Love Rides a Chestnut Horse Ch. 01bytigrlily320©
It was late morning when she stood in the store, talking with the locals. Since the death of her father weeks ago, Isabella had struggled to keep the family ranch going, but was nearly ready to admit defeat. So that morning, she had ridden into town in a form-hugging dress with a long, full skirt and bonnet. As she stood there, she pondered over the changes that had come about in her life. She spoke with the shop owner about any local boys who may be willing to come work for her, knowing all the while that few young men would agree to work for a woman.
As they discussed this, the sound of hooves echoed outside as a stranger came trotting up. The big muscular chestnut walked up to the tie rail without urging. A man wearing brown pants and a denim shirt slid off and pulled off his hat. He ran a sun bronzed hand over his equally bronzed face and looked around, eventually glancing through the window into the store. Isabella glanced up and found herself staring as he stretched and pulled his hat back on, walking up the steps. He carefully dusted himself off before walking inside and looking around. She took in his build. He was muscular, and stood at around six foot two with deep hazel eyes and shining red hair.
He walked across the small shop, greeting the owner. Bella smiled shyly at him, feeling her heart flutter in her chest. He spoke with a deep, sure voice and a definite, lilting southern drawl.
"Good afternoon," he smiled as he made his way over to the counter. As he passed, he smiled politely at Isabella, tipping his hat as he greeted her with a "Ma'am." He looked back to the girl behind the counter. "I'm looking for work, but I don't need a lot of pay. As a matter of fact, I'd work for room and board for the right job."
Shannon's eyes widened and she glanced at her Daddy coming up behind her. Few in this sleepy little town would trust a stranger, though at one point they were all strangers themselves. She glanced at Isabella and subtly began to shake her head. But before Shannon's father could speak, Isabella heard her own voice.
"Well," she spoke softly, not yet making eye contact. The man looked at her as she began to talk, quickly removing his hat. "I could use a hand running our ranch. My father used to take care of everything," she paused, a ghost of a smile on her lips, "but he's not around now. It's a big old house, and there are plenty of empty rooms." She blushed, looked down. "I mean, if you want. I just can't do it all myself."
He gave a sympathetic smile, "sounds like it's a lot of work. You'll need help with it, especially now that summer's here.
She nodded. "Yes," she stated, looking up at him for the first time. He was shocked at the depth of her green eyes. There was innocence in them, yet also a sense of having seen too much already in life.
He cleared his throat. "If you'll have me, I'd be happy to work for you."
She smiled gratefully, and he was taken aback at how it lit up her whole face. She ignored the narrowed eyes and disapproving glances of the store's owner and patrons. "That's wonderful. If you'd like to ride home with me now, I'd be happy to take you there."
He smiled back. "Sure, my name's James by the way." He offered her his hand. She smiled as she took it, her still soft skin meeting his that was work-roughened.
"Isabella," she stated softly, yet confidently.
"Pleasure to meet you Isabella," he smiled down at her. "I'm ready whenever you are."
She smiled back up at him. "OK. Follow me then. Mr. Davis, Shannon, I'm sure I'll be seeing you soon."
She waved pleasantly at the other townsfolk whispering in the store and headed out into the hot sun. The fact that Isabella Murphy had taken a man into her home to live would spread through the town before lunchtime was upon it. He turned to follow her, unable to help noticing how pretty she was. She walked out to a large black stallion, rubbing his flank gently. As she unhooked his reigns from the pole, James swung back up onto the chestnut. He glanced over at her and then back inside.
"People gossip too much don't they, Miss Isabella?" Smiling, he steered the horse out into the street.
She looked up at him and smiled back. "They sure do, James."
She easily climbed up onto the strong black horse. "Ready?"
"When you are," he smiled as he trotted up next to her.
"Alright, then we'd best get home."
She nudged the horse into a trot, heading off down the road. As he moved along next to her, he struck up a simple conversation, watching her easy way with the horse.
"How much livestock do you have?"
She tilted her head to the side, thinking about the question, "We have a small herd, but they're good animals."
"If you're not sure, it's fine. I can ride out and do a count either this afternoon or first thing tomorrow morning."
She blushed, embarrassed to not know everything she should about her own ranch. She smiled at him even still as she nodded. "Tomorrow will be fine. I took care of the work this morning."
He nodded, the simple act assuring her that he did not think her incompetent due to her lack of knowledge. "So, it's just you by yourself out here?"
She nodded, a sad smile gracing her lips. "Yes. Well, it used to be just me and Daddy. He didn't like a lot of outsiders 'mixing in his business.'"
"You must be one special gal to keep it going all alone." He spoke softly, but with great respect as he glanced over at her.
"Well, it's only been just a few weeks since Daddy died. It didn't take me long to admit defeat," she returned the glance with a rueful smile.
"I'm so sorry." And he was. He was surprised to feel so protective of this small creature. But he already knew he didn't want to allow anything further to happen to her.
She looked to him, surprised at the sincerity in his voice. "Thanks."
He nodded. "Is that it?" He pointed to a large two story house with several large barns around it about 2 or 3 miles away
She smiled, looking at her home fondly. "That's the one."
"Looks like a nice place Miss Isabella. I'm surprised you don't have a line of beaus after you."
She laughed, and he smiled. It sounded like a bell ringing to his ears. "Oh, daddy used to scare them all away when he was here. Now that he's gone, none of them will come near me still."
"Lucky me," he I said, grinning. His face suddenly registered shock at his own forwardness. He looked contrite, until he heard her whispered response.
He smiled back over at her as they turned down the main drive.
"Race you there!" She called back over her shoulder as she took off, her long skirt flying out behind the horse.
He carefully nudged the chestnut, and they flew down the drive, slowly catching up to her. He leaned down over the horse's neck and clucked to him. Surging past the big black stallion, he pulled further away with every stride. He eventually slid to a dusty stop at the front porch and she rode up next to him.
She grinned up at him as she slid down off the horse. "OK, fine. You win this time."
He slid off of his as well, winking at her. "I'll give you a rematch any day. Do you want me to take them to the barn?"
"That would be great. I'll just head in and get a room ready for you."
As he took the reigns from her, his work roughened hand brushes hers for a moment, pausing at the shiver that ran through him. He then turned and walked toward the barn with the two horses.
She stood still for a moment, watching him walk away. She had felt the electricity in the touch as well. She took a deep breath and then slowly turned and headed up the front steps.
In the stable, James quickly got the horses unsaddled and groomed. He spoke softly to them as he worked, both seeming to respond well to his careful tone. After tossing them both hay, he grabbed his pack and headed back to the house, where he knocked on the front door. As he knocked, the door opened, not having been latched all the way.
He stepped carefully inside the door. "Miss Isabella?"
She appeared at the top of the stairs, bonnet removed. Her long, curly, blonde hair spilled loosely down her back.
"Oh my, but you're fast! Come on up and I'll show you your room."
He headed up the stairs, the big pack slung easily over his shoulder. Watching her, he turned into the room that he had seen her disappear into. He looked around to find a large four poster bed in the corner and a simple dresser and desk on the other side.
She shifted nervously. "I hope this is ok."
"It's wonderful. Much better than anything I've ever had." He gave her a genuine smile, and she ducked her head, blushing.
"Well, I'll let you get settled then." She turned to leave.
He set the pack on the floor and stooped to unpack it. He threw a glance over his shoulder, unable to get enough of her smile already. She walked softly out of his room, heading down the hall to her own. After she left, he unpacked the bag quickly. He took off his dusty jeans, changing into some clean pants before stripping off his shirt, revealing a muscled upper body. As he settled into his new environment, he looked around, but didn't notice that the door wasn't latched.
In her own room, Isabella rid herself of off the binding clothes she wore into town. As it was such a warm day, she left her undershirt and corset on alone, her supple breasts nearly spilling from the top. From her wardrobe she pulled a much lighter skirt and slipped it on. Brushing her long hair one last time, she wandered back out of her room and down the hall. As she walked past the open door to James's room, she saw him stretching his arms to the ceiling, exposing all of his chest and stomach. She paused, watching him as he pulled a shirt out of a drawer and slid his arms into it. She caught herself staring, and attempted to hurry away but bumped the door and attracted his attention. Upon hearing the noise, he turned toward the door and began to button the shirt. She met his questioning eyes with her own, wide and innocent.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered.
He paused, smiling. "It's fine. It's my fault for not closing the door." He finished buttoning the shirt quickly and walked out into the hall to join her. Her face was still flushed a deep red.
"I didn't mean to stare."
He gently touched her arm. "It's ok, we're not in town anymore. You don't have to be prim, proper, and perfect." He smiled a sardonic grin as he started to walk downstairs.
She stopped, taken aback. Grinning at him, she replied. "How do you know that's not just who I am?"
He looked over his shoulder at her. "Call it a gut feeling."
She laughed softly at his intuition and candor as they reached the bottom of the stairs. She moved around him and began to head for the kitchen.
"Can I help you fix dinner Ma'am?
"No, there's no need for that, I can take care of it. Thank you, but you make yourself at home. And please, just call me Isabella."
"Yes ma'...." he smiled as she glared at him. "Alright, Isabella," he laughed.
Laughing in her bell-like tones, she headed into the kitchen. He watched her go for a moment and then began walking down into the main house, tentatively looking around. He saw a portrait of a beautiful woman holding a child, who he assumed to be Isabella's mother. He could see the resemblance in her kind eyes and shy smile. There were more, smaller portraits of Isabella as a child, and several of a distinguished looking man who was surely her father. He smiled as he looked around at their family and then paused for a moment to realize they must all be gone. They had all left her alone. He again felt the surge of need to protect her, baffled at its origin.
Shaking his head, he walked quietly into the kitchen. "Well, can I at least keep you company? I've been out on the trail for a week or so now with no one but Leo to talk to, so it's really nice to have a person around"
She smiled. "Of course you can. I'm afraid it's not very exciting out here though. Why don't you tell me where you've come from?" She began to quickly peel potatoes and place them in a large pot.
"Well, as you might could tell, I'm originally from down south. I've slowly made my way west over the last few years."
She nodded, deep in thought as she listened. "So what brought you to this sleepy little place?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not sure. After the war, I didn't feel like staying where I was, so I just pointed myself west. I guess now here I am." He laughed as he smiled at her, "I'm glad I stopped though."
She turned slowly, setting down the knife and the potato on the counter. "Are you?"
He nodded. She raised an eyebrow questioningly. "Why?
He tilted his head slightly. "Well, because it looks like you need some help? There are people in this world who would just take advantage, and you're too sweet to allow something like that to happen to."
She raised an eyebrow, smiling. "But you don't even know me."
"I like to think I'm a good judge of character."
"Thank you," she flushed a bright pink and looked down.
"You're very welcome."
Isabella laughed, "God look at me, you're probably starving and here I am wasting time. I should really get cooking." She fumbled on the counter for her utensils.
"What are we having?"
"I've got some steaks that just came back from the butcher and potatoes, if that's ok. I should have some tomato and onion in the icebox as well."
He smiled, noticing how flustered she was. "That sounds excellent."
Her face was still flushed as she clumsily began peeling again. "That's good, I'm gl..." Her voice cut off with a gasp as she dropped the knife. He leapt from his seat and was at her side in an instant.
"Are you ok?" He reached down and picked up the knife.
She laughed shakily. "Oh, it's fine the knife just slipped. I'm fine." She held up her hand, showing a small cut on her finger. "You must think I'm such a baby."
He took her hand gently in his own, pouring some water over it before finding a clean cloth to wrap it up. He carefully guided her to a chair and sat her down. "I can peel the rest of them."
She stared at her hand as if it were a foreign object, feeling it tingle not where it was cut, but where his hand had held it. She shook herself from her daze, and replied. "You don't have to do that, I'm fine."
She watched as he walked back over to the sink, quickly rolling up both sleeves, revealing tanned muscular arms. He began to work on peeling them and looked back over at her. "I'm happy to." He put the peeled potatoes in a bowl.
"My, you are a really fast worker."
He smiled in her direction. "Lots of practice, I assure you."
As he turned back to his work, she allowed her eyes to scan over his body. She blushed and chastised herself, just before he turned to her, drying his hands on a towel. "What else?"
She stood, shaking her head. "Oh no you don't, you've done plenty already. Sit down."
He grinned, "yes ma'am." As he slipped past her on his way to the chair, his hand brushed against hers and she gasped softly. He stopped for a moment, looking into her eyes. He paused mentally to wonder at the shiver that passed through his body every time they touched. They looked into each other's eyes for a moment until he broke the gaze.
"Did I...um... hit your cut?"
She shook her head. "No. No, it's fine." She smiled, shaking off the feeling, but the blush began to creep up her cheeks.
He sat in her vacated chair. "You're blushing," he smiled.
"I... I know." She turned her back to him, composing herself while she placed the potatoes on the stove, and the steaks in the oven.
He watched her, concerned. "Did I say something?"
Isabella shook her head quickly. "No, it's nothing."
"Is there anything else I can help with?" He moved again to her side, feeling her tense as he approached. "I'm sorry, did I frighten you?"
She shooks her head again. "No." She muttered, "quite the opposite actually."
He smiled down into her eyes. "And what would be the opposite of frighten?"
"You... excite me." She blushed the deepest red he'd seen yet.
He took a step closer to her, his voice dropping. "Do I? How so?"
She quickly took a step back, her eyes widening. "No, I can't!" She looked down almost as if she were ashamed.
"I'm sorry, that was out of line." He stepped back, moving away from her. He berated himself for acting like an idiot and mumbled that he was going to go check on the horses. He stepped further away, moving to walk outside. As he did, she reached out and grabbed his arm.
"Please don't leave."
He turned back toward her slowly, looking down into her eyes. She met them and tried to explain. "I've never..." her voice trailed off.
"It's ok. I'm going to be around for awhile, you have all the time in the world to tell me."
As he went to move away from her again, she reached up, pulling his head down to hers and kissing his mouth hungrily.
A deep moan came from his throat, as he wrapped her in his arms and pulled her closer. His tongue hesitantly played with hers, awaiting the reaction. His fingers trailed in her shining blonde hair and he pulled her closer still. She softly moaned into his mouth, tentatively pressing her tongue against his. His hands explored her body, unable to get enough. He kissed her again and again, passion and hunger increasing with each kiss. She relaxed in his arms, her head back. Her body pressed against his.
When he finally broke the kiss, he stared deep into her eyes. "I want you," he mumbled, his voice barely a hoarse whisper
She softly moaned and nodded. "But I'm... I mean, I've never..."
"It's ok... I can wait."
She shook her head almost violently. "No, I don't want to."
He nodded, sweeping her up off her feet and walking to the stairs. "I'll go slow."
He carried her up the stairs to her room, gently laying her on the bed. She stared up at him, completely trusting, as he pushed off his boots and pulled off his shirt. His smile was reassuring as he climbs onto the bed, moving over her. He carefully leaned down, kissing her lips gently. He brought his hand up to stroke her face as he looks into her eyes. He slowly worked to undo the corset and pulled it off, tossing it aside. He then struggled with removing her top, trying hard not to tear the delicate material.
She smiled at his intent and whispered, "I have more."
At this, he smiled, reaching down and tearing it away easily. Watching her eyes, he slowly lowered his mouth to her hard pink nipple. He sucked it gently between his lips, rolling his tongue back and forth across it. Her eyes closed, her body arched as she moaned louder than before. Not lifting his mouth, he ran his hands down her body, pulling off the remainder of her clothes. Kissing his way back up her legs, he moved slowly, looking up over her body to watch her reaction. Her body shivered in fear and anticipation as he reached the warm wetness between her legs. He slowly and gently licked her lips from top to bottom, enjoying the whimpers and gasps she made. Isabella's eyes closed in pleasure as he licked around her soaking wet clit, sucking it into his mouth, then holding it between his teeth and teasing it with his tongue.
He pulled his mouth away and looks up at her tenderly. "Are you ready?"
Her breathing heavy, she nodded her head. "I am. Please."
He lifted himself off of her, slowly removing his pants. In doing so, he revealed his seven hard thick inches. Isabella found herself unable to tear her eyes from it as he moved up and pressed the head against her soft, wet entrance. As he heard her gasp, he eased the head inside, spreading her open for him. Her eyes widened, breathing increased, and he slowed, pulling back out a little.
Isabella let out a whimper, and shook her head. "Don't stop," she whispered.
Watching her eyes, he pushed in a little further, going slowly, terrified he might hurt her. He gently eased himself in deeper and deeper, stretching her with every inch. As she felt herself opening to him in her most private of places, she cried out, leaning her head back. He paused just a moment to let her adjust, and she pled with him to continue. His eyes never left hers as he worked the rest of his member inside her passage, leaning down to kiss her gently. Her moan filled his mouth as she stretched inside to accommodate him. It seemed forever before he finally rested on top of her, buried completely inside. He held her close, kissing her, touching her as her body shuddered, getting used to being filled. He could feel now her wetness enclosing him and began to ease himself in and out, staring into her eyes. She cried out, eyes wild as he began to slowly pump into her. He kissed her with deep passion, pushing deeper, pumping faster with each thrust until he felt her explode around him. Her body shuddered as she clung to him. Her contractions caused him to tense and explode within her. He called her name over and over as he climaxed inside her. When it finally ended, they lay there, clinging to one another, shuddering still. James pushed himself up on his elbows, hovering over her. He leaned down to kiss her gently once again.