by Janella Vallonia
It was a silly wager, Janella thought, as she loosened the reins and Diamond found her own pace. The horse was happy to be out again, on the road with fresh air. Janella rode north, then east, taking the familiar path to her place in the woods. The way was quiet and offered considerable time to think, a chance to relax and re-examine her recent plans.
She expected what had happened between her and Jesse. It was assumed, no, required even; absolutely necessary. She teased him, reassured him, flirted with him, led him on, and endured his cocky mouth, the sarcasm, and his endless boasting (not to mention the comments and remarks from the others) both in the Outback, the Arena and elsewhere. He was insufferable! So immature. By her sword, how did she stomach it? But, though he bragged about his strength, his stamina, his achievements and superiority, he had failed to discover her deception, this ruse. Unless all her senses were misleading and every instinct was wrong, her ploy had worked. She had slept with him, yes, more than once already. If need be, she'd do it again. But Janella doubted that she would have to, she had attained what was important, the object of her desire. The seduction was obviously completed.
Janella smiled, urged Diamond up the last remaining hill, as she considered the bet she and Jesse had made in the Arena a week ago. It was a duel she offered him in order to stall the night, but he had needed a wager, a reason of course. He wanted to see her in a tight skirt, for three nights, if he won. She couldn't very well ask him not to touch her in return, so she argued that he would stop his infernal smoke habit for the same amount of time. Instead, he would puff on the delicate chocolate sticks they fashioned for children. They agreed, and fought a playful bout in the sand, and she won out. No skirt for her (or rather, for him) and candy, no cigarettes, for the baron.
She didn't go to the Arena to see him on the subsequent nights. She could only guess that he had upheld his word, but more likely he hadn't, she snickered, and succumbed to the temptation of a smoke. Janella didn't care, it mattered not in connection to her own aims. Let him do what he so chooses, she shrugged, as long as I get what I want.