Disclaimer: This story is solely mine and no one else’s. The characters originated in my mind one cold lonely night, so any resemblance to anyone living, is egotistical. Anyone who takes from this story is in for some bad karma!
Note: I just want to say a very big THANK YOU to my Beta reader Alicia who did all the real grunt work of editing and giving her two cents!!! Thank you.
I squinted up at the sun from under my dusty, worn, cowboy hat, trying to determine the time of day. I was sore, tired, dirty, and also getting sick and tired of feeling sweat drops roll down my back. My clothes felt stiff and disgusting. I had been riding for several days rounding up cattle to get ready to take to the rail station. I needed a break. I had a week long cattle drive ahead of me and I needed to get to town and round up some hands to help. I figured I’d treat myself, in the meantime, to a drink, a good meal, and a hot bath. Prancer clopped up to the stables as if he it down to a science.
“Prancer ol’ buddy,” I patted his mane, affectionately, “I must be so predictable.” I slid out of the saddle and hobbled over to the hitching post.
‘Now I know why cowboys are bow-legged’ I mused to myself.
As I tethered my horse, I gazed around the town. It seemed busier than usual, more people. I took that for a sign that I would have no problem finding some guys to help me out. I walked into the stable to find George forking hay into a stall.
“Hey George” I said as I walked towards him.
“Hey Mac How’s it going?”
“Good and yourself?”
“Good. real good.”
“Looks like you’ve got a lot of business on your hands,” I said gazing around the barn, noticing the stalls were pretty much full.
“Yeah business has been booming”
“Yeah, town seems busier than usual. What gives?”
“Seems the railroad has taken a liking to our little town and they’ve brought surveyors into town to scope out the land.”
“Wow! That’s great! Man that would make the cattle drives so much easier.”
“It’d make a lot of things easier. Bring lots of people here and give us a lot of business,” George said tossing the fork into the hay and turning to look at me.
“You want me to stable Prancer?” he asked.
“You got it. Thanks George. You have a good one.” I tossed him a dime and headed out towards the saloon.
The saloon is probably the biggest building in town, except for the church at the
other end. A hot breeze wafted down main street and caused the sign to sway a little. I limped up the steps and walked through the double shutters. I stopped, letting my eyes become accustomed to the dim light. Glancing quickly around the room, I viewed the usual crowd. The room is lit by the afternoon sun, blinds half drawn allowing dusty rays to slant through.
I ambled up to the bar and slid wincingly onto a stool at the end, near the wall. I hate being noticed and I like to know what is around me. So I sat at the end so as to get a better view of the whole of place.
“Hey Mac, how’s it going?” said Sam, the bartender, wiping a glass.
“Good. How’s things with you?”
“Good. Want the usual?”
“You know it,” I said, removing my hat and gloves, sitting them on the bar.
Sam placed a glass in front of me and poured an amber liquid into it until half the glass was full. I tossed it back quickly, winced, and sat it down for a refill.
“So the railroad wants to put a line through eh?”
“Oh yeah they do. The whole town is excited about the prospects. It’s going to bring a lot of people and hopefully a lot of business,” Sam explained, as he poured another shot.
“The ranchers in this territory are sure going to love the convenience.”
“Yeah they sure are. Course some folks don’t like the other aspect of a new line. Their afraid of the rift raft its going to attract. You know, gambling and such.”
“Well I guess you have to take the good with the bad”
“Yeah, I guess you do.”
I tossed back another and placed the glass again on the bar. Sam filled it up and walked back to his other customers. I am not well known in the town. All that the town’s folk know is that I own the Double T Triple E ranch and that I am called Mac. That is all that I allow them to know. I like my anonymity and I want to keep it that way. The less people know about me the better. You see, I am a woman and if they knew that, I’d be run out on that brand new rail. My real name is Macadrian. So I keep to myself and have only passing acquaintance with the people here, just enough to get me what I want and to keep ranching.
I could feel the alcohol making its way through my veins, relaxing my muscles. I sighed and took a look at my dusty, decrepit self in the mirror behind the bar. I was in a serious need of a bath and a nice hot meal. I looked down the bar, caught Sam’s eye, and raised my glass to indicate a refill.
“Hey Sam, do you know anyone needing some work?” I quarried.
“Um…I know a couple.” He said, pouring me another glass.
“Well let ‘em know to be at my ranch a week from today at 6 o’clock in the morning and I’ll pay them $10.00 for the week that they help me.”
“Not a problem.”
“What I owe you?”
“Oh about 50 cents will do her.”
I slapped down two quarters, tossed back my drink and as I lowered the glass to the bar, I opened my eyes and spied, in the mirror, the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. I swallowed the burning liquid, let out a small cough and placed the glass on the bar. I could feel my face getting hot and I looked down. My mind was going 20 billion miles an hour.
‘Who is she? What is she? Dear lord I am going to faint!’ I reigned myself in sharply. I glanced up and watched her, like a panther watches its prey. I gazed at her face, her movements, her hands, her shoulders, her breasts. Her breasts!!!!
‘What is wrong with me?!’ I scolded myself internally.
‘Being around men, acting like a man, is making me a man!’ I thought rapidly to myself, dropping my gaze and studying the grain in the wood.
I looked up to see Sam looking at me intently.
“You want more?”
“Yeah sure”, I rasped, “give me another.”
I took my time with this one, watching her all the while. She was sitting at a table, playing cards with a couple guys that looked like they could have used a bath weeks ago.
Her blue dress set off her shoulders, the collar bone gracefully showing itself off. My eyes traveled up her slender, soft neck to her jaw and ear. Her lips were an endless fascination as I watched them move with ease, smiling, laughing, and talking. I was so entranced with the movement of her nose with her mouth that I never saw her look my way until her mouth stopped moving and my gaze traveled up to her eyes, which were fixed questioningly on mine.
I looked away quickly, placed a quarter on the bar, grabbed my hat and gloves, and scurried out the door. I made my way quickly down the street to the only restaurant and hotel in town. It had gotten darker and colder outside but I didn’t even notice. My mind was back in that bar, watching her. I was so lost in thought that I didn’t even realize where I was and had almost past up Erma’s. I stopped, looked up at the stars and took a deep breath. I took several deep breathes, in fact, and began feeling my mind clear. My stomach growled, letting me know I was still hungry. I walked up the stairs and through the doors. Erma greeted me and took my coat, hat and gloves.
“Hey ya Mac, how’s it going? Haven’t seen you in town lately.” She quarried happily.
Truth be told, I think she has a crush on me. I smiled, more to myself than her, and said,
“Well ya know I’ve been busy, with the cattle and getting ready for the drive.”
I walked over and sat at my table. It’s the one I always sit at when I come here. Erma stowed my stuff and headed back to my table.
“So what’ll it be? The usual?” she asked, leaning suggestively on the table.
“Yeah sounds good.” I blushed.
I hate it when she does that. I have never done anything to warrant her attentions but that doesn’t stop her from trying. Besides, if she only knew that I was a woman, she’d quit doing that real quickly and be embarrassed to boot. I couldn’t do that to her. She has always been really nice and I wouldn’t want to cause her any harm.
I looked around the room. She had several customers and the place looked a little busier than normal. God! How I love staying here. It’s so cozy and Erma has put a lot of heart and soul into this place, ever since her man died from the cholera epidemic.
From my bird’s eye view, I could see everyone who was there and anyone who might enter. I love to watch people. People always fascinate me. After studying the room for a minute, I whipped out my list of things to do and got to looking it over. I was so absorbed in my list that I don’t hear the door open, people talking, or even people sitting down at the table next to me. Erma came out of the kitchen and headed to my table with dinner.
As I looked up, I glanced over and my eyes locked on the most beautiful blue-green eyes I have ever had the chance of looking at. It’s her! I froze, my heart immediately went into double time and I could feel my hands starting to sweat. She smiled slightly and then turned back to the men that she was with. Erma placed the plate in front of me and said something but I didn’t hear her. Her mouth was moving and she was smiling at me but I didn’t know what she’s saying. I nodded my head, gave her a small, strained smile and started to eat. I finished quickly, aware that I probably smelt and looked absolutely disgusting in this light. I got up and found Erma to inquire if she had a room available.
“Sure, you know I always have a room for you Mac.” She said with such affection in her voice.
I so hate that. I never like to take advantage of anyone and I have always told her to rent that room out when I’m not in town but she insists that it’s no problem. I’m her best customer. Oh hell! I thank her profusely and head up to my room.
“I’ll have Ruthy come up with bath water in a minute” she hollered up to me.
I said nothing and entered the room. I sat on the bed, its springs squeaking noisily. I felt shock and numbness. I don’t know how long I sat there but then there was a knock at my door and I just knew it was Ruthy. I let her in and she prepared my bath.
“Just leave your clothes on the hook outside your room and I’ll make sure you have clean ones ready for tomorrow.” She said as she exited the room.
“Thank you” I barely got that out before the door closed.
I took off my gun belt and shrugged out of my shirt. Pants and boots were next but I don’t really remember it all. I slid down into the steaming hot bath and felt the hair on my body raise up.
“Oh God!” I sigh to myself, “This feels incredible!”
I leaned my head back and thought about the day…..and her. I had avoided the topic. I didn’t know what to think.
‘I mean this couldn’t be normal, right, a woman being attracted to another woman? I have never heard of any such thing. It was only natural and normal for a man and woman to like each other, but me?’
I didn’t even know where to begin. I had owned and operated my ranch for a couple years and I had seen a lot of weird things with animals but I never thought that way about people.
‘I mean I guess it’s possible.’ I thought rationally to myself out loud.
I had came here to this western territory to forget my rich upbringing. I had always been a tomboy and my father wanted his little girl not his little boy. He wanted me to go to finishing school and marry his partner’s son. Of course I wanted to always be a man because I saw all the freedom of doing what one pleases. I use to sneak out of the house dressed like a boy and wander around the city doing as I pleased and I wanted that freedom. So one night, I crept quietly into my father’s study, dressed like a young man and took $1000.00 from his safe and went off quickly into the night.
That was a couple years ago. I’d arrived here and deemed it safe to stay and so bought the ranch from a woman whose husband had been taken in the same cholera epidemic that Erma’s husband had been. She wanted to go east to her folks and I wanted that ranch more than anything. So for the small sum of $250.00 I became the owner of Double T Triple E ranch. It was the saddest looking ranch I had ever imagined. The house was overrun with rodents and had several leaks in the roof. The porch had some rotted boards and the one end leaned precariously. The barn was in the same terrible disrepair. Moldy hay, broken fences, and the same rodent infestation. After taking inventory of all the things I would need, I rode into town and bought supplies. I had to buy so much that I had to have them delivered. It took me about a month to get the place fixed up, rodents contained to a minimum, with the help of several cats and looking half way decent.
I was exhausted, sore and nursing many blisters but I went to bed smiling every night because this was all mine. I worked long and hard that spring and summer. I was able to go into the fall with enough food and wood stored up to get me through the harsh winter. Now it was spring again and I had about ten heifers calving plus about fifty head to drive to the cattle yard. I was hoping for a good haul this year so that I would be able to survive the winter in relative comfort.
I sat there for who knows how long, thinking about everything when it finally dawned on me that the water was as cold as ice cubes. I pulled myself from the bath and quickly tugged on my under things. I hung my clothes on the hook outside the door and crawled quickly into bed. I closed my eyes, saw her again, and gave myself up to her and sleep. That night I dreamed of me and her on my ranch, living the good life all by ourselves.
The next morning I awoke slowly, feeling warm and cozy in the bed. I blinked, smiling to myself, remembering the dream I had. My stomach growled, letting me know that I was terribly hungry and in need of some of Erma’s good cooking.
I tip toed quickly to the door, grabbed my fresh clothes from the hook and tugged them on. I grabbed my boots and socks, pulled them on, and dawned my gun belt. All the while thinking of her and what it would be like if we lived together. What would it be like? How would it be with another person to talk to and wile away the lonely hours of winter? Wait a minute!
‘What would we do?’ I puzzled over it and then it hit me.
‘What would a man and woman do?’ the voice in my head asked.
‘They would hug and kiss and hold hands and….’ My mind drifted off to the other unknown.
I remembered hearing of such things wandering the streets of Boston as a boy. Women being with other women. They had called it a Boston marriage. Like a partner, companionship thing. I had never thought of myself like that. I just thought that I liked being in men’s clothing because of the freedom. In that cold room with smells of bacon and eggs coming up through the floorboards, I knew why I never wanted to get married or even have a beau. My mind was racing and slowly my life and everything in it all fit together like puzzle pieces. I searched my memory to remember what the boys on the street had told me. One thing was for sure that I knew, it was forbidden yet in some weird way acceptable, at least in Boston anyway.
‘How would I go about pursuing her?’ I asked the little voice.
‘How would any man go about wooing a woman?’ it responded.
‘Oh hell! I am being so ridiculous. She…’ My conversation with myself died off.
‘She’ll never accept you especially when she finds out what you really are.’ It replied.
Shame set in and I’d had enough of this conversation. To get myself back to normal, I threw myself out the door and down the stairs to the restaurant. I was not so hungry anymore so I paid a stunned Erma and left quickly. I didn’t even notice her sitting by the window, watching me over her breakfast.
I hurried down to the stables. I paid George, saddled up Prancer, and got ready to head out of town when I remembered I needed supplies. I made a quick stop and gave the boy behind the counter my list with instructions to have it delivered. With that done I was free to get the hell out of dodge. I rode hard and got to my ranch in half an hour. Poor Prancer was exhausted, sweaty, and full of dust. I washed him off and gave him a good brush down. I watered, fed, and set him free in the pasture beside the barn.
The week flew by and I threw myself into getting ready for the drive. The supplies arrived, I put them away and got my gear ready for the week long drive. Five guys showed up before six o’clock Friday for the drive. I let them know the rules of the trail and riding with me.
“There’ll be no drinking while on the trail” I said amid much groaning.
“If any of you guys don’t think or can’t think of riding and herding for a week, please let me know now. I don’t want to get on the trail and have one of you take off back to town.” I said sternly looking each and every man in the eye.
“I’ll pay you $10.00 when we get into town. Not a penny more or less. Does everyone here agree?”
They all murmured their agreement to my terms.
“Uh hey Mac? Who’s going to do the cooking?”
“We’ll each take turns cooking and cleaning up dinner. We’ll also each take turns driving the chuck wagon.” There were groans throughout the group.
“Hey if you guys don’t want the $10.00 then you can leave. If you do, let’s saddle up and get going.”
I turned around and headed to the barn to get Prancer ready. The guys turned back to their mounts, getting the last little things onto them and making sure everything was tied down. I harnessed two of my best work horses to the chuck wagon and led them out to the hitching post in front of my cabin.
“Alright guys. Gather around. We’re going to draw straws to see who drives the wagon first.” I held up my hand with five straws in it. Each man stepped up and took one straw and stepped back in line.
“Who’s got the shortest one?” I asked.
“I do” said a short little stump of a guy.
We all turned to mount up when I heard a woman’s voice yelled,
“Wait! Don’t I get to draw a straw?”
I whipped around. There she is. Reigning in her horse, I looked her over from head to toe in shock and amazement. She’s dressed in guy’s clothes from her cowboy hat down to her cowboy boots, leathers and a rifle to boot.
“I was told that you would give me $10.00 at the end of the trail. Is that true?” she gasped, half out of breathe from obviously riding hard.
“Well um…not you. You can’t come on this ride!” I exclaimed, half stunned, slowly coming to my senses.
“Why not? You told Sam you needed people looking for work and I am.” She stated, jumping down off her horse.
I grabbed her arm and pulled her into my cabin, leaving my men snickering and shaking their heads.
“You can not come on this cattle drive! Are you insane? There are men here.” I exclaimed, extremely flustered.
“Well yeah there are normally men on the cattle drive, that’s what some men do.” She said in a smart tone.
“That’s not what I meant and you know it.” I growled shaking her arm.
“Hey you’re hurting my arm!” she cried out.
“Oh I am so sorry! Please forgive me I…”
“It’s ok. I won’t tell anyone that you hurt women if you let me on this drive.”
“No and that’s final. You could get hurt or even worse killed. You’re not experienced…”
“From what the townsfolk say, you weren’t experienced when you came here plus I really need the $10.00. Please Mac let me go with you. I trust you to keep me safe from some of those unsavory types.” She pleaded.
“Why do you want to go so bad? You can’t tell me that you don’t make at least $10.00 in town?”
“Look I need all the money I can get.” She pleaded “I could drive the chuck wagon. I know how to do that. I did it for six months coming here. Please?”
“Why do you need this money so bad and don’t try to side-step the question” I said determined to find out why she needed this money.
I looked into her eyes, waiting for a reply. I was so close to her that I could see the different flecks of color in her eyes and how her pupils dilated and contracted. All the sudden I could feel the electricity in the air, crackling between us. Her eyes constricted to pin points as she stared at me, point blank. Looking at her face and her ears made me swear that she had to be the most beautiful person I had ever seen that up close. Then that evil voice started to talk and rationalize why I should let her come with me. I thought for a moment. I could use her to drive the chuck wagon. It would free up a man to help with the drive. She had a point there.
“Ok, look, I want to start my own restaurant and hotel and I’m so close!” she exclaimed, her eyes going wide and sparkling.
“I have it all worked out and I have almost enough to put a down payment on it and the bank is in the town that you are driving your cattle to! So I figured why not make an extra $10.00?”
“Alright you can go…”
“Oh Mac thank you, thank you. You won’t regret it I promise!” she exclaimed happily jumping up and down with clasped hands as if in prayer.
What I didn’t expect was what happened next. She pulled me into a hug and kissed my cheek. I froze, shocked by her warmth and softness. She smelled like fresh air and sunshine. Realizing her mistake, she jumped back.
“I’m sorry about that. I don’t know what came over me…” she said shyly.
“Look its ok. Let’s just get going. Time’s already been wasted.” I groused and headed towards the door to let the men know she had news: Before I opened the door, I turned and looked at her, in my cabin and a funny sort of feeling ran through my body.
“What’s your name?”
“Elaina. Elaina Montgomery.” she stated, standing as tall as she could.
I smiled slightly,
“Well, Miss Montgomery, lets go.” I said, opening the door for her.
I ushered her through and closed the door tightly.
“Gentlemen let me have your attention please. We have a newcomer and her name is Elaina Montgomery. She will be our cook for this trip so that means there will be a couple more rules.”
“Come on Mac are you kidding? Having a woman on the trail is bad luck!” yelled one of the hands, Jeffers.
“Look here, this is my ranch and these are my cows and it’s my money you are getting paid with. I will not have any of that nonsense.”
“Man she could get hurt or cause one of us to get hurt.”
“She will be driving the wagon and will always be ahead of us by at least a tenth of a mile. So she won’t be in the way of us. New rules are that there will be no cussing, drinking, and if anyone of you do anything inappropriate to Miss Montgomery or insinuate it, you will be gone with no pay. Is that understood?”
There were lots of groans and grumbling but all the men consented.
“I know I won’t be cussing or insinuating anything” said Jeffers with a leering glance in Miss Montgomery’s direction. I grabbed Jeffers by the scruff of his coat and pushed him up against the back of the wagon.
“Listen here you low life scum!” I growled “If you touch one hair on her head I’ll beat you within an inch of your short disgusting life” I spat on the ground.
“Look Mac I ain’t going to do anything. I swear!” Jeffers exclaimed in panic. He was the type that was all talk and no show when someone had him pinned.
“Yeah you had better not.” I jerked him hard, then let him go.
I gave Miss Montgomery the directions for the first days ride and then let her get going while the rest of the crew herded the cattle out of the pen and we were on our way.
A Couple days passed without incident. We rode hard and every night it was all we could do to eat our dinners, that weren’t half bad, and crawl into our bed rolls and go to sleep. Miss Montgomery held true to her word and worked hard to stay ahead of us and feed us good food. She woke early in the morning to make us breakfast and to have coffee ready for us. She made us all packets of food for us during the day and always seemed to reach that nights camp in plenty of time to have dinner almost ready for us by the time we got there. She was awake before any of us and went to sleep after us. The drive itself was going smoothly. We only had a couple times where we lost a cow. All the men took turns standing watch, including me.
It was our fifth night out on the trail. We had just got into camp and Miss Montgomery had the fire started and something altogether smelling really good cooking over it. The men were all getting ready to settle in for the night and that’s when I noticed Jeffers being really friendly to her as he was helping her. All that I could feel was a sickening pit in my stomach.
‘Who the hell did this coward think he was?’ I jealously growled to myself.
‘I swear if he does one wrong thing he is gone’ I contrived in my head.
I untied my bed roll and rolled it out by the fire, all the while watching the interaction. I couldn’t afford to loose a man, even someone like Jeffers. After my men got their dinner, I walked up to get mine.
“Here ya go Mac” she said, handing me a steaming plate of bean, bacon and hard tack, “I saved the best for last.”
Smiling, she looked me directly into my eyes and I smiled back, nervously. God! What that woman does to me!
Dinner went quietly with all the men digging in and praising her cooking. Jeffers couldn’t be any more obvious with his helping hand. She took all his attention with a grace and style that made her all the more appealing. I watched her every movement over my plate. Not really tasting, just putting food in my mouth, chewing, swallowing and watching.
Watching her move, her legs, her feet, wondering what her feet looked like without boots on them. Slowly making my perusal up to her slim waist and how her shirt bunched up in the front, hiding her breasts. Wondering what it would feel like to wrap my arms around her from behind. Traveling up to her neck, I noticed the wisps of hair escaping her braid and curling, windblown. She looked beautiful with her lips puckered, her brow furrowed in concentration on doing her job. At that moment, she looked up, and I blushed furiously and averted my eyes to the fire.
“You know Mac; if you wanted her attention you could do the same thing as Jeffers.” Stumpy drawled over his plate.
“Yeah um…” I sputtered not realizing I was so obvious, “Maybe I will.”
Stumpy just smiled and went back to his dinner.
Being sidetracked from my watch, I didn’t see Miss Montgomery go behind the wagon and Jeffers take a quick look around the camp and follow. The next thing I heard turned my blood to ice. It was a muffled cry and a thunk. I dropped my plate and rushed around the back side of the wagon to find Miss Montgomery standing over Jeffers, a frying pan in her hand, quivering. She looked up into my eyes.
“Aw shit! I knew that scrawny little bastard would try something!” I exclaimed as I rushed over to make sure she was ok.
“He grabbed me from behind and the only thing I could think to do was hit him with this.” She cried breaking into shaking sobs.
I felt his pulse and found it steady.
“He’s just unconscious is all. He’ll be ok and he’ll know from know on not to mess with you” I laughed and pulled her into my arms.
She was so soft as I comforted her. I could smell her hair and feel the warmth of her breath on my neck. The men coming around the wagon to see what the commotion was all about broke up our little world that we had slipped into.
“Throw this mess on his bedroll!” I barked. “This had better be a lesson to you other men who think you might want to try something.”
They all laughed and picked Jeffers up and carried him to his bedroll. I consoled her and then walked her to the fire, sitting her down on my bedroll.
“I’ll take care of the clean up. You just sit a while and rest.”
I started to clean up, put things away, and get the men the packets for the next day together. When I finally finished, I turned to survey the camp and noticed that the men were passed out except for the guard, who was out on patrol. I left the coffee pot on and walked over towards my bedroll and Miss Montgomery. I knelt down and watched her for a moment, sleeping peacefully.
‘My God she is more beautiful even in sleep’ I muse to myself, smiling.
At that moment she must have sensed me hovering over her because she opened her eyes and looked right at me. Right then and there I knew I was in love with her.
“Um…I was just coming over here to let you know you can go to the wagon.” I said stuttering, blushing and looking down at the dirt.
“Hey” she says softly laying a warm hand on my arm to get my attention, “Thank you for everything. I’m really sorry for the inconvenience. Please don’t send me back! I really need this money.”
I looked up at her in shock. I could not believe that she thought that especially after what had just happened.
“I’m not going to send you back. Go ahead and go to the wagon and let’s just forget it. Ok?”
“I can’t sleep in there by myself.” She pleaded “Let me sleep out here. I would feel more comfortable if I could.”
Against my better judgment I knew she was right and I helped her make a bed beside me. That way I could make sure nothing happened to her again. At least that’s what I told myself. I crawled into bed and fell fast asleep.
I had the most amazing dream that night. That we were husband and wife and living on my ranch. She came into our bedroom on our wedding night, shut the door and turned towards me. The candle light casting shadows and causing her nightgown to be transparent. I could see everything and it had me shaking like a leaf. She came over to me and I was about to say we didn’t have to do anything tonight but she silenced me with a finger laid seductively over my lips. She knelt onto the bed and leaned towards me as if to kiss me and that’s when my body decided that it had enough of sleep.
I groaned and rolled over to see her already up and about, stirring the fire and preparing breakfast. I felt a deep longing stir in my gut. One that wanted to jump up out of bed and run to her but I pushed it back down and got up. I rolled up my bed, noticing the flattened area where she slept. The men were up and eating when I got back from washing up in the crick.
“Here ya are Mac” she said with a smile, handing me a plate heaped with flapjacks.” Did you sleep well?”
I looked into her eyes, searchingly as I grasped the plate.
“Yes, thanks” I barely said, then turned to devour my food by the fire.
Soon we were on the trail again. We’d be getting into town at dusk. So we pushed on harder. The men were working harder than ever driving the cattle faster to be done with the job. Thankfully, the final stretch of our journey was uneventful. We rode into town right at dusk. I went to see the stockyard foreman about the cattle while the rest of my crew stood around waiting for their pay. The foreman was a tall burly fellow by the name of Stan.
“Hello there, my name’s Mac and I do believe I got some cattle for ya,” I stuck my hand out in introduction.
“The name’s Stan,” he accepted my hand and shook it hardily
“Let me get a lantern,” he grabbed the lantern near the door, “Lets go take a look at your herd.” He said as he walked out the door.
It took him about an hour looking over my cows one by one. Finally he turned to me with a smile on his face.
“Well Mac, looks like you got a mighty fine herd here.”
“Thank you sir. I try really hard to get them here in one piece,” I laughed.
He gave me a quick laugh before getting down to business. He looked as if he was going through numbers in his head so I didn’t interrupt him. Finally, he came out of his thoughts and looked at me.
“I’ll give you $1000.00 for ‘em. What you say?”
“Well, that sounds pretty fair. I’ll take it,” He nodded his head in agreement and we shook hands to make it final.
He then took a wad of bills out of his pocket and counted off the $1000.00. He handed me the bills and said, “thank you for the cattle and have a nice day.”
“Thank you very much sir,” I tipped my hat and headed back out to my men.
Everyone was standing around but quickly leaped up with anticipation as I walked up. I paid the men and they turned to walk back into town for the night. Jeffers was the last one and as he turned to go he spotted Miss Montgomery. He walked up to her, baring her way and whispered close to her ear.
“Well sugar I have a little spending money. You want to help me spend it?” he laughed lasciviously.
“Get away from me you disgusting excuse for a man!” she hissed, pushing past him.
“Look buddy,” I warned, “Haven’t you had enough of her frying pan?” I grabbed him by the collar and pushed him away from her.
“What gives you the right to make decisions for her?” he whipped around seething at me.
“I do.” She said calmly.
“Well! I see how it is. You better watch yourself missy!” with that he spun on his heels and strode briskly into town.
“Well here is your $10.00 Miss Montgomery. I know it was definitely earned and I want to say I’m sorry for everything that happened last night.”
“Mac I know you’re a good man. Thank you for everything. I now have enough money to make my down payment. Thank you,” Reaching up she put her arms around me in a hug. This time I responded.
“Would you do me the honor of accompanying me to a late dinner?” I asked holding my breath.
“You know what? I would. Thank you,” She said with the biggest smile on her face. I offered her my arm and we walked to the nearest restaurant. which happened to be a hotel as well.
We sat and ate and talked and laughed. The more she talked the more I fell for her. Several times I had to stop myself from reaching for her hand or jumping up and hugging her tight. She was the most beautiful, articulate, responsive woman that I had ever met. Several times that night, I caught her looking at me with a puzzled expression but as soon as I looked directly at her, she smiled and looked down blushing. Oh I so hoped that she hadn’t figured me out. I really wanted to believe that I was a man and I wanted her to believe that.
“Well I must say that this has been a most delightful dinner but I must retire. I am rather tired after all.” She said blotting her mouth and standing up.
“Oh yes of course. Where are my manners? Let me just pay the bill and I’ll escort you to your room?” I said standing as well.
The lady that ran the place saw us get up and hurried over.
“You folks finished?”
“Yes ma’am we are.” I replied. “Do you happen to know of a place that the lady here and I could get a room?”
“Well I never! Who do you think I am? I don’t run that kind of place here!”
“Ma’am I am sorry. It is two separate rooms. I am sorry for the confusion I might have caused.”
“Oh well in that case…I have 2 more available.”
“Thank you” I said blushing profusely. People had looked up from their meals in curiosity.
We followed the lady to the top of the stairs.
“It’s the two on the left at the end of the hall. You can settle your bill in the morning. Here are the keys. Breakfast is at 7am sharp. Don’t be late. Good night,” And with that she turned and was gone.
I looked at her and her at me as we both leaned against the walls in laughter. Once we composed ourselves we headed towards our room. She unlocked her room and walked in and I mine. After checking them out, I met her back at her door.
“Is it ok?”
“Oh yes quite.”
“Well then I guess this is good night?”
Before I even got the question mark out of my mouth, she grabbed me by the collar and hauled me against her, her lips colliding with mine. We sagged into her room, her doorway affording us some privacy. Her lips were soft and warm. I felt like I was drowning and so I pulled away to catch a breath.
“God! You feel so good against me,” she gasped, “come here” and she pulled me into her arms and lips again.
I did nothing but melt as she hungrily devoured me. Everything faded and all that I could feel was her pressed against me, her hands in my hair, lips on mine.
“Your lips are so soft” she gasped, “I just can’t get enough” she said between kisses.
“You better go before that lady comes back.” She said smiling, stopping her attentions and pushing me out of her door.
“Um…yeah right of course” I rasped, moving into the hallway. My wits finally came to me a little and I turned to her, with pleading in my eyes.
“Have breakfast with me?”
“We’ll see.” She smiled and shut her door, gently, in my face.
I numbly walked back into my room, my hand on my lips, trembling. My mind was still on her lips and her body and what had just transpired. I removed my gun belt and placed it on the night stand. Sitting down on the bed I removed my boots and lay back with my arms behind my head. I had no idea what to think; my body was still remembering how she felt against my chest and how she ran her hands through my hair. I couldn’t sleep. So I got up and stood by the window, looking down at the street. A couple drunk guys stumbled by the alley way singing and laughing.
‘What would she think if she found out I wasn’t just Mac but Macadrian, a woman?’
‘Well she obviously has no problem liking you that’s for sure!’ laughed the voice in my head.
‘Yeah…’ I smiled, remembering, ‘What can I do? Should I do anything?’
‘She kissed you, not you her. Maybe you should ask her?’
‘Yeah, right! I can see that conversation going over real well! So um…Elaina, I have a very big secret to tell you. Um…I’m not what you think I am. I’m a woman.’
‘See that wasn’t so bad’
‘Yeah it’s real swell.’
My thinking continued on with the obnoxious voice in my head coming back with even wittier remarks. This running dialogue was making me tired. Anyone looking at this could tell I had definitely got myself in a bad situation. To tell her or not tell her, I felt was the true issue. The trust that she had in me was overpowering, making herself vulnerable by kissing me was just too much. Could I live with myself if I didn’t tell her? Could I live with myself if she knew and rejected me? Finally I drifted off to sleep right before dawn with these questions rolling around in my head.
I didn’t know what time it was when I was pulled from my sleep with a light knocking at my door. Slowly coming to, I vaguely remembered I had asked to take her to breakfast! I jumped out of bed and opened the door to her standing there quite demurely. Looking up into my sleep filled eyes, smiling,
“I hope you slept well?”
“Um…yes. Thank you. I’m so sorry I over slept, just let me get my things” I said panicked that she found me in such a state of undress, my stocking feet with holes in the toes and my shirt un-tucked.
I scrambled around the room gathering my boots, gun, coat, hat and gloves. Tugging on my boot and hoping on one leg, all hunched over with gun belt and coat hanging off my arms, I heard a laugh and glanced up. There she was, the most beautiful woman I had ever looked at, standing in my doorway, laughing at me.
Suddenly, her laugh was cut short with a gasp. I looked up into her questioning eyes. She wasn’t looking at my eyes but down at my shirt. I looked down in puzzlement, wondering what she found so disconcerting. That’s when I looked down and saw that I must have unbuttoned my shirt sometime last night and she could see what appeared to be cleavage and the swell of breasts from the V of the undershirt. My eyes tracked back up to hers, which were filled with shock and bewilderment.
“Look, Miss Montgomery, please it’s not what you think” I pleaded.
“Not what I think? You have to be joking! You’re a woman?” she whispered, searching my eyes for some kind of answer that would make her mind make sense of what her eyes knew to be true.
“Please! Come in here and I’ll explain it all. Just please come in” I begged reaching a hand out to pull her in but she pulled away.
“No, this can’t be right. You seemed so like a man but…” she trailed off looking me over from head to toe.
“I assure you that I was not out to make a fool of you or to take advantage of you. Please come in and close the door and I will explain it all” I begged, trying not to be discovered by some passerby.
Finally, she stepped in and I closed the door. She stood stiffly and just watched me as I straightened the room a little and pulled a chair out for her to sit on. She walked over to it, stared at it, and then moved to the window. One hand was on her hip and the other messaging her temple while she stared out the window, unseeing.
“I…I don’t even know where to start,” she said turning around to stare at me.
“Look, please sit and let me start by explaining this,” I gestured to myself.
“I don’t even know your name. Is your name really Mac?”
“It’s Macadrian. I go by Mac for short.”
She nodded her head numbly and sat in the chair, looking me all over. Eyes coming up to rest on my lips, she blushed and looked down at the floor.
“Yes you kissed me last night and I’m sorry that I allowed that to happen. I didn’t even think that that would happen and that was not my intentions.”
“Wow! Right to the point, I am so embarrassed!” she exclaimed hiding her face in her hands.
“No, please don’t be embarrassed! You were innocent of anything and it is I that should be whipped for putting you in this situation! I am so very sorry. God! How could I have been so dumb?” I said more to myself than to her. I looked down at the floor, scuffing my boot at a spot of dirt.
I don’t know how long we sat there, in silence, neither of us looking at each other. The air was thick with tension. I had been clutching the edge of the bed as she sat picking at her trousers.
“You know, I kissed you if I remember correctly,” she stated looking up at me.
“Yeah, yeah you did,” I blushed looking into her eyes.
She sighed and looked away, “Well I guess it could be worse,” looking back directly into my astonished eyes.
Huh? Did I hear correctly? She sounded so resigned that I didn’t know what to do except look at her closely for some kind of clue as to what she was thinking. Her eyes were deep and warm and I could feel that familiar feeling of longing come back to me like alcohol coursing through my veins. She had no idea what she was doing to me and it fanned the flames. I wanted to be the man that she wanted but I knew that I physically couldn’t and that was frustrating.
“I…I’m really sorry. I…I didn’t mean to lead you on or anything like that,” I sputtered.
“Let’s just forget it. Ok? Why or rather how did you become like this? I mean why pretend to be a man?”
“Wouldn’t you want to be one if you could? Look at the freedom that comes with being a man”
“Well I happen to like being a girl” she laughed, finally relaxing a little “Tell me how you became Mac?”
“Well it’s a long story. Could I tell you over breakfast?”
“Hm…you do still owe me that,” she smiled raising an eyebrow.
“Let’s go before that lady finds us out” I said as I rose from the bed, gathered my things and ushered her out the door.
It seemed like eons that we had sat up there but upon entering the restaurant we discovered that breakfast was still being served. We were seated in the corner and our orders were taken. As we munched hungrily on our food, I told her everything. From running the streets dressed up as a boy to stealing the money from my father’s safe and heading west.
“I had no idea what laid ahead of me. I mean I can’t believe that I had that much guts to just pack up and leave in the middle of the night!”
“You are really brave you know? I couldn’t do that, to dress like a man and go around like one. No way. I wouldn’t be able to pass for one anyway!” she laughed “You on the other hand….” She trailed off and looked up, all the sudden becoming serious.
“What?” I asked laughingly until I saw the look in her eyes. It was one of such hunger, yet uncertain.
“Um…nothing. Never mind,” She looked down and continued to eat.
I let it go and just continued telling her my story and how I acquired the ranch.
“So no one knows who you really are? They’ve never suspected?”
“Naw. I keep pretty much to myself. It’s actually easy.”
“I envy you,” she said whimsically looking at me.
I smiled and continued my breakfast. We finished in relative silence. Soon it was time to pay and leave. I felt like I didn’t want it to end. I wanted it to go on forever. I wanted to make her smile and hear her laugh. I wanted her on my ranch with me. I couldn’t think of any excuses that would make that happened. So I paid the bill and we headed out into the cool morning sun. As we walked towards the stables I tried to think of some way to continue talking but nothing came to mind. We reached the stables and I turned to her.
“Miss Montgomery I just want to say again how sorry I am about everything and if there is anything that I can do that you would honor me with the pleasure of helping.”
“Mac, please call me Elaina and if I ever need anything I will definitely call upon you,” she said stepping closer and laid a hand on my forearm.
I felt the electricity run through my body. I looked down at her hand and then up to her eyes. I had no idea when that would be but I wanted it to happen soon. Little did I know that it would happen sooner than I expected.
I got back to the ranch and started to work hard getting ready for the winter. It had been a couple days since I had returned home when I started to feel a little run down, like I was coming down with something.
I went to bed early, thinking that maybe what I needed was a little more rest. I awoke the next morning to feel like someone had beaten me up. I was sore and tired and feeling sick to my stomach. I decided against breakfast in hopes of not feeling nauseous but I was sorely mistaken.
By mid-afternoon I had thrown up whatever little there was in my stomach and I couldn’t even eat lunch. I was so thirsty and exhausted that I had no other option but to retire early again that day. I hadn’t eaten anything since the day prior and I was feeling the effects of not eating. I was weak and now I knew, sick. I went to bed hoping that the morrow would find me fit enough to eat and get back on my feet.
Jeb walked through the saloon doors, ushered in by a cold blast of air. Walking up to the bar, he slowly removed hat and gloves.
“Hey, Jeb, is it getting cold out there?”
“Yeah Sam, it’s like a bear out there.”
“Yeah set it up,” as he slides onto a bar stool.
“Say what’s going on around here? It looks like a ghost town out there.”
“Influenza. It hit us pretty good.”
“No kidding. That’s really too bad.”
“Say, I was just coming by Mac’s place and it looked a little vacant. I bet he’s got himself a little filly. It’s about time that boy settle down!” he said, chuckling to himself.
“Actually he normally comes in about this time of the week for supplies and with the winter coming on, he should have been in by now,” he mused, while wiping a glass.
Neither man saw Elaina listening intently to their conversation. Quitting her card game rather abruptly, she slipped quietly out of the saloon and headed to the stables to find her horse. She rode hard and fast, worrying all the while about Mac and hoping to God that she was ok and maybe just out doing something that took her away from the main part of the ranch.
Riding up to the front of the cabin, Elaina noticed the vacant look that Jeb had seen and hoped that something serious had not happened. Sliding off her horse, she threw the rains over the hitching post and bounded up the stairs two at a time.
“MAC!” she yelled, pounding on the front door “MAC its Elaina. Are you in there?”
Hearing nothing, she opened the door and gasped as she was hit with a smell of vomit.
“Mac?” she whispered softly as she walked through the main part of the cabin and headed towards the bedroom.
She noticed that the cabin had that disarray look to it. Dishes weren’t clean and the hearth was full of ashes. Something wasn’t right. Slowly opening the door to Mac’s room, Elaina cringed, preparing herself for the worst.
“Mac?” she said again softly.
There was a groan and she rushed into the room to find Mac lying on the bed fully clothed looking close to death. The stench was so bad that Elaina gagged and had to cover her nose and mouth. Rushing over to the bed she knelt down.
“Mac! Oh God! You’re going to be ok. I got you now.” She said quietly smoothing Mac’s hair away from her face, feeling how hot and dry her skin was.
Elaina sprang into action. The first thing that Mac needed was warmth. God only knows how long she had been without heat and the cabin was freezing. She went back out to the living room and proceeded to clean the hearth, bring wood in and start the fire. Soon the small cabin was glowing with warmth and she put water on to clean Mac’s room. In the meantime, she went outside to stable her horse and check on the animals. The poor animals were hungry and thirsty but all in all were no worse for wear. Finishing quickly, realizing she was going to have to come back later to clean stalls, she headed back to the cabin.
Finding a wash basin, Elaina filled it with boiling water and headed back to Mac with washcloth and soap in hand.
“Mac?” she said softly “I’m going to have to give you a bath to get that filth off of you.”
Placing the basin on the night stand, along with the soap and cloth, she rolled up her sleeves and walked towards the bed. She looked down at her, noticing the muscle under the clothes and how handsome she looked even though she was sick.
“Oh Mac, you sure got yourself in a tight spot didn’t you?” she asked as she sat gently on the side of the bed and began to unbutton Mac’s shirt.
As she slowly undressed her, Elaina’s hands slipped under her shirt, resting on her shoulders, feeling the muscle of her arms as she gently removed the shirt, her hands slightly grazing her breasts. It was so foreign to her, seeing Mac like this and seeing him as her.
Lifting the undershirt over Mac’s head and off of her, Elaina gazed down and the most beautiful patch worked body she’d ever looked at. Mac’s arms and face were dark from hours in the sun but her chest and belly were white and toned and looked so invitingly soft that Elaina put out a shaking hand to touch her. Mesmerized by the soft silkiness of her, she finally realized, slowly, that she needed to get the rest of her undressed, washed and put under warm blankets. Elaina removed boots, trousers, and long johns and began washing her body down.
As she made her way down, she stopped at the triangle of hair between Mac’s legs. Gazing at it curiously as if in a daze, wonderingly. How bizarre to actually see Mac naked and it’s a woman under all that rough exterior. Coming out of her gaze stupor, she hurriedly dressed her and stowed her under two heavy quilts, not wanting to think of Mac like that.
Picking up the basin and wash things, she headed out to the living room. Throwing the water out, she hung up the basin to dry and put more water on to make some broth. While she busied herself in the kitchen preparing the liquid dinner, she heard a moan coming from the bedroom. Rushing back to the room, she found half the quilts off of Mac and her thrashing around.
“Mac. You’re ok. I’ve got you” she said softly, smoothing her hair back.
Mac calmed down a little and slowly opened her fevered eyes.
“Wha…what’s going on?” she rasped.
“You have the flu.”
“Wha…what are you doing here?”
“Here have some water. You sound parched,” gently lifting her head, she brought the cup to her lips and let her take a couple sips.
“Not too much. Wouldn’t want you making yourself sick again,” she smiled a little, putting the glass down but continuing to run her hands through her hair.
“I overheard Jeb say he had come by your place and that it looked a little vacant. I got worried about you and so here I am.”
“Oh….” She moaned “I feel so sore”
“It’s ok. It’s the flu taking its toll on you.”
Elaina stood and went back to the kitchen to put the broth in a bowl. She hurriedly made her way back to the room and found Mac asleep again.
“Mac” she whispered, gently shaking her “you need to eat some of this”
Sitting down on the bed, Elaina propped her head up on her lap and spooned the warm liquid into her mouth. Mac unconsciously swallowed the broth while keeping her eyes closed. Elaina was able to get half of the soup down her. Satisfied with that, she cleaned up Mac’s face and headed back to the kitchen to clean. Stoking the fire, she sat in the nearest chair to have a rest. She sat, looking into the flames, thinking about all that had transpired. Half listening for Mac and half lost in thought, Elaina glanced out the window and noticed that it had started to snow.
‘Great’ she mused ‘Another complication.’
‘At least I got here when I did.’
Dragging herself from the chair, she made her way to the bedroom to check on Mac. Finding her sweaty and moving around a little, Elaina filled the basin with water and began wiping sweat from her face.
Removing sweat gently, taking in all the features of her face, her eyebrows, eyes, nose and lips. Stopping at her lips and noticing how soft and kissable they looked. She remembered that night when she had kissed her and the feelings that coursed through her that night came back like a punch. She shook herself from her revere to find that her fingers had strayed to Mac’s lips, pulling away quickly; she set the cloth down in the bowl and placed it on the nightstand.
“Uumm….oh Elaina…” moaned Mac stirring a little.
Shocked by the sound breaking the silence of the room, Elaina started from where she perched on the bed and leaned back a little almost throwing herself on the floor.
“You’re so beauuutttiiiifffuuullll….” She said in a small raspy voice.
“Mac,” Elaina said gently, shaking her, not wanting her to continue. Her face heating up at the admiration she heard in Mac’s voice.
Suddenly Mac’s eyes flew open and Elaina stopped her shaking to look into her feverish eyes. Suddenly, a pair of strong arms was wrapped around her crushing her to Mac and lips were seeking hers. Moving from her neck, trailing down her jaw, to land on her lips, Mac kissed her with such passion that it took Elaina’s breath away.
She tried to pull away but Mac had her pinned to her chest, her hands roaming her back, going back up to her hair and tugging her face to her lips. Elaina’s mind was reeling from the assault on her senses; every hair on her body stood up on end, every pore was open, screaming to breathe. Elaina was finally able to pull herself free when Mac’s hands had roamed to her hips, trying to pull her against her. Freeing herself, Elaina stood by the bed, breathing hard and looking down at her. Mac laughed a short raspy laugh as her eyes closed again, this time in sleep.
‘What just happened’ she asked herself, her chest heaving as she wiped her lips on the back of her hand and stared down at a now calm Mac.
‘That…was amazing!’ her mind told her. ‘You’ve never been kissed like that before!’
“Wow” she finally said out loud, as she stumbled to a chair in the corner and plopped down, effectively ignoring the voice in her head.
‘Why don’t you feel repulsed?’ the voice came back.
‘Don’t know. There’s just something about her that I really like.’
‘You have never been attracted to women before.’
‘Yeah well it’s not like I’ve ever been in this situation before either.’
‘What’ll people think?’
‘I don’t care.’
“I don’t care” she said out loud, almost as a reassurance to herself. Thinking of why it just didn’t matter at all.
Everyone in town thought she was a man and the only people who knew otherwise were herself and Mac and if it didn’t matter to Mac than it didn’t matter to her. She felt within herself that she really cared about Mac and she was willing to see where that led her.
Working in the saloon, she had witnessed women being affectionate to each other and surprisingly it had not made her think anything bad or abnormal about it. It was just the way they were. Now, grant it, she had not thought about what it went on behind closed doors but now she found herself wandering into that concept.
‘What do women do with other women?’ she questioned the voice.
‘Hhmm….don’t know. Maybe you and Mac can explore that one together?’
“Right! Oh man!” she exclaimed feeling extremely embarrassed and exposed.
‘I don’t know what’s going on! Mac probably doesn’t even like me like that and probably would be repulsed if she knew my line of thinking’ she thought, feeling a wave of fatigue sweep over her.
Tired of the circular line of talking she wrapped a quilt around her self, leaned her head back and willed herself into sleep.
‘She’s sick and probably doesn’t even know what she’s doing’ were her last thoughts as she drifted off.
Elaina woke with a start and sat up, the quilt falling off her shoulders as she looked at Mac. Sun was streaming in the window. Finding her still asleep and not sweating, Elaina started to clean the room. Once she finished, she headed to the living room to clean and stir the fire. Finishing her tasks, she put a pot of water on to boil and headed back to check Mac. She found her fast asleep, lightly snoring. Taking it for a good sign that she had stopped sweating and was deep in sleep, Elaina went back to the kitchen. She rummaged around the cupboard and found a tin of tea and some beef stock. She poured some boiling water into a cup and used the rest for the broth. Putting the items on a plate, she headed back to the room. Setting them on the nightstand, she turned her attention to Mac. She was still asleep and she hated to wake her but she needed the healing power of the tea and broth.
“Mac” she spoke softly as she shook her.
“Mac, I have some broth and tea you need to drink.”
Mac slowly opened her eyes and looked into Elaina’s eyes searchingly.
“Wha…where am I?” she croaked.
“You’re in you room at your ranch. You’ve been very sick.” Elaina sighed to herself as she saw that Mac’s eyes were clear and it appeared the worst of it was over.
“Here have a sip of tea that should help your throat.” She said, helping her to sit up and put the cup to her mouth.
“Uumm…” she sighed and relaxed against the headboard. “God! I feel like I’ve been beaten up”
“Well you’ve been really sick for some time.” She said sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“What day is it?”
“It’s Friday. You’ve been out of it for a week. You had me worried there for a minute. Didn’t think you were going to make it,” she smiled, brushing her hair out of her face.
“How long have you been here?” she asked, her eyes searching her face, loving her hands in her hair.
“I found you yesterday and I’ve been here ever since. Don’t you worry about anything; I’ve taken care of it all. You just sit back and rest and I’ll take care of things,” she said, patting her thigh reassuringly.
“Do you think you’re stomach can handle some broth?”
“Yeah, I feel weirdly hungry,” she smiled a little.
Taking the bowl from the nightstand, Elaina carefully placed it in her lap and helped spoon much needed nutrients into her mouth. A short while later, Elaina replaced the empty bowl and handed her the now lukewarm tea.
“You finish this. I have to go check on the animals. I’ll be back as fast as I can,” she cupped her cheek, rubbing it with her thumb and then slipped out of the room.
‘What was that all about?’ I questioned myself bringing the cup shakily to my mouth.
‘Maybe you said something in your delirium?’
‘Hell, I hope not!’ smiling to myself and remembering the wicked dream I had had.
I placed the cup on the nightstand and in doing so realized that I had only night clothes on.
“Wha…?” I sputtered in shock.
‘Shit!’ my mind whirled with the possibilities of what must have happened while I was unconscious.
After a careful perusal of myself, I came to the conclusion that I had been bathed and I had been put into fresh night things. I shook my head in wonderment that this woman, who I felt was absolutely gorgeous, would do all this for me. I felt a surge of energy as I thought of it all.
‘What could I do to thank her, repay her?’
‘Take her to dinner, make her dinner? The possibilities are endless’ the ever present voice said.
That’s when I glanced up to the chair in the corner. There was a quilt draped over it.
‘She must have slept there all night!’ I couldn’t even begin to feel the gratitude for this woman and all that she had done.
Feeling tired again, I scooted myself down under the quilts and drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
When I awoke next, it was dark outside and I could see snow falling by the window and a soft glow from the lantern lighting the room. It felt warm and cozy in here and I rolled over to go back to sleep when I spied in the corner a form. It was Elaina, curled up in that hard chair in the corner. The dim light cast an almost dream like quality over her features making them almost angelic in her slumber.
‘She must be exhausted’ I smiled to myself ‘she shouldn’t be sleeping like that or she’ll get sore’ I thought.
“Elaina” I whispered as not to startle her.
“Elaina!” I said a little louder.
“Hhuum?” she mumbled groggily and turned to look at me.
“What is it Mac? Do you need anything?” she asked unfolding herself from the chair, rubbing her eyes and looking over at me.
“Why don’t you come over here and sleep on the other side?” I ventured.
“Naw that’s ok. I’m fine. Go back to sleep, you need your rest,” she stated and tried to make herself into the pretzel she was before.
“Look, you’re obviously not comfortable in that chair, why not share the bed?” I said.
I watched her as she contemplated my suggestion.
“I have extra night clothes. Put some on and come get some good sleep.”
She sat there a moment longer, then got up and took clothes from the dresser and left the room.
‘She’s going to do it!’ my mind screamed as I lay back, smiling.
A few short minutes later, she entered the room, wearing the long night shirt. As in my dream, the lantern cast shadows around the room. She closed the door and headed to the other side of the bed. I half expected her to do what she did in my dream but of course this was not the dream and her night shirt wasn’t transparent.
She lifted the quilts, exposing my backside to her, slid under them and shifted her body so her back was to me. I was so tense that I barely breathed. She was no more than inches away from me. I could feel the heat from her body reaching for me. I rolled onto my back, after long anguishing moments of lying stiffly.
“See it’s not so bad.”
I looked over to her but she didn’t move or respond. She was laying on the edge of the bed, her back to me. I could see the slope of her shoulders, her spine as it met her head, her light brown hair in a braid on the pillow. I wanted to reach over and kiss that exposed part on her neck. My thoughts stopped sharply.
‘Where did that come from?’ I asked myself.
‘You know you like her. Don’t try to feign innocence’ it said sternly.
‘Yes I do like her. I like her very much.’ I finally admitted to myself.
‘Then don’t ruin what you have now. Go to sleep.’
I closed my eyes and tried to sleep but sleep would not come. I felt her move and opened my eyes to see that she had rolled over and was staring at me intently.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if I weren’t so confused.”
‘Oh hell, here we go’
“Confused about what?”
“Huh? Wha…wait a minute. Confused about me?” I asked, knowing in my gut what she was talking about but not wanting to presume.
She sat up and put her face in her hands. I could see her face getting red. She was embarrassed about something.
“I’m confused because you look like a man, you act like a man but you’re not a man. I really like you and I don’t know where to put my feelings. I’m so mixed up inside” her shoulders sagged in resignation and she peeked at me through her fingers, trying to gauge my reaction.
She was braver than I had ever given her credit for. She had bared her heart to me and now the ball was in my court. “I like you too” was all I could say, laying a reassuring hand on her thigh “I’ve never felt like that for anyone and I’m just as confused as you are about the whole thing.”
“You do? I mean you are?” she inquired, lowering her hands, a wondering expression on her face.
“Yes I do like you” I respond, taking her hand in mine and braving a kiss on her work roughened hand.
She blushed and looked down at our intertwined hands and than back up to my eyes. It was all that I needed. I leaned over and kissed her, a soft, slow kiss. Untwining our hands, she threaded hers up around my neck and into my hair and pulled me down on top of her. I could feel her breasts smashed between us and my leg naturally went between hers.
She felt so warm and soft. Our kiss deepened and I felt her tongue slip through my lips. She moaned as our tongues slowly caressed. I pulled away and looked at her, let my eyes roam over her face and drink her in.
“God you are beautiful” I whispered, my hand coming up to cup her cheek and stroke it softly with my thumb.
“Gosh!” Elaina blushed and looked down.
I leaned in and kissed her forehead, her eyes, her nose, her cheeks, her lips, hands roaming over her body. My hands came to rest on her hips and I felt them lift a little as her tongue invaded my mouth. I groaned in pleasure as she sucked on my bottom lip. My hands slipped under her night shirt and came in contact with warm, soft skin.
Her hands were all over my back, neck, face, desperately trying to take off my shirt. I sat up a little, trying not to break the kiss. Straddling her, I pulled my shirt over my head and threw it onto the floor.
Bracing myself, hands on either side of her head, I looked down at her beautifully flushed face. Her eyes searching mine, a smile on her lips. She reached a hand up and caressed my face, tracing my lips, I could feel her body tremble.
It suddenly became really warm and all I wanted to feel was her naked skin against mine. I leaned forward and kissed her lips gently, slowly working the night shirt up past her hips, her stomach, and slowly over her breasts. I could see her chest heaving as I slowly lowered myself down onto her and kissed her breasts gently. Kissing around the soft skin, I made my way to her nipple and took it into my mouth, sucking gently.
She gasped, her head dug deeper into the pillow as I continued to make my assault. Her hands were in my hair, pulling me closer to her. I could feel her hips moving against my stomach and I heard her breath become faster as I kissed down her stomach and tenderly nipped her hip. I could smell her and it was driving me mad with desire. Her skin was so soft and warm against mine. It was driving me completely mad and I wanted nothing more than to ravish her, leaving her gasping. I wanted to kiss her private area, to taste her, to smell her, to drink her in.
I lowered my head and tenderly kissed her, venturing a tongue out, I tasted her for the first time.
“Oh Mac!” she exclaimed.
“What?” I stopped and looked up in concern, “Did I hurt you?”
“No, it’s…oh don’t stop!”
I lowered my head and continued to lick and suckle her, pulling her in and running my tongue over her. Her hands were in my hair, pulling me harder into her. I was so lost in the feeling, smell and taste of her, that I was shocked when I felt her spasm in my mouth and heard her cry out.
I paused, her hands limp, I looked up at her and she was smiling, looking down at me. Gently she pulled me up to her and I lowered my lips to devour her. I could feel my need growing as I straddled her leg and slowly ground my center into her. I could feel the warm stickiness of her and it pushed me over edge, my body spasming and a deliciously warm tingling feeling ran through me.
We laid there for how long, neither of us even knew. Our breaths slowing, hearts slowing, I kissed her neck, ear, jaw, lips. I shifted to her side and rested my head on her shoulder, closing my eyes.
The next morning, I awoke with a start. Slowly I took in the room and myself. I was still naked but the bed next to me was vacant. The memories of the prior night flooded my mind and I started to worry that maybe Elaina has left me and she is quite possibly disgusted.
I slowly untangled myself from the bed and searched the room for some clothes. My body still felt weak and I had to sit down to catch my breath. That was when I heard someone moving around in the cabin and realized I wasn’t alone. I smiled to myself, realizing she hadn’t left and maybe she’s not disgusted. With my spirits buoyed with hope, I softly walked out to the kitchen.
I stopped as I spied her moving around in the kitchen with just a nightshirt on, making breakfast, her hair streaming down her back, and her feet in wool socks. I watched with amusement, a smile creeping across my face.
‘God she is beautiful, even in the morning’ I mused.
She turned slightly and spotted me, the smile was quickly replaced by surprise as our eyes meet. A current of electricity coursed through my body as we both stood stock still, staring at each other, both unwilling to break eye contact.
“Good morning,” she said, turning back to her task at hand, a slight blush coloring her cheeks and neck.
“Morning,” I ambled in and slid into a chair at the small table, my eyes never leaving her back.
“Did you sleep well?” she quarried.
“Yes I did thank you, and you?”
“Yeah…thanks,” She continued to stir a mysterious substance in a bowl.
“What are you making?”
“Well you really didn’t have much, so I had to improvise,” She said smiling, while turning towards me, mixing bowl in hand.
“You’re not going to poison me are you?” I smiled.
“No! It’s just pancakes, silly,” she laughed, turning back to the stove and pouring the batter into a hot pan.
I sat and watched her fill two plates with pancakes. She turned and I jumped up to help her bring the plates to the table. We sat down and tucked into our food. Silently we ate, every once in a while I looked up and watched her eat. I could hardly take my eyes off of her.
I was wondering what she was thinking, how she felt, if she still wanted to be around me. From everything I had witnessed this morning, I still couldn’t tell what she was thinking. Finally I had to say something; I could hardly stand myself if I didn’t.
“Hey about last night…”
“I enjoyed it very much and I like you very much,” she said looking up at me.
I sat stunned, my mouth hanging open, just looking at her. She had dashed my fears so quickly that I barely had time to comprehend what I had just heard.
“You…it’s…we…ok?” I sputtered.
“Mac,” she placed a reassuring hand over mine, “What we shared last night was beautiful and it is something that I’ll never forget and most of all, I will never regret the love I felt and still feel.”
I jumped up and came around the table, pulled her up into my arms and crushed her to me. I could feel her warmth, feel her breath on my neck, and smell her beauty. I didn’t ever want to let her go.
“God you make me feel….like I could pick up the whole world with just one hand,” I sighed into her neck, my hands buried in her hair.
“You’ve made me feel so special, more than I’ve ever felt from anyone. I want more of that, I want to feel more of that, forever,” She squeezed me tight.
“Then stay with me. Stay with me here. Live with me here.”
“What would people think?” she asked, pulling away a little and looking up into my eyes.
“What do you mean? Who cares what people think?”
“Well they do know you to be a man and I am definitely a woman….so…” she trailed off.
I had totally forgotten that factor. I was so wrapped up in us and all the new feelings that I had forgotten that I was known to the town’s folk as a man and Elaina living here with me would ruin her reputation, if her being here hadn’t already. We couldn’t get married because we were both women.
“Wait,” my entire thoughts stop, and then kick into high gear, “If they think that I’m a man and you are a woman, then why couldn’t we get married?”
“Well let’s go! Let’s go get hitched!” I exclaimed, all excited. I ran back to the room, grabbed my boots and socks, and hurried back to the kitchen. Elaina was still standing there, looking all amused and happy.
“Hey, why don’t you look outside before you go off in such a rush,” she laughed.
“Because we got a lot of snow last night and I don’t think either of us is going anywhere”
“Huh,” I murmured, stumped, “Well I guess we’re stuck here in the meantime,” smiling I look up at her with a twinkle in my eye.
“Yup, we are,” she smiled back.
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