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"You want her to have a pa, don't you?"


Josiah sat up with a grin. "Then I'll have to speak up once in awhile." Scratching his chin, he gazed at Emma with a mingling of weariness and playfulness. "We're certainly a lively pair, you and I. What do you say, Mary? Have we been putting you to sleep with all our talk, or do you think we're lively enough to stay awake for?"

Surprised, Mary blinked astonishment at Josiah. "I am awake," she said timidly.

Emma wondered if Josiah would apologize to Mary, but he didn't. Instead, he rather awkwardly complained how Emma was keeping everyone awake, and then he lay back down to get some much needed sleep.

Before Mary got up the next day, Josiah awoke Emma and the two spent the early hours of the morning in each other's arms. Neither spoke of the night before, and Emma was grateful for the lack of words between them.

Gazing into Emma's eyes, Josiah breathed contentedly as he touched her cheek, gently tracing her lips with his thumb. He was about to speak, when Emma stopped him with a pleading look.

"I ain't going to argue, Emma," Josiah's voice sounded low and husky, as though his words were welling up from somewhere deep within his chest. "I love you, Em. I love you, like I've never loved anyone. There ain't much I wouldn't do fer you."

Lovingly caressing Josiah's arm, Emma kissed his thumb as it continued to trace her lips.

"I'll be nice to Mary-- you'll see."

"Thank you, Josiah."

As Josiah hugged Emma beneath the blankets, Mary began to stir and make noises, signaling she was about to get up.

Josiah moaned softly. "Don't git up, Emma. Don't leave our bed this morning."

"Don't you want breakfast?" she smiled.

Josiah grinned. "I could do without."

When Mary climbed out of bed, Josiah reluctantly released Emma so she could dress for the day.

"Ma, I need a trip outside," said Mary, hopping on one foot and then the other as she spoke.

"Don't forget yer shotgun, Emma."

"I never do, Josiah."

"I'm just making sure," he grinned playfully. As Emma was about to get to her feet, Josiah pulled her close for one more kiss.
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