Cassie (Chapter Two, page 1 of 7)

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Cassie woke the next morning in the cool of dawn. Throwing back the covers that had protected her from the cold night air, she grabbed one of her boots. Turning it up side down, she slapped it against the side of the wagon wheel. A scorpion fell out and she gasped in horror, flipping it away with her boot. It landed on its back and flipped onto its feet, arching its tail angrily over its back. It darted back toward her, and she scrambled to get out of its path, tossing sand at it. A boot came down on the angry insect before it could reach her.

She peered out from under her wagon and found the smiling face of Bordeaux. She shuddered. "Thanks. Those things give me the creeps."

He laughed shortly. "If that's all they give you, count yourself lucky."

He scraped sand over the scorpion, burying it from her view.

"I've got a fire going for you. Do you know how to make flap jacks?"

She tugged on a boot. "Yes, but I don't have time."

"Not even if I get your teams ready?"

It was tempting. Feeding and harnessing the cantankerous mules wasn't exactly the highlight of her day. She frowned at him. "I thought you were going to live off the land."

He produced a pouch oozing with the unmistakable odor of honey. "I found my part."

She caught her breath. "Where did you find that?"

The sweet smell made her mouth water, and her stomach growled in anticipation. She glanced up at his sparkling eyes. "You'll feed them and everything?"

He dropped the sticky pouch into her waiting hand. "It's a deal."

She scrambled from underneath the wagon and hastily threw her blankets under the seat. She headed for the fire, taking a few backward glances to be sure that he was actually caring for the mules.

Pete usually had a fire going by the time she was ready to fix breakfast. This morning was no exception. Maybe Bordeaux had already talked to him.

She quickly whipped up pancake dough and placed a large iron skillet over the fire with some lard in it. It didn't take long to fill a few plates with pancakes.

Fritz was the first to show up for breakfast. He accepted the tin of flapjacks she offered and jerked his head toward her wagon.

"Now there's a sight I thought I'd never live to see - someone hitching up your wagon while you're fixin' breakfast."

Davis wandered up. "I'd have done it for you, and you wouldn't have to fix me a fancy breakfast either."

She lifted the pouch of honey and poured some of it on each of their flapjacks. Fritz raised his brows.

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