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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! Also, although TT2 is a sequel, it’s a stand-alone story . . . but . . . you might want to go read Texas Trio first, just so you don’t know the ending of that one! –Stefanie
–:–:–:–:–:–:– Chapter 5 –:–:–:–:–:–:–
In retrospect, Brody was completely disgusted with himself. He wasn’t in the habit of trusting anyone, really. It had taken years for him to trust Graham, his business partner and closest friend. Why in the world had he ever taken the word of those two vagrants when they told him that story about the ranch?
After Jeremiah Wilson booted him out of the wagon– making it clear that a literal kick would have suited him better– Brody was given a bunk and directions to the grub shack. There, he’d gotten a bowl of greasy, gristly leftover stew which tasted twice as good as anything he’d eaten in any European restaurant. He didn’t even care that moving his mouth hurt like hell– Brody wiped the shallow bowl with the remainder of his cornbread and only by supreme strength of will did he manage to avoid licking it clean. He returned the empty cup and plate to the hairy, lean beast the range boss had called “the old woman,” though he was neither of those things, and headed back to the bunkhouse.
Before the sun set on his first night in the bunkhouse, the range boss, Captain Jackson, had taken Brody aside for a long lecture in which he was told repeatedly that there were NO loose women ANYWHERE on the KCW.
Restraining an urge to explain himself like a boy caught cheating at school, Brody paid attention and learned a lot about the nature of the family. He’d half-assumed that Mrs. Connor was the widow of a former partner in the KCW who had fallen into the current arrangement accidentally. Instead, he was told she’d intentionally married both Kendall and Wilson, which explained why she’d kept her maiden name, Brody supposed.
Surprisingly, as time went on, Brody discovered the unorthodox marriage wasn’t a frequent topic of conversation. He expected to hear criticism or snide comments about the marriage or Mrs. Connor herself, but the kind-hearted ranchers’ wife was widely respected by her husband’s employees. Brody was sure some of the hands felt differently, but those that didn’t respect Mrs. Connor sure as hell respected her husbands’ fists, and no one said a word against her.
His range boss was a former Confederate soldier whose manner made it clear that he, too, was loyal to the ranch’s founding family. Brody didn’t dare ask about Mrs. Connor’s younger sister. Instead he set himself to learning his duties and biding his time.
Initially, he had planned to stay just long enough to pay for the food and bed he’d been given, then hitch a ride into town and wire Graham for a bank draft.
Then he met Rebecca Connor.
If he were back in San Francisco, in different circumstances, he’d have approached her guardian the following day, requesting permission to pay calls. But he wasn’t in San Francisco; he was in Liberty Falls, where he’d grossly insulted the wife of the men whose permission he’d need to attain.
Brody could ride as well as the next man, and he’d been working since he was eight or so, from plowing fields to humping store goods in a mining town– but he didn’t know the first thing about cattle. In Texas, toddlers learned to rope, and being a neophyte cowhand was a lesson in humility even after recovering from the second beating he’d taken in three weeks. As for that, Brody wasn’t a man accustomed to losing fights, but neither defeat bothered him. The first had been delivered by six burly railroad deputies and the second tacked on when he was barely awake.
The other hands took turns showing him what to do and mocking his mistakes, but Brody had no trouble laughing at himself, and he got along with most of the men, even when they hurled “Easterner” at him like an epithet. So Brody waited for passing time to dull the ranchers’ anger and dedicated himself to becoming a decent cowhand in the meantime.
First, he learned the difference between ranch hands and the drovers who took the cattle to market. Instead of spending weeks or months on a trail drive, Brody would be part of a roundup crew working the herd on the ranch, moving, sorting, guarding, and marking cattle. Surprisingly, he also learned that if his own horse hadn’t been stolen, he wouldn’t have been allowed to keep it with him at the ranch.
The range boss noticed Brody’s puzzled expression and explained, “Prevents a fellow with wanderlust from taking off for town the minute he gets paid, no matter what the cattle are doing.”
Brody escort ataşehir had spent years in the company of gold miners who, like any other isolated group, created their own vernacular, but on the KCW, he discovered cowboys turned habit into art. Not only were there at least three names for every piece of equipment, the hands themselves seldom used the name they’d been given at birth. Those that did were often known by one or two others as well, confusing Brody further.
The “old woman” referred to any cook on the range, but the cook at the grub-shack serving the northern bunkhouse was also known as Salty Jim, Cookie, or King Bean, depending on who was talking. “Cookie” also applied to the cook at the ranch house, the one at the southern bunkhouse, and a tinsmith in town, who didn’t cook at all. His direct boss in the chain of command– Captain Jackson– was also called Cap, Cappy, Jack, and Hal, though supposedly no one knew his real first name.
Objects, animals, events, and places were equally confusing in cowboy-speak, he discovered, so Brody spent much of his time trying to decipher what he was being told to do with muleys, dogies, mavericks, choppers, and his yannigan. Brody didn’t even know he had a yannigan!
–:–:–:–:–:–:– Chapter 6 –:–:–:–:–:–:–
Brody ran his fingertips across a row of books, impressed by the variety of authors and topics, but the stamped cloth and leather spines weren’t sufficient distraction to keep his mind off the risk he was taking by being here. Although he’d been up to the barnyard several times since arriving at the ranch, hoping to bump into the lovely Miss Connor, he hadn’t been back inside the house. He hadn’t planned on it today, either; he’d meant to wait in the stable until Kendall and Wilson arrived.
He didn’t think the owners would appreciate his presence in their home, but Brody hadn’t been able to avoid it. Mrs. Connor had walked right past him on her way to the chicken coop, the smaller of the two boys tagging along behind her. She always greeted him when she saw him in the yard, but this time she stopped to ask how he was getting along. Someone had undoubtedly informed her that ranching wasn’t his field. They chatted for a few minutes and before she took her leave, Mrs. Connor kindly offered Brody the use of her library.
“If you find yourself at loose ends, feel free to borrow a book. Come to the kitchen door if no one answers the front, and one of the girls will let you in.”
Hat in hands, Brody nodded. “That’s very kind of you, Mrs. Connor,” thinking that as much as he’d like something to read of an evening, there was absolutely no possibility of him taking advantage of her generosity.
Catherine paused in the act of turning away, stopping to let her peridot eyes rest on his face, apparently reading his thoughts as easily as if he were one of her children. “As a matter of fact, Mr. Easton, I believe I’ll wait right here until someone lets you in, just to make sure they hear your knock.”
He shifted uneasily, but there wasn’t a damn thing he could do.
“Thank you, ma’am,” Brody murmured with a polite, hesitant nod. He climbed the front steps, defeated.
As the Chinese girl admitted him, Brody glanced over his shoulder and saw Mrs. Connor turn away, smiling. She had, indeed, waited to see him through the door.
So here he was, calculating whether he’d live long enough to finish reading one of Mrs. Connor’s books. Kendall and Wilson weren’t likely to approve of his presence any more than they approved of his person. He hadn’t spoken to either of them since they’d manhandled him out of the wagon, leaving him in a heap at the bunkhouse door, with a few curt words of instruction for one of the men, to “fix him up an’ put him to work.” Since then, the only interactions he’d had with the owners of the KCW came in the form of Kendall staring as though he’d like to take a hatchet to Brody’s head whenever they passed each other in the field, or Wilson looking right through him.
His new boots creaking, Brody shifted and plucked a worn copy of Great Expectations off the shelf. It fell open naturally in his hands, instantly immersing him in one of his favorite tales.
The KCW was a huge, complex enterprise boasting two bunkhouses, a dozen or more line shacks, three grub wagons, a variety of roundup crews, two wranglers, two stables, and three barns for livestock alone. She probably knew less than half of the workers personally, but Becky guessed there were at least forty regular cowhands, plus farmhands, household staff and a rotating cast of seasonal labor– trail hands, pickers, and such. Even with all that help, there wasn’t much time to relax. kadıköy escort Nothing ever seemed to go exactly as planned. Weather, illness, accidents, and life itself conspired to defeat any period of smooth operations, so everyone stayed busy. When Becky found a day to steal away and indulge her true passions, sometimes she was the only one free to do so.
Nonetheless, she tried to be good. She stayed within sight of the ranch’s main buildings, riding through groves of fruit trees and cultivated farm-land, or exploring the banks of the Colorado, which formed the KCW’s northern border. She often took Lily or one of the twins along, and she even tried to leave her trousers at home.
Unfortunately, she didn’t always try hard enough, and that particular day she came within a hair’s breadth of running straight into Colt and Jeremiah. She was only half a mile from the house and she wasn’t in any danger, but she wasn’t wearing a skirt, either. Trying to spare her sister the aggravation– and herself the resulting lecture–she wheeled Pepper and galloped back in the direction she’d come, sticking close to the treeline to mask her departure. She didn’t waste time looking over her shoulder: she’d find out soon enough if they’d seen her flight to safety.
Thankfully there was no one out front, so she rode right under the arbor at the side of the house, hoping to go undetected. Waves of overpowering sweetness drifting from the kitchen window over a clamor of copper pans and feminine voices lightened her heart. Cookie was making plum jelly, which usually turned into making plum pudding, too. All the women would be thus engaged.
Becky looped the reins loosely around a pole and jogged around the corner of the house, not even slowing for a preliminary peek. She was nearly caught, but Cat’s husbands rode between the stable and the buggy shed, giving her a couple of extra seconds to get inside. She ran, flat out. One leap from the ground to the porch, three quick ones from there to the door, and she was in, closing it quietly behind her and slipping into the library as fast as possible, still praying when she closed that door, too.
A rumble of subdued thunder from the porch yanked Brody from his date with Mr. Dickens. Before he could do more than lift his head to listen, the front door thunked and a figure dashed through the library door. With the tangled remains of her hairdo flying in an arc about her head, Miss Rebecca Connor whirled and closed the library door, collapsing face-first against it, her shoulders heaving.
Brody stopped breathing.
The woman he’d been dreaming about for the past three weeks was a dozen feet away.
He should have announced himself immediately, but the woman Brody been dreaming about for the past three weeks was wearing trousers, and Brody couldn’t breathe, much less announce anything.
Her face was turned away from him, but the delicate hand resting against the wood near her cheek betrayed her anxiety, tendons straining beneath the pale bronze flesh.
Behind her, Brody was frozen in place. The curves which had so entranced him as he lay dying on her sister’s settee were every bit as finely formed as he remembered.
He’d heard some of the men joshing about a nameless female wearing trousers when she rode, but they’d said “boys’ clothes,” not “men’s,” and Brody had assumed the tomboy in question was a little girl, maybe the child of a servant.
Miss Connor was not a little girl.
The trousers she wore were as tired as the pair the farmer’s wife had given him, and he’d discarded those at the first opportunity. He was perfectly happy with the state of Miss Connor’s garb, however: the worn brown twill clung lovingly to every swell and dip of her rounded thighs and deliciously sculpted bottom. She didn’t have much up top, Brody thought numbly, but heaven had taken a personal interest in designing that backside.
A more sedate series of thuds announced another arrival. Becky’s shoulders stilled as she held her breath, her ear only inches from the paneled oak.
Brody’s senses returned along with his hearing, and he realized who she’d been running away from. He couldn’t discern individual words, but the voices in the entryway were those of Kendall and Wilson. Their tones were low and even, not the sounds of angry men, but he’d hazard a guess that Miss Connor’s desire to avoid them was based on her current costume.
One of them laughed, and the sweet soprano of Mrs. Connor’s greeting joined the deep bass chorus. In silences and murmurs, Brody could picture the scene taking place outside the door. He swallowed, feeling guilty for listening to such a private moment, and even worse maltepe escort bayan for being aroused by it, but he could hardly announce himself now.
A few long moments later, the voices moved away, and Becky’s shoulders fell as she breathed more easily. She turned away from the door and leaned her shoulders heavily against it, her eyes closed and her hands resting on her abdomen as she recovered.
Brody finished drinking his fill of the lovely picture she presented.
She’d gotten a work-out, wherever she’d been: the sedate white blouse she wore was dusty, smeared with dirt on one shoulder, unbuttoned at collar and cuffs. Tendrils of hair clung to her temples and the short, narrow vee of her exposed throat glistened with perspiration. Brody fought the urge to reach down and adjust his trousers, which were threatening to cut off his circulation. Miss Connor would be sure to open her eyes as soon as he did, and whatever small chance he had with her would vanish.
Sure enough, Becky’s lids lifted as she straightened, smoothing an imaginary skirt over her hips. When she saw him, her hands froze, the whites of her eyes showing all around the golden irises.
Brody dipped his chin and thumbed a lock of hair at his brow, since his hat was hanging on a chair. “Miss Connor,” he greeted her with a smile in his voice.
The flush of exertion faded from her cheeks, leaving her pale.
Brody discarded his book and closed the distance between them.
With one hand resting high on her chest in a classic pose of surprise, Becky’s eyes followed his march across the library floor.
Brody’s only intention was to get as close to her as possible as soon as possible, but that was an urge so primal it didn’t require thought. His conscious brain was keeping a running tally of her emotions, as plain to read as the words on Dickens’ page.
Shock. Confusion. A brief flash of dawning awareness. And, belatedly, alarm.
She shouldn’t be alone with him. They both knew it, but Becky’s delayed reaction allowed her time for only one sharp gasp and a miniscule recoil, which coincided with the touch of his hand on hers.
The corner of his mouth quirked upward as he bent, inhaling her scent, all fresh air and femininity, save for the subtle minty scent of leather conditioner from the reins which had rubbed against her palm. Brody would have been content to stand like that for hours, breathing in her essence, feeling the softness of her fingers, the heat of her body close to his, but he forced himself to move.
After a slow kiss on her knuckles, which Brody feared revealed more than he intended, he straightened, standing much too close.
Becky was too stunned by Brody’s appearance to notice he hadn’t released her fingers as he should have.
He watched the path her eyes took: from the hand holding hers, over his bare wrist, her amber eyes climbed over arm and shoulder and across to his neck. They slid downward, tracing the open vee of his shirt collar to the button a foot from her pretty nose, and Brody felt the look like a caress. His cock was already straining at his trousers, and under Becky’s gaze, his nipples hardened, too, poking at the worn blue cotton shirt and drawing her attention.
Her eyes darted from one to the other and rose quickly to his face, as hers exploded in a blossom of coral pink. Miss Connor might be inexperienced, but she wasn’t completely ignorant, he saw: she knew what his reaction meant, and Brody didn’t bother draping the desire on his face with a more socially appropriate emotion.
Her mouth opened on another gasp, and her shoulders rose as Becky drew back, yanking her hand away in outrage. She couldn’t step away, but a step to one side left her plenty of room to swing.
Brody saw it coming but didn’t duck or try to deflect the blow. His lids barely flickered when her palm made noisy contact with the side of his face; his attention was still wholly centered on learning everything he possibly could from the show of emotions flickering across her face. The momentary alarm was gone and ire drawn plainly in every line of Rebecca’s slender form, but Brody was consoled by a more subtle ingredient in the tumultuous mix.
She stormed away, and Brody slumped against the doorjamb, his heart thundering and his cheek afire, a smile creasing the corners of his eyes. He’d deserved the slap for what he was thinking, but Miss Connor hadn’t slapped him for that alone. She’d slapped him because she’d been thinking something similar. Under the anger, there’d been another kind of passion in her response, and with the smack of her palm he’d seen shame– and that was excellent news.
END NOTE- Thanks for the hearts, stars and comments– those little bits of happiness are why we post! Check out my bio for more info about the Texas Trio series– I’m working on the “side story” of Brody’s partner now for an upcoming event on this site– Literotica Writers go West.
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