Page 32 of Starlit Skies

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“It’s not that cold,” he said, confused.

“They’re not to keep us warm, they’re to keep some of these ravenous bugs away.”

Aha. That was sensible. He had noticed an increase in the swarming little varmints since the sun had gone down.

Dropping the fronds on the ground, she sat next to him and unwrapped a candy bar, then handed it to him. “Dinner is served.”

Again, Nash wasn’t hungry, but he ate to appease Skylar. The bar had melted in the heat and was sticky and unappetizing. “I’d rather taste one of your gourmet meals. I hear they’re quite good,” he said through a mouthful of gooey chocolate.

“I will make that my mission. When we get back, I’ll cook you the best three-course meal you’ve ever tasted.” She leaned against the same large root, her shoulder touching his.

“That’s quite a statement.” He forced the last of the bar down his throat and shuffled down so he could use the root as a headrest. It was cool against his neck, the buzz of flying insects loud in his ears.

“I’m quite a good cook,” she replied, a hint of sass in her tone.

“That’s good to hear.” He was quietly pleased that Skylar had such faith in herself. Some might call her conceited, but he could see through that to the way she clung to her belief. It was how she defined herself. And while Nash knew it probably wasn’t good to rely so heavily on one part of her life, it was all she was capable of right now. Perhaps he could offer her a distraction. Something else besides food to think about.

Skylar had finished her meager meal as well, and flicked off the little flashlight.

“Come here,” he said gently, holding out his arm. He was looking forward to this. To sleeping side by side, like they had last night.

She fussed around with the overlarge palm fronds, draping them over their legs and then laying some more over their bodies. “I don’t know if this will work,” she said, “but I’ve seen them do it on thatSurvivorshow.”

Nash snorted. “Tell me you don’t watch that?”

“I do. And I’m proud to admit it,” she said, finally laying down and snuggling into his chest. “Oh, wow, you’re hot.”

“Why, thank you,” he said with a grin, even though she wouldn’t be able to see it in the near-dark.

“That’s not what I meant.” She slapped his chest. “I mean your body is hot.”

“Don’t I know it,” he teased.

“Nash, take this seriously.”

“Sorry.” But he wasn’t, really. He was enjoying the feel of Skylar’s body next to his, way too much to be sorry.

“It might mean you have a fever. Which might mean you have an infection.”

It was quite possible. He did feel a little dreamy, as if he wasn’t really here. From this vantage point, they had a perfect view of the darkening sky.

“Look,” he said, reaching out a finger. “The first star of the evening.” A tiny pinprick of light sat alone, high in the indigo sky. It was so cold and alone and beautiful. “Shall we make a wish?”

“I wish we would be rescued,” Skylar said, quick as a whip.

“Hm, I’m not so sure,” he replied meditatively. “I might wish that we could lie here together like this forever. It’s kinda nice.”

“Oh.” Nash could hear he’d surprised Skylar by his statement. Surprised her so much, she had nothing more to say, it seemed.

He tilted his head down so his chin rested on the top of her head. “The other thing I wish, is that I could kiss you. But I’m scared you’d run away if I did that.”

Her head came up and banged his chin.

“Ow,” he laughed.

“What are you saying, Nash? Now I’m definitely convinced you have a fever and you’re delirious.” Her profile was in silhouette against the dark-magenta sky. He traced the outline of her eyebrows, lowered in a frown, down her delicate nose and over her lips, pursed into a pout of indignation.

“I’m not delirious. I like you, Skylar. I want to get to know you better. I want to kiss you, to see if you taste as good as my imagination says you do.”

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