Jesse had just tipped up the pot to dry by the fire when, above the wind, he heard the whistle. The old man grabbed his pack and picked up the pulse rifle. Before he left the campfire, he pulled out his short knife, unsheathed it, and placed it squarely before the dozing girl. It would have to serve.
A whistle told him at least two men lurked in the swirling darkness, a darkness for which the firelight left him blind. A signal also said they came from more than one direction. The intruders’ advantage lay in their numbers and firepower. Jesse’s advantage must lie in his ability to take back the night—to force the others to hunt him. For the time being, Malila would be hostage … and perhaps plunder. If he had...
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