Exhausted, Kendra leaned back against the tree. The quiet of the night surrounded her, and in the distance she could see a small orange glow here and there of fires set by those who had been forced to leave their homes and set up camp in this park.
She closed her eyes, rested her arms on her knees, and put her head down on her arms, cushioned by the sweatshirt she wore. The sweatshirt smelled of fresh air and smoke. She pulled the sleeves down over her cold hands.
She sat like that for a while, motionless and quiet, until she heard footsteps behind her: heavy, slow footsteps. Then she heard breathing, close. She held her own breath. The footsteps stopped. Kendra turned around slowly, clenching her fists.
'Oh, it's you,' she said, letting out her breath in relief. 'What are you doing here?'
'Looking for you, I guess. What are you doing?'
'Resting. Watching. Waiting.' She stared off into the distance, but could see nothing but patches of flame and sparks, and smoke as it trailed off into the night. 'I'm so . . .'
'Tired? Hungry? Thirsty?'
'All of that. And cold.'
'Come on, then. We've got a fire going, and Colin is out gathering more wood.'
Kendra got up slowly and stretched.
Nathan came over and pulled her toward him, wrapping his arms around her. Kendra awkwardly accepted the hug.
'Kendra, I'm going to take care of you,' Nathan promised. 'You'll see. You don't have to worry.'
'Let's go.' Kendra said as she started to walk down the hill. She tried not to show her annoyance at what he just said. Why did he think she needed him to take care of her? Because she was a woman? It didn't help that she was so small. Men...