Jim reined in his black gelding when he topped the rise and saw the Wanderer on a siding not far away. The Wanderer was quiet--no steam. The gelding stamped and snorted. He was ready for some oats. Jim made the horse wait and watched. Was Artemus home? Jim pulled off his hat and waited, but saw no movement on the train. Jim swallowed his disappointment and gave the gelding a bit of rein.
The gelding danced home with a great deal of enthusiasm, and Jim wished he shared it. A bath would be nice, but if it weren't for that, he'd keep moving down the trail until he bumped into his partner.
Jim shook his head. The odds of finding Artemus were slim to zero. He had a knack for disappearing. Jim put the gelding away after speaking briefly with their engineer. He was glad to see someone, and the two of them agreed to wait another day for Artemus before going to the second rendezvous point. He'd show up there if not here.
The bath did feel good. Jim went ahead and took a long one. He almost fell asleep. At last, he pulled the plug and dried off. His stomach complained about the lack of victuals, and he went to the galley naked to find some food. He probably should have stopped for pants, but he was too hungry. Heating up the stove seemed like too much work so he settled for an apple, hardtack, and some beef jerky. He took the food to the closet and found some blue trousers. The pigeons were hopping about, and he fed them enough to send them into coos of delight. He smiled at the little beggars. They had each other.
There were no more animals to feed, and Artemus was currently without a cat, so Jim took his meager meal to the parlor. The sun was going down. He turned up the lamps and used whiskey to soften the hardtack. It was food. His stomach quit fussing at him, and he cleaned his six-shooter before storing it away. The train seemed empty without Artemus, and Jim picked out a book to read. He was asleep before he finished the first chapter.
The cold kiss of a revolver stroking across his forehead jerked Jim awake. He'd forgotten to set the alarms. He cursed himself twice before he even bothered to open his eyes. Once there was a gun against his head, it didn't pay to make any sudden movements. It was nearly dark in the parlor car. One lamp across the car burned dimly.
Jim ignored the gun. "Can I help you?"
The dim light obscured the big, burly man standing over him. Jim could see a bandanna across the intruder's face.
"Give me a good reason not to shoot you," the gravelly voice whispered, and Jim began to get worried. This wasn't a normal robbery. Jim tried to sit up and the gun pressed against his forehead, keeping him down.
"One good reason."
Jim squinted and tried to get a good look at the fellow holding a gun on him. He was big, and Jim could see tufts of blond hair. Blond? Jim had half-convinced himself that this was Artemus playing a joke on him. That conviction went out the window. "Right off hand, I can't think of a thing."
"No wife to cry over you?"
"Nope, not even a dog." Jim slowly dropped an arm down the side of the sofa, reaching for the remote switch to the guns on the desk.
The six-shooter trailed down to Jim's groin. "Raise your hands and sit up."
Jim hoped this fellow didn't have a nervous hand and sat up. He put his hands about shoulder height. The gun never moved, or Jim would have. "There's money over there."
"I don't need money."
"Then why are you here?" Jim smiled. This had to be Artemus. A fist struck him across the face. Jim quit smiling. The bastard was going to pay for that. "Shoot me and get the hell out!"
"Tempting, but I want something else first. Put your head down on your knees and your hands behind your back."
Jim listened carefully for any nuance that would tip him to Artemus. Who was this guy? "No."
"Fine, say goodnight." The gun came back up to Jim's forehead. The hammer clicked back. Jim had three seconds to make up his mind, and he put his hands behind his back. The stranger growled, "That's better, now lean over."
Jim curled his lip in disgust, and he was tempted to force the issue. Very slowly, his back bent and his forehead pressed into his knees. His temper raged and went higher when a big hand kept his head down. Jim listened for the gun to be put away, but he heard nothing except the double click of the manacles behind him. He surged up, but a hand pushed him down to the floor.
"Give up. You're all mine now," the voice rasped.
The smug words made Jim rebel more, and he struggled against the hand. It released his head, and a boot shoved him to his back. He went down, and a boot kept him there. He couldn't see anything but a shadowy figure, and he'd had enough of this. "One mistake and you'll be mine," he growled. A hand reached down and pulled him up by the hair. On his knees, Jim quietly cursed. "Damn you."
"Shut up. Give me what I want, and I'll leave you to your lonely life."
In the shadow of the man's body, Jim could see almost nothing, but the gun was against the side of his head. A hard cock slapped him against the face, and Jim flinched away. "Get that away from me," Jim snarled. If this was Artemus, he was getting a real ass kicking once the manacles came off.
"Get it done."
Between the hand and the gun, Jim found himself where he didn't want to be, getting ready to suck cock. He'd done it before, but this was beyond the bounds of his temper. He clacked his teeth together. The gun pressed into his skin.
"Die or blow, you choose."
Jim answered immediately, "No, you choose. Take your chances or pull the trigger."
Silence. The gun holstered. Jim saw the twirl and the flourish against the dim light, and that gave him all the answers he needed. Artemus was going to pay for this. Two hands grabbed Jim's head, and he found the cock pressed against his mouth. Jim opened up. He'd suck and beat Artemus later.
Jim's mouth was full, and he grunted. His cock started to get hard. Artemus was home. The parlor was quiet except for the sounds of Jim working. Back and forth, he took it all the way down when the hands pulled him deep. He twisted his hands in the manacles, and his own cock leaked into his pants. He groaned deep in his throat and quivered with lust.
"I knew you were easy."
Jim considered using his teeth, but the hands held him firmly. The big cock slammed down and pulsed. Jim swallowed the seed. His own cock twitched, and his pants were painfully tight. The hands released his face, and he fell to his side on the floor with a grunt. Two could play this game.
"Shoot me, please. Get it over with," Jim begged. "No more."
A boot came to rest on Jim's hip. "Don't beg."
"Please, it'd break his heart if I cheated on him." Jim did his poor best to look horrified.
"Jim, you're ruining this for me," Artemus said.
"Why is your hair blonde?" Jim didn't try to get up. "And you hit me!"
"It's a disguise, and you liked it." Artemus pulled his bandanna off and helped Jim onto the sofa.
"That was uncalled for!"
"You thought it was me. I had to do something." Artemus turned up the lamps and began to remove his disguise at the desk. "I didn't hit you hard."
"Take off these manacles so I can hit you." Jim jingled and glared at Artemus.
"Not until I've finished with you." Artemus grinned. "You're mine, remember?"
Jim scrabbled up. He had a lock pick in his room, but Artemus was behind him before he cleared the connecting door. Jim turned quickly to head butt him.
Artemus pushed Jim against the wall and laughed. "Come on, Jim. You know you want it."
"I want to give it to you." Jim braced himself and tried a sidekick. It missed only because Artemus twisted at the last moment.
"You didn't set the alarms. You're fair game." Artemus yanked Jim's pants down, effectively trapping his legs.
"Damn it, Artie. I was looking forward to you coming home!"
"That's sweet, Jim. Now give me your sweet ass."
Jim made one last desperate attempt to pin him. Artemus promptly knocked Jim down. He fell with a thud--no hands to catch himself, and Artemus was on him, keeping him down.
"You could at least take me to bed." Jim banged his head against the floor for emphasis.
"After I've fucked you into submission, we'll get comfortable." Artemus shed his shirt and began to fondle Jim's ass.
"Artemus, if I were you, I'd consider your next moves carefully." Jim tried to roll over, but Artemus was too heavy.
"Revenge is more my style than yours. As long as I make you love it, we'll be fine."
Jim couldn't help it. He burst out laughing. Artemus pushed a finger in Jim's mouth, made sure it was good and wet, and pressed it up Jim's ass. Jim gasped from the invasion. Artemus kissed and fingered Jim until he was writhing from the pleasure. Now, he really wanted to beg.
"Would you have sucked a stranger, Jim?"
"He did have a nice big cock," Jim said.
Artemus pulled his finger out of Jim's ass. Jim controlled a flinch and looked over his shoulder. Artemus was pushing down his pants. Jim groaned. Artemus pulled Jim up by the hips. "Beg for mercy." Artemus bit Jim hard.
"Please, don't! My boyfriend will kill me." Jim reached back with his manacled hands and found Artemus' chest. He grabbed hold.
"Fuck your boyfriend," Artemus growled and surged forward against Jim's hands.
"I plan to do that later," Jim gasped.
Artemus' cock was slick with something, and Jim was relieved. That cock was too big to take dry. Jim saw stars when Artemus hit bottom. Artemus didn't wait even a moment. He started fucking Jim hard. Jim tried to crawl off, but Artemus didn't allow that.
"Damn, what a sweet ass."
Jim panted and wished he had someone to bite. Artemus pushed Jim completely flat. Their bodies slammed together. Jim orgasmed on himself. It ripped his breath away and sent him gasping for air. He forgot about Artemus momentarily and began to relax. Lassitude spread over him. He felt fine.
"Have you submitted?"
"Oh yeah," Jim sighed. "I'm all yours."
Artemus laughed and got off. Jim lay in the hallway with had no desire to go anywhere. This was perfect. Artemus pulled him up, and Jim's trousers fell completely off. He leaned back into Artemus and let him steer. Jim fell onto the bed.
Artemus shucked off his pants and got on top of him. "Do you wish I was a stranger?"
"Aren't you?" Jim sucked in his stomach when Artemus started licking it. "You're not quitting."
"No, that's only one for you. You're good for another." Artemus licked Jim clean and headed south.
Jim grinned and shut his eyes to enjoy every sensation. Artemus could give out tremendous amounts of pleasure. Fingers, hands, tongue, and mouth combined to give Jim another orgasm. This one felt so good that he forgot his name. It was all a blur.
"I think I can go again," Artemus said.
"I don't believe it!"
"We've been apart for days." Artemus rolled Jim to his side and curled in behind him. Jim grunted when Artemus reinserted his cock. It didn't hurt. Hands pulled, the cock pushed, and Jim was groggy.
"So good," Artemus gasped.
"My boyfriend is going to be a mite put out with you." Jim laughed softly.
"I'm your new boyfriend," Artemus whispered into Jim's back. "You can shoot the old one for me."
"After tonight, I might." Jim was worn out.
Artemus managed to get a little deeper and cried out when he came again. "James!"
Jim smiled and pushed back into Artemus. He held Jim tightly and quit moving. They lay together. Jim shut his eyes and didn't open them again until the sun came up.
Jim flipped off the couch and landed hard. The book that had been on his face fell off and snapped shut. He lay there stunned. Sunlight streamed in the window, and his gummy eyes blinked. Groaning softly, he got off the floor and sat on the sofa. He rubbed the gunk from his eyes.
Jim put some power into it. Silence answered him. The train was quiet. He glanced out the window. The sun was well up. His mouth was dry as the desert, and he staggered over to the whiskey. He poured a generous two fingers in the glass and drank it fast. The whiskey burned away the scum in his mouth, and he took a deep breath. His vision was still blurry, and he shook his head to clear it. Bad idea. Dizziness spun him around. The back door shut. Jim heard it clearly, and he turned that direction. Artemus, with his saddlebags over his shoulder, stopped by the desk. Jim stared in disbelief.
"Jim, are you okay? You look awful." Artemus placed the saddlebags on the desk and moved to Jim's side. Jim sagged against him. Artemus helped Jim sit back down on the sofa.
"Artie, what game are you playing?"
Artemus peeled Jim's eyelid up. "Are you drunk? Is that why you didn't set the alarms?"
Jim grabbed Artemus by the shirt and shook him. "No, and I owe you a fist across the face."
"Jim, honey, I know you're happy to see me, but isn't a kiss more appropriate?" Artemus stood up, forcing Jim to release him.
Jim leaned back against the sofa. Last night was a blur, but a couple of events stood out clearly in his mind. "I thought you were wearing a disguise."
Artemus went and poured two whiskeys. "Here, you need this. Why would I need a disguise? All we were doing was interviewing bankers about counterfeiting in this area."
Jim slugged the drink back and tried to think. "You were here, and you fucked me half the night."
Artemus went back to the desk and started unloading his saddlebags. "You do have the look of a satisfied man about you, but I've been on the trail. Who was the lucky fellow?"
Jim rubbed his face. "Artemus Gordon, this isn't funny. You put a gun to my head, cuffed me, and--"
"James! Please Jim, stop. That simply isn't possible, and I don't want to hear about your games with your latest lover. Whoever it was, okay?" Artemus grabbed a handful of packages and left Jim sitting on the sofa.
Jim stared after him. What the hell was going on? It had been Artemus, right? Jim scratched his head hard. He remembered everything that happened last night. Well, not everything, but close enough. He hadn't been drunk. Artemus was still in the galley. Jim found his legs and managed to propel himself to the doorway. Artemus was making coffee and biscuits.
"You're pulling some kind of joke on me, aren't you?"
"Jim, think a minute. When's the last time you let me fuck your ass? And if I cuffed you, you'd find a way to kill me. I wasn't here. I'm glad you had a nice night. Can we drop it?"
Artemus wouldn't even look at him. Doubts assailed Jim. It had been dark, and he could have been mistaken. No, it had been Artemus. Jim leaned against the doorway. Artemus came over and put his hand on Jim's shoulder. "Go lay down. You'll feel better after you eat."
Jim tried to capture those brown eyes, but they turned away. He sighed softly and let Artemus walk him to the sofa. Jim sat down and shut his aching eyes. He heard Artemus go back to the galley. Jim had obviously upset his partner. They never discussed the topic of Jim's lovers, but this morning Jim had shoved it in Artemus' face. He sat there and refused to feel guilty. Who was that last night? He was no longer certain of anything.
Artemus brought Jim a cup of coffee and didn't linger. Hell, Artemus didn't say a word or look at him. Jim sipped his coffee. When the cup was empty, he placed it down carefully and went to clean up. He looked at himself in the mirror and tried to find some physical evidence of last night. No bite marks, no marks on his wrists from the cuffs, nothing. His eyes were bloodshot, and he had a boneless feeling about him that suggested he'd had more sex than he could handle, but that was it.
Jim shrugged into a white shirt and buttoned it up. Artemus didn't need any reminders. He was coming out of the galley with a plate of breakfast, when Jim stepped back into the parlor. Jim took the plate and felt like a shit. "Thanks, Artie. Listen--"
"Don't say a word. I don't want to hear it. Eat," Artemus said. His foot bumped against the book on the floor, and he leaned over to pick it up. He put it on the sideboard and went back to the galley.
Jim went to the desk, sat his plate down, and opened the back door. Fresh air whipped inside, and he sincerely hoped it would help clear his mind. Foggy was the best word to describe his brain this morning. Jim began to eat, but realized after a couple of minutes that Artemus would not be joining him. Shit. Jim had been looking forward to Artemus coming home, and now that was ruined. Artemus' open saddlebags were in front of him, and Jim went through them. He grabbed up a loose bandanna and stared at it. Artemus had worn this last night. This had to be some elaborate plot. Jim finished his plate and went to find his rotten, lying, scheming partner.
Tossing the bandanna at Artemus, Jim stood in the doorway of the lavatory. "You've had your little game, but it's over. Get out of that tub so I can fuck your ass."
Artemus rinsed his head and lifted the wet bandanna with two fingers. "If you want to fuck me, fine, but, be honest about it."
Jim tried to grab his temper, but it surged out of control. "Damn it, Artie. You had your way with me last night, now it's my turn." Artemus tossed the bandanna, got out of the tub, and dried off. He didn't say a word. A completely new set of doubts crept over Jim.
"If you wanted me that badly, you could have asked, you didn't have to use your gun," Jim said.
Artemus turned on Jim, fast like a snake. "I'm perfectly happy with what little we share. A kiss from time to time. A quick blowjob more often than not, and every now and again, when you can't find someone else, you fuck me. It's more than enough."
Jim took two steps back from the intensity behind Artemus' words. Artemus was angry, even furious. Jim rubbed a hand through his hair. Artemus pushed past him and out the door. Jim felt stunned. "Artie."
Artemus was gone down the hall, and Jim wasn't going to apologize. He had to say something though. What to say? He had no idea. A drink might help clear the cobwebs from his brain. Two whiskeys later, Jim still didn't know what to think. Artemus came into the parlor, fully dressed, and began to clean up.
"Jim, did you read this book last night?" Artemus was at the sideboard with the slim volume in his hand.
Jim had been staring at his partner, trying to think of something intelligent to say. He blinked and looked at the book. "Yes, well, I meant to, but I fell asleep." He looked at his bare feet. He should put some boots on and go feed the horses.
"Jim, sit down a minute." Jim looked up and sat down on the gold sofa. Artemus sat down right next to him. He examined Jim's eyes. "Open your mouth."
Jim opened his mouth, and Artemus sighed. "Jim, this book is a special one that I picked up from a friend of mine in San Francisco. He's an opium eater."
"He laced the book with opium, so he could relax and read." Artemus laughed. "Whatever happened last night, you were feeling no pain."
Jim frowned. "What?"
"I borrowed it to read it. When I finished it, I went to bed and enjoyed the pretty dreams for the evening."
"Artemus!" Jim couldn't believe it.
Artemus blushed. "You were out with a young lady. No one got hurt."
Jim put his head in his hands and moaned. "I was hallucinating."
"Yes, and now I do want to hear about it." Artemus wrapped a hand around Jim's neck and tugged him around and down to his knees.
Jim didn't resist. He looked up at Artemus in more of state of bewilderment than anything else. "Are you sure?"
"It sounded like we had a good time." Artemus squeezed Jim's neck gently.
"You threatened me with your gun, hit me, cuffed me, made me suck your cock, and fucked me until I begged." Jim thought that was about it.
"Are you sure this wasn't my fantasy instead of your hallucination?" Artemus smiled down at him and chuckled.
Jim laid his head on Artemus' leg. He breathed deep and tried to think. What did it all mean? Artemus stroked a hand through Jim's hair. Jim shut his eyes. "You made me like it." Hallucinating all night was exhausting.
"Jim, is it possible that you're not satisfied with what we have?"
"Before last night the answer would have been a resounding no, but--" Jim stopped talking. His head twirled around the room.
"You know I love you, Jim. Don't you want me to show it to you from time to time?"
Jim stopped breathing. He'd dreaded ever hearing those words, and they seemed to hang in the air. He thought that maybe he could see them. Were his eyes still shut? "Artie, can you help me lay down somewhere? I'm seeing things."
"Did you fall asleep with the book on your face?"
"I think so." Jim shuddered out a breath. He was dizzy.
"Jim, let me help you to bed." Artemus pulled him up and helped him back to his bunk. "We've never even slept together, ya big dummy."
Jim lay down and pulled Artemus in the bed with him. "The beds are little, and I get up early."
Artemus folded Jim into his chest. The bed was small, but they managed. Jim relaxed and watched the colors. Artemus laughed and made sure Jim didn't fall out of bed. The morning turned into the afternoon, and Jim was still in bed with Artemus. They had a lot less clothes on. Artemus was giving Jim a back rub, and it felt delicious. Every muscle in Jim's body was like jelly.
"Why do you love me?" Jim didn't understand it.
Artemus' hands stopped moving. "Too many reasons to count."
"I'm not easy to get along with." Jim put his arms back behind him. "And I've never said it to you."
"And you probably never will, but love is complicated and simple." Artemus rubbed Jim's arms.
Jim grunted and thought about it. "I was looking forward to you coming home."
"That's sweet, Jim."
"That's what you said last night, right before you said, 'Now give me your sweet ass.'"
Artemus laughed and got off Jim's back. He lay down flat, and Jim crawled on top.
"Maybe it was real." Artemus gave him a wink. "I redressed you, left the train, and waited until morning to come home again."
Jim stopped kissing Artemus' chest and raised his eyes. Artemus could have done exactly that. Jim glared at Artemus, but he just smiled. "I was only mad about being hit across the face."
"I would never hit you." Artemus ran his hands up to Jim's head and yanked him down for a long, tongue kiss. "Not hard, anyway. Now give me your sweet ass."
Jim jerked in surprise, but Artemus held him down. The kiss went on so long that Jim saw more colors. "Might as well get the cuffs. Where'd you leave them?"
Artemus met Jim's eyes. "Nicely done, James, but you'll have to keep wondering."
Jim laughed and got serious about letting Artemus take advantage of him.