tagInterracial LoveWest Ch. 00

West Ch. 00

byIrian©

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except as permitted by U.S. copyright law. For permissions contact author through profile.

This first chapter will move quickly because I wanted to give a short but solid back story. The following installments will be much smoother and even as the timeline progresses. As always, feedback is adored.

*****

December 10, 1860

Eve lowered the rim of her hat as she snuck closer to the camp. Beside from the cover of sparse cacti, the New Mexico Territory's desert provided no aid while she performed her duties. The looming mountains far in the distance reached toward the studs of bright light hanging in the dark night sky. The moon journeyed slowly past their peaks, touching each one gently, christening them from the harshness they had experienced during the day. The rare patches of grass along the sand lead to the raging campfire that seven men sat around, talking and eating sloppily. Their sleeping bags and horses were unoccupied, giving her the impression that they were in perfect position; for her.

She took deep breaths as she got closer, checking the colt on her hip, and the knife behind her back. She softened her boot steps as she got closer to the outer rim, where all their gear was piled just behind the horses. As she bent down by one of the mares, it neighed quietly. She reached out and pet her long black legs softly, lifting a finger to her lips to silence the beast. She looked quickly over to the fire to see if the men had heard, but they continued their drinking, unaware of her presence.

She counted them again. The sheriff had told her there would only be six. All members of the Joseph Bartley Gang that had passed through Briar only two days ago, leaving an empty bank vault and three mutilated female bodies. It had been her own fault for letting them come close. All the talk of war had thrown her off, and now she was paying for her negligence. She eyed the tallest man, the seventh who seemed nowhere near as intoxicated as the others. He had his back to her as he sat on the makeshift log. She could only see his blonde hair that was cut short and pushed back from his face. His deep black hat looked much like hers, and straddled his knee. His black jacket and slacks were just as deep as his boots. She could have sworn that when the horse had sounded, the man's ears had perked up, and he had turned his closest cheek gently towards her, as if he was listening. She would save him for last. It was important to not overlook his drunk counterparts, even if he posed more of a threat. One turnt back was all she needed to count herself dead.

She took another breath, and counted to three in her mind. 'One. Two.'

She stood fast and drew her gun from her hip, "Three." She said out loud as two shots rang out, hitting two of the farthest gang members, as the man in black jumped from the line of bullets. She followed him with the point of the gun as he reached for his waist, and shot, only grazing his left shoulder. He was moving too quickly for her to get a clear shot. She shot twice again, hitting the drunk men fumbling for their weapons.

As Eve shot the fifth squarely in his spine, the sixth sweaty man rushed toward her knocking the gun from her hand as his black hair swung wildly. She reached for the knife behind her back as he toppled her, crushing her face into the sand as he beat her stomach repeatedly. She brought a knee quickly upwards as he straddled her, winding him for a fraction of a second, giving her enough time to plunge her silver hilt knife deep into his throat. She pushed him off as he spurted blood on her face and dress.

She looked over the fire as she pulled the knife from his esophagus slowly, causing him to bleed profusely. The blonde man just stood watching, not reaching for a weapon or riding away. She stood silently as the man grunted beneath her, grabbing her gun from the desert floor. She pointed towards the tall man as she came closer. He put his hands up in surrender in response. "You're not going to try to shoot me? After I killed your friends? After I shot you?"

He only lifted his head to reveal his full face. Dark blue eyes, a white smile, and an deep dirty blonde beard connected to his mustache and sideburns. "They weren't my posse. But colour me impressed. Bartley's men have been at it for years. Can't imagine how mortified ol' Joe would be if he knew a gal had cleaned 'em up like this."

Eve stayed silent, watching him for sudden movements.

He lowered his hands slowly, and began taking off his jacket. He folded it and set it on the sand.

"What are you doing?" She said through clenched teeth, holding the gun up higher.

"If you were going to shot me, you would have done it by now." He said as he continued prepping himself. "You do want to kill me. I'll give you that. But you don't want to shoot me again. You want to fight me hand to hand, because you're curious." He stood straight and rolled his sleeves. "So I accept."

She shook her head and contemplated his words. He was intuitive. She lowered her gun and dropped it on the sand. She removed her hat and unbuttoned her long coat. She released her long black hair half pinned back and put up her fist.

"The knife too. A fair fight." He said with a raised eyebrow.

She sucked her teeth and threw that too, beside her gun. She untied the fabric from her waist, removing the detachable skirt and revealing black pants. "If they weren't your posse, why were you with them?" She said as she put her fist up again.

He came closer, stretching his neck and extending his wrist. "I'm a bounty hunter." He said as they got close enough to begin. She was considerably shorter than he was, but he would not underestimate her. Not after seeing her downing his bounties. She took the first swings, only hitting him once in his midsection.

She tried to keep up as he ducked and weaved. He took swings at her, but slowly, as if he wasn't really intent on fighting. "Why should I believe that?" She cut upward towards his jaw as he jumped back and used his long body to reach forward with his large fist as she ducked his blow. "You always have drinks with your bounties?"

He found time to chuckle as she punched him in his jaw. "No. But I just happen to be having a tough week. I did the same as you, rode from the east and snuck up." He swung again as he allowed her to kick him in his chest, sending him backwards. "They were so blue they offered me one. I had been trailing them for days. Why'd you want 'em? You a hunter?" He took a breath as her blows began to wear on him.

"They rode through my town, and left it dirty. You can have their bodies after we're done here. I'm no hunter, and I've already got what I wanted." He swept her legs from under her, and she stuck her legs underneath his to bring him closer to the sand along with her.

She struggled underneath his hands as he fell on her, clearing out her lungs. He rolled off of her onto his back, holding his bleeding arm. The fall had made the graze wider. "Sorry." He said through his pain. "You usually do your sheriff's work? He doesn't have men for that?"

"We have an agreement." She said through her coughs as she held her stomach.

"Your sheriff collect fugitives? It's five days ride to the next settlement." He sat up as she did, compressing the fabric on his arm to stop the bleeding. "Point me in the way of a doctor, and I'll let you have a third of the reward." He grunted as pain shot through him.

"I should have the whole reward. You didn't kill 'em, I did."

"You said you didn't want them. Ain't that what you just said? I could have them?"

"That was before you knocked me dead. Now I want it for damages."

"Damages? I'm bleeding to death! No judge would side with you."

She looked at his bemused face as he cared for his arm. He truly was trying to poke fun at her, even as he bled out. She shook her head as she laughed lightly. "You're the softest hunter I've ever laid eyes on. Why didn't you fight back?"

"It wasn't a fight worth having." He looked down at her as he tried tying his band around his wound with one hand. She reached over and tied it for him tightly. "Not that you're not a good opponent. But you did my job for me, and you're a pretty lady. A killer, but a lady nonetheless." The light from the fire illuminated her light brown eyes, and even in the dark, he could see her pretty round face, and the curves of her body in those pants. She had deep brown skin, and light freckling around her eyes and shoulders. He hadn't seen a woman wear pants before, but he doubted they looked as she did.

"This lady kicked your ass." She stood and helped him up, collecting their belongings. "What's your name, hunter?"

He wiped his palms on his pants and reached a hand towards her. "Wesley Porter. And you miss?"

"Genevieve Cassidy." She said as she re-tied her skirt and put her hat back on.

He started gathering the gang's bodies and tying them to the horses. "You're lucky they were wanted dead or alive."

"You need help tying them? I already did the hard part for you. Thought you could handle the rest." She said as she sassed back and called her horse over.

"You shot me. I think I'm allowed a couple of licks." He winced in pain as he mounted.

"I'll fix you when we get in. Briar is only an hour out. Why these idiots stayed so close for two days, I can't imagine. Can you make it until then?"

"No. Maybe you should care for me here, while we're all alone." He winked as he said this, knowing his toying was angering her.

"I could still shoot you. It'll be easy with your bum arm."

***

The cold of the desert picked up as they arrived in Briar. All the candles were out in every window, signaling that the town was still sleeping. They trotted towards the first building on the right as the rickety structures clicked in the wind. Eve knew Liam would still be awake. Never did he sleep when she went to settle scores. He was a father to her, their differences meant nothing to them. While the country grew hot from differing skin colour, they only grew closer as he took her in and raised her after her true father had died.

"Liam!" she called out as they settled their horses by the porch. The double doors swung open with quickness, as the Sheriff came outside, eyeing her tag-a-long.

The older white man took his hand off of his gun and tipped his hat to the bleeding man. "You do that to him Eve?" He watched her as she helped unzip the bounties. "You lucky to be alive boy. My girl shoots straight."

Wesley nodded towards the man with the salt and pepper hair. "Your wife?" he was beginning to understand. That was why she was so close to him.

Eve looked over to Liam, who she could not trust to tell the truth. He would play along, leading Wesley to believe it. "No. he adopted me. Liam, this is Wesley, a bounty hunter that got caught up in my tussle. He's collecting on these six. Is the kit still in your drawer?"

"Put it back on the wall. Kelley's been driving me up the wall to clear out that desk. It might have termites, but it was my first." He patted Wesley on his injured arm, causing him to seethe in pain. "You got an old lady, Wesley?"

"No sir." He breathed through his pain.

"Well you know what they say-"

"Liam." Eve warned and motioned towards the building with the jail and courthouse. "Come on, I'll fix you in here."

When they reached the office, she sat him on the couch and brought over the first aid kit. She undid his bandages. "Hold them up while I prep the needle."

He watched her with no fear. "How's a coloured girl learn the work of a doctor?"

She didn't flinch at the question. Lots of white men came through Briar after passing through Texas, a slave state. No one in Briar thought much of skin colour, it was perfect that way. But outsiders, were always up in arms about her, and many questioned relentlessly. "A coloured girl that was tired of paying someone else for their injuries. I can also read, write, play piano, speak spanish, and I've never been a slave in my life. But I'm only twenty-four, things could change."

He kicked himself for how harsh it had come out. "I'm sorry if I offended you. I only meant... Well. I don't know what I meant. Although I believe we share the same sentiments about slavery."

"No one should own another life." she muttered as she cleansed his wound.

"I agree. My parents owned slaves in Louisiana. Biggest plantation for hundreds of miles. They were always kinder than their friends were to their slaves. But I could never understand how they could turn a blind eye."

She kept working as he spoke, finding his southern burr comforting. She had noticed it before, but she hadn't been open to listening to it for long. "Liam thinks my parents were runaway slaves. But many get caught coming out west, so they dropped me here. It was probably the best thing they could have done for me if they were close to capture."

"You have any memory of them?"

"None." She shook her head. It wasn't sad for her. She just always felt it was a shame. All of the fear that blacks had endured to enhance someone else's wealth. "Maybe your parents felt trapped. It can be hard to change if you're surrounded by others who don't feel the same."

She sterilized the needle and pressed down at his shoulder. "Stay still now. Do you need whiskey?"

He shook his head. "Go head."

She listened as he hissed in pain. "I'm sorry." She said as she stitched. She worked quickly, trying to ignore his cries. "I'm almost done. Two more." She kept her promise, finishing and cleaning his arm as he breathed heavily. "I hope you don't have someplace to be, you can't ride with this arm."

"Bartley's boys were my last for awhile. With everybody talkin' about war, these gangs are getting harder to find. Now they're robbing and killing in uniform."

"You think it'll really happen?" She asked as she threw away the soiled wrappings and cleansed her hands.

Wesley reached for the whiskey she had set beside him and took a swig. He knew it would. "Folks down south don't like Lincoln. Their society is built around the slave trade. Takin' the core of their commerce would be worse than death. I'd bet the shirt off my back that they'll fight him to bitter end to protect what they stole."

She leaned against the desk, absorbing his words. In the territories, most didn't care to talk politics unless they had enough to drink, if they even picked a side at all. She had heard of Lincoln and of all the great things he had been promising. But she had figured they were just empty words. More promise for equal opportunity where there was none, and it would never change the crimes that had been committed in this new world. "What about your family? Aren't they still back there?"

He took a long drink before he spoke. "They died ten years ago."

"What about their land? Wouldn't it be yours?"

"It was. A couple of their friends had offered to buy the land, didn't even wait for my momma's funeral to be over before they approached me. But I knew them all. I knew how cruel they were, and the types of parties they would make their slaves perform at. Mandingo's, Fancy Girls, you name it. I had my own plans. Being a stupid young buck, I thought I could change things. So I sold all of my parents other properties, freed all of their slaves, and gave the cotton plantation to one of the slave boys I had grown up with, Telco." He could feel himself smiling as he recounted his longtime friend. "Telco was the smartest boy I had ever met. Always trying to improve how the work was done, coming up with crazy contraptions to make everybody's work a little easier. Sometimes I thought my momma loved him more than me. I knew plantation life wasn't what I wanted, and I knew Telco could do it better than anyone, so I gave it to him."

Eve sat stunned. "You gave your plantation to freed slaves in the middle of Louisiana?"

"I did. And for a few years, it worked. Telco actually grew the business. Buying slaves, setting them free, and employing them. All illegally of course. I owned the property still, but let Telco run it. After awhile, people caught on, and killed Telco on the way back from the market. So I came home, sold the land to the federal government, and personally escorted all the freed slaves to a settlement up north with money in their pockets." He grew quieter after revealing Telco's fate.

She could tell he was deeply scarred, blaming his death entirely on his own actions. "I'm sorry Wesley. You tried to do the right thing."

He stood and put his coat on, trying his best to be gentle with his arm. "Do you feel bad for shooting me now?" he said through a predatory grin as her eyes narrowed.

"Not anymore." Eve removed her body from the desk and made way to leave.

"Wait." Wesley reached out with his good arm and took her hand.

She let go of the brass door handle as he pulled her back. In the light of the office, she could see how handsome he really was. His jaw was broad and rough, his lips were perfectly pink. She could tell he was attracted to her, but his accent made her believe he spoke with seduction to everyone. As his face got closer to hers and he focused harder on her eyes, she could feel warmth growing. "What are you doing Wesley?"

"Call me Wes, Genevieve." He said as he raised her hand to his mouth and kissed her hand tenderly. "Am I wrong to assume that you're attracted to me?"

She scoffed at his forwardness. "I just met you."

He shook his head. "That's not what I asked you."

"I don't-" As she formed the words he bent his lips down and took hers, smelling her shock as she did not resist. She tried to breathe smoothly as he stole the air from her body. She could taste the sweet whiskey on his skillful lips. He took her waist in his hands and brought her body closer as she moaned softly into his mouth.

Hearing herself react, she pushed away from him quickly, hoping to salvage her resolve. "All you men are the same. Assuming a coloured girl is so eager to service you, that you don't even ask. You just take. You always take." She smoothed her clothes and fought her anger. "I'll help you while you're passing through Wesley, but not on my back."

He hung his head slightly in shame. He hadn't meant for it to be so offensive. "I do believe I've embarrassed myself, and you. I apologize." He held his hat to his chest, regretful of his insinuation. "If you'd be so kind to to point me to where I can stay?"

She felt guilt. As he apoligized, she realized it hadn't nearly meant what she had thought. She had judged him before she had given him a chance. "After you're done with Liam meet me outside, and I'll take you. It's a stone's throw." She left quickly, hiding the changing expression that she was sure was clear on her face.

*****

January 10, 1861

Eve, cleaned the glass cups as she opened Kelley's for the morning. She took advantage of the quiet of the empty bar and did the minimal task she almost never had time for. She had started working for the Cassidys as soon as she was old enough to hold a mug. Kelley and Liam had given her everything she could have wished for, a family, a home, and education, and had defended her when others shunned them for their decisions. The least she could have done was help them with their business. If Liam was her father, Kelley was her overbearing spanish mother. But Kelley was white-passing, so few knew the truth. Because of her privilege, she and Liam had been able to legally marry.

Kelley's home was the local eatery, and hotel, with new settlers passing through everyday. Eve helped Kelley cook, clean, and manage it while Liam focused on his appointment as sheriff. At night, Eve helped Liam maintain order, much to Kelley's dislike. They had cared for her, and taught her everything she knew, sparring no detail about the world growing around them.

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byIrian© 6 comments/ 5426 views/ 15 favorites

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