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Dylan woke, as he usually did, during what some would consider the night. He brewed some coffee and chewed on a piece of cold bacon left over from yesterday's breakfast. He left the house as Wade headed to the kitchen, yawning and scratching.

Some days Dylan and Wade went out into the dark morning together. Sometimes they went their separate ways.

They didn't need to talk about it. They just knew--from the way each went about their morning. Brothers, as close as they were for as so long as they were, could interpret the smallest changes in routine. It told them all they needed to know.

Today was a separate ways day. Dylan wanted to think.

Wade grinned as Dylan left, he knew what was on his brother's mind.

Dylan walked the trap line with good success. Not great, he thought, but good. However, as he walked home in the early morning sunshine, he found a flock of turkeys. He took down two of them, his gun echoing through the mountain. He reckoned more than one person stirred in their bed from the noise.

It was after daybreak when he came back on his cabin. He stopped at the treeline and stared at the house. He blew out a breath, creating frosty air in front of him, and kicked the hard, dirt ground a couple of times. He looked out on the view his cabin provided. The sun hit the small, steep, tree-covered mountain across from his. Except for the evergreens, the leaves were bare and reflected the light with their silver-brown bark.

Ya don't have to do this. Yeah, I do. I have to. I want to.

The thoughts didn't calm his stomach or stop his racing heart. His eyes darted around the area one last time, before he, again, sighed heavily and walked to the front door of the cabin.

Wade met him at the door, as if he'd heard him coming, though Dylan knew he was practically soundless. Dylan handed the catch over to Wade without a word.

Wade thumped Dylan on the back. "Reckoned I'd take the kids fishin' today."

Dylan nodded at Wade as he watched Skye walk across the living room to the kitchen. She pulled back her dark morning-mussed hair with one hand, while she hid a wide yawn with her other. Seeing the men, she stopped and gave them a little wave. Dylan smiled and nodded. She wasn't one for talking in the early morning. It suited him just fine. He wasn't one for talking much at all.

Everything about her suited him just fine.

After washing up, Dylan helped with breakfast. Jesse and Sue Ellen showed up once they smelled the eggs and toast. They all sat around the table, eating first in silence but then adding small talk as their bellies filled, and the coffee hit their veins.

Dylan's gaze hardly left Skye, and she noticed. First, she just smiled. Catching him a second time, her gaze and smile turned shy. The third time after such a short while, she bumped her shoulder into his and quietly said, "Stop!" in a half-pleading, half-flattered voice.

He leaned to her ear. He knew it affected her by the goosebumps the traveled down her arm. "I wanna take you out to the woods today."

She shot a questioning look at him. It wasn't an unusual invitation, but the delivery of it was. It was more usual that a group of them go and it be discussed together. Skye lowered her gaze and nodded.

"Wear your green sweater."

Now Skye's gaze studied him. Her brows creased in a small frown. Dylan smirked at her. Let her stew on that. He liked that sweater. It made her eyes even more green. She liked it too. She'd be happy she wore it.

Dylan slid his hand into Skye's as Wade announced to the kid's they were going fishing. Jesse's face lit up. Sue Ellen was less thrilled but shrugged her acceptance. She probably reckoned it was better than cleaning at the Smith's again today. She'd had quite the stories to tell yesterday.

Breakfast over, Dylan threw a few things into a backpack and checked his pants pocket for, at least, the tenth time that day. It was still there, as it had been for the days and weeks before this day.

Dylan's mouth felt dry as he waved Skye out of the house to hurry her along. His nerves had the better of him. His muscles were so tight, he had to constantly remind himself to relax.

"Dylan, what's the hurry?"

"No hurry. Come on."

Skye laughed at the contradiction of his words. "Okay, okay."

Once outside, Dylan shouldered his rifle and took her hand.

"Dylan, honey. Slow down." Skye giggled. "I have to take two steps to your one and am practically running. So unless we aren't going far..."

Dylan looked down and slightly behind him at her small feet as they raced beside him. He slowed, then stopped. Turning to her, he ran his hands up and down her arms a couple times as he scanned the woods, more out of nervousness than anything else.

Finally looking at her face, he said, "I'm taking ya somewhere special today."

"I figured something was up. Where?"

"I don't... I don't have a name for it. It's the place I go when--I don't know--when I need to."

A smile lit up Skye's face. "I would love to see it."

She raised a hand to his cheek and stroked it, then pulled his head to hers for a kiss. "I love you."

"I love ya too, darlin'. Now let's get goin'."

Skye giggled. "Can I walk or am I running there?"

Dylan snorted. "I'll slow down, ya mouthy woman."

They shared a laugh and a look as they moved on.

Except for the noise Skye made as they went through the forest, it was pretty quiet. A few birds called from time to time. Some squirrels passed the news that people were in their territory. Dylan reminded himself that Skye needed some more Be Quiet in the Woods lessons. She was failing miserably.

Seeing his look, as she crunched on another twig, Skye said, "Does it matter today?"

He smiled. "Nah. It doesn't." She couldn't do anything wrong today.


A/N: Thanks so much for checking this chapter out! Can you guess what Dylan is up to? If you enjoyed the chapter, please press the little star below. :)

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