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Since the Blackfoot had taken his snowshoes, Josiah tried on Emma's pair. They were crafted for smaller feet, but it was much better than nothing. Putting on his heavy capote, Josiah tied a leather strap on his Hawken, and then slung the weapon behind his back to keep his hands free for an ax. Pulling up the hood of his capote, Josiah grabbed his ax, a worn leather hide and some sinew rope, and then waited by the door for Emma.

Folding her arms, Emma eyed him curiously, as though not understanding what he wanted. "Why are you still here? I thought you were leaving."

"Are you going to kiss me before I go?" he asked.

"What's this?" Emma laughed playfully. "You want me to kiss you before you leave, as well? One before bedtime isn't enough?"

Josiah didn't look amused, even though Emma plainly did.

Catching a wide grin on Mary, Emma shook her head in refusal. "I won't give you a kiss, Josiah, until you give something in return."

"That's enough, I'm going." Josiah turned to leave, but stopped short of opening the door. "You got me curious, woman. What do I need to give?"

"A smile."

He grinned.

"To Mary."

Josiah's grin vanished.

Even though Emma sounded playful, she was very serious. From the dour look on Josiah's face, she knew he understood her meaning.

Callously, Josiah barred his teeth at the little girl.

Mary's giggles abruptly stopped.

"For that, you won't even get a goodbye," said Emma, all good-humor disappearing from her voice. "Go, before I start wishing you never return."

A stunned look flashed across Josiah's face, and his jaw clenched. Disappearing out the door, he left without his kiss, or even a warm smile to brace himself against the bitter cold.

Placing the bar back over the door, Emma gazed apologetically at Mary.

"Can we sew?" asked Mary, her face brightening now that Josiah was gone.

"Sew? After the tears from this morning? Are you sure?"
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