Dawn was never his favorite time of time. Dawn reminded him of early morning rides and chores in the barn. That hadn't always been the way, but for the last nearly two years that's exactly what he'd done. Dawn meant the Express for eighteen months. Hard riding and hard fighting with criminals, Indian renegades an each other.

Then dawn had meant getting up early enough to get something to eat before work, a hasty meal with a chance to talk with old friends.

Now, dawn meant Lou.

Leaning against the wall with his cheek against the glass he felt the chill of the night warming with the first hesitant rays of the sun. Rubbing his hand along the upper part of his other arm, Jimmy warded off the chill that threatened to set an ache in his bones. He wasn't old, but the numerous holes bullets had punched in him were starting to take their toll.

There was a twinge here and a twitch there especially when the cold settled into his bones in the middle of the night or when old nightmares find him unawares. Just when the pain was tying up his muscles and tears threatened to fall he'd feel her hand on his arm, her soft voice in his ear and the gentle press of her body against his.

Last night she'd stayed up with him, making warm compresses, heating bricks to place under the bed and opening one of Emma's cans of salve and working it into the muscles for him throughout the early morning hours.

Now at dawn she lay exhausted in their bed, her hands buried under her pillow, her face turned to the window and still blissfully unaware of the warm light blanketing her face. Flexing his toes into the rag rug under the window, Jimmy watched as she shifted in her sleep, one leg sliding along the other under the sheets.

The white cotton blanketing her body twisted around her as she moved in her sleep, some concern real or imagined furrowed her brow and pressed her lips tightly together.

"Cold?" He asked the question, knowing that there would be no answer from her in her sleep and even though he would like nothing more than to watch the sunlight warm her skin from tan to gold with the rising sun, there would always be time for that later.

Now, he would care for her as she had done for him. Standing up from his chair, Jimmy grasped the bottom of the quilt and lifted the hem of it to straighten it. The sudden and unobstructed view of her legs beneath the hem of her night-rail brought a silent smile to his lips as she frowned in her sleep. "I know… I know… it's cold." He tucked the end beneath their mattress and lifted the quilt from the foot of their bed, drawing it up and over her body.

Almost as though she knew what he was doing she grasped the quilt when it came within reach and tucked the edge beneath her cheek.

Unable to resist the warm of either the quilt or the woman, Jimmy slid beneath the quilt to press his feet against hers and wrap his arm around her middle.

Louise mumbled in her sleep, reaching down with one hand to cover his just as she kicked at him with her feet. A moment later she turned a bit, cracking open her eyes just the littlest bit to see him in the early light. "Mornin'."

His smile was unguarded as she snuggled closer to his body and the heat it promised. "Morning."

Breathtaking prompt - tangled in the sheets

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