A Tutelarius Love (Chapter Seven, page 1 of 10)

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She woke with the feeling that she was being watched. Opening her eyes, she rolled over in the sleeping bag.

Keaton was lounging in the doorway, nursing a steaming cup of coffee. He sipped the hot liquid and winced. "Mornin' sleepyhead," he drawled.

She sat up and rubbed her eyes. "It's morning already?"

She stared at the pattern of sunlight on the floor. Why was he still here? Oh yes, the storm. The last time she had seen him, he had been slumped at the table, yet he looked refreshed now. She frowned.

"Where did you sleep?"

His eyes twinkled with the very devil, but his expression and tone were incredulous. "In that sleeping bag - with you. Don't you remember?"

He was so much like her father - the same offhanded delivery of humor. She lifted the edge of the sleeping bag to demonstrate that there wasn't room for two people in it. Touching a hand to her mouth, she stifled a feigned yawn of boredom. "Oh, I forgot."

He laughed. "Get out of that bedroll you lazy pup. I've got breakfast ready."

She caught her breath. "Oh, you didn't have to do that."

She unzipped the bag and climbed out, realizing with a surge of blood to her face that she was still scantily clad in her shorts and halter-top.

His casual regard lingered on her legs and returned to her flushed face. His eyes came alive with humor again. "Nice legs." Without another word, he turned and strode away.

Buttoning a long shirt over her clothes, she joined him in the kitchen, where he was scooping scrambled eggs into two plates. He must be starving. Had he eaten supper, or had he been too occupied with taking care of her? Warmth flooded her face again as she spoke.

"You must think I'm a terrible coward."

He glanced up and noted the color in her cheeks. "Not at all. I was the one who came pounding on your door, not the other way around...remember?"

She made a face. "Are you trying to tell me that you came out here because you were afraid of the storm?"

He grinned. "No, but you were going to stick it out by yourself. You didn't ask for help, did you?"

He slid the frying pan into the sink and ran water into it.

No, she wouldn't have asked for help. She would have cowered under the table all night, too frightened to go for help. Yet, for whatever reason, she had been willing to endure her fear alone. She could have made it without the help of Denton, Dad, or the man he had sent. It was a good feeling.

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