The sweat was a river slipping down Alya’s back. It ran into the waistband of her pants, which was a dam over-run. The excess flowed down to the, as embarrassing as it was to say, crack in her butt.

She paused in her work and shifted from foot to foot.

“It’s hotter than hell out here,” Sarr said.

Alya tilted her head and studied him. “It can’t be hotter than hell. Your Christian hell is the hottest thing in the universe.”

“It’s a saying that means it’s very hot.”

She started digging again and the sweat ran down her back, but in addition the sweat ran from her temples and around her entire hairline. When she bent over to shovel the dirt, drops of sweat showered the soil and created black spots on the brown earth. Her hands slipped on the shovel handle.

“Damn this sweat!” Sarr complained.

Alya stopped shoveling and wondered if there were gloves somewhere.

“How can you work in heat like this?”

“Stop complaining,” Alya said. “The heat isn’t that bad.”

“Just because you never complain about anything, doesn’t mean I’m a whiner.”

“That’s exactly how you sound right now.”

“F…shut up,” Sarr said.

“The heat isn’t bad. The humidity is awful. The sweat doesn’t go anywhere! The desert isn’t like this.”

“The desert. That’s why the heat doesn’t bother you.”

“In the desert, you sweat a bit. Sure it’s hot, but your sweat doesn’t run in rivers into your unmentionables.”

“Yeah, I’m chafing in places no man has ever chafed.”

“That’s definitely whining.”

Sarr opened his mouth and closed it.

“In the desert,” Alya said, “sweat dries up quickly. It’s very easy to dehydrate because you don’t realize how much water you’ve lost.”

“No danger of that here,” Sarr said, taking a long drink from his water bottle.

“Just dig,” Alya said. “I’m chafing in places I’m certain plenty of women have chafed in. I’m not complaining.”

Sarr shook his head and grinned. “You are a tough one.”

“Maybe later you can help me with my chafed areas.”

“If you’re trying to seduce me,” Sarr said as he heaved a shovelful dirt onto the pile, “that’s not how it’s done.”

Alya’s cheeks warmed. She was trying, but she’d said something silly, again. She pressed her lips into a thin line and dug fast, trying to ignore the muscular body next to her.

Sarr’s large hand pressed gently on her forearm. She stopped digging, but didn’t face him.

“I wasn’t trying to be mean,” he said.

Alya turned to him and stepped close. “I was trying to seduce you. I’m not good at it, so can we skip that part and just kiss?”

Sarr’s eyes widened and he took a step back. “Girl child, you don’t want me half as much as you think you do.”

Alya threw her shovel into the dirt pile and it stuck upright. She took a step toward Sarr.

“Hey,” he said looking at the shovel, “how’d you do that?”

“I’m from a mining town.” She grabbed him by his substantial biceps, stood on her toes and put her lips on his.

Sarr’s lips were hard and unyielding. She tickled them with her tongue, and he groaned and his lips opened to her.

He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her in close. She could feel his erection against her thigh and she got warm and moist in places she hadn’t known existed.

She slid her hand down his thigh.

He released her and jumped back. “Kiddo, gotta finish that digging!” He ran into the forest.

“You’re the most frustrating creature in the universe!” she yelled after him.

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