Jesse woke up when he heard Danny talking to someone. He looked at Jenny and saw she was awake, staring at the ceiling of the cave, still under his arm. She glanced over at him but didn’t say
anything. Her eyes were still red from crying. She looked so tired, he thought.
Jesse sat up and looked at the four men sitting by the fire. It was still dark outside, so he figured he’d only been sleeping for a few hours. Again, he looked at Jenny. She had closed her eyes. He leaned down and kissed her temple then stood and covered her with the blanket.
Then he walked over to where the men were sitting. Danny offered him some whiskey but Jesse shook his head. Yawning, he sat down next to Danny and faced his in-laws.
“Jesse.” Jenny's Pa said and nodded at him.
“General Land.” Jesse replied.
Jesse saw Jenny’s brothers smiling at him like he was a hero. Then they clapped. “Never met a man who could shut her up.” One of them said. “My name is Jerald Land and let me just say, you’re my hero. This is my brother Robby.”
Jesse studied Jenny’s oldest brother, Jerald. His hair was light like hers and he sported green eyes like his father. His younger brother also favored his father’s looks. Dark brown hair and green eyes.
The General’s hair was graying, but there was still a hint of brown in it.
“Jenny knows to listen to her husband.” he replied calmly, knowing she was listening. “To an extent. She did follow us against my order.”
They smirked at him. “How long have the two of you been married?” Robby asked.
“About twenty-four hours.” he replied. “We’ve known each other for about the same amount of time.”
They stared at him with shock. “Jenny married a stranger?” Jerald asked.
“We just got married so I could help her with the crops and farming. We made an adult decision. I’ll be heading to Tennessee before long. I’m just going to help her out this year then be on my way. I’ll be helping my brother-in-law and my sister too.”
Jesse glanced back to where Jenny lay and saw her watching them. Their eyes met and he saw the hurt in hers. He realized that she might look at his leaving as abandonment. “But, that will be discussed later. I’m sure Jenny won’t be joining the three of you in the army, so I’ll be sure that she’s looked after before I leave.”
“What’s in Tennessee?” the General asked him.
Nothing that really interested him anymore. “Ranching, cowboy work. Maybe some law work.” he replied.
The General nodded in approval. “Sounds steady. Why not start your own farm?”
“I figure I’ll do that when I settle down.” He looked at Jenny again and she met his eyes again. This time he didn’t look away.
Jerald looked at him then turned to see what he was looking at. Jenny shut her eyes before he looked at her. He grinned then turned back toward the fire. “Why don’t you join us Jenny?” he said aloud.
Jesse watched her open her eyes again. She looked at him and he nodded. Slowly, she sat up then stood and walked over to the fire and sat down next to Jesse and leaned against him sleepily. He put an arm around her to hold her up so she didn’t fall over.
“You look tired.” The General said to her.
She didn’t reply. Jesse sighed. “She didn’t get much sleep last night.” he explained.
She cuddled closer to him, shivering a little as a wind blew in the cave. Jesse ran his hand over her arm, trying to warm her up.
Her family watched with curiosity and confusion. They were probably wondering how Jenny could be so comfortable with a stranger. Jesse pulled her legs over his lap and she rested her head against his chest, her eyes drooping. Danny stood and walked over where she was lying and picked up the blanket.
He brought it to Jesse. “Thank you.” he murmured and wrapped it securely around Jenny.
She drifted off to sleep against his chest.
“How old are you, Jesse?” Robby asked.
“Nineteen.” Jesse replied.
He nodded and looked at his sister. The rest of the hour continued with mindless chatter and soon the General and Jenny’s brothers decided it was time to get back to camp. Jesse carried Jenny over to the pallet he'd made and laid her down gently then fell asleep next to her.
© Copyright 2016 Cherie Arlavine . All rights reserved.
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