I did mean to get the next installment up today, but real life has ganged up on me. I’ll try to get one up on Friday. If not, I’ll make sure to get two done next week.
I hope you have a great day.
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Part Thirty-Four (put the wrong number on the last installment…lol)
“That’s true,” Ansel agreed. “I guess we’ll find out.”
Before Job cold turn off the road onto the trail leading to Calbert’s ranch, he saw three men riding toward him. They were coming from town. He settled his hand on his tight close to his rifle, knowing the longer range of the weapon would be better if the riders turned out to be enemies.
Ansel sat relaxed, but he kept his hand close to his gun as well. Job knew he would take his cues from Job about whether he should shoot or not. They did edge a little bit apart to keep from getting in each other’s way, if they have to fire.
“Job, you asshole, what the hell do you think you’re doing? The family’s up in arms and demanded I come out here to stop you,” Travis yelled when they got closer.
All the tension left him and Job sent a smile in Ansel’s direction. “Don’t worry. They’re family.”
“I see, but forgive me if I’m not entirely convinced about their friendliness.” Ansel sounded a little amused, but he hadn’t totally relaxed as Job was. “Considering how unfriendly some other members of your family are.”
“I get that.” Job turned back to motion for Travis to come closer. “Get your ass over here and I’ll tell you what’s happening.”
He noticed that Eagle was with Travis and he let out a silent sigh when he saw that Josiah was with them. It would help having a US Marshal standing behind them when they talked to Calbert. The three men joined them and Job shook their hands.
“How the hell did you get here this fast?” He asked Josiah.
The marshal frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“You didn’t get the telegram I sent you?”
“No. I was visiting Eagle and Travis when a message came from this Calbert Ramsey about you not helping at all. In fact, you were going against the family.” Josiah shrugged. “Not that I care about that shit, but when Travis and Eagle decided to come out here to see what was going on, I figured I’d tag along. Can’t hurt to have another person to watch their back.”
Job really didn’t care how Josiah ended up being there. He was just glad the man was, plus Travis and Eagle—even if they’d shown up because Calbert had complained to Travis about him. He had the feeling that Travis would slide on over to his side after he explained.
“This is Ansel Woolstem. Ansel, this is my cousin, Travis Ramsey. His partner, Eagle, and Eagle’s brother, U.S. Marshal Josiah Burlington.” Job introduced them all.
Ansel shook hands with them, not reacting at all to Eagle’s obvious Indian features or the fact that Josiah was a full white man. “A pleasure to meet you gentlemen. If Job trusts you, then I chose to believe you’re here to help us.”
Eagle touched Ansel’s shoulder. “You’re sick.”
“Yes, I am.” Ansel didn’t seem inclined to go into any sort of detail about his illness.
“It’s your lungs,” Eagle continued, ignoring the fact Ansel didn’t want to discuss it.
Ansel nodded. “We should tell them what’s going on here before we approach Ramsey.”
Job grunted. “Right. Here’s the thing. There’s a family of herders grazing their sheep on land just across the creek from Calbert’s land. They’ve built cabins and barns to establish their claim to the land. Calbert swears he owes the land they’re squatting on.”
“If he does own it, why aren’t you helping him move these herders off there?” Travis questioned.
“Because he’s lying, Mr. Ramsey,” Ansel spoke up. “I own all the land from this side of the creek to the foothills. I’ve known about Pascal and his people living on my land since before I arrived here. I don’t care that they’re there. I don’t have any plans on ranching or anything like that. Not really my thing.”
Josiah and Eagle snorted at Ansel’s comment.
“Have you told Calbert about this?” Travis motioned toward Ansel.
“We were on our way to do that right now. Calbert had his men attack the sheepherders this morning. We got there before any of them were hurt, but one of Calbert’s men was killed and the other injured.” Job drummed his fingers on his thigh. “Trust me, Travis. I doublechecked everything. I have proof that Calbert didn’t file a claim on that land. I also have a telegram that tells me that a Andrew Woolstem did.”
“Andrew is my father,” Ansel informed them. “He sent me here to see if it would be worth spending the money to develop the land.”
“He sent you here to die,” Eagle spoke up. The Indian studied Ansel who stared back at him with a blank expression. “We have herbs that might help. I’ll talk to my mother.”
Ansel lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “If you wish.”
Job could tell he wasn’t going to get his hopes up for any reason. There were quacks all over the world that tried to fleece people from their money by offering up pipe dreams. Not that Eagle was trying to take any coin from Ansel, and Job trusted that his cousin’s lover wouldn’t do anything to harm Ansel.
“We’d appreciate it, Eagle.” Job glanced over at the other two men. “Did you want to come with us to explain to Calbert why he needs to back off? I’m pretty sure Pascal and his group has enough reason to get the law involved if they wanted.”
Josiah chuckled. “We can scare him into believing that, whether Pascal or Ansel wishes to do anything about it. Maybe just thinking they might will be enough to stop him.”
“Also, the knowledge that the family won’t be supporting him in this,” Travis said. “As the The Helper, I have the final say, and running people out of their homes isn’t something we do.”
Job took a deep breath and reached over to pat Ansel’s shoulder. “Things will be all right now. When the Ramsey clan’s Helper says something, it’s taken as law.”
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Job lay in bed, hating the idea of waking Ansel up, but knowing they needed to start getting things sorted out with Calbert or things were going to get worse. He didn’t want anyone else dying—on either side.
Reaching out, he shook Ansel’s shoulder gently. He didn’t want to startle him. “Hey man, it’s time.”
Ansel mumbled something and buried his face in the blanket they’d been using as a pillow. Chuckling, Job trailed his fingers along Ansel’s spine and teased the sensitive spot right above his crease. Ansel shivered then lifted his ass as though he was begging for more.
He brought his fingers up to his mouth and got them as wet as he could with spit. Spreading Ansel’s cheeks with his other hand, he rubbed the tips over Ansel’s hole, knowing his lover was still slightly stretched from their last round of rutting. Job didn’t worry about being careful as he shoved inside.
“Oh my God!” Ansel shouted as he rose up on his knees and pushing back toward Job.
“Is this what you wanted?” Job leaned down to bite one pale globe.
Ansel jumped, but not enough to dislodge Job’s fingers. He glanced over his shoulder at Job and licked his lips. “Are you going to fuck me, sir, or just play with my arse?”
Job smacked his other cheek then eased his fingers in and out a few times until Ansel whimpered. He positioned himself between Ansel’s thighs then lined his cock up to Ansel’s hole.
He gripped Ansel’s hips before slowly pressing into Ansel’s warm passage. He didn’t stop until the curls around the base of his length were teasing Ansel’s skin. Job waited for a minute and he felt Ansel’s muscles relax under his touch.
When that happened, he began to move slow and easy. He wasn’t in any hurry since he loved the feel of being sheathed inside Ansel. Job absorbed how perfect it felt to be taking Ansel like that. He curved over him, rocking back and forth as he rode.
Ansel reached back to entwine their fingers and Job jolted when the connection between them seemed to strengthen. He began to move faster, snapping his hips and slamming into Ansel.
“Right there,” Ansel directed him. “That’s the spot.”
Driving in once more, he grinned when Ansel cried out. Then he kept it up until his lover was moving in a counterpoint rhythm and clenching his inner muscles around Job’s length.
His breath tore from his lungs as he panted, and sweat dripped from his chin onto Ansel’s glistening skin. Job peeled one of his hands from Ansel’s waist to wrap it around his rod.
“Christ! Perfect,” Ansel shouted as his seed coated Job’s hand.
All it took was one tremor from Ansel as his pleasure rocked him for Job’s climax to derail him. He froze as he emptied into Ansel’s passage once more. This time he collapsed on top of Ansel when his arms gave out.
They lay there breathing harshly while their hearts slowed and they regained their strength. He slid from Ansel before he rolled out of bed to get the cool cloth and wipe them both down.
Job dressed quickly then turned to see Ansel glaring at him from where he sat at the edge of the bed. “What?”
“You’re going to use me like that, then expect me to ride to your relative’s ranch? I’m supposed to do things today when all I really want to do is stay curled up in bed with you,” Ansel complained and pouted while he dressed.
Laughing, Job stomped into his boots before going over to help Ansel with his shirt collar. “I’m sorry, my friend. I couldn’t help myself. You offered your ass so nicely. How could I refuse?”
Ansel punched him in the chest and walked over to where his gun belt rested on the table. Job appreciated Ansel’s gracefulness as he swung the heavy leather belt around his waist and buckled it. He felt need settled in his groin again when Ansel adjusted the holsters then tied them down.
“You look like a child staring at the penny candy at the general store. See something you want?” Ansel smirked.
“Oh yeah.” Job stalked over to him, cupped Ansel’s balls in his hand while he bent to take Ansel’s mouth with overwhelming determination. He wasn’t going to let Ansel turn away from him anymore.
“Hmm…” Ansel hummed as they kissed, pushing into Job’s hand.
His skin was flushed and his dick was semi-hard when they broke apart. Stepping away from him, Ansel shook his head.
“We’re not going to be getting anything done if you keep touching me.” Ansel motioned to the door. “Let’s get going or I’ll drag you back to bed and we won’t be leaving until tomorrow.”
Job liked how fierce Ansel sounded. “Yes, sir.”
After saddling their horses, they mounted and Job took the lead, heading back to the road and in the direction of Calbert’s ranch. He glanced over at Ansel.
“I forgot to ask. Do you have proof you’re the rightful owner? I know I have the telegram from the claims office that it’s been filed on, but I’m not sure he’ll believe either of us. We still might have to fight this out.” Job sighed, hating the idea of having to shoot at people who were related to him.
“I do have the deed to the land and a map showing where the boundaries are—more or less.” Ansel patted his jacket-covered chest. “If he persists we’ll see about calling in the law. Hopefully, they won’t be too far away and they’ll get here before things get worse.”
Job hoped that as well. When we get to town, I’ll check and see if Eagle’s brother sent a message back. Not that I’m expecting him to. He just might show up, and if he does, I hope it’s sooner rather than later.
“Are there people in town that will back our play if it comes to that?” Job asked.
Ansel shrugged. “I’m not sure. None of them have really warmed to me, but they also haven’t snubbed me terribly. I guess it would depend on how much it impacts them.”
“Well, if it comes to a range war, it’ll bother them when the bullets start flying.”
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Without thinking about it, he let Job pull him up. Ansel swayed and Job encircled his waist to keep him from falling over.
“Here are your horses, Mr. Ramsey,” Pascal said as one of the boys brought their mounts from the barn for them.
He appreciated Job holding on to his arms as he swung aboard. He gripped the reins, but tried not to yank on them. No point in pissing off his mare by hurting her mouth.
“Are you okay?” Job looked up at him.
“I’ll be fine. I’ll tell you if I need help,” he promised, patting Job’s hand where it rested on his thigh.
He got another concerned look from Job then the man mounted his gelding and they waved to Pascal and his people before riding out. They remained silent for a while because Ansel was focused on not falling off. He really didn’t want Job to see him as weak, though he wasn’t doing such a good job of that.
Once they got to Job’s cabin, Ansel dropped to the ground, staggering a little when his feet hit the dirt. He leaned his forehead against his mare’s shoulder for a moment.
“I’ve got her. Why don’t you go in and lie down for a little bit? I’m going to wander around to check things out.” Job nuzzled Ansel’s neck, brushing a kiss on his skin.
“Okay.” Ansel went inside, stripped down without a thought, and climbed under the blankets of Job’s bedroll. He wasn’t interested in anything except sleeping right then.
He didn’t know how long he’d been sleeping when he woke to feel Job’s arm lying across his stomach. Opening his eyes, Ansel looked up into Job’s green gaze.
“How long have you been staring at me?” He asked in a husky voice.
“Not long,” Job replied softly before leaning down.
Ansel turned his head right before their lips met. Job trailed kisses along Ansel’s jaw to his neck, then the soft triangle of skin at the base of his throat. He sucked there for a second or two, not long enough to leave a mark, but enough for Ansel to know he was there.
He threaded his fingers into Job’s hair, trying to direct him where to go next, but Job wasn’t allowing him control. Ansel moaned when Job took his balls in his rough hands and rolled them with his fingers. He arched, pushing his chilled body into Job’s warm skin.
“Hmm…how are you feeling?” Job didn’t wait for an answer as he inched down to wrap his lips around one of Ansel’s nipple.
“I’m fine,” Ansel managed to gasp out.
“Good.” Job’s hot breath bathed the hard nub and drew another moan from Ansel.
When Job caressed the thin piece of skin behind Ansel’s balls, he spread his thighs wider to give Job more room. It encouraged his lover to slide down and lick his way from the base of Ansel’s rod to the flared head.
“Oh God,” Ansel couldn’t believe how good he felt when Job swallowed him down to the root. “More. Please.”
Job began to bob up and down his length, adding suction and swirling his spit around Ansel. He writhed as his pleasure built then Job pressed his finger into Ansel, and he cried out.
He discovered he couldn’t move because Job had pinned him to the blanket under them. Accepting whatever Job wanted to do to him was had for Ansel, but being at Job’s mercy raised his desire. Soon Ansel’s cock swelled and he knew it was only a matter of time before he hit the pinnacle of his lust.
“Soon,” he warned.
Job didn’t stop doing anything. He shoved two fingers into Ansel’s passage then twisted them to hit the special spot inside Ansel and drove another cry from him. One more hit of that spot and Ansel climaxed, spilling his seed into Job’s mouth.
His lover swallowed as much as he could then licked Ansel clean before pulling off. Ansel’s mind must have be turned to mush because he cupped Job’s face in his hands then licked his chin clean of his own spent. Before he could turn, Job crushed their lips together and swept his tongue inside Ansel’s mouth. He whimpered at the taste of his pleasure mingled with Job.
He tore his mouth away and panted. “We shouldn’t have done that.”
“I told you I’m not dying from some disease, love. I like kissing and I’ve wanted to kiss you since I saw you,” Job told him.
Ansel started to argue with him, but Job thrust into him without warning. “Oh my God!”
Job froze. “Let me know when you’re ready for me to move.”
It took a few minutes for Ansel’s body to accept the invasion of Job’s length. He took a deep breath and his inner muscles relaxed enough for Job to thrust another inch forward.
“Go.” He knew he wouldn’t find pleasure again for a while, but if he could give Job some, he would be happy.
Job began to stroke in and out of him. At first he was gentle and slow, but as Ansel tilted his hips to help Job push deeper into him, Job started to move faster. His smooth rhythm grew jerkier and quicker.
Ansel slipped his arms around Job’s shoulders, holding on as Job rode him. He stared up in Job’s glazed eyes, loving that he could do that to the man.
“Come on,” he urged Job. “Harder.”
Grunting, Job sped up and the slapping of skin against skin filled the cabin. Suddenly, Job slammed in as far as he could go and froze. He groaned and Ansel sighed as Job flooded Ansel’s inner channel with warmth.
Job jerked a few times then he collapsed on top of Ansel, who ran his hands up and down Job’s sweaty back. He didn’t say a word while Job caught his breath. He managed not to wince as Job slid out of him.
“Let me clean you up,” Job said as he climbed out of their bed then padding over to the water sitting on the hearth by the fireplace.
Ansel rolled on his side, surprisingly enjoying the feel of Job’s spent leaking from his arse.
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
They walked out to find their horses had been taken care of. Job glanced at Pascal.
“Before we go, can I see your herd and get you to tell me about what you’re doing here,” he asked.
Ansel was slightly surprised that Job had inquired, though he knew the man didn’t think sheep were lesser creatures than cattle. Pascal claimed they were just as useful as cattle. He’d heard it all before, so while Pascal and Job wandered off to the barn where the herd was still being kept, Ansel took a seat on the bench placed just outside of Pascal’s home.
He leaned his head back, closing his eyes and soaking up the heat from the sunshine. It was fanciful thinking, but it felt like his body absorbed the warmth and it was burning away the disease filling his lungs.
“Are you all right, Mr. Woolstem?” Analisa’s soft question caused him to open his eyes and look at her standing next to him.
Straightening, he patted the wood next to him. “Please sit, Analisa. And as I’ve told your husband and you several times, it’s Ansel. In the American West, there are no classes. I’m not better than you are.”
Analisa sat next to him, tucking her skirts neatly around her. She folded her hands in her lap before she looked at him. “You’re right, sir, but it’s hard to break old habits. I’ll try to be less respectful.”
“Perfect.” Ansel coughed softly, and she looked at him worriedly. He shook his head. “It’s nothing. Just a little lung trouble.”
He could tell she didn’t believe him from the look on her face.
“My great aunt had consumption. We couldn’t afford to send her to someplace that might help her. She wasted away.”
“I don’t plan on letting that happen to me. I’ll be around for several more years to bother you and your husband as the nosy neighbor down the road.” He stared at Job who had walked out of the barn with Pascal and stood talking to him. “God willing, I’ll have more years yet.”
Analisa must have followed his gaze. “He is quite a handsome man. I would never have thought him related to Calbert Ramsey and his kin.”
Tearing his attention away from Job, Ansel met her knowing gaze and he ducked his head. His cheeks heated, surprising him. He was a man of the world, never apologizing for his preferences and the choices he made because of them. Why was the fact that Analisa seemed to read his mind embarrassing him?”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he mumbled, staring at his boots.
She laughed as she touched his arm. “Now come on, Mr. Woolstem. You look at Mr. Ramsey like I look at my Pascal. There’s no shame in that.”
God, was his desire for Job that obvious? He was going to have to rein in his emotions if everyone could see how he felt. Ansel took a deep breath, and immediately started coughing. He pulled his handkerchief out to cover his mouth as he doubled over.
He couldn’t get a handle of it, feeling the bands of the disease wrap around his chest again. He hated feeling like he was drowning without a drop of water being around. Ansel wasn’t sure when Analisa’s gentle touch was replaced by a stronger grip, but he managed to raise his gaze to meet Job’s green eyes.
“Is your medicine in your pocket or with your horse?”
Motioning to his pocket, he tried to calm his breathing. Things would only get worse if he panicked. Job fumbled for a second then removed the small bottle.
“Can you put three drops of this in a cup of tea for Ansel, ma’am?” He heard Job ask Analisa.
Job turned back to him and Ansel wanted to close his eyes to stop from feeling embarrassed by the whole situation. Cupping his face with both hands, Job leaned in close enough to rest his forehead against Ansel’s.
“Don’t,” he ordered him when Ansel tried to move away. “Just concentrate on my breathing. Try to match mine.”
This time he let his eyes drift close as he caught the rhythm of Job’s breath washing over his own lips each time Job exhaled. He tried not to think about how close they were and how dangerous it was for Job to take Ansel’s air into his own lungs.
“It’ll be fine, Ansel. You have to believe me,” Job murmured. “I won’t catch this.”
“Here’s the tea,” Analisa said from behind Job.
Ansel whimpered when Job removed his warm hands from his cheeks. Then he was back, holding out the cup to Ansel, whose hands shook so hard, he couldn’t hold it on his own. Job held it for him and helped him drink from it.
“Keep breathing slow and as deep as you can. The medicine will start working soon, I hope.” Job shifted so he could sit next to Ansel. “Thank you, ma’am. I think we’ll just stay here for a few minutes while Ansel catches his breath.
“You’re more than welcome too.” She returned inside.
Finally able to straighten as the medicine took effect, Ansel glanced around. No one else was hanging out where they could see what was happening on the porch. He bumped Job’s shoulder with his.
Job rested his hand on Ansel’s knee and gave it a quick squeeze before moving it away. “You’re welcome. We should get back to my camp. You’ll want to lie down for a little bit and I need to ride into town to check on a telegram I sent.”
“Will you be all right riding in on your own?” Ansel didn’t like the idea of Job going anywhere without him to watch his back.
“I’ve been doing this far longer than you have, my friend. I can keep an eye out for trouble. Maybe I’ll see if I can get us some warm food from Ruthie’s.”
Ansel acquiesced simply because he didn’t have the energy to argue. His eyes drifted shut and Job jostled him.
“Let’s get out of here before I have to tie you to your saddle.”
After standing, Job offered him his hand to help Ansel to his feet.
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Pascal set his rifle against the wall, then pushed open the door. “Analisa, is there coffee made?”
Pascal’s pretty wife smiled and nodded. “Yes. I also put some water on for Mr. Woolstem’s tea. I’ll put some biscuits and honey out as well.”
She bustled around the kitchen while the men sat, just watching her for a moment. Then Job looked at Pascal.
“They’ll be back with more men this time,” he warned.
“Of course. We embarrassed the by fighting them off. Mr. Ramsey doesn’t want the other ranchers to think he can be defeated by a bunch of ragtag sheepherders.” Pascal took a sip from his coffee mug as Analisa set cups in front of Ansel and Job.
“Well, you certainly were holding your own when we rode up. I’m sure you would’ve run them off without our help.” Ansel leaned back in his chair. He knew Job wasn’t happy about how things had escalated. “We just moved things along.”
Pascal squinted at Ansel. “Why did you decide to get involved with this? It isn’t your fight, Mr. Woolstem, yet you’ve been on our side since you arrived in the area.”
Ansel grimaced. “Yes. Well about that. I must confess that my family owns the land you’ve been living on.”
Both Analisa and Pascal froze, staring at him in shock. He shot a quick glance at Job, who shrugged. “Thanks. You’re a lot of help.”
“What do you want me to say? This is your issue to work out. I’m just here to make sure my family stays the hell away from you all.” Job reached over to poke him in the side.
Snorting, Ansel looked back at Pascal. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to throw you off the land. Hell, if that had been my plan, I would’ve done it when I arrived in Gideon’s Crossing.”
Analisa returned to whatever she’d been doing, and Pascal relaxed a little. Ansel bit his bottom lip while he thought about what to tell him. Then he set his cup down and braced his elbows on the wood as he leaned forward.
“Pascal, you know me. Do I look like I’d have any idea how to be a farmer—or rancher?”
Pascal shook his head while he and Job laughed. “No, sir. I’ve never understood why you’d come out and spend time with us. Back in our home land, the owners would remain in their houses while their overseers would come to check on us.”
“I’m much more suited to being a gentleman farmer, and that’s kind of the arrangement I’d like us to have. I’m not going to make you leave this land. It’s yours. You’ve built on it and actually improved it to some extent.” Ansel tapped his fingers on the table while he talked. “I’m going to build a house up on the hill with the large oak trees and that small creek.”
“I know what one you’re talking about. You wouldn’t be close to us, so the sheep wouldn’t bother you.” Pascal gestured to the plate of biscuits Analisa put down. “Please have some.”
Job took one, slathering some butter and honey on it. Ansel’s stomach was bothering him, so he just ate his plain. Sometimes the medicine he took made him sick and food wouldn’t stay down.
“Right, though that isn’t why I chose that place.” He didn’t elaborate on that decision. “I want to run a few head of cattle and raise some horses. I don’t have to worry about making money. It’s just something to keep me busy.”
“What about us?”
Ansel nodded. “You’ll stay here and pay me a certain amount in the summer and winter. We’ll work those details out. After a to-be-determined time, you’ll own the land outright.”
Pascal looked surprised at Ansel’s proposal, but when he looked at Job, his lover was smiling.
“And you can make those payments in wool or food. Whatever you feel will fulfill the deal.” Ansel felt proud of himself. His father never thought he was paying attention during those meetings with the manager of their estates, but Ansel had found the entire process quite interesting.
“I’ll have to bring it to the others and see what they have to say,” Pascal told him. “While I’m the spokesman, I don’t make the decisions.”
Ansel smiled. “Of course. I didn’t expect you to make a choice today. Take as long as you want, but know that I will stand behind you, no matter what. And my presence has weight not since I’m the owner of the property. If I say you stay, Ramsey has no right to try and run you off.”
“That’s right, and if he does try, he’ll have to face the law for it,” Job informed them. “I’ve sent a telegram to a marshal I know. If he’s in the area and available, I’m sure he’ll be coming to see what’s going on.”
“You’re an interesting man, Job Ramsey,” Ansel murmured.
Job winked at him. “Didn’t expect me to know anyone important like a marshal?”
“Sadly, no, I didn’t.” He sighed. “We’ll need to go see Calbert again, and let him know that if he comes on my land again, he’ll be trespassing. We’ll tell him I’ve given Pascal and his men permission to do whatever is needed to remove Calbert’s men or cattle.”
Job met Pascal’s gaze. “You’ll just run the cattle back across the river to Ramsey’s land.”
Pascal’s expression said he thought Job was stupid for telling him that. “Certainly. I have no wish to kill anyone—or thing—if I don’t have to. Especially animals. They’ll be sent back. There’ll be no fighting between us if it’s left up to us.”
“Good.” Pushing to his feet, Ansel touched the brim of his hat toward Analisa. “Wonderful biscuits as usual, ma’am.”
“They’re far better than my ma’s,” Job complimented her. “Unfortunately, my ma couldn’t make biscuits to save her life. My oldest sister always had to make them.”
Analisa blushed. “It takes a soft hand to get them just right.”
Job chuckled. “Well, that’s one thing my ma doesn’t have.”
Barefoot Dancing is available at all 3rd party sellers. Also, I’m doing a blog tour for it.
I’m at ARe Cafe’s blog today. If you click here, you can check my post out.
I did one for Female First in the UK. Here’s the link for that one.
And if you want to know where else I’ll be the next four days, here’s a list:
I hope you get a chance to stop by any of those places and check out what I have to say. If you’re interested…lmao.
Have a great Monday, everyone.
I picked Benedict Cumberbatch as inspiration for Ansel. He’s tall, slender though muscular, and he’s British. I couldn’t really find anyone else that struck me as being able to play Ansel, if it ever was to be a movie or something like that…lmao.
So here’s the next installment:
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Job didn’t reply right away, causing Ansel winced inside. He shouldn’t have said anything like that. It was too needy and Ansel didn’t want to come off like some female, needing a man to take care of him. He’d lived in Gideon’s Crossing on his own without any backup for close to a year now and he would continue to do so after Job left.
“I would certainly be visiting more than once after all this shit is done,” Job said softly.
Shock raced through Ansel. “You would?”
“You sound surprised? You were the one who suggested I might want to. Did you mean it or not?”
“Well, yes, I did, but I didn’t really think you would. Figured it would be like most of the encounters I have—not just here but in the city as well. Good for a night or two, but when it’s time to leave, you’ll say good-bye and not think about me again.” Ansel sighed and shook his head. “Honestly, I’m not trying to sound like a woman or anything like that. I like your company and it’s not like I have a lot of friends here.”
He grimaced. Bloody hell! I should just keep my mouth shut. I keep sounding weak.
Job pulled his mount to a stop, then turned in his saddle to look at Ansel. “I like your company as well, Ansel. You don’t sound pathetic or anything like that. I’ve been looking for a place to settle for a while now. As much as I like most of my family, I don’t want to live near them. Seems like this might be a good place to hang my hat.”
Ansel took a deep breath, something in his chest loosening at Job’s words. “Okay. Should we go see Pascal and explain what is going to happen?”
He saw Job eye him for a minute before nodding and riding on. Ansel knew he probably should’ve said more to Job’s declaration, though it wasn’t one of love. Hell, Ansel wasn’t looking for that. He didn’t expect it either. Love didn’t seem to belong to men like him.
They stopped by Job’s cabin to check on things. It didn’t look like anyone—or thing—bothered his stuff. Ansel dropped his saddlebags there as well. No point in dragging them along with him.
Once they were on Ansel’s land, he relaxed a little bit. Then he heard the first shot. He and Job exchanged glances, kicking their horses to get them moving. Ansel had a bad feeling about this.
Maybe they shouldn’t have antagonized Calbert and Lance. But if they had decided to attack the sheepherders, they were in for a surprise. Pascal and his men could fight and knew how to shoot. They would do whatever they had to keep the sheep and the rest of their people safe. Ansel had told them he would back them if something ever happened. He was glad he was close by.
They came up over the hill and saw several horsemen circling the big building where Pascal kept the herd during storms. He saw puffs of smoke coming from the barn and a few of the smaller cabins they had built. One of the horsemen threw his arms up in the air, then fell off his mount.
“Hell no!” Ansel shouted, drew his rifle and swung it up to his shoulder. He sighted along the barrel before taking a shot.
Another of the attackers fell to the dirt. The retort of his bullet drew the others’ attention. The one who seemed to be the leader gestured toward them and they saw him yell.
Job led the way down to the homestead, but by the time they got there, the cowhands were gone. Ansel jumped off his horse and went to where his victim lay. He nudged him with his boot and the groan that greeted him made him snarl.
“Who the hell are you?” He asked as the man flopped over on his back, holding his shoulder.
“None of your business, Englishman.”
Ansel drew back his foot and was about to kick the cowhand, but Job stopped him.
“Don’t do it, Ansel. I know who he is. He works for Calbert.” Job motioned to the horses that milled around the yard. “Their horses are wearing his brand.”
“Ramsey send you over to scare these people off?” Ansel turned away from the man before he could answer.
Pascal approached them, carrying his rifle in the crook of his arm. “Mr. Woolstem and Mr. Ramsey, it’s good that you arrived when you did.”
“Looked to me like you had everything under control, Pascal.” Job crouched to doctor the man’s shoulder. “That’ll hold you until you get back to Calbert’s. You and your dead partner there can head on out.”
“I’m not going to make it like this,” the guy whined.
Ansel stared at him. “I don’t really care. If you don’t think you can ride there, I’ll just kill you now. Like a horse with a broken leg.”
He drew his left handgun and thumbed back the hammer. The guy jumped to his feet and raced to his horse. Ansel didn’t put his gun away until the cowhand’s horse was on his way out of the yard.
When they were gone, he turned back to Pascal. “Is this the first time they’ve come to burn you out?”
Pascal nodded. “Yes. I guess something upset Mr. Ramsey.”
“Yeah, that would be us.” Job stood, rubbing the back of his neck. “We have to talk, Pascal.”
“Certainly, Mr. Ramsey. If you come with me, we can have some coffee in the kitchen.” Pascal tilted his head in the direction of what Ansel knew to be his cabin.
As they went to the cabin, Ansel saw some of the other men emerge from the barn and some women from the cabins. They were carrying guns as well.
“No one got hurt from your people, did they?” Ansel didn’t want anyone to die for this. Not even Calbert’s men.
“No, sir. We had enough warning to get the sheep inside and our people safe.”
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
He nodded, but kept his mouth shut. No point in beating a dead horse. “I think we need to stop back by the telegraph place before we head out.”
“Oh, we’re heading out? Shouldn’t we got hunker down somewhere safe in case your relations decide to bring the cavalry to teach us a lesson?” Ansel rubbed his chest as they walked.
“Maybe you should go take some medicine. I can send my telegram, saddle our horses and come by Mrs. Cotter’s to get you.” Job was concerned.
Ansel looked extremely pale and his breathing seemed labored like his lungs were working twice as hard to get air in. He rested his hand on Ansel’s lower back. They had turned off main street into an alley, so he wasn’t worried about anyone seeing them touching like that.
Without arguing, Ansel leaned into him, laying his head on Job’s shoulder as he tried to catch his breath. Job brushed his lips over Ansel’s ear before whispering, “Take in slow breaths, as deep as you can. We don’t have anywhere else to be right now. You have all the time in the world.”
As he spoke, he could feel Ansel relax and as he released the tension in his muscles, his breathing eased. Job hated that Ansel was sick, and while his sight had told him that the situation they were in would work out in the end, it hadn’t seen fit to enlighten him about whether or not Ansel got better.
Job knew there had been cases of people who’d come out West to die from lung disease and miraculously they’d healed. He threw a prayer into the sky that God would look down on Ansel and touch him, releasing the tight bands around his chest and freeing him to live a long and happy life.
It would be a happy one—if Job had anything to do about it.
He didn’t know how long they stood there. Time had no meaning when it came to him spending it with Ansel. Also, like he’d told the man, they had nowhere they needed to be by any particular time. Calbert and Lance wouldn’t have gotten back to the ranch yet, plus it would take them a little while to argue about what to do.
Letting go as Ansel stepped back, Job studied his face. “Are you doing okay?”
There was a little color to Ansel’s cheeks and he wasn’t rubbing his chest any more.
“Yes. Thank you. Sometimes when I can’t breath, I panic and that just makes the situation worse.” Ansel tugged his handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped his mouth.
“No problem, my friend. I’m glad to help the best I can.” He cupped Ansel’s face and ran his thumb over Ansel’s bottom lip. “We should probably get going. Head to Mrs. Cotter’s and I’ll meet you there with the horses in a little while.”
Ansel nodded as he pressed a kiss to the pad of Job’s thumb. Job fought back the urge to grab Ansel and crush his mouth to his. He respected Ansel’s wishes and wouldn’t kiss him until the man begged him.
He followed Ansel out of the alley and when Ansel turned right, Job went left to the telegraph office. He was going to send a message, and hopefully Josiah would get it soon enough to get to Gideon’s Crossing before too many people died.
Job didn’t have any hope that blood wouldn’t be spilt over this land. He simply hoped to minimize the loss. His family would give him some grief over not backing Calbert, but he wasn’t going to help out a man steal land—even if he was a member of his family.
“Maybe I should send Travis a telegram as well,” he muttered as he stepped into the building.
The operator glanced up and blanched when he saw Job standing there. After standing, he handed Job a pencil and some paper.
“Don’t worry, sir. I know what I’m supposed to do,” the man stuttered.
Job shook his head. “I’m not expecting answers to these, so you don’t need to worry about finding me. And hell, you can run out and tell whomever you want about whom I sent messages to. It might cause some of them to take a moment and think about what they’re doing.”
He wrote out the telegrams, handed them to the operator, then left. After saddling the horses, he mounted his gelding before riding to Mrs. Cotter. He was surprised to see Ansel standing on the front porch, hands on hips, waiting for him.
“Did you take some of your medicine,” he asked as he approached.
Ansel nodded. “And I brought some with me, so we don’t have to come back here if we get busy later on.”
“Good. Let’s go.” He tossed the reins of Ansel’s mare to him.
Job waited until Ansel was settled in the saddle before he rode off. He knew Ansel was there, watching his back as they left town. There was no reason to believe anyone in town would be interested in hurting them. Calbert didn’t have that much control over the townsfolk, so Job could keep his eyes out for an ambush ahead instead of getting shot in the back.
“After our little run-in with Calbert and his rather uncouth son, I’m going to assume he didn’t believe you when you told him that the land had already been claimed,” Ansel said as he rode up to join Job.
“You’re right about that.” He shot Ansel a glance. “You’re going to have to do something about it.”
Nodding, Ansel fiddled with the leather reins in his hands. “Yes, I know. I guess I should place an order with the freight company to bring out some lumber. I should get a house built before the rainy season sets in.”
“Doesn’t Pascal and his family have some kind of shelter there?” Job hadn’t seen the main ranch area the other day.
“Yes, but there is an area that I’ve already studied that I think would be good for the big house.” Ansel reached out to tap Job’s arm. “I’d like you to ake a look and see what you think. Maybe you would consider coming to visit once this is all taken care of.”
I just thought I’d drop you all a line to let you know that Trailing Air is coming along nicely. That makes me happy. Also, you’ll be getting two installments of Angel’s Feet this week, even with the holiday.
I hope everyone is safe and warm today. I’m off to workout then to get writing. Yay!