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REMINDER: I write long stories. Many chapters don’t have naughty bits, but those that do will be way more fun if you read the others, too! TT2 is a sequel, but it’s a stand-alone story . . . although . . . you might want to go read Texas Trio first, just so you don’t learn how that one ended while you’re reading this! –Stefanie
ALSO: Only a couple of weeks until the Literotica Writers Go West event! I’m honored to be included in the list of awesome story-tellers participating and my limited writing-time is entirely focused on my submission at this point. I’ll be back with more of Beast shortly after my newest western romance is completed.
–:–:–:–:–:–:– Chapter 7 –:–:–:–:–:–:–
He was lucky as hell Kendall and Wilson hadn’t been privy to their younger sister’s exit, Brody thought, retreating into the library and giving his dick some time to settle down while the heat of Becky’s hand-print faded from his face. That would sure as hell have gotten him killed.
When his pulse had quieted, Brody cautiously approached the kitchen door, through which he could hear the family’s chatter. He knocked and stuck his head in, bringing Wilson and Kendall instantly to their feet.
“What the h–”
Catherine quelled her husbands’ seething signals of alarm with one hand on each of two tan forearms. “At my invitation, Mr. Easton was making use of our library.”
Neither man retreated, though the electricity in the air subsided slightly. Brody didn’t step into the room. “I was wondering if I might have a word, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Kendall?”
Kendall didn’t hesitate. With one big stride, he jerked the door wide and pushed through, forcing Brody to shuffle backwards with all the speed he could muster. He caught a glimpse of Wilson’s face turned down to Mrs. Connor and heard a murmur of reassurance before the other man joined his partner in herding Brody from the house.
On the front porch, Brody stepped to one side as Wilson drew the door firmly shut behind them.
“What the hell do you–” Kendall began again, his jaw thrust out.
Wilson interrupted. “Not here, Colt.”
He jerked his head sharply sideways. “In the office, Easton.”
Brody faltered. He’d heard of it, but he didn’t know where it was.
Kendall stepped forward, nearly shoving Brody off the porch, and it was Brody’s turn to bristle. He caught himself after only a quarter turn, but Kendall had seen it and drew one chiseled fist back toward Oklahoma, squaring off.
Wilson pushed between them. “Colt,” he hissed. “Catherine.”
Kendall gritted his teeth and leapt from the porch, heading for the back of the house. Wilson turned, his own jaw iron-hard, and with one plate-sized palm, finished the job of shoving Brody off the porch.
Brody saw it coming and managed to keep his feet. Catching his balance, he followed Kendall, with Wilson taking up the rear as they skirted the field behind the house, heading toward a line of cabins and houses that looked like servants’ quarters. It was possible that three of them were, but the one closest to the creek was indeed an office, Brody saw as he followed Kendall into the cool, shady interior.
When his eyes adjusted to the lack of light, Brody thought he might be seeing things. bahis firmaları While the desks at the left end of the long log cabin were backed by the accoutrements he might have expected, the desk to his right fronted two long tables and floor-to-ceiling shelves bearing a wealth of scientific equipment. Dozens of vials and beakers stood scattered among strange black and silver instruments. About a mile of glass and metal tubing wound around a construct closely resembling a distillery Brody had once visited in Wales.
Wilson closed the door behind them, motioning Brody toward the small wood-stove against the far wall. It was flanked by a couple of hand-hewn oak chairs, dark from years of kerosene and wood-smoke, but Brody didn’t think he was being invited to sit.
He gave Kendall a wide berth.
Wilson lowered himself into a giant leather chair behind one of the desks and propped his elbows on the desk, his posture stiff. Kendall crossed his arms across his chest and leaned his shoulder on the door, Brody’s only means of escape. Sure enough, no one offered him a seat.
Brody resisted the urge to cross his own arms and realized belatedly that he’d left his hat in the library. He supposed it occurred to him because holding it would have given his hands something to do.
“Mr. Kendall, Mr. Wilson,” he nodded from one to the other, “I want to apologize for my behavior on the night of my arrival.”
He paused, feeling a palpable increase of violence in the air.
Kendall’s nostrils flared, but both men stayed locked in position.
“There is no excuse for it, but I would like to offer an explanation, as I believe it contains information you should know.”
When neither man moved nor spoke, he continued, more firmly, “In the two weeks before I arrived here, I was bashed in the head, robbed, mistaken for a union organizer, beaten by railroad deputies, jailed, and nearly drowned in a flash flood. A farmer’s wife near Temple fed me, gave me some of her husband’s old clothes, and loaned me the nag I was on when I rode in here. I’d been on the trail for about twenty hours when I ran into two fellows who pointed me in this direction. If I hadn’t been starving and nearly asleep on my feet, I wouldn’t have taken what they told me as truth, and I definitely wouldn’t have spoken the way I did about Mrs. Connor.”
Kendall shifted restlessly when Brody mentioned his wife’s name.
“It is no justification for my transgression, but again, I believe you should know what was said.”
Brody looked from one glaring set of eyes to another, until Kendall dipped his chin, acquiescing.
When Brody finished his story, the other men exchanged a long look.
Kendall moved first, pushing himself away from the door, and Brody’s forearms twitched in anticipation. When the half-breed merely hooked his thumbs in his belt, Brody exhaled.
Wilson cleared his throat. “One of the men you spoke to was a bit older, skinny, with two white teeth in a mouthful of rotten ones?”
Brody nodded. “Yessir. The other had bushy dark hair and a beard, taller but tending to flesh, weak-looking.”
Wilson and Kendall exchanged another glance, and Kendall strolled around to join his partner behind the kaçak iddaa desk, leaning his elbow on a barrister’s cabinet filled with books and papers.
Begrudgingly, he offered a few words, “We let go a man meetin’ that description a couple of weeks before you showed up. He’s . . . .” Kendall lifted a shoulder, sneering.
Wilson nodded and picked up the explanation. “The toothy one is the unscrupulous sort who would delight in taking just such a cowardly and anonymous revenge.”
Brody began to nod as he absorbed the information. After a moment, he made a small gesture, palms forward in supplication. “Regardless of their motives, I am not in the habit of speaking ill of anyone, man nor woman, most especially a person with whom I’m unacquainted. Again, I don’t expect forgiveness, but I did want to apologize for offending your family.”
He made a half-bow and straightened. His skin stretching tightly across his mouth and cheeks, Brody tried desperately to conceal how much he actually did want absolution, in light of what depended on it.
The two men stared in silence. Both nodded sharply at about the same time.
Kendall jerked his chin toward the door. “See it don’t happen again, and we’ll let history lie.”
Brody bowed once more and left the cabin, fighting the urge to collapse against the outer wall. He’d spent what felt like a large portion of his life in mining towns where a man would kill you for money to buy hooch, so he shook it off– but Christ Almighty, those were two hard men. If it wasn’t for Miss Connor, he’d let history lie in his backtrail instead of hanging around the KCW hoping for rocks to soften.
Ah, well. He’d give it a couple of weeks before he came back up to the house to ask about calling on their sister. That should be an interesting conversation.
Inside the long, low cabin, Colt and Jeremiah waited until the sound of Brody’s footfalls receded.
Jem lifted his chin with a question. “You think it might be Lem cutting fences, too, these past few weeks?”
Colt shrugged. “Offhand, I don’t see who else it’d be. They’re too far-spaced for it to be a boy running wild.”
They were both silent for a minute, thinking about the cowhand they’d fired and considering how best to deal with his malicious mischief.
“We could just go ahead and shoot the bastard,” Colt offered.
Jem smiled wryly; he could have guessed his partner’s first response. “I don’t think Catherine would approve.”
Colt smiled, not feeling in the least inconvenienced by his wife’s concern.
“Why don’t we send Clancy into town to poke around, see if we can find out where Lem’s staying, who else might be involved?” Jem suggested. “Then we’ll decide how best to handle it.”
Colt nodded, removing his elbow from the cabinet. ” ‘Bout time the little cuss he made himself useful,” he grinned, happily anticipating a chance to use the same phrase when he gave the older man his marching orders.
–:–:–:–:–:–:– Chapter 8 –:–:–:–:–:–:–
Upstairs, Becky peered through the nursery’s lace curtain, her cheeks still warm from the heat of her blush.
How could she have failed to recognize him?
His height alone should have told her that the cowboy in the library was the same kaçak bahis swollen-eyed stranger who’d fainted on her in the parlor three weeks earlier. It hadn’t, though, maybe because her brain had altogether ceased to function.
The stranger in her sister’s library was gorgeous. His hair was longer than was fashionable, parted on the side and pushed carelessly back behind his ears, showing off a square jaw and a neatly trimmed goatee. She’d felt a flash of gratitude that he didn’t wear the same bushy mustache half the ranch hands sported, which would have obscured the beautiful mouth beneath it. Aside from the rough clothing, she thought, he looked more like an actor than a cowhand.
After fleeing from their encounter in the library, Becky hid in her room, cursing her cowardice, until she heard him leaving with her brothers and dashed across the room to the window. Now all three men were secreted in the office, and Becky couldn’t imagine what they were discussing back there. She put her hand to her heart, which was thumping more rapidly than it should be.
What was the matter with her?
She’d been trained from birth to react without thought to virtually any social situation, but none of that training had done her any good today. When she turned and found herself face to face with a stranger, the first thing she should have done was to open the door and step out into the hall. But she hadn’t moved or spoken a single word; all she’d been able to do was stare as the tall, handsome man came toward her.
Then reality set in.
She shouldn’t be alone with him, Nanny’s voice whispered in her head, but it was too late.
His breath brushed across her knuckles and was quickly replaced by his lips. When a lock of the dark, wavy hair fell forward, touching her wrist, Becky gasped, her fingernails digging into the palm of her free hand as she pictured herself smoothing his hair away from his face.
All by itself, the intensity of her reaction should have told her who he was, but her mind hadn’t made the connection between the stranger and the lean, tall cowboy on the parlor floor until the instant her palm connected sharply with his handsome face.
SMACK! Mr. Easton!
She’d spun in horror, jerked the library door ajar, and fled up the stairs, no longer worried about her brothers seeing what she wore. Now she was lurking at the nursery window, waiting for the office door to open, and why? Simply to catch a glimpse of the man who had subjected her to such a thorough . . . visual mauling.
Her face hot, Becky jerked the lace curtain into place and turned on her heel. She had better things to do than simper about Mr. Easton. She had dreams to fulfill.
And a horse to care for, of course.
TIDBIT (AKA Confession): I JUST noticed an error in this section. Since the book’s already finished, I’m not changing it now, but when Colt “drew one chiseled fist back toward Oklahoma,” that fist would have been good and lost: Oklahoma wasn’t Oklahoma until about five years after this story takes place. If you check out a contemporary map, the area which is now the Sooner state was designated as “Indian Territory,” which is a whole ‘nother story, as the saying goes. Mea culpa, faithful readers!
PS– I know I say it a lot, but when life is especially bumpy, simply going back and reading some of your comments perks me up. Thanks again for your hearts, stars, and ongoing support! – Stefanie
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