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Bunny glanced uneasily at the dark-haired young man riding in the wagon beside her. "I find your disguise more than a bit disturbing."
He smiled, showing more teeth than a human normally would. "Do you think so? I was aiming for 'disreputable'."
"Yeah, I would say you overshot your goal by more than a few feet." She looked at the two riders ahead of them. "If I said I wasn't worried about this whole convoluted plan, I'd be lying."
"Considering you seem to do it often, it would be hard to tell the difference." He suddenly found the passing scenery fascinating.
"Care to explain that statement, Uncle Ogre?" Her hands tightened on the reins.
His inhuman eyes met hers. "Let's just say I get more than a touch upset when I hear my niece crying herself to sleep. She loves you for whatever reason I can't understand and you hiding from her truly cut her deep. I hope that elf was worth it."
"You've met her." Bunny jerked her head toward one of the riders. "You tell me."
"She is sweet," he admitted and dropped his glare. "I would have done the same."
The riders slowed down to allow the wagon to catch up. "We're close to Bordertown," Moxi said with a smile. "I'm glad for it. My behind truly doesn't care for horses."
Zell's face was a mask. "We must continue on. We are expected."
"Yes, ma'am." Moxi's smile evaporated.
They rode the rest of the way in silence, Moxi and Zell following the wagon. Ogre, having never been to Bordertown, nearly fell off his seat as they neared the town and had a hard time keeping his mouth from gaping open as they went through the square. "One day, I shall take you to the market," Moxi promised him.
His face lit up. "I would love it, thank you!"
"If we survive," Zell muttered.
Turning Leaves was a beautiful sight after their journey but Ogre made all the familiar landmark new. Wilson ran outside to greet his only child, swinging her off her to horse and crushing her in a hug. "Moxycilis!" he crowed. "So wonderful to have you home!"
"Ara breaking the good china, Father?" she teased and returned his embrace.
They parted. "No, she has done her duties well," he said. "I missed your conversation." He smiled at the rest of them. "Lady Zelda! My greetings!" He bowed over her hand.
"Such fuss is not necessary," she jerked her hand back.
"I believe so." He shook Bunny's hand warmly. "Bunny English! Well met, youngling! Who is this handsome man?"
"Uncle Ogre, this is Wilson."
Ogre shook Wilson's hand with enthusiasm. "A fellow innkeeper! I've looked forward to meeting you after Moxi told me stories of Turning Leaves."
Wilson shook his hand and reached into his shirt, pulling out a monocle on a chain. He squinted through it and his smile turned into a wide grin. "You are indeed the Ogre I have heard so much about! Clever spell, by the way."
"My own design." Ogre tried to look modest.
Wilson and Ogre talked shop, leaving the others to see to the horses and wagons. "Bunny and I can get this if you want to go to our room," Moxi offered Zell.
Zell nodded and took her pack from the wagon, wordlessly disappearing into the inn.
Bunny drove the wagon after Moxi, who led the horses by the reins to the stables. As soon as the horses were settled, Moxi threw herself on Bunny. The elf cried on her shoulder, clinging hard. She closed her eyes, trying to ignore how easily her arms circled Moxi and how they melted into one.
"I tried, I really did," Moxi sobbed. "I didn't want to do it but it just happened."
"What is it?" Bunny stroked her curls and fought the urge to wipe her face.
"I love you, gods help me," Moxi whispered, "and I adore the beautiful woman you share your life with. It hurts me to think how much pain we caused her."
"How do you know about that?" Bunny tried not to notice Moxi's perfume.
The elf pulled away, head down. "Who do you think comforted her the night you slept alone?" She looked up. "Your Amy is pure joy, a treasure beyond any telling. She refused me. I thought you should know."
"Oh, sweetheart..."
"Don't call me that." Moxi's eyes narrowed. "Unless you mean it, keep such things to yourself." The elfwoman walked away and left her alone to tend the wagon.

It was after dinner when Bunny went to a room alone with a scroll. She fastened it to the wall, speaking the words Marti taught her and turning an invisible door knob. The painted door became solid and opened.
Marti, Amy, Duck and Dodge came through. "This place is nice," Duck said approvingly.
Amy refused to make eye contact. "So this is Moxi's home?"
"Welcome to Turning Leaves." Bunny gestured to the room. "No trouble on the other side?"
"None," Marti confirmed. "Solid connection."
"The barmaid's name is Ara. She can be trusted." Bunny pointed to a tray on the table. "Help yourselves. Moxi made it herself and said if you need something to ring the bell and either she or Ara will come."
"Can we go downstairs?" Marti asked. "I would like to give my regards to Wilson."
"I'm afraid not," Bunny shook her head. "Puck says the elves are watching this place so we have to be careful." She smiled at Marti's downcast face. "But I'm sure he would come up to greet you himself if I asked. If," she amended, "he and Ogre have stopped talking long enough for someone to get a word in!"
Amy laughed despite herself. "Well, I see no reason to let Moxi's hospitality get cold! If you will give me your leave..."
"Too late," Dodge said around a mouthful of pastry.

In her dreams, soft hands touched her and a warm body slid under the blankets to lie beside her. Another body pressed against her back, silk lips running over her shoulder. She smiled in her sleep and stiffened when she felt the dream fade into waking.
Bunny opened her eyes to see Amy in her arms, the woman snuggled close and smiling. She looked over her shoulder to see Moxi leaning on her elbow. "Hello, ladies..." she managed to say.
"We never got to finish our conversation." Amy rested her head on Bunny's shoulder. "What you don't seem to understand is that I'm not mad because you spent the night with someone else but because you didn't tell me. I know you love me and I know you'll come home. As long as you come back to me and tell me what happened, I wouldn't be upset." She reached up and touched Moxi's hair. "This one is so special, Bun, why hide her?"
"None are sweeter than you, Amy." Moxi leaned over Bunny to kiss Amy.
"Alright, alright," Bunny grinned. "Let me get out of the way before you two smother me!"
The kiss ended with a giggle.
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August 2011


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