I'm nearly finished with my western-horror novel featuring Clay Carmody, the cowboy-ghoul-hunter I introduced several years ago in my novel, Canyon of a Thousand Eyes. I hope to have the book hammered into publishable shape and up and running on Amazon by January 1. Here is about half of Chapter 12. (WARNING: It's a little naughty...)
“For the love of Pete--what does it take to get a girl warm in this frigid country!” exclaimed the Duke’s wife...er, widow...Duchess Katherine, as she shivered on the leather divan before the ticking potbelly stove in the main drinking hall of the Stockmen’s Saloon in El Sanctuario.
The saloon’s full name was the Northern New Mexico Stockmen’s pool.
“The Territorial,” for short.
Daphne Bradbury sat beside the raven-haired young woman of British royalty, her own cornflower blue gaze fixed on the two broad-shouldered Englishmen standing at the large, glistening bar, facing each other, each man’s right fist clenched around the other’s. Their ruddy faces were puffed up and nearly beet-red. The two burly Brits with the unlikely names Stumpy and Bodger, whom the Duke had appointed as chaperones of sorts for Duchess Katherine and Daphne, were arm wrestling.
“I do, say, my dear Daphne, what has you so riveted over there?”
Duchess Katherine’s voice nudged Daphne from her reverie. If you could call it a reverie. More like a fantasy. Daphne felt the tug of frisky desire pull at her female parts, causing her nipples to tingle and a flush of embarrassment to rise in her peaches-and-cream cheeks as she turned to Lady Kat. That was what the Duchess preferred to be called by those closest to her. Daphne had found herself in that pleasing sphere, as she and Lady Kat were roughly the same age and of similar spirited temperament.
Daphne hemmed and hawed, unable at the moment to float enough air past the constriction in her throat to form words. Lady Kat sat a foot away from her on the large, overstuffed leather divan, facing the potbelly stove, hunched and shivering. Kat glanced over her shoulder at the bar. Just then the shorter of the two British brutes—Stumpy—slammed the taller Englishman’s hand down hard against the bar.
“Blast and damnation!” intoned Bodger as, beaming, Stumpy lifted his ale schooner and poked his beringed pinky out.
Because of the storm, there were very few other customers in the restaurant/hotel/saloon. Those four men, all hovering around Bodger and Stumpy, having bet on the match’s outcome, either broke into applause or groans, cursing as greenbacks switched hands. Stumpy turned toward the two girls watching from the divan. His gaze locked on Daphne’s. He winked over the rim of his frothy glass, and tipped the mug back, drinking heartily.
Daphne gasped and turned away, pressing a hand to her chest. “Oh, god!” She tittered an embarrassed laugh.
“Now I see what’s got your attention!” said Lady Kat.
“Oh, my goodness—I’ve never seen men with such huge muscles!”
“Well, the blacksmith out at the ranch is built like a bear—arms like yokes! Unfortunately, he has a belly like a rain barrel to go with it, and he smells like coal smoke and horse sweat. And he’s old...”
Hazel eyes aglow with devilish delight, Lady Kat looked askance at Daphne. “How do you know what the blacksmith smells like, dear heart?”
Daphne felt the heat rise from her cheeks into her ears. She took her face in her hands and leaned forward laughing, spreading her fingers to exclaim between them, “Oh, good God—you don’t think...? Oh, Lady Kat—I would never!”
Lady Kat laughed, leaning close to Daphne. “For the love of Pete, my dear Daphne—are you saying you’ve never?”
Daphne beetled her brows. “Never...?” Her eyes snapped wide. “You mean...?”
“Whatever else would I mean?” Lady Kat said, arching a skeptical brow.
Daphne shook her hair back, manufacturing a cool demeanor. “Why, of course I have. I am twenty-one years old, for goodness sakes!”
“But you’re not married, dear heart.”
“We westerners are not nearly as prudish as you would think. Why, the English are supposed to be the prudes!”
Daphne laughed into her hands again, blushing as red as a New Mexico sunset. Recovering, she glanced around, making sure no one else was near. All of the other customers were still gathered at the bar, hovering around Stumpy and Bodger, who were engaged in yet another wrestling match.
Daphne leaned close to Lady Kat, whispered into the brunette’s left ear. “My father’s foreman, Mister Lowry.”
Lady Kat looked astonished. “Your father’s fore--?”
Lady Kat sat back, snickering. “How many times?”
Again, Daphne glanced over her shoulder before holding up two fingers while sheepishly tucking her bottom lip under her upper front teeth and glancing demurely downward.
“How was it?”
Daphne hiked a noncommittal shoulder. “Rather too fast, actually.” She snickered. “He was so afraid that Father would find us out that it took him forever to get it hard, and once he did, it was all over in a heartbeat!”
She tittered into her palm.
“Oh, dear—that won’t do.”
“No, it won’t!”
“You need a good ash-hauling, dear heart.”
Daphne lowered her hand, frowning. “What are you talking about?”
Lady Kat tossed her head to indicate the bar, where Stumpy and Bodger were locked in a standstill, fists clenched straight up from the mahogany. They grimaced and grunted through clenched teeth. “Stumpy and I have an arrangement.”
Lady Kat nodded, cheeks dimpling, eyes aglow. “An arrangement.” She pinched her nose as she sank back against the divan again, snorting. “He’s equipped with a foot-long dobber, dear heart. It’s nearly as big as his arm!”
“Oh my god!” Daphne glanced toward the bar then turned her astonished gaze back to her friend. “What about the Duke?”
Lady Kat pursed her lips, looked down at her hand, and raised her pale, slender index finger to half-mast. It resembled a worm trying to shake off a nap. Both women fairly roared as they rolled back against the divan. “But he’s so astonishingly handsome,” Daphne said. “With so much pluck!”
“Yes, well,” Lady Kat said, “looks and pluck are all he has, I’m afraid. A woman needs far more than that if she’s going to get one off, don’t you know.” Lady Kat sat up straight on the divan, raised her arms high above her head, stretching, and gave a loud yawn. “I do believe it’s time for a nap, dear Daphne.”
She’d raised her voice loud enough to be heard at the bar. Several of the men glanced her way. Stumpy remained facing his opponent though Daphne thought she saw his eyes flick toward the divan.
“Would you excuse me for a bit, dear friend?” Lady Kat asked Daphne.
Before Daphne could respond, Lady Kat placed her hand on Daphne’s thigh and leaned toward her, whispering, “Give us fifteen minutes. Then do join us. The door will not be locked, I assure you.”
Lady Kat rose with unspeakable grace, giving Daphne an oblique smile. Daphne stared at her, puzzled but with a warm feeling deep down in her belly. Swinging around, swishing her skirts, the ravishing Brit strode toward the broad staircase at the back of the room. She moved gracefully on her long, coltish legs, chin held high, swinging her hips with subtle enticing. Halfway to the base of the stairs, she gave another loud yawn, swept her hair up high above her head with both hands, and let it tumble back down to her narrow shoulders and slender back.
While she did not once glance at the bar, Daphne knew that Lady Kat was well aware of most of the men staring at her like horny schoolboys. Daphne heard one issue a barely audible groan of desire. Stumpy pointedly did not turn his head in her direction but kept his gaze on his opponent.
Lady Kat gracefully climbed the stairs, brushing the tips of her fingers lightly along the rail, her glistening hair dancing across her back, and disappeared into the cavernous building’s second story. Daphne glanced at the men at the bar. Bodger gave a grunt and slammed Stumpy’s hand down onto the bartop.
Stumpy cursed without heat.
The four onlookers clapped or shook their heads, exchanging more greenbacks.
“Bloody hell, old man,” Bodger said, flexing his right hand. “I thought for sure you had me a third time in a row. What happened?”
Stumpy shrugged and hunkered down over his beer. Daphne kept her furtive gaze on the Brit’s broad back. He remained at the bar for a couple of minutes then finished his beer, slammed it down on the mahogany, and said, “This cold weather’s got me fagged to the marrow. I’m gonna head upstairs for a kip.”
“More ale for me!” said Bodger, then motioned to the bearded bar tender for another beer.
After Stumpy had disappeared into the second story, Daphne sat hunched before the potbelly stove, shivering not from a chill but from her wild imaginings about what was happening upstairs in Lady Kat’s room.
Anxiety weighed heavy on her.
While she wanted very much to be part of Lady Kat’s and Stumpy’s tryst, she was afraid. She’d never been a part of such dealings. Mr. Lowry had been her first and only lover though on a dare she’d once kissed the cock of a stable boy. While neither of hers and Mr. Lowry’s hurried couplings had been one bit satisfactory and she’d longed for a longer, more adventurous and enjoyable tumble, she’d never expected a proposition like the one Lady Kat had just tossed in her lap.
Share a bed with both a man and another woman?
My, god—she’d never heard of such a thing!
Daphne gave a snort as her body was wracked by another round of anticipatory shivers. Stumpy was quite the good-looking man. He was shorter than Bodger, but he was by no means “stumpy” at all. (She had no idea where these Englishmen came up with their nicknames!) He was ginger-bearded and ruddy-faced, with blazing, dark-blue eyes—nearly the same blue as the Duke’s. His hair was a shade darker than his beard, and it was curly and wild. His face was deftly chiseled into the visage of a handsome barbarian.
While Stumpy was not as tall as the Duke, his shoulders were nearly as wide as a barn door, his legs firm and stout—a much more evolved specimen even than the brawny young man who cut hay for Daphne’s father, a simple, bashful but nice-to-look-at farmboy named Hayden Carlson whom Daphne often thought about when she touched herself.
When the fifteen minutes were up, Daphne found herself climbing the stairs. Her heart beat in her chest like the heart of a frightened little bird. Her breasts were warm. She could feel chicken flesh rising across them. Her nipples were raking almost painfully against the inside of her corset, but they tingled, as well.
Oh, dear Lord, what kind of a naughty thing was she about to do? she wondered, muffling a snort with her hand before turning at the top of the stairs.