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Red was standing behind her, leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest. He’d placed the bowls in a bucket of water. They could be washed in the morning.
How was he going to suggest what he knew needed to be done? He’d been in a similar circumstance before when he and several other cowboys got caught out in a blizzard. It was awkward enough with men. But with a man and a woman— That just made their situation and its outcome even more inevitable.
He was still chilly but nowhere near how cold to the very core he knew she’d gotten. That was so very hard to relieve.
Red stood and rubbed his face with his hands. No point in putting it off. Gema needed to be warmed so she didn’t succumb to lung fever. It was a real possibility. It looked as if her hair was dry. That was good. Having a wet head, everyone knew, could lead to lung fever. He moved in front of her and squatted down.
“Miss Gema? Are you any warmer now that you’re all dry?” A violent shudder jerked through her. Red took the small hand that still had the bluish cast to it in his. “Miss Gema— Gema. There’s a way to get you warm. I haven’t suggested it before because— well, you’re a woman, a single woman trapped here with me, a single man.”
She lifted her eyelids, and the pool of her deep blue eyes studied his face warily.
“It’s bundling. We share the warmth of the bed. Our body heat trapped beneath the blankets creates sort of cocoon. My body heat will warm you.”
Gema’s eyes got wide. Shock was written on her face.
“No, Honey. We’ll both be fully clothed. You can even put on some of my trousers if you want.” He pointed to the tan canvas pants folded on a corner of the table. “And socks. I have a pair you can wear. That will help you too.” Red got up and retrieved the items.
Another shudder wracked her body as he set the garments in her lap. She needed to agree soon, or he was afraid she’d become ill.
“I—I need to— before.” Gema’s face turned bright red.
He figured out what her problem was. “Oh, yeah. I’ll just go check the animals. There’s the chamber pot.” He pointed to the corner. Grabbing his coat and hat, Red donned them and fled out the door. He’d give her plenty of time to finish her business before he returned. He’d take care of his needs too.