I came in from the cold and snow stamping off the excess at the top of the stairs so I didn't track anything in. The first thing I noticed was the smell of fresh bread. The second thing I noticed was Amanda waving to me from a nest on the table. But the third thing was Ezra coming towards me with a towel and that was just about the most beautiful sight I'd ever seen.
He dimpled up at me and threw the towel over my head before kneeling down to get my cold toes free of the boots I was wearing. "What happened to your hat, Nathan?"
"JD wasn't wearing one so I made him wear mine. We got all the boardwalks cleared in town and I checked on Mrs. Gray to be sure that she had enough firewood. Everybody seems to be healthy and ready for Christmas. We're going to be standing room only for Amanda's christening." I mopped the water out of my hair and felt the warmth of the room seep into me. Ezra had my coat unbuttoned and off of me before I realized it.
Amanda was singing to herself happily and I wondered, not for the first time, how sweet natured she was. I'd even stuck her once with that damn little diaper pin and she'd just looked at me sadly and pouted a little. I'd never seen such a happy baby in my life but she seemed to be the most beautiful soul ever born.
Of course, I might be a tad prejudiced.
Ezra led me to the table for my second breakfast. The bread was so hot and fresh, he must have just pulled it from the oven. He didn't like cooking with coal but with wood so I just made sure that I kept the woodpile full for him. He liked watching me cut wood for some reason and we usually ended up in bed after I chopped my quota for the day. It was kind of strange but then I had my own quirks.
Watching him make bread usually turned me on so quickly that I just had to pounce on him. We were sure a pair of lovesick fools ... and I wouldn't have it any other way.
"Nathan, what are you thinking about?" Ezra put my plate down in front of me and I sighed happily at the sight of the eggs and ham.
"I was just thinking of what turns us on about each other." I smiled at him and he kissed me gently before going back to the stove to get Amanda's bottle.
"Well, I have to admit that ever since I saw you chop wood at the Black's, I just naturally remember how beautiful you looked in the sun." He brought the bottle back with him and Amanda laughed out loud, holding her arms up to be held. "You'd taken off your shirt and all your muscles rippled under that beautiful chocolate skin until I just had to take little Mary inside to get away from temptation."
I chuckled and kept eating while watching him feed Amanda. They made a beautiful picture, the two of them each concentrating on each other. She'd taken to trying to hold the bottle herself and I thought I could already see her growing. She was kicking her feet more and occasionally rolled herself over, to her great surprise. Yesterday had been her third month anniversary and I smiled at her when she turned her head to the sound of my voice.
"She's three months old, Nathan." Ezra read my mind with surprising ease.
"And her christening is today. It's going to be fun to see the others become her godfathers. I was kind of worried about Chris there for a while but he seems to have come around all right." I'd watched him freeze whenever she was near him.
"The pain of seeing her overwhelmed him for the first week and brought back bitter sweet memories of his son. But Amanda wasn't about to let a perfectly good male get away from her silken net." He smiled down at her and she let go of the nipple to laugh at him. "She frowned at him and whimpered a little one day when he was talking to me. Scared me to death but he just reached into the carryall and brought her upright from where she'd slid down."
"And that's all it took?" I asked amazed.
He grinned at me. "She latched onto one of his fingers and started chewing on it. He looked real taken aback for a moment then he smiled a little and let her chew away. Since then he's more relaxed around her. I think he just had to realize that she's a brand new soul and her own personality."
I finished my second breakfast. "Good. He needed to get over that if he and Vin are ever going to have kids."
Ezra looked real startled at me. "Them?"
I chuckled. "I think our example is going to be a potent one, sweet cheeks. Especially when we tell them about the land that Maude bought for us."
He nodded. "Buck has been worrying about how he can support JD
if this job ever falls through. $5 a month doesn't go as far as it
used to. And he wants our sheriff to have everything he needs or
"We're all pretty lovesick, aren't we?" I finished my eggs and reached my hand across the table to him. He met it with his own. "And that's one sickness I hope to have for the rest of my life."
"Yes." He smiled that beautiful shy smile that turns my knees to water.
But a knock on the door brought an end to our flirting. I got up to answer it and was surprised to see Maude at the door. She bustled in with a package and came straight to the table. "I know that you've been worrying about her christening dress since the Sears order didn't come. I brought this with me. Perhaps it might do."
She seemed kind of nervous and I thought again how much she seemed to have changed. Ezra opened the package and pulled out the most beautiful cambric lace dress that I'd ever seen. The lace was like an ivory cobweb, almost too delicate to touch sewn to the heavy white linen material.
"Mother, it's beautiful." Ezra's eyes were kind of dazed and he looked at her with that wondering look that I'd been gifted with a time or two. That was the one that said he couldn't belief how lucky he was.
"It was mine when I was born and yours, too. It's been packed away for years. I hoped you would accept it for the next generation." She said quietly and he got up from the table and came to her, hugging her one handed.
"The new generation thanks you." He said just as quietly.
I was so proud of him that I could have burst my buttons. He was so much more confident and open than he'd been when I first met him. I liked to think that it was loving me that had brought out the real Ezra that he'd been hiding behind all those layers of defense. And Maude was finally opening up, too. She'd been hurt and scared when she had him alone with no one to turn to but she'd persevered and kept hold of him even though she could have given him up for adoption at any time.
Thank God, she hadn't done that. I might never have met him then and my life would be so much poorer without him in it. It just didn't bear thinking of that horrible possibility. So, I shook myself free of the 'what ifs' and came back to the conversation. Maude was speaking about our timetable and promising to help where she could. The service was at two this afternoon so we had some daylight left for folks to travel home.
Inez had closed the saloon for drinking and card playing but was opening it after the ceremony for the christening party. Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Travis had planned that and Ezra thought that was a wonderful idea. The whole second floor smelled of the pumpkin and apple pies and butterscotch cookies he'd been baking. I think every woman in town had been baking and it promised to be one of those parties that people date events by.
Chuckling to myself, I discovered that Maude was getting ready to leave again. I showed her out and said another quiet 'thank you' to her. She was trying so hard that I had to accept her regret for her mistakes of the past. After all, I'd made a few of those mistakes too when it came to Ezra. He was such a treasure that I knew I'd never give up being amazed at his love for me.
Going back in, I saw that Amanda and Ezra had disappeared. It was bath time and I needed it after all my shoveling of the morning. Heading into our bedroom, I smiled at the orange crate bed that would soon be replaced by the beautiful oak cradle that Buck had made for Amanda. I started undressing before following the sounds of water being poured into the tub.
Amanda was cooing nonstop while Ezra told her a story about a princess and a magic spring, which made everyone who bathed in it beautiful. I finished removing my clothes and left them in a heap on the floor so I could join them. But first I grabbed the kettle on the bedroom stove to add to the bath. The steam was rising from the tub and Ezra was already naked and waiting for me when I poured the last three gallons in. I tested it first and got in, taking Amanda from him when I was safely down.
She was crowing and laughing up a storm when I let her paddle in the warm water. She loved taking a bath with us and always made sure that we got well splashed. Ezra joined us and grabbed the soap first to slide soapy hands over her squirming little body. She laughed and laughed when he tickled her, bringing a smile to both our faces. Amanda was such a joy that I wondered aloud how we'd ever gotten along without her.
"We were just waiting for the perfect baby to come." Ezra assured me and I noticed that those soapy hands were now washing me while I held Amanda a little bit out from me. "And Amanda is without a doubt the most perfect little girl ever to be born." He kissed her tummy and she giggled at the tickling touch. But he never stopped sliding his hands over my skin, going lower and lower until he reached my groin.
I came to attention the way I always do when Ezra is nearby and he chuckled while soaping my cock before moving on to my legs. I'm afraid I was pouting when he moved farther away so he could wash my feet. After rinsing my left foot, he kissed each toe into ecstasy before moving onto the other foot.
"Just you wait, Ezra P. Standish, I'm going to tease you unmercifully when I get my hands on you." I warned him sternly but he and Amanda both laughed at me. "When did I lose control here, sweet cheeks?"
"When you gave me all of you and let me give myself to you." Ezra told me gently and took Amanda from my suddenly trembling hands. "When you let me love you with all of me and soothed my heart with your healing touch."
He leaned in and kissed me tenderly and I pulled him closer. When we had to breathe, our foreheads rested together above a gently murmuring Amanda. "And when you let me love you with all my heart, don't forget that, sweet Ezra."
The rest of our bath went quickly and we got out to finish getting ready to go. Amanda really liked her new dress and I had a sudden vision of another dress, this time in white silk with a long lacy veil and a beautiful young woman on my arm pacing down another church aisle. Sending up a quick prayer, I asked the good Lord to bring her someone like my Ezra to love and to hold on her wedding day.
She watched from the protected space between our pillows while we dressed in our best Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. Ezra looked especially fine in his soft white shirt under the forest green jacket that I loved. The shirt he'd picked out for me in Sarney the day that we got Amanda, felt real soft and good to my skin and he helped me on with my brown jacket, which was the best I had.
"We're going to get you a new jacket come Spring, Nathan." He said determinedly and I nodded. He was the expert on clothes and I'd look good in whatever he picked out. "But I think we'll stick with brown with maybe gold threads running through it. I saw something like that in New York once and while it would look awful on me, it would bring out your beautiful skin color."
He's the only one who sees my color as beautiful and I hugged him close and kissed him. Ezra had the nicest way of making me feel like any other man with just a slightly darker skin than his. I was the luckiest man in the world that he loved me. A soft cooing came from the bed and we broke apart to look at our beautiful little girl. She was waving her arms at us, demanding to be a part of our hug and Ezra chuckled before plucking her from her soft nest.
"Come along, Amanda, it's time for you to meet your adoring fans and let Grandfather Josiah get your head a little wet." He smoothed out her dress and the white looked like newly fallen snow against her golden skin. "You'll be the most beautiful female there and the others will all be jealous. But you must be magnanimous like the little princess that you are and smile on your devoted subjects."
She patted his face and smiled at him, cooing in that soft voice that sounded like a morning dove. We tucked her into the coverall that had been her travel bed since Sarney and made sure the quilt would let no freezing air in to harm her. We bundled up ourselves and I took Amanda while Ezra took the half-box that held the results of his baking. We took the steps slowly and crossed to the saloon first to drop off the food.
Inez got a quick peek at Amanda's dress and exclaimed how 'bella' the little 'chica' was. The bar fairly groaned with the bounty displayed there and it looked like it would take the entire town to even come close to finishing off everything. Luckily, the entire town was coming to the christening. We hurried on to the church and Josiah let us use his back room for our coats.
We unwrapped our precious bundle and she quietly sang to us while we made sure that we all looked as good as we could. A knock at the door told us it was time for the ceremony to commence and we went out to face all the eyes of the town. Curious eyes for the most part, although some were just happy for us and some were still unsure of our motives. But those who knew us were just as jubilant as we were on this blessed day.
We sat in the front pew with Ezra's mother and the rest of the seven while Josiah stood before us all with a wide smile. "Friends, we are gathered here today to celebrate a new soul come to us in this joyous season. At the time of Christ's birth, it seems appropriate to welcome an orphan who has come to make our lives more joyful. Nathan and Ezra, would you bring Amanda up to the altar?"
I held her and Ezra stood at my shoulder while Josiah anointed her head with oil. "I welcome you to the world, little one. What is her name, gentlemen?"
"Amanda Petra Jackson." I said and thought wistfully of a world where she could have both our last names and not raise an eyebrow.
"And who shall answer for Amanda?" Josiah smiled down at his soon-to-be granddaughter.
"We shall." The other four stood up on Josiah's other side. They spoke together with one voice and it sent a shiver down my spine. Amanda would be a well-protected little girl for the rest of her life.
"Gentlemen, may you watch over and protect this new soul to the very best of your abilities. Just as the Christ-child came to bring us salvation, may Amanda bring joy and peace into our community with her own bright spirit." Amanda cooed at him and everyone chuckled. "In the middle of winter, we celebrate the return of light to our world. Let everyone go forth from here with a new dedication to that promise of a brighter future. Brother Nathan has requested we sing 'Abide with Me' for the closing of Amanda's christening. Brother, if you will start us off."
The old comforting words came readily to my lips and within a phrase the entire congregation was standing and singing along with me. The echoes of the old Scottish hymn rang out into the cold snowy day and filled my heart with gladness. Even though Ezra and I could have no standing as a couple within society, here and now we were one supported by all who loved us. In the larger sense of the word, we were indeed a family.
And I'd have it no other way. Everyone shook our hand at the door and streamed out to the saloon for the party. Maude was wiping away a tear when she took Amanda from Ezra and rocked her while we got dressed to go out into the cold again. The saloon had never seemed so festive before. Perhaps it was the fact that all generations were represented from the youngest to the oldest. Grandmother Hale had come in to town to attend the christening and she smiled on Amanda when she saw her up close.
Our little girl smiled back and blew a bubble for her before clapping her hands, surprising herself with the sound, although how she could hear anything over the noise of close to a hundred people talking and laughing, I have no idea. The food began to disappear and I barely got a piece of Ezra's pumpkin pie before it disappeared. But then it was time to unwrap presents and I got Ezra set down before Buck brought in the cradle he'd carved for Amanda.
Inez had done a beautiful job with the bedding and Ezra was speechless. I had Amanda at that moment and I gently laid her into the soft white lace nest. She clapped her hands again and sang to us before falling asleep between one breath and the next. We'd finally tired her out. The rest of the presents were mostly clothes and toys. I knew that the rest of the seven would be giving us their gifts on Christmas day after the church service.
The party wound down eventually and we chanced leaving Amanda in her cradle but covered with the quilt across the street and up the stairs to home. Ezra whisked the orange crate away and the cradle fit snugly in its place. She was still asleep and hardly moved even when Ezra picked her up and undressed her. He put one of her new flannel wrappers on and tucked her back in with a little pat.
Out in the common room, we said quiet good-byes to everyone and they all said they'd meet us at eleven at the church. Closing the door and locking it behind them, I held out my arms and Ezra came into them with a rush. Holding him after so many hours without being able to touch him was pure heaven. His arms wrapped around me and I nuzzled his sweet smelling hair with a sigh of relief.
"I loved the party but I need you now more than I need air to breathe." His voice was plaintive and I chuckled.
"The feeling is mutual, sweet cheeks. Let's go to bed for a nap." I began walking us to the bedroom and he pulled back far enough to smile up at me.
"A nap? I was thinking more along the lines of getting naked and touching you all over until you scream." He said with such serious intent that it took me a moment to really hear his words.
And that picture had me picking him up and throwing him over my shoulder until I could throw him onto our bed. "I was thinking of making you scream, Ezra, but first we have to get rid of some clothes."
He chuckled and pulled me down on top of him. "Your wish is my command, Nathan. I love you."
"I love you, too." I kissed him and he opened sweetly to me, sucking my tongue into his tasty mouth. We feasted for a long moment before getting up to undress and hang everything up. He was the tidiest man I knew and I had begun to follow his example. Of course, watching him take off his clothing was one of the nicest things I'd seen in a long time.
We fell back into bed and playfully wrestled until he was atop me while my fingers slid deep into his heat, preparing him for my steel hard cock. His little moan told me he was ready and he guided me home slowly sinking down on me with another breathy moan. I watched him flush while he adjusted to my size yet again. Then those beautiful green eyes opened and gazed down into mine.
"I have you now, Nathan and I'm never letting you go." He used his strong leg muscles to rise up before sitting back down.
"Good, I'm never letting you go either. I love you, Ezra P. Standish. Maybe one of these days we'll be christening William Nathan Standish." I thrust up a little and drank in his sigh with greedy ears. My dark hands slid up to his slender waist and caressed his skin.
"Someday, Nathan, we just might be. Until then, I need you to make love to me as if we were making William ourselves from just the two of us." He leaned forward and kissed me while I rolled us both so he was under me and I could plant my knees for the powerful strokes we liked the best.
His fantasy had a powerful hold on both of us and I gave him my strength while he accepted me with a power all his own. Something magical happened when we came together like this, something that I couldn't explain but only feel with all my heart and soul. He'd told me of an old Greek myth about the beginnings of the world. Souls had been divided by a cataclysm and now each soul looked for its other half.
I'd found my other half in him and he in me. That sounded like a true story to me and it was at moments like this that I rejoiced in the bright light that was my Ezra. His radiance took me in and made me whole again just like it did each time he welcomed me into his body. I was the luckiest man in the world and I said yet another prayer of thanksgiving while he froze under me and began to climax between us.
That was all it took to pull mine from me as well. I cradled him close and reached a long arm for the towel that we kept on the side table. His legs could cramp if we stayed in this position too long so I rolled us so he was on top again. Unfortunately that forced me out of his hot channel and he whimpered just a little. But he wasn't hurt as I tenderly checked him and cleaned us both up. We murmured 'I love you's' to each other and fell asleep almost as quickly as Amanda had in her new cradle.
Tomorrow would be another day of feasting and rejoicing. I smiled into his hair and joined him in slumber.
The end for now