Since their last break up, the Kid was keeping his distance from Lou and Lou, in turn, kept her distance from the Kid, completely unsure of her feelings for him anymore.

So when Teaspoon had a special run requiring two riders, Lou readily volunteered. The remainder of the riders drew straws. It looked like the Kid had drawn the short straw, when Jimmy carefully snapped his straw in half, secretly holding the remainder of the straw in his hand. Relief flooded the Kid’s face. This was definitely one ride he didn’t want to be on.

“Lou, Jimmy, you’re to take this special dispatch to the sheriff at Deer Creek and wait for his reply and bring it straight back.” Teaspoon told the pair.

The ride to Deer Creek was uneventful. The deputy there informed them that the sheriff was out of town and was expected back in two days. Since they had to wait for a reply from the sheriff, they took the only room available in the town’s hotel.

Lou, feeling on the adventurous side, asked Jimmy to come with her to the local saloon.

Three shots of whiskey later, Lou was feeling the effects of her overindulgence. Given her slight build and the fact that she never drank, it went straight to her head. Jimmy took ahold of Lou’s arm to help steady her at the bar.

“Another one barkeep!” Lou shouted at the top of her lungs.

“Don’t you think you’ve had enough there, Lou?” Jimmy asked of her.

She ignored him.

“Why don’t you listen to your friend here, little man?” The bartender asked.

“Little? Who you callin’ little, mister? Why I can…”

Jimmy cut her off before she could finish. “Lou, let it go.”

“Now listen here…” As she turned to light into him, she swayed forward. “Whoa. I don’t feel so good, Jimmy.” The next part she whispered to him, “Do you s’ppose I drank too much?” She burped loudly and then giggled.

“Lou, c’mon, let’s get you back to the hotel.”

Just as she was about to say something, she passed out cold. Falling forward, Jimmy caught her in his arms. He was instantly struck by a surge of lust. Even under her bindings he could feel the outline of her breast. He inwardly cursed to himself. Grabbing the back of her thigh, he hoisted her up top of his left shoulder. Again with the lust. Having his fingers just inches away from her derriere was too much.

“Shit!” He said to no one in particular.

He quickly walked through the batwing doors of the saloon across the street to the hotel.

The clerk behind the desk gave Jimmy a quizzical look, but quickly assessing the situation he turned back to his ledger and paid them no heed.

Jimmy slowly took to the stairs, not because Lou was heavy but because he wanted to relish the feel of her in his arms for as long as possible.

He reached their room and fished inside his pocket for the key. His hands shaking, he turned the knob, crossed the room and gently laid her on the bed. Lou woke up while Jimmy was pulling off her boots.

When Jimmy sat down in the chair near the window, trying to get as far away from her as he could, Lou insisted he take the other half of the bed because she didn’t want to be alone.

Jimmy groaned. No way could he be that close to her all night long and not…well maybe he could do it, he told himself…for Lou’s sake.

He eased his boots off and made his way over to the empty side of the bed. And there they lay, on top of the bed, fully clothed…but they may as well have been naked as far as Jimmy was concerned. His entire body was on fire. At least she didn’t ask that he hold her. He could do this.

“Jimmy?” She asked, her voice almost as quiet as a mouse. “Would you mind holding me ‘til I fell asleep? I just feel so all alone. You would make me feel so much better.”

‘Hells bells’, he cursed to himself. How much could one man take?

Lou on the other hand, not having a clue as to the effect her words were having on him, snuggled up beside him. Jimmy instinctively put his arm around her.

‘Now why did you do that?’ He asked himself. ‘For Lou. Always for Lou. And to be near her.’ After all, she did ask. It wasn’t as if he was taking advantage of her.

‘Of course you are’, another voice inside his head told him. ‘She’s drunk and you’re randy and here you are sleeping in the same bed with her. If that’s not taking advantage of her…well, just don’t take it any farther and everything will be alright.’

She turned her head and kissed his arm, telling him goodnight. He croaked out, “Goodnight.” ‘Was that my voice sounding so strained?’ he wondered.

‘As soon as she falls asleep I’m heading for the chair.’ He tried to convince himself it was the right thing to do, but then why did holding her feel so right? She fit so perfectly against him.

It didn’t take long and Lou was fast asleep, breathing evenly and deeply against his chest. ‘Alright, she’s asleep, so why aren’t you moving to the chair?’ that nagging voice asked him.

He ignored the voice and kept holding her. It felt too good to move. ‘Besides she’d be disappointed if she woke up and I wasn’t here.’

‘Liar!’ the annoying voice said.

Again he ignored the voice and mentally told the other voice to shut up. He was staying right where he was.

He hugged her tighter to him, reveling in the feel of her and getting more restless by the minute. He tried counting to calm his beating heart and other body parts.

When he reached 182, he felt relaxed enough to fall asleep. But it wasn’t to be. Lou chose that exact moment to sigh in her sleep, rolling closer to him; she hooked her leg over his.

‘God! How much more of this sweet agony can I take?’

His breathing ragged, he started counting again.

At long last, somewhere between 204 and 205 he was able to sleep.

When dawn cracked through the window, Jimmy awoke to find Lou’s arm draped across his chest, her leg still over his, smiling in her sleep. The whole time he was entertaining lecherous thoughts of her and him.

Counting wasn’t going to work this time and he knew it. He eased her arm off of him and as he reached for her leg, she woke up.

“Hi there.” She said to him. When she realized where her leg was she said, “Oh” and moved it back to her side of the bed. “Sorry ‘bout that. I hope I didn’t hog the bed last night.”

“No.” He squeaked out. He cleared his throat, quickly getting out of bed and turning away so she wouldn’t see the distinctive bulge a certain part of his anatomy was making.

“I’m gonna go check on the horses. I’ll meet you downstairs for breakfast in 10 minutes.” He put his boots on and left the room.

Fifteen minutes later, Jimmy sat across from Lou eating breakfast.

“So what do you want to do?”

‘If you only knew, Lou, you wouldn’t be sitting there so calmly.’ He thought. ‘Or would she?’ Instead, he simply shrugged his shoulders.

“I’m plannin’ on going over to the mercantile. I have a somethin’ I want to pick up that I can’t buy so easily in Sweetwater.” And she winked at him. Or had he imagined that?

‘Please don’t let it be a dress. I don’t think I could keep my hands off of her if I saw her in a dress again.’

“I’ll go with you.” He said. ‘Now why’d you go and say that?’

“Alright. But promise not to peek at what I’m buying. It’s a surprise.”

‘Great! Just great! It’s got to be a dress.’

***

Later in the day, on the off chance the sheriff came back early, Jimmy checked to see if he was back yet so he wouldn’t have to spend another excruciating night in the same room with Lou. But again fate was conspiring against him. Or was fate working in his favor? ‘No, stop thinking like that. This is Lou you’re talking about.’

While Jimmy was gone, Lou had planned a little surprise for Jimmy.

When he returned to their room he was stunned. There was Lou in the prettiest blue dress he’d ever seen…on the prettiest woman he’d ever known. In one corner of the room sat a small table with a candle in the center and their dinner surrounding it.

“Surprise.” She said. “I wanted to thank you for being so good to me last night.”

Jimmy didn’t know whether to bolt or take her in his arms and hold her tight. She took the decision out of his hands. She walked to him, took his hand in hers and led him to the table.

The dinner was a simple fare, but neither seemed to notice and only had eyes for each other.

“Lou. This isn’t right. You and Kid…”

“Wait. What about me and Kid? There’s nothing there anymore, Jimmy. Didn’t you see the sigh of relief he gave when he saw you had drawn the shorter straw?”

“So you noticed that, did you?”

“How could I not notice it? Everyone had to. I’m real glad you drew the shortest straw.”

“About that. Lou, I cheated. I snapped my straw in half when I saw the look on Kid’s face when he thought he’d have to go.”

“Is that the only reason you snapped your straw in half – to save the Kid from having to go?”

The moment of decision was here. ‘Either fess up about your feelings for her or brush it off.’

“Well, Jimmy? Exactly why did you choose to come here with me?”

“Listen, Lou, I don’t deserve this. If you had any idea what I was feeling you’d run as far away from me as you could get.” He told her.

“How do you know what I’d do, Jimmy Hickok?”

“Alright. Here goes. But don’t say I didn’t warn you. I didn’t come here because of the Kid. I came here because I wanted to be with you. Lou, you’re the best thing that’s ever come into my life. And if you only knew…alright, alright, I’ll tell you. Last night I wanted to make love to you ‘til you couldn’t see straight. Ready to run yet?”

“Not at all, Mr. Hickok. There’s not a better way I can think of spending the rest of our time here together.” She paused and then added, “How’s that for not running away?”

Jimmy’s jaw all but dropped open at her frankness.

Lou could tell she clearly shocked him to his toes. But if there was one thing she’d learned from her time with the Kid was that time was precious and sometimes life only gave you one chance at what you wanted and you’d better take advantage of it while you could.

Besides Jimmy excited her in ways she’d never dreamed of while she was with Kid. There was indeed something special about Jimmy. A spark of something that was never there with the Kid. And now she knew Jimmy felt it, too. Felt the same way about her as she did about him.

She also knew if she didn’t make the first move, a relationship with Jimmy would be impossible. Even though she was nervous, she tried her best at being daring. It seemed to be working so far.

Lou walked over to Jimmy’s side and asked him to unbutton the sleeves of her dress. With unsteady hands, he did as she wanted.

“Lou, are you sure you want to do this? There’s still time to stop.” ‘Heaven help me if she wants to stop.’ Jimmy thought.

“I know what I want…and I want you, Jimmy.”

Her eyes smoldered with desire as she eased her dress off and it was Jimmy’s undoing.

They spent the rest of the night and half the next day exploring every inch of each other.

But spending time in excessive bliss also stirred up their appetites for food as well. Eventually they got dressed, Lou in her boy’s garb, and went down to the restaurant to eat.

“I don’t know how I’m gonna be able to work side-by-side with you and not have someone figure out what happened between us.” Jimmy spoke up.

“Oh, Jimmy, I’m so happy right now I don’t care what happens when we get back.

“I know someone will figure it out as soon as we arrive back if you don’t quit blushing like that.” He told her.

“But why should we keep it a secret, Jimmy? Everyone knew about me and…well, let’s leave him out of this.”

“Lou, we can’t. Don’t you think he’s gonna be mad? Knowin’ the Kid he’ll want to punch me and you know he’ll be the first one to notice something different between you and me.”

“Jimmy, I told you, it’s over between the Kid and me and I’m glad because I never would have known how wonderful it is to be with you. You make me happier than he ever did, Jimmy. You make me feel complete and whole. You make me feel cherished. Like my happiness matters to you.”

“It does, Lou. I’d do anything for you, always would. I just wasn’t able to tell you before now.”

The waitress arrived with their food just then and they both dug into it with gusto, wanting to regain their strength for the night ahead. Then Lou brought up what they were supposed to be in town for.

“When do you think we ought to see about the sheriff?”

“How ‘bout tomorrow mornin’? Teaspoon said to come right back after we got the sheriff’s reply and I’m not ready to leave just yet. We seem to have some unfinished business that requires a trip upstairs.” And he grinned at her.

“Oh really, Mr. Hickok? And just what would that be? Hmmmm?” Lou’s eyes gleamed with delight at the very thought of going back upstairs.

Jimmy leaned in and whispered something obscene to her and Lou’s stomach did flip-flops.

***

The next morning they did as agreed and went to see the sheriff. He had arrived back late the day before, but they were going to leave that little fact out of their story to Teaspoon.

After the sheriff wrote out his reply to Teaspoon and handed it to Jimmy, the two riders made their way back to the hotel to gather their meager belongings, but somehow got sidetracked and it was another hour before they left for home.

The ride to Sweetwater was slow going because neither one was in any hurry to get back. Every time they stopped to water the horses they had a quick interlude. After all, they had to pass the time somehow.

When they finally arrived back at the station, Teaspoon was quick to point out that “they were slower’n snails on crutches.” And being the wise man that he was, he was quick to notice the looks exchanged between Lou and Jimmy, so he didn’t quite believe the story about the sheriff being out of town. But since the sheriff’s reply wasn’t as important as Teaspoon made it out to be, he didn’t give them too much of a hard time about being so late.

It turned out that Lou had been right after all about the Kid. He didn’t seem to mind as much as Jimmy thought he would about his new relationship with Lou. ‘At least he didn’t try to flatten me when he figured it out.’ Jimmy thought to himself.

Surprising enough, Cody wasn’t the last one to find out what was going on between the two lovebirds. Of course, walking in on the two while they were making out in the barn later that day did help him figure it out.

Everyone at the station was accepting of Jimmy and Lou’s relationship and were happy for the couple.

Jimmy was pleased with himself over snapping his straw in half and fortunate that fate had intervened on his behalf.

As Lou had told him later, “Some things were just meant to be.”

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