, then I drive us home and we postpone your celebrations for another night.’

‘The beach is fine,’ Dov said. ‘A good place for Freyja to learn how to move around.’

‘And a romantic location for your first night together.’ Krista retrieved a mobile phone from her jacket’s pocket. ‘I’ll message Karen. Let her know we’ll be home late and not to wait up.’

‘Where is Karen’s home?’ Dov asked as Krista began typing.

‘About twenty minutes south of Be’er Sheva,’ Polanski replied said as she switched on the Alpina’s driving lights. ‘Karen lives in a fortress disguised as a villa…Ah, I don’t know if Karen has any rooms set up for you and Freyja. This secret was kept from everyone.’

‘I have that covered, mama.’ Krista returned her mobile to its pocket then peered around her seat again. ‘Dov, do you like pizza?’

‘It’s on my top five list,’ Dov replied.

Chapter Three

‘I wish to borrow Krista before your next venture,’ Polanski said. ‘Perhaps Dov could take Freyja to Hannah’s room, find some comfortable attire for her.’

Dov looked up at Polanski. ‘Hannah as in Karen’s daughter? You’re suggesting I rummage through Hannah’s draws, pinch her clothes?’

‘Only the loose stuff,’ Krista answered him. ‘Unless you want Freyja popping buttons, or tearing straps.’

‘Thank you, Krista.’ Polanski coughed. ‘Karen’s children are staying at the barracks until Wednesday. No one will notice your visit.’

‘Fine.’ Dov turned back to Freyja. ‘Shall we begin another lesson? Might be more fun.’

‘A good memory?’ Freyja asked.

Dov shrugged. ‘Depends on Hannah.’

‘And her buttons,’ Krista whispered.

‘Okay, Krista, with me,’ Polanski said. ‘Dov and Freyja, go to the hall’s northern end. Hannah’s room is last on your right.’

Chapter Four

Karen tested the lock of final stairwell door on the first floor’s hallway, completing her security checks, and turned to a nearby bathroom. Polanski emerged from the doorway, flicked off the bathroom lights, and strode towards Karen, adjusting her old tracksuit. The women greeted each other with a brief hug, then Karen motioned to the hall’s far end. A soft light within Krista’s room illuminated the darkened passageway.

‘I guess Freyja’s a night-owl,’ Polanski said as the pair set off. ‘Or Krista’s demanding more bedtime reading from Dov.’

‘Dov was right about her,’ Karen said. ‘I watched Freyja read her dictionary like a favourite novel.’

‘Yet how much did she understand,’ Polanski said. ‘Was that a show to impress Dov?’

‘Freyja would not lie, especially not to Dov.’ Karen placed a hand on Polanski’s back. ‘Dov is not one to lie, either. Though he did say an interesting half-truth.’

‘Your question on the stairs?’ Polanski asked. ‘Was that a test?’

‘If it was, he passed,’ Karen replied. ‘Curious Dov didn’t mention if Freyja’s attachment was reciprocated.’

‘Dov’s actions answer that question,’ Polanski said. ‘But this is new for him. Maybe there’s some uncertainty.’

‘Freyja’s new for everyone,’ Karen said. ‘What do you think about this?’

‘Like Dov, my mind is in mild shock.’ Polanski shrugged. ‘I thought the technology for Freyja was at least ten years away.’

‘Lander is a very clever doctor,’ Karen said.

‘Among other things.’ Polanski sighed. ‘Well done with keeping this a secret.’

‘You don’t approve?’ Karen caressed Polanski’s back. ‘You think this was a mistake?’

‘I understand the motives, maybe better than Dov.’ Polanski smirked. ‘And nothing about Freyja was a mistake, even her exceptional assets.’

‘No complaints from Dov, so what harm was done?’ Karen asked with a faint smile.

‘Such chutzpah,’ Polanski replied. ‘We’re lucky Dov has considerable patience.’

‘One of many talents he will need.’ Karen motioned for silence, crept up to Krista’s room, and peered around the open door-frame.

Dov was seated in Krista’s reading chair placed beside the head of Freyja’s bed, with the hardback edition of illustrated Germanic tales open in his lap. Dov’s left hand marked his progress in a story while his right hand clasped the forearm of a sleeping Freyja, who’s own hand mimicked his hold. Dov looked up as the women tiptoed into the bedroom, then glanced over his shoulder to Krista’s bed.

‘A familiar touch, with a calming voice,’ Polanski whispered as she crouched beside Dov’s chair. ‘No surprise both girls are asleep with the lights on.’

‘I thought of leaving after Freyja dosed off,’ Dov whispered. ‘But she didn’t let go. I can’t risk waking her.’

‘So don’t.’ Karen navigated around the piles of language books and dictionaries clustered before the new draws, extracted a blanket from the wardrobe with practiced stealth, and gestured for Polanski to clear Dov’s lap. ‘Krista won’t complain about an extra roommate for tonight.’

‘I’m sure you have slept in less comfortable places.’ Polanski retrieved and closed Dov’s book, and ruffled his hair as she rose to her feet. ‘With far less pleasant company.’

Karen draped the blanket over Dov, tucking in the sides as if making a bed, then placed a light kiss on Dov’s cheek as Polanski switched off the bedroom lights. ‘Good night, dear Dov. Try not to snore.’

Draft Chapter, number unknown

‘Perhaps we are due for a new wardrobe, so that can be Friday’s adventure,’ Dov said. ‘Now, can I continue?’

Krista attempted to smile. ‘Okay.’

Dov turned Krista’s shoulder into the afternoon sun glaring through her window and she shuddered.

‘That hurts,’ Krista hissed between rapid breaths. ‘Please, Dov. It stings.’

Dov sighed as he eased Krista’s shoulder back. ‘Your shirt’s right sleeve is torn along the seam halfway to your elbow, and there is a patch of skin about the size of your palm missing from your shoulder.’

Krista wiped her running nose with a twitching hand. ‘Okay.’

‘Not okay,’ Dov said. ‘I can see muscle tissue and friction burns. You need a hospital.’

‘Nyet!’ Krista gasped as her eyes flared open. ‘No hospital. No doctors. Please!’

Dov groaned. ‘Krista–’

‘You fixed bad injuries in Afghanistan,’ Krista stammered. ‘You can fix me.’

‘Patching up an injured soldier is worlds apart from mending a pretty girl’s arm,’ Dov said. ‘Besides, all I can do is clean and bandage your wound. Without a hospital’s anaesthetic this will cause great pain and leave scars.’

Krista sniffed as a smile flickered across her lips. ‘You think this wreck is pretty?’

‘Dov correct,’ a soft voice replied. ‘Krista is beautiful.’

Dov and Krista glanced up to see Freyja standing by the doorway with a plastic container held against her stomach.

‘Thank you, Freyja,’ Krista said. ‘Can you close the door and turn on our lights for Dov?’

Freyja gave a quick nod and guided the door closed with the toe of her sneaker before flicking the light switch with a raised elbow.

‘Clever girl,’ Dov said as Freyja approached the bed. ‘Set the container down next to me, then sit behind Krista. Let her rest against you for support and a hug.’

‘I’d like more than a hug,’ Krista said.

‘How about an arm free of scars or nerve damage?’ Dov said. ‘Without professional medical attention you could–’

Krista’s shaking hand covered Dov’s mouth as Freyja settled behind her. ‘I need a big favour from both my friends.’

Dov raised an eyebrow as Freyja’s arms folded around Krista’s midriff, her hands taking the weight of Krista’s wounded arm from Dov. ‘Oh?’

Krista withdrew her hand and tried to swallow. ‘What happened on the roof and in the stairwell must stay a secret. No one, even my parents, can know.’

‘Dov, or me, do bad thing?’ Freyja asked. ‘Why you scream on the roof? Why Dov yell to go inside–?’

‘No, Freyja,’ Krista said as her shivering faded. ‘You and Dov were fine. I messed up.’

‘Krista make mistake,’ Freyja said. ‘We help Krista’s mistake become secret?’

Dov grunted as crimson droplets gathered beneath Krista’s elbow. ‘There is no time for–’

Krista’s form tensed, and her hand flew up to cover her wound as Dov leant closer. ‘Please, Dov. Give me this favour.’

‘I cannot permit battlefield treatment for your injury.’ Dov cupped his hands around Krista’s thighs and sighed as her muscles softened. ‘Yet there is no other choice. I will bandage your arm. Protect your secret.’

‘Yes.’ Freyja rested her chin on Krista’s left shoulder. ‘Dov and Freyja help Krista. We are friends.’

Krista blinked the fresh tears from her eyes as her hand caressed Dov’s neck. ‘Thank you.’

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