Chapter 4

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JADE awoke to the smell of savory stew. When she opened her eyes, she was met with the view of Hosun setting down a tray of two steaming bowls onto the table. The rocking of the ship had smoothed as well.

She raised herself on one arm and watched as Hosun turned to her. One eyebrow quirked upwards, and he grinned, "I was about to wake you up, but it seems you have a wonderful sense for food."

Jade laughed and pulled the blanket to the side, sitting up straight. She found her slippers and padded over to Hosun, sitting on the chair opposite him. He handed her a bowl of stew, which she took gratefully, glad for its warmth, and settled down himself.

The white fumes blew onto her face, and she inhaled them. The stew was a dull yellow, and she could see a few vegetables floating beneath the surface.

She took one sip and made a face at the saltiness. Hosun looked confused at her reaction, and she sighed, "Try it." He did so, taking a larger sip than she had, and as soon as the liquid touched his mouth, his eyebrows lifted, and he swallowed.

"Normally, the General gets better accommodations that these, but they couldn't find any at such short notice, so you'll have to bear with this," he said, eyeing the stew.

Jade chuckled. "I don't mind. But I hope the cook doesn't plan on being a chef somewhere."

Hosun looked amused as well, "Yes, for some reason, I don't think he would quite make it." They grinned at each other. "I could send it back and get something better," he suggested.

Jade shook her head, "Oh, no, let's not trouble them. We could just eat this."

Hosun furrowed his eyes, a breath escaping his lips, "Why are you so accommodating? You can ask for whatever you want, Jaden."

"Yes, but there's really no need—"

Hosun stood up abruptly, bowl of stew in his hand, and opened the door. He stuck his head out and shouted, "Edric!" Through the crack in the door, Jade could see that, almost instantly, a young sailor, probably no more than twenty, came running up.

"Yes, General?" He asked, and Jade could see that the boy was trying not to seem nervous in front of such a formidable man.

"This is too salty. Please ask the cook to send back two more bowls," Hosun said, his stoic face not faltering.

The boy's cheeks reddened, "O—of course, sir. Should I take these ones?" He asked, pointing at the bowl Hosun was holding. Hosun nodded and opened the door wider for him to enter.

The boy took Hosun's bowl and set it on the plate. Jade gave him hers with a kind smile, trying to ease his nerves. His face twitched in return, and he lifted the tray.

Jade pretended not to notice the way the tray was shaking slightly and gave him credit for keeping his back straight. Hosun shut the door when he had left.

"You were making him nervous," Jade chided.

"If I cannot make a sailor boy afraid, how am I supposed to make my enemies afraid?" Hosun said dryly, sitting down again. Jade sighed and shook her head, looking at her hands.

Her eyebrows folded together as she noticed the lack of a bracelet on her wrist. Only her parents-in-law's bracelet was there, its weight now unnoticeable. Her eyes darted up to Hosun, and he met her gaze evenly.

"Do you have my bracelet?" Jade asked. Understanding dawned on Hosun's face, and he nodded.

"Yes. I forgot to give it to you, what with everything that happened, but it is at home. Don't worry."

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