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"This is why I don't like what's come over us," Josiah said, taking a deep steadying breath. "I hate needing someone this much."

"You don't need me! All you need is a woman to keep you warm at night!" Emma struggled to get free, but Josiah held her even tighter.

"Kiss me, Emma. Please."

Emma held still. There was a marked ring of desperation in Josiah's voice that made her wonder if he really meant what he was saying. He was trembling again, and this time, Emma knew her eyes weren't playing tricks. But, was Josiah?

Feeling her heart quicken, Emma's hand reached around the back of Josiah's neck, and he let her lower his mouth to hers. She thought about the Bible he had given her, the calico for Mary, and the way he had held her gently in bed. Closing her eyes, Emma's lips touched Josiah's. Josiah felt helpless in her arms, and Emma knew he had been telling the truth. He needed her. Not just a woman, but her.

With a gasp of joy, Emma came up for air.

Josiah wasn't ready to stop, and he coaxed Emma by brushing his mouth against her cheek.

"I love you, Josiah."

He looked surprised. "I was wondering if you'd ever git around to calling me by my name."

"Tell me you love me," Emma pleaded.

"I just did."

"Please, let me hear the words."

Lightly touching Emma's face, Josiah smiled tenderly. "I love you."

Emma hugged him tightly.

"How about tussling?" he asked.

With a sigh of dismay, Emma pulled away from Josiah's arms. "Must you say it quite like that? It's not very tender, Mr. Brown."

"What happened to 'Josiah'?"

Putting her hands on her hips, Emma stared Josiah down. "I have supper to finish, so you'd better get out of my way."

Grinning, Josiah swatted at her skirt before leaving. "Don't think you can rule me, Emma."

"I won't."

Still grinning, Josiah went back to his bed.

As Emma examined the cooking bear meat, Mary appeared at her side.
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