Chapter 62

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Hailie kicked a stone and it smacked against the tree. She wanted to hear more. She wanted to see the Captain put Brook in his place.

She lit a cigarette with some difficulty and felt a little better. She'd been so relieved that Eli had woken up, and so tired that she'd forgotten about smoking.

Hailie went back to the building. Geron was sleeping on the chair next to the cot that Doy was sleeping on. She dropped the cigarette butt on the ground and stepped on it with her shoe before going inside.

"Hailie, where is everyone?" Eli asked. He sounded sleepy but he pushed himself up into a sitting position.

"The leader for the other side of the island came demanding the land that this entire village is on, and our heads. Nothing important really. The Captain is taking care of it," Hailie said. She stood next to him.

"That sounds important."

"I thought you said to let the Captain handle things like this."

"I did. He'll sort things out. He always does." Eli reached up to her neck. His fingers touched the puncture marks from the snake bite. She could be wrong but his eyes didn't look as if they were focusing properly. "What are these? They weren't there this morning."

"I may have been bitten by a poisonous snake twice about five minutes ago."

He looked fully awake now. "What? Where's Celeste?"

Hailie put a hand on his shoulder. "Calm down. I said it was poisonous. I never said that it was having any effect on me."

"What do you mean?"

"It is a special kind of snake, very poisonous. Most people do not survive a full minute after being bitten." He opened his mouth to say something but she cut him off. "The thing about this snake's poison is that if you survive the first bite you have built up an immunity to the poison. It has no effect after that. The man, Brook, knew this. Almost no one has survived a bite, in fact surviving is more like a myth since nearly everyone dies, so he is revered as some sort of divine something or another. He does not have as strong of an immunity as I do so when he's bitten he passes out but doesn't die. The poison has no effect on me. These marks you see here on my neck are actually the third and fourth bites. You do not have to worry. I am fine."

His eyes searched her face, then his body relaxed. "You really seem intent on killing me with a heart attack." He pulled her in for a kiss. He broke away much earlier than she expected, or wanted. "Hailie, I could kiss you for hours, but I don't like the taste of the cigarette smoke."

She straightened and took a step back, feeling embarrassed. "I am sorry. I forgot that I was just smoking. I will go outside."

He held her back. "That wasn't what I meant. I've known that you smoke since the day we met but I don't like the taste when I kiss you. Could you try to stop smoking?"

"No."

"Why not? You said that the reason you started to smoke was because you didn't have food, that isn't a problem now."

"I do not only smoke for that reason."

Eli smiled mischievously. "Well, even if you have other reasons, I have a solution. Whenever you find yourself craving a cigarette, tell me. I know of something that might help," he said.

Hailie narrowed her eyes. She knew exactly what he was referring to. "Are you trying to get me addicted to something else?"

"It's far healthier, more fun and... the pleasure is all mine," Eli said.

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