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REMINDER: I write long stories. Many chapters don’t have naughty bits, but those that do will be more fun if you read the others, too! Also, although TT2 is a stand-alone novel, it takes place in the same family as Texas Trio, so you might want to read that first! -Stefanie
-:-:-:-:-:-:- Chapter 9 -:-:-:-:-:-:-
A week later, Becky was right back at it, so excited about an article she’d read in the new issue of Scientific American that she almost forgot her promise to Cat and her narrow escape the week before.
As soon as Nanny carried Lily upstairs for her nap and the two boys were settled at the table with Yan and their slates, practicing their letters, Becky headed for the stairs. The magazine she’d purloined from Colt’s desk had given her an idea about viewing mineral specimens under polarized light. Jem had the microscope, the light, and the slides in his laboratory: everything but the rocks. The sooner she made it to the hills, the more time she’d have to explore before she came home to help with dinner.
After she changed, Becky examined herself in the mirror, adjusting the waistband of her skirt so the leather belt she wore beneath it didn’t show so plainly. The trousers themselves- a boys’ pair from the mercantile in town- didn’t add much in the way of bulk, but the waist was too loose. She needed a belt to make them fit her waist, but if she’d bought a smaller pair, she would have split the seams in back.
Becky made a face at her reflection. She didn’t see what the fuss was about: everybody had a bottom. Gentlemen, cowhands, and clergy all went about day and night with the shape of their bottoms revealed by trousers. Not that she’d been paying much attention, but she’d never been overcome by emotion after viewing any of their posterior parts. Cat, Nanny, Yan, Louella- none of the women in the house had ever found it necessary to ravage a man who happened to walk by wearing pants; why was it so much different when she wore them?
She tugged the hem of her blouse into place. The bodice was fitted and high-collared, as were most of the ladies’ fashions this year, and the long sleeves ballooned with extra fabric at the shoulders.
If she thought no one would notice, sometimes Becky stole away wearing only her chemise and an old blue shirt she’d stolen from the clothesline, with a waistcoat topping it off until she was further from home. With only her chemise beneath the worn shirt, she was much cooler than swaddled in the layers she usually wore. She felt so free then that sometimes she’d stand in her stirrups and whoop for joy, waving her hat overhead like a cowboy turning the herd.
Today, she’d suffer along with only undoing enough buttons to bare her neck and show her collarbones, which no decent woman did before dinner. To Becky’s mind, that was yet another absurdity. Why was it acceptable to show half your breast in the evening but none at all during the day? If anything, it should be the opposite- wear fewer clothes during sunny, hot hours and cover your chest in the cool of evening.
She’d read that the H.M.S. Challenger, while circumnavigating and exploring the world, had stopped at many islands in the south Pacific where the women wore only skirts- with no tops whatsoever! It therefore seemed reasonable to think she could wear a sleeveless blouse in Texas without being branded a loose woman. But no, long sleeves, long skirts, and layers were what she wore. Because, while Becky occasionally flouted convention, she didn’t truly want Colt and Jem to die of shock.
Fingering her curls forward, she tried self-consciously to hide the scar on her temple. She frowned when she caught herself and turned immediately for the door.
After asking around and discovering no one knew where Clancy had gone, Becky apprised her sister of her plans for the day, earning an appreciative response from Catherine, who kept her eyes carefully away from Becky’s waistline. She knew what Becky was doing and Becky knew she knew, but as long as no one said anything, they could pretend otherwise.
After saddling Pepper, she rode around the main buildings until she bumped into Caleb, who said he’d send Clancy along after her as soon as he got back from taking a wagonload of barbed wire out to the Dos Colinas enclosure. Caleb sneered when he said it, which was practically effusive when compared to his usual manner.
Becky paused. She loved Caleb simply because he loved Nanny, but they never really talked.
Of course, Caleb seldom spoke to anyone other than Nanny. Colt complained that most of the time their half-Indian, half-Negro groomsman ignored his employers altogether, but Becky suspected the complaints were only for form’s sake. Caleb was family.
She felt like the sneer gave her an opportunity to respond which shouldn’t be ignored. “You don’t like barbed wire, Caleb?”
Caleb squinted up at her from under his overhanging black brows. “Ain’t good for any animal but cattle, Miss Becky.”
She escort ataşehir pursed her lips. This argument, and others much like it, had been going on at the KCW and every other dinner table in Texas for the past decade, ever since the stuff was invented. The KCW initially used barbed wire only to protect the crops from cattle or to contain the wildest and most vulnerable stock, but it was becoming more common for ranchers to buy large sections of prairie and grassland, fencing it off for their own use.
“Jem says the days of the open range are over, that fences will be everywhere someday,” Becky said.
Caleb grunted, his usual response, and Becky thought that would probably be the end of their “conversation.” Before she could say good-bye, though, Caleb glanced up with the tiniest hint of a grin teasing one corner of his mouth.
“Guess you oughta get back to your ‘sploring ‘fore it’s gone, then.” His eyes fell to her calf.
When Becky looked down, she saw that her skirt had ridden up, exposing six inches of pant-leg showing above her boot. She twitched her skirt into place as quick as she could, putting on an exaggerated expression of shame for Caleb’s sake.
He chuckled- an extremely rare occurrence. “Geroff with you, girl.”
She doffed her hat as she wheeled Pepper away, and galloped off with a “Yee-hah!” which she hoped would make him laugh again, even if she wasn’t there to hear it.
An hour later, safely away from the ranch, Becky slowed her mare to a walk, unbuttoned the top four buttons of her blouse, and took her skirt off.
-:-:-:-:-:-:- Chapter 10 -:-:-:-:-:-:-
Behind a row of sun-bleached boulders on the ridge ahead, two men lay motionless, ignoring the heat of the noonday sun. One rested on his back with his head in the shade and his eyes closed, a dirty hat perched on his crotch and knotty hands folded across his ribcage
“How long you think it’ll take her to get here, Lem? I got time for a snooze?”
The other man grunted an indeterminate answer, not bothering to pry his eyes from the fancy bi-noculars he’d taken off that hapless eastern teacher after a sneaky tap to his noggin. Becky’s face was hidden in the shade beneath her hat, but the way her hand was a-tapping on her thigh, Lemuel thought she might be singing.
“You jus’ wait, I’ll take care o’ that slapping for you, girl,” he murmured aloud.
“What’s that, Lem? You think I got time? Huh?”
Lem didn’t answer. Whatever he said, Ernie wasn’t going to sleep, anyway. He was too excited, and he got twitchy whenever action was afoot, jumping from one subject to another. He’d never settle down enough to sleep. Too bad, ‘cuz Ern could be a trial when he was in a mood like this.
Without moving his hands, Lem titled his head toward his saddlebags. “You stay low, I gotta flask in my bag, you want some o’ that.”
Ern scrambled across Lem’s feet and he grimaced. The rotgut would shut Ernesto up for a bit, and by the time Ern finished the whiskey, Miss Becky Connor would be guiding the grey up the path beneath their rocks. They’d jump her, tie her up, and be off in no time. Finally. He and Ernie had been keeping watch on and off for more’n a week now, waiting for Miss Rebecca Connor to venture out alone, but she’d either been stayin’ close to the ranch-house or she’d been gone when they arrived, leaving them no way to tell where she was headed. Today was the day, though- today those bastards would discover they weren’t no better than anyone else.
Lem licked his cracked upper lip and allowed himself a pleasurable moment imagining how Kendall and Wilson would feel when they found out what had been done to their little sister. Wouldn’t be so all-fired uppity then, would they?
Ernie spat, too close to Lem’s elbow. The glob stunk of tobacco juice, whiskey, and whatever rancid meat was stuck in Ernie’s gullet. Lem grimaced but refrained from comment, not because he was afraid of Ernie’s reaction, but because he wouldn’t risk alerting their prey.
Though, Lord knew, Ernie was a mean drunk and hard to control at such times. Lem wouldn’t care about it when they had her trussed up between them. Ern could ride just as well drunk as sober and once they got away, he’d wear himself out on the girl and pass out for good. Then it’d be Lem’s turn. If takin’ her first would shut Ernie up, Lem didn’t mind being second in line. He’d seen Ern taking a drunken piss more times than he could count, and it wasn’t all that impressive.
Sure, Lem wished Ern wasn’t along, but he wanted someone around to take the blame later, and Ern would be good for that. He’d probably be too drunk to remember who did what, and he’d never speak out against Lem. When Ern was sober, he was afraid of Lem. Ernie was a mean drunk, but Lemuel was mean all the time, and didn’t mind proving it with a pig-sticker to the ribs of a sleeping man, if need be.
There was always the possibility Ern would pass out before he climbed atop the kadıköy escort girl, anyway, and Lem’d be the one to bust Miss Becky out. He grinned, showing yellowed ivory incisors, incongruous among the mottled greenish gray teeth spotting the rest of his mouth. That’d be nice, he thought, feeling her blood on him when he spurted. Lem shifted, his erection pressed uncomfortably between his body and the sandstone rocks beneath. Yeah, maybe he’d do that. Maybe he’d shoot Ern first and get it over with, leave him with the girl’s body when he took off.
Nah, that wouldn’t work, Ern would be rotten by then, and if someone found the bodies quick, people would see Ern died a good while before Becky. Lem licked his upper lip again, still grinning. She was a beauty, Miss Becky was: Lem though he’d go at least a week before he got sick of her, whether she wore out first or not. Sometimes they did, and Lem didn’t like it so much when they stopped wiggling. He’d go one last time, choking the life outa a woman as he came, and that one was always the best. No matter how busted up she was, almost every woman found the will to kick up a fuss when she felt his hands around her neck. ‘Cept that little Mex girl, she died quiet.
Miss Becky, though . . . she was young- and strong. She wouldn’t give up easy, and she was so pretty that even when she did, Lem bet he’d go another couple of days at least before he got tired of fucking a rag-doll. Biting them little titties of hers might wake her up some, too.
Lem was about to lower the glasses and roll to his side, so as to give his hard-on some room, when Becky spun around to look behind her, that shapely, trouser-clad ass lifting from the saddle. Lem got another tantalizing glimpse of her neck and chest when her shirt gaped open, but not as much as he woulda liked.
He lowered the glasses and squinted, locating a low cloud of dust trailing along the ground a couple hundred yards behind Becky. He cursed and lifted the glasses, scanning left until he found the rider.
“Fuck!” Lem cursed viciously, restraining the urge to throw the expensive glasses as he rolled away from the rocks.
Startled, Ern’s eyes brightened, though he didn’t lower the flask.
Lem let out a long string of curses, finishing with, “Clancy’s ridin’ up after her. That damn midget! Another one who thinks he’s better than he oughta!”
They’d been out here day after day, waiting for Becky to be alone, and half the time it was that fucking Clancy who fouled it up for them.
For half a heartbeat, Lem considered including the Irishman in their ambush, but dismissed the idea immediately. Clancy wasn’t stupid, he had ears like a fucking rabbit, he was fast to draw, fast to shoot, and nearly as mean as Lem himself. It weren’t worth the risk, not when the cunt in question rode out alone often enough to make future opportunities a sure thing. Lem scurried away from the rocks, dragging his saddlebags until he was back far enough to stand, hunched over, and head for the horses. Ern scuttled along behind him, still suckin’ on that flask.
-:-:-:-:-:-:- Chapter 11 -:-:-:-:-:-:-
She was too far away to hear the call, but Becky felt him coming, a vibration in the earth or air from the horses’ hooves, she couldn’t have said which.
She spun the mare and stood in the stirrups, squinting against the light. A copper glint gave her the answer she wanted and she grinned, plopping back into her saddle and walking the grey out to meet him.
Clancy reined in and sat up as the stallion he rode tossed his mane and snorted, his forefeet lifting high. Clancy controlled him easily, circling Becky’s grey mare until the big brown settled down, then tipping his dusty hat and falling in alongside her. “Miss Becky.”
“Caleb caught you, then?”
Clancy grinned. “Didn’t see Cochise,” he answered, using Caleb’s nickname, “but when Miz Connor said you’d gone explorin’, I allowed as how I might know where you was heading today.”
Becky slanted a sideways glance his way. “How did you know? I didn’t tell anyone but Caleb exactly where I was going.”
Clancy snorted. “You sure did, talkin’ all night about them glittery stones you seen in a creek, ‘tween two falls, with a cairn up above. We got lotsa cairns and lotsa creeks, but not lots of ’em runnin’ right now, and only one with a cairn up above.”
Becky turned her face forward to hide her smile. Clancy was exactly right about the mica: she’d seen what appeared to be flat flecks of black biotite in an area virtually paved with sedimentary shale and sandstone, an anomaly which called out for further investigation. Coincidentally, mica would be perfect for viewing under a microscope, too.
She murmured a compliment. “Wisdom does indeed come with age, doesn’t it?”
Clancy blushed. They rode in silence for half a mile.
Clancy was one of the few people Becky didn’t mind accompanying her. He knew how to keep quiet, and his own maltepe escort bayan taciturn tendencies made him a near-perfect foil for Becky’s periods of absolute absorption. She’d sometimes forget his presence, until he prevented her from bumping into a rock or tree as she concentrated on a bird or some fantastical cloud formation. Clancy, for his part, was as at home in the land as any snake, and as content to lounge nearby as Topper keeping an eye on his family.
Clancy had never mentioned having any family of his own, but he’d embedded himself solidly in the Connor clan. His personality alone might have made it possible, but he’d guaranteed himself a permanent home with an act of utter selflessness which saved Catherine and her daughter from a brutal death, while condemning him to a lifetime of pain and limited motion.
Not that he’d say so. Crushed limbs and missing leg or not, no one could tell Clancy there was something he couldn’t do. He had trouble on long drives after the accident, so he stayed on the ranch to watch over the women- the only man other than Caleb and Captain Jackson trusted to do so. With Clancy at the farmhouse, Caleb was free to tend the stables, Colt to work the herd, and Jem could retreat to his workshop whenever he chose. He’d been spending less time in the lab since the children were born, but last year he’d created a powder of crushed talc and garlic which wiped out a louse infestation affecting half the herd. Most of the district was using it now, and Catherine took care to give Clancy half the credit. He blushed every time, but anyone could see he was pleased by the compliment.
Several companionable hours passed while Becky explored, sketching and taking notes, and Clancy watched the birds, the sky, and kept an eye out for snakes and scorpions, which Becky like as not would sit down on when she was looking at some fascinatin’ rock.
When the shadows got taller than what was throwing them, Clancy nagged her into mounting up and heading home. Once they got going, Becky realized how hungry she was. She offered half of what she had stuffed in her saddlebags to Clancy, whose bushy orange brows wiggled in response, prodding at the underside of his hat as though trying to escape.
“I already had some of Cook’s fried chicken, Miss Becky.”
Becky’s brow furrowed. “When was that?”
“Around lunchtime,” Clancy intoned blandly.
“Where was I?” She thought he’d been within spitting distance all day- he was there every time she looked up, as usual.
Clancy’s whiskers moved.
Becky thought he might be grinning, but his eyes were shadowed by the wide hat brim, and she couldn’t be sure.
“You was ten feet away from me, crouched in a little ball, poking at the skeleton of somethin’ that’s been dead longer’n I been alive.” He was definitely grinning.
“I offered you some chicken, and you said no, but you did tell me that chickens have been domesticated for a thousand years, and flocks are found on nearly every cont’net, which I found mighty fascinatin’, though I ain’t quite sure what a cont’net is.”
Becky felt a smile threatening to defeat her frown of displeasure, which was meant to cow Clancy’s amusement at her expense, so she frowned harder. For a second, until his bushy mustache twitched, and she broke into laughter despite herself. “You old liar! You know perfectly well what a ‘cont-net’ is. I heard you and Colt discussing how long it took to get from Seward to Russia on a steamer, and you were wondering if Yan came overland or went the whole width of the Pacific on a boat.”
Clancy grinned, admitting nothing.
When they got closer to the farmhouse, he gestured toward her lower body, then at the horizon ahead of them. “I’ll walk ahead slow-like, so’s you can get your costume settled afore we get home.”
Becky sighed but reined in and did as he suggested, catching up to Clancy a couple of minutes later as he leaned an elbow on the pommel. “Are you achy today?”
Clancy straightened up. “Nah, I’m just getting’ older, like everyone else, Miss Becky.”
“Well, you certainly move around much better than you did a year ago!”
Clancy nodded, his head bobbing with the horse’s motion. “I got you ladies to thank for that, and I don’t think I said it often enough, Miss Becky, how much I owe for what you done.”
“Pssh,” Becky started to wave his thanks away, then thought better of her dismissal. It couldn’t be easy for a man as self-contained as Clancy to say something like that aloud. Becky tugged a rein. When her knee was nearly touching Clancy’s, she leaned to the side and put her hand on his. “You’re welcome, Clancy. We all feel blessed that you pulled through.”
Clancy cleared his throat.
Becky patted his hand once more and swerved away, backing off a half-step, too, so Clancy would have room to regain his composure. She spoke to cover the silence. “Though most of us ‘ladies’ had little enough to do with your recovery!
“We fed you, kept your wounds clean, and let heaven heal the rest, right up until the end there, when the tiniest lady took charge of the whole operation.”
Clancy cleared his throat again, and turned his head from side to side, remembering. “And weren’t she somethin’, though?
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