Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Ansel woke, drenched in sweat and shivering. Bloody hell! He slowly rolled over, wincing at each ache in his muscles. There was an unfamiliar twinge in his arse, making him pause for a moment.
“How are you feeling?”
He jerked at the sound of Job’s voice, then turned his head to where Job was crouched next to the fireplace. The man was studying him and he smiled slightly.
“Nothing I haven’t felt before,” Ansel muttered. He pushed up until he was leaning back against the wall. He saw his clothes folded neatly next to the bed and he dug through them to find his handkerchief.
Job grunted, but didn’t reply. He spooned out some of the stew into a bowl then brought it over to Ansel. “Here’s some supper.”
“Thank you.” He set the bowl on the floor before wiping the sweat off. Job took the cloth and took it to dip in a bucket. Ansel frowned then noticed Job wringing it out.
“This should make you feel a little better. After you eat, you can wash a little. It’ll help with the sweat. I’m sorry you can’t take a real bath.” Job handed the handkerchief back.
Ansel shrugged. “I can get one at the boarding house when I go back there. It’s not really important. I appreciate it though.”
He wiped his face, neck and chest, sighing as the cool water helped ease the fever burning in him. He took as deep a breath as he could then picked up his bowl. Job rejoined him after dishing up his own supper.
They were quiet for a little while as they ate. Ansel couldn’t find his usual curiosity as to what Job was doing at Gideon’s Crossing. He found he wished they had met at a ball or party in London when he was healthy. There might have been a chance for their relationship to become more than just a few nights in bed.
Snorting softly, Ansel shook his head. Job would never fit in with the people Ansel had called friends. They were good at hiding how they felt and playing games. Job didn’t strike Ansel as a man who enjoyed those kinds of games. He seemed like an honest man who didn’t suffer fools kindly.
Finally after they finished and Job cleaned the bowls, Ansel settled back and folded his hands in his lap. He met Job’s green eyes.
“Is it time for you to tell me why you’re here?”
Job stared at him for a few seconds before nodding. “I got a message from one of my family who settled down out this way. He said he was having trouble, but didn’t go into any details.”
“What’s your relative’s name?” Ansel had been in town for several months, and even though he was a stranger, he still would’ve heard gossip about a range war.
“Calbert Ramsey,” Job told him.
Ansel pursed his lips while he thought. “I have heard something about a Ramsey, but I have to admit it wasn’t very flattering.”
Job nodded. “That’s what I was afraid of. I’m not naïve, you know? Not all of my family is good people. Just like most, we have bad apples. My gut was saying Calbert needed me to help with something I wasn’t going to feel good about doing.”
“Have you talked to Calbert yet?”
“No. I don’t go in anywhere without knowing the lay of the land first.” Job shrugged. “The best way to get yourself killed is to rush in without checking things out.”
Ansel chuckled. “That makes sense. Was that what you were doing this morning?”
“Yes.” He scrubbed his hand over his hair and scowled. “I went out to Calbert’s land and he doesn’t seem to be bothered or hurting for anything. Got good water access and plenty of land for his cattle.”
“There are shepherds who have moved in next to him. He says they’re squatting, but they claim he hadn’t filed on the land, so they could settle there if they wanted. From what I understand, the cattle men swear the sheep ruin the land.” Ansel wrinkled his nose. “I don’t know anything about that. Animal husbandry was never where my interest lay while I was at home.”
Job laughed, resting his hand on Ansel’s knee. “I’m not surprised. You don’t strike me as a man who gets his hands dirty toiling the land.”
Ansel covered Job’s hand with his while he smiled. “Of course not. What do you know about sheep?”
“Most ranchers consider them a nuisance. I’ve worked with some herders down closer to the border. Sheep are stupid, but I don’t really have an opinion about them.” Job shifted until he sat next to Ansel on the blankets. He didn’t seem to pay any attention to the fact that they were holding hands. “I think Calbert’s problem is he thinks that land belongs to him. He’s been running his cattle through there. Also, they have one of the main water sources. That’s what has him pissed.”
“He probably wants you to go and run them off, right?” Ansel leaned his head on Job’s chest and took another breath. It felt like the iron band wrapped around his lungs had loosened slightly.
He’d rarely spent time in bed with lovers that didn’t involve sex. Ansel had been more interested in finding pleasure with them then learning about them. Yet with Job, Ansel discovered he wanted to know what the man was thinking outside of their passion. He’d never had a lover become a friend. Could that happen between Job and him?
“You said you wanted to know if I could use my guns. Are you really expecting me to back your play, whatever it turns out to be?” Ansel squeezed Job’s hand. “I will, never doubt that, but I’m not sure you should be trusting a man you just met. Especially one who isn’t from around here.”
“That is exactly why I should have you help me. You don’t have a stake in this fight. Besides, I trust my instincts and all of them are saying you’re the right man for the job.”
For those of you who didn’t pre-order or do the early download of Walking in the Rain, it’s available now at all 3rd party sellers on general release. Yay!
Plus I’m doing a blog tour for it, so I’ll post those links as they come up.
But if you’re interested in an exclusive author interview with me at Totally Bound, click here. check out what I have to say…lol
Also, thank you for helping get Bodyguards up to #8 on ARe’s bestseller list. I appreciate all of you for loving this series so much.
I hope you have a great weekend. I’m writing, going to the Ren Faire and running in a 10k this weekend. I think by Sunday night, I’m going to be falling into bed by 6…lol
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
“No problem. Now get on your hands and knees,” he ordered, but with a grin. He helped Ansel position himself to give Job the perfect access.
Job opened the little bottle then poured some of the oil onto his fingers. He rubbed them together before trailing them down Ansel’s crease to touch his puckered opening. Circling it slowly, he chuckled as Ansel moaned and pushed back to encourage him for more.
He spread Ansel’s cheeks with one hand while he pressed one finger in. Ansel’s body welcomed him and Job found he was having trouble waiting long enough to feel like he had done what was needed to be able to take Ansel. He didn’t want to hurt him, having learned more than once how bad fucking could be if it wasn’t taken carefully.
“Oh my God,” Ansel breathed out.
“Amazing, huh?” He eased two fingers in then began sliding in and out. He scissored them to stretch Ansel.
“Yes. It’ll be more amazing when your cock is filling me instead.” Ansel shot him a narrow-eyed glance over his shoulder. “I think it’s time.”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” Job admitted, cringing when he realized how weak that probably made him sound.
Ansel’s eyes rolled in his head when Job hit something inside him that jolted him. “Thanks for caring, old man, but I don’t need to be treated fragile. Just bugger me already.”
Job snorted but did as Ansel told him. He eased back to pour some more oil in his palm to coat his own dick. Once that was done, he positioned himself at Ansel’s entrance then began to slowly push in.
He heard Ansel inhale sharply, but he didn’t tense, somehow remaining relaxed even though Job was pretty sure it was hurting him. No matter how much preparation done, there is pain until Ansel’s body adjusted around him.
When he was buried as deeply inside Ansel as he could be, he took a hold of the man’s hips, just giving him something to anchor him. He waited until Ansel showed him he was ready for more.
“What are you waiting for? A sign from God?” Ansel wiggled his ass and Job pinched him.
“No. Just making sure you were ready,” Job told him then slid almost all the way out before slamming back in.
“Oh bloody hell,” Ansel shouted and started to babble about how full he was. How incredible Job felt inside him.
Job grunted, keeping his rhythm as best he could, though he sped up. Desire built and swelled throughout his body and pressure drew his balls tight. It had been a while since he’d been with anyone, so he knew it wouldn’t be long before he spilled.
Ansel’s inner muscles seemed to massage his length and tightened each time he pulled out as though he didn’t want Job to leave him. Job drove in deep and froze as he flooded Ansel.
He jerked and twitched until he emptied what seemed like the last drop of his seed. Job collapsed to the side and Ansel flopped onto his stomach.
“Do you need anything?” Job ran his hand along Ansel’s spine.
The man shook his head. “I’m good.” He paused then said, “Do you have any water?”
“Oh yeah. One of the reasons I chose this cabin was because there’s a small spring in the back room that can’t be tampered with from outside.” He took a deep breath then rolled to the edge of the bed. Job found his boots and stepped into them, stamping to make sure they were on.
He heard a chuckle as he strolled across the floor toward the door in the back wall. Turning around, he saw Ansel pushed up on his elbow watching him.
“What are you laughing at,” Job demanded.
“Not laughing, friend. Just enjoying the view.” Ansel waved his hand at Job’s naked body. “I’ve never had a mostly naked man wearing boots wandering around my room before.”
Job shot a glance down his front to where his cock hung limply between his thighs and huffed. “Ain’t no point in getting totally dressed when I’m just going to get back in bed with you.”
“True. Go on and get the water. I need to take my medicine.” Ansel dropped back onto his back, letting his arm cover his eyes.
Standing there, Job studied him for a moment, making sure he wasn’t having trouble breathing or anything before he went on back to get a pitcher full of water. When he got back, Ansel was leaned back against the wall with the blanket pulled to his waist. Job poured a tin mug for him then sat on the blankets before he handed it to Ansel.
“Thank you.” Ansel took a small sip and looked at him. “It’s still rather early.”
“Yeah, but I think we should take a short nap then while we have some rabbit, I’ll explain to you what I’m doing here.” Job took the mug from Ansel and set it on the roughly built table. He rejoined Ansel in the bed, drawing the man into his embrace as he rested his cheek on the top of Ansel’s head.
It was strange how comfortable he felt doing that. Job had no illusions about himself. He wasn’t a soft man and tended to keep to himself for the most part. Having grown up in the family he had didn’t lend itself to comfort and caring. His mother tried but after having twelve kids in thirteen years—most of whom were boys—she didn’t have the energy to be maternal with them.
He left home at the age of fourteen, not wanting to be a burden on his family any more. Job could take care of himself, so he headed west toward the mountains, hoping to find some place he could call his own. Unfortunately, he was still wandering, yet at this exact moment with Ansel’s warm breath washing over his bare skin, Job didn’t feel the urge to run.
I thought I’d share with you a little snippet of the story I’m working on now. It’s titled Deserved to be Adore and will be out probably next year at Amber Allure. It will be part of a Tarot/Fortune PAX that is due on December 1st. I want to get it done so I can work on the second PAX story I have due on December 1st as well. That is a Dragon PAX and it’ll be Rover’s story from the Preternatural series. I know…FINALLY!!!! right? lol.
Here you go:
Deserved to be Adored copyright 2014 T.A. Chase
Movement drew his attention and he noticed Payton nodding in agreement. Great. Even the flunkies believe Maman Patterson is insane. Doesn’t bode well.
“Maman isn’t crazy. It’s Raleigh’s duty to provide heirs to keep the power and the coven going,” Dyson said, sounding like he was repeating something he’d heard often.
“His duty? Just like it was your maman’s duty to love her son no matter what. Well, she seems to have failed at that, so I’m not surprised Raleigh isn’t in a hurry to come and help you out.” Joey didn’t mind talking. It wasn’t like there was anything he could do until they got where they were going. “I saw you look at my phone. Did Raleigh text you that he was coming? It was nice of him to warn you.”
Payton huffed out an annoyed sigh and Joey grinned at him.
“Man, I’m not going to shut up. Make me be quiet if you want, but what have I got to lose?”
“Your life?” Payton eyed him.
Joey burst out laughing. “Seriously? You’re going to kill me for not keeping quiet? Oh boy, I’d love to see you explain that to Maman Patterson. I bet she’d be thrilled to know you shot the only thing insuring her oldest son comes home.”
He saw Payton shudder and he chuckled again. He couldn’t wait to meet Raleigh’s maman. While everyone around her seemed to be scared silly of her, Joey was made of sterner stuff. He’d dealt with not only his mama, but his aunt Sylvia, who was crazier than a loon, meaner than a rattlesnake, and was probably way more powerful than Raleigh’s maman.
“Do you know who I am?” He was honestly asking, not because he wanted brag, but because he was curious if Dyson realized just who they were going to have to deal with at the end of all this.
“You’re the youngest son of one of the more powerful mob families in New Jersey and New York. Big deal. You’re just a bunch of criminals.”
“And you’re a bunch of witches,” Joey replied. “It’s a fact that you’re witches and the Santiagos are criminals. But there are other people in my family line that are a little more like you than me.”
Dyson sneered. “Yeah right. We’re not afraid of criminals. Now shut the fuck up or I’ll cast a spell to keep you silent until we get home.”
“Go ahead and try. I dare you.” Joey settled back into his seat, crossing his arms over his chest to stare at Dyson. Even though the man couldn’t actually meet his gaze, Dyson had to know he was looking at him, daring Dyson to spell him.
He slid over the leather as Dyson swerved to the side of the road, slammed the car into park then whirled around to look at Joey.
“Uh-oh,” Payton muttered.
“Take your best shot, jackass,” Joey taunted.
Dyson reached out to place the fingers of his right hand on Joey’s forehead then he whispered under his breath. Joey felt a little tingle, but nothing else. When Dyson removed his touch, Joey cleared his throat.
“Was that all you got?” He wiggled his eyebrows and Dyson swore.
Payton gaped then said, “How the hell did you manage not to be affected by that spell? He didn’t even touch me and I felt like my lips were sealing shut.”
Joey looked over at Payton. “I told you I have people in my family line that are more like you than me. Whatever they are kind of neutralizes any magic you might do to me.”
“Jesus Christ!” Payton slid his gun in the holster he wore under his jacket. “Who the fuck did your brother hook up with, Dyson? And why the hell didn’t you do more research before you kidnapped the bastard?”
“Shut the fuck up, Payton. You don’t talk to me like that.” Dyson glared at Payton before turning to look at Joey. “I’m not that powerful. I bet once my maman gets a hold of you, she’ll get you to cooperate.”
Joey wrinkled his forehead. “What do you mean cooperate? How?”
“She knows spells to get people to do what she wants, and if those don’t work, she offers them money.” Dyson shrugged, obviously upset about the way his spell failed, but sure of his maman’s ability to get what she wanted.
“I don’t need money, dude, and I’m pretty sure that her little spells aren’t going to bother me. I’m not going to walk away from Raleigh. I don’t care what you all try to do. You’re not going to separate us.” Joey rested his head on the window, turning his attention back to the darkness beyond them. “Just get us to your maman’s place, Dyson. I’ll deal with her.”
Dyson put the car in drive and got back on the road. Silence filled the car. Joey wasn’t interested in teasing Dyson anymore. All he wanted was to get to Maman Patterson’s bayou. He had a feeling Raleigh wasn’t far behind him and once they connected, they would take care of the coven and Raleigh’s mother.
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
He saw the lust and appreciation in Ansel’s eyes and he couldn’t help but puff up a little. He’d never thought he was anything special. Just a man who worked a lot outside and used his body to survive.
Yet the look on Ansel’s face said he was something special. He finished unbuttoning his pants then shoved them and his drawers down so he could step out of them. Once he was completely naked, Job scratched his chest before lifting his head to look at Ansel.
“You’re still wearing too many clothes, sir,” he teased as he stalked toward Ansel who still hadn’t moved.
“I don’t look like you,” Ansel muttered, motioning between himself and Job.
“Well, I didn’t expect you to since you’re a pampered Englishman and I’m a crude cowhand.” Job untucked Ansel’s shirt from his pants then started to lift it.
Ansel stiffened and Job stopped. He met Ansel’s dark gaze.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” He wasn’t about to force himself on anyone who might not be comfortable with what they were about to do. Admittedly, he didn’t think Ansel would’ve bulked at it.
Sighing, Ansel frowned. “It’s not so much that I don’t want to do this. Maybe I want this too much.” His hands shook when he touched Job’s chest. “It has been a long time since I’ve been with anyone. Most people won’t risk their lives getting that close to me.”
“I’m not most men,” Job said, leaning down to nuzzle Ansel’s throat. He leaned back a bit to quickly remove Ansel’s shirt.
The man was thin, almost too skinny, and Job knew it was because of the consumption eating away at Ansel, plus there was a hint of exhaustion in the lines of his body. Yet Job could tell that at one time, Ansel must have been an extremely fit man.
“You weren’t the kind of Englishman who sat around, drinking and expecting others to work for you, huh?” He mimicked Ansel by trailing his fingers over Ansel’s chest then rubbed his thumb over one of his nipples.
Ansel moaned then rested his hands on Job’s shoulders. “Of course, I expected others to work for me. A gentleman doesn’t get his hands dirty doing peasant work. I rode every day for miles and went to Gentleman Jack’s club to do some bare knuckle sparring. I did join in the harvest from time to time.”
Job eyed him. “Something tells me you did that just to annoy your brother.”
Chuckling, Ansel agreed. “Of course I did. I didn’t like toiling in the fields. I only enjoyed it because it angered my brother when I wandered into the house covered in mud.”
He hummed, no longer interested in the games Ansel seemed to play with his brother. What had caught his attention was the fact that Ansel still wasn’t naked and he wanted to feel the man’s skin against his from his chest to his knees.
Ansel gasped as Job made quick work of his pants, leaving them both as bare as when they were born. He wrapped his arms around Ansel’s slender waist, bringing him tight against his body and groaned. He honored Ansel’s wishes, not kissing him, but he did suck on Ansel’s earlobe for a moment.
“Oh my God!” Ansel shuddered and clutched at Job’s shoulders then winding his arms around his neck. He tilted his head to the side, offering more skin for Job to nibble on.
The salty taste of Ansel’s skin teased Job’s tongue as he licked and bit down Ansel’s chest until Job had to kneel. Ansel ran his fingers through Job’s hair while Job rubbed his cheek against Ansel’s thin long cock.
“That feels amazing,” Ansel muttered.
Job encircled his dick then licked the flared head. He growled before taking it all the way down until it hit the back of his throat. Job smiled when Ansel shouted his name. After bracing his hands on Ansel’s thighs, Job went to work, sucking as hard as he could, and drawing more sounds out of the Englishman.
He didn’t protest when Ansel’s thrusts into his mouth got rougher and harder. He could take whatever Ansel dished out. Job wanted Ansel to spill his seed before Job fucked him. If it had been as long as Ansel said, then getting fucked while he was relaxed would be better for him.
Job slid his fingers around to caress along Ansel’s crease to where his puckered opening was. He pressed the tips against it and Ansel jerked. Not letting Ansel to move away from him, Job continued working him with his mouth to distract him.
“Job, I’m going to…” Ansel warned.
Patting Ansel’s hip, he gave him permission to do what he needed. Job’s cock throbbed and ached from his own pleasure building up inside him. He couldn’t wait to bury himself deep into Ansel’s ass.
Ansel tightened his grip on Job’s head to the point of pain and Job winced for a moment, then Ansel was spilling his spent into Job’s mouth. He swallowed as much as he could, but some trickled from the edges of his lips.
He didn’t stop sucking until Ansel’s hold loosen and his knees almost buckled. Job swept Ansel into his arms as he stood then laid him on the blankets in the corner. As Ansel sprawled there, trying to catch his breath, Job dug through his saddlebags and crowed with happiness when he found the small bottle he’d packed in there.
Crawling back to kneel next to Ansel, he rested his hand on Ansel’s chest and felt the thundering beat of the man’s heart. Job looked up into Ansel’s gaze.
“Try to match your breathing with mine,” he prompted, keeping his own breathing as calm as he could. He swiped his arm over his mouth to clean it off while he waited to see if Ansel would be able to ease.
Ansel’s slight look of panic relaxed into pleased tiredness. “Thank you,” he said and flashed him a gentle smile.
I forgot to mention that Why I Love Bodyguards is available now at Amber Allure (Amber Quill) and ARe. Not sure when it’ll be up at Amazon, but I’ll let you know as soon as I see it there.
I did add a little bit to the end. Let you see what’s going on with Burke and McKinley.
I’m working on a new story for Amber Allure. It’s part of their Tarot/Fortune PAX. I’m over halfway done and I’ll try to remember to post a little excerpt for you on Wednesday. Then I plan on working on Rover’s story for the Preternatural series. Yay! Finally, huh?
I hope you all have a great day.
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
“We all live that way,” Job said then stiffened as the sound of hoof beats reached his ears. “We need to get off the trail.”
Ansel shot him a glance, but didn’t question him. There was a small group of rocks and trees a little ways from the path they were on, so Ansel headed for that. Job was glad to see that Ansel wasn’t going to argue with him about every order.
They got hidden in the trees just in time. A group of five riders rode past, seemingly in a hurry. Job didn’t move until he was sure there weren’t any stragglers then he motioned for Ansel to leave the cover.
“Is there a reason why we’re hiding?” Ansel brushed some dirt from his jacket sleeve. “Unless you upset someone with your marvelous personality?”
Job mounted his gelding and waited for Ansel to plop his ass in his saddle before he replied, “I don’t know if anyone’s figured out why I’m here.”
“And the reason you’re here could result in men hunting you?” Ansel didn’t sound particularly worried.
“Can we wait until we get to my camp before I spill everything?” He didn’t want to waste any more time getting to safe ground.
Ansel swept his hand in front of him in a rather grand gesture. “Lead the way, my friend. No more questions until you’re comfortable.”
He appreciated Ansel’s willingness to follow Job without knowing the situation. He probably just wants to bugger you. Must be desperate.
Yet instinct told Job he wasn’t going to be buggered, but would enjoy Ansel’s tight ass enveloping his cock at some point that night. He stopped that train of thought when his dick stiffened. Riding while hard wasn’t comfortable.
Job kept his senses open, not allowing Ansel’s presence distract him. When they reached the little abandoned cabin Job had moved into, he held up his hand to stop Ansel.
“Hold my horse,” he ordered, dismounting and tossing his reins to Ansel before pulling his rifle from its scabbard hanging against the gelding’s shoulder.
“Certainly.” Ansel drew his rifle as well, letting it rest across his lap and pointing in the direction Job was moving.
For some reason, Job wasn’t as nervous having Ansel watching his back as he would be if someone else other than family was there with him. He didn’t see any kind of disturbance since he’d left that morning, but he didn’t want to ride up without checking the area first.
Slipping as silently as he could through the brush and trees, Job crawled up to the side of the house then pushed up to peer through one of the windows. It was empty and again, he didn’t see anything that made him think someone was lying in wait. He inched his way to the front door then shoved it open while standing to one side.
When nothing happened, he turned and sent a sharp whistle. It wasn’t soon before he heard hoof beats heading toward him. He waited for Ansel to show up, motioning toward the lean-to and small corral at the side of the cabin.
The Englishman climbed down from his mare before continuing up to where Job stood.
Job nodded. “We should get the horses settled for now then I’ll see about starting something for dinner. I caught some rabbits earlier and made some stew. It should just take a little while to warm it up.”
“Stew sounds good,” Ansel commented as he led the horses to the shelter.
They took care of the animals quickly and went on inside. Ansel set his saddlebags down just inside the cabin as he looked around.
“Interesting choice of housing, Job.” Ansel smirked when he stepped closer to the fireplace where Job had stuck the stew pot in the still warm ashes. “Why don’t you start a real fire?”
“The ashes will warm it up fine,” Job said, taking his gun belt off and setting it on the floor next to his bedroll. He leaned the rifle against the wall close to where they would be sleeping that night. “Why don’t you take off your jacket and get comfortable?”
Ansel shot him a quick look while he slid his jacket off his narrow shoulders then undid his waistcoat to remove that as well. He loosened the collar of his shirt, but he kept his guns on.
Job studied him and the man didn’t seem worried or nervous. Ansel rested his hands, staring at Job then licked his lips. God, he wanted to kiss the man, yet he understood Ansel’s worry.
He’d told the truth when he said he’d seen his death and it wasn’t dying from consumption, but he also wasn’t willing to take the risk that he might get sick. Job slipped up behind Ansel then encircled his waist, pressing his lips to Ansel’s neck. There was a soft sigh as Ansel leaned back against him.
“I thought we were going to discuss your business here in Gideon’s Crossing,” Ansel murmured, his hands covering Job’s where they rested on Ansel’s stomach.
“There’ll be time at some point when we can’t do anything else. I’ll tell you then.”
Ansel chuckled. “It’ll happen sooner than you think. I don’t have the stamina I once had.”
Job sucked on Ansel’s earlobe and heard the man groan. He let his hand slide down so he could press his palm to the bulge under the placket of his pants. Ansel arched against it.
“Very nice, Mr. Woolstem. I think we should maybe lose some layers of clothes. It’s getting a little warm in here.”
He stepped back, taking his hands off Ansel and grinning when he heard the moan of protest come from the man. After stripping off his shirt, he tossed it in the corner. He plopped down on his blankets to untie his boots. Once he got those tugged off, he stood to start undoing his pants.
A sharply inhaled breath brought his attention to where Ansel stood, his gaze trailing over Job’s well muscled chest.
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
“Exactly what were you thinking,” Job muttered as he strolled along the sidewalk in the direction of the general store. “You’re going to get yourself killed, trusting that greenhorn to have your back. You should’ve just waited until Travis was able to come with you.”
“Do you always talk to yourself? Is there something I should be concerned about before I go anywhere with you?”
He looked up to see Ansel leaning against the wall next to the door of the store. Job grunted, but didn’t reply to his question. “How do you feel?”
Ansel shrugged. “It comes and goes. Nothing that I haven’t learned how to deal with. Did all your digging get you anything you can use for whatever you’re here for?”
Job blinked at the convoluted question then nodded after he worked it out. “Yeah. Found some interesting stuff. Sent a telegram and just have to wait for a reply.”
He tilted his head toward his horse tied to the hitching post. “You ready to go?”
“Yes.” Ansel didn’t ask where they were going or why they were leaving town right then. He simply went over to a tall roan mare stood at the other end of the hitching post. The mare bumped Ansel in the chest with her nose, causing him to lose his balance then catch his balance.
Chuckling, Job mounted his gelding and looked over at Ansel. “She’s nice-looking. Got clean lines.”
“She’s a bit of a pain in my arse,” Ansel mumbled as he mounted the mare before wiping ineffectively at the snot marring his white shirt. “I think she does it on purpose.”
“She must not be able to stand that pristine neatly pressed shirt,” Job teased as he nudged his gelding in the ribs to get him moving.
Ansel sighed as he joined him. “I think you might be right. I should come down in a wrinkled shirt without a waistcoat or jacket. Maybe then she wouldn’t have the urge to wipe her nose on me. You have a good eye for horseflesh if you can appreciate my mare and pick such a mount for yourself.”
“One of my uncles breeds horses. His sons have carried on the tradition and one moved out here. I lost my old horse a few weeks ago. He’s a replacement. We’re still getting to know each other.” He patted the horse on the shoulder and the gelding tossed his head like he knew Job was talking about him.
“He looks good. My brother would love a horse like him.” Ansel pursed his lips and wrinkled his nose. “I should send him your cousin’s name. Now that he has money, he might be interested in building up his stable again.”
“I can give you the one who still lives back east, though I think Travis’ animals are far superior to his brother’s,” Job admitted.
“And we don’t want to give my brother any chance to ruin a good horse.” Ansel coughed, but waved off Job’s worried look. “Don’t worry. Just clearing my throat.”
“You don’t have a lot of respect for your brother, do you?” Job led the way out of town.
Ansel lifted one shoulder as he rolled his eyes. “He’s family, old man, and while I don’t have to be happy about being related to him, I would die to protect him.”
“Isn’t that what family is about? Whether you like each other or not, you will come to help them if they ask.” Job grunted and encouraged his gelding into a canter.
“I guess. My brother would never ask me to help him with anything. I’m an embarrassment to him. Not only am I of a certain persuasion, I’m ill. Not the best impression to make of a virile family line, right?”
Job hummed in agreement. “I see that. If your brother was trying to woo a lady, it would be best to hide the less then sterling relatives.”
“Thank you for that.”
He laughed and leaned over to punch Ansel in the arm. “I’m sorry, man. I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do, just that I understand what your brother was thinking.”
Ansel rubbed his arm and glared at Job. “Try not to bruise me, Job. I’m rather delicate you know.”
“Jackass,” Job muttered.
“Will you tell me what you’re doing here? You don’t strike me as a cowhand or a man who likes to spend much time around other people.” Ansel’s question was casual as though he really wasn’t interested. Just making small talk.
“I’m going to wait until we get to my camp.” He held up his hand, stopping what he was pretty sure Ansel was about to say. “I know no one can hear us or anything like that. I don’t think we need to discuss this while we’re riding.”
Besides he’d noticed how breathless Ansel had become and Job figured riding and talking might not be the easiest thing for the Englishman right then. But he was willing to say it was his choice, not do anything to make Ansel feel weak.
“All right.” Ansel coughed and this one was a little harder and longer.
“The dust bothering you,” Job asked.
Ansel nodded. “I will say it isn’t as bad as it was when I first arrived in St. Louis to join up with a wagon train heading to California. The coughing has lessened over the months I’ve been out here.”
“Why didn’t you go on to California? Why stop here?” Job glanced back to check their trail. It didn’t look like anyone was following them, which eased his mind a little. Yet he wasn’t about to stop being cautious.
Travis couldn’t leave his ranch when Job visited, so Job had agreed to go on ahead to help out their cousin. Once things were arranged, Travis planned on joining Job. He just had to stay alive until Travis got here.
“I decided I liked it here. It’s more primitive than California, but it’s simple and at the moment, that’s what I need. I’m trying not to die so young.” Ansel frowned, staring ahead of them.
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
“No. I would prefer to sleep in my bed tonight. Not that it’s particularly comfortable or anything like that,” he muttered as he stepped from the alley to stand next to Job.
“Why don’t you go back to England?” Job asked as they continued to stroll along the sidewalk in the direction of Ansel’s boarding house.
Ansel chuckled. “I don’t belong here, but, trust me, I didn’t belong in my home country either. Maybe I should just run off to the mountains and become a hermit. Not like anyone would miss me. My family is caught up in my brother’s upcoming nuptials.”
“Why aren’t you there with them?” Job turned to stare at him.
“Because I’m an embarrassment to them,” Ansel said softly, staring ahead of him, not wanting to see Job’s pity or agreement. Though how could he agree with Ansel’s family when he didn’t even know Ansel.
Job grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the way when three cowhands came stumbling toward them. He noticed how Job kept his body between Ansel and the men, which Ansel probably should have been upset about, yet he found that he didn’t have the strength to be insulted.
With a quiet sigh, he rested his head against Job’s back, suddenly weak and his chest hurt. He started to cough, his body wracked with the force of the effort. Job reached behind him to touch Ansel’s hip and the warmth soaking through his clothes eased Ansel in some strange way. He tugged his handkerchief out of his pocket to cover his mouth and muffle the noise.
“What’s wrong with him?” One of the men asked as they tried to peer over Job’s shoulder.
“Nothing that is any of your business. Get on home.” Job must have glared at them or done something to encourage them to walk on because they didn’t say anything, just headed off.
Job turned to put his arm around Ansel’s waist, giving him something to lean on while he continued to cough. “Let’s get you back to your place. You have something there you can take?”
He managed to nod his head. Job basically carried him to the house then up the stairs as he motioned which room was his. He was too out of breath to protest when Job stripped him of his jacket, waistcoat, and unbuttoned the collar of his shirt. His gunbelt was taken off then hung on the post at the head of the bed.
“Where’s your medicine?” Job glanced around.
Ansel held up his hand to let Job know he’d answer as soon as he was done coughing. Finally, he inhaled deeply and didn’t start again. He removed the cloth from his lips, grimacing at the spots of blood on it. Damn.
“It’s on my dresser there in the brown bottle. I usually mix it with milk.”
Job wrinkled his nose and Ansel laughed hoarsely.
“I know it sounds terrible, but the milk keeps me from throwing it up.”
He flopped back onto the hard mattress, letting his eyes drift close as he listened to Job wander around the room then the door shut. Ansel forced his eyes open to notice Job had left. Before he could work up the strength to get to his feet, Job was back, carrying a glass of water.
“Your land lady said she didn’t have any milk right now. So I guess water is what you’re going to have to drink unless you want whiskey or something.” Job held out the glass.
Ansel shook his head. “I’ll just take the medicine. Water won’t help. Thank you for getting for me though.”
“Here.” Job grabbed the bottle from the dresser before handing it to Ansel. “Take it and I’ll hang out here until you fall asleep. Just in case something happens before then.”
“You shouldn’t waste your time watching over me, Job. You can go and get your own rest. I’ll see you in the afternoon.” He took his dose then pushed to his feet. Wobbling slightly, he sighed when Job took his elbow to help him catch his balance. “I must admit I wish I had met you when I was younger and far less pathetic.”
“Pathetic?” Job frowned as he returned the bottle to the dresser then transferred one of Ansel’s hands from his shoulder to one of the posters for the bed. “Hold on to that.”
As much as he wanted Job to leave him alone so he could curl up in bed and pout, he could admit to himself that it was nice to feel someone else’s hands on his body. When he was down to his underthings, Job gestured for him to climb into bed.
“I used to be quite fit. Not skinny and pale like this.” Ansel waved his hand in a vague motion encompassing his body. “Before this damn disease started eating away at me, I used to be quite the rider and pugilist.”
“Pugilist?” Job tucked the edges of the blankets around Ansel’s shoulder and sat in the chair next to the bed. He pressed his hand to Ansel’s temple as though he were checking for a temperature. “Do you usually run hot?”
“It’s the disease. When it flares like it has, I run a temperature. I’ll be fine in the morning after some rest. A pugilist is a bare knuckle fighter.”
“Ah. Well, since I’m looking for a guy who can handle a gun and not his fists, I think we’ll be okay. I don’t really expect too much trouble, but sometimes people get uppity and think they own something they don’t.”
Ansel could almost feel the medicine run through him as his muscles relaxed and the constrictions around his chest loosen. He rolled his head to the side so he could meet Job’s green gaze. “What are you doing in town, Job Ramsey? I get the feeling that this is not a place you would like to be normally.”
Job lifted one shoulder and said, “When family calls, you answer. Even if you’re not the one obligated to do it.”
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
“You always run when someone says something you don’t like.”
Ansel froze in the opening of an alley at the sound of Job’s voice. “It’s not such much that I didn’t like what you said. It’s simply that I didn’t want you to kill me for what I am,” he said softly, knowing there wasn’t any reason for him to keep it a secret.
Job had observed some habit or tell Ansel had that he wasn’t aware of and he’d come to the right conclusion. Ansel wasn’t ashamed, but he knew others didn’t understand why he was the way he was, so he’d done his best to hide it. Yet he should’ve known that a hunter like Job would’ve seen it.
“But you’re dying anyway. You don’t want to go out in a hail of bullets instead of lying in bed struggling to breath until you can’t anymore.” Job moved so quietly that Ansel jerked when he felt Job’s hot breath on the back of his neck. “How long has it been?”
“I have no need to die a hero, old man. I’m perfectly happy to die alone in my bed.” He wasn’t going to answer the question he was pretty sure Job was asking him. Then he couldn’t help himself. “Why are you asking me about this? A man like you can’t be interested in things like that.”
“What things?” Job whispered into his ear and Ansel struggled to keep his cock from getting hard.
“How do I know you’re just not doing this to ensure that I incriminate myself and give you a reason to attack me?” He shrugged off the strange spell Job seemed to have over him and stepped away from the man. “You know what? I don’t want to know anything more. Have a good night, Mr. Ramsey. I’m sure you’ll be able to avoid seeing me again while you’re in town.”
He started to walk away, but Job grabbed his arm and pulled him into the shadows of the alley. His breath shot from his lungs in a rush when he was slammed against the wall of the building behind him. Ansel couldn’t catch his breath to protest before Job pressed his lips to Ansel’s. He kept his mouth shut and held what little breath he had until Job pulled back.
“Don’t you believe in kissing?” Job murmured against Ansel’s neck.
“Not when I have consumption. You shouldn’t even be this close to me, Mr. Ramsey.”
“Call me Job, and don’t worry about me. I’ve seen my own death and it’s not a lung disease that does me in.” Job trailed a kiss along Ansel’s jaw. “But if you chose not to risk it, I’m fine with that. I can find other parts of your body to kiss.”
Ansel gasped, but didn’t fight as Job slid his hand between Ansel’s thighs to cup the bulge in his pants. He grunted when Job squeezed then he pushed into Job’s touch.
“I’m not sure this is the wisest course of action, Job,” he forced out between his teeth.
Job grunted. “You’re probably right, Mr. Woolstem. Never know who might be stumbling by on the way home. Do you want to take this somewhere else?”
God, how Ansel wanted that, but he knew he couldn’t take Job to the boarding house where he was staying. Even though it was late at night, his landlady would still be up, nosy woman that she was.
“Where are you staying?” He gave himself permission to touch Job, letting his fingers run along the strong curve of his shoulder.
Job chuckled. “Not in town. My camp’s about half a mile north of here. You can ride out there with me. If you want.”
Ansel let his head drop back against the wall. His energy was slowly ebbing and he didn’t think he’d be able to ride all the way out there that night. “As much as I’d love to do that, and you have to know how desperate I am when I don’t care that I’d be camping out in the wilderness. I don’t think I have the strength to ride out there tonight.”
He expected Job to denigrate him because of his weakness. It’s what his brother had done while they were in New York. He couldn’t spend time out riding horses and visiting too many people while he was ill. He tried to stay away from most, not wanting to infect them.
“Well, you have had a long night already.” Job gave him a sharp bite on the chin before he backed away. “Maybe you’d like to visit my camp tomorrow before sunset. Give you a chance to rest up. I have got some digging to do during the day.”
“Digging?” Ansel wanted to clap his hand over his mouth. It was none of his business what Job was doing in Gideon’s Crossing.
“Yeah. How about we meet at the general store around four tomorrow?” Job eased a few inches away from him.
“Four o’clock.” Ansel nodded. “I could do that.”
He couldn’t believe he was setting up a time to meet this man for an assignation that could get them killed if anyone knew about it.
“Do you know how to use the gun on your hip?”
Job’s change of topic confused Ansel for a second then he figured it was to make sure he could protect himself if they were discovered.
“Yes, I can. I would wear it if I didn’t. I know how you Western men are. I stand out like tits on a bull, as someone pointed out to me. I’m not going to make it easier for people to bother me.”
“Good. I might ask you to help me with something after I’m done doing my digging.” Job looked around then strolled from the alley.
Ansel wasn’t sure if he should follow or wait until Job was gone before he moved. His decision was taken from him when Job looked back.
“You staying in the alley tonight?”
He realized that no one was going to say anything to Job about what they might have been doing in the shadows. Job struck Ansel as the type of man who lived his life the way he wanted and how other people felt about him didn’t matter at all.