Author's Note: This short story follows the story "Just a Step"
She shut the door behind her, softly pressing on it until she heard the hollow click of the lock setting into place. The bunkhouse was quiet, as much as it could be at that time of night.
Cody snuffled into his blanket, murmuring to himself as he cuddled it close. Noah rolled over quietly to get away from the noise. Ike snored softly in his bunk, making more of a racket in his sleep than he ever made in his waking hours.
Louise skirted around the bunks with practiced ease. Even if the lanterns had been out she would have known where to go. There was, however, something different on this night. Something quiet that no one but her would have ever noticed. She paused by her bunk. Quickly shedding her boots, shirt and breeches she set them on the top of her trunk. A moment later she'd scrambled up into her bunk, barely shaking it at all.
She didn't want to wake them up, not now... not tonight.
Lou reached down and grabbed a hold of her blankets and pulled them up quickly under her chin. It wasn't too cold, but it wasn't worth catching a chill when she could be warm. She laid there on her back, staring up at the ceiling with a wide-eyed gaze. Sleep would be slow in coming that night. Sure, she was tired, but there were many things to keep her thoughts occupied. Too many memories to play over and over again while they were still fresh in her head.
Gathering the blanket tightly to her chest she turned on her side and stopped short in surprise.
Jimmy was awake.
Jimmy was awake and watching her.
Her grin was immediate. Her cheeks warm. Her toes curling in her stockings.
His expression was quiet, watchful. He lifted a hand up and set it behind his head as he pressed deeper into the mattress.
She tucked her hand between her chin and her pillow as she watched the rise and fall of his chest with every breath. A few breaths later she felt her eyes drifting closed and her mind drifting back.
She felt the warmth of his body in the darkness, the rough callused skin of his palm against her own. The glimmer in his eyes from the warmth of the lantern was sharp in her memory. And she could remember the scent of his skin, they were that close.
He leaned in and she closed the space between them, touching his lips with her own. Slanting her lips against his she'd enjoyed the rush of emotions that flooded her senses. She'd enjoyed the thundering beat of her heart, the trembling sensation in her middle and she'd wanted more.
Opening her eyes she found him still awake and watching.
He saw her eyes and maybe, even in the long shadows of the bunkhouse, he saw the warmth coloring her cheeks. Or was it the dancing light in her eyes? Whatever it was she knew he was enjoying himself.
The thin line of his lips parted slightly, turning up at one end he left out a soft breath in the dim interior of the bunkhouse.
She couldn't seem to look away.
It looked like Jimmy couldn't either. He stretched out his long frame on the bunk and settled deeper beneath his blanket.
Lou touched her hand to her mouth, the slight pressure of her finger against her lips. His gaze shifted slightly to focus on her fingers and his eyes darkened with another emotion.
She felt her breath catch her throat as she lost herself in his smile. As she laid there in the almost dark of the bunkhouse she realized that something had changed that night.
It hadn't been any moment in particular. Or maybe it had. All the laughter and stolen glances had wrapped themselves up into the simple brush of lips and a delicious shiver of feeling.
Things between them wouldn't be the same. They would never be the same and that was all right with her.
At least... she smiled at the thought... at least if there would be more shared moments together.
Lyin' here with you so close to me
Author's Note: Thanks to Liz M for putting up with me and beta reading this story