Ben wiggled deeper under the blankets. He really shouldn't complain. The job did have its perks. In his spare time, he could explore the vast trails of caverns. The hunters who traveled the dark paths showed him sights so wondrous that he sometimes thought he was dreaming.
Even if it was while collecting crak'an dung.
Ben closed his eyes. Morning would come too soon. He rolled onto his side and wrapped an arm around Ashley's waist.
As he drifted into slumber, something touched his dreams. Weak and tentative. Someone calling to him.
He opened himself up, inviting, but the contact faded. Only a passing connection, like a warm breeze wafting across a cold cheek.
Under his hand, he felt the baby move in Ashley's belly. And Ben remembered Mo'amba's words: "Blood runs true."
There are too many folks to thank for the production of this story. From Pesha Rubinstein, my literary agent, who saw some glimmer in the rough-cut draft; to Lyssa Keusch, my editor, who painstakingly polished this story into its current form; to my writing group, who arduously picked apart the plot and made it better (Chris Crowe, Dennis Grayson, Dave Meek, Jeffrey Moss, Jane O'Riva, Stephen and Judy Prey, Caroline Williams); and a special thanks to Carolyn McCray, for her support, criticism, love, and friendship.
And finally to two people for whom I must blame this all on: Thanks, Mom and Dad!