Tomi slipped an arm around her and beamed into her face, taking measure of the fine swell of her hips -- not to mention the swell of her purse against his side -- and took in the countryside with a sweep of his arm. "Y'see that?" he enthused. "All that'n more's waitin' for us, love. We'll kip under the stars, keep each other warm, like, an' the next day we'll be off fer somewhere new. Nothin' can hold us back!"

"Oh, Tomi," she breathed, sea-green gaze alight with the possibilities as she looked breathlessly into his own whiskey brown eyes, "do you really mean it? Is there truly a place for me out there, beyond waiting tables at the tavern for coppers? Derring-do and adventure for the likes of me?"

"'Course there is," he insisted, "yer a special one, ye are. Knew it from the moment I set eyes on ye."

She all but swelled with excitement, clasping her small hands together in delight. "This is all happening . . . so fast! Tomi . . . Tomi, this last week with you has been wonderful!"

"Aye, it has, hasn't it?" remarked the halfling with a self-satisfied grin. "An' there's more comin'. Ye'l see, love. With yer pocketbook, we've got only th' heavens ta hold us back . . . an' even then," he added grandly, "why stop there?"

She let out a girlish squeal of excitement and hugged him impulsively.

"Yep," Tomi said with satisfaction, patting her head with one hand, and bouncing her coin purse subtly with the other, "things're lookin' up fer us, Laura."

Abruptly, she pulled back, a strange expression knitting her face.

"Er . . . somethin' the matter, love?"

". . . My name's not Laura . . . " she said slowly, brow furrowing.

Tomi froze. After a moment's hesitation, however, his smile was back in full force, if a bit wilted around the edges. "Well . . . well o'course it ain't! I were just teasin' ye . . . Sarah?" he said hopefully.