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"A man gits weary of sharing whores with everyone else," he shrugged. "I didn't want to share. Besides, I kind of like having the same woman at my side every night. Makes me feel special. Now, how about tussling me?"

"I've already told you I can't," resisted Emma, "not without love."

"What do you think I've been doing, every time I lay with you?" chuckled Josiah. "There ain't nothing to it but convenience. Lovers can afford fancy sentiments, but we've got to be more practical." He touched Emma's cheek until it blushed beneath his fingertips. "You might as well git yer fill of pleasure, Emma."

Even though Emma didn't act upon Josiah's advice, he spent as much time with her as he wanted that morning. As she always did, Emma accepted her husband's presence and let him do with her as he pleased.

After Josiah was finished, he went to check on his horses and strip more cottonwood bark. He was gone for about an hour, and upon returning, found Emma weeping on the buffalo robe.

"What've you got to cry about?" he scolded his wife.

Unable to speak, Emma buried her face in the robe and continued to weep.

Josiah was fast losing his patience. "Emma!"

The woman turned to look at him, her cheeks wet with tears.

"Git breakfast stirring," he ordered. "I'm going hunting after I eat, and then you can cry all you want."

With a sniff, Emma dressed herself and then went to the waterproof skin where the dried jerky was stored.

Josiah sat down with a weary groan. She had whimpered at his touch that morning, even though he had piled the buffalo robes high for her comfort.

"Sometimes, I think I'll never understand you, Emma. For all those tears, I know you enjoyed having me." Josiah accepted the dried meat from Emma's hand, but when she turned to go, he caught her by the wrist. "Won't you sit with me fer awhile?"

"Please," sniffed Emma, struggling not to cry again, "I just want to be by myself."

With a sigh, Josiah let her go. "You ain't being very friendly!" he called after her.

Emma crawled into bed and then closed her eyes to hold back the tears that threatened to come. She hadn't thought Josiah felt anything for her but convenient lust, and the words he had spoken confirmed it. As this stark reality sank into Emma's heart, it only strengthened her resolve to never love her husband.

Tossing the remainder of his breakfast into the fire, Josiah checked his Hawken.

"Bar the door after I'm gone," he instructed. "'An keep yer shotgun close by. Emma, are you hearing me? Open yer eyes so I know you're listening!"

Emma sat up in bed. "I'm listening."

"I'll be back fer supper, so don't start fretting when I don't show up by midday."

"I won't fret," she promised.

Scowling, Josiah looked at his wife. "You don't have to sound so cold-blooded about it. Now that you got a lodge fer the winter, I reckon you're thinking you don't need me as much."
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