Reaching Out from a Mind as Dirty as All Outdoors

If you get lucky enough, I might post adult-only material from time to time, so be 18 or over, or please be elsewhere.

I'll be discussing erotica here, the writing of it and the people who write it, as well as what we've written. I find all these aspects stimulating, but if any of them bore you, feel free to skim. You never know what you might miss, though.




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Saturday, September 19, 2020

My Live Reading of "A Dance of Queens"

 Sound and Fury, an Open Mic via Zoom event Hosted by Laura Antoniou and A Plague of Players,  will be live on Sunday, September 20th, 2:pm EST. You can look it up on FaceBook: search for A Plague of Players.

I'm reading an excerpt from my Elizabethan--era story, and I'm posting the entire story here so that anyone intrigued by my reading can see all the rest

“A Dance of Queens” features two actors from the very first production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” with Queen Elizabeth herself in Titania’s disguise, nostalgic for her youth when she might roam free, masked, through Midsummer revelries. All mingle in a scene enabled by the Puck theirself, in no way imprisoned always in a man’s form, presenting as a dwarf servingwoman to the Queen. 

Originally published in Hanne Block’s Best Transgender Erotica, reprinted in a collection of my own work, A Ride to Remember, and featured on The Nobilis Erotica Podcast.

A Dance of Queens

Sacchi Green

Midsummer's Night, the play safely done, dusk sweet as a languorous touch on yearning flesh...and still I could not take my love into the greenwood and lay her on my cloak and be consumed in her fire.

I cursed my own impatience. We should have pressed on without pause, but Quenta had tormented me so, slipping a hand beneath my shirt and then down into my breeches until I could scarce walk, and must stop for a taste of the feast to come.

So the Queen's messenger had caught us. And truly, by the shimmer in the air at the instant she appeared, I knew there had never been hope of escape. In the Welsh hills and valleys we have tales, more than tales, of such creatures, though I had thought the filth and disbelief of London must repel them. At another time I would have been glad that the green countryside along the Thames still held such folk. Glad or no, we had no choice now but to let the greenwood's promise fade into shadow.

Frustration pounded in my veins. I jerked away from Quenta's touch, the mere brush of her hand making me forget that I must not even think of "him" as "her" until we could be blessedly alone.

I focused on the wide skirt sailing just ahead. Though the farthingale was not devised with a lady dwarf in mind, its absurdity was more than countered by the messenger's bearing and the Queen's crest broidered on her sleeve. It scarcely needed Quenta's nudge to put me on guard against those keen, merry eyes, though they looked up at me from about the level of my belt.

Such danger should have chilled my ardor. But surely the Queen would waste little time on us, might have forgotten already her whim. At most there could be a gracious word or two, perhaps a small purse. Why, then, command that we bring our play-garb? A jest among her ladies?

But in the great bedchamber we found Her Majesty alone, a slim, pale figure whose aura crackled through the paneled room like heat-lightning.

Our diminutive guide swept a curtsy. "The player boys, Madam. Quentin O'Connor and Kit Rhys."

Bright, tired eyes assessed us. "Well enough, Gwen. Now keep us private for a bit." The attendant gave me a wicked sidelong glance as she went to sit between the great oak door and the carven screen before it.

Quenta elbowed me sharply. I joined her in an elegant stage bow, feeling the royal glance caress our snug-hosed calves. Her Majesty was said to have ever an eye for a well-turned leg; if it went farther than a look, or a leg… But I had never heard so much as rumor that it did.

Her voice was cool enough. "So, Titania and Hippolyta. You played the queen's part well, each in your own way."

"Never so well as you, Your Highness." Quenta's green eyes gleamed wickedly, and I suppressed a groan. This was no time for her sly wit!

An answering gleam lit the Queen's eyes. "Ah, but I have performed the role far longer!"  Her face seemed less weary now; it was hard to credit that she had more than twice our years. "Do you not think I could play Queen of Faery as well as England's monarch?"

I tried to break the manic current between them. "Yes, in truth, Highness. Or Queen of Amazons, or any ruler ever conceived." I knelt with Hippolyta's tunic and gilded leather breastplate across one knee. Her gaze turned toward me, lingering on my long legs; I felt as when Quenta would stroke me from calf to thigh and beyond, and my flesh would melt and surge in sweet torment.

"I have not your height, lad, to play the Amazon," she said. "You did well enough, though one could scarcely credit that you would ever yield to Duke Theseus, whether in battle or in marriage bed. But come, it was bravely played, if a slighter part than Titania's." 

She turned to Quenta with a thoughtful look. "Have you two played Master Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet?' You would suit well as lovers."

Did she toy with us? What hope had we against the wits of one who played with envoys, kings, even the Pope, for her own and England's gain?

"Quentin is acclaimed as Juliet," I answered cautiously, "but to tell truth, Hippolyta is my first speaking part, and well may be my last. I am more like to play an accompanying lute, or rattle distant armor."

"It is an awkward age, I know," she said. "Your voice is nigh too low already for a woman's part. Indeed..." Those keen eyes scrutinized us closely. "I might think you both somewhat old for boy players."

I tensed inwardly, forcing my body to reveal nothing. To stifle Quenta's special genius would be a crime against art, against life itself! But if she were judged to be a woman... A woman appearing upon the public stage was such outrage that the penalty could only be surmised.  

Quenta laughed, and in that instant the tilt of her head, the cock of hip and shoulder, were entirely those of a brash youth. "I can play you any age, Lady, any sex." She took on the bombastic voice and gestures of Bottom the Weaver. "I can play you a roaring Lion, or a most excellent Wall..." and then her voice softened, its husky purr making my flesh quiver with longing for the velvet touch of her tongue. "Or I can be the Lady Moon herself."

She stepped toward the high window, every motion, every line now utterly female, despite the padded trunk-hose muffling the sweet curves of her hips. Had I been a jot closer my hand would have slipped of its own accord between cloth and smooth, seductive skin. And had she turned, and my fingers found what waited between her thighs.... 

"Look you, Lady, how the new moon burns, no silver bow, but a crescent slit through which the passions of the sky pour forth. Can you not see in me that same bright fire?"

 And she was, in truth, the very essence of the new moon, its tremulous yearning in her slim grace, its hot intensity in her smoldering eyes. Then I stepped toward her and broke the spell, and it was not her madness but mine that gave us away.

"Sirrah! Do not force me to see that which were better kept hidden!" If the Queen sensed that we were lovers, she had no wish to bring it to an issue. I did not think that she had yet sensed more.

"But Titania may see what England's Queen may not." Quenta knelt, proffering her red wig, leaf-green draperies and silver demi-mask. "On Midsummer's Night, the fancies of mortal and fairy alike may roam free. Come with us, Lady, to observe their merry frolics!"

Even through my outrage I saw what Quenta had recognized at once. Though the Queen might conceal it even from herself, it was for this we had been summoned.

A moment of hesitation; then she took the silver mask. "In truth, I have a fancy to see my host's estate by moonlight. You shall escort me, and together we shall see 'what fools these mortals be.'" She caught my eye. "Yes, lad, I know, none better, how mortal and therefore foolish even a queen may be. That is my own affair. Send Gwen to me, and wait behind the screen." But Gwen was beside her already, the sole evidence of her passing the twinge of a playful pinch upon my rump.

When the Queen was ready Gwen went sedately enough before us. I could not discern how she bespelled each guard we passed, but it was clear that none could see her mistress until we were well outside and mingling with the crowd.

The Lord Chancellor's estate was alight as though to cancel out entirely this shortest night of the year. Near the great house lords and ladies strolled the torch-lit paths, or clung together in the shadowy embrace of shrubberies. Farther off, where the village clustered around the river landing, a bonfire flared and crackled and smoke hovered in the sky like a lecherous ogre.

Habitual command mingled with laughter in the voice that urged me forward. "Come, they can have devised no cruder games than when last I walked free on a Midsummer's Night, though it were half a lifetime ago."

Quenta, just behind me, slid her hand between my thighs, and I had no choice but to move forward or turn and punish her as she deserved.

Two Quentas imprisoned me, both shimmering with manic energy, both intent on torture. The green-draped lady on my right had every movement, every gesture, even the voice of Quenta-as-Titania. No actor could have surpassed her.

On my left pranced my infuriating love in full boy-mode, her russet hair swept up under a jaunty feathered cap. At every step her hand and hip and shoulder nudged and stroked me. The Queen might not see, but Gwen, trotting behind, smiled slyly.

Much more of this and I would be unfit to walk at all. In the bedchamber, as we had waited behind the screen, Quenta's seeking hands and mouth had maddened me until I grasped both wrists and held her away. Then she flicked her mobile tongue at me, and I could only muffle my groans in the hollow of her throat. This too Gwen had seen as she came to fetch us.

My arousal was mounting all too close to pain. "Quentin, you unmannered lout, take the Lady's other side!"

 The Queen cocked a brow at my strangled tone, but held out a regal arm, and Quenta moved to take it. A glance behind showed a broad grin on Gwen's round face.

The Queen seemed drawn to all the bawdiest displays. She cheered on village maidens belaboring the pale hairy bum of a hapless stock-bound miscreant, and would have taken a switch to him herself had I not diverted her attention to two buxom wenches admiring the massive virtues of a docile bull, while their blushing swains tried to draw them onward.

A cluster of tipsy revelers drew us to the village square. I could hear the clown Will Kemp's falsetto above the laughter; he was a noted player in our troupe, and always rare entertainment. Then I saw his companion, and hoped short Gwen would take no offense.

Will pranced in strumpet's garb across a rough stage, swinging padded rump, while Long Tom the tumbling dwarf somersaulted in mock pursuit. Another time I would have laughed at their antics, and later bought an ale for Tom and traded japes in Welsh; he was a good man, philosophical, adept at using what he had to earn his living.

What he had, besides acrobatic skill and a merry black-bearded face, was the largest codpiece I have ever seen and ample means to fill it. A stallion might have envied his endowment.

Will crouched, and swung his bum into Tom's jutting cock. Tom tumbled and bounced and vaulted back, while the crowd howled, and my face burned. I tried to back my party out of the throng.

We were almost clear when I heard a gasp of outrage. I turned, and saw whose hands clutched at Gwen, and perversely welcomed this vent for my frustration.

That sniveling whoreson weasel's whelp Dick Fry, talebearer and eternal understudy! "Ho, Rhys," he hailed me. "Come help me toss this hobgoblin up on stage with t'other! What, no stomach for sport?"

Quenta gripped her dagger. Gwen narrowed her eyes, and Dick's ears and nose began to lengthen and grow hairy. It would have made a rare spectacle, but the Queen must not be found out.

"The lady is with me, you lout! Would you feel my fist smashing through that empty travesty you call a codpiece?" I moved so close he had to peer upward at me. "Do you wet yourself dreaming of my fist mangling your puny balls?" Fear flickered in his eyes, and rage, and something else; I pushed him away in disgust and led my company past the gawking bystanders.

"Lucky for that one you were here," Gwen muttered in Welsh, and spat in the direction Dick had gone.

A slim, imperious hand gripped my shoulder. "Enough, lad. You have done nobly, but the Midsummer's magic I recalled is gone forever." 

"Nay, lady, there is magic still!" Quenta's eyes glowed cat-like in the torchlight. "Kit has found a place a fairy queen might lie, and takes me there this night. We shall see what magic three queens together may ignite!"

I could have wrung her slim white neck. The Queen, though, waved dismissively. "I doubt not such a tryst is meant for two alone. Only see me back to the Hall, and then be off wherever youth and Midsummer madness lead you." She took my arm. "You may divert me as we go. Is there indeed 'a bank where the wild thyme blows.... With sweet musk roses and with eglantine?'"

"As to that, Lady, the scent was more of mint and fern. I saw daisies but no roses, though there were berry brambles aplenty. Perhaps by daylight you might view it."

"Ay, perhaps." Her voice was bleak.

"Now!" said Quenta. "Now, by moonlight, or not at all!" Her fierce eyes held mine, her meaning all too clear. When I turned toward the greenwood the Queen, a gleam restored in her eye, did not demur.

The way was not so far that the Queen might tire. Indeed, I recalled, Her Majesty was known to out-ride and out-walk her courtiers, and out-last them on the dance floor, too, however fast or subtly sensuous the steps.

Earlier in the day I had followed a stream upcurrent to a place where the waters split and merged again, leaving an islet in their midst. Wading across had been easy, cutting my way through brambles harder, but the reward had been a grassy glade spangled with flowers and hidden from all but the sky.

Here I could bring my love where the rush of water would drown the wild, raw cries her touches forced from me. Always in the city I must stifle my voice, and my pleasure. But here, alone...

To be alone! But, now, not to be.

I waded across with Quenta first. She resisted being carried, but I clung to that remnant of my fantasy despite the temptation to drop her in the deepest water. When she guessed my mood and clung, other temptations rose to nearly overwhelm me.

"It was you who taught me, love, that the magic must be shared," she murmured, and laid a trail of kisses across my throat.

 "Between two, yes! Solitary pleasures are paltry trifles! But three? And one of these the Queen? Your madness goes too far!"

 "Yours has ever kept pace before! Truly, Kit, you always know my needs, better than I know myself. Open yourself to hers!"

"'Open?' You cannot mean..." but she had slipped from my grasp and danced away, her torch flickering eerily through the brambles.

I hoped that the Queen might have regained some sense, until I saw the torch set into the stream bank reflect from eyes gone fey and feral. "It is the Queen of Faery who goes abroad this night," she murmured, "and all she sees shall be no more than fairy-tale."

As I lifted her she leaned her head far back to watch the moon and trailed one hand into the stream, and I had to press her close for balance. She felt so like Quenta--or perhaps moonlight on the water dazzled my eyes and other senses--but when I set her on the bank my blood raced despite the water's chill.

Going back for Gwen did little to cool me. Anger played as great a part as arousal; both vixens would be well served to be marooned while I looked elsewhere for ease of my throbbing flesh.

I noted again how compact in form Gwen stood, her mouth scarcely above the level of my loins... 

Gwen knew that look. "Nay, youngling, my taste is for meat less tender. Do we but get my Lady safe home before dawn, I am appointed to meet a certain short tumbler and countryman for deep conversation." She gave my thigh a shove. "Go to, distract the Queen from her melancholy. For once she shall be entertained by earthly pleasures on a Midsummer's Night. When she lies safe again in her bed both Tom and I will thank you; for now, I wait and ward here."

Across the water light flickered from the torches left in readiness.  No doubt Quenta had also found my bed of heaped sweetfern and the basket of strawberries and flask of wine. Damn her capricious impulse! I ached so for the promised tryst...

Gwen whacked me ungently across the buttocks. "Go to, young fool, or they'll begin without you! And do not doubt that I shall see all!"

I went.

Such moonlight poured across the little glade that the slender crescent seemed to burn as fiercely as my desire. Pale daisy faces glowed with inner life, and fireflies' lanterns pulsed in shadowy bushes--or had Gwen provided fairy lights? The torches were scarce needed.

The Queen reclined on the cloak-spread bed, but I had eyes only for Quenta. Moonlight bathed her pale, smooth skin, flowing over every inch, as she stood, her back to us, naked and trembling and lovely before our eyes. When she looked over her shoulder her eyes were moon-glazed jewels.

"Now, sprite," said Titania, "now that your companion is come, you may reveal what you truly are, if you think I have not guessed."

I could scarce keep from laying hands on Quenta. There was no way now to play this scene save by whatever mad script she had devised, though my heart ached that my acceptance, my love, was not enough to allow her to accept herself. 

"Some would call me hermaphrodite, Lady," she murmured huskily. "My mother named me son on scant evidence, and my father so wished to believe that he deceived himself. You will find me writ on the parish roles as male."

The Queen raised narrow brows. "I do not presume to question parish records, but I would judge of this evidence myself."

I held my breath as Quenta turned, all bravado fled.

For long moments the Queen surveyed her; the small tilted breasts; the slender waist curving into gently flaring hips; the small, dainty cock nestling amidst tawny curls above the woman's shadowed cleft. 

When at last it came the royal voice held not shock, but years of anguish.

"Had I shown evidence twice as scant, my mother's neck had escaped the ax! Could my father the King have believed me a son...." Her voice sank almost too low to hear. "How many noble souls might have been spared...."

I fell to my knees before her. That she should feel self-loathing, after all she had done to make England strong!

"Nay, Madam, never wish yourself other! What was't you said before the troops when the Armada threatened? That you had 'the body of a weak feeble woman...but the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too...' Such a heart in such a body serves England best of all!"

"It may be so." She summoned up a smile and spoke to Quenta, who knelt now beside me. "Enough of idle speculation. I had guessed, of course, that you were no boy; I would not have come merely to witness love of Plato's Athenian sort." She turned to me. "You tell me, sir, is this eldritch chimaera male or female? I'll warrant your judgment can be trusted on that score!"

"She is my love," I said simply. "Her form is to me perfect and unique, but I would love her had she horns and a tail."

"You might well love me even better!" Quenta sprang up and twirled around the glade, her wild mood renewed. "Come, show how you love me!" She pulled me up and pressed tight against me, fingers busy in the lacings of my doublet.

"Show you? You know all too well!" I caught her hands. "Is it the audience you play to that quickens your blood? Best be sure she has a taste for such display!" 

Titania's eyes were dark behind the silver demi-mask. "Play on," she murmured, and in her tone I heard regret, and sorrow, and the yearnings of a passionate heart too long reined in.

"Nay, Kit, truly, you alone inflame me." Quenta's eyes held mine; my hold slackened and her hands slipped free to brush my face, my lips, my throat, and then my chest in quicksilver, fire-trailing strokes. "Please, Kit, please, touch me, let me touch you..." Her husky voice deepened, throbbing in resonance with the pounding of my blood.

I pulled her close to still her fingers, but the press of her firm breasts was yet more maddening. I ran my hands over smooth back and waist and hips, cupped them over pert, rounded buttocks and lifted her whole body tightly against my hunger. "Your skin is chilled, love."

"Then give me your shirt." She laughed into my face and pulled open my doublet. When she drew up my shirt and worked her mouth across my chest I knew that I was lost, that not even the icy stream could quench this fire.

"And take off your hose and breeches, too, you are so wet against me!" One hand slipped far down between cloth and flesh and I felt myself grow ever wetter, and hotter too, despite the chill from the wading of the stream. 

"Which will you bare first?" she purred, a wicked light flickering in her eyes as fireflies flickered in the grass around us and their throbbing points of light seemed to spark in my own depths.

It scarcely mattered. I chose what might by a fraction be the lesser shock. I tossed my doublet aside and pulled off my shirt, draping it around Quenta's chilly shoulders while she tore at bindings grown unbearable and let my aching breasts surge free.

"Not Athens." My breath caught as Quenta's soothing strokes became a torment that made me ever fuller and more sore. "Not Athens, Lady, but Sappho's Isle of Lesbos. Though I resist the constraints of a woman's body, I rejoice always in its pleasures."

This, she had not foreseen. The mask dropped; her eyes were wide.

"Please, Kit, please..." Quenta tugged at my belt while her hot mouth drove my breasts and nipples taut and aching with the need for more. "Please, I must..." Her voice was muffled against my swollen flesh.

"Slowly," I soothed, though I could scarcely speak. "The slower the sweeter, love."  As ever, she who had teased and maddened me for hours was now all desperate haste, while to me each stab of pleasure promised such further, keener pangs that I would not give up any part to leap too quickly to release.

I kicked off wet boots and wriggled out of breeches and hose, Quenta's hands more distraction than help. Then I half-turned that the Queen might see I had no such exotic equipage as my love. 

Her gaze moved over me from head to foot, taking in my length and strength and the incongruous swellings of a woman's body. A fierce longing for her approval swept me; now I understood what drove Quenta to reveal herself.

"You are the Amazon indeed," the Queen murmured at last, "and you," to Quenta, "a most exquisite Queen of Sprites." Then she laughed. "Master Shakespeare had it skewed, to say Hippolyta dallied with Oberon and Titania with Duke Theseus. Yours promises to be the better play, in truth!"

"Not so much play as dance, Lady, with intricate and subtle steps." I gazed into Quenta's eyes, holding her to stillness as my hands devoured the sweet curves of her body. She tried valiantly to wait, to savor, as I put my mouth to her small pouting breasts. She trembled, and her breath came in quick soft moans, as I licked and gently bit at her thrusting nipples.

Then her hips began to sway, and twist, and she clutched at me, and since the bed was occupied there was nothing for it but to lift her up along my body until that sweet seeking little dagger, no more in truth than a greatly inflated clitoris, pressed against my own.

She cried out, and clung to me with arms and thighs. I stilled, knowing her needs, that every movement must be hers now, every pressure, lest the rapture of her wondrous engorgement turn to pain. The lightest stroke of my hand, my tongue, could tip the balance.

As steadily as could be I endured the piercing stabs of pleasure. Rough moans escaped me as she arched and writhed against my mound, but from her there came only a keening so faint it might have floated from a distant world.

All at once she flung back her head, the moon mirrored in wild, half-closed eyes. "Now love, now!"

But already I had slipped one hand between our bodies and into her ready heat. Two fingers, deep and gently deeper, probing and pressing into her hunger; and now at last her cries burst forth, her slippery depths clutched at me, her great hard clit vibrated against mine; and my joy in her joy came near to overwhelming me.

Still there was more I must, would, have. I held her while spasms dwindled into trembling and her breath at long last slowed. Then I loosed my hold, and she slid gradually down my length, her mobile mouth teasing and caressing all the way until she knelt before me.

"Do you lag behind, love?" Her laugh was still unsteady. "Come, you will overtake me yet."  She moved her hands over my hips until they pressed into my tingling buttocks, then pulled me toward her. My clit, still aquiver, leapt at the subtle flick of her tongue.

I tangled my fingers in her moon-burnished hair as she drove me to new extremes. Moans racked me as she nudged my thighs apart and thrust her long supple tongue up into my molten cunt. Deep inside me a bright slim moon seemed to pulse and swell into full roundness.

Pleasure surged and pounded through me. My own rasping cries seemed far away as I rode the waves, striving still for more, and more, needing something more with an incoherent desperation....

And then a warm body pressed against my back. A voice murmured low into my ear, "Surely this figure can be danced by three!" Slim arms wrapped about me from behind; long clever fingers cupped and weighed my full breasts, making the aching pressure build and build; and when she curved her palms around my nipples and circled them so lightly that the hardened tips must strain and thrust into her touch, it was the final stroke. My clit strained and thrust too, and my cunt clenched and swallowed at the firm flame of Quenta's tongue, until the moon exploded inside me in a roaring burst of tangible light.

Or perhaps the roaring was my own. When at last awareness spread beyond receding ecstasy I felt hot breath on my shoulder, and a voice, hesitant yet tinged with laughter, murmured in my ear; "And can you make me sing so, as well as dance?"

Her arms were tight about me as her body swayed and rubbed against mine, breasts stroking my back, soft belly pressed beseechingly into the curve of my buttocks.

"Yea, Lady, you shall sing as full and sweet as any!" Quenta toppled us both onto the sweetfern bed and sprawled atop us; and there indeed we tasted royal flesh and royal passion, and taught the woman within to sing, taught her most thoroughly the joys of the body fate had decreed.

We had no doubt that the spirit of Midsummer accepted our triple offering as graciously as that of any mundane coupling. As wave followed wave of pleasure my lovers took on a glow of celestial light, Quenta the silver of the moon, our Queen the royal gold of the sun; while I, the dark earth, absorbed and radiated back their overlapping aurae. Bright sparks like stars flashed and swirled above us, while a swooping comet bore the grin and wicked eyes of Gwen.

Much later we laughed together and soothed our throats with wine and berries. When Gwen's muted whistle sounded we looked up bemused; the moon hung low and the first faint harbingers of morning streaked the sky. I thought of her assignation with Tom and felt some guilt, but when we had made our way across the water she only smiled at the sweetfern clinging to the Queen and made no reproach.

"Ah, Gwen," said her Lady, somewhat ruefully, "I doubt but that I have forfeited the name of 'Virgin Queen.'"

"No such thing, Madam," Gwen said cheerfully, hurrying us along deserted pathways. "It is the Queen's English, after all, and means whatever the Queen decrees."

She brought us to the great house sooner than humanly possible, and maid and mistress slipped in through a small side door that took shape even as we watched. When Gwen reappeared with jeweled tokens from the Queen, I bade her give Tom my apologies. Her grin flashed bright, and then she sobered.

"No matter. Our sweet Lady has more need of you than you can know, for service quite apart from this night's frolic. Neither of you will strut upon the stage much longer; who would credit such protracted youth? But two who act so well can do it on the Queen's behalf, and be her eyes and ears about the world. Be sure I will send soon to tell you of her needs."

"We are truly hers, body and soul," I said. "But Gwen...who, or what, are you?"

"Need you ask?" she said impatiently. "The realm of Faery takes yet a care for England's welfare, and for her rightful monarch. As for me, think you the Puck must be ever prisoned in male form?" It took her sharp pinch to make me close my gaping mouth.

"For now, begone, before suspicious daylight catch us all." She gave us each a solid whack across our flanks.

Daylight be damned. I held Quenta close as we went toward the players' quarters. 

"There is much danger in this business, Love," I warned her.

"'Tis true," she answered, "but you know as well as I there is no drawing back. We are as bound now to our royal mistress as to each other."

She spoke the truth. I lengthened my stride to match the skipping haste of hers, feeling anew the desire that was ever my torment and my joy; and when I squeezed her hand I felt within my grasp as well the long, slim, sensuous fingers of the royal hand that would ever hold us fast.



     

   

        

    

            

            


     

      

     

     

      

                              

       

           

               


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Sunday, July 26, 2020

Charity Sunday--National Park Nostalgia



NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
1500 K Street NW, Suite 700  Washington, D.C. 20005
Phone: (202) 796-2500  |  Toll-Free: (888) GOPARKS  |  Fax: (202) 796-2509  |  ask-npf@nationalparks.org
The National Park Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Tax identification number: 52-1086761.

National Park Nostalgia

I will donate $1 for every view of this post over the next two weeks, and $1.50 for each comment, up to a total of $50

I’m sooo tired of steering all my contributions to non-nature causes. I won’t stop supporting politicians we MUST elect to replace those we’ve got in power now, and I’ll still respond to some charities with desperate survival needs, but this time, I want to get back to nature. There are other places supporting ecological causes I’d like to help out, and have at times in the past, but I got to remembering the National Parks I’ve visited—Acadia, Cape Cod National Seashore, Point Reyes National Seashore (both seashores before and after they became National Parks,) Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, Yosemite, King Canyon,  Mount Rainier, Olympic, Shenandoah, the Grand Canyon, , and many National Monuments. Places I’ll never get to again (except Cape Cod) and some I’d rather remember when they were more open, less crowded, than they are now. My favorite? It ‘s hard call between Yosemite (back in the 60s when I lived in CA and could visit often) and the Grand Canyon (as it was between the 60s and the 90s, which was probably the last time I was there.)

Right now, though, I’ll choose the Grand Canyon, since one of my very favorite stories is set there. “Bright Angel” has been published in several anthologies, and in the first collection of my own work, A Ride to Remember. If the characters intrigue you, a later story about them, “Meltdown,” is in my newest collection, Wild Rides, from Dirt Roads Books.

So onward, let the wild Canyon rumpus begin!

Bright Angel
by Sacchi Green      

Maura lounged against the railing, gazing out over the vast, bright gulf of stone dropping away at her feet. Dark sunglasses masked her green eyes, and those famous waves of long chestnut hair were tied down by an Hermes scarf rippling in the breeze.  
"Are you trying to tell me all this was carved by that little trickle of a river?" But in spite of her studied nonchalance, I could tell she was as awestruck as any other tourist.    
 "The Colorado's wider than it looks from this distance. And it was carrying billions of grains of rasping sand over millions of years." I didn't look toward the river at all, gazing only at Maura's slim, vivid form. The view of the Grand Canyon from Mather Point had gripped me often enough over the years, and I had photographed it for many a magazine and guidebook, but long ago I'd come to terms with the inability of the human mind to fully comprehend its grandeur.    
Comprehending Maura, however, might still be within my grasp. A year ago I had discovered how to penetrate her dark and bright complexities, to push her mind and body to the edges where she needed so desperately to balance. A year ago--and then came her first movie role, with filming on location in various exotic areas around the world. We'd only been able to meet sporadically, except when she'd insisted they hire me to do the still photos for publicity.    
Did I even know who she was anymore? When I'd picked her up at the Flagstaff airport she'd greeted me with a Hollywood air kiss, nothing to raise eyebrows even when directed by a drop-dead gorgeous twenty-something toward an aging, crop-haired butch like me. Then she'd dozed for most of the three-hour drive across the high desert. But at least she was here, as promised, keeping the date we'd made all those months ago.    
I moved up close behind her at the railing, not quite touching. The April wind tugged several strands of hair free from her scarf and lashed them across my face and chest, rousing a tingle in my nipples just as though they were naked to those flailing whips of silk.    
"Hey Roby," Maura said, without turning her head, "Too bad you don't have the balls to fuck me right here."    
Oh yeah. I still knew exactly who she was. "If you'd had the foresight to wear a skirt," I told her, "You'd be bent over that railing right now praying you could hold on long enough to ride my fist to glory." I pressed closer and reached around to unzip the fly of her elegantly cut jeans. "You could still drop your trousers and make all these amateur photographers rich on sales to the tabloids. Or you can let it simmer a while, and I'll fuck you somewhere even better."  
 I could see out of the corner of my eye that we'd begun to distract a few tourists, most, of course, armed with cameras. Maura, even in scarf and sunglasses and denim, has the charisma of someone whose face could stare out at you with seductive arrogance from the pages of a fashion magazine. Whose face has, in fact, done exactly that, usually with the divinely sensuous participation of her body. More often than not the eye behind the camera had been mine, back before she moved on from the pinnacle of the modeling scene to her virgin attempt at acting.    
"Don't they say that no publicity is bad publicity?" Maura turned toward me. I reached out to untie her scarf and remove her sunglasses, tucking them away in the pocket of my leather jacket. The old challenge was in her eyes. Push me, it said. Force me to the edge. Make me feel.    
"So you don't think your acting can stand on its own?" I wrapped strands of her windblown hair tightly around my fingers, "Without the scandal of getting thrown out of a National Park before the movie even opens?"    
She caught at my hands. I released her hair. "Maybe I'll give you a chance to show me somewhere you think is even better," she said, and headed back toward the car. I waited just long enough to appreciate the elegant undulation of her hips in tight jeans before I caught up.    
Maura wasn't primarily an exhibitionist, in spite of her place in the public eye. Or possibly because of it. Her craving for danger was more complex than that. There had been times, once I had come to understand what my weathered skin and scarred body said to her, when she had begged me to mark the face the world saw so that it would become her own again. What she thought she wanted from me had nothing to do with tenderness. Still, whether she was aware of it or not, she needed something else from me, as well. Push me right up to the edge, her fierce eyes demanded, while a tiny tremor at the corner of her soft lips added, but don't let me fall.    
While I checked in at Bright Angel Lodge, Maura watched the tourists signing up to ride down the nearby Bright Angel Trail tomorrow morning.  Even in April, well before the high season, there was heavy traffic along the route. This late in the afternoon we wouldn't have had long to wait to see the mule train returning from the river at the bottom of the canyon, four-fifths of a mile straight down and eight miles of switch-backing trail below, but I had no intention of waiting.    
Our cabin out behind the Lodge perched close to the edge, with just room for a narrow path and a wind-gnarled pinyon pine between its wall and the canyon's rim. Even a year ahead of time it had taken luck and the pulling of a few strings to get the reservation.    
While I brought in the luggage, two-thirds of it hers, Maura stood looking outward, one hand tightly gripping a pinyon branch. The drop here was really not that abrupt at first. One could conceivably survive a slide down over a series of shallow shelves to Bright Angel Trail below.    
"Are we going down there?" she asked.    
"Not on that trail," I told her, "and definitely not on mules. Not all the way to the river, either."      "Oh, right, I'd forgotten about your poor knees." Her subtly mocking tone was just another variation on the game of challenge we played. I knew my old climbing injuries held a certain fascination for her, and she knew that my body still had more strength and stamina than hers would ever achieve from gyms and personal trainers.      
"You'll get all you can handle," I told her. "Trust me."    
"I'm more worried about how much you can still handle." Maura sauntered back to the cabin and stepped inside. I followed her eloquent butt, then stood in the doorway for a moment to watch her explore the interior.    
The furnishings were of comfortably updated 1930s craft design, highlighting natural wood tones and artistically simple lines. The stone fireplace incorporated specimens of all the different rock strata revealed by the river's carving of the canyon, from pre-Cambrian black Vishnu Schist to the Kaibab Limestone of recent millennia.    
The platform bed was modern, wide, and inviting. Maura prodded the mattress with a manicured finger, sat on the edge, then lay back. She eyed me speculatively, but without enough challenge to make it worthwhile.    
"You must need to rest a while after your trip," I said with exaggerated solicitude. "Go ahead, take it easy. I understand." I began to unpack, hanging things in the closet, watching for her next move. She got up and started to unbutton her shirt. Not a bad idea. The day was getting hot. So was I, but I wasn't ready to take her deceptive bait. Maura is never that easy.    
My own bait was more subtle. I moved into the living room, pulled open the curtains of the window beside the fireplace, and crossed to the far side to set my cameras and equipment out on a table. Maura followed.    
I didn't let her catch me watching, but she knew I could see her in the mirror as she shed her jacket and peeled off a tank top damp with sweat. She hadn't bothered with a bra. Then, to enhance the temptation, she turned around to present a rear view while wriggling out of her jeans. Her lovely ass-cheeks paused in mid-wriggle as she saw the view presented by the wide window.    
The vista, tinted gold and copper by the late afternoon sun, was breathtaking. Maura gripped her loosened jeans tightly and edged past chairs and coffee table to gaze out, spellbound. It was the same scene she had surveyed from the rim outside, but somehow intensified, made more personal, more deceptively comprehensible, by the framing effect of the window.  From inside it looked as though the cabin extended right out over the shining void.    
I waited five seconds for the mesmerizing effect of space and light and color to take hold, and then I was on her, pushing her hard against the log wall and window sill. I had her own silk scarf tight across her mouth and her pants and foolish thong undies down around her ankles before she could do more than gasp.    
She could easily have escaped, even hobbled like that, although she despised looking ridiculous. While my weight kept her pressed into the wall, her hands were free, gripping the wooden window sill. Now and then people strolled by just outside on the pathway; if she rapped on the window, they'd turn to look. She knew how to make me let her go. But gagging was a special treat she wouldn't risk losing, a promise that she was going to be driven to extremities, permission to let it all out without reserve. I wouldn't always humor her that far. More than once she had cursed at me and demanded a gag. More often than not I had refused.    
I gathered her thick chestnut hair in my fist and yanked her head back. "Surprise, my knees aren't all that decrepit yet," I hissed into her ear, and brought my right one hard up against her ass. She jerked, but spread her legs to let me thrust between her thighs and nudge into her crotch.      
"You wonder how the river carves a canyon through rock?" I asked. "You think you're stone? Haven't I cut my petroglyphs into you?" My other hand worked its way around to her belly and slid down to her shaved pubic mound. The scars I'd given her, where even bikini photo spreads wouldn't reveal them, were too shallow for my fingertips to find like this, but I knew they were there; four tiny, curving lines forming a delicate circle like a secret mandala, cut by the business end of an ice-climbing screw.    
 "I suppose you think the water always flows gently, smoothly, taking forever to wear away resistance." My fingers moved lower, stroking gently, too gently, over her clit and lush outer lips. "Working down through layer after layer, " I went on, going deeper, sliding back and forth in her growing slickness, keeping it up slowly, slowly, as her accelerating whimpers of demand were muffled by the silk gag. When she arched into my touch, desperate for more, harder, faster, I drew my fingers away and approached from the other side, starting with long strokes down between her buttocks and into the tender strata of her soaking crotch.    
"But sometimes storms batter at the rocks, and spring floods from mountain snow-melt surge through the ravines." I was really getting into it now. "The water pounds, thrashes, filled with sharp silt and uprooted trees." I raised my hand suddenly to the nape of her neck, still holding her hair roughly back. The scent of her juices on my fingers roused my own. With my fingernails, short but strong, I scraped a line down the valley of her spine to its base. A shiver passed over her skin. I veered first to one side and then the other, tracing the delectable swell of her ass, leaving curving pink grooves just shallow enough to fall short of drawing blood. Her gluteal muscles flexed, and her muted voice rose in pitch.    
A pair of college-boy jocks passed by outside; even through the gag she could have made enough noise to attract their attention. I felt a shudder wrack her body. She wanted so intensely for them to see...but would I pull back, drop her, rather than risk a scandal that might, at the least, distort her career?      
 I don't know, myself, what I would have done, but they moved on past. My teeth fastened onto Maura's right shoulder, and her taste filled my mouth. I had no more words. Moans and incoherent curses vibrated from her body through mine as she writhed toward my touch. I spread my fingers then and slapped hard, again and again, overlaying the scrapes on her buttocks with red hand prints like the marks on the walls of ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings far below in the Canyon.    
Suddenly Maura lurched backward, pushing off from the window sill, nearly toppling me. I lifted her just enough to swing her around and then dropped her hard onto the Navajo rug in front of the fireplace. In the seconds it took for me to get a latex glove from my pocket onto my hand she had torn off her gag and kicked her pants free of her ankles, and now she crouched, long hair falling forward to veil her face, butt lifted toward me and swollen labia exposed.    
 "Do it!" she snarled, so ready that there was no need for lube. I thrust into her, slid out, thrust again, and then she was pumping herself onto me, heaving, panting, her cries rising higher as my other hand pinched her nipples. When the spasms struck, tightening her cunt around my hand and wrist like a trap, I supported her until her grip finally loosened and I could withdraw, gently, holding her wide open for a few seconds and admiring her glistening folds.    
"Dusky rose," I said softly, "Like the sandstone layers of the canyon wall at dawn."    
Maura whispered something I could barely hear. I leaned closer.      "Was this the 'better place' you had in mind?"    
"No," I said honestly, not sure whether she was working up to another challenge. "This was just an opportunity seized. You'll know when you get there."      And she did.       It wasn't along the rim trail or at any of the famous points where cameras clustered, not even Pima Point at sunset when the river winding far below to the west turned briefly into a ribbon of gold. It wasn't the moonlit vista of the canyon as we leaned together against a spreading branch of the pinyon pine outside our own cabin. It wasn't anyplace that easy.    
 We were up at dawn the next morning, breakfasting on the Bright Angel Lodge terrace. "Why 'Bright Angel?'" Maura asked.    
I told her about Major John Wesley Powell's exploration of the Colorado river, and the story that aft
er his men named one muddy  incoming stream the Dirty Devil, the Major had compensated by dubbing the first clear creek they came to Bright Angel, flowing down from the north to join the river across from what later became Bright Angel Trail. I thought, watching Maura's beautiful face, as luminescent in its own way as the morning light suffusing the mist rising from far below, that he must also have been thinking of Lucifer before the Fall, Milton's "angel bright" of Paradise Lost. Or, just possibly, he had known someone like Maura.    
Three hours later we were far below the rim, three miles along the Hermit and Dripping Springs trails. Maura's cheeks and forehead were smudged with rock dust, and sweat trickled down between her breasts. Her hair was tangled and tied back with a bandanna. Her eyes had never been brighter.    
"Just a little farther," I said, urging her past the spring, its fringe of greenery lively with small birds. "We'll fill our water bottles on the way back." A hundred feet off the trail, through a crevice between boulders, we were on a narrow shelf out of sight of passing climbers at our own level. Our view of sky and rock seemed as wide as infinity, and hikers and rafters deep in the Canyon could see us easily if they looked up; see us, but not clearly enough even with binoculars to recognize Maura's features from past magazine spreads or future appearances on the big screen.    
Maura stood with her arms outstretched like wings and her back to the cliff. Just above her head a twisted juniper grew out from a cleft in the rock, casting a tracery of shadows across her face.      "This is the place," she said with certainty. "Right here. Right now."    
I drew a wet trail with my tongue along her dusty cheek and kissed her, for once, gently. For once, she allowed the tenderness, kissing back with more sensuality than challenge. Maybe wearing her out was the secret. Or did the vastness of the world spread out before us make petty conflict seem too insignificant?    
More likely, it was just that she had grander things on her mind than private games.    
"Roby...do you think anyone is watching?" Her fingers scrabbled in haste at the buttons of her shirt, and when she'd cast it aside and yanked off the tank top beneath, she went to work on the silver Navajo belt buckle purchased just yesterday. Sunlight glinted from its highly polished surface like spears of fire.    
"I'd bet there are at least a dozen pairs of binoculars and as many cameras aimed right up there," I told her, pointing out the peregrine falcon riding the breeze above us, undoubtedly watching for one of the small birds by the spring to stray from the sheltering shrubbery. "And now that you've been wriggling hard enough to flash signals from that silver mirror sliding down along with your pants, most of them must be checking you out, and calling their buddies to look, too."  
 Maura kicked aside her jeans and raised her arms. Her fingers could just grasp the gnarled trunk of the juniper. "Tie me," she said.    
I pulled the bandanna loose from her hair. A twist around slender wrists and up over the juniper, and she was bound just far enough out on the shelf from the cliff for me to slide behind her and press my thigh hard up against her butt, bending my knee slightly, taking some of her weight. That juniper must have been clinging to life here for a hundred years or more; I hoped to spare its roots for another hard-won century, in spite of her thrashing. And she would thrash.  
 "So show them what you've got, girl," I muttered in her ear as I pulled on a latex glove. I'm not sure she even heard me. Her focus was far out over the bright canyon, past labyrinthine ravines and spurs and phallic turrets carved by water, wind, and time. The sharp pinch of my fingers on her breasts grabbed her attention, though, and over her shoulder I watched pink nipples swell and darken into nubbled peaks as wildly beautiful as any rock formation. To my tongue, they would feel tender as well as rigid, straining, begging to be sucked, hard...    
No. In this tableau, this ritual of exposure, I belonged behind the scenes, only my hands coming between Maura's offering of her body and the sun-struck gulf of space and stone.       So I reached around her and my hands went to work, one alternately flicking and squeezing her breasts, one stroking between dampening thighs. When she tried to press toward my touch, I moved the top hand down to knead her belly and hold her steady while the fingers of the lower one approached the growing slickness of her cunt. Approached, but refused quite to enter, slipping forward and back in the wet folds just short of where she needed me most.    
Maura began to twist and strain. I nudging her clit erratically, lightly, too lightly; she rocked and bucked, muttering curses interspersed with gasps, making the juniper's trunk creak. Bruised bark added its scent to dried sweat and the intense musk of sex rising from both of us. The friction of her firm ass against my crotch was driving me toward the edge along with her.      
"Now!" I thrust up inside her, fingers twisting, pressing forward, my upper hand sliding down to give her seeking clit the hard, fierce strokes it demanded. Short, sharp gasps punctuated my movements, intensified, accelerated... Until, abruptly, she tensed, the arc of her slim body between tethered wrists and denim-bound boots so beautiful that I ached to capture the vision on film, but could only try to fix it in my mind. "Now! Let it out!"    
And out it came, her long, triumphant cry, echoing from rocky outcroppings, vibrating through her body and into mine as I crushed my mouth against the nape of her neck to muffle my own cries. Through the soft dark tangle of her hair, out of the sun-dazzled corner of my eye, I thought I saw, for the briefest moment, bright angel wings soaring off into the golden distance.    
Then Maura slumped back against me. I cut her down from the juniper and crouched with her in my arms. Another beat of wings caught my eye, but it was only the falcon veering off toward her hidden aerie. Maura would fly again, to far-off places where I couldn't or wouldn't follow; but for this rare moment of surrender I knew exactly who she was.


Now go over to Lisabet Sarai's Charity Sunday post and see what she's sharing.
https://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/2020/07/charity-sunday-education-and-literacy.html

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Two Too Many--Charity Sunday




https://unitedwedream.org/2018/04/daca-renewal-fund/

I know there are many more than two pressing causes worthy of support right now, and I've donated to some already. For this Charity Sunday, I was all set to be up-to-the-moment and celebrate the Supreme Court decision that defends LGBTQ+++ people from being fired because of their gender identities.

However, right after that Court decision came the one to keep the DACA young folks, the Dreamers, from facing deportation, at least for a while longer. They still have to pay fees of over $600 each, though, to keep the protection of the DACA category. Many of them, brought as children by parents entering the country illegally, are now old enough to be useful contributors to this country, and work in such areas as teachers or medical personnel, while others are still pursuing useful educations.

So which should I choose for this Charity Sunday? Split my donations between two causes? No, I've donated to LGBTQ++ causes from time to time, so I decided to go with DACA. For every hit on this blog post in the next two weeks, i'll contribute $1 to the DACA Renewal fund, and $2 for each comment.

But wait, there's more! I usually include a story here, so I'll celebrate the LGBTQ++ decision with this one, with a transgender character in an historical setting, I've probably shared this one several years ago on this blog, but here goes anyway.
__________

Snowfound
Sacchi Green

     The lamps of Dutch Flat shone through the swirling snow as we rounded the last curve of the Bear River. Old Ulysses picked up his gait, not needing the lights to know that shelter and feed and the company of his own kind lay close ahead.
     As for me, hunched against the cold in my sheepskin coat, hat brim pulled low to keep the snow clear of my eyes, I'd be happy enough for shelter, too, and a good meal. The company of my own kind was a more questionable matter. I had acquaintances in town, some who counted me as friend, but only one who understood the resolve it took for me to put on the face and manner that the rest took for granted.
     The early snow lay a foot deep in the open, deeper where it drifted against outcroppings of boulders and scrub pine and juniper. Ulysses was the first to notice something different about the long, white mound at the edge of one such thicket, partly obscured by weighted branches.
     I might have missed it altogether, being inwardly focused on reassembling my go-to-town identity. Jack Elliott, miner, trapper, supporter of civic projects and worthy charitable endeavors; a sizable man, good for back-up in a fight, known to crack heads together in the quelling of drunken brawls, and a sharpshooter from his days in the Union Army.
     All this was, on the whole, true. A role I could live with. It was the frequent whispers, meant kindly enough, in general, that made my innards shiver. Some newcomer on the porch of the general store or in a saloon would lean close to an old-timer to hear about poor Jack Elliott, wounded so bad at the Battle of Chickamauga that his beard never grew again and his voice had gone up to about the pitch of an adolescent boy's.
     Then they'd shift uneasily in their chairs until somebody commented that Jack surely had an eye for the ladies, at least, and would buy a girl a drink and even dance with a good deal of enjoyment, though nobody'd ever seen him go upstairs at the whorehouse. That'd bring a chuckle, and more uneasy shifting, but if I came close enough for hailing there'd be genial enough greetings and invitations to sit in at a poker game.
     My ruminations had begun to drift back toward the girls in the dance hall, all curls and red lips and waists laced up tight to make their bosoms swell above their low-cut gowns. Ulysses' sudden halt jolted me. I looked where the horse was looking, and saw a twitch of movement. Just a juniper branch springing loose from its weight of snow, I figured, maybe triggered by some small creature sheltering beneath.
     I urged Ulysses onward, but he stopped again when we'd drawn about level with the suspicious mound. My horse was not of a temperament to shy at trifles. Half Morgan, half Clydesdale, he had strength enough to fear little, wit enough to know what needed fearing, and courage enough to face the latter if I asked it of him. From Vermont to the war in the South to the Sierra Mountains he'd carried me, through the hellfire of battle and the solitude of wilderness. It wasn't fear, but more likely curiosity that halted him now, or perhaps his judgment that I ought to take notice of whatever this was.
     Another twitch, more shedding of snow, and I saw that he was right. Jet-black hair lay beneath a powdering of white. I dismounted, my Sharps carbine at the ready, and gently prodded a snow-covered shoulder with the toe of my boot. No response.
     I knelt, still cautious, and turned the body on its side. The face revealed was pale as ivory, eyes closed, with a knife slash and swelling purple bruise extending from the narrow jaw up over a delicate cheekbone.
     A child? A female child? I dropped my carbine and brushed away snow with both hands. She wore a quilted jacket and cotton trousers, much too thin for the weather. I shed one elkhide glove and slipped a hand under the flimsy covering, looking for a heartbeat. The curve of her breast told me that she was, in fact, no child. I looked closer at her face and realized that she must be from the Chinatown section of Dutch Flat, populated by immigrants who had come first for the mining, then for the building of the railroad.
     I touched a finger to her exposed throat. Cold. Cold as death. But not dead, not quite, not yet. A tremor of a pulse still stirred the smooth skin.
     Dusk was deepening into night, and the swirling snow had intensified. There was no time for any but the most cursory search for other injuries. I lifted her slight form across my shoulder, retrieved my carbine, and contrived to mount one-handed. Ulysses started forward, needing no more direction than my knees and heels provided.
     She was so pale, so cold... With only a moment's hesitation I pulled open my coat and hugged her to my chest, closing the sheepskin around her. She stirred a bit, curling instinctively closer to my warm body. Then, eyes still tight-closed, she slipped her arms around me as far as they could reach and nestled her uninjured cheek against my breast.
     Some strange force leapt inside me. Beneath my woolen shirt my flesh stirred and swelled under the pressure of her head. Lust, tenderness, perhaps some vestigial instinct for nurturance, warred with fear of discovery.
     In spite of sore temptation I had never trusted even the most appealing of whores with my secret. I knew some would have been as glad of my attentions as of my money; other women had been, from time to time, even in the War. I had not been the only female-born to take on a man's role and enlist. Not all of us had been following male sweethearts, either, and some of us had found each other and taken brief comfort amidst the hell of war.
     By the time we reached town I had decided that my fears were unfounded. She was still unconscious, and, in any case, might well not even speak or understand English. Once I had taken her to safety, it was unlikely that I would encounter her again. My arms felt strangely reluctant at the thought of releasing her, though, and I began to consider where, after all, she would be safe.
     Ulysses had headed out of habit toward the one place where we were always welcome. Doc Warren was the only inhabitant of Dutch Flat, or California, or anywhere west of the Hudson River, who knew my full identity, having nursed me through a fever when I'd first come west.  He'd been willing to keep my secret, whether from some sense of medical ethics or an inclination toward solidarity with a fellow soldier. As a military doctor he'd seen as much of the horrors of the war as any rifleman. Maybe more.
     We'd become friends, having more in common than not in spite of the twenty years difference in our ages. I often stayed with him when I came to town for supplies. In any case, where better to take an injured girl than to a doctor's house? But the Chinese, I knew, had doctors too, with their own strange medical ways. And someone in Chinatown might well be searching for this girl.
     I very nearly turned Ulysses away from his accustomed route and toward the settlement across the tracks, with its Joss house temples, Chinese merchandise stores, gambling halls, restaurants, laundries, apothecaries, brothels, and opium dens. Then I looked down at the ravaged face so close to mine and realized that someone had slashed her, had committed mayhem, quite deliberately. And that either she had been running away, or someone had dumped her outside of town in the bitter cold with night and a snowstorm coming on. I would not deliver her back to that former life without finding out more.
     She moved a little in my arms and gripped me harder, though her eyes were still closed. I felt a surge of protectiveness; no more, I told myself, than anyone might feel for some kitten or pup plucked from destruction. But a tingling in my body, a stab of longing where the weight of her hips pressed against me, told me that I lied.
     Doc had rooms and an office at the back of the building housing the post office. To my relief, there was a lamp lit in his window. I'd worried that he might be off tending to injuries or delivering babies.
     He was slow to answer the thump of my boot against his door. Once inside I could see by the dilated pupils of his eyes that he had been dosing himself with laudanum or some such pharmaceutical. I'd be the last to blame a man for trying to dull recurring dreams of the horrors of war, or the other miseries doctors must witness, but it was still early in the evening, and somebody might have needed him. Somebody did need him.
     "What's all this, Jack?" he said, his words only a little slurred. I lay my burden on his sofa and turned to see him shaking the fog from his head. An odd look passed across his face as he focused on the girl, and he hesitated for a long moment, but his hands seemed steady enough when finally he bent over her to explore her injuries.
     "I found her about a mile out along the Bear River trail," I said. "Or you might say Ulysses found her. She was covered in snow, lying where she'd either fallen or been dumped." The rough anger in my voice might have been roused entirely by those who had done such a thing, or a little may have been aimed at Doc himself.
     He straightened up wearily.  "You go get Ulysses settled in while I make us some coffee. Might have a bit of tea around here for the girl, too. A hot drink inside her is the first thing she needs."
     I nodded, then wished I hadn't when snow melt dripped from my hat. Fifteen minutes later, back from Ed Sawyer's livery stable two streets away, I left my hat and coat on the stand by the door after shaking off the snow on the doorstep.
     Coffee was brewing on the black iron stove, beside a great kettle of steaming water. Doc had spread a blanket over the girl and was kneeling by the sofa applying unguent and bandages to her injured face.
     I hauled my gear into Doc's spare room. My shirt was wet from clutching a snow-covered body against it, so I dug a dry one from my pack, and, as was my habit in adjusting to the role of an upstanding male member of the community, I dealt firmly with the most obvious evidence to the contrary by binding my chest tightly with cotton bands.
     "Give me a hand here, Jack," Doc said when I emerged. "She's coming around. You sit there and prop her up."
     At first glance it looked to me as though she was still out cold, but then I detected a glint behind her long lashes, and felt her gaze track my movement across the room. I edged onto the sofa, raising her shoulders just enough to slide my thighs beneath them. When she didn't seem to object I pulled her higher against me until she was sitting on my lap. Her uninjured cheek lay against my collarbone and her black hair brushed my throat and chin.
     It seemed somehow so natural a position, restful and stimulating both at once, that Doc's return with the tea felt almost like an intrusion. But faint spasms of shivering swept her body every few seconds, and I knew he was right about the need to warm her. Not that alternative methods of doing so didn't occupy my mind.
     "Drink this," Doc said with firm authority. I noticed that his hand holding the cup wasn't altogether steady. The girl's nostrils twitched as she inhaled the steam suspiciously, and her lips remained stubbornly closed. Even I could detect the scent of some herbal soporific.
     "Let me," I said, taking the cup. "Open up, now."
      She tilted her head back until she could gaze up into my face. Her dark almond-shaped eyes were intent with some emotion I couldn't decipher, but whatever she saw seemed to satisfy her. She lowered her mouth to the rim of the cup and drank as I tipped it toward her.
     "You make a fine nurse, Jack," Doc said. "Now see if you can get her clothes off."
     I looked sharply at him to see whether this was some sort of joke. There was a wry sort of smile on his face, but when he went to the kitchen pump to half-fill a copper hip-bath with buckets of water and then turned the contents of the steaming kettle into it, I understood what he was about.
     She let me unfasten her jacket and slide her cotton trousers down her hips, not merely placidly, as the herbs might dictate, but with an appearance of languid pleasure. A little smile curved her lips very briefly, though she winced at the pain this caused her cheek. When she lifted her small round buttocks to let me ease the fabric past them her fragrance was so inviting that I was hard put to resist lowering my face to taste the musky sweetness between her thighs.
     Doc Warren kept his back discreetly turned until I had her in the bath. When he turned back he his demeanor was professional enough. I tried to follow his lead, though the slender grace of her body and the smoothness of her honey-hued skin had my pulses pounding. Her breasts above the water were small but beautifully shaped, rounder than I would have expected from such observations as I'd made of the few Chinese women seen on the streets of the town.
     Doc shot me a sardonic glance, appreciating, I knew, the irony that my presence bolstered the proprieties in a literal sense, since I had a woman's body, but smashed them to bits in terms of a lustful gaze.
     "Is she going to be all right?" I asked gruffly. "No frostbite?" Her feet had been blue-tinged, but were now turning bright pink in the hot water, and her color in general seemed to have improved.
     "I'd say you and Ulysses found her just in time," he said. "I think she'd been running away, not dumped, and fell not long before you happened by. The snow was building up fast just then. She'll do fine in that respect."
     His tone warned me of some deeper concern. "How about her face?" I asked. "She'll be scarred, I know, but..."
     "The face will heal, more or less," he said. "The slash isn't all that deep. But yes, there'll be scarring. She'll never work again in Madame Yee's House of Flowers, or any other."
     Well, I couldn't say I was much surprised. "So you know she worked in a brothel."
     "Jack, I know all too much about her, and you'd better know it, too." Doc rubbed his face wearily. "It was a fine thing you did, saving her from freezing to death, but I'm not sure you did her any favor at all."
     He reached for a blanket left handy over a nearby chair. "Let's get her dried off and bedded down. She's about asleep as it is. Then we'll talk." As I rolled her in the blanket and then unrolled her into dry quilts on the bed, I saw half-healed lash-stripes across her back and flanks, and wondered angrily how any brothel proprietor could have allowed such damage, if only because it would decrease her value.
     When we sat by the stove with cups of hot coffee and a plate of cold ham and biscuits, Doc was silent for a while. I was on the verge of pushing him for an explanation when he said abruptly, "Did anyone see you carrying her through town?"
     "Not that I noticed," I said. "Ulysses did all the navigating. If there were folks about they'd have had their hats pulled down against the snow just as I did. And if they did see me, I'd guess I only looked about as bearlike as usual, hunched against the cold and wind with her close inside my greatcoat."
     "That's just as well, then," Doc said, "or she'd be lucky to see another dawn. And so would we, if I'm any judge of how you'd react when they came to get her."
     "Who'd be after her?" But I knew part of the answer. Someone who had tried to ruin her face. Someone who wasn't going to touch her again, not without going through me first.
     Turned out, of course, there was more to it than that. The Tong Wars of San Francisco's Chinatown had spread to the Sierra gold fields. Business owners in thriving towns like Dutch Flat could be coerced into paying "protection" money as readily as those in the city, and a town official might take the opportunity to get his share of what was going in return for turning a blind eye toward illicit activities.
     Hong Lian, Red Lotus, had been part of one such arrangement, a "gift" from a Tong chief to the sheriff who had taken a fancy to her at Madame Yee's. Reportedly he'd taken a few other things to her as well, and when it came to spurs she'd rebelled. Doc Warren had spent the day working on the sheriff, trying to repair injuries caused by sharp fingernails and teeth so savage they'd come close to inflicting the kind of wounds rumored to be the cause of my own minor deviations from standard manhood.
      "So both the law and the Tong are after her," Doc said. "The Tong has already marked her, as a lesson to others, but they've by no means finished with her. Running may have been her only chance to choose the manner of her death. She might even try to run again."
"Then I'd better watch close to be sure she doesn't," I said curtly.
Mind and body too tired and conflicted for useful thought, I went and lay beside her on the bed, fully clothed. Near morning I woke to find that a blanket had been laid across me, but I was still cold, and burrowed quietly under the rest of the quilts. When sun slanted through the window I found a slim, naked body wrapped in my arms and a knee nudged against the damp crotch of my Levi Strauss canvas trousers.
     Doc had left coffee and cornbread in the kitchen, along with a note. "Think hard and fast, Jack. And keep her quiet. We're in deeper than a bull in a heifer."
     I blessed him for that "we're" and for his wry humor. I'd brought trouble to his doorstep, and he'd taken it in, both as doctor and as friend.
     A tin of tea leaves sat on the table. I did my best to brew a cup, thinking to take it to the invalid, but before I got to the bedroom door she was standing there, wrapped in a quilt, long dark hair tousled about her face and shoulders.
     "Jack?" she said experimentally. Her voice was high and sweet.
     "Jack," I agreed, nodding.
     She put a hand to her own chest. "Hong Lian", she said, or at least it sounded close enough to the way Doc had pronounced the name last night. I didn't think I could get my mouth around it just yet.
     "Red Lotus?" I asked, and she nodded back at me.
     "Lo-tus," she said, coming forward to take the cup from me. For all that she drank daintily, and was somewhat impeded by her injury, the tea seemed to disappear in a flash. She walked to the kitchen table, set down the cup, and turned back to me, loosing her grip on the quilt a bit so that it fell open to show her nakedness.
     Thinking what to do—thinking rationally about anything at all—was about to get harder than ever I'd dreamed. And the voice in need of quieting would turn out to be my own.
     Lotus raised the edges of her covering like wings, and came toward me. Her warm scent flooded my senses. She got so close she had to tilt her head back to look into my face. "Jack," she said again, and raised a hand to my cheek, letting go one corner of the quilt. Her stroke on my skin felt like the taste of warm honey. "Mei-lai," she whispered.
     I had no time to wonder what the word meant. Her hand descended over my jaw, my throat, across my breasts, making them surge as though they'd burst their bindings. Then she was kneeling before me, both hands on my belt buckle, murmuring more words I couldn't have understood even if blood hadn't been pounding in my head so loud I could scarcely hear.
     A few panicked thoughts still pierced through the turmoil. What was she expecting to find? Did she know by now who, or what, I was? Or did she plan to use me as she had the sheriff, in order to escape? The thought of her sharp little teeth in my flesh made me wince even as my wetness flowed.
     Then her fingers slid inside the unbuttoned fly of my trousers, and found me, and I barely stifled a yelp. The busy post office was a thin wall away, and the clop of hooves and stamp of boots, slightly muffled by last night's snow, came in from the nearby street. I could hear an indistinct buzz of voices; mine would surely be heard as well if I raised it.
     But her fingers moved more insistently, and her little red tongue thrust its way in beside them. Her other hand still worked at my belt buckle. Any minute I would be in a state of helpless glory, hobbled by pleasure and my trousers about my ankles.
     With a low growl I lifted her to her feet, and then so high along my body that her soft throat was against my hungry lips. Her laughter vibrated right into my mouth. She wriggled, but not in resistance, as I carried her back to the bed.
     My clothes were off before I knew it, and we were rolling naked together. She looked so small and fragile, in spite of her full round breasts and gently curving belly, that I was afraid I might crush her with my bulk. But she seemed infinitely resilient, thrusting her hips upward toward the pressure of my thigh between her legs, arching her neck to grasp one swollen nipple and then another in her hot mouth. When she sucked hard, then harder, with a hint of grazing teeth, I groaned, and bucked until the creaking of the bedstead might have been heard in the street. It took only a few thrusts of the fingers she had worked between us to send such stabs of pleasure coursing through me that my teeth clenched in my own forearm to stifle cries that would have resounded like the roar of an angry grizzly.
     In a state of gasping collapse I rolled from her body, and suddenly she was on top of me, all over me, kneeling astride at one moment to streak my belly with her juices, then sitting beside me, leaning to plant little kisses from knees to swampy crotch to breasts and chin and lips.
     "Mei-lai," she murmured, again and again. I wondered whether it was some former lover's name, but then all thought fled as she shifted her body upward and straddled my face. I steadied her small round buttocks with hands that encompassed the whole of their curves. My lips worked against her nether ones, and her hips wriggled wildly as I thrust my long tongue up into her streaming heat, until the spasms sweeping her shook my head from side to side in the fierce grip of her thighs. Her rapid cries, though no louder than a mewling kitten's, still pierced me to my core.
     We had barely time to recover before Doc Warren returned from his rounds. We were clothed, but the air must have reeked of what we'd been up to, even though we'd managed to heat water and wash up a bit.
     "No need to ask," Doc said dryly, "What kind of thinking you've been doing." He went to the cupboard for sticking-plaster to repair the bandage that had loosened a bit from Lotus's cheek. "Whatever you're going to do, you'd better do it fast. Snow's not all that deep from yesterday's storm, but Many Bearclaws over at the livery stable says there's a big one brewing, due by morning."
     The old Indian was seldom wrong about the weather. And mention of the stable reminded me that there was no point in my staying hidden, since Ulysses' presence there was advertisement enough that I was in town. The sooner I was seen out and about the less suspicion there'd be, and, in any case, I needed to pick up the provisions I'd come for. As well as a few more.
     Doc would be holding office hours in the room next door. "Stay in the bedroom," I ordered Lotus, who pouted a bit and then grimaced at the pain it caused her cheek. Whether she understood the words or not, she clearly understood their meaning when I bound her leg to the bedstead with my belt. She could easily enough get free, but she could also count on my returning for the belt. And for her.
     I went off into town, hoping my coat hid the rope holding up my trousers. A stop at the bank with my little sack of gold nuggets and dust came first. Then I lugged my sacks of cornmeal and beans and a bit of salt and sugar from the general store along the wood plank sidewalk, returning greetings from acquaintances ranging from gamblers to church ladies. Once back at the livery stable, I deposited my supplies next to Ulysses' stall. "A couple more parcels will be delivered from the store," I told Ed Sawyer. "I'll be packing up tomorrow morning at first light to get ahead of the worst of the storm." Old Many Bearclaws, tending an injured horse a couple of stalls away, grunted skeptically.
     Then, instead of going toward Doc's place, I found myself veering toward Chinatown. I'd been there before, out of curiosity; now I went right for a general merchandise store and picked up a big sack of rice and a few tins of tea. I waited to pay while the old woman at the counter stroked a length of embroidered silk a customer was considering. "Mei-lai, mei-lai," she said, over and over. My skin tingled. "Mei-lai?" I asked, as well as I could manage, when the potential customer had left without purchasing. "What does that mean?" She gave me a shrewd, considering look. "Beau-ti-ful," she said at last.
     My parcel, when I departed, contained the silk fabric tucked beneath the rice and tea. Beautiful. Never, even in the days when I'd been young and generally acknowledged to be female in spite of my size and gawkiness, had anyone thought to call me beautiful.
     It was still three hours until first light when I fetched Ulysses at the stable and loaded him. The snow was just beginning. Doc helped me add on what was still at his place, largely in silence, having done his duty the night before by trying, without conviction, to deter me.
     "How much do you really know about this woman?" he'd asked. "How can you be sure she won't knife you in the back and take off with your horse?"
     "I know my horse," I'd said shortly. He hadn't bothered to point out that there could still be a knife in my back before she found out that Ulysses wouldn't cooperate.
     When we'd about finished loading, though, he played his trump card. "Know anything about birthing babies?" he asked, with studied casualness.
     I thought about Lotus's rounded breasts and curving belly, and understood what he meant. I won't deny that a pang of anxiety struck me, along with a pang of something else made up of both joy and sorrow. I tucked those thoughts away for future reflection. "I've helped deliver foals, and been with my sisters for a few of theirs. I can manage." There was no point worrying about it now, at any rate. The choice was clear.
     "Well," Doc said, "if this can all be smoothed over in time, with people moving on and enough money in the right hands, maybe you'll be able to come back. Let folks see Jack Elliott with his woman and child. Stir ’em up a bit." He slapped my flank companionably and grinned.
     When we were mounted on Ulysses Lotus was wrapped again inside my coat. I was the one who must have looked to be with child, but there was nobody about yet to see.
     Ulysses shifted a bit, getting the feel of the heavy load of passengers and supplies. If need be, once we were safely away and snow covering our tracks, I'd dismount and walk a good deal of the way to my cabin in the distant hills, but I trusted him to get us that far. He'd been the one to get me into this, after all.
     Doc walked beside us for a few paces. "You're sure, Jack?" he said one last time.
     "I'm sure," I said. "This is what I want. I keep what I find." Lotus tightened her grip on me under the coat. Her voice still whispered through my mind. "Mei-lai," she'd said, and shown how she'd meant it. And I keep what's found me, I thought. With scarcely a signal from reins or heels, Ulysses quickened his pace, and we were on our way home.
__________

Check here for other bloggers participating in Charity Sunday today. I seem to have messed up the link this time, so go to Lisabet Sarai's post, read it, and the links o the others are there.
https://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/2020/06/charity-sunday-20200621.html?zx=190553db96e74301





            
                                     
   
   
           



 
     
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
         
   
   
           
 
   
             
         
   
   
           
   
   
               
                         
     
     

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Charity Sunday--Back in Lakota Territory




Lakota People's Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859
https://www.lakotalaw.org/our-actions/lplp-donate

So many people to try to help! I probably shouldn’t be repeating a charity, but I am anyway. This is one I promoted on a previous Charity Sunday, on last September 22nd, when the Lakota tribes and others were defending their lands and water sources against the Keystone  XL oil pipelines. They still are, in fact, although they’ve won some delays, but now they’re facing another threat. It’s the same one we’re all facing, the coronavirus, but with much fewer medical or supply defenses than most of us have. The virus is spreading fast on the reservations, and on the Navajo lands to the south, where access to clean water is extremely limited. I’ve already sent a contribution there, and now I’m going to contribute again to the Lakota cause, $2 for every viewer of this blog, and $3 for every comment.

I used my only vaguely appropriate story already on that September blog, so the best I can do is offer an excerpt from near the beginning of another story that at least takes place in a similar setting, Montana. It’s actually a ghost story, but I won’t get into much of the complicated part. And I’m not even going toinclude any explicit sex, although there’s some further on in the story. So here goes.
__________
Excerpt from “Spirit Horse Ranch” in my collection Wild Rides and Other Lesbian Erotic Adventures (Dirt Road Books)

https://www.amazon.com/Rides-Other-Lesbian-Erotic-Adventures-ebook/dp/B07PKD9P1R/ref=sr_1_5?crid=1CVBMQX06Z5Q7&dchild=1&keywords=sacchi+green&qid=1587698610&s=books&sprefix=sacchi+g%2Caps%2C155&sr=1-5

Spirit Horse Ranch

A bark and a high-pitched whine came up from the root cellar. Emmaline went to the top of the steps.  “Get your furry butt up here,” she yelled, beginning to lower the trapdoor. Chinook, not wanting to be shut below, left off whatever she was doing and bounded up into the kitchen.
“If you haven’t caught ‘em yet, you won’t, not without tearing up my spuds and onions!” The scolding was mostly to keep her own voice steady. “Wait for Sigri to get home!”
At the sound of that name, the dog padded hopefully to the screen door and looked out at the empty, dusty road connecting the ranch to the rest of the world. For all her devotion to Emmaline, Chinook looked to Sigri as her one true goddess.
No argument there, Emmaline thought. To see Sigri riding against the backdrop of the mountains, lithe, strong, the herd of horses running with her for the pure joy of it, any passing stranger might think Montana was as close to heaven as earth could get. At night, in ways no passerby could imagine, Emmaline knew for sure she’d found her own personal paradise. The thought rekindled the anticipatory heat she’d felt when she thought it was Sigri behind her.  
But what was she going to tell Sigri? That she’d freaked out in the root cellar, panicked about ghosts, when it might be just rats? Even in the familiar normalcy of the kitchen, she couldn’t really believe that. Whatever she decided, it would go better after supper, and there wouldn’t be any supper if she didn’t get on with it.
(snip)
For now, there was plenty left of the big kettle of chili Sigri cooked once a week. Emmaline could whip up a batch of cornbread and pull some greens from the autumn garden. Sigri wouldn’t object, having pretty much lived on nothing else in the years she’d ranched here alone.
A tensing of the dog’s back, a perking of ears, brought Emmaline to the screen door. Dust puffed in the distance, where the road was no more than a crease in grasslands tinted gold by the afternoon light. Beyond, blue mountains streaked with early snow rose in jagged ranges; the Absarokee and Beartooth to the south, the Crazies to the west. To Emmaline they were guardians, shielding her against where she’d come from, who she’d had to be; but even their grandeur dimmed behind the glint of sunlight on the approaching truck.
Chinook’s whines rose to a frantic pitch. It didn’t take the dog’s quivering rump, ready to break out into a fit of wagging, to tell Emmaline that the truck was Sigri’s. She knew, as surely as the dog, and she understood the impulse to race to meet the loved one, but Chinook, for all her size, was barely out of puppyhood and still needed her training reinforced. Her job, her sacred charge, was to stay close to Emmaline every minute.
Sigri had swapped the stud service of her Appaloosa stallion for the pick of a neighbor’s litter of pups. “Folks around here are pretty much decent, mind-their-own-business types, whatever their beliefs,” she’d said, “but punks can sprout up anywhere, even Montana. A good dog can make ‘em think twice about trying to get at…well, at a woman out here alone.”
No need to spell it out. It wasn’t just being a woman alone. What had happened down in Laramie to that boy Matthew Shepard was on both their minds. Sigri, when she’d lived alone, hadn’t worried; nearly everybody within fifty miles was related to her, or owned horses she’d trained. She was one of their own. Emmaline, for all her farm-girl background, wasn’t.
The red truck was close enough now for her to make out the familiar lines. Where the road dipped down to ford the tree-lined creek, green-gold leaves hid it for a moment; this was when Emmaline would generally head out to open the gate in the stock fence. Right now she wasn’t sure her legs would take her that far without some wobbling Sigri was sure to notice.
“Stay!” She pressed her hand down hard on Chinook’s wriggling shoulders. Sigri reached the gate, got out to open it herself, looked searchingly up at the house, and got back in. Emmaline waited until the truck stopped between the barn and the house and then, finally, let Chinook out.
Sigri stood, stretched her rangy body after the bumpy ride, pushed back her Stetson until straw-pale cropped hair showed above her tanned forehead, and looked again toward the house. Glimpsing Emmaline inside the doorway, she flashed a boyish grin that would never grow old, no matter how many lines time and weather etched on her face.
The dog pranced around her legs in frantic welcome. Weanling fillies along the paddock fence whickered in greeting. Emmaline, aching to be there too, watched as each animal got its moment of affection. When Sigri finally hauled sacks of groceries out of the truck and strode toward the house, Emmaline barely had time to tie on her apron, pour flour and corn meal into a bowl, and get enough on herself to look like she’d been in the middle of mixing.
The screen door swung open and shut. As soon as the bags and a banded bundle of mail were safely on the kitchen table, and the Stetson tossed onto its hook, Emmaline proceeded to wipe her hands on the blue-checked dishtowel and rush to grab a big hug.
Sigri’d noticed something, though. “You okay, babe?” She stroked the loose tangle of hair Emmaline had forgotten to tidy. Fear came surging back.
With her arms around Sigri’s lean body and her head nestled against a firm shoulder, Emmaline managed to say, “Sure I’m okay. How’d it go in Bozeman?”
“Not too bad.” Sigri tried to get a look at Emmaline’s face. “I dropped off your baked goods at the cafĂ©. Claire wrote a check for last week and this week too, so we’re all square there. And Rogers at the bank seemed pretty sure we can get an extension on the loan. He knows I’m owed enough by the horse trek outfitters to cover it.”
Emmaline burrowed a little closer, then tilted her head back for a kiss. Chinook, firmly trained not to interrupt such proceedings, lay down with her head between her paws, and then, impatient, went to nose around the edges of the trapdoor.
Emmaline became vaguely aware of the rattle of some small object being pushed around the floor behind her. Sigri, looking past her shoulder, broke the clinch. “What’s that dratted dog got? Chicken bone?”
“Not from my kitchen…” Emmaline stopped. Chinook was offering her prize to to Sigri. Held tenderly, in jaws trained to pick up eggs without breaking them, was a four-inch sticklike object. Not, they both knew, a stick. Bone, or two bones hitched together, but not chicken bone. Chickens don’t have fingers.
Sigri knelt. “Good girl,” she said, ruffling the dog’s ears. She took the bone and inspected it. “Not fresh, at least. Old. Real old, I’d say, but not prehistoric. Where’d you get that?” She looked up. “Where’s she been?”
Emmaline managed to yank a chair out from the table and slump into it. “Just here, in the house, or right beside me outdoors. And…down in the root cellar. I was putting up some more shelves.”
Sigri’s long body straightened. She hauled out a chair, straddled it backwards, and surveyed Emmaline keenly. “Down in the dugout? Guess you must have been hammering up some storm to get yourself so bedraggled.”
“Well, I was.” Emmaline steadied herself with pure stubbornness. “I built a good strong set of shelves. And maybe shook a little dirt lose from the wall, but I swear there wasn’t any crack big enough for…for a rat.”
“What’s a rat got to do with it?”
“Nothing!” Emmaline fastened her hair back tight with the rubber band from the bundle of mail. A couple of magazines unfurled to show covers she wouldn’t have wanted the local postmistress to see, which, along with the occasional specialty mail order delivery, was why they kept a post office box in the university town of Bozeman.

That’s all, for now. Links to other folks’ blogs on this Charity Sunday are below.