The conversation could have been avoided. Wintergreen had long ago accepted that for all his love of his American Soldier, that Slade was destined to grow beyond him. He could hide his feelings, school himself to truly be no more than a friend, a brother in arms. But Adeline Kane was far too trained in reading that which was hidden, had seen it in him in that first meeting.
They carefully danced around the issue, up until this moment.
"Why did you let go?" Addie asked, to see if there was perhaps a flaw she had failed to detect.
"I never held him that firmly," Wintergreen said quietly, never at ease with speaking of private matters aloud.
"Why?" she pressed.
He looked at her, a look of resignation making his age seem more than it should be. "He cannot be held firm by anyone...his freedom makes him what he is. And, all things pass...as they should...with the maturity of age." He then inclined his head to her. "I wish you and he a long, good marriage." He left then, not wishing to have his heart pried at any more by the woman who had taken his Soldier from him for good.