“My lady? Are you sleeping?”

“It’s a bit late to ask, isn’t it? You’re dripping on my nose.” Kiva’s heart sped up and she wiggled backward, giving him more room even as she sat up carefully. He’d carried a little stub of a candle and though it spluttered from damp it gave off enough flickering light to watch him. Raindrops clung to his eyelashes. “Is something wrong?”

“I only just realized — I have the salve that the surgeon sent along, for your shoulder. You’re meant to apply it morning and night.” Gerret was watching her, too, and only stopped to pull a small metal tin from the pocket of his vest. “Didn’t want you to go without it again, so.” He stopped, shifting his weight awkwardly, and looked at the canvas flap.

There was not enough air in the small shelter for both of them; she could feel the current of his breath against her skin as she reached out to carefully take the tin. She slept in only the linen undershirt she’d convinced Amma to shorten for her, and beneath her blankets her legs were bare.  Precious little, then, between her and this man who radiated such warmth and — she tightened her fingers around the tin. “Thank you, Captain.”

“Call me Gerret — when we’re alone, I mean. I’m not your captain.” The linen of his shirt beneath the vest had gotten wet in the crossing from his tent to hers; she could see the shadow of his collarbone beneath it, and without thought, her finger reached up to trace it, light as falling leaf.

His breath caught.

“Are you not?” If her heart had cantered before, now it sprung into a gallop, foolhardy and exhilarating, so fast it could not possibly sense the fall to come.

“Not what?” His eyes were dark, so much darker than usual, dilated and catching the flicker of the flames in their reflection.

She tilted her chin up, her hand drifting, grazing his throat, threading through the strands of hair at his temple. It was getting longer, beginning to curl. “Mine?”

His groan was deep and instant and without hesitation the distance between them vanished, his arms strong around her. He gripped her low on her back, careful, so careful even as he kissed her.

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