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They camped that night. After the meal, Jehenna put the cord around Gypsy's neck and took him out for his last relief session until morning. He hated the cord, but she didn't trust him at dusk. When the cat finally finished, Nathan was through tending Socks and his tent and gear were on the ground, ready to set up.
"Don't go in yet, Jehenna," he said as she passed.
Not a good idea to stay, but she eased down onto the still-folded tent and took Gypsy into her lap, petting him, concentrating on thinking about how soft his fur was getting. She'd stay only a few minutes.
Nathan sat down next to her. "Your father?" he asked.
She shook her head.
Silence, except for Gypsy's purr.
"Would you consider..." Nathan's words trailed off. "What I mean is, if you won't consider letting me take you back to your father..." Again he paused. "Damn it, come away with me, then."
She stared at him, finding the growing darkness prevented her from seeing his expression. "Not to my father?"
"Just with me." He leaned to her and his lips claimed hers.
She lost herself in the wonderful sensation of the kiss, gentle at first, then with more fire, until she felt ready to burst into flame. Without thought she reached to him, to hold the kiss forever. Trapped between them, Gypsy squirmed and yowled in protest.
This brought back her sanity and she pulled away. Holding the cat against her, she leaped up and ran into the wagon.
Though she willed herself not to, as soon as she climbed up to her bunk and stretched out, she couldn't help reliving the kiss over and over, finally falling asleep, and into a nightmare.
Trapped in a room where her stepmother played"Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes" on a piano, through a window Jehenna watched Fanny and Nathan waltzing as they gazed only at each other. When the music finally stopped, her stepmother turned to her and said, "See, he doesn't want you either. Nobody wants you."
Jehenna woke with a start, dream shards still circling in her head. Nobody wants you.
Nathan had kissed her. Asked her to go away with him.
Everyone lies when necessary. Luba's words.
Just with me. Nathan's words. Had he lied? Was he secretly planning to take her back to his father?