Cassie (Chapter Five, page 1 of 7)

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After a few hours of limited rest, they were back in the saddle again. The evening heat was stifling. The horizon was hazy. A dust storm was probably brewing. Cassie glanced at Bordeaux, who was watching the horizon with obvious apprehension.

"Just what we needed," she commented dryly.

He quirked a brow. "Maybe so. It'll cover our tracks."

Of course. Why hadn't she thought of that? She smiled and her lip cracked. She touched her swollen lips and winced. The dust storm might work in their favor, but it would only increase their discomfort.

Bordeaux glanced at her lips and smiled. Why weren't his lips swollen and cracking? As if in answer to her question, he dug a tin from his shirt pocket and handed it to her.

"Here, put some of this on your lips."

She took the tin from his hand and opened its hinged lid. The foul smelling grease turned her stomach and she made a face at him. "What is that?"

He chuckled. "Bear grease. Smells awful, but it works."

She shuddered as she applied a thin film of the stuff to her lips. Which would be worse, an uneasy stomach or split lips? She closed the tin and handed it back to him.

"Thanks ... I think."

He chuckled again and glanced back at the others, who were trailing behind. Sobering, he turned to her again.

"Your father told me you were a spirited girl. He's proud of the way you took care of the twins."

She stared at him, her heart going suddenly still. If he wanted to discuss her father, it was going to be a one-sided conversation.

Bordeaux shrugged. "I know you're hurt. You feel betrayed, but you need to go back and talk to him. Let him present his side." When she still didn't respond, he shook his head. "Everybody is tempted now and then, Cassie. Sometimes that temptation can be stronger than the man - or woman."

She gave him a sour look and kicked the horse into a lope, ranging out ahead of him. Being tempted was one thing, giving in to temptation was something else. They had trusted him - relied on him, and he had betrayed that trust. In the end, the saloon girl had been more important to him than his wife and children. Did men even understand the meaning of love? Was that why Bordeaux could declare his love so easily - fall in love so quickly? He was quick to forgive her father. Could Bordeaux resist temptation - and if not, would he expect forgiveness from her?

The desert was basking in an orange sunset when they finally stopped. They made camp at the bottom of a crescent shaped dune. Hopefully it would offer some kind of shelter from the threatening storm.

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