Much Ado About Madams
Hearts of Owyhee #1
By Jacquie Rogers
Copyright © 2012-2015 Jacquie Rogers
Reese McAdams felt pretty damned lucky as he rode up to the Comfort Palace. He’d been able to conduct all his business over the wire and hadn’t needed to go to Wichita after all. Thanks to the full moon, he’d ridden late into the night to make his way home with money in his pocket and arrangements for a herd of cattle to be delivered to his new ranch.
Ranch land. Somehow, he had to find the time to build a bunkhouse, at least, so he could hire some cowhands. They’d need a place to stay, but he could live in the Comfort Palace another year before he built a house.
He dismounted, legs wobbly after the twelve-hour ride, and led Buster to the stable where he fed the exhausted roan stallion an extra ration of oats. Even though Reese’s fondest desire was to soak in a hot bath and crawl into his soft bed, he took extra care rubbing Buster down. The old boy deserved a little special attention.
With one last effort, Reese threw his bulging saddlebags over his shoulder. They were loaded with small things for the women—cheap jewelry and a few lotions—and the freight wagon due in the next morning would bring the other things he’d bought for the ladies.
He’d hated his father’s gambling and whoring, and hated more that he’d ended up inheriting a brothel. His first inclination had been to sell it, but he couldn’t bear to see the faded whores turned out. Where would they go? More than likely most of them would end up in the cribs. Instead, he vowed not to take money from their labors, except for selling the building when the time came.
Reese willed his tired legs up the back stairs that led directly to his room. Guilt nagged at him for not greeting Fannie and the girls before he went to his room, but they’d just have to forgive him this time. The need for sleep nagged at him more.
Even though he’d often cursed the noise of the brothel for robbing him of sleep, tonight it seemed a blessing. No one would hear him come in. He slipped quietly into his bedroom, felt his way to the dresser, and gently laid the saddlebags on the chair beside it, his hat and gunbelt on top of them.
In one motion, Reese yanked off his sweaty shirt and tossed it on the floor, then leaning against the dresser, pulled off his boots and pants. He peeled off his overripe long-handles and threw them in the farthest corner of the room so he didn’t have to smell them all night. That he stank of sweat and horse didn’t bother him, though. A hot bath was a good way to start the day.
He felt his way over to the bed. Knowing he’d be asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow, he lifted the down comforter and crawled in. He bumped into a lump, tried to pat it out.
Then it screamed. “Get out of my bed, you filthy whoremonger!”
A crazy woman pummeled his head with her fists. Reese tried to dodge the blows, but not before she’d whapped his nose a good one. Leaping out of bed before she could do more damage, he stubbed his big toe on the leg of the bed.
“Stop it!” he bellowed as he hopped over to the dresser. His nose ached and his toe throbbed. “What the hell are you doing in my room?” He pounded his fist down, propelling something gooey onto his chest.
* * *
Reese lit the lantern. As the flame rose, he saw an irate woman with tousled blonde hair and blazing mad eyes. She clutched his comforter to her neck like armor.
“Yes, my room.” He made a swipe at the pie sliding down his chest and licked his fingers. Sadie’s berry pie was his favorite, but not mixed with chest hairs. “Who the hell are you and why are you in my bed?”
The strange woman turned her head and spoke to the wall as if she were too good to speak to a lowly rancher. “I’m the new schoolteacher, and Fannie told me I’m supposed to stay here. In this room. Alone. Without a naked man.”
Oh hell! Reese grabbed his duster and wrapped it around himself, berry pie and all. “Schoolteacher?”
Dickshooter didn’t have a school. She must have stopped for the night. Fannie, in her infinite wisdom and the kindness of her heart, agreed to put her up. He’d wring her neck. He’d wring both their necks.
“I’ll get this mess straightened out with Fannie.” The berry pie stuck to his chest and adhered to the duster. “Damn!”
“There’s nothing to straighten out. You need to find another place to sleep.” She sniffed daintily. “And please don’t curse in front of a lady.”
“The hell I will—er, won’t! Oh, hell!” He charged out the door, swearing at the righteous woman in his bed, saving a few choice words for Fannie, and, for good measure, all females in general.
* * *
Lucinda hurled her pillow at the closing door. Who did he think he was, invading her bed like that? He didn’t even apologize for giving her the scare of her life. The vile man. Beast.
And he had stood in front of her naked as the day he was born with no shame whatsoever. Had he no pride? Yes, plenty. Probably an overdose. She had to admit, she’d seen few men who could compete with him in the looks department. Of course, she hadn’t looked below his waist.
Maybe just a little peek.
Were she the romantic type, which she wasn’t, she’d have thought him very handsome, indeed. Those dark eyes with the little smile wrinkles at the corners had probably coerced many woman out of anything without him saying a word. His long black hair looked rakish, and it seemed in keeping with the patch of black hair sprinkled on his chest and . . . well, other places she hadn’t looked.
♥ ♥ ♥Oh, yes, this book is the first of a series. Read 'em all!