THE STUFF THAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF
"I think that's the complete list, Veronica". Challenger glanced back from the shelves filled with jars
of dried herbs and other plants. Natural daylight penetrated between the slightly spaced logs that comprised the treehouse's
frame to illuminate the workspace sufficiently for the scientist's needs.
"It shouldn't take me too long". The blonde
jungle beauty looked up from the list she'd been studying as she bent over the lab table. "Everything on here is relatively
"Perhaps we should consider cultivating some of the plants". The tall red-headed man was intent on his live
specimens in their glass-enclosed homes.
Veronica considered his suggestion. "Wherever I can I'll bring back the root
"I'd better come with you". Malone's voice broke into the discussion, as he stepped off the bottom
"Why?" Veronica turned, puzzled.
"You shouldn't go alone, it's too dangerous". The youthful blonde reporter
spoke in an assertive voice, anxious to demonstrate to Veronica that he was a fully capable as anyone. And that he knew how
to watch over his"friends.
"I've been getting around on my own for a number of years, Malone". Veronica's temper was
being roused by the attitude her housemate was projecting.
"It doesn't mean it's a good idea". Malone's imperious attitude
now had Veronica's hackles up.
"I suppose it was a good idea for you to go wandering all over the plateau on your own".
The jungle raised girl shot back.
"I took care of myself". Defensiveness hardened his voice.
"And I can't?"
Veronica's temper was spiraling.
"There's no need. I'm here". Malone, speaking as if this was the last word on the
subject, was determined she'd see that he could and would protect her.
"No, Malone, I'll do it myself". Her voice was
even, cold; but her eyes were blazing as she spoke.
The reporter's mouth twisted in anger and he turned away to retreat
up the stairs.
Challenger, forgotten by the combatants, looked on unhappily. He felt uncomfortable and irritated that
his simple errand had turned his lab into a battlefield.
We need the supplies, Roxton". Marguerite's insistence had the hunter's shoulders stiffening in anger. Several
rifles were laid out on the table in the great room. The bright morning sunshine flooded the room.
"We need the meat
as well, Marguerite. Once the hunting is complete, I'll take you on the trading trip". No thought of compromise entered Roxton's
"It's not that far, I can manage on my own". Marguerite could match him for stubbornness.
"No, it's too
dangerous. You'll need someone to watch your back. Besides, it'll be too much for you to carry on your own". The hunter was
glad to think of a reason that didn't imply she wasn't capable of taking care of herself.
"I can go with her". Malone
had just come up from the lab in time to hear the acrimonious discussion. Veronica might not need him, but others knew he
could be counted on. She'd see he was a valuable member of the group.
Roxton hesitated. He trusted Malone, but there
were some things he preferred to handle himself.
Marguerite raised her eyebrows. "Surely, you can't have any objections
to that plan".
"Fine!" The word was bitten out.
"Fine! Malone, we'll leave in an hour". She turned on her heel
to walk away with a sharp step from the stone-faced hunter
"Sure, Marguerite". Malone decided to find someplace else
to occupy himself until this storm passed. Since his return he could face raptors without flinching. But nothing could prevail
upon him to get between those two in the midst of a quarrel.
Marguerite stalked down the stairs into her room gathering
her pack for the trip. "We need to take the smelted ores and the medicine, some of the embroidery can be used. We'll want
more raw ore, some cloth, and salt". She was absorbed in her mental list making. She swiveled to exit the room and bumped
"Marguerite". He got no further but simply pulled her into his arms and kissed her, hungrily.
arms went around him, a hand at the back of his neck as she gave into the demand of his lips.
"I'm still angry". Her
voice was muffled as her lips pressed against the corner of his mouth moving gently across the skin. The stubble on his cheek
made her lips tingle.
He buried his face into her neck, inhaling the delicate scent from her hair. "So am I. But it
was either this or strangle you". A gentle nip at the juncture of her neck and shoulder caused her to catch her breath.
you sure this was your first choice?" A hint of laughter tinged her voice as she continued to nuzzle him in return.
but I realized I could always strangle you later". His arms tightened about her as she rested her head on his chest. His ears,
trained to pick up every clue on the trail, heard Malone's footsteps retreating softly on the stairs.
"You will be
careful". There was no humor in the hunter's tone.
"And you. I don't want to be stitching you up as well as your shirts".
it's the work involved you're concerned about, not me".
"Of course, I have enough to –" Roxton's mouth cut her
words off abruptly.