On his way back to his horse, the tall man might have been bemused over the whole thing with Miss Cordelia Chase and her traveling companions, but that didn’t mean Rowdy Yates was ever going to drop his guard. Which was why his gun was instantly drawn and pointed in the direction of the soft whistle coming from the clump of trees further in the treeline, about twenty feet from where his mount had been patiently waiting.
“Yeah, I thought it wasn’t a good idea to sneak up on ya,” spoke an amused young woman’s voice from behind the trees. “Can I come out now?”
“Well, all right, ma--” Rowdy’s cautious answer was cut off right there, as his jaw dropped open in utter incredulity at what he now saw, and the man hastily lowered his pistol and then he holstered it.
Smirking at this, the beautiful brunette woman swaggered up to stop right in front of Rowdy, resting her fists on her hips, and gazing challengingly up at the cowboy staring bug-eyed at exactly what she was wearing.
Despite what’s been presented in popular media about the American West of the late nineteen century, the females then living in the towns, ranches, farms, and elsewhere didn’t go around dressed solely in a one-piece garment for women and girls combining a bodice, with or without sleeves, and a skirt, all covering most of their bodies.
Sometimes they even wore pants.
It was usually just the youngest and the oldest who could get away with it. Children of either sex wore jeans, and nobody thought anything unusual about it (young boys were sometimes put in dresses while still toddlers, if only to make it easier to wipe their bottoms when necessary). Mature women, particularly when busy at their messier chores, also wore work pants. For both, it also helped prevent wear on their usual dresses.
Plus, considering how hard it was to ride sidesaddle in a skirt, a lot of women managed to have a spare pair of riding pants on hand, to be used in the privacy around their own homes and land while on horseback. It was a little embarrassing to be caught in that attire by strangers, but most people politely ignored this indiscretion, since it was understood that this was sometimes necessary.
It was an entirely different thing to swank around in public, showing off your lower limbs for everyone to see. Only very unique women in the West, totally confident and assertive females like Calamity Jane (alias Martha Jane Cannary), who just didn’t give a damn, managed to pull this off.
Right now, in a very small section of his mind that was rapidly transferring brain cells over to the more enjoyable action of looking at what exactly was in his field of vision, Rowdy considered that this woman standing before him was supremely successful in wearing those smooth, skin-tight leather pants that covered every square inch--
“Hey, Stretch, my face is up here.”
The man blinked, and then he reluctantly transferred his gaze back up to the impish look being given him by the young woman. Rowdy was a bit astonished at coming up with this description, but he couldn’t argue with the fact that she looked as if she had a lot less years than him. Though….there was a hint of coldness deep in her eyes, that suggested she’d sometimes had hard times in her life before, that matched anything Rowdy had lived through. The slightly mocking question that came next confirmed this. “Hey, ya got a name other than Mr. Drooling Tongue?”
He really hadn’t….? Rowdy’s hand was actually on his way to wipe his mouth, until the gleeful grin he received from the woman showed she’d managed to put him off balance again. Gruffly, the man cleared his throat, and introduced himself. “I’m Rowdy Yates, ma’am. Who’re you?”
The woman shrugged, which did really interesting things to her chest, and said offhandedly, “Call me Faith. That’s alla the name I ever needed.” She then stuck out her hand, just like a man, and expectantly waited.
Rowdy did the polite thing, and put his own hand into a firm grip and a quick handshake. As he eyed the woman still smiling at him, the man had a question suddenly appear in his mind, and he tentatively tried to say it as courteously as possible, “Uh, are you with them….?,” with Rowdy trailing off his inquiry, as he waved a hand in the general direction of the wagons full of women all ready to negotiate their affections.
A raucous guffaw rang throughout the trees, as Faith evidently found this totally amusing. “Hell, no! I ain’t one a’ them flat-backers! Naw, what I am is the muscle.” At that last, the woman held up her right arm with a clenched fist, and folded it to show off a toned bicep straining through her long-sleeved flannel shirt.
“What?” choked out Rowdy, staring with total bewilderment at someone who was at least eighteen inches shorter than him and probably half his weight.
The evil grin Faith now bestowed on the confused man showed off every one of her teeth, as she enjoyed his expected reaction. On a whim, Faith decided to show him she hadn’t been talking through her hat, not that the woman was wearing one at the moment. Nodding to herself, she nonchalantly spoke to the mystified cowboy, “Yeah, I’ll show ya, ‘kay? Just stay there. I saw somethin’ back there.” At those words, Faith turned around on her heel, and walked away, towards the trees she’d appeared from.
Rowdy pushed back his hat, and watched the woman move off for a few yards, until she stopped, and then bent over to pick up something off the ground, all while presenting to him her rear in its tight confines of her leather pants, that now stretched in a truly amazing manner….
In response to the sudden gurgling sound coming from behind her, Faith, still in her extremely unladylike posture, turned her head around to see that open-mouthed, fine-lookin’, flat-stomached cowhand with thighs of iron staring right at her ass, just like she planned.
A triumphant smirk appeared on her lips, and Faith then slowly straightened up, to raise her arms that had something in one hand all the way to the skies, and then she twisted around to perform a good long stretch, all while presenting her body profile towards that totally delectable man, who looked like he was gonna have a stroke any second now. Which would be a damn shame, considering that Faith had something entirely else planned that would affect his health in a much more pleasurable way.
Coming down from her stretch, Faith slinked over to stand once more in front of Rowdy, who stared over her head far off into the distance with a somewhat unfocused gaze. With a warm feeling of accomplishment, Faith spoke, “’Kay, you see this?” At that, she held up in her hand what she’d found. “I want ya to watch-- Oh, fer Chrissakes.”
Uttering an exasperated grunt, Faith leaned forward to grab Rowdy’s limp right hand, and yanking and turning it face up, she slapped hard something into the inattentive man’s palm.
Finally distracted from his thoughts of pure lust, Rowdy dazedly shook his head, and then he looked down at what he was now holding.
It was a horseshoe.
An ordinary, slightly rusty horseshoe, which meant it hadn’t been here all that long, either being thrown off by a horse, or tossed away by an unthinking immigrant who hadn’t yet realized that everything on their journey had to be conserved or they’d find themselves desperately needing something in the middle of the wilderness they’d previously disposed of carelessly. Rowdy looked up from what was in his hand, to stare with puzzlement at Faith’s grin. Puzzlement that only increased at her next chuckling order.
“See if ya can straighten that out, Stretch.”
“What?” Rowdy boggled at the amused young woman, who just nodded her head in encouragement.
Giving a slightly bewildered shrug, Rowdy gripped both ends of the horseshoe in his hands, and taking a deep breath, he pulled hard in opposite directions for several moments. In his sinewy arms, the cords stood out, which was frankly the only outcome of the man’s attempt, as was pretty much expected by Rowdy. The man knew he was strong after a lifetime of hard labor, but he wasn’t anywhere near the level of strength necessary to straighten out a horseshoe. It was true that it could be successfully done by a human; Rowdy had actually seen it accomplished by a strongman at a carnival he’d attended as a young boy. But that guy back then straining to turn a horseshoe into a straight bar had been bulging with enormous muscles that had expanded with the effort, as watched by a fascinated youth.
Finally, Rowdy stopped pulling, letting out a gasp of breath, as he then looked down at the horseshoe in his hands. It looked the same, without any hint of change due to Rowdy’s efforts.
“’Kay, toss it over.”
“Huh?” Once more, Rowdy was befuddled at Faith’s command, yet he again obediently followed her instruction, gently pitching it into the young woman’s waiting hands that easily caught the horseshoe. Holding this curved piece of metal up in her hands in an unspoken order for him to watch, Faith’s fingers slipped to the ends of the horseshoe, to then grip firmly and remain there for a second.
Right after that, Faith casually straightened out the horseshoe, in one easy twist of her wrists.
Rowdy’s mouth fell open in utter shock. He stood there in a complete daze, coming out of his bafflement by Faith’s next action, of her tossing the metal bar back at him. By habit alone, Rowdy reached out to catch the straightened bar, catching this right in its middle.
“YAHHH!” Yelping with pain, Rowdy hastily let go of the object, dropping the straightened horseshoe onto the ground, and frantically shook his scorched hand. He then glared at a guffawing Faith, who sent him a brazen grin when she finally quieted down. Annoyed, Rowdy looked down at the metal bar innocently resting by his foot, and leaned down, to cautiously touch the ends of this with his fingers. Feeling only cool metal, the man carefully picked the bar up by an end, and as he straightened up, Rowdy ran a fingertip of his other hand down the rod, snatching this back when he felt increasing heat on the surface of the metal the closer he got to the center of the bar.
His face intent, Rowdy then gripped both ends of the metal bar, and tried to bend it. Again, the only sign of anything happening was the muscles of his arms standing out, as the bar didn’t move the slightest in returning to its former curvature. After a few moments, Rowdy finally let go of the bar, ignoring how it dropped to the ground, to glower at a smirking Faith. “All right, what’s going on?” demanded the cowboy.
Shrugging, Faith now had a calm expression appear on her face, as she answered. “Alla I know, ever since I was a street kid in Boston, I’ve been stronger than anybody I ever knew or met. Lotta times, that was the only thing keepin’ me alive.” Looking off into the distance, her eyes momentarily went dark with rage and sorrow, clearly over memories that the stunned man realized must have been awful. Shaking herself, Faith looked again at a quiet Rowdy who was intently watching her. “Well, whatever, I made the best way I could through my life, and a coupla months ago, I was in a saloon in St. Louis, beatin’ the crap outta a bartender and a half-dozen other guys there.”
“Uh, why?” asked a fascinated Rowdy.
Faith sniffed, “’Cuz he said he wasn’t gonna serve me! I even had the money to pay him, the bastard, but no, just ’cuz I wasn’t all frippered up in a goddamn dress, he had the nerve to order me outta the place! I think he mighta learned he made a little mistake, right after I shoved his face into a half-full spittoon, judging’ from the sounds he was makin’ when I was downin’ alla the good stuff from behind the bar.” This last sentence was snickered reminiscently, as Faith went on while she beamed at Rowdy‘s admiring look.
“Anyways, somebody from the hotel ‘cross the saloon came in, with a message of ‘who in the name of Heaven is making all that racket.’ Well, lemme tell ya, I went over there decidin’ to have a little discussion ‘bout it all, and I met Miss Perfectly Wonderful Cordelia Chase herself.” Faith now gave Rowdy a slightly crooked grin. “I gotta tell ya, she didn’t back down the slightest, never showed any fear at all. Gal’s got a spine of steel, ya know that? So, it all wound up with her offerin’ me a lotta money if I was ta come with her, be her bodyguard, keep an eye on the girls along the way. Maybe even stay after we get to wherever we’re goin’, though I haven’t decided ‘bout that yet. I thought it all over, and figgered, why the hell not?”
“Oh,” blinked Rowdy at this rush of words. Looking down again at the metal bar innocently laying on the ground, the man bemusedly shook his head over it all, and lifting up his gaze again, the cowboy was startled at seeing Faith now standing right before him, having moved soundlessly nearer, and giving Rowdy a very considering look.
Still gazing up into the man’s puzzled face, Faith slowly said, “Hey, Stretch, gotta tell ya ’bout somethin’ that happens when I do stuff like that with the horseshoe. See, ever since I growed a chest, I get a kinda….itch in me when I haveta use my muscles. So….ya got somethin’ else I can straighten, give me a good….scratchin’?”
Looking down into the beautiful brown eyes of a very striking woman, Rowdy managed to keep his gulp of surprise down to just clearing his throat, as he then muttered, “Uh, that depends. Is there any possibility of….damage to whatever’s straightened, like that horseshoe”?
A very wicked grin slowly appeared on Faith’s face, as she leaned forward to murmur, “Aw, just if ya don’t meet my expectations. There ain’t gonna be no trouble ‘bout that, is there?”
Rowdy didn’t reply to this, only having a glazed expression suddenly appear on his face.
Faith’s own face now had an immense smirk on it, as the woman stepped over to Rowdy’s left side, turned to stand next to him, and then she wrapped her right arm around the cowboy’s lean waist, yanking him nearer and casually heaving the 180-pound man onto her hip. Faith started walking deeper into the forest, carrying Rowdy without any strain at all and having his boots dangling a few inches off the ground, as she enthusiastically said, “I think I saw a nice, soft patch of grass over there….”
A few hours later, Gil was considering turning in, finishing off the last of his coffee while staring at the campfire turning into coals late into the night. He didn’t pay all that much attention to the sounds of familiar footsteps coming from behind the trail boss. Nor did Gil react to the sudden thump of someone dropping onto the ground a few feet from the older man. Though, it was something of a surprise for Gil at hearing the loud snore that happened several minutes later.
Twisting around on his log seat, Gil felt his eyebrows rise at seeing Rowdy Yates there, stretched stomach-down onto the ground, fast asleep, sawing wood at a record rate, all while that younger man had a very wide grin on his slumbering features.
Shrugging, Gil got up, walked over to his and Rowdy’s bedrolls, and took out a blanket from that man’s sleeping outfit. Shaking out the blanket, the guide walked over to his partner, and when he stood there, he looked down at the snoring man and Gilbert Favor now had a wondering expression appear on his own face.
At this moment, Rowdy had severely tousled hair, with twigs and leaves stuck in it, plus the back of his shirt was totally shredded, and claw marks were easily distinguishable down that man’s entire back. Not to mention that most of his body was also covered with grass stains. Eyeing all this, Gil absently wondered if his partner had been caught in a tornado while wrestling with a mountain lion. He was just the guy that kind of thing could happen to, yessiree bob.
Tossing the blanket onto Rowdy, Gil went back to his own bedroll, dropping onto it and wrapping himself in his warm blanket, while a very sour thought now went through the older man’s mind.
It was a damn certainty that he’d hear all about it in the morning.