Once I got Josiah alone with a decent bed, I pounced. He was already chuckling when he landed on the bed with me on top of him. "Ezra, is there something you want?"
"You, Josiah, I always want you." I said and started unbuttoning his shirt. "I want you naked and then I want me naked. Then I'm going to kiss you everywhere and sink deep inside of you so you know that I love you."
"Dearest Ezra, I can already feel your love all around me." He sighed, his hands getting busy with my vest buttons. "I am amazed by your fore thought and the instinct you portrayed in getting us out of . . . there."
I'd gotten to skin and wonderful gray hairs that loved to curl around my fingers. "Four Corners will soon be a wistful memory, my love. We'll celebrate the moment we came together and the little room that was our sanctuary." I pushed his jacket and shirt off, trapping his arms at his sides while I practically ripped open his pants. He was only half hard but I was going to take care of that. "But now, we're going to make new memories in our very own place."
I dragged off his pants and looked possessively at his tempting body with all those long heavy muscles so unlike my own. "You're beautiful, Josiah. Don't move."
Shedding my clothes onto the floor and not even bothering to hang them up, I rejoined him on the wide bed. I made sure that I slowly slid up between his long legs, touching him tenderly over every inch of skin I could reach. His breathy little moans told me much but his slowly firming shaft told me even more.
"I want to touch you, Ezra." His pout was truly heart-rending but I shook my head firmly.
"Later, Josiah, right now I'm going to suck you until you're so hard you could hammer nails with this magnificent organ." I smiled at him then leaned in and dragged my tongue up from his balls all the way to the flaring crown, sucking gently while he shivered beneath me. Finally letting him slip from my mouth, I licked my lips and reached for my pants where I'd put a tin of salve in the pocket.
He rolled onto all fours, shrugging off the last of his clothing. "Now please, Ezra, make me whole again."
"You are my love . . ." I stretched him slowly while kissing my way down his spine. "You are my life . . . Josiah," I pressed against him and sank into heated perfection. This time we both groaned and I hugged him tight when my balls met his cheeks. "I gave you my heart, Josiah and you are taking wonderful care of it."
"I merely traded mine for yours, beloved." His voice had never been so deep and rich. "Make love to me, Ezra, remind me that our love can overcome all obstacles."
"We can do anything we mean to, Josiah." I pulled out and thrust back in, taking my time and holding onto his hips to help balance me. "Just think about our book store with thousands of books lining the nice oak shelves that Buck will build for us. Leather bindings of crimson and royal blue will nestle next to verdant green and creamy white spines of the best literature of America and Europe."
My thrusts were getting faster and deeper while Josiah began to push back in order to get more of me inside of him. But that wasn't possible unless my shaft grew and I didn't think that was possible. He'd grown silent and I knew he was probably as close as I was to letting go. So, I slid one hand around his hip and grasped his rampant shaft, which already wept salty tears.
He groaned and came, taking me by surprise and squeezing my seed from me. Josiah slid down to the bed with me plastered to his sweaty back. We lay like that for a long moment while we both caught our breath and I think, relaxed completely for the first time in two weeks. We were safe from small minded men and women with a whole new world opening up before us.
I rubbed my cheek against his shoulder blade, feeling just like the kitten he sometimes called me and purring my content. His rumbling chuckle disturbed my comfortable bed. "Beloved, I think that we should clean up in the bathroom that the nice man told us about. You know how much I love to see you wet."
"Water at the turn of a tap," I eased myself from his warm depths. "We've truly reached civilization."
He rolled over still chuckling. "I agree, my love, although you may need to help me up."
"I will always be here to help you up." I moved off the bed and offered him a hand up. I was dying for a nice hot bath. Sharing one with Josiah was my idea of paradise, I thought while turning on the taps and feeling the lovely hot water gush out. Josiah came in at that moment with a bar of our lavender soap and I was pleased we still had some left.
Josiah got in first so he could offer me an arm to hold onto. I sat down between his legs and felt him cup water up to splash over my back. That felt so good that I just had to wriggle a little. He chuckled while running the soapy cloth down my spine then back up again. He delighted in tormenting me but I would soon return the favor, I decided. Nothing is more fun than soaping his wiry curls.
********* Josiah *********
I slept like the dead that first night in San Francisco. After eight nights on a rickety cot, the firm mattress was pure heaven. Ezra had tired me out earlier and the delicious meal at the Fisherman's Café had stuffed me so full that I thought I'd never eat again. But my stomach was growling at me so I opened my eyes and reached for Ezra only to find him gone. Raising my head, I heard him humming in the bathroom.
That made me smile wholeheartedly. The past was the past and if I knew my love, he had a plan for today. I rolled out of bed and stretched all over, feeling my bones pop and my muscles ripple. That sound brought Ezra to the bathroom door and his smile was incandescent although he was already dressed, which made me want to pout.
"Dear Josiah, you look like Atlas having shed the burden of holding up Earth." He crossed to me, sliding his arms around me and hugging me tight. "I love you, Josiah."
Holding him is heaven on earth. "I love you too, Ezra."
He kissed the center of my chest and gently tugged on the nipple over my heart. "Get cleaned up, love. I have your razor and soap ready. The staff here is quite amazing. Our clothes are pressed and ready for us to wear, our shoes are cleaned and polished, and the doorman said that their restaurant does a wonderful breakfast."
"You've already been out and about?" I asked incredulously while letting him lead me to the bathroom door.
"There's much to do today, beloved. I wanted to make sure that Artemis and James had the lists ready that I asked them to make for us." He continued talking while I relieved myself then started cleaning up.
It sounded like we had a very full day ahead of us. We didn't need furniture, it seemed because our new lodgings came ready furnished although he sniffed a bit and told me that if they weren't adequate then we'd have Buck make us something better. I hummed agreement while he watched me shave. That still fascinated him for some reason, watching me scrape my cheeks clean of the increasingly gray hairs.
At thirty-eight, should I really be getting this gray, this fast, I pondered my reflection.
Ah well, nothing I could do about it. I splashed and dried my face before following Ezra's voice into our bedroom. He handed me each piece of clothing, insisting on 'helping' me fasten my buttons. He also insisted on kissing my cock before hiding it away from the 'general populous'. That was very teasing and so I told him but he just grinned saucily and said that once our errands were done, he'd find some place nice and warm for him.
I was torn between messing up his schedule by taking him straight back to bed and continuing down to breakfast. His little wink told me that he knew of my dilemma but he was already opening our door and calling a good morning to Chris and Vin who had the room across from us.
Vin just nodded while Chris spoke, "Morning, Josiah . . . Ezra. You got plans for today?"
Ezra smiled. "James will sit down with you after breakfast and give you the prospectus of your land. I think he wants you to go with him to the cattle yards to see if there's a herd you might wish to buy."
"With what, Ezra?" Chris glowered at him but my lover simply smiled.
"Why, with your savings from the bank, of course." Ezra's gold tooth flashed at them. "I took the liberty of having all the seven's accounts transferred to the First Liberty Bank here in San Francisco. James really is a genius with money. I believe he's already tripled everyone's savings. Land is still amazingly cheap here in California and Artemis' contact at the Land Commission in Sacramento was most helpful in securing our land."
Vin was smiling now and Chris had a kind-of-stunned look that made me want to laugh out loud. Ezra just kept on smiling while he led us down the stairs since Vin had balked at the small elevator. He told them about the 10,000 acres and how all our names were on the deed. He chattered about the horse breeding that James was beginning and how he'd like partners in his endeavors.
By the time we joined our friends at the long breakfast table, Vin was grinning and Chris' frown had been completely erased. Buck and Artemis were chatting about different species of woods and a lumber yard that he'd be touring this morning. James and JD were talking about Nice and its inhabitants. Nathan and Rain still hadn't appeared but having a real bed might have enticed them to stay in this morning.
Breakfast was magnificent and even Ezra finished everything on his plate. He and Artemis had both made lists for everyone and it looked like a full day was on everyones agenda. Ezra had a list of used and new bookstores for us to go to. James was going to take Vin, Chris and JD to the cattle and horse yards. Artemis was taking Buck to the lumber emporium and Nathan and Rain to Chinatown for a visit to the apothecary.
Ezra explained about the bank and everyone's accounts. He handed out small books to each couple that detailed their savings, giving all credit to James who was blushing beet red by the time the stunned recipients finished giving him their thanks. He shot a look at Ezra that I didn't quite understand. The bottom line in the small booklet that Ezra had handed me made my eyes open wide.
It was all I could do to read the amount without exclaiming, $5,876. James West was a genius indeed since if I remembered correctly, only the $876 was mine.
********* James *********
I was going to have a long talk with Ezra Standish very soon, I decided. I'd done no more than set up the others accounts and deposit what he sent me. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that he'd taken this course to give everyone a nest egg without it appearing that he had anything to do with it. I had worked with the $100,000 he'd sent me two months before and that had tripled quite nicely.
Artemis was giving me a rather speaking look so I knew not to say anything about my suspicions. Maybe he and Ezra had planned this? It felt like something my tender-hearted lover would want to do to make life easier for his friends. Then again, maybe Ezra was more like my lover than I'd first thought and not just in looks.
We split up after breakfast and I shepherded my three to the stock yards where we split up to see as much as possible. Somehow I ended up with their youngest, JD who was looking for another horse for himself. We were standing in a stable inspecting a roan gelding with some nice features when JD surprised me.
"You didn't have time to invest our money, did you, Mr. West?" He said with a direct look into my eyes. "Ezra simply sent you funds and told you how to split them up?"
I thought quickly but couldn't lie. "Please call me James. I think we're going to be friends, JD, and you are correct."
"He told me once that diversification was the key to financial success." JD picked up the left hind leg and checked the roan's hock. "I had almost $300 in the bank in Sarney, not the $3600 that my little book says I have. Some of the others may not realize it but Ezra is something of a mother-hen when it comes to his friends. Just like the plan he had for us to leave if things went bad in Four Corners, I expect this is just a part of his grand scheme of things, James."
I found myself chuckling. "I'm beginning to think that your Ezra and my Artemis were really brothers separated at birth. A better friend, you could not find anywhere."
He flashed me a wide smile and went to the horse's other side to check that leg. "I think you're right. I know that it embarrasses you but if you wouldn't mind continuing to be the 'financial genius' that Ezra says you are it would really help while we're settling in."
"Do you think that none of the others will realize the truth?" I was curious.
"Josiah probably already does but he would never hurt Ezra." He rejoined me at the horse's head. "Vin might also but the other two probably won't. I plan to distract Buck away from the truth until we're settled in." His grin was just a touch sultry. "After that, well the chips will fall where they may. Do you think his hindquarters are too narrow?"
********* Artemis *********
We left Buck at the lumber yards while I took Nathan and his wife to Chang's Apothecary. They stood back a little when I began speaking to the elderly Chinese patriarch but I'd developed a fluid facility in translating for James and I drew them into our conversation slowly.
Nathan was an intelligent man with a quick mind and his new wife was a good match for him. They'd been through so much in such a short period of time that I could understand their hesitancy in buying the stock that they would need to set up shop. I had a feeling that Ezra had done a little slight of hand when it came to their savings account. There had to be a reason that my poor James had blushed such a fiery red this morning.
But Rain was practical and she gently nudged her new husband into buying enough herbs and oils to complete the stocks they had packed up and brought with them. Mr. Chang also mentioned his cousin's greenhouse and gave us directions to his gardens. My own herb garden was coming along nicely under the good care of our gardener and I did a little gentle bragging about the varieties of thyme that we had grown.
Lemon thyme is one of my favorites and Nathan immediately nodded when I mentioned it. He was quite knowledgeable about the healing herbs and Rain's emphasis seemed to be on the cooking herbs so between the three of us, we had a most pleasant drive to the vast gardens that the Chang family owned. This time I did some buying also and we left there two hours later well pleased with our purchases.
We all met at the Fisherman's Café since James and I never grow tired of their delicious menu. It was also a color-blind establishment and there were few enough of those around. I took great pleasure in speaking of Anna's in Nice where all were welcome and the French cooking was superb. Now that I'd met all of the seven, I could see what different spices they would each bring to our growing community.
James was more open than I'd ever seen him with the men with whom he'd spent the morning. The tracker still hadn't spoken more than two words but his partner had relaxed and opened up. They wanted to run Angus cattle and the thirty that had been for sale looked like a well tended herd. My lover was dealing with the logistics of transporting the cattle to Lakeport for offloading.
They'd go over land then to their property. While Chris and Vin were driving them north, we'd be erecting a simple cottage for now and a couple of the Pomo Indians who worked for us could be detailed to watch the herd while the two owners decided for themselves where they wanted what. James and I had ridden over part of it already so I had some ideas about what might be a suitable place for their home.
Ezra and Josiah joined us before we'd gotten to dessert and I smiled at my young friend. He'd blossomed under the older man's care and I couldn't help but smile at his enthusiasm. The way he had of touching his lover constantly reminded me very much of James and me. I'd always hoped that Ezra would find someone to love and cherish him. It looked like my hopes had come true. Still, I would have to spend some time with Josiah, just to make sure that he was truly committed to my friend.
James had told me what Josiah had spoken to him and I found those statements very telling. In so many ways I thought that James and Ezra were alike but I was beginning to see that the reverse might be true also. Life had just gotten interesting again and I approved.
With these men, life would never be boring.
The end of part 7