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Josiah dropped his head and placed his lips against her ear. He felt Emma shudder at his touch. "If we ain't married, then what does that make you? No, Emma, you're mine now. I was the first to lay with you, and fer as long as I live, you won't lay with anyone else. Do you hear?"

Emma's breathing had slowed and her strength expended by the constant drain of emotion she was presently enduring.

"I wanna hear you say it!" demanded Josiah, his face only inches from hers.

Emma felt the full weight of Josiah bearing down on her body.

"Say it!" he growled.

"I won't lay with anyone else but you," she finally mumbled.

"And who am I?" Josiah squeezed her wrists until her hands tingled.

"You're my husband," whimpered Emma.

"Say it again!"

"You're my husband." Emma's face was getting quite pale now, and Josiah was beginning to think he might have pushed her too far.

"If I let you up, you promise not to run?" he asked.

"I promise."

Josiah climbed off Emma and she struggled to sit up. Her leg was hurting something fierce, and when she touched it, her face lit up with pain.

"I'd better git a look at that," said Josiah, brusquely pushing back her dress and petticoats without even a "May I?"

Emma grimaced, unwilling to look at the wound.

"It's deep," declared Josiah, getting to his feet soberly. "I need to fetch you back to camp."

"I'm too tired," Emma shook off the hand that tried to help her up. "I want to stay here."

"Stop talking nonsense," he scolded.

Her emotions numb, Emma curled up on her side and shut her eyes. Perhaps this was all a bad dream that would go away with sleep.

"That wound needs tending to, Emma." Unwilling to wait any longer for her compliance, Josiah hoisted Emma over his shoulder and started back for camp.

Draped over Josiah's shoulder, Emma was seeing the world entirely upside down and from the vantage of his backside. The leather fringe on the bottom of his buckskin shirt swayed and danced back and forth as he moved, and for awhile the hypnotic movement entertained Emma. Then she noticed that the seat of his leather britches were black, while the rest of his buckskins were mostly dark brown. Why was that? It wasn't easy to think too hard with so much blood rushing to her head, but Emma finally concluded that it was because Josiah sat in the saddle so much of the time.
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