The Gunslinger's Captive: A Hot-Flashes Novelette
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by Rod Harden
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: A Romantic B
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/Sizzler Editions,
eBookwise Release Date: May 2009
8 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [63 KB]
Reading time: 35-50 min.
THE GUNSLINGER'S CAPTIVE
Sarah Jane Calhoun wasn't the only single girl in Dodge City, but at twenty-six she was the oldest (not counting a few well worn brothel and dance hall girls). It wasn't because she was homely; in fact, she was anything but. With her oval face and delicate features, her dark hair and pale skin, she was one of the prettiest gals in the territory.
What had kept her single during her most marriageable years was the fact that she'd had to look after her daddy. William Calhoun had been the best blacksmith around and had made a good, respectable living in a town that saw more than its share of gunslingers and criminals. But when his back failed him, instead of hiring on help, he'd pressed his only child into service. He said she owed it to him for having "killed" her mother in childbirth.
That was when Sarah was sixteen. Suitors were just starting to line up in earnest then. But after her long days in the smithy, entertaining lusty young men was the last thing on Sarah's mind. And when William's condition worsened, caring for her invalid father while running the smithy consumed her every waking minute.
Her daddy refused to sell the shop and insisted that Sarah oversee its operation. She hated bearing so much responsibility and the men she supposedly supervised resented her as well.
Now, though, her daddy was gone. Unfortunately, so were the suitors. All the local boys had long since given up on her. But she didn't mourn father or suitors for long. Shortly after her daddy's death, she sold the blacksmith shop, banked the proceeds and moved into a small cabin just north of town.
That was six months ago. Since then she'd been able to live comfortably, but to keep herself busy, she'd taken a job as the afternoon clerk at the Dodge House hotel on Front Street.
Such was Sarah Jane Calhoun's situation in Dodge City, Kansas in 1889. That year the frontier town boasted just over 1,700 year round residents, but because of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad, and the frequent cattle drives, there were countless transient residents. If a new suitor for Sarah were to be found, it would have to be from the pool of the transients.
Yet the men who passed through town didn't interest her either. She paid no attention to the ones who stayed at the hotel, and rarely ran into others elsewhere. It didn't matter; she was resigned to her life alone.
When she wasn't working, she was careful to always stay on the north side of Front Street. That was the "respectable" part of town, where both saloon girls and gambling were barred. It was a safe, predictable life for a single girl in Dodge.
One day, though, Sarah did find herself on the South side of town. It was a bright June day, and a brief early morning shower had left the dirt roads just damp enough to keep down the dust but without creating a muddy mess.
She had come to work at noon feeling as bright as the day. Her calico skirt was as blue as the sky, gathered into flattering points at the waist, front and back. The matching blouse, buttoned up to the short standing collar, had puffy sleeves and a little extra touch of lace at the collar.
After her years in the blacksmith shop, where she had to wear boy's clothing for practical reasons, she relished all the female trappings typical of the day. Though some of her friends might complain about their snug corsets and bulky petticoats, Sarah enjoyed the way they all came together to emphasize her feminine shape.
As she strolled along the boardwalk past John Mueller's boot shop, a few doors from the hotel, she began to untie her bonnet strap.
"Top of the morning, Miss Sarah," said old Will Johnson in the doorway to Mueller's. His friendly greeting was part of her normal routine.
"Good morning to you, Mr. Johns--Oh!" she cried as a sudden gust of wind snatched the bonnet right out of her hand.
Mr. Johnson lunged for it, but a man of his years was no match for the swirling breezes that carried the lacy hat away. Sarah dashed after it, calling to the people ahead of her to grab it, but it kept slipping in and out of hands, sailing southward along 2nd Avenue.
Sarah was almost as far as River Road when she caught sight of a stranger just as he snatched her wayward bonnet in midair. She ran up to him, breathless from her mad dash down the street.
"Thank you, sir!" she puffed as she brushed back her now disheveled hair.
The stranger did not look at her, but squinted at the dainty hat he held in his dusty hands as if he were unsure what it was. He turned it over and over at length before finally directing his gaze at her.
His eyes were as hard as her daddy's old anvil. Like most cowpokes who passed through town, he looked like he'd seen neither barber nor bath in months, and the scent of the open prairie surrounded him.
He nodded almost imperceptibly in greeting, adjusted the brim of his hat and said, "This yours, ma'am?"
Sarah smiled. "Yes. Yes, it is."
She extended her hand, but the stranger held onto the bonnet. He made no move to return it to her. Instead, he continued turning it this way and that, examining it from every angle.
"It's a right pretty bonnet," he said.
"Thank you. I made it myself. And thank you again for catching it. I'd hate to have to make a new one."
He looked up and studied her from head to toe. "I reckon you can prove it belongs to you?"
"Well, I--" Sarah was taken aback by such a question. She stammered and then grew annoyed. "Of course I can't prove it's mine. But did you see any other women running after it?"
"No, ma'am. You're right. You're the only woman in sight, in fact."
"So there you have it. And look," she added, suddenly determined to prove it was hers, now that he'd made an issue of it. "I made it from the same material as my skirt. See?" She lifted her skirt slightly to demonstrate, and his stare shifted downward again at once. The grin on his face told her that she had inadvertently lifted her petticoat as well, revealing the laces of her shoes all the way up the slender contours of her ankles.
Immediately, she released the skirt. Batting her eyes with agitation, she said, "Now please return my hat so I can be on my way."
"Well, ma'am, you make a good case for it belonging to you. But the way I figure, a bonnet this pretty must belong to the prettiest girl in town." As he spoke, he slowly raised his gaze until their eyes met. He regarded her with a cool intensity that sent shivers down her spine. "And so," he continued with a grin, "I reckon it does belong to you."
Sarah could scarcely believe his effrontery. Not to mention the warmth his words brought to her cheeks. "Yes. It does!" She reached out and snatched it from his hand and immediately placed it on her head. But she was so flustered she couldn't get her fingers to tie the bow.
"Here," said the stranger, "let me help." Before she could object, he pushed her hands away and quickly tied the string into a bow, making sure it fit snug beneath her chin. His rough hands lingered at her face, and he lightly stroked the soft blush of her cheek.
Sarah shuddered and raised her hand to push his away. But she stopped abruptly, her hand poised in midair. She caught her breath and sucked in her lips. She couldn't bring herself to force his hand from her face. It seemed as though his one hand was touching her all over at once. She felt it on her breasts, on her hips, everywhere...
"I--I have to go," she managed to say. He pulled his hand away and tipped his hat. "Thank you again," she said, "for catching my bonnet, Mr.--"
"Thompson. Frank Thompson, ma'am. And the pretty owner of the pretty bonnet is Missus..."
"MISS. It's Miss. Calhoun." She stood there stupidly for a moment. It seemed like his hand was still on her. And he continued looking at her as if he were still touching her. She began to regret falling for his obvious attempt to find out if she was married, and for giving him her name. At last she said, "Anyway, it was very ... interesting meeting you, Mr. Thompson."
"And it's been a pleasure meeting you, Miss Calhoun."
She turned without another word and hurried off. As she strode toward Front Street, she was glad for the breeze as it cooled her flushed face, draining the inexplicable color from her cheeks.
Imagine the nerve of that man, she told herself. Presuming to gawk at my ankles that way! And to tie on my bonnet! And--And to touch my cheek and tell me how pretty I am!
Good thing he was just passing through. She'd hate to think about running into such a man with any frequency. Not that she was likely to see his type on the North side anyway.
By the time she got back to the hotel, her heart had stopped pounding, and she felt more like herself again.
Working behind the desk, she registered guests, handed out keys, took messages, and all the other trivial duties that kept her busy. Once or twice, she was sure she saw Mr. Thompson saunter by the door, but she was never in a position to poke her head out and see for sure.
Not that it matters, she told herself. What do I care if he's hanging around the hotel?
It was around 3:00 when the manager called her aside.
"Sarah," said Mr. Reynolds. "I need you to make the deposit today. I simply can't get away myself."
"Oh, it's all right, sir. I don't mind."
Sarah had made the daily deposit plenty of times before, but Mr. Reynolds always fretted about letting her walk down the street with so much cash. Why, there was close to one hundred dollars in the satchel today!
She picked up the bag and headed down the street. The warm breezes of the morning had become chilly gusts. Sarah was glad she hadn't bothered putting her bonnet on again. Striding forward, she lowered her head into the wind and hurried into the doorway of the bank.
With her eyes lowered, she never saw the man rushing to leave the bank. They collided head-on just inside the door, sending Sarah's smaller frame reeling backward. As she struggled to stay upright, she managed to take in the scene in front of her.
The bank appeared completely empty except for the lone man who now blocked her path. He had a bandana over the lower half of his face and a saddlebag slung over his shoulder. She knew at once that he had just robbed the bank. But what had he done with the staff and the customers?
In the split second it took her to assess the situation, her eyes locked onto the robber's, and her fear turned to shock. She recognized the eyes as those of the stranger who had saved her bonnet that morning. Frank Thompson was a bank robber!
With her heart pounding she turned to flee. But before she could take two steps, she felt his hand on her shoulder.
"Whoa, there!" He spun her around. His expression wavered in momentary uncertainty. He didn't know what to do with her. Suddenly, his grip on her arm tightened painfully, and she saw in his eyes that he had made a decision.
"Please," she gasped. "Don't hurt me. I won't tell anyone until you get away. I swear!"
"Move!" he said, ignoring her plea and shoving her out the door. "Make one peep and you're dead."
Sarah managed to swallow the scream that wanted to burst from her throat as he half dragged, half pushed her toward one of the horses tied to the hitching post.
"Get on," he said.
She looked around. There were a handful of other people on the street. They all froze and watched as she swung her leg over the horse's back. Her long skirt and petticoats bunched up awkwardly at her waist as her legs dangled freely, clad only in her bloomers and leggings.
As she tried to push her skirt down, Thompson buckled the saddlebag to the saddle before mounting the horse himself, squeezing in behind Sarah. He still had the bandana on his face as he reached around her and took the reins.
"Heeyah!" he cried, as he spurred the horse immediately to a full gallop. Sarah squealed and clamped her legs against the sides of the horse. Clutching the saddle horn, she held on as if her life depended on it, which it did at the speed they were racing. As they galloped past the hotel, she heard someone yelling in the distance behind her, "Get the Marshall! Someone get the Marshall!"
Yes, she thought, someone get the Marshall!
They were only half a mile outside of town when her abductor steered the horse off the road to cross an open field. Soon they were in a thicket, and then in a broad stand of trees. Sarah glanced back but couldn't see the road and realized they were now all but invisible from the road as well. She hoped the horse's path would remain clear until help came.
Thompson slowed the horse and they continued through the small patch of forest for several minutes in silence. Riding was easier now at the slower pace, and Sarah allowed herself to relax somewhat. But with two people squeezed into the saddle, there was no way to ignore Thompson's presence behind her.
They came upon a thickly overgrown trail, and Thompson steered the horse to follow it. Almost at once, however, he reined the animal to a stop and dismounted.
"Get down," he said.
Sarah complied, gladly. She hurriedly smoothed out her petticoats and skirt and then glared at her captor. He'd pulled his bandana down and wore it now around his neck. "Thanks a lot," she said, with no hint of gratitude in her voice. "I think I can find my way back."
"I'm not letting you go."
"Not until I'm sure I'm in the clear. You're gonna be my shield meantime."
"No, please, you can't keep me. Just let me go. Anyway, it's too awkward with both of us on your horse."
"True enough, ma'am. And that's why we stopped."
"What do you mean?" She didn't like the way he was looking at her.
"Put your hands together in front of you," he said, pulling out a coil of coarse hemp rope from one of his saddlebags.
Instinctively, Sarah did the opposite. "No! You're not going to bind me. I'd rather die."
"Don't be foolish. Give me your hands."
"I won't cooperate with you, you scoundrel!"
Thompson shook his head, grinning. "Ma'am," he said, "you're in no position to refuse me anything. You should be glad all I want to do now is tie your hands."
His words sent an icy shiver down Sarah's back. Her eyes shifted to the right and left, taking in the completeness of their isolation. He was right. He could have his way with her right then and there if he wanted to.
She was just about to put her hands out, when Thompson apparently decided he'd waited long enough. With a single swift move, he advanced upon her, grabbed her by the arms and swung her around so her back was to him.
She screamed as his rough hands pulled her wrists behind her. She tugged back with all her might, but even her smithy-toned arms were no match for Thompson's brutish strength. Somehow he held both her wrists together with one hand as he wrapped the rope around them with the other.
"Please!" she pleaded. "You can tie them in front of me. I was just about to hold them out for you."
"Too late for that now, ma'am."
"Uh!" she grunted as the rough cord bit into her flesh. "Not so tight. Please."
Her protests seemed to merely make him pull the rope tighter still, so she bit down on her lip and endured his cruelty with no further protest. After knotting the rope, he got another length of cord and tied a loop around her neck, leaving about twenty feet free. He secured the free end to the saddle and remounted his horse.
"You're going to make me walk behind you?"
He turned and doffed his hat as if in greeting. "Ma'am, you're just as smart as you are pretty."
"You're a monster! You can't do this to me."
"I suggest you keep up."
"Please! Mr. Thompson."
"Oh, now I'm 'Mr. Thompson' ... A second ago I was a monster. Well, we'll see what you think when we get to where we're going."
"Where ARE we going?"
"Don't worry, ma'am. 'Taint but a few miles. I reckon about ten from here."
"Ten miles! I can't walk ten miles with my arms bound. It hurts. Please!"
He didn't respond, but simply turned and flicked the reins. * * * *
As he led her along the trail, Sarah kept up a constant stream of protests and pleas.
"Not so fast. I can't keep up. Please, the ropes hurt my wrists. I'll trip and strangle! There's too much undergrowth on the path. My skirt keeps getting caught. Maybe we can change places for a while? Ow, my poor hands! Just let me go. Please!"
Presently, he stopped and dismounted again.
"You're letting me go?" she asked hopefully.
He walked toward her in silence, slowly shaking his head and pulling his bandana from around his neck. As he approached her, he balled up the square of cotton in his fist.
Sarah tried to retreat, but her "leash" kept her from taking more than a step back. "Wh--What are you doing? What are you going to do with that?"
Without a word, he grabbed her by the hair and yanked hard. She opened her mouth to scream, but as soon as her lips parted, he used his free hand to cram the bandana into her mouth.
He released his grip for a moment and pulled a short length of rope from his belt. As he did so, she managed to spit out half of the bandana, but he quickly shoved it back in place. Then he wound the rope around her head, guiding it between her lips. He made several rounds, so the multiple strands of rope formed a wide, tight band across her mouth trapping the wad of cloth inside.
When he finished tying the gag, he stepped back and eyed her up and down. "Now maybe we can continue in silence."
She glared at him. "You're a momfer!" she declared in muffled, muted words.
"So I'm a monster again, am I?" His gaze fell to her heaving bosom, and his face suddenly brightened. "Maybe I am, at that, ma'am."
Abruptly, he turned and stomped back to his horse where he retrieved yet another coil of rope. As he returned, his grin gave Sarah a sinking feeling in the pit of her belly.
"I think a bit more restraint is called for," he announced, as he began circling her chest with the rope. He carefully guided it above and below her breasts, trapping them between the twin bands of hemp. As he pulled it snug, she looked down in alarm to see her blouse pressed tight against her, highlighting the contours of her hidden mounds as she'd never seen them before.
The ropes also forced her upper arms together behind her and wedded them to her back in such a way that the only movement left to her was flexing her fingers.