As Bane howled in the distance, Mara, standing on the porch of the cabin she shared with Dixon and the twins, watched the second moon rise. Its light emphasized the cloud cover moving into the area. Likely, it would rain overnight.
Dixon approached from behind, then wrapped his arms around her.
Melting in his embrace, she breathed in his scent of cedar and leather.
“It’s good to be home,” he said, his mouth to her ear.
“Yes.” She turned to face him. “Just in time to leave again.”
He kissed her, slowly, sweetly. Then, “What was all that with Nina?” he asked.
Mara explained the conditions Nina set before she’d leave the compound. “She said I didn’t understand—that I couldn’t understand—because I’ve never had one of my own.” Tears sprang to her eyes.
Releasing his hold, then taking her hand, Dixon guided her to a chair. Sitting next to her, he patted out a rhythm on his thigh. “We’re in uncharted territory here, you know,” he said. “The rules provided a way for us to be together. They never said anything about children. You know that’s what I want.”
Nodding, she met his gaze, then said, “Shortly after the Council hearing, Lucy caught up with me.” When a tear rolled down her cheek, she brushed it away brusquely.
“Oh? Was there something she said that’s troubling you?”
Shrugging, she frowned. “She handed me a packet of barrenseed tea, telling me that she thought I might be needing it. And more recently, she reminded me that I can’t go on using it forever. Soon, its effects will be . . . irreversible.” She choked back a cry.
He got on his knees before her. “Mara, you know I want a child, too.” He took her hands. “I say we should do it.”
She sighed. “Dixon, it’s not the right time. I mean—”
“It will never be the right time. Let’s face it, there’s always—”
“No, I mean with Zarek about to invade . . . I think we have to beat back this threat first.”
He sat back down, then resumed patting out a rhythm. “I understand.”
She reached for his hand. “I know it’s what you want, Dixon—and I do too. But these are very dangerous times. It’s one thing to think of protecting the twins now that they’re grown, but quite another to think of protecting an infant. I’m . . .” She looked in his eyes.
“Yes.” She stood and then, still facing him, leaned against the deck railing. “But I’m equally afraid that soon, I’ll have no—” Looking down, she paused. “Well, it’s one thing to choose not to have a child for a time, it’s quite another to have no say in the matter.” A shiver ran through her.
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