Hello! It`s time for Tuesday Tales again. This week I`ll be sharing an excerpt from my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel, Laco Law – The Gnarled Oak. Laco Law is an M/M historical western romance, set in the fictional county of Laco, Texas in 1867.
This week our word prompt is ‘Check’ and we share what I think is one of the tenderest moments of this romance. We pick up as the doctor, Kirkwall James, is getting ready to leave after attending to Zeke.
As this is my NaNo work, it is quite rough. I do ask that you overlook any glaring mistakes you may find. Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thanks for stopping in!
“Damned wonder the lad is alive,” Dr. James said when I had walked him to the door of the jailhouse. “Most times the rope snaps the third vertebrae. Obviously the drunken sots didn`t set the noose proper, which, as it turned out, was a fortunate thing for Mr. Fire Sky. Are you sure you want an Indian sleeping in the same space as you? I suspect one of the ladies would be willing to let him sleep on their floor.”
I placed a silver dollar into his outstretched hand. “He stays here. Thank you kindly for coming so fast.”
“He should be fine in a few days, but if needed, give him more of the laudanum draught to ease the strain of his throat.”
“I`ll surely do that. Thank you, Doctor,” I said, closing the door on his back. I put out the lantern after locking the door. I could smell Zeke Fire Sky on the stagnant air currents. It was as if my senses were starved for any sign of him. I sprawled out in the empty cell with no concern about the blood-soaked mattress under me. Winton Buggs had been removed. To where his body had gone I did not care. I heard the soft snuffling sounds of Hessie thorough an open window. Seemed death was not in the vicinity tonight. It was still out at Chaparral Springs. Come morning, if Zeke were well enough to be left alone, I would have to ride back out, gather the bodies, and begin tracking the two survivors.
An hour passed. I grew weary of tossing and turning and so I rose from the thin bedding to check on the patient. Into Zeke`s cell I went, the unique tang of his tobacco smoke clinging to his skin and hair caressed my nose. I slid down the wall in the far corner to watch him sleep. A shaft of moonlight no wider than my thumb was resting on his parted lips. The bruises he sported looked better in the dark. The rope-burn marring his neck did not. It was a greasy, glaring testament to the wanton evilness that lurked in some men’s souls. His breathing was deep, rhythmic, reassuring in its steadiness.
It was also quite raspy. I rested my arms on my knees then placed my head to my arms. I dropped down into the dark embrace of slumber like a rock flung into a well. I woke up a few hours later, my lower back and neck bound up in knots. I groaned as I lifted my head from my arms. The thin strip of moonlight showed me that Zeke was awake, his ebony eyes locked onto me.
“How do you feel?” I asked, stretching my legs out to get rid of the pins and needles. His voice was barely a whisper.
“Like . . . hanged . . . by neck.”
When I gained the use of my legs I got up off the floor. My feet were still tingly when I took the few steps that brought me to his bedside. I wanted to sit beside him, but there wasn`t room. I knelt at his side. The need to touch him was so damned powerful.
“The doctor said nothing is broken, but he cannot speak for certain about internal damage. You might piss pink for a few days. He did not say about your throat or voice,” I said as I placed my elbows to the wooden bed frame. “Can I do anything for you?”
“Just . . . kill them,” he moaned, wetting his lips with the tip of his tongue. His hands rested on his wide chest.
“I plan on doing that,” I murmured, my hand moving to his face to push a long black curl from his busted cheekbone. Zeke`s eyes rolled from a spot on the ceiling to me. If a locomotive had plowed into me it wouldn`t have been nearly as devastating. I lost something of myself in his eyes at that moment.
“Still . . . curious,” he whispered. I nodded then kissed him as tenderly as I could. It was a delicate kiss, one meant to relay intent and emotion and about a hundred thousand other things best left for later. It was just a brush of a kiss; a tickle of a cat`s whisker on a bare leg, but it was enough. For now. He exhaled deeply over my lips.
Emboldened by the knowledge of what would be, I stroked more of his wild hair from his brow and face.
“Story?” he asked as the back of my fingers moved over his swollen cheekbone. I smiled weakly.
“I am no storyteller,” I replied.
“I tell you . . .” he swallowed harshly, the skin over his adams apple weeping droplets of blood, “. . . about Coyote when . . . sick.”
I ran my fingertip over one dark eyebrow. The misty memory of a vague feverish dream drifted behind my eyes.
“Deep in the bayou lives the Loup Garou,” I whispered while tracing his eyebrows.
Copyright 2013 ©by V.L. Locey
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