Her neck was still sore. The worn cotton under her abrasions was soft, almost like a bandage if she lay very still. Her throat and face still ached, and probably would for another few days. She curled around him, her head and hand on his chest.

She never could get her breath even with his heartbeat. Even in sleep, their rhythms were too different. Still, her head on his chest was a strange comfort to them both. She knew she would hear his heart start to beat faster if he became angry again.

He knew he'd feel her breathing quicken, her body tense, if she decided to go for her gun.

He felt her head move, lift off his chest.

"Something you need?" Al looked down at her with tired, flat eyes.

"Sun's coming up. Still need that candle?" Light blue eyes, framed in beginning bruises.

He looked at the candlestick sitting on his small pile of books. Her new gun lay beside the pile.

"Nah. Blow it out for me, would you?" He'd rather not turn his back on her just yet. Her stretching across him would put her off-balance if she tried anything stupid. She reached over, her belly against his, and blew out the candle. Trixie lay there a few seconds, looking at the books, the gun.

"What are you looking at? Come back here," he said, pulling her back onto his chest.

"Just looking at your books. Seems like that same pile is always there."

He glanced at the stack.

Jules Verne's' Around the World in Eighty Days.

Benjamin Disraeli's Vivian Grey.

Mary Shelly's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

"Yeah, you pick up some strange shit traveling around. A bunch of fictional people doing fantastical things. Stack keeps the candle at the height I want it.

"Now go the fuck to sleep, all right? I want to get a few hours in before things get busy."

One last glance to see if any wax had fallen on the books. He listened to her breathing, slow and steady as she fell asleep. He finally let himself sleep as well, dreaming of ambition, failure, and monsters.