My Own True Love
burning with passion at the touch, the taste, the scent of him. He filled her senses, intense hunger for him setting her afire. She pressed closer to Toma, her hands feverishly caressing him, compelled to—
    Compelled.
    Wait a minute.
    Her self-control kicked in as quickly as it had disappeared. Her panting hunger flashed out of existence with an almost audible pop. She blushed hotly as she stepped away from the stunned but dazedly smiling Toma. "I'm sorry," she told him. "I don't normally act like that on the first date." We have to talk, she added to the ring.
    "You've been wanting to do that all night," the ring answered.
    "I don't need any help with my sex life, thank you. You pervert," she added angrily. Just what she needed, a magic ring with an aphrodisiac attachment. It was a good thing she'd noticed the unnatural feel of the ring trying to control her.
    "I'm not a pervert, but I am very tempted. We'd better get married quickly," Toma said, thrusting the bag into her hands. He backed away from her. "Before you make me forget you're a good girl." He turned andwas gone before she could say a word.
    She smiled fondly after him. A gentleman, she thought. Toma the Magnificent was a nice man.
    "He carries a knife," the ring pointed out.
    Yeah, she thought as she made her way to the tent where she'd woken up, it's kind of sexy. He's very protective. Sweet, really. "I'm going to miss him," she added as she lifted the tent flap and went inside.
    "Not necessarily," the ring responded.
    "Well, I can't very well take him home with me. And just where have you been the last few hours?"
    she demanded. She put down the bag, then sat down in a shaft of moonlight let in by the overhead smoke hole. She could make out the small form of Beth, sleeping on a pile of quilts next to the dark bulk of the clothes chest. Not wanting to wake the sleeping child, she thought her next comment at the ring. Well?
    "Recharging," it answered. "You and your true love have been getting to know each other, I trust?"
    You've been putting a spell on me, haven't you?
    "What? Me? What do you mean?"
    You fogged my brain, or gave me temporary amnesia or something, didn't you? she accused.
    "What? How? What would I do to—"
    I've been trying to get you to take me back home. You haven't paid the slightest attention and now I understand why.
    "Oh?" There was a definitely suspicious tone in the ring's sarcastic metallic voice.
    You, Sara thought at it, are a wish ring. I know you 're a wish ring. I've been asking to go home
    — asking, demanding, pleading — but I haven't been wishing. You put a spell on me that made me forget that you have to grant me whatever I wish.
    "I was matchmaking," it answered, not denying her charge. "Giving you time to get to know each other."
    Do you know what kind of day I've had? What his girl is involved in? I could have gotten killed while you were taking a little nap.
    "Toma was with you."
    "So what? You're driving me crazy," she told the ring. She held it up so that the orange stone caught he light. She wasn't going to argue with it. She wasn't going to hesitate, because if she did the memory of how right it felt to be with Toma might override ill the things wrong with the circumstances of their meeting. It was going to have to be enough to have met him. She swallowed the lump of regret in her throat and said firmly, "I wish to return to my own time and my own body. Right now."
    "Sorry," the ring responded. "No can do."
    "What? Get me out of here. I made a wish, you have to obey it."
    "Sara?" Beth questioned sleepily from her pallet.
    "Go back to sleep," Sara responded to the note of concern in the little girl's voice. "It's nothing. Why aren't you obeying me?" she whispered to the ring.
    "It's after midnight," was its cryptic answer. "I don't do wishes after midnight."

Chapter 5
    What's the time got to do with anything? Sara demanded, her words an angry shout inside her head.
    / wish to go home. Please, she added in case

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