I put the stew out, the bread, and corn. The Johnson brothers had been drinking since I started dinner. “Jesse, I asked Bill Clarke to do some construction around the office, I want you out working on the house. I drew up some plans and he’ll be working here this week. China’s sending out a crew.”
“Can you put him on the account to buy the lumber and materials? I’ll take care of all the details.” Jesse nodded.
He eyed me real well, looking for some indication I was good for the plan, I’m sure. But he just nodded at everything I said, revealing nothing of what he thought.
“We’ll look it all over after that apple pie I smell.” He gave me a kiss. I kissed him back.
“I already collected from the Sheriff for work you did two years ago, down at the jail. He was looking for some gal that swiped money off some guys on a boat. I ran into him at China Clarke’s.” I purred, running my fingers through Jesse’s hair.
Jesse led me back to the tidy little room behind the shop and responded by running his hand over the back of my neck and down the front. He rubbed my breasts.
Jesse was grinning from ear to ear, when I unfastened the buttons on his fly and undid the belt. Jesse let me touch and feel my way about in the darkness, then he watched what the moon lit up through the window as I pulled my dress down over my shoulders and let it fall to the floor.
He touched my shoulder and drew me nearer, running his hand down my back, to the round mass of my bottom. He slapped it hard, laughing. He picked me up and carried me to the bed in the next room. He kissed me quite properly, and ran his hand down my chest to the triangle of wanton woman beneath him.
Quick as a gazelle I flipped him to the inside of the bed, and worked magic, mounting him, I ground against him. He succumbed to the night before I snuggled into his arms and pulled the covers up.
Daybreak spewed through the windows before he awakened. Jesse did me again before he climbed out of bed and went looking for his clothes.
Breakfast was bread and butter, eggs and sausage from the grill, cooked by one of the brothers, and the work day started shortly after.
Bill showed up with wooden stakes and a hammer. He started putting together walls, and the brothers helped him stand the first wall before they left for their project.
Jesse looked him up and down, measured out the competition, and gave me a woman-claiming kiss and hug before he walked out the door. He wanted Clarke to know I was his woman.
After the brother’s left, I gathered up papers and started working at the table and benches inside the office Bill was constructing. Two men showed up before noon and worked the rest of the day with Bill. He finished the outside walls and ran half way up the walls with wood leaving room for a sliding door on one side, and a swinging door on the back of the office, open toward my personal rooms.
Since it was all inside the big shop, they ran a length of canvas across the top, and fastened it down. The second level wouldn’t go up for a week or so. Jesse had laid out the plans before he left.
When the Johnson brother’s came back that night, two of them went somewhere else, only Jesse came back to the shop. I had prepared beans and cornbread on the back of the stove, but we didn’t take time to eat.
Jesse left a red hand print on my bare ass, before he toppled into bed and came down hard on top of me. He took what he wanted first and rolling on his back for me to take what I deserved. Again, sleep found him before I finished, and I pulled the blankets up myself.
The night was quiet, and long.
I snuggled into the man beside me. I let him hold me tight. Without the usual drunken stupor Jesse was a good man, hardworking, and dedicated.
I knew I’d never find better.
Before the dawn, I stirred and roused him, taking again from the fountain he offered. Through sleepy eyes, he joined me in the darkest hour, spewing seed, planting a beginning and holding me tight as the day broke new over us.
I went about my day knowing that our lives had changed. I may have been the riverboat thief, but I’d found a permanent home, and I intended to keep it. Jesse would be my man.
By the time Clarke left to run cattle up the Platte, I had a bun in the oven, beginning to show a little. I’d managed to collect a good portion of the back debt owed to the Johnson brothers, and laundered a good chunk of change from the river boat, into a house Jesse was building on the lookout, for us.
A pot belly stove arrived from Saint Louis, and had been installed long before autumn set in.
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