I watched him flirting with Mary and had to hide my amusement. She thinks he's maybe interested in her but I know that he's doing it for me. We have to be careful in public, real careful. So he found a way to flirt with me that won't get us in trouble. Most of the time, Ezra is quietly genial to everyone.
But when he knows that I'm watching, and these days I'm always watching, he'll be a little more flirty than usual. Mrs. Potter just flirts right back at him and Grandmother Hale enjoys it so much that she starts patting her hair when she sees him coming. But Mary hasn't got a clue that it's only in fun and that worries me a little. She's an intelligent and beautiful woman who takes life much too seriously.
I've been accused of doing that myself so I recognize the signs.
She's a good mother and a fine woman but she could be easily hurt by what she thinks is interest. I'd have to talk to Ezra about that. I noticed that he was leaving her side and coming on into the saloon so I sat up a little and concentrated on my whiskey. A tingle went through my whole body when I heard his voice speaking to Inez. That southern accent fell softly on my ears and I had to keep myself from smiling in pleasure.
I didn't want to change overnight into the man that Buck remembered, before Sarah and Adam's deaths. Ezra sat down beside me. "What's wrong, Chris?"
He always knows when I'm thinking about them. "I was just thinking that I want to smile again but it would shock everybody if I did. Was I really so very grim and foreboding?"
"Yes." He said with feeling and I raised my eyes to his. "I was afraid of you when we first met. Attracted but afraid of your uncompromising nature. I thought you saw the world in black and white but I was on the black side and could never cross over."
"But I don't see you that way." I sat up straighter still and ached to touch him.
He smiled, warming me with his grin. "I know that now but back then, I was saddened by what could never be. I'm so glad that you proved me wrong. Now, go back to why you were thinking of Sarah and Adam."
It shocked me to hear their names out loud. Had I really sunk so low that their names couldn't even be spoken for fear of hurting me? "I ... damn, this is hard." I took a deep breath then another, slowly letting it out. "I remember thinking that Sarah's voice always reminded me of singing. She used to sing while doing her housework or playing with Adam. When I hear your accent, it reminds me of a song I heard while fighting in the South. It was real late one night and both sides had hunkered down to try and sleep so we could go back to killing each other the next day."
I paused to take a sip of whiskey and let myself look into his understanding eyes. He nodded to me, silently asking me to continue my story. "From over the battlefield, I heard a single voice singing a lullaby that later Sarah sang to Adam. Another voice joined in then another until it sounded like the entire army was singing themselves to sleep. Your voice reminds me of that sometimes."
"Is it a good memory?" He asked with that little tilt of his head that told me he was thinking hard.
"Yeah, it is." I let myself smile at him the way I wanted to so badly.
He blinked and sighed. "You're so beautiful when you do that, Chris. I love to see you smiling. May we go out to your ranch tomorrow for a few days? I want you someplace where I can listen to you shout or sing, if you prefer."
I caught my breath at the sideways glance from under those long black eyelashes of his. And once again, I was achingly hard at just the thought of him making love to me. "Not much of a singer like Nathan is but I expect that you can bring out my voice."
"Oh, I plan to, my love." His whisper almost made me come in my pants but Vin was joining us and I bit my lip instead.
His knowing grin should have dampened my reaction but instead it made me want to blush. He sipped his whiskey and split his glance between the two of us. "I thought I'd ride out to spend some time with Chanu. You guys planning on going out to your place?"
"Mr. Tanner, have you taken up reading minds?" Ezra twinkled at him.
"I'm a tracker, Ezra. And you are definitely huntin' ol' Chris here." He chuckled along with my lover and I just had to join in. Vin's glance was astonished. "Sounds good, Cowboy, you should do that more often."
"We're working on that, Mr. Tanner." Ezra smiled at me. "When did you want to start?"
"Dawn be okay?" He said solemnly.
"What is it about that obscene time of day that is so welcome to you
outdoor types?" Ezra said in exasperation.
Vin and I both chuckled but I answered. "The sooner the day starts, Ezra, the sooner we get to go to bed."
That green gaze caught and held mine, the fire in them thawing a little more of the ice around my heart. "What a pleasant notion, Chris, I believe that I may have to change my mine about early rising. Why, I might have to go to bed right after dinner."
I took a hasty gulp of my whiskey while Vin laughed so hard that he couldn't talk. Josiah joined us at that moment, sitting next to Ezra with a pleased smile. "Gentlemen, I believe that the day is looking up. What has Vin so cheerful?"
Ezra smiled at him and I fought back a flicker of jealousy that always hit me when he did that. Josiah had had my Ezra's smile from almost the beginning and I could see that if I hadn't awakened to what I was feeling, I might have lost him before I'd ever had him. And that was the most horrible thought that I'd ever had.
I came back to the conversation in time to hear Ezra tell Josiah our little joke. The big man chuckled and patted my lover's arm. "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."
Ezra smiled and nodded. "Benjamin Franklin. I wonder if he had as good a reason as I have?"
Those green eyes were looking at me again and I wanted to hold them forever. "Maybe we should all try it out tonight?"
The whole table broke into laughter.
My saddlebags were full of things that we'd need at my place and I noticed that Ezra's bags were, too. But when Vin's looked like they were bulging at the seams, I wondered what was going on. We were silent on the ride out but that was mostly because Ezra was still half-asleep. I'd kept him up later than usual. For some reason, I had had to stake my claim to him all over again.
Watching him ride along with his eyes half-closed, the reins held loosely in one of those beautiful hands of his, I ached to hold him again. Maybe I was crazy but I'd only felt this way once before and that was with Sarah. I thought I'd frozen out those soft emotions but Ezra had brought them all out of somewhere deep inside my heart.
"Cowboy, you going to get down or just sit there moonin' over Ezra?" Vin's voice woke me up from my contemplation of the man I loved.
We were in front of the shack I called home and Vin was handing over his full saddlebags to my grinning lover. Ezra disappeared inside with both sets and I looked at Vin with a question in my gaze. "What was that?"
"Near as I can tell, Ezra plans on feedin' you real well. I expect to find you 'bout ten pounds heavier by Tuesday." Vin chuckled. "Don't eat too much without some exercise to burn away the fat."
"Ha ... ha." I grimaced at him and took Chaucer's reins to lead him to the corral. "Have a good trip, Vin."
He grinned again before riding on. "I'm planning on it, Cowboy."
I unsaddled both horses and made sure that the oats were topped off and the water bin was full before taking the saddles into the lean-to. Grabbing my saddlebags, I hurried in to find Ezra. Right before I got to the front door, a cloud of dust shot out and I heard Ezra swearing quietly.
"Um, Ezra?" I poked my head around the doorway and found the two chairs on top of the table, the firewood basket on top of them and the mattress rolled up on top of the bed.
"Oh good, Chris, help me carry out the mattress to air." He swept out more dust then laid the broom aside. "And for heaven's sake don't track in more dirt."
I nodded and helped him take out the mattress to the front porch to hang over the railing and the bench so it didn't touch the ground. It looked like spring-cleaning had arrived a little early. For the next four hours, we pumped water, scrubbed the table and chairs, hung all the bedding out to air and washed the floor.
In between our endeavors, I watched Ezra begin to get our dinner ready. By the time I threw out the last bucket of dirty water, the smells of roast chicken filled the whole place. Something was bubbling over the fire and Ezra's teapot was steaming on the table.
"Wash up, Chris. It looks like you transferred most of the dust to your person." Ezra handed me a wet, warm cloth to wash with and his smile made all the work worth it. "I think we may need a bath later so I'll just put more water on to heat. Did someone mention ordering a cook stove?"
I ran the washcloth over my head and neck, thinking about a nice hot bath. "A cook stove?"
"Hm-m-m, I see the kitchen and bathroom has slipped your mind." He pursed his lips and I went hard in about a heartbeat. Just thinking of those lips somewhere else had me tingling all over.
And I finally remembered what I'd promised him a week ago. "Are we going to start building this weekend?"
He smiled and pumped more water into the three-gallon iron pot. "Perhaps, Chris, we should look into drawing up some plans? I spoke with Mrs. Potter and she said that the six-burner Majestic could be ordered in Sarney from their farrier. It will take about four weeks to arrive."
I went hot, then cold, then hot again. Did he mean what I thought he meant? "Ezra? That mean that you'd be willing to come out here to live with me?"
Turning to me after lifting the pot onto the hook and swinging it over the fire, he smiled that shy smile that reminded me that he was still a bit skittish of me. "It would appear so, Chris. I know I haven't been formally asked but I can see that you need someone here to keep the place tidy."
I pulled him into my arms and kissed him until we were both breathless. "I don't need a housekeeper, Ezra, but I surely need you."
He brushed soft caresses over my face with that sweet smile of his. "Then you have me, Chris. I think I'll have Mrs. Potter order our stove when we get back to town. The sooner I move out here, the sooner Mrs. Travis will see that I am not interested in her. She seems to think that we have more than a friendship."
It seemed he didn't realize how his flirting might appear to her. How to tell him that his charming manners were signaling something other than friendship? "Ezra, I don't think you realize just how potent your charm is. You know that 'animal magnetism' that Buck is always talking about?" I waited for his nod. "You've got it in spades, Ez'. Without you even trying, you just attract women like honey does flies."
He frowned up at me. "What are you talking about, Chris? I'm just being polite to her. I only flirt with our more senior ladies to remind them of their youth."
I blinked. He really didn't know what he was doing to the ladies. "Ezra, I guess you're just going to have to take my word for it. Buck flirts with all the ladies but you're the one who they sigh after. Good manners are hard to find out here in the west and yours are just like gold."
"Well, goodness." He seemed flustered. "I hadn't realized that I was so ... so potent."
Pulling him closer, I whispered in his ear. "You are the most beautiful ... charming ... wonderful man in the whole world."
He blushed from his neck all the way up to the tips of his ears. "Chris, it seems the dust has addled your brains. Perhaps dinner will bring you to your senses." He pulled away from me and went to the fire to stir the smaller pot.
I smiled at him and went to wash up. Maybe I'd be able to convince him a little later. Dinner was delicious and I was definitely going to fatten up if I wasn't careful. There wasn't much left on the table when we were done but Ezra bustled around making sure everything was wrapped and placed on the shelf in the well to stay cool while I washed the dishes.
Ezra hummed while he worked and I felt that sore spot in my heart again, the memory of Sarah still bittersweet. But when I looked up from washing the last cup, there he was in his shirtsleeves, looking so beautiful that I had to catch my breath. His glance told me that he'd caught my reaction and he dimpled up at me while taking the cup and drying it.
"Bath time, Chris." He laid the towel aside and went to the fire to test the temperature of the kettle of water.
I quickly started unbuttoning my shirt, all the time watching his slow stripping away of the many layers that he wore. His jacket was all ready off and his shirt rolled up but when the fine linen was finally shed and his beautiful chest came into view, I had to catch my breath. I don't know what it is he does to keep himself fit but there was nothing but muscle underneath the layers of cloth.
"Damn, we forgot to bring the mattress back in." Ezra stopped short and sped out to the porch. Chuckling, I followed him and helped him carry it back in to place on the ropes strung between the side slats of the bed. "Chris, we need a new bed, too. This instrument of torture resembles one of those ancient devices from a Medieval dungeon."
I unrolled the thin mattress while he pulled out a new set of sheets for our bed. "Ezra?"
"Well, I wanted to contribute more than just food to your home." He dropped his eyes and tucked the corners in with precise movements.
"Our home." I didn't do as good a job as he did but then I figured that we were just going to mess them up in a few minutes anyway.
Those big green eyes met mine and his dimple flashed me. "Ours."
Bath time was fun while we washed each other's back and all points south. I was hard and aching by the time Ezra finished toweling me dry. He led me back to the bed and followed me down to the soft sheets. His mouth moving slowly down my body, he licked and tormented me until I was leaking, before taking me in and sucking gently. I let him have all of me and he loved me everywhere.
I heard him chuckle and the sound of a jar being opened. Smiling, I wiggled into a more comfortable position and splayed my legs wider so he could come between them while I tried to pry open my eyes so I could watch him. But the feeling of two fingers opening me up for him had me panting and moving restlessly. And with a whisper of my name, Ezra pressed against my spasming hole and inside.
That's always a shock since he's nice and big. He paused to let me adjust and I finally got my eyes open so I could see him. His gaze was soft on my face and his hands slid across my stomach with soothing caresses that helped me relax around his bulk. He always knew when the time was right to move again and I nodded to let him know that I was okay.
Better than okay, I was filled with him everywhere. His satin skin moved against mine in silken touches that warmed me more than any fire ever could. The scents of lavender and Ezra were a powerful aphrodisiac. He was a feast to my eyes, the little dark curl of hair falling on his forehead while his gaze gleamed into mine. I was burning alive and my moans were in counterpoint to each thrust of his cock almost drowning out the sound of his balls slapping my ass.
The only thing missing was taste and I licked my lips to recapture the salty taste of him. He moaned a little so I did it again, watching his eyes begin to glow. It was time to start touching myself because he was close. I fisted my cock slowly and felt the ache deep inside of me start to grow. He was a master at winding me up tighter and tighter until I just had to come for him.
And we were both close. I wrapped my legs a little tighter around his waist and he smiled that little smile that said 'I have a secret'. Someday, maybe us loving each other wouldn't have to be kept quiet but for now I was content to show him my love and know it was returned. We were lucky men to have found each other. My temp shot up about two hundred degrees and my cock went rock hard, right before shooting out a string of come all over my chest.
Ezra bit his lip and managed one more thrust before flooding me with his red-hot seed. I loved feeling it race through my body, going where not even his big cock could reach. For a moment, I wondered if this was what Sarah had felt when we made love? I could almost hear her laughter and the way she said 'Silly Chris' before I caught an armful of lover.
He shook a little and I cradled him close before rolling us to our sides. "I've got you, Ezra."
With a breathless chuckle, he nuzzled my lips before gently kissing me. "You certainly do, Chris. Have me, that is."
"Forever, Ezra. Not just now but always." I said firmly after his lips left mine. Our eyes met and I saw the wonder that he still felt at my declaration. It would take time but eventually he'd believe me. "We'll order the tub and the stove when we go to town. I want you out here all the time."
"You're sure, Chris?" He smoothed his hands down my sweaty back.
"Very ... very ... sure," I nipped little kisses over his face and watched him smile.
"Then we'll draw up some plans over the next two days and scout out where the septic field needs to be. I have the book that Sir Thomas Crapper wrote about flush toilets and with a little ingenuity, I think we can get it to work."
I love watching him plan and by the time he'd finally eased from my ass, he'd built three more rooms onto the house, diverted water from the stream and debated whether or not a hot water heater might be practical. I could see that there was a lot of work ahead of us. But it would be us doing the work, building a home for not just us but Vin as well. That's when he told me that Vin and Chanu were together.
How the hell had I missed that? I shook my head in wonder. "You sure, Ezra?"
His eyes crinkled and he dropped a kiss on my nose. "Quite sure, love. Vin was there for him after the debacle with the supposed man of god. The tribe doesn't see male bonding as the sin that our society does so the two of them will be quite safe. And with him moving out with us, we'll provide cover for each other. Are you all right with that?"
"Hell, yes!" I kissed him hard and rolled him beneath me. "He and Buck are the two brothers that I always wanted."
"We may want to claim more land around us to provide room for our expanding family." Ezra's foot was rubbing over my calf and I could feel my cock get interested again. "It would be nice to have all of the seven nearby."
"Later, Ezra. Right now I see something I need to nibble on." I nipped the soft spot under his chin and felt him shiver all the way down to his toes. We were going to be worn out husks by the time Vin rode back to join us.
I could hardly wait.
The end for now