Chapter 17

The soft glow of the oil lamp illuminated the room and cast dancing shadows across the two women changing into their nightclothes. Brianna struggled into a flower print nightgown while Ty slipped a thigh length sleep shirt over her head.

If it had been left up to the bounty hunter, she would have skipped the clothing altogether, but she still remembered her mother’s words of wisdom for this special moment, not to mention the conversation her brother had shared. It had been a few days past their fifteenth birthday and she had known that Tyrel had had ‘The Talk’ with their father.

"C’mon, Tyrel! All Mama told me was that I had to do what my husband said. And," she had grimaced at the thought, "that the best a lady could hope for was for him to be gentle. There’s gotta be more to it than that!"

Tyrel had laughed at her in his new deep voice and shaken his head. "That’s pretty much what Papa said, Victoria Lynn. We men have to treat you ladies like delicate flowers and not inflict our baser selves on you any more than necessary."

"Baser selves," she snorted. "This delicate flower can beat you with one hand tied behind her back and you know it!" That had gotten her a wounded glare, but Tyrel hadn’t argued the fact. Victoria Lynn had been able to beat him up since they were twelve. Not something the growing man was proud of.

He leaned back against a tree and frowned thoughtfully. "It’s kind of stupid, really," he admitted. "You’re supposed to marry a girl because she’s beautiful and will give you beautiful children, but Papa says I have to make sure all the lights are out before I touch her." He glanced at his sister in confusion. "What’s the point of having a pretty wife if you’re not allowed to look at her?"

Victoria Lynn settled next to him and rubbed her chin. "Hmph. That doesn’t make much sense. Did he tell you to keep your clothes on, too?"

Tyrel nodded. "Yes. And to make sure that I only pulled up her gown enough to do my duty," he sighed dramatically.

"Doesn’t sound like much fun," she stated mournfully. "It’s a wonder people have children at all."

"I guess that’s why they call it a man’s duty and a wife’s burden," Tyrel agreed.

They’d sat quietly absorbing their new knowledge until they had suddenly looked at each other and grinned. "Beat you there!" Tyrel had yelled, jumping to his feet and running to the creek.

"Not fair!" Victoria Lynn shouted back, her long legs enabling her to catch up with him and they dove into the cool waters laughing with youthful exuberance.


The soft voice of her young bride brought the bounty hunter back to the present with a jolt. Her lips curled in a gentle smile as she noticed that Brianna was already snuggled under the covers, the faded quilt drawn all the way up to her chin. "Just thinking, sweetheart," she rasped out quietly. "I’m sorry."

Brianna inched her hand out from underneath the covers and stroked Ty’s forearm. "Do you…are you…." She sighed and tried again. "Have you changed your mind?" she finally got out with a nervous smile.

"No! No I haven’t, Brianna." Ty sat still for the longest time and then breathed out a heavy sigh. She turned her body so she was facing Brianna, a long leg tucked up beneath her. Worried azure eyes studied the young woman’s face. "Did your mother talk to you about…this?" Slender fingers waved in a vague motion across the bed.

Brianna felt the heat rise in her face and she smiled shyly. "Yes, she did."

"Oh. Good, good." Ty gave her a weak smile.

"What’s wrong, Ty?" Brianna was more nervous about Ty’s odd behavior than she had been about the consummation of the wedding itself. Her mother hadn’t said anything about having to actually discuss the act. Brianna had thought they would just do whatever came naturally and that Ty would have enough experience for the both of them.

Ty brought Brianna’s hand up and dropped a kiss on her knuckles. A stalling tactic, maybe, but she couldn’t figure out a graceful way to get rid of the covers and do her duty like her brother had told her. No matter which way she thought about it, it just seemed awkward as all hell. We should’ve stayed in the damned tub. At least there she’d gotten to feel her young bride’s smooth skin against her own.

Brianna had an unexpected thought as she watched Ty’s gaze dart about the room and her eyes widened. "Honey? Haven’t you ever…done this before?"

Ty blushed furiously, both at the use of the endearment and at the thought of admitting she was untried. Bolting to her feet, she stood in front of the small window trying unsuccessfully to hide her uneasiness. "Women are supposed to save themselves for marriage," she muttered at last.

Brianna sat up in shock, grateful her husband couldn’t see what was probably a most unladylike expression on her face. Once again, the odd combination of male and female that was Ty Mason struck her forcefully and she struggled to come to terms with it. A small smile started and slowly grew as she realized that she’d be the first to initiate the bounty hunter, just as Ty would be hers. She was both delighted and proud.

Easing out from under the covers, she took a few short steps and wrapped her arms around Ty’s waist, leaning her head against broad shoulders. "Good thing we’re married then, isn’t it?"

The tension drained away from Ty’s stiff form and she turned around to face her wife. A crooked grin lit her features and she chuckled before bending down to give Brianna a gentle kiss. "Did your mother mention anything about clothes?" she asked hopefully.

"Just something about them not staying on very long," Brianna murmured in response, small fingers already reaching for the pearl buttons of Ty’s sleep shirt.

"Oh. Good, good."

There were only the sounds of slightly elevated breathing and the rustling of clothing for the next few moments, as Ty fought with the slim ribbons that served as fastenings for Brianna’s nightgown. Small hands smoothing back Ty’s shirt and lightly tracing her breasts only served to make it impossible for the bounty hunter to concentrate. A frustrated growl slipped past her lips and Brianna laughed in response, taking pity on her husband and stepping away to remove her clothing herself.

Ty followed her example and their clothing hit the floor at the same time. Neither woman noticed the synchronicity of their actions—they were much too involved in staring at the sudden expanse of flesh bared to their gazes. Deep blue eyes shot up to misty green and Ty swallowed hard.

"You’re…built…differently than me," she stated inanely.

Brianna ducked her head shyly, self-consciously running her fingers over the smooth curve of her waist and hips. Most of her strength was hidden by soft flesh and, while not heavy by any stretch of the imagination, she’d often bemoaned the sturdy nature of her build. "Good breeding stock" she’d once overheard someone tell her father. "Not in your lifetime," her father had answered brusquely, which had made her feel a little better…but not by much.

To her dismay, her lower lip started to quiver and she automatically tightened her mouth to control it. Then the heat from Ty’s body enveloped her and Brianna sighed as she stepped closer. "Can I touch you?" Ty asked hesitantly.

Brianna nodded mutely and stood as still as possible as Ty traced the outline of her figure with the barest of pressure. "So soft," came the quiet whisper, "so beautiful. Your skin’s like silk," Ty observed, with a hint of awed wonder.

The young blonde looked up in surprise, catching the most breathtaking smile she’d ever seen. "You don’t mind?" she couldn’t help asking.

Ty frowned at her in confusion. "Mind what?"

"That we’re so different." Brianna let her own fingers travel across Ty’s whipcord muscles. "You’re so lean and so strong…." Her voice trailed off as her hands dipped to the almost nonexistent curve of Ty’s hips. She shook her head as she motioned to herself. "I’m just…"

Two fingers placed across her lips silenced her. "You’re just the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. You’re perfect," Ty told her emphatically.

When Brianna didn’t seem to be convinced, Ty tilted her head and studied her silently. She took Brianna’s hands in a gentle grasp and settled them around her neck, then took a half step closer, sliding her thigh between the blonde’s until there wasn’t a hint of space between them. The curves of their bodies fit as though they were made for each other—and as far as Ty Mason was concerned, they were.

"Absolutely perfect," she whispered in her bride’s ear, strong arms holding her close.

"Mr. Mason?" Brianna finally spoke after giving Ty a gentle squeeze and lingering a bit longer in the warm embrace.

"Yes, Mrs. Mason?"

"Your hand is on my posterior."

Ty jerked back as if she were stung and her face flushed crimson. "I–I’m sorry! I thought…"

Brianna just giggled at her and leapt onto the bed, somehow making the childish act look graceful. She gave the stunned bounty hunter her most seductive smile. "I’ve heard that gunslingers have to be very fast," she stated slowly.

Ty watched her warily and nodded her head, having no idea where this was going.

"Do they have a lot of stamina, too?" Brianna asked, tracing an idle pattern on the quilt and looking up at her husband through her lashes.

Sparkling blue eyes narrowed and Ty flashed a wolfish grin. "More stamina than a farm girl, I’d bet," she growled back and slowly stalked her way to her giggling bride.


The chapters will end of being different for the two versions. Chapter 18 will be for the NC-17 (hot monkey sex) version, while Chapter 18 for the PG-13 version will be the day after. PG-13 readers should jump to Chapter 19 to get back into the story.

Chapter 18     Skip to Chapter 19

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