Leslie whipped her crimson hair back and moaned.
A tingling sensation swelled from her loins, sweeping down her legs and up her back while candlelight flickered off her sweaty skin. She moaned again and shook with finesse, rotating her hips while her fingernails drew blood from the man's back she straddled.
Jack grunted beneath her and his seed was spilled.
She closed her eyes and felt herself float downward, breasts meeting his chests, their warmth passing between them. With each passing second, they slowed their thrusts, allowing their breath to ease until their bodies ceased in unison.
Leslie kissed his forehead, then separated herself beneath the sheets. She rolled onto her back to face the ceiling. "You were something else tonight."
Jack turned on his side, positioning his hand beneath his cheek. He watched her hair sweep across her face and stick to her flesh.
"Glad I could oblige to your likings. Much better than our initial introductions, I presume."
Leslie snorted, cupping her mouth to keep from drooling. She tugged on her bandana, "just forget about that, will ya?"
He chuckled, "how can I? You nearly cut my hand off for touching that," he pointed, "neck scarf of yours."
Leslie's glare hammered away his smirk. "You keep on the hat and I keep on my bandana, that's was the deal.
He used an index finger to lift the black brim above his eyes, then leaned over, tugging on the cloth to draw her naked flesh towards him. She gave in and their bodies collided gently. Leslie then glided a finger around his rounded bicep, down his thick forearm, ending at his oversized palm where their digits intertwined.
"I love you, Red." The words fell awkwardly off his tongue.
Leslie allowed herself to soak them in. She released his hand and sat up slowly, then slipped from the covers and scooted towards the edge of the bed.
"I need to set off," she said, rolling from her heels-to-toes, standing.
Jack sat up while the sheet slipped to his hips; candlelight glistened off his rounded, hairy chest and bubble abs, highlighting palish-white round and lined marks.
"My apologies. I wasn't thinking —"
"No need for apologies." Leslie pulled up her trousers, snapping the button, and locking her horse-iron belt. "Sex will make a man say curious things."
"Damn it, I meant it —"
She raised a finger and his voice faded. "We made an agreement. I need you to respect that or this will have to end."
"I know I'm gonna regret this," he took a deep breath. "You're getting old, Red. You must want a family. I can give you that, before it's too late, and you can no longer bear children."
"Then what? Settle down and raise your kids?"
"Our kids. And, hell, would it be all that bad? You off the streets. It'd help me to sleep at night. How much longer until you turn out like me," he prodded his chest, "scarred or worse ..."
Leslie gave a cold gaze, "is that what you think of me? weak?"
"Not in the least bit. Quite the opposite, really." He watched her tug on her coat. "I just thought, if you'd give it up, I'd give it up."
Her eyes fell to their badges on the nightstand. "All you've ever wanted was to be Leadgun. You dreamed this as a boy."
"Dreams change. I've changed." There was a glint of fear in his eyes, and his tone softened. "We're not made of iron, Red — but flesh and blood — the only thing that'll live on is our name."
"Your name!" Leslie threw back her hair and placed her brown, brimmed hat on top. "Mine will be lost."
"You'll take my name, therefore, our name will live on."
"Odd way to ask for my hand."
Jack rubbed his chin, "well, in all honesty, I'm not the least bit prepared for that talk ... But you know I'm a good man — a man of my word — and if you'll have me, I won't allow you to regret it."
I doubt that, Leslie thought. There wasn't a man who hadn't let her down. Nor a man who said he wouldn't. Why would he be any different? "And what would we do, you and I both being out of work?
"I'm no drinking man; I've saved most my coin" He rubbed his head. "I was thinking we could purchase some horses, and restore your ranch."
My ranch? Her face brightened. How long has he been thinking about this?
"I know it's your dream. And, so, I'll give up mine to give you yours. And we can all be a family. You, me, and your brother—"
My Brother? She blanched. "My brother is the only family I need!" She swung the door open and slammed it shut, leaving the man naked and alone.
Leslie didn't feel as guilty about leaving as she had about storming off without her badge. I guess we'll be seeing each other one last time, she thought, pulling the reins of her horse.
After an hour's ride, she came to a halt at her father's old cottage; the only thing that survived the fire, though she wished it burned with the rest of the ranch.
Leslie came off her horse eyeing the structure. The stones were crumbling and the roof sagged, while wooden shakes were left missing in rows and slabs. She could smell the must from the road, while the trees stood twisted, charred, and rotted in the cottage's midst.
Leslie shuttered, watching a dim flame melt the last of the wax in the window.
An image of a dark silhouette flashed in her head, her screams echoing inside her ears. Release me! they cried, feeling a phantom throb between her legs. She then heard her brothers roar, her father's hollers, and the snapping of bones.
Leslie fell beneath her weight, knees finding the blackened dirt, hands muffling her ears. She closed her eyes, this place needed to burn...
She sat there until the light crept upon her in the east. Legs sore from sitting awkwardly. The shadows left with the nightmares, when the birds sang their morning songs and the bees buzzed in search of nectar.
The sunlight returned her courage, she walked over to the old cedar door that hung on bent, twisted hinges. Battered from that night. She shoved the door opened and slipped inside.
Leslie tasted a thickness in the air. Dust particles floated in the sunlight pouring through the window, illuminating an old fireplace, a straw broom, and enough cobwebs to create a noose.
She would've assumed the cottage was empty had she not heard the loud, rumbles fluttering out of the pile of furs stacked in the middle of the room; a head of red coiled hairs and a pair of black-bottomed feet stuck out of each end.
She bent to one knee and pulled back a large, black-furred blanket, exposing a rounded, freckled face. He was a giant boy, heavy as two men, and near tall as the giants from folktales. His mouth was wide; tongue flapping at the back of his throat creating the rumbling noise.
She watched him for a moment, breathing as heavy as a bear in slumber. Smelling of dew and sweat that seemed to never leave him, even after a good scrub and a long wash.
"Rynan," she whispered, stroking his warm cheek. He snorted and rolled with the furs. "It's time to wake up ..."
"I'm sleeping," he snorted.
"Ok ... I guess somebody doesn't want to see Boone."
He shot up, stretching his enormous limbs, and once done, he brought them down to where his acorn-sized knuckles could massage his eyes. He opened his mouth, extending his tongue and releasing a roar from the belly.
"Did you say Boone?" He gave a gap-filled grin while his cheeks sunk into half-shaped moons.
"You know I did—"
"Oh, boy!" His head swiveled. "Where are my boots?" Thick fingers scratched his scalp. "Well, once I find 'em, we best be off ... don't like ridin' in the dark, none. But first—" he looked down at the belly protruding from his shirt. "Can we have breakfast?"
Leslie hid her smile with a hand. "Of course we can." A tear sliding down her cheek. "You can have whatever it is you desire."