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He stopped, his arm stretched out to keep Keely from moving closer to the entrance. Dropping to the ground, he crawled forward and peered downward, toward the house.
Flames shot skyward. On horseback, men circled the house, tossing burning brands onto the thatched roof.
"Keep down," he whispered to her, his voice hoarse with emotion. She crept closer. He heard her swiftly indrawn breath of air and felt her tremble against him. If he'd had any thoughts of returning, they vanished while he watched the flames reaching into the sky.
"My home!" She rose, yet he pulled on her dress, tumbling her to the ground and swiftly rolling on top of her.
"Nay, you can do nothing."
"But--" she began, still struggling against him, then broke off in a sob, her face in her hands.
"We will stay here."
"We cannot." Her desperation flowed into him.
"We must and we must make plans." With Keely in his arms, he scooted back to lean against the cold stone of the cave. He held her close and let her cry out her terror and her heartache.
She nestled into him, soaking his shirt with her sorrow-filled tears. He stroked her back, knowing his futile efforts did little to ease the pain simmering inside. Deep in the back of his mind, he wondered about Whipple and what part he played in this.
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