He'd tried to escape me twice before dawn but I just hung on and planted little kisses all over that beautiful face until he stilled in my arms. Even though we'd made love several times, I knew that I hadn't convinced him completely that I loved him. That would take time -- time and action on my part.
I'm a private man so showing him my love was going to be difficult but Ezra would need more than words from me although heaven knew I'd need words, too. I've been a close-mouthed son of a bitch as Buck was wont to say but if Ezra needed something from me then he'd get it. I vowed that to myself while holding him close.
The sky was slowly losing its stars and it was almost time for the sun to come creeping over the horizon. I could see better now and I gazed on him as if I'd never seen him before. That curly lock of hair had fallen onto his forehead and I brushed it back, lingering for a moment to run my fingers through the softest hair I'd ever felt.
He was always washing and I was going to have to take more care than I was used to. It had been a habit with Sarah and Adam, now there was Ezra and he was no less important to me then they had been. Over at the dry goods store, I'd overheard Gloria tell Mary that Ezra used a special soap on his hair. At the time, I'd been kind of scornful but now I though that maybe there just might be something to it.
We both smelled of lavender and I realized that I'd smelled that on him before. Lots of little things I'd been noticing all along but I was just now paying attention. Like the way he stood up to the men he played cards with when they accused him of cheating. And the way he always acted surprised by a compliment. My thumb stroked the side of his throat and a little smile crossed his lips.
They were soft and a little swollen still from the kisses we'd exchanged in the dark. I'd not ever tasted anything so good in my whole life, sweet but tart with that faint hint of tealeaves. I had come to the church looking for Josiah and found them drinking tea a couple of weeks ago. Ezra had left immediately and I'd been kind of upset that he was avoiding me.
Josiah had mentioned that they both enjoyed tea and talking about traveling around the country and the world. He'd answered my questions about what I'd come for. Whatever it was wasn't as important as the problem the whole incident had brought to my attention. I'd felt something then but couldn't figure it out. I knew what it was now. Jealousy, pure green envy of Josiah and his closeness to Ezra.
I'd always been a possessive son of a bitch and it had only gotten worse as I aged. I'd lost my purpose in living after the death of my family but good friends and a cause had brought me back out of my self-imposed exile from the human race. It had hurt at first but damned if I wasn't waking up to everything that life could offer.
And that had led me here to a campfire by a stream and the man in my arms.
My Ezra, that had a real good sound to it. He was still unsure of us and scared right down to those pretty toes of his but he'd tried real hard to show me his love. Oh, I'd noticed his watching me now and then. But until I started watching back two weeks ago, I hadn't realized how often he looked at me. And all too often, it was with a flinch or that damn poker face that frustrated me.
'Course meeting Maude had gone a long way to explaining some of Ezra's mannerisms. She's an interesting woman but a fond mother, she ain't. I had a lot more respect for him after her visit. Anybody that could do that to her own boy, well I had to just shake my head. He had more prickles than a porcupine but I finally understood why.
But some days ago, everything had changed. A fight in the saloon was kind of common on payday when the ranch hands came into town to get liquored up. But the poker table got involved and when I heard a shot but couldn't see Ezra, I like to stopped breathing. I panicked pure and simple, ended up yelling at him when it wasn't his fault at all. He'd heard me out and agreed with everything I said with a perfectly blank face.
It was only later that Vin had told me that Ezra had almost gotten killed. In fact he would have except for the extra deck of cards that he was carrying in his pocket. Then he asked me why I was so mad at Ezra while I tried not to shake at that news. I told him I wasn't but he just shook his head and told me to look in my heart. It took me most of the week before I understood what he was saying.
And it took Mary, of all people, to open my eyes to what I was feeling.
She was walking with Ezra discussing something vitally important, the way she always did. But this time, she put her hand on his arm and looked up at him with those big blue eyes of hers and he laughed out loud and picked up her hand to kiss it. It was something that Buck might do and I'd just smile at his foolishness. But not Ezra and certainly not Ezra with Mary.
I saw red but luckily a telegram distracted me. It asked us to deliver the prisoner in our jail to Green Rock. I looked up and saw Ezra again, tipping his hat to Mary and sauntering up to the saloon for his afternoon libation, as he liked to call it. And I knew that I needed to do some serious thinking about what I was feeling but I needed Ezra near by while I did it.
So, I told him it was his turn to help escort the prisoner. His eyes widened but any protest died a'borning when I glared at him. I made arrangements for supplies and the horse that Evan Baker had stolen from a breeder in Green Rock could transport him back there. Ezra met us at the stable and we started our trip. If it had been Vin, we'd have stayed silent but it would have been a shared silence, but not with Ezra.
He and Baker chatted about horses and Atlanta and a dozen different subjects while I watched them. The two-day trip went easily and we turned Baker over to the sheriff of Green Rock. He loaded us up with supplies for our trip back and stood us to a glass of whiskey in thanks. Ezra looked kind of longingly at the small boarding house but I told him that we needed to get right back.
Nodding, he stayed silent and suddenly I wanted my talkative Ezra back. I really hoped that I hadn't scared him with my glare too badly. I'd already planned to talk to him over dinner but then I saw him looking so longingly at the water and I told him it was safe. I'm pretty sure that I forgot to breathe a couple of times when I watched him bathing. He was so beautiful without all those layers protecting him.
And I realized that I wanted to see him like that every day for the rest of our lives.
I hadn't planned on scaring him into the stream but I surely panicked him good. But when he finally relaxed into my arms and returned my kiss, I knew I'd won him. Only for the moment though, I hadn't convinced him completely that we were a good idea. Oh, I could see the problems all right. I just didn't want to dwell on them while we were still so new.
I wanted so deep inside of him that he could never again do without me. And that was one tall order. I was so busy worrying about what I would say to him that I didn't notice those big green eyes open.
"You regret it." He sounded resigned.
"Never." I cupped his cheek. "I need to tell you things but I don't know how. When Sarah and Adam died, I lost the ability to do anything more than hide inside of myself. Not talking was just a way to keep what was left of me private. But you need words and I'm afraid I'll fuck up."
And that's when he smiled, a real smile not the polite one that he usually used. "I think I'll understand if you just don't go completely silent on me."
"Oh, Ezra." I kissed him then, like he was the air I needed to breathe.
His little groan made my cock go absolutely rigid with need. He wasn't far behind me and soon our hands were caressing each other until we both burst all over each other. He began to chuckle and I realized that I wanted to hear that sound every day. So I told him that and watched his smile grow even larger.
"Chris, I use words to hide behind because I'm afraid that someone will see the frightened man behind my façade." He swallowed and I wanted to kiss him again but I could see that this was important. "You may not love the man that I am hiding."
"Nah, Ezra, you're gold all the way through just like that tooth of yours. I don't think there's a man living who isn't hiding something. God knows I was a mean son of a bitch after Sarah and Adam. Why the hell Buck never just shot me and put me out of my misery, I'll never know."
"Because he's your friend and he knows that deep inside of you, you're an honorable man who believes in justice." Ezra smiled but this time it had an edge of bitterness. "I am not such a man and my past has not been the best. You will be disappointed if you truly wish to know the 'real' me."
He'd been hurt so badly and I could see him brace himself for my condemnation. "Ezra, you're a good and decent man. What happened before in another place, that's just not important any more." I lifted his chin so I could see his eyes. "You're kind and gentle and caring. I could list a dozen times that you've come through for the town and for me. You haven't been given the credit you should have but that's going to stop right now."
Those eyes of his were frightened. "You would tell the others ... about us?"
"That I love you ... sure." I kept it simple and wondered how to soothe him.
"You shouldn't, they won't understand." He shook his head and I felt a fine tremor go through him.
"Vin will. He's the one who told me to look in my heart when I yelled at you last Saturday after the shooting." It was my turn to shiver at the thought of how close he'd come to dying. "I was so scared that you'd been wounded or ... worse."
He hugged me close, his hands patting my back. "I'm fine. Josiah told me that you didn't meant what you said but I thought it was just another failure on my part."
"No! Ez', you didn't fail any of us. I didn't know what I was feeling but Vin he just looked at me and said, 'Cowboy, why so angry? You wish Ezra had been shot?' And that silenced me all at once. Then he told me to look into my heart to see why I was so mad. Couple days later, I saw you walking with Mary and you ... you kissed her hand. And that's when it hit me. I was jealous of Mary because she had your attention. She was the one you were kissing and I wanted it to be me."
He looked stunned those perfect lips of his were moving but no sounds were coming out. It looked like I'd finally flummoxed him. I couldn't enjoy it too much though or I'd surely pay for it when his vocabulary came back. So I leaned in and kissed him gently, giving him time to settle things in his mind. Besides, my body was waking up and it really wanted to touch Ezra everywhere.
So I gathered him on top of me and held him close while he struggled with my words. If I hadn't done such a good job of keeping him at arm's length, he might not be having such a hard time believing that I loved him now. I really hadn't been fair to him and I needed to make it up some how. I hadn't been a giving man for a long time but I wanted to give him everything he needed.
"Chris." He hesitated then I could see him gather his courage. "I am not perhaps the most dependable of men." When I would have protested, he laid those long elegant fingers over my lips. "I have little experience in ... loving but if you wish it, I will try."
He was a brave man, my Ezra. I could feel the little tremors shaking him and in the early morning light, I thought I could see tears. "It's been a long time for me, Ezra but I promise that I'll take good care of your heart if you'll let me."
Nodding, he buried his face in that little space between my throat and my shoulder. "You have had my heart for a long time now."
I held him close, rocking him gently as I'd once rocked my son when he couldn't sleep. "And you've had mine although I didn't know it. It's a good thing you're the smart one in this relationship."
He froze for a long moment then raised up to look down at me with the most astonished look on his face. "You think I'm smart?"
Damn, I had a lot to make up to him. Taking a deep breath, I let it out and stroked his cheek. "You're well read. You've traveled all over the country. You survived the War intact. You're cool and calm while you play cards even when they accuse you of cheating. And I know you don't cheat but I expect you know how. You have stories inside of you, that I love to listen to you tell the kids in town. And I fully expect to still be surprised by you when we're old and gray."
His eyes overflowed and he hid again while I soothed his shoulders with my hands in long strokes to calm him. "I ... I love you too, Chris. You really want us to be together for that long?"
"For the rest of our lives, Ezra P. Standish. That's what I want for us." I felt him calm slowly and I kept up my strokes until he was relaxed against me. "Now, we kind of made a mess when we woke up this morning so how about we go back into the stream without our clothes on this time?"
He chuckled and licked my neck and damned if I didn't start hardening all over again. Ezra slid off of me and rose to his feet in one graceful move that made my heart beat faster. Holding out his hand, I took it and let him pull me up. But I kept a hold of him all the way to the sparkling stream where I walked right in while he hesitated a moment.
It was cool all right but I just pulled him in after me and overbalanced us both with a splash. He came up sputtering while I tried to stop laughing but the look of awe on his face sobered me up. "What's wrong?"
"I've never heard you laugh before." He said simply. "I like it."
"Haven't had much to laugh about but I expect that you'll be able to get me to." I blushed a little and tried to remember the last time I had laughed this hard.
"Indeed, Sir, I believe however that you need chastising for your unceremonious dumping of my person in this freezing cold water." He disappeared and I felt his fingers tickling my sides.
Writhing under the assault, I was laughing so hard that I fell back under water with him. He swarmed up my body and suddenly I was convinced that the water was closer to boiling than freezing. We surfaced and it was my turn to be awed by the beautiful face in front of me. Water droplets on those dark lashes of his made me want to lick every single drop from his skin.
"Ezra, you're beautiful." I could see that I embarrassed him but it was God's own truth. "You're going to get sick of me saying that but it's true."
"Oh, Chris, you're the one who shines in this morning light." His fingers were trembling a little when he brushed back my hair. "You're so very golden."
"We're a real pair, Ez'. How about we just agree that we're the best looking men in, say a hundred square miles?" I brought both hands up to smooth them over his chest, watching his nipples peak under my caress.
"Oh ... at least that far." He shivered and returned my caress before dropping his hand lower to glove my cock.
It was time for something more and I knew just what I wanted. "Ezra, I need you."
"You have me, Sir." He tilted his head. "Whatever you need, I shall give you."
That was the most exciting thing I'd heard in a very long time. Swallowing, I slid my hand over his cock. "I need you inside of me. Making me yours."
I don't think I've ever seen a more astonished look on anybody's face in my whole life. His mouth fell open and then he swallowed hard. "Me? Inside of you?"
Leaning forward, I kissed him slow and sure until we needed to breathe. "You ... inside of me, giving me all your strength and power. I want to ache deep inside and feel you every time I get in the saddle."
Those beautiful green eyes of his were flashing emerald sparks at me and he pulled me close to ravish my lips. I was so involved in the kiss that I missed him sinking a finger inside of me until he made me shiver. I think I moaned but that might have been when he wrenched away from me to breathe. Then he was streaking from the water towards his saddlebags and I watched him take out the lavender soap we'd used that night.
And these shivers were anticipation not fear. He rejoined me and asked almost fiercely. "You're sure?"
"I'm more sure than I've ever been in my life." I turned towards the shore and got down on all fours so I was half in and half out of the water.
He moved up behind me and he stroked over my back to my ass, warming me with the too-light touch. He repeated it with soapy hands and tickled me lightly making me squirm with need. And finally one soapy finger returned to my entrance and slid inside. In and out, in and out, then a bit of pain flared as one finger became two. I made myself relax all over and I knew he felt the difference because he was coming back in with three fingers and this time he sparked that place inside of me that made me shiver.
"More." I managed to say and listened to him laugh out loud.
"So impatient, Chris, where is that seasoned hunter with the infinite patience?" He teased me but before I could answer, I felt his fingers leave.
He was warm and blunt, pressing in inexorably past suddenly tight muscles. With just the crown inside, he paused and stroked my flanks until I relaxed. Then he forged inside of me until I felt his balls flush against my cheeks. I was panting through the pain but the warmth was helping.
"Mine." He said quietly.
"Yours." I said with a deep breath. "More, please."
"More it is, Chris." And he pulled most of the way out before thrusting back inside. On the second thrust he hit my hot spot and I flushed all the way down to my toes. Then he began to speed up, heating me over and over. His hands settled on my hips, holding me still while he thrust with all his strength, just the way I wanted him.
I locked my arms or I would have been face first in the water. The sound of his balls slapping my cheeks was music to my ears and he was grunting just a little at each stroke. I was on fire from the top of my head to the soles of my feet and when he slid a hand off my hip to grasp my cock, I thought my heart would stop. With a cry, I came hard in his hand, jerking over and over while my hot seed swirled into the cool water of the stream.
And he was flooding me with his heat, slumping onto my back with a sigh of completion.
My arms were trembling when he finally moved off of me and began to rock slowly. I tried to keep him inside of me but I could feel him softening no matter what I did. "Sh-h-h, Chris, don't let me hurt you now."
I felt a splash of cool water on the spot where we were joined and my shiver finally forced him out. I would have fallen but for his strong arms pulling me up and cradling me against his chest. "Thank you, Ezra."
"I should be the one thanking you, Chris." He kissed the side of my throat and I turned so I could kiss his lips.
We feasted on each other for a long moment until I moved too quickly and felt the sore muscles protest. "I am definitely going to be feeling you for a while."
His smile was bigger than I'd ever seen on him. "Good, how about we take our time today and have another bath this afternoon so I can have my own ache?"
And damned if my cock didn't think that was a great idea. Laughing quietly, I held him in my arms and looked ahead with joy instead of behind with sorrow. "If that's what you want, Ezra, I'll be more than happy to make sure you get it. That's if we can find the soap again."
He chuckled and turned my head to the grassy bank where the bar of pale lavender soap lay so innocently. "I tossed it up just in case I lost control."
"I love the way you think ahead. Now, how about breakfast?" I stood up with a wince, pulling him up with me.
He smoothed both hands over my cheeks kind of possessive like. "I promise you a gourmet meal, Chris. You're going to need all of your strength."
And that sounded like just a little slice of heaven to me. Following that tempting body out of the water, I smiled. I was one lucky cowboy to have found love the second time around.
The end for now