The Warmth of Hearth and Home

(This story is set two years after the events of Take a Chance)

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It was a good thing that Equinox knew the way to the house, because Skye was all but asleep in the saddle by the time the horse arrived at their destination. The mare's whinny and the nudge of her nose on Skye's boot jerked the brunette into awareness so fast she nearly unseated herself. With a groan the young Ranger slid out of the saddle with none of her usual grace. She leaned against the dark horse's side to steady herself before leading her around to the two stall stable in the back.

By the time she had Equinox settled, she was seriously contemplating a nap in the grass. Skye dropped tiredly down on the porch to remove her boots. She knew better then to track dirt into the house. Setting her boots aside and out of the way, she pulled herself up by the stair rail and attempted to brush off as much of the dried leaf bits and dirt as possible. As much as she respected the man, sometimes she really wished for a Julian voodoo doll.

Skye blew out a breath and pushed open the bright red door that had come to symbolize home to Skye far more then that castle ever had.

Saffron had been trying to write a paper; there were books scattered across the sofa and the floor, and a nest of cushions in the middle of it all. The sound of the door lifted her right out of that little nest and brought her striding to the door of the living room. There was a pen behind one ear, a smudge of ink on the tip of her nose, and a clipboard under one arm. She had changed into jeans when she'd come home from classes earlier in the day, and she was wearing Skye's "Scouts Do It In The Bushes" shirt. "Skye?" she said, hesitating in the doorway as her smile dawned.

And then she was crossing the distance between them to deposit a one-armed hug and a happy kiss on the other woman. "I was starting to wonder…"

Skye groaned lowly as she leaned against Saffron. "I'm a mess. Julian can be a right bastard sometimes," she grumbled. Then she closed her eyes and breathed in the clean scent of the other woman, laced as it was with the smell of books and libraries and the faint trace of smoke that always amused her no end. She pulled back a little and snorted a tired laugh at the shirt Saffron was wearing. "That's exactly where I've been too."

Her eyes traveled up to Saffron's face and she smiled despite her exhaustion. "There's ink on your nose, did you know? You may need a bath. Alas."

"Alas," Saffron agreed, "your hair is full of leaves; you may need a bath as well…" She turned her head slightly and added in amusement, "And a bird's nest. Or part of one." She set her clipboard on the table by the door and used that hand to remove the offending piece of debris. "I know I promised not to get too upset," she continued restlessly, leaning her forehead against the other woman's, "but sweetheart, you look like hell."

"I feel like hell," Skye admitted with a tired sigh. She wrapped an arm around Saffron's waist. "I want a hot bubble bath, real food, and to be wrapped up with you while I take a nap before I remind you that it's been a month since I was home." She dropped her head down and kissed the perfect line of Saffron's neck before whispering in her ear; "In that order, I'm afraid. We can talk about what has you upset in the morning. Please."

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Saffron sighed. "All right." She laced her arm around Skye and started gently ushering her down the hallway towards the bathroom. "If you're as tired as last time, you'll probably fall asleep before I can cook anything real, but there are sandwiches… How about sandwiches in the tub and I'll join you?"

"That's the best idea I've heard since last month," Skye agreed with a crooked smile. She was perfectly content to let herself be led at the moment. Her free hand started working the ties out of her hair, which was resembling a bird's nest all by itself. She desperately needed to soak her hair in conditioner for an hour. "Ya know, he gave our unit a 4-day pass…. Can you get away for a couple of days?"

"Today's Thursday," Saffron answered, steering them into the kitchen. "I have a paper to turn in on Wednesday next. I can probably play hooky for tomorrow and Monday, though. I'm about halfway through." She paused by the island and gently brushed a strand of hair out of Skye's face. "Did he let you sleep at all?"

"We've been on maneuvers, Saff," Skye sighed. "You know he gets these notions once in awhile that we're in danger of getting complacent and off he goes. I did get some sleep, but I can take more then the rest of them, so I do more." She chewed her lip a moment; she'd really prefer to do this tomorrow. She leaned a hip against the island. "It isn't like he just barks off orders then goes off to his comfy bed. He's out there with us, it's part of why I respect the man more then most. Don't think Julian wasn't starting to look rough around the edges when he dismissed us, no doubt his plans for the evening include a hot bath and big dinner too."

"I know," Saffron answered reluctantly. She gave the brunette a squeeze and moved away to get out a plate. "And… I guess we have this discussion every time… I just worry." She glanced back over her shoulder, frowning a little. "Four days hardly seems like enough time."

"That, my dear, is why we aren't staying here," Skye smirked, putting Saffron's concerns aside for the moment as she pulled herself onto a bar stool. "I think a week on a sunny beach at an exclusive little resort with room service to our bungalow is exactly what we both need. We'll even have time to recover from our vacation when we come home before I have to go back and you have to get back to school."

Saffron crossed to the pantry for ingredients. "A week tomorrow and Saturday, and then a day or two back?" she asked. "That… sounds really great, actually. Far better than just four days." She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and shot Skye a sly smile. "Do I get to pick your bikini again?"

"Only if I get to pick out yours." Skye grinned as she leaned down to cross her arms on the island block. "I was going to save this trip for your birthday, but I don't think I can wait that long, and this way, we can stay longer and have time to spend a day being pampered in the spa." She shifted her shoulders and winced. "And I really need a day being pampered in a spa."

"Deal," Saffron answered. "I thought you might be planning something for my birthday… you had that look." She smiled a little as she started assembling sandwiches. "I can try to work on your shoulders in the bath," she offered, "but you know I'm rubbish at it." For the moment, she seemed to have settled down about the Skye's state of exhaustion.

Skye propped her chin in her fist and stuck her tongue out at her in response. "Wench," she muttered. "And you're not rubbish at it." She smirked. "You just get distracted …."

"Well, you're very good at distractions," Saffron answered slyly. "You have no idea how hard it is to just make sandwiches at the moment…"

"Woman, you are trying to kill me," Skye grumbled. "Were I not so exhausted, you would be laying on this table."

"I am not trying to kill you," Saffron replied, grinning. "You will note that I am making sandwiches." She flourished a piece of bread. "How many do you want, by the way?"

"A dozen," Skye stated matter of factly. "But I doubt I can stay awake for that many. Just two for now. Big ones. I think I can manage to save making serious inroads until we get out into Shadow." Her eyes swept over Saffron's curves, the way the jeans hugged her thighs and hips and she smiled wolfishly. "When someone else can cook while I give you what you're asking for, you evil minx."

Saffron laughed lowly. "I am trying to be good!" she protested. "Four big sandwiches, and then I'm going to kiss you again." She turned, setting her hip against the counter, and playfully shook a knife at the brunette by the island. "And no interrupting me before I'm done if you mean to eat tonight…"

Skye held her hands up in mock surrender and pushed herself upright and to her feet. "In that case, I better go start the bath and remove myself from the immediate area of temptation." She looked down at herself and grimaced. "Besides, I think I might need to shower before I get into a tub."

She shuffled over to Saffron, yawning as she closed the distance to be able to brush an errant curl behind the blue-eyed woman's ear. "Any oil preferences, my fiery one?"

"Cinnamon," Saffron answered immediately, and it wasn't really a surprise. She touched the Ranger's cheek affectionately, with a softer smile. "Go and shower, sweetheart. I just bought a new bottle of the shampoo and conditioner you like, but don't worry too much about your hair; just wash it, and I'll brush it out when we get in the bath."

"That sounds nice," Skye smiled in return, and though she was trying to mask it, Saffron could see the exhaustion in the strain around her eyes. But Skye leaned in and kissed her on the nose before leaving her to her sandwich making. Saffron's smile - and blue eyes - followed her out.

It wasn't long before she heard both the sounds of the tub filling and the spray of the shower.

It didn't take long to finish building the sandwiches; Saffron padded into the room just in time to turn off the water in the tub. She set the plate on a chair placed conveniently near the tub, and Skye could hear her humming softly as she opened drawers near the sink, looking for the various things she'd want to put the brunette's hair right.

The bathroom was in the same reds and golds as the rest of the house, but here they were more muted: faded reds instead of brights, pale antiqued golds instead of bold ones. There were thick, soft rugs on the floor, and towels tucked safely away on a shelving unit between the bathtub and the shower.

When Skye stepped out, she looked more like her usual self, only wet. There were a reddening on her knees and elbows from crawling around in the underbrush only a few hours ago, that would be faded away by the time she woke up from her planned nap. The shower had taken the edge off her exhaustion, at least for the moment. She didn't bother with a towel as she moved from one point to the other. But now that she was clean, she came up behind her and grabbed Saffron around the waist, hugging her to her.

"I can't decide what looks tastier; you or the sandwiches," she said lowly.

Saffron smiled and tilted sideways a bit so she could look at the Ranger. The position put their faces very close together, and she just couldn't resist the temptation to deposit a light kiss on Skye's cheek. "I'm pretty sure we can't do both at once," she offered with an impish smile. "There are places crumbs just shouldn't be."

Skye laughed and returned the kiss before she stepped back. "Alas. I'll stick to my original plan then," she said as she stepped gingerly into the steaming cinnamon scented water. She eased herself down, hissing lowly as the heat started to permeate sore muscles and weary bones.

"Eat," Saffron encouraged, as she started to shuck her now-damp clothes. "I'll be - " she paused to pull the shirt over her head and emerged smiling to finish, " - right there."

Skye reached over for a sandwich. Then she looked at Saffron. "Evil temptress!" she declared. She eyed the food, eyed the woman, then growled and ate her sandwich.

"What?" Saffron asked, all innocence and sparkling blue eyes as she shimmied out of her jeans. "Surely you didn't think I was going to get into the bath fully clothed…"

Skye watched her from the periphery as she devoured her sandwich. "Remind me to write my Will," she muttered darkly between bites. "Before you manage to kill me."

Saffron laughed lowly and paused to regard the other woman. "Oh, I did miss you so," she said, her eyes softening. "Bird's nests in your hair and all."

She looked up at Saffron with that particular soft smile that only she got to see. "I missed you too. A month doesn't sound so long, but it it can feel like a year."

"I know," Saffron answered softly. "Believe me, I know." For a moment, she stayed there, drinking in the sight of that smile, and then she shed the last bits of clothing, picked up a comb, and moved to the end of the tub. "Move up so I can squeeze in behind you?" she suggested brightly.

Skye scooted forward with the last bit of her sandwich in the air so it wouldn't get sloshed on. She yawned widely as Saffron slid in behind her. "Remind me to bring home some sugar cane for the horses from our tropical getaway." She started to take another bite, then paused. "Well, ok. For me too. It works well for when I'm out scouting and really want a cigarette."

Saffron chuckled softly. "Sage will adore you for life," she said as she settled in. "Or at least until you run out. We should bring back some orchids, too; I think I'd like to try planting a few in the garden." She swept damp hair aside to drop a gentle kiss on the curve of Skye's neck. "Hand me a sandwich?"

Skye popped the last of her hers in her mouth before carefully handing Saffron one over her shoulder. "Will they grow here?" she asked curiously after she finished the bite in her mouth. "I would think they would be terribly unhappy come winter."

"I have no idea," Saffron admitted around a bite of sandwich. "I guess I could put them in pots and bring them inside when it gets cold. It's not like they'd get cold in here, right?" She'd long since confessed to a vibrant hatred of the cold; once the weather turned chilly, there were fires burning in every room that had a fireplace.

She looked around the bathroom with an objective eye. "I think they would actually be perfect in here," said Skye after a moment. She waved a hand towards the wall with the window. "You could do a whole tropical thing over there. Do some hanging orchids from the ceiling beams."

"You'll suggest I plant bushes in the bedroom next," Saffron teased gently. "I like that idea. It might be nice for the bathroom to smell like something other than cinnamon and wet." She took another bite of sandwich and started slowly working her fingers through Skye's hair, starting at the bottom. "And it wouldn't involve burning incense, which is probably for the best…"

Skye was all but purring as Saffron played with her hair. "There's nothing wrong with a few plants…."

"Plants are good, but nothing you can hide in for the bedroom," Saffron answered, laughter in her voice. "You'd have an unfair advantage, my woodland nymph."

"Ha!" she laughed as she reached for another sandwich. "One of the guys called me a wood nymph last week. I threw a pine cone at his head. I tried to convince the squirrels to get in on it, but I never did learn squirrel."

"Then I suppose," Saffron said softly, leaning forward to speak close to her ear, "that it's a good thing I don't have pinecones, isn't it?" She settled back, her fingers working higher through Skye's hair, and added, almost as an afterthought, "And no throwing food in the bathroom."

She shivered despite the hot water as Saffron's breath washed over her ear. "I don't have to throw food at you," Skye said loftily. "I know your ticklish spots."

Saffron laughed. "Can I finish my sandwich first?" she asked, letting the the half-eaten item move into Skye's vision and brandishing it so that the piece of lettuce sticking out flopped back and forth. "Unless you want to be wearing more leaves…?"

"At least these are edible," Skye replied with a smile. "You're safe at least until I finish mine." To emphasis her point, she took a large bite of her own.

The sandwich disappeared back behind Skye's head. "Safe?" Saffron asked playfully after a bite of her sandwich. "Are you sure?" She ran one finger down the other woman's spine, lightly, stopping just before she reached the water, and then retraced her path right back up.

"I said you were safe, you evil temptress," Skye shuddered. "I already knew I was endangered by your wicked ways."

"Endangered?" she asked, and there was a smile in her voice. "I hardly think you're in danger… at least not until I finish my sandwich…"

Showing herself to be talented in multi-tasking, Skye continued to eat her sandwich, but her other hand snaked behind her and started smoothing its way up Saffron's thigh.

Saffron gently moved the hair she'd been detangling out of the way and trailed a few light kisses across the skin she found beneath. "Are you trying to start something?" she murmured playfully.

"Your fault," Skye replied lowly. "Though I probably shouldn't. I would likely fall asleep on you, sweetness."

Saffron smiled against her skin. "I imagine you will anyway. I can try to be good until we get out of the bath, but you know me…"

Shifting around so she could see Saffron's face, Skye gave her a languid smile. "Biblically, my treasure." She reached over, tangled her fingers in those glorious ebony tresses and pulled Saffron to her and into a soul searing kiss.

Saffron leaned into the kiss, sharing her own passion with a smile still on her lips. Her hand slid slowly down her lover's back again and found its way around her waist in a touch that was hug and caress and support all at once. "Wow," she whispered against Skye's lips after a while, making the word as much a caress as the touch of her hand.

Skye hummed softly and nipped lightly at Saffron's lower lip. "Very," she breathed. "And now, my lovely; bed. I can soak in a hot tub tomorrow."

"Yes," Saffron agreed softly. "Yes you can."


There were fresh sandwiches later, as Saffron's had mysteriously ended up on the floor. And later after that, there was a comfortable ride out of Amber, knee-to-knee, until they rode along sunny beaches and near little cottages along the sea. When they turned into the yard of one in particular, it was theirs for the week.

Once they and the horses were settled, Saffron insisted on cooking breakfast. "The sea will wait," she said firmly.

"But they have room service here, Saff," Skye whined playfully. She felt better. She was no longer so bone weary. But it would be tomorrow before she was up for running along the beach. She turned to look at the sea then to try and stifle the yawn that came over her from not having nearly enough sleep still.

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"But I like to cook," Saffron protested. She paused for a moment in the beginnings of her bustling about the kitchen, though, and rested a hand on Skye's back. "Are you okay, sweetheart?"

Skye turned back to her and smiled as she ran a hand back through her hair. "I'm fine, baby." She leaned in and gave Saffron a soft kiss. "You can do whatever you want to on our vacation. I'll call the office and make appointments at the spa for us. Today or tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow, I think," the dark-haired woman answered. And then, a little fretfully, "You look like you'd fall asleep before you got a chance to enjoy it."

Skye's eyebrow quirked. "Fix me an omlete, woman," she teased and gave Saffron's backside a light smack as she passed her. Skye picked up the cordless on her way out of the kitchen. "And blueberry muffins!" she called from the other room. Saffron heard the sliding glass doors leading out to the deck open and Skye's voice as she spoke to the desk.

Saffron sighed and turned to cooking. She was a bit upset still, and thinking about it didn't help. If anything, thinking about it just meant that she thumped things around. Mix and eggs and water and blueberries in a bowl, pick up the bowl to stir, thump the bowl down on the counter when she was done. She managed to not throw the muffin pan down on the counter, but the batter went into the cups with rather more emphasis than they really deserved. Particularly when she realized she'd forgotten to turn on the oven before she started. Tap, TAP. Tap, TAP.

Skye heard the sounds from outside and winced. She knew her girlfriend was still upset; she hadn't gotten a chance to really let it out last night. But Skye knew there was no point in going in right now; she was too tired to deal with it, and she wasn't up to dodging crockery. She set the phone on the table, kicked off her shoes and lay back on the chaise. She was asleep in the sun moments after she shielded her eyes with her sunglasses.

The noise in the kitchen continued for a while, as the muffins cooked and omelets were made. There was some ham in the fridge, so Saffron heated that too. Then she set the table - more thumpings, a bit more muted because she'd realized that Skye was napping outside - brought the food out and poured glasses of orange juice for them both.

Finally she moved outside and perched on the edge of the chaise. "Sweetheart?"

Skye opened one eye behind her sunglasses to identify the disturbance. "Hmm?" she responded as she stretched her arms over head and arched like a cat just waking from a long nap. "Smell blueberries," she yawned. Skye brought her arms down and one hand came to rest over Saffron's.

"And omelet," Saffron agreed affectionately. "And I found some ham."

"Found it just lying around, did you?" Skye chuckled. She sat up and swung her legs around so she could stand. "Funny, that."

"It was in the refrigerator," Saffron answered, amused. "There is also orange juice."

Skye stood and looked down at the still sitting Saffron. "Perfect," she smiled, and it was unclear whether she meant breakfast or Saffron.

Smiling slightly, Saffron rose and caught Skye's hand, lacing their fingers together. "I think I might have burned the tops of the muffins," she admitted.

Skye laughed as she used her free hand to shove her hair back fro her face. "Nothing wrong with crunchy muffins." She brings their joined hands up and brushes her lips over Saffron's knuckles with a light of mischief in her eyes. "You know I'll eat anything of yours."

Saffron's blue eyes softened, and she lightly brushed her thumb across the other woman's cheek. "I know. I just feel bad when I burn things we're supposed to eat."

"If it's bad, we'll cut the tops off and have a food fight later," Skye grinned. Then it softened to a smile. "Don't fret so much, Saff."

"I try," she answered quietly. "But - it's hard sometimes…"

"I know," the brunette replied gently. "You are a woman of deep feeling…and I am a woman starving." She leaned in a kissed Saffron on the temple. "Feed me."

Saffron smiles. "There are too many ways to take that," she says, mock-scolding. "Come in and eat." And she led the way back to the little table in the kitchen, set in a bay of windows looking out over the sea, where she had laid out the food.

The muffins were a bit singed around the edges.

Skye took her seat after releasing Saffron to hers. "As always, it's wonderful," she declared as she loaded her plate. The first thing she did was pull the top off a muffin and take a big bite, singed edges and all with nary a grimace. She winked at Saffron and tucked into the rest of the offerings with relish.

Saffron laughed and protested, "You don't have to eat the burned bits!" Then she started on her own plate, eating in neat, tidy bites. "Are we all set up for the spa?"

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"Yes," Skye nodded over her orange juice. "And I most certainly did have to eat the crunchy bits; there's blueberries in there." She picked up another muffin top and gave it a mournful look. "Alas. I cannot leave them to their lonely fate. They must join their brethren."

And then she ate them.

"There are leftover blueberries," Saffron answered. "It's mostly the bits that don't have berries that burned…"

"Hush," Skye mock scolded. "You are ruining the somberness of the moment."

"…Sweetheart," Saffron answered, bemused, "they're muffins."

"Shhh!" Skye responded firmly. She then proceeded to reuunite these blueberries with their fellows.

After two helpings and at least half a dozen muffins, Skye finally sat back with the remainder of her orange juice. "That was brilliant, ducky," she said with a satisfied smile. Then she yawned again despite her efforts to squash it. "Warm sun, excellent food. Now I really need a nap. Between work and you using your feminine wiles on me last night."

"I don't recall you resisting too hard," Saffron answered with a quieter smile. "In fact, I don't believe I was the one that started it."

"Oh, please," Skye scoffed with a smile. "I come home with all my resistance down and you're there with ink smudges and your hair all wild and wearing those jeans."

"Those jeans were the only ones I had clean," Saffron protested. "It wasn't intentional."

"Ya-huh," Skye responded before draining her juice. She set the glass down and stood. "You're a minx, and I'm tired." She leaned over and kissed Saffron on the top of the head. "I'm going to sleep now. If I don't, I won't be able to take you dancing tonight."

Saffron smiled and returned the kiss with one on the lips. "I'd like to go dancing, sweetheart. But only if you're up for it." She touched her lover's cheek lightly. "Maybe I'll come nap with you…"

She smiled and straightened, then; "A nap, woman!" Skye whined dramatically as she left Saffron to her own devices for a time. "It's not always a euphemism!"

Skye's smile and the facade that hid how tired she still was dropped the instant she stepped into the darkened bedroom. The bamboo shades blocked out most of the sunlight glinting off the sea that was right off the deck on this side, which was a great relief for the Ranger. She stripped out of her clothes and let them fall where they may; a sure sign of how exhausted she still was. She hadn't lied when she said she had gotten some sleep. She just neglected to let Saffron know that it had been days ago, and then she had gone and pushed herself beyond that last night. She berated herself silently; she didn't know why she did those things. She wasn't Corwin, for the love of Pete. The thought made her scowl.

Climbing between the pleasantly cool sheets, Skye was asleep before her head hit the pillow.

Saffron was there when she awoke, pretending to read in a chair she'd clearly stolen from the living room. Her skirt was dusty and one sleeve was slightly singed; she had a local guidebook in her lap, and her face was pointed at it - but she was watching Skye through her lashes with an expression that couldn't settle on whether to be worried or angry. Skye's discarded clothing was neatly arranged on the chair that was supposed to be in the room.

Skye smelled the familiar scent of something scorched before she was even aware she was waking up. She rolled over onto her back and flung an arm over her eyes against the filtered light. "Since I am still in bed," she mumbled. "I can assume you didn't burn down the bungalow." She yawned and peeked at Saffron from under her arm. She knew that look.

"Go ahead. I know you're dying to."

Saffron sighed and closed the book. "I'm not dying to," she answered. "I'm just worried. I mean, look at you - you're exhausted." Her hands fluttered and settled over the book uneasily. "You're running yourself into the ground for maneuvers. I know they're important… but what happens if there's an actual war? You drop dead of exhaustion halfway through?" Worry seemed to be dominating for the moment.

"I'm fine," Skye sighed as she propped herself up on one elbow. "Okay, well, I wasn't, but I am now. Look, the only way to build up my stamina in order to be what they need - what I need me to be - if there is another war is to push myself like that. I knew perfectly well Julian would send us on leave afterwards. I have to take advantage of the peace to be ready for the war."

"No, you don't," Saffron protested. "I mean - yes, you have to push yourself to improve stamina - but not like this. You're stretching too far, not just far enough to get better! Every time! You're going to hurt yourself, and badly." Her hands tensed. "And he isn't stopping you. I know you don't want me to be angry with him, so are you hiding it from him like you keep trying to hide it from me? Or is it something else?"

Skye opened her mouth to defend herself, but that last bit pushed her into bewilderment. "What?"

"I don't know," Saffron answered, a little testily. "He didn't notice? He did and didn't say anything when he really ought to?"

The thing about arguing with Skye was that she very rarely lost her temper. Even if she had still been tired, she had just never been a short fused woman. She gave Saffron a long look, then climbed out of bed. She padded nude over to the closet and pulled out a knee length green gauze robe and wrapped it around her. She was also one that preferred not to do battle of any kind naked. Skye sat on the edge of the bed facing Saffron before she answered her.

"He has a name, Saffron," she chided her lightly. "And I can't imagine Julian doesn't know. He hasn't singled me out for a dressing down, no. But he has made the occasional remark to the group as a whole that leads me to believe he has an idea." She pushed her sleep tossled hair back from her face. "But you are correct in that I don't act like I'm about to drop in front of him."

Saffron's hands fluttered again. "But why?" she grumbled. "You're going to hurt yourself."

"At which point I will be sent to the Infirmary and given a royal ass chewing," Skye replied matter-of-factly. "Possibly be put on report and have my weekend pass revoked for that month and given KP or something as soon as I am released by the doctor - who will also give me a right chewing out when he isn't hovering like an old Jewish grandmother."

She leaned over and captured one of the fluttering hands in her own. "Saff, there is a fine line between wanting nothing more then a hot bath and a bed and driving myself to the point of sloppiness and danger. I like to think I know where that line is."

"You dropped your clothes on the floor," Saffron answered grumpily. "You were asleep on the patio almost before you hung up the phone." She folded her other hand over Skye's; her palms were very warm. "And it's hard to know the line before you've crossed it sometimes. I ought to know, right?"

"But I was able to actually get out of my clothes, and finish a phone call before I did fall asleep," Skye pointed out gently. A pause then she smiled crookedly at Saffron's sleeve. "Should I be worried that you are a bit singed in places?"

"I didn't burn anything important, and you're trying to change the subject," Saffron huffed.

Skye gave her a patient look. "What else would you like to say?"

"I don't know," she answered impatiently. "I'm unhappy and annoyed and worried and you're being sensible at me again."

A smile played hide and seek at the corners of her mouth. "How dare I. Sweetheart, you have to trust me. But I promise not to intentionally push myself to the point where I have to depend on my horse to get me home again. All right?"

Saffron opened her mouth, shut it, gave her girlfriend a suspicious, 'you didn't tell me that part' look, and finally sighed. "Please."

Skye's smile was bright and innocent. "Excellent. Now, how about we slip into less clothing and go catch some sun and surf?" She waggled her eyebrows. "I packed your blue bikini…."


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