12.

Devon was beyond thrilled when Julia exited her tent. She laid back against her pillow, placed her hands to her stomach, and smiled. She was going to give birth on this planet. She had created life. This time with a man that she truly loved and trusted with everything in her. She had made love to one of the best men she had ever met.

And created a life.

"I hoped to find you in a good mood." Danziger crouched in the open flap of her tent. He met her eyes. "Wanted to run something by you." He moved into the tent, taking several steps to her side and sat on the edge of her bed. Before continuing on, he thought better of it and leaned in slowly and caught her lips in a lingering kiss. "Everything go okay with Julia?"

She gave a nod. The smile still graced her lips. She was just too excited to let anything else bother her in the moment; even his cryptic intent to run something by her. She was certain that whatever it was, they'd weather it together. "The vitamins are already helping. And so long as the morning sickness doesn't get any worse, I should be fine." She moved her hand to his arm, running her fingers along it gently. "What was it you wanted to run by me, John?"

He searched her eyes, looking for any reason in which he should doubt what she'd just told him. He shifted a bit. "We need to send a scout ahead. That marsh yesterday isn't something we need to run into on a larger scale. I was thinking..."

"That you'd volunteer and go off alone?" She sat up, shifting so that she was sitting up fully now. Their eyes had locked together. "Only you aren't going alone. I'm going with you." She raised her hand, touching his lips with her finger before he could protest. "Just listen, will ya? I got a clean bill of health from Julia. I'm perfectly capable to ride shotgun, John, and you know it. I'm going to have a baby. I'm not dying." She tucked her knees up to her chin and spun on her rear so that she could throw her legs over the side of the cot. She then stood up. "End of discussion."

"You hold on a minute, Adair. You're not getting off that easy, and now you're going to let me do the talkin'." He stood up, pressing two fingers to her lips when she started to protest. He placed his other hand on his hip and stared her down. He slowly removed his fingers. "I wasn't going to suggest I go alone. I was going to ask for your company if you want to know the truth. So before you go on and on. Let's not go there, okay?"

She moved her eyes down to her feet and gave a slight shoulder shrug. Old habits were hard to break. She whispered, "I guess we'll have to work on that, huh?" She stepped closer, grabbed his hips with her fingers and gave it a squeeze. She moved up on tiptoes and pressed her mouth to his. "You're not mad, right?" She pressed against him, sliding her hands up from his hips and along his stomach and chest and around his neck.

He had every intention of making her sweat it a bit, but her fingers were winding their way through his curls, and it had him like putty in her hands. He moved his hands to her hips and around her back as he slowly dipped her backwards and kissed her lips tenderly. Almost seductively. He couldn't stop the whimper that fell from his lips. "Right." He slowly righted her and searched her eyes. "How fast can you pack? Rolling out of camp in ten minutes. That enough time? I've already asked Bess and Morgan to help Yale keep an eye on True and Uly."

"Ten minutes. Then you'd better get out of here and quit distracting me." She stepped away from him as she untangled their limbs from one another. She wagged her finger at him and pointed at the door. "We'll need a tent, some rations, water, and..."

"Get what you need from here, Adair. I have the rest under control. Remember I'm in charge of this mission." He swatted her rear playfully and chuckled as he ducked to move through the open flap.

"John Danziger!"


Devon kept glancing at him. He was being more quiet than she had ever heard him, and it rather unnerved her. She nudged him with her knee. "Something on your mind, John?" She shifted a bit then, laying her head on his shoulder and stifling a half yawn.

John slowed the rail to keep from jarring her too much and let out a soft sigh. "Going to have to stop soon. Thought we'd cover more ground, but it's getting dark. We'll want to see in order to get up that tent." He glanced up at the sky. It looked like a storm was brewing.

"Could rain," she shrugged a bit. Her eyes went up as a drop landed on her cheek. "Danziger, we're going to be soaked to the skin if we don't stop now and put up the tent."

He slowed the rail to a crawl then stopped. He turned and climbed out and began to grab their gear. He met her eyes. "You gonna help or let me do all the work?" He lifted the tent and placed it on his shoulder. He gave a soft chuckle. "Better yet, call the others and check in. Tell True I'll raise her on gear later."

She scrambled out of the rail and followed him. "Hey. We'll get it up faster if we do it together." She managed to catch up to him and touched his arm.

He nodded slowly. "Suit yourself." He tossed the tent onto the flattest part of the surrounding terrain and got to work unrolling it.


They'd gotten the tent up just in time. They had just grabbed the last of their gear from the dunerail when the sky opened up and begun to pour. She ducked into the tent, laughter bubbling up from inside her. "I'm soaked to the skin." She sat the box down in the middle of the tent, shaking her arms and head to rid herself of the excessive droplets of water.

He dropped what he'd been carrying and moved in behind her. "Should probably get out of these wet clothes as soon as possible." He started to peel her out of her shirt. His mouth was unable to resist her wet skin. He kissed her neck, tongue exploring places he hadn't touched in weeks. He let out a soft whimper. "Can't have you catchin' a cold." His hands moved along the plane of her stomach, slowly up her rib cage and then cupped her breast gently in his large paw.

"John," she whimpered. Her body was torn between arching back against him or against his hand. "John, please?" Her hand moved slowly up behind her, curling into his hair and tugging at his golden locks. "Don't make me beg."

"I should after the way you've been treating me, Devon. I should." His voice was low and husky against her ear as he nibbled the lobe between his teeth. His body pressed hard against her backside. He felt his growing need for her. "It'd serve you right, honestly." He started to pull away, untangling her fingers from his hair.

When she started to turn, he pulled her tight to him again. "Don't you move." He reached back with one hand and yanked his shirt up and over his head to toss it into the corner of the tent. He reached for the clasp on her bra, undoing it and tugging it free from her body. He pressed his naked chest to her bare back. "I'm in charge now. Think you owe me that much. Don't you?"

She could barely breathe so speech was out of the question. All she could do was nod. If he had been any other man, she'd be terrified right now, but she trusted him with her very life. With the life of her son. With the life of their unborn child. His fingers ghosted across her skin, teasing her to the brink of desperation. And his lips were doing ungodly things to her, too. She felt her knees start to tremble.

His arm slipped about her waist, pulling her tighter against him. "I've got you." He gently turned her before he lifted her up off her feet. He cradled her against his chest as he managed to take the few steps to their bed for the night. He lowered her slowly to the blankets, seeking her mouth in the process. He laid her gently in the center and slowly covered her body with his own.

This could take all night. There was nowhere else they had to be. No interruptions. No one needing anything from them. Just the need they had for each other. Their eyes met. Blue on blue.

His lips lowered slowly to hers. "I love you, Devon. I don't got much to give you, but I want to give you all that I have. Me, my heart, my kid..."