Forbidden Love

Okay everyone, I’m not sure how long this story will be, but I got this idea and began writing it for my Friday post here on my blog. I hope you will enjoy it and follow it through to the end. I will post installments of this story every Friday until I reach its end.

Forbidden Love by Kelly F. Barr

The sun beat down and the air was hot and dry. Amelia carried a parasol to shield her from the sun as she walked along the wooden walkway. The pounding of hooves and shouting of men burst through the air and Amelia turned to see six men on horses galloping down the middle of the street as townspeople scattered out of their way. The men arrived in a cloud of dust, reining their horses in, dismounting and tethering the animals outside the saloon across the street from where Amelia stood.

Amelia entered the dressmaker’s shop.

“Good afternoon, Amelia. Your dresses are finished. I think you’ll be pleased.” Miss Rachel, the dressmaker greeted her.

Miss Rachel led the way into her back room and pulled a dress from a rack. Amelia changed into the dress and was greatly pleased with the fit. It was a cornflower blue dress. It was perfect for Sunday wear. Next came a yellow dress covered with tiny pink roses, followed by an emerald green dress with a cream colored bodice. They all fit perfectly.

“Oh Miss Rachel, you have such skill with a needle and thread.”

“You are quite adept at choosing colors that compliment your coloring. No wonder every man in town watches as you pass by.”

Amelia felt her cheeks grow warm. “I think that’s an exaggeration, but thank you for the compliment. How much do I owe you?”

“That will be $9.”

Amelia opened her purse, paid Miss Rachel, placed her packages in her basket and left the shop.

She went next door to the milliner’s shop and picked up her new Sunday hat. It would go very well with her new cornflower blue dress.

She stepped out onto the wooden walkway and began to stroll down the walkway when her path was suddenly blocked by the strangers who had rode into town a little earlier.

One of the men tipped his hat to her. “Well, howdy. Ain’t you a purty little thing? What’s your name?”

Amelia stiffened and pulled herself to her full height. “Would you mind letting me pass?”

“Oh, now don’t be like that. I’m just tryin’ to be friendly. My name’s Cade Jeffries.”

Amelia gasped and put her hand to her throat. Cade Jeffries was a known outlaw who rode with the Brody gang. She realized that must be whom she must be facing at the moment. Her mind raced and her eyes searched to her left and right hoping that someone would see her predicament and come to her aid.

Cade narrowed his eyes at her and spoke in a sharp tone. “I’ll ask once more. What’s your name?”

Amelia cleared her throat. “I’m Amelia Williams, daughter of Sheriff Williams.”

Cade grinned at her. “The sheriff’s daughter. Well, don’t that beat all. Guess we should let the lady pass.” He motioned for the others to open a pathway, but he remained directly in front of Amelia.

“Would you allow me to carry your basket for you and accompany you on your way?”

His bright blue eyes and deep dimples were hard to resist. Amelia had always had a soft spot for dimples, and Cade’s were the deepest she’d ever seen. She also noticed his strong arms and broad shoulders.

“That’s very kind of you, but I assure you it’s not necessary.”

“I’d still be obliged if you allowed me the privilege of carrying your basket and walking with you.” His eyes pleaded with her.

“Well, I suppose there wouldn’t be any harm in that.” She offered a small smile and handed the basket to Cade, who then offered her his other arm.

She took it and hoped her father would not see her with Cade.

“So what brings you to town?” Amelia asked.

“We were just passin’ through, but now that I met you, I might stick around a while.”

Amelia was certain the warmth in her cheeks meant she was blushing under his gaze.

“Oh, don’t let me be a reason to change your plans.”

“Why not? Do you have a beau or are you just afraid your daddy won’t allow you to be seen with Cade Jeffries?”

Amelia was unsure if the glint in his eyes was teasing or mocking her. “My father trusts my judgment, although I’m sure if he saw me with you, he would question it for the first time.”

“And you’d be quite right about that.”

Amanda’s hand flew to cover her mouth at the sound of her father’s voice. He was standing on her right, having just come out of the jail in time to see her with Cade and hear her last sentence. She’d been so focused on Cade that she hadn’t realized that had come to the jail.

Her father grabbed her arm and pushed her behind him.

“I don’t know what you and the Brody gang are doing in my town, Cade, but you can just keep moving, and stay away from my daughter.”

Cade and her father stared each other down for a few minutes. Then Cade reached around her father to hand her basket to her. A smile slid across his lips. “It was a pleasure, Miss Williams. I hope we meet again.”

He gave Sheriff Williams an icy glare, turned on his heel and headed back up the walkway toward the Brody gang who were waiting for him by their horses.

Flash Fiction Friday: Bounty Hunter

Leta smelled the smoke of a campfire. Then voices drifted to her on the air. She reined her horse in and dismounted. She pulled her rifle from its place in her saddle and checked the revolver that hung on her hip, both were loaded and ready. She stepped lightly through the grass, leaves and twigs to get closer.

“So, how many have ya killed?” This voice sounded young.
“Oh, I dunno. I reckon I lost count.” Leta recognized the gravelly voice of Slade McKenna.
“He’s killed at least three sherrifs.” Yep, that was Kid McKenna, Slade’s brother. Leta continued to wait, her heart pounding in her chest. If it was just these three, her job would be easy.

The noise of scraping an iron pan and tin plates assaulted Leta’s ears.

“How long you been wandering around this territory on your own, Buck?”
“About three months. I been looking to join up with a gang. How’s come there aren’t more fellas with the two of you?”

Leta stepped into the firelight, rifle pointed at the middle of Slade’s back. Kid dropped his fork and tin plate, but before he could reach for his gun, Leta spoke. “Keep your hands where I can see ’em, or your brother gets a bullet to the back. Toss your rifle and revolver over yonder.” She cocked her head toward a stand of trees a couple of yards to her right.

Slade moved lightening fast, pulled his revolver, turned and shot at the same time.
Leta fired her rifle. It took a chunk out of the log Slade had been sitting on and wood splinters flew up into his face.
“Next shot won’t miss. Now you and the Kid can come peacefully or I can kill ya and make this other one help tie you to a horse for me to haul in. Makes no difference to me. Reward says, ‘Dead or Alive’.”

Slade’s eyes ran over this woman from the top of her tan bullhide cowgirl hat to the tips of her brown boots. His mouth broke into a leering grin. “Well now, you’re the purtiest bounty hunter I ever did see. You really think you can take us in all by yourself?”
“Don’t try anything funny. I know I can take you both in. I’d prefer alive, but I can do dead if need be. So, what’s it gonna be?”
“What’s your hurry? It’d be easier to travel once the sun comes up in the morning. Why don’t you bed down here by the fire and we’ll go with you in the mornin’?”
“I don’t lie with rattlesnakes. Enough of this jawin’. You toss your guns over with your brother’s and then keep your hands where I can see ’em.”

The new guy hadn’t moved since Leta made her appearance. He sat staring at her with his mouth hanging open. Leta pointed her rifle at him for just a second to get his attention. “You, take this and tie up the Kid.” She tossed him one of the ropes she had hanging over her shoulder.
“Yes, ma’am.” His hands trembled in the firelight. He moved toward the Kid, who was glaring at him.
Kid glanced at Slade, who nodded. Kid turned and put his hands behind his back for Buck to tie. Then Slade said, “Now!”
Kid turned around and hit Buck with an uppercut to the jaw as Slade moved toward Leta.

Bang! Leta’s rifle screamed in the night and Slade grabbed his right thigh. “You shot me in the leg.”
“Yeah, and if you try anything else, the next shot will be to your chest or your head.”
Kid stood waiting for Slade’s directions, while Buck sat on the ground rubbing his chin.
“I reckon we’re beat, Kid. Guess we better go with the lady.”
“Are you crazy? Surrender to a woman? We can take her.”
“She shot me in the leg!”

Leta pointed the rifle at the rope on the ground near Buck and motioned toward him. “Tie him up.”
This time Kid didn’t fight as Buck tied his hands tightly behind his back.
Leta moved closer and took the other rope from her shoulder and clamped onto Slade’s right arm, jerking it behind him, followed by his left. She tied him firmly, then she looked to Buck again. “Let’s get them on their horses.”
When Kid and Slade were on their horses and the horses were tied together, Leta whistled. Her horse came into the firelight and she tied the rope from the other horses to her horse’s saddlehorn.

She took one last look at Buck. “You count your blessings I came along before your threw your hat in the ring with these two, and go on home to your mama.” Then she mounted her horse and headed back toward Carson City.

Flash Fiction Friday: An Unlikely Love to the Rescue

He walked into the saloon.  All sound stopped – no more talking, no more piano, not even the sound of a beer bottle being set on the bar.  Every eye turned toward this stranger.

Dixie was the first to move.  She was always the first to approach the men who entered the saloon, but not this time.  Lily stepped in front of her and took hold of her arm.

This could be my ticket out of this awful life.  He’s handsome, not too old and looks like he’s got some money.  “I’ve got this one, Dixie.”

Dixie stood watching, her jaw slack, as Lily approached the handsome stranger.

The piano player resumed playing.  Everyone began talking again.

“Good afternoon, handsome.  You must be new in town because I’ve never seen you before.”

His deep green eyes appraised her.  “That’s right.  I’m a gambler.  I’ve been hearing this town has some tough gamblers and I like a challenge.”

“Fine looking gentleman like yourself, I hope gamblin’ ain’t all you’re interested in.”  She smiled, put her hand on his arm and leaned toward him.

“I wouldn’t mind getting to know you better, Darlin’.  What’s your name?”

“Lily.”

“After a beautiful flower.”  He leaned down and placed a soft, short kiss upon her lips.

Lily felt a tingling sensation from her lips all the way down to her toes.

“And what’s your name, Handsome?”

“Jaxon.  Jaxon McDaniel.”

*  * *

Jaxon had been in town for a month by the time the other gamblers got a taste for his blood because of the flogging they took from him at the gambling table.  The gamblers played every day in the saloon.  Lily was a permanent fixture at Jaxon’s side during the games.  Every night found Jaxon in Lily’s bed.

Lily knew that Jaxon would be moving on soon.  In the evening as he held her in his arms, she said, “You’ll be leavin’ soon, won’t you?”

“Yes, I’m afraid I’ve worn out my welcome at the gambling table here.”

The silence between them was heavy.  Then Jaxon turned on his side, faced her and propped his head upon his hand.  He ran his fingers down the side of her jaw and kissed her deeply.  She was afraid to hope that the kiss expressed a deep love for her.

When he broke the kiss, he spoke in a husky voice, “Lily, I want you to leave here with me tomorrow.  You don’t belong in a life like this.  You’re young, beautiful.  You deserve to experience love and a man who will respect you.”

She was sure the small smile she offered showed her uncertainty.  “Could you really respect me, Jaxon, knowin’ what I’ve been?  Knowin’ that I’ve had other men?  You deserve better than me.”

Jaxon chuckled.  “My dear Lily.  My chosen lifestyle isn’t exactly a respectable one, and to be honest, you aren’t the first woman I’ve shared a bed with, but you are the first woman who has captured my heart.”

He took her hand, placed the palm of it against his chest.  “Do you feel my heart beating?  It’s beating hard and fast because I’m afraid you’ll turn me down.  You, with your black curls and chocolate brown eyes are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. You have devoted yourself to me this entire month, not spending time with any other man.”

“You paid for me.  Besides the men around here disgust me.  Most who have come seeking my bed are old, dirty and married.  I never wanted this life.  I was trapped into it when I arrived here young, naive, alone.  You see, I ran away from home when I was seventeen because my pa wanted me to marry a fat, bald forty-year-old man.  Pa said it would be a good marriage.  The man could provide well for me.  The man leered at me and when he touched me with his sausage fingers, I cringed.  So, I ran away and ended up here.  Crazy, ain’t it?  I didn’t want to marry a fat, bald, old man but I’ve given myself to worse, more times than I can count.”

Jaxon kissed her fingers.  “My sweet Lily, that settles it.  You’re leaving here with me tomorrow.”

“Jake won’t let me go easily.  He makes a lot of money off a me.”

“I’m sure I can strike a bargain with Jake.”  Jaxon lay back down and pulled her close again.

*  *  *

The next morning, Jaxon left Lily upstairs dressing and packing while he went to talk with Jake.

“Mornin’ Jake.”

“Jaxon.”

“I’ll be leaving today and I want to take Lily with me.”

Jake stared at Jaxon long and hard.  “Well now, I don’t see how’s that possible.  You see, Lily belongs to me.”

“Lily works for you.  She doesn’t belong to you.  I’m willing to pay you generously since you’ll be losing an employee.”

“Is that so?  How much you figurin’ on payin’?”

“Well, you’ve charged me $10 a night to spend with her this entire month, and I figure she doesn’t usually have just one gentleman in an average evening.  So, if I was to pay you $20 a night for three months, that’d be $1,800.  I’m willing to make it an even $2,000.  What do you say?”

Jake’s eyes grew round.  His lower jaw appeared to come unhinged.  After a few minutes he managed to say, “You got yourself a deal.”

Jaxon shook Jake’s hand, paid him cash and hurried upstairs for Lily.

She looked startled as he burst through the door.  He picked her up, swung around, brought her down and gave her a long, passionate kiss as her tears washed over his face.

“Sweetheart, why are you crying?”

“I can’t believe it.  I’m really leaving here with you?”

“You certainly are, but we gotta go before Jake tries to squeeze more money out of me.  Now where are your bags?

Lily pointed to the floor by the bed at one small satchel.

“That’s it?”

“I don’t have many respectable clothes.”

“We’ll take care of that.  Now let’s get out of here.”  He took her satchel in one and and picked her up in his arms.  He carried her down the stairs, out of the swinging saloon doors, and neither he nor Lily looked back.