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Pen Your Pride

Chapter 22

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Salome

In the morning when I woke, only one man was sitting in camp. Jashon had taken Gid's kinsmen and gone on without us, hoping to move faster without Keturah. I looked around for the other men that remained—Ethanim, Josh, Reb, Corban, Mathoni—but I didn't see any of them.

I lay very still and stared quietly at him. I didn't want him to know I was awake. I watched as he poked at the coals in the fire pit and scrubbed at his eyes. But it wasn't very long before Keturah said, "Morning, Mahonri."

I looked more closely at him. A thin scar cut across his cheekbone, but unlike some unsightly scarring I had seen on returning warriors, his scar made his already handsome face much more interesting. The last time I could remember seeing him was in the cave in Amulon.

"I thought you'd never wake up," he groaned. "I've been watching the back trail alone for four days."

Keturah sat up and wiped the sleepiness from her eyes. "Why didn't you wake me?" She was clearly used to taking a watch in the night.

Mahonri's eyes dropped pointedly to her mid-section.

"Lie back down," I advised her.

She waved me off and said, "You could have awaken Salome."

"I don't know Salome."

Keturah gave an annoyed little huff at his curt tone and rolled her eyes.

"I'm going to sleep now," Mahonri said. "Expect a knife at your throat if you wake me." And with that, he moved to the bedroll he had already spread a short distance away and fell promptly asleep.

"He's pleasant," I remarked.

"I don't know why he's like that," Keturah said quietly. "Underneath it he is actually a very nice person."

"Like Lamech?"

She had to think about that.

"Why don't you two get along?" I began to coax the hot coals Mahonri had been tending into a small flame. I didn't want it to get large because I didn't know where we were or who might be around us.

"I am willing to get along. I think...I guess he just prefers to be with other people."

"Does it bother you?"

"It did at first. Now I have come to expect it."

"Has he always been this way with you? Distant like he is?"

"Yes, from the first moment. His eyes slipped over me that morning as if I wasn't there, and he has never seen me since."

"He is the same way with Sarai," I said. "I worry for her. He will not be an easy man, and she is so..." I tried to think of the right word to describe her. Innocent? Malleable? Inexperienced?

"She wishes to please," Keturah filled in. "She cannot figure out what makes Lamech happy—because nothing does—and it confuses her. She doesn't know who she is if she is not serving and seeing to the comfort of others, but Lamech won't let anyone help him. He cannot be at ease in her company, because he is not at ease with himself."

She shifted uncomfortably and then lay down, brushing some leaves and twigs off of her bedroll as she eased herself down onto it.

When she started to breathe again, I asked, "Did you sleep at all last night?"

"Very soundly."

I cast a quick glance at her as I poured some water into a small dish to heat over the fire. She looked rested enough.

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