Ranch at the Wolverine (Chapter 9, page 2 of 8)

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Chapter 9

Then he flung open the door of his cabin and went white with sheer astonishment.

"'Lo, Ward!" Billy Louise had been standing behind the door, and she jumped out at him, laughing, just as if she were ten years old instead of nearly twenty.

Ward tried to say, "'Lo, Bill," in return, but the words would not come. His lips trembled too much, and his voice was pinched out in his throat. His mind refused to tell him what he ought to do; but his arms did not wait upon his paralyzed mental processes. They shot out of their own accord, caught Billy Louise, and brought her close against his pounding heart. Ward was startled and a little shocked at what he had done, but he held her closer and closer, until Billy Louise was gasping from something more than surprise.

Next, Ward's lips joined the mutiny against his reason, and laid themselves upon the parted, panting lips of Billy Louise, as though that was where they belonged.

Billy Louise had probably not expected anything like that, though of a truth one can never safely guess at what is in the mind of a girl. She tried to pull herself free, and when she could make no impression upon the grip of those arms--they had been growing muscles of iron manipulating that goldpan, remember!--she very sensibly yielded to necessity and stood still.

"Stop, Ward! You--I--you haven't any right to--"

"Well, give me the right, then." Ward managed to find voice enough to make the demand, and then he kissed her many times before he attempted to say another word. Lord, but he had been hungry for her, these last three months!

"You'll give me the right, won't you, Wilhemina?" he murmured against her ear, brushing a lock of hair away with his lips. "You know you belong to me, don't you? And I belong to you--body and soul. You know that, don't you? I've known it ever since the world was made. I knew it when God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. You were it."

"You sill-y thing." Billy Louise did not seem to know whether she wanted to laugh or cry. "What do you think you're talking about, anyway?"

"About the way the world was made." Ward loosened his clasp a little and looked down deep into her eyes. "My world, I mean." He bent and kissed her again, gravely and very, very tenderly. "Oh, Wilhemina, you know--" he waited, gazing down with that intent look which had a new softness behind it--"you know there's nothing in this world but you. As far as I'm concerned, there isn't. There never will be."

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