Chapter 20


Ty awoke slowly, automatically stretching her muscles to gauge how sore they were. Her hand touched warm skin at the same moment her mind registered a slight ache in her groin. Memories of the previous evening flooded her mind and she grinned, turning to take in the sprawled form of her wife. There was a lingering stiffness in her hip, but she happily ignored it in favor of curling her taller frame around Brianna.

"Good morning," she husked into a conveniently close ear. Ty felt a shudder run through the younger woman, but other than that and a muffled grumble, Brianna didn't stir. Undaunted, the bounty hunter tried again. "I love you..." Strong white teeth nibbled on an earlobe and Ty watched goose bumps rise up on Brianna's arms, but the girl's eyes remained stubbornly shut.

Ty pursed her lips thoughtfully. This required drastic measures. She eased away from Brianna slightly and raised her voice. "Morning, George. Wonderful day, isn't it?" she asked cheerfully.

The bed exploded in a flurry of motion, bare limbs and blonde hair flying. Ty found herself landing on the floor as the covers were jerked out from under her body and Brianna buried herself beneath them. The bounty hunter flopped onto her back and laughed until tears poured from her eyes.

The cold seeping into her bones from the floorboards finally sobered Ty up, but her eyes were still twinkling when they met the outraged green ones peering out at her over the edge of the bed. "Sorry, darlin’," she said as she struggled to her feet. "I couldn’t wake you up."

Brianna looked from the still dark window back to the naked woman climbing into bed with her. "It’s not even daylight yet! Why on earth did you need to wake me up?"

Ty shrugged and a faint blush stained her cheeks. "I just wanted to see those beautiful eyes light up when I told you I love you," she explained huskily.

That effectively diffused Brianna’s temper and put her so far off balance she almost missed the shiver that ran through Ty’s body. Shaking her head, she tucked the quilt around Ty, giving her a fleeting kiss as she did so. "I’m going to stir up the fire," she murmured. "You stay put."

"Yes, ma’am," Ty drawled out, watching appreciatively as Brianna clambered out of bed to go out into the kitchen. Once she was safely alone, she allowed a grimace of pain to cross her features. Bad enough she’d landed so hard on the floor, but the addition of the cold had set up a steady throbbing in her injured hip. God help her if her young wife found out how sore she was. She had a strong feeling that if Brianna knew, there wouldn’t be any lovemaking sessions any time soon—and that would be a real tragedy. Ty chuckled to herself and snuggled down further into the mattress to patiently await Brianna’s return.


The rest of the morning was spent in quiet cuddling and what little remained of cleaning up. Ty and Brianna had heard George arrive early on to do the morning chores, but he hadn't come into the house at all, much to Ty's relief. Even though she had grown used to binding her chest after so many years, she was still grateful to be able to spend a few hours unencumbered.

Not to mention her wife found many inventive ways to sneak her small hands under the soft flannel shirt.

"Brianna..." the bounty hunter mumbled against searching lips, while fending off another advance, "...they'll be here shortly." She gasped as Brianna found a tender spot. "I really don't think you want your mother to see this," she tried again.

Brianna sighed and poked out her lower lip. "Fine," she acceded none to gracefully. "Just you wait until we get to the cabin, though." Green eyes twinkled with promise. "You're not going to see the light of day for a long time, Ty Mason."

Ty’s eyes narrowed dangerously. "Promises, promises," she whispered, then bit Brianna’s earlobe gently. The resulting gasp made her laugh and she steered the blonde toward the bedroom. "Let’s finish packing your things so we can hit the trail."

There wasn’t much, really. Anything frivolous had already been left behind in Missouri before her family had made the trip west, and since then any extras had gone to building up the homestead. Brianna was uncomfortably aware that she wasn’t bringing anything into the marriage at all in the way of a dowry.

Strong arms snaked around her waist and she leaned back gratefully, unconsciously noting that Ty had wrapped her breasts again. "What’s wrong, darlin’?"

"Besides the fact you didn’t let me help you?"

A low chuckle sounded in her ear. "I’d rather you help me take it off. Now stop trying to change the subject."

Brianna turned in Ty’s arms and snuggled into her chest. "It’s silly," she protested half-heartedly. But a single tear rolled down her cheek in spite of her words.

Ty felt a painful clenching in her chest as she wiped away the moisture. "If it makes you cry, it’s not silly." She paused and took a fortifying breath. "Have you changed your mind?"

Startled green eyes flew up and searched her face. "Oh no! Never!" Brianna blurted out anxiously. "Don’t you dare even think that! I just…" She waved her hand mutely toward the two carpetbags waiting on the bed.

Ty frowned in puzzlement, still not quite sure what was going on. "I know it’s hard to leave your family and all, but…"

"No, no, no." Brianna pressed her fingers to Ty’s lips and shook her head. "I’m very happy we’re married and I can’t wait to get to our new home." She tried again. "I just wish I had more to offer you than just some clothes and some books." It wasn’t exactly what she wanted to say, but any more and she was afraid she’d start bawling like a child.

Ty, on the other hand, finally figured it all out and gently led her new wife to the bed. She settled on it comfortably, then pulled Brianna until she had her tucked neatly on her lap. "Can you cook?" A nod. "Can you clean?" Another nod. "Can you sew?" A brief hesitation, then another nod. Ty made a mental note to delve into that later. "Can you make me feel like I’m the luckiest woman on earth when you love me?" That got her a soft look and a toe-curling kiss. When both of them were breathing raggedly, Ty pulled away and grinned. "Then, Mrs. Mason, you’re giving me everything I could ever need."

"Thank you," Brianna whispered and snuggled deeper into Ty’s arms.

They stayed that way, resting quietly, until the rattling noise of the wagon signaled that it was time to rejoin the world. Brianna took one last look around her old room, letting pleasant memories take shape and thinking of new ones to come, before helping Ty take her bags outside.


Ty made her way to the stables in the cool midmorning air completely unaware she was about to receive another lesson in what life would be like with her new bride. Slender fingers had just touched the worn leather of the saddle when Ty felt a presence behind her, but her welcoming smile faded as she took in the sight of Brianna standing in the doorway, arms crossed and foot tapping.

"What do you think you're doing?" Amazingly enough, the small blonde's voice was even chillier than the Fall air.

Wary blue eyes went from Brianna to the waiting saddle and back again. "Saddling my horse?" she ventured, at a complete loss as to what the problem was.

"I don't think so," came the sharp retort. "And don't try that dangerous gunslinger routine on me, Tyrel Mason!" Brianna continued as she saw Ty's posture stiffen in anger. "You were limping when you walked out here and there's no way you're riding anywhere until that hip heals up."

Jaw muscles clenched and unclenched as Ty tried to rein in her temper. Brianna matched her glare for glare until the bounty hunter finally heaved an exasperated sigh. Her hip really was pretty sore, after all, especially after the previous evening’s activities. "Fine," she acceded, less than graciously, "I'll drive the wagon into town then."

Ty's anger faded quickly as Brianna walked up to her, the dark woman's eyes drawn inexorably to swaying hips. She was still finding it hard to believe she was married to this little beauty. Petal soft lips brushed hers in a fleeting kiss and she almost missed the whispered, "No."

Dark brows drew together in a puzzled frown. "No? What do you mean, no?"

"No, as in, no you're not going to drive the wagon, you're going to lay in the back and take it easy." Small fingers tracing along Ty’s jawbone, down her neck to her collarbone, until slender arms entwined themselves around her neck and Brianna’s body was pressed tightly against her accompanied the words. "I'll stay back there with you and keep you company," Brianna added enticingly.

Any thoughts of protesting died quickly at the feeling of the soft form cuddled so nicely against her and Ty sighed again in defeat. "This is going to completely ruin my reputation," she muttered, before the temptation to taste Brianna's skin overwhelmed her and she began dropping light kisses wherever she could reach.

"I'll flirt with a cowboy so you have an excuse to beat him up," Brianna offered somewhat breathlessly. Her attention was more on the heat stirring within her at Ty's touch than on what she was actually saying.

"Keep touching me like this and I'll have to beat up a whole posse," Ty laughed, then gently untangled herself from the girl. "Now c'mon, before we scandalize your parents."

As if on cue, George Duncan showed up in the doorway, shaking his head at the young couple. Shooing both of them out of the stable, he gathered up Ty's gear himself and met his family outside. One more trip and Ty's stallion was soon hitched to the back of the wagon.

It had been decided that Helen and the children would remain at the homestead while he drove Ty and Brianna into town, so the next half hour was taken up with tearful good-byes. George and Ty exchanged bemused glances. "You'd think I was taking her away forever," Ty muttered to the man.

"It's a woman thing," George answered sagely. "You don't have to understand it; you just have to go along with it and hope it's over soon."

Ty was already regretting her decision to take Brianna back East on a trip in the Spring. If this parting was any indication, it would take days for her wife to say good-bye to her family.

"Brianna," she finally called out. "It's time to go." An eyebrow shot up as neither her wife nor her mother-in-law showed signs of letting go.

George wisely held his counsel. Obviously the young man had to learn about women the hard way.

The bounty hunter tried again. "Honey, we need to get going while there's still light out," a quick glance toward the overcast sky, "and before it starts snowing on us."

Still nothing...except a hastily muffled giggle from Leroy and an amused grin from George.

Sapphire eyes sparkled in determination. Two quick strides and a startled squeak from the blonde, and Ty had Brianna firmly swept up into her arms. "See you next week, Ma!" Ty called over her shoulder brightly, as she carried her protesting charge to the wagon. "Let's go, George, time's awastin'."



Chapter 21

"She’s still my little girl."

"Yes, sir. I know."

Ty and George watched as Brianna dashed from one end of the cabin to the other, busily discovering where everything was located. Not too difficult a task considering how small the place was. A doorway on the left led to the kitchen, and stairs at the back right of the living area led up to a sleeping loft that took up half the ceiling. Mabel and her cohorts had cleaned the cabin up, as promised, and it was surprisingly cozy. They’d taken up a collection to supply the newlyweds with various linens and kitchen supplies, so all they really had to do was unpack and settle in.

Satisfied at last, Brianna made her way back to where her father and husband were standing just inside the doorway. "Did you want to stay for coffee, Papa?" Her eyes were sparkling with delight at her new home.

"No, no. I need to get back home and finish up the chores." George hugged Brianna tightly to him and kissed the crown of blonde curls. "You take care of yourself, Brianna. Mind your manners," he added gruffly.

"I will, Papa, don’t worry." She gave him a kiss on the cheek and smiled.

"All right then." He patted her awkwardly on the back and then turned to Ty. "There’s one last bag in the wagon. Why don’t you come out with me and get it, then I’ll be on my way."

Ty nodded, a slight frown appearing as she wondered what they’d forgotten. As far as she could tell, they’d already brought everything in. Brianna mentioned something about going to dish out the stew Mabel had left for them and Ty followed George outside.

At the wagon, George reached under the seat and pulled out a small sack. He hefted it lightly in his hand before giving Ty a solemn gaze and handing it to him. "These are her favorites. But you have to watch her, else she’ll talk you into buying a whole barrel full."

Ty’s lips curled up into a half smile as she looked into the bag and saw the hard candies. They were her favorites as well. "Guess there’ll be a fight when she finds out I like ‘em, too," she told George with a grin.

George clapped the bounty hunter on the shoulder and climbed up into the wagon. "Let’s hope that’s all you’ll fight about," he said in parting, then snapped the reins and went on his way.

Ty stared after him thoughtfully before heading back into the cabin and into her new life.

She found Brianna in the kitchen pouring coffee. The stew was already ladled out and waiting on the table, and she gave her a kiss in thanks. "What bag did we forget?" Brianna asked curiously.

In answer, Ty popped a golden ball into Brianna’s mouth and watched as she grinned in pleasure. "Oooo, the most important one!"

Ty chuckled and sat down. "That’s what he told me. If you’re nice to me, maybe I’ll share the rest with you," she added teasingly.

Brianna snuggled onto her lap and kissed her deeply. Ty’s eyes widened as she felt the candy being transferred from Brianna’s mouth to her own. The blonde was definitely sporting a smug look when she leaned back again, and Ty stifled a laugh. "I think I’m gonna like this sharing bit," she admitted.

Dinner passed fairly quietly after that and they soon found themselves snuggled up on the couch watching the flames dancing in the fireplace, each lost in her own thoughts. "What would you be doing now if you were still out on the trail?" Brianna finally asked quietly.

"Hmm." Ty shifted a bit and pulled her wife closer into the circle of her arms. "Probably laying out my bedroll. Staring up at the stars. Just another end to another day." There was the slightest shrug of her shoulders.

"What would you be thinking about?" Brianna persisted. For all that they’d been through, she really didn’t know her husband at all.

Ty sighed heavily. "I’d be trying not to think, darlin’." Brianna gave out an inelegant noise and Ty grinned against her will. "All right, all right. If I was working, I’d be thinking about what I needed to do to capture whoever it was. And if I wasn’t working, I’d be thinking about who to go after next."

Brianna bit her lip hesitantly. "Didn’t you ever think about home…or maybe having a family one day?"


The answer was delivered bluntly and completely without emotion. Brianna felt her heart break. "What about now?" She purposely kept her gaze well away from the blue eyes she knew would be too cold for her to bear.

But those blue eyes were far from cold as they looked down fondly at the little spitfire who’d arrived so suddenly into the bounty hunter’s life. "Now that’s all I think about," Ty whispered softly. "And how glad I am that my home has you in it."

Brianna’s eyes filled with tears and she hugged Ty wordlessly.

"What about you?’ Ty asked. "What would you be doing?"

Brianna gathered herself again and thought about it. "I’d be reading to the children—after the chores were done, of course. Then I’d get ready for bed and dream about my knight in shining armor."

A dark eyebrow shot up. "Knight in shining armor?" she asked incredulously.

"Yep," Brianna grinned impishly. "And what do you know…my knight showed up right out of the blue one day. The armor was a bit dented, but not too bad, all things considered."

She let out a giggle as Ty attacked her and began tickling her mercilessly. "I’ll show you dented, young lady," she growled menacingly.

Joyful laughter split the clear night air as the happy couple proceeded to make new dreams and transform the old abandoned cabin into a home. There were still a lot of plans to be made, but for tonight everything they wanted and needed was right there in their arms.



The wind was biting cold, sweeping around Ty Mason's heavily protected torso and sending bits of snow down the tops of her boots. Gloved fingers kept a careful grip on the rope extending shoulder level from the small stable to the back of the cabin she called home. The rope was a necessity, a life-line for sudden storms such as this one where the blinding snow could cause one to lose his path in a blink of an eye and not be found until much later—frozen to death within mere steps of safety. Ty had pledged that neither she nor her wife would ever meet that fate.

She stamped her feet energetically before swinging open the back door and stepping into the welcome warmth of the cabin. A smile came unbidden as she took in the crackling fireplace and festively decorated tree standing proudly next to it. A small table bearing steaming mugs took up residence in front of an overstuffed couch and a dark eyebrow rose questioningly.

"I thought it would be nice to just relax this evening," came a soft, lilting voice from behind her.

Ty turned around to see the lovely form of her wife strolling toward her from the kitchen, blonde hair glistening in the lantern light. She pulled off her gloves absently and granted Brianna a smile. "No quilting bees tonight?" she asked teasingly.

"No card games?" Brianna responded just as lightly, a twinkle causing her emerald eyes to glow.

They came together easily, molding to each other's body and sharing a melting kiss that warmed Ty up quicker than any fire could have. "I thought I should be home this evening," Ty finally said when she could speak again.

Small hands busied themselves with removing the heavy jacket and scarf that had protected the bounty hunter while she was out in the storm. Then there was a raspy chuckle when those same small hands wormed their way under her flannel shirt and palmed the flat plane of her belly. "Cold, love?"

"Not any more."

The jacket was tossed over the back of a chair and Ty drew Brianna over to the couch. A few small adjustments and they were settled in comfortably, the blonde tucked into Ty's shoulder as they leaned back in companionable silence and let the peace of the moment wrap around them.

"Do you think he'll like me?" Brianna asked at long length, the faintest tremor betraying her uncertainty.

"He'll love you, just as I do," Ty answered with a small squeeze of comfort, and was gratified when she felt the gentle press of Brianna's lips against her neck.

It had been a shock to learn that the guardians of her nephew had died in a carriage accident, but she was thankful the boy and his nurse had been safely at home. Arrangements were quickly made and now the two were on a train making their way westward to their new home.

A sigh escaped her and suddenly her lap was filled with the soft warmth of her wife. Small kisses rained on her face and Ty grinned in spite of herself. "You'll make a wonderful father," Brianna whispered, stroking a strong cheekbone.

"And you'll make a wonderful mother," Ty replied quietly. "Even though it may be a bit sooner than you..."

"Shh...hush now. The timing doesn't matter at all. What matters is that we'll be a family and that makes me very, " a kiss, "very," another kiss, "very happy." Brianna pulled back slightly and gave Ty an impish grin. "Now drink your coffee so you can take me to bed."

Thankfully the drinks had cooled down somewhat as they talked, so Ty didn't scald her tongue when she gulped it down hurriedly. Tinkling laughter drifted through the room as she hoisted Brianna into the air and ran up the stairs to the loft.

A new wife, a new child, a new life...the future was beginning to look bright, indeed.

The End

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