She awoke and the bitter cold was not as bitter. Some light condensation drops shimmied inside top of the tent…the tent was not of the best quality. Her hand felt prickly with warmth and excitement. It was then she noticed his hand was resting lightly on hers, no more of a advance than that. He had been gentlemanly all night. They had been friends for years, and this entire notion was entirely new for both of them. Ridiculous, really. It felt so perfect that he was there, and yet, to have these feelings restored was just too much. It was too late, and she knew it. Too late, but the day was glorious, and they were spending it with the team, a magnificent bunch of people. The wonders that lay ahead would result in the jubilation of adventure, to be relayed later to friends over beers and tacos.

She rested her eyes again for a moment, imagining that even in his sleep Gordon could feel her pulse on the smooth back of her hand. The only part of her hand that was smooth…its palm was blistered and calloused with tool use, and to her imagination at least, had never been pretty. Sighing, she rolled gently away and padded out to find a friendly tree, the “ladies facility,” third evergreen to the right.

Byron was already percolating coffee on his single burner. “Stalactites and stalamites, anyone?! Anyone?! Order up! Gonna be a magnificent day!”

Reyna gave him a dismissive wave. “Whatsamatter sweethheart?! Too early for you still?! The early bird gets the bat guano!”

Oh dear. She really needed coffee for this kind of morning humor. Coffee laced with brandy. Or maybe just one of those plants the locals praised, where she could forget the awkwardness of the day and just remember the aqua hues of reflected light on the cave ceilings. And Gordon. She pushed the thought away. Never Gordon. Byron’s enthusiasm was infectious, and at one time she had been attracted to it. She tried not to think about her right hand, which was still tingling.


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