The heat … the heat … the unbearable heat … it wasn’t fair, Lou decided. The boys had spent the day working around the station in nothing but their pants and boots while she had on pants, boots, a union suit AND a shirt! Talk about being sweaty! She’d tried going around without the long johns on but with the heat making her shirt stick to her skin, well, she had a lot more attached to her skin that could show through the fabric than the boys did so the underwear had to stay on.

Rachel had told them to take it slow with the chores, and of course the boys decided to fully follow her suggestion, so several breaks were taken in between the little work getting done. As they had all sat around the bunkhouse’s covered porch, legs stretched out while chugging down cold drinks of water, Lou had curled her lip up in disgust as each boy seemed to flaunt his perfectly tanned bare chest in her direction. Even though one of those chests usually made her start to sweat just by looking at it, with the weather as hot as it was, he wasn’t doing anything to her but making her exceedingly jealous. He would look over and give her that smile of his that usually made her weak in the knees; but given how she was sitting each time he did, all she did in response was make a face at him and turn away. But she would be slow enough to catch the hurt look on his face as he didn’t understand what he’d done wrong.

Kid was a sweet person but very daft when it came to certain issues. He’d, of course, come after her to find out what was wrong, but each time Lou had just pushed her hand against his bare chest and told him to talk to Katy instead, or go chop wood or something, then left him standing all alone in the middle of the yard. It had taken every ounce of what will-power she possessed just to push against his toned muscles and not run her hand up and down their smoothness like she did when they were alone. Lou had to keep reminding herself Kid was as guilty as the rest of the boys, even if he didn’t know what he was guilty of.

The male riders had consented to putting their shirts back on for dinner but it was only because Rachel refused to feed them otherwise. But the moment the meal was done and they had been excused, off came the unwanted garments! Then when it was time to call it a night, they couldn’t wait to dispose of nearly everything else. She’d almost gagged when Cody threatened to take off his bottom too in an attempt to cool down. But thankfully he decided to give sleep a try with his lower half still covered and just lie on top of his sheet instead of under it. Lou had let out an audible sigh of relief when he’d made that decision but kept her attention in his direction, just to make sure there were no noises indicating he had changed his mind and was carrying out his threat. Finally light and heavy snores, and a few mumbles here and there, drifted over the breezeless night in her direction.

So there she lay on her bed, fully covered with her union suit. She’d already kicked all sheets and blankets off her bunk in her attempt not to touch anything but nothing relieved her from the heavy cotton of the long john material resting on her stomach. Even undoing the top three buttons of her long johns, picking the cotton fabric up away from her skin, and then using her mouth to blow down the front of her top to dry off her chest wasn’t helping. She threw her hands over her head then winced when they came in contact with wood instead of pillow.

It wasn’t fair! The room was too dark to see the others in their beds but Lou could just imagine how comfortably they were sleeping in them. Lying either on their back, legs and arms spread out wide, or on their stomach with their butts sticking up in the air; yes, nothing kept them from the favorite activity. It seemed that two of them were having a hard time of it tonight; she knew why she was and could only guess that Kid was awake due to his worrying over her behavior toward him earlier in the day. Well it served him right for parading around the way he had and not being considerate enough around her to not let her be the only one with a top still on. Of course she had told him numerous times not to treat her any differently, but that wasn’t the point.

She knew he knew she wasn’t sleeping, as she knew he wasn’t by his breathing, so it puzzled her that he hadn’t quietly called out to her or gotten up and looked over the edge of the bed to find out why she’d been rude to him all afternoon. But then this was the Kid; he would stew for a while in misery until he finally couldn’t take it anymore and come beg her to tell him what the problem was. Lou was tempted to let him lose sleep over his worries and make it up to him later; she always did and he would definitely forgive her then. Suddenly what Cody had said before falling asleep caused an idea to form in her mind. Lou quickly covered her mouth with both hands to stifle the laugh that threatened to escape. It was too perfect and a little friendly torture never hurt anyone.

Lou gave one more listen to be sure none of the others had woken up. Convinced it was just her and her bunkmate who were going to have rings under their eyes come morning, she gave herself a pat on the shoulder for coming up with Kid’s punishment. To catch his attention, she let out an exaggerated sigh. Lou then leaned toward the edge of the bunk and listened to be sure he had heard her.

Her presence was known to him long before the sigh that had escaped her soft, rosy lips. Kid had tried to forget about how Lou kept brushing him aside all afternoon but when it came to Lou, he couldn’t forget anything. So he’d lain there, wondering why she was still awake. He just couldn’t bring himself to ask her but when he heard her sigh, Kid felt a moment of excitement that that was a sign she wanted to talk to him. But only silence followed … silence that was interrupted by something floating past his bed.

“Lou? What was that?”

“Just takin’ Cody’s suggestion. Figured it would be cooler if I didn’t have anything on my top or bottom.”

Kid was instantly leaning over the side of his bunk, feeling around on the floor. “But you can’t do that. Girls have to wear something on their top and as for their bottom, you can’t be showing that part of you to the others either.” He glanced up to where her head was, but being it was pitch black in the room, he couldn’t make out a thing. That thought did give him a bit of comfort because if he couldn’t see Lou then any of the boys that might wake up wouldn’t be able to see her in all her womanliness either. “Lou, you really need to put your clothes back on or at least pull a sheet up over you.” He’d kicked his sheet off his bed the moment he’d laid down and knew Lou’s had joined his on the floor as he heard it float down over the end of the bunk. Kid sat up and was ready to feel around on that part of the floor for the sheet when Lou’s words stopped him cold.

“It’s not helping anyway. Think I’ll go see if being outside makes me feel any cooler.”

THUD!

Kid’s eyes flew to the place the noise had come from. He could hear someone getting up next to his bunk then there was the pitter patter of bare feet against the wooden floor. Next came the soft creak of the door being opened and closed. Like a shot, Kid was on his feet. He nearly tripped over Lou’s undergarment and realizing what his foot had touched, the blue-eyed man ran to the door. Not being the least bit quiet, he threw it open. What he saw standing in front of him caused his jaw to drop nearly to his chest.

“Lou, you’re wearin’ your long johns.”

“Disappointed?” Lou asked with a smirk on her face as she reached behind him to close the door.

“Yes … no! What I am is relieved. But if you’re wearin’ ‘em then what did you toss off your bed?”

“Does it matter?” Lou sidled alongside him and mischievously looked up into his eyes.

Kid cleared his throat, getting nervous at how she was staring at him. “Well, I’m glad to see you have some common sense. You know you can’t be paradin’ around lookin’ like you do when we’re alone. What if one of the boys had gotten up and seen you that way?”

“They didn’t and I didn’t. Though I might be tempted if a particular fella asked me to take ‘em off.”

The southerner stared at her, his eyes first focusing on her mouth as she spoke then moving lower, landing and staying on the sight of her top with the three buttons already undone. Oh, how he wanted to push that fabric aside to find out how much of her he could see! “Then why did you let me think you were runnin’ around undressed?”

Lou grew serious for a moment. “It was to pay you back for goin’ around all day half undressed, knowin’ I can’t do what you all were doin’!”

Kid began to chuckle but stopped as she slapped him on the arm. “Lou, I can’t help you bein’ built different and if you had just told me, I would have put my shirt back on. I just didn’t think anythin’ of it.”

“You usually don’t,” Lou told him as she too began to grin. “But I do have to say you are cute when you’re clueless.”

Glad it was dark so she couldn’t see him blushing, Kid put his hands on her hips and brought her up close to him. “What do you mean? I was takin’ advantage of any opportunity I could find to stay cool.” He stood silently for a moment, his hands running over her firm, round backside. Finally he gave her a smile as he continued, “But now that the others are sleeping, you know, I think you had the right idea. You do need to shed your body of this nasty fabric. It does feel so much better when the air is touching your chest just so; let’s see if it helps you any.” His hands quickly went to work undoing the rest of the buttons then as he leaned forward and claimed her mouth with his, Kid worked the fabric off her shoulders and down her arms until it was padded around her waist.

Lou should have been shocked at his suggestion, only she was anything but … and wanting to rid herself of her undergarment had nothing to do with the heat. It had everything to do with the man standing pressed against her chest. So she gladly accepted the kiss he gave her and responded in kind, letting him take the long john off her upper body, then continue until he’d managed to get it off her feet. So there she stood, her mouth attached to his, with nothing on but a look of complete happiness plastered on her face.

“That’s better,” Kid said as he stepped back. He looked her up and down then rubbed her shoulders. “I do think you were right; coming outside has done wonders for cooling me off. I suddenly feel so sleepy …” he paused to show her a big yawn, “I think I’m gonna call it a night. See ya in the mornin’, Lou.” With that said, Kid raised the long johns in his hand so she could see them, then before she could react, he opened the door to the bunkhouse and entered, closing it quickly behind him. Kid turned the lock on the door then leaned against the wood, a big smile playing across him face. “That will teach her for makin’ me worry over nothin’ … not to mention callin’ me clueless! Now just how long am I gonna leave her out there?”

It took Lou all of two seconds to realize what he was doing. She moved to follow him but wasn’t fast enough as she found herself blocked by the door being closed in her face. The female rider began to panic as she heard the lock being turned inside. She tried to jiggle the knob and push on the wood but it wouldn’t open; Lou had a sneaking suspicion that Kid was leaning against it, making it near impossible for her to move it at all!

“Kid!” Lou hissed as she placed her mouth near the wood. “What are you doin’? This ain’t funny! All right I’m sorry, but you did deserve it. You can’t leave me out here like this. What if one of the boys wakes up and needs to answer the call of nature? You don’t want them seein’ your girl this way, do ya?” She glanced around her as she wrapped one arm around her chest for modesty’s sake. The other was used to lightly pound on the door. “Kid? Can you hear me, Kid? I won’t tease you ever again, I promise … you can punish me any way you wanna and I’ll take it like a man … Kid? … KID!”

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