"Call," Said the banker with the most readable poker face this side of the Mississippi. He laid down a high flush sure in his knowledge that he was going to win this hand.
The only other player in this hand was Dakota. The others had withdrawn and were watching to the two competitors intently. Dakota leaned back in her chair, raised her hat so her cool blue eyes were frankly looking at the banker and quietly said, "Five kings."
Dakota shrugged her shoulders, "You're the one who insisted on playing deuces wild."
The banker backed up and started barking curses but before he could move his hand an inch Dakota had her six shooter out and said quietly," I don't cheat. I don't need to. You knew I was a professional when I sat down. Now, I suggest you pull your hand away from your gunholster before I blow your fool head off."
"But you're a woman!"
The gunfighter laughed low and mean, "Shit Greg, What the hell has that got to do with it?"
"No woman is better then a man at anything."
Dakota didn't react at all on the outside. But within her own mind she was disgusted with the fool. She delt with morons like this all her life. She merely began to pull her chips toward her and walked to cash them in at the bar.
She felt before she saw the fist the heading toward her chin. She hardly moved, but suddenly the fist was in her hand and she twisted it behind the banker's back. In a low penetrating voice she said, "I think I would rethink my actions if I were you, Mr.
Tarlington. I am a professional in many things." She shoved him toward the sheriff and got her cash from the tavern owner. Then she got her duster and headed toward her hotel and some well deserved rest.
Jackie was carrying her purchases from the general store to her Father's ranch. She hated when she had to bring home stuff like this because it left her open to attack. She was a petite blonde and the ranch hands around town liked to rough her up. She
had gotten use to it. She just wanted someone to teach her how to defend herself.
"Hey pretty lady," A mean looking roustabout was standing right in her path between two boulders with no way around him.
"Oh, let me by!" Said Jackie preparing for the attack.
"Nope, don't think so. You is way too pretty to let by." He said with a smirk.
"Too bad, "Said a strong voice from above them.
The man looked up and all he saw was a figure in black. "Get yourself your own girl."
"That's original," Said Dakota. "I think the young lady would rather pass by you. My suggestion Mister, is you let her do just that."
"Who the hell are you to tell me what to do? " He grabbed Jackie around the waist and started to pull her toward a cave behind a boulder.
A loud Indian war cry was heard and then a whoosh as Dakota landed behind the man. She pulled Jackie out of the man's arms and threw the roustabout on his butt.
"Why you....You're a woman!!"
"Really? What gave you your first clue? Get lost." Dakota growled her hat was lowered so all he could see was the glow of her angry blue eyes. Truth be told it the scared the man to death, "No woman..."
"Lets get this straight, cowhand. I may be a woman, but I am quite capable of tearing you apart. Now if you were a smart little boy you'd scurry back under the rock you crawled out from, Now!"
The man reached for his six shooter but he was a fraction of a second to slow, Dakota had hers out and shot the man in his foot with a flick of her wrist. "My next shot will be higher and hurt a hell of alot more."
The man's eyes widened and he limped out of there as fast as he could. Dakota turned around and was stunned into silence. There before her was literally the woman of her dreams.
* * * * *
Dakota had been having the same dream all her life. She was rushing into the arms of the love of her life and just as she lifted her head and green eyes met blue, There lips only a breath apart, she'd wake up.
Now here she was face to face with the woman in the flesh and she couldn't swallow.
Jackie looked up and up, the long black legs with silver and blue piping up each side, up to the soft silk black shirt topped by a soft suede black vest up to a very beautiful face framed with long black hair that had fallen down from the black hat as Dakota wiped her sweating brow. This woman had the most beautiful blue eyes that Jackie had ever seen.
'She looks so familiar, but I know I've never seen her before.' Thought Jackie as she smiled and said with honest graditude, "Thank you, Thank you so much."
Dakota finally got herself together enough to smile shyly and reply quietly, "It was my pleasure. Should you be out here all alone without any protection."
"Unfortunately, I do it all the time. Its just me and my Pa at our ranch and he sends me out to get supplies all the time."
Dakota felt an unreasonable annoyance at the girls unthinking father. "I think your Father should at least teach you to defend yourself if he sends you out like this."
Jackie nodded, "That would be reasonable but Pa thinks girls shouldn't learn such skills....Uh....My name is Jackie by the way." Jackie tentatively held out her hand.
Dakota smiled and took the hand gently into her own replying, "Dakota, nice to meet you."
The reaction both woman felt by the contact was almost indescribable. It was like their very essence crashed into each other. They were looking deeply into each others eyes and Dakota was desperately trying to focus her mind , "I...uh....would....teach you."
"I'd like that."
"So would I..."
Dakota's horse had finally found her mistress and whinnied breaking the spell the two women found themselves in.
Dakota and Jackie spun to stare at Dakota's palomino Meditation. Dakota smiled sweetly at the horse , "Be right with you girl!" Then she turned back to the woman who had captured her heart without lifting a finger. "Uh, can I give you a lift
back to your ranch? I need to speak to your father about teaching you anyway."
Jackie nodded her head, "Thank you, I'd appreciate that."
"Its my pleasure, Jackie." Then Dakota helped Jackie onto Meditation's back and hopped on behind her heading in the direction of the Model T Ranch.
* * * *
The Model T Ranch was typical. Just a ranch house, a barn with some horses and cattle. Dakota took Jackie home,as she tried to get a hold of her emotions. Just the feel of the young woman's arms around her waist made her feel slightly dizzy.
A tall red haired man saw them approach and said in a very cruel voice, "Jacqueline get off that half breeds horse!"
Dakota tensed,She was already mad about the man's treatment he'd given to his own daughter. Now he was being a bigot. A misinformed bigot on top of it. Dakota was not a half breed, But she had been raised by Indians and she was very sensitive
to cruel words against such a kind and generous people.
"Pa, She is not a half breed and even if she was, she saved my life. We owe her our graditude and Thanks." Then Jackie hugged Dakota closer and whispered "He's drunk, Dakota. Just drop me off and we can talk to him later."
"No," Was all Dakota said to her sweet young friend. 'Leave this sweet creature with that beast. I don't think so!' She thought taking the arm around her waist and giving it a gentle squeeze back.
"I said get off, Girl!"
"She has a name."
"Since I gave it to her, Injun, I can decline to use it!"
"Fine, Jackie you'll stay in town with me till your father learns some manners," She then turned Meditation around and left at a gallop.
"Why that Bitch!" The man shouted then realized she was long gone. "I guess the brat will be all right with the Injun for a night. Seein' she's a woman." He turned around and went back toward the ranch house.
* * * * *
Once back in town Dakota stabled Meditation and led Jackie to her hotel. "Would you like your own room or would you like to share mine? Either is fine with me."She asked with a smile, hoping against hope that it will be the latter.
"I really would prefer to be with someone. I don't want to intrude though. I can be alone. What ever you think is best." In truth, she was terrified of being on her own, even at the ranch she had her father, he was a drunk, but she wasn't alone.
"Stay with me. I think it would be for the best if you were with someone right now." Dakota glowed with joy at the thought that she would at least be with her. She gently took the little hand and lead the young woman to her room.
* * * * *
Both woman were bathed and ready for bed. Dakota in her long johns and Jackie in a borrowed night gown from the owner of the hotel. There was only one bed, Dakota looked at the young woman speculatively and wondered what to do about that.
She shrugged her shoulder and put a pillow and a blanket on the couch in the corner of the large room. Dakota knew it wouldn't be comfortable but it was better then floor. It was also a hundred times better then making her young guest uncomfortable.
"Why are you doing that?"
"Cause theres only one bed and you get it."
"Dakota, This is your room. I can't take your bed."
"You can if I say so. And I say so, now get in and go to sleep." Dakota ordered, trying to make herself comfortable on the small couch.
"Dakota, This bed is big enough for four of us. I feel silly. Come on get in."
Dakota for a split second lost her famous poker face. Her face reflected fear. She felt it flash across her features. It was the fear of losing her self control and doing something she knew was wrong.
"Jackie, Go to sleep."
Jackie got up and took an arm of the woman on the sofa and gently pulled her toward herself. "Come on, Dakota. Its ok. I want you."
Blue eyes locked onto green and they both knew that the young woman's statement was true on many levels. But Dakota was a cautious woman it came with being a gambler, "Ok, Just stop pulling at me." She replied with a sweet smile letting the young woman know she was only joking.
Dakota got up and very delicately lowered herself next to the young woman she desired so and tried to arrange herself so that there was a large space between them. So much so that she was almost hanging over the side of the bed.
"Your welcome, Now go to sleep."
Jackie smiled, "Yes, Ma'am."
Dakota smiled back, "Good girl."
* * * * * *
Dakota was having the same dream she always did. She was reaching out for the woman she loved but this time, When blue eyes met green and their lips were a breath apart she didn't wake up. She finally got her wish and kissed the woman
of her dreams.
Blue eyes slowly fluttered open and then widened, she was kissing Jackie. She tried to pull back but strong little arms wouldn't let her. Thats when Dakota realized Jackie wasn't asleep and that she was most definatly returning the kiss. With this realization her deepest wish was fulfilled and she kissed the woman she loved all her life.
She brought her arms around Jackie and brought her close. She felt warm and giddy. This was her fantasy come true. A part of her wondered if she was still asleep.
She nuzzled the sweet neck and kissed it and then she went back to the sweet lips and kissed them passionately. When they parted she looked deeply into sparkling green eyes and whispered horsly,"I know this will sound strange...But I've
dreamt of you all my life...I can't help but love you....I'm sorry Jackie....I...."Tears were spilling out of the beautiful eyes and again she tried to pull away.
Jackie again held on tight, "Why are you sorry? It's not silly and I fell in love with you the moment I saw you jump from that rock. I love you, Dakota Nozama."
"Thank you. I love you so much it actually hurts. Come here, you!" She said bringing the lips she desired so much to her own.
* * * * *
Dakota was in the warmth of Jackie's embrace. She felt like she was floating. She breathed in Jackie's scent and sighed in contemned.
Jackie felt the same way. She had never felt so safe. Never in her whole life did she feel this loved. It was a miracle to the neglected girl.
Dakota caressed a soft cheek, "Would you like to stay with me? It is up to you, Jackie. No pressure. I just...I don't want you to go back to your father. If you don't stay with me then I want you to go somewhere safe...I..."two small fingers were
pressed against her mouth.
"I want to be with you. Only you. Forever."
Dakota hugged and kissed her passionately in response. Till a loud knocking on Dakota's door broke the spell.
"I want my God Damn Daughter now! Damn it Injun! That child has chores to do!"
"Shit, Is that all that idiot cares about. Your his daughter not his maid. Damn." Dakota jumped out of bed and was opening the
door before Jackie could even stop her.
"What!?!" Said Dakota back in the same angry voice as Jackie's Father. Gone was the sweet soft lover and in her place was the weary angry gunslinger.
The man was taken aback by the dangerous woman in men's long johns. "I want my kid back."
"That up to Jackie."
"Well, I want to talk to her."
"Thats up to her too."
"Damn it, I have the right to see my own daughter. She's my property!"
Cool blue eyes turned to ice, "What did you call that girl?"
"I said she was my property, Injun."
A rage flooded through her whole being at that point and it took every bit of self control not to tear the man apart bare handed. She felt soft gentle hands stroke her back. Jackie was out of sight but her touch calmed the gambler almost instantly.
"I'll say this once, Little man. Jackie is over 21 years old and is quite able to make up her own mind. If she wants to go to you she will. If she doesn't she is bright enough to find another way. You are now going to get out of my sight before I forget that you are my friend's father and I tear you apart with my bare hands. Now go."
Something inside him told him to go, "I'll go for now, Injun."
"Good, Get!" She slammed the door in his face. She turned to face Jackie and allowed the emotions to show. " I'm sorry, Jackie. I...He called you property and I lost it...I...."
Small arms hugged her around her waist bringing Dakota into a tight embrace. "I know. That's the way he always is. Its ok. I'm staying with you. Forever, Deal?"
"Oh God, "Relief flooded through Dakota's whole being as she returned the embrace. "Yes, that's a deal." She kissed her love passionately, She was overwhelmed by this love it was beyond description. "Forever"She finally whispered against Jackies ear as she gave them a chance to catch there breath, but she didn't let her go.
Continue to Part Two
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