He made it.
The dappled shadows of tree leaves on the grass swirled a bit before his eyes, on the brink of becoming a colossal kaleidoscope if he didn’t sit down and draw a decent breath. The rock was still perched out there on the bluff, waiting, but a few moments resting against the trunk of the oak wouldn’t matter a wit to the rock and would mean the world to his worn-out body.
He leaned against the trunk and drew that deep breath, wishing he had brought water. It used to be such a short trek, during which he’d never given a moment’s thought to breathing, or water. He knees creaked badly when he sank to the grass and rested his head against the bark.
Curse the age that didn’t take his mind or his heart with it. Curse the time that stole everyone near and dear to him.
In defiance he held Simone unchanged in his memory, young and free, because he had no evidence to the contrary.
Especially here, the place where they hid in plain sight.