Longarm and the Banker's Daughter (9781101613375)

BOOK: Longarm and the Banker's Daughter (9781101613375)
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Beauty and the Bushwhackers

As he worked on the trout with his fold-up barlow, Longarm glanced once behind him in time to see Lacy standing naked by the fire, her back to him. It was nearly dark now, and the fire's glow bathed her backside in shiny copper, her rump round and full. The side of one breast peeked out from under her arm as she stooped to step into her dress.

She glanced over her shoulder at him. He turned away with a chuff. She giggled.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the creek, a tall man with a rifle stepped out from around the bluff and hunkered down behind a boulder, poking his hat brim off his forehead as he cast his gaze toward the camp.

Another, shorter man stepped up from behind him and squatted beside him. He was beefy and thick-bearded, and he wore an eye patch. He fingered the Henry repeater that rested across his knee.

“Take him from here, Stony?” he asked, keeping his voice low so that he could not be heard above the muttering of the creek.

“Not yet, Frank,” said Stony Millen of the Gunn and Cruz Bunch, the fire's glow reflecting in eyes set deep in bony sockets. “Not . . . just . . . yet . . .”

DON'T MISS THESE ALL-ACTION WESTERN SERIES FROM THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

THE GUNSMITH by J. R. Roberts

Clint Adams was a legend among lawmen, outlaws, and ladies. They called him . . . the Gunsmith.

LONGARM by Tabor Evans

The popular long-running series about Deputy U.S. Marshal Custis Long—his life, his loves, his fight for justice.

SLOCUM by Jake Logan

Today's longest-running action Western. John Slocum rides a deadly trail of hot blood and cold steel.

BUSHWHACKERS by B. J. Lanagan

An action-packed series by the creators of Longarm! The rousing adventures of the most brutal gang of cutthroats ever assembled—Quantrill's Raiders.

DIAMONDBACK by Guy Brewer

Dex Yancey is Diamondback, a Southern gentleman turned con man when his brother cheats him out of the family fortune. Ladies love him. Gamblers hate him. But nobody pulls one over on Dex . . .

WILDGUN by Jack Hanson

The blazing adventures of mountain man Will Barlow—from the creators of Longarm!

TEXAS TRACKER by Tom Calhoun

J.T. Law: the most relentless—and dangerous—manhunter in all Texas. Where sheriffs and posses fail, he's the best man to bring in the most vicious outlaws—for a price.

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

LONGARM AND THE BANKER'S DAUGHTER

A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Jove edition / December 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Cover illustration by Milo Sinovcic.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-61337-5

JOVE
®

Jove Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

JOVE
®
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

The “J” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Chapter 1

“Honestly, Marshal, I just don't know how I can repay you for all you've done for me,” said Lacy Sackett, throwing her shoulders back and causing her red, scoop-necked blouse to draw taut against her breasts.

“All in a day's work, miss.”

“No, really.”

He was trying hard to keep his eyes off the girl's breasts, though he knew from previous glances and out-and-out ogling that they were fine and proud and firm, and that the low-cut blouse exposed a good share of the deep, lightly freckled cleavage. The nipples pushed determinedly against the fabric from behind what skimpy little under-thing she was wearing.

“Like I said, all in a day's work. It was my job to get you away from them owlhoots and that's what I did.”

The tall, rangy, broad-shouldered deputy United States marshal known far and wide by friend and foe as Longarm swung down from the back of his smoky-gray gelding, squinting against the dust catching up to him and his beautiful blond companion.

“I just wish I could have thrown a loop around those brigands who kidnapped you while I had 'em so close,” he added, staring back along the floury-white horse trail rising and falling over the sage-stippled hogbacks. He removed his snuff-brown, flat-brimmed, low-crowned Stetson and swiped it against his brown tweed trousers, causing dust to billow. “Oh, well. When I get you safely back to Jawbone, I'll head out after 'em again. I'll bring 'em in—don't you worry.”

He looked at the woman still sitting in the saddle of her white-stockinged black horse, kept his eyes on hers, consciously not letting them drift to her tits, though he knew with his man's sense and his experience with women that she wanted nothing more than for him to appreciate her.

He winked at her, smiled reassuringly. “They'll hang for the folks they killed during the robbery, and for what they did to you, too, Miss Sackett.”

“Oh, please,” she said, her green eyes sparking in the western sunlight angling down from over the tall, rugged peaks of the San Juan Mountains jutting in the west, “we've been through too much together for you not to call me Lacy.” She extended her left hand to him beseechingly. “Help me down, Marshal?”

Longarm gave an inward groan as she slung her right leg over her horse's rump and he reached up to wrap his hands around her slender waist. Her belly was taut and flat. As he held her, his hands slid up against the undersides of her breasts.

Yep, they were firm and proud, all right. He liked their weight against his knuckles, however brief, and caught an imagined glimpse of himself cupping and suckling the naked orbs while he impaled her with his staff. When he'd set her down on the ground, she stumbled forward, and those two mini-volcanoes flattened against his chest. He could feel the soft, yielding rake of her nipples through his fawn vest and the blue wool shirt behind it.

She chuckled. Her chin came up and her green eyes met his. They were like twin jade blades of light that, while aimed at his face, bored into his prostate deliciously. Again, he heard an inward groan echoing around inside his skull as his pants drew taut across his crotch.

“Whoops!” she said, pressing her hands against his broad chest, her fingertips digging into the flat slabs of his pectoral muscles behind the flaps of his black frock coat. “Still a little unsteady on my feet.”

“After what you been through,” Longarm said, “I don't doubt it.”

Reluctantly, he stepped around her and reached under her horse's belly to unbuckle the latigo. “Why don't you sit and rest while I unsaddle these horses? I'll forage for firewood and have a fire going in a bit. If I can find one, I'll shoot us a rabbit and try to throw us a stew together. It won't be no meal like what you're used to back in Jawbone, but I reckon we won't go to bed hungry.”

“Oh, I'm feeling better now,” she said. “Now that you've saved me from those horrible, horrible men.” She stared at him, wringing her hands together, and gave an involuntary shudder. “God, how awful. Anyway, I'll gather some wood and get a fire going. I know how to do it. Daddy's taken me camping a few times when he went elk hunting in the mountains.”

As she strode off through the brush lining the creek behind Longarm, he watched her over his shoulder as he unleathered her horse and then his own. Christ, what a filly! She wore that tight, low-cut red blouse and a very plain, long, wool skirt with rather plain, black, high-topped boots. But nothing could ever look plain on a girl with a build like that.

Lacy Sackett was the daughter of Alexander Sackett, the banker of Jawbone. The Sacketts were a rich family with a sandstone-block house sporting a wraparound porch and several turrets and balustrades on the town's ragged edges. Lacy had happened to be in the bank the day the Heck Gunn and Orlando Cruz Bunch had busted in, scared hell out of the bank's three tellers, pistol-whipped the president, Lacy's father, and emptied the vault of over thirty thousand dollars in gold coins and greenbacks.

Miss Sackett had been in the bank delivering to her portly father a wicker-basketed lunch consisting of a roast beef sandwich, a bowl of potato salad, and one pickled egg in waxed paper when the dastardly deed had gone down. They'd taken Miss Sackett as a hostage, threatening they'd kill the beautiful, well-endowed green-eyed honey blond if the town marshal followed with a posse.

As far as Longarm knew, no posse had been sent. And while the robbery and kidnapping was really none of Longarm's official business, him being a federal as opposed to local badge toter, and merely passing through Jawbone on his way back to Denver on the heels of another completed mission running owlhoots to ground, Longarm had gone after the bunch himself on the grullo he'd appropriated from a livery barn.

He'd also appropriated the black to ride in shifts with the grullo, allowing him to cover more ground more quickly than he could have with only one horse. When the robbery had occurred, he'd been enjoying a leisurely and long overdo bath as well as a three-for-a-nickel cigar and some Maryland rye, but when he'd heard the gunfire, he'd scrambled into action against the worried banker's wishes.

Someone
had to do
something
, for chrissakes. Who knew what they'd do to his beautiful and virginal young daughter, though Longarm had had a pretty good idea . . .

He'd caught up to the gang after a hard four days' tracking and had sprung the girl from their camp early that morning, when she'd been stealing off through the brush to tend nature while Heck Gunn, Orlando Cruz, and the nearly half-dozen others were just beginning to stir from their hot rolls.

Now as the comely ex-hostage walked amongst the trees, stooping occasionally to pick up sticks and blowdown branches, he couldn't help admiring the stretch of long leg revealed by the skirt she said that Heck Gunn himself had cut with “an awfully large and savage-looking knife,” thus making it easier for her to straddle a horse.

Long, slender, and creamy. No stockings to interrupt the view through that slit, either. Turning toward Longarm, she stopped along the creek and bent forward to retrieve another branch, and her breasts pushed up enticingly, damn near spilling out of the blouse. As they did, she looked up to catch him ogling her. Longarm's ears warmed and turned away quickly but not before seeing the knowing smile quirking those rich, bee-stung lips of hers.

“Marshal?” she asked a few minutes later as he rubbed her horse down with the scrap of burlap he'd found in his saddlebags.

“Yes, Miss Sackett? I mean, Lacy.”

He turned toward her standing by the ring of stones she'd arranged and in which the small, snapping flames of a fledgling fire danced and smoked, crackling. She had her arms crossed beneath her breasts, pushing them up slightly so that a good half of those large, creamy orbs were revealed once again.

“I just want you to know,” she said sheepishly, her cheeks coloring a little, “that no harm came to me.”

He looked her over. She was unmarked. Maybe she was too beautiful for even the lowly likes of Heck Gunn, Orlando Cruz, and their motley, raggedy-heeled ilk to bruise her up.

“I'm glad for that, Lacy. You got lucky. That bunch is pure poison mean and rotten to the core. I've heard about them from up Denver way.”

“No,” she said, shaking her head and lifting her demure gaze to his, perfectly sculpted cheeks turning the red of ripe apples. “I meant that they didn't harm me . . . the way you'd think they might. My honor is not . . . compromised.”

“Oh.”

“Yes.” She smiled, then lowered her chin once more, rubbing her hands together thoughtfully. “I . . . for some reason felt it important that you knew that.”

Longarm found himself staring at her creamy cleavage again and gave himself a mental boot to the ass. “Well . . . I'm just as glad about that, though of course there wouldn't be no shame in it. There's not much a pretty young woman can do when set upon by the likes of Gunn and Cruz.”

“No, I suppose not.” Her eyes brightened and her red lips spread, showing the even white line of her teeth. “Do you think I'm pretty?”

He felt a thud in his loins, as though he had a second heart down there. He cleared his throat. “Of course I do. What man wouldn't?”

She continued to smile at him, smoke wisping around her, the burning sticks crackling . . .

“Well, then,” he said, swallowing a hard knot in his throat and tossing away the sweat-soaked scrap of burlap. He looked around. The light was fading fast and a chill was descending from the pale-green, late-summer sky. “I was gonna see about shootin' a rabbit for supper, but I think I'll see if there's any fish in the creek yonder.”

“I'll keep building up the fire.”

“Sure, sure.” Longarm walked over to where he'd piled his gear including his McClellan saddle and the more traditional western riding saddle he'd rigged to the black and crouched down. “There's some Arbuckles in my saddlebags here,” he said, pulling out a fire-blackened coffeepot in which nestled a small canvas pouch of coffee beans. “When the fire's goin' good, go ahead and cook a pot. Me—I'm gonna do a little fishin'.”

While the girl resumed gathering wood, Longarm produced a sewing kit he always carried for darning torn clothes as well as torn flesh. He plucked out the barbed fish hook he stowed inside with several sewing needles, as well as a length of catgut thread, then, tying a .44 caliber shell to the line above the hook, he wandered on over to the creek chuckling over the rocks at the base of a chalky bluff.

He fed a couple of worms to a couple of feisty, elusive trout before finally pulling one out of the little hole he'd found nestled against a gouge in the bank, under a low-hanging branch of a giant cottonwood. It wasn't a large fish, but it didn't have to be because the one he pulled out of the hole ten minutes later was nearly as long as his forearm.

“Oh, my gosh—look at that!” said Lacy as he dropped the fish in the brush. “You caught two lovely trout!”

He hadn't heard her walk up, but now as he saw her standing several feet behind him, he froze. The large fish flopped on the end of his line. But he'd already forgotten about the fish. The girl stood before him, barefoot and bare legged up to her knees, a blanket wrapped around her. Her honey-blond hair lay in a wonderful curly mess about her bare, porcelain-pale shoulders. She held two smoking tin cups in her hands, and she extended one to him, smiling shyly.

“Forgive my dress or lack thereof,” she said, jerking her chin toward the camp in which orange flames danced in the stone ring. “I took a little bath in the creek and washed out my blouse. It was quite dirty. It's drying by the fire. I hope you don't mind my using your blanket.”

She stared up at him as he stared at her, his hands suddenly weighing as much as good-sized boulders at his sides, making it impossible for him to lift them to take the proffered coffee. “Not at all.”

She held the cup a little higher. “I brought you a cup. Thought you could use it. Getting a little chilly out here.”

Finally, he regained some feeling in his right hand, and he managed to raise it and wrap it around the hot cup. She held his gaze, her eyes sparking coquettishly, cheeks dimpling. Then she said softly, sexily, her free hand tugging the blanket a little higher on her chest, “I'd best be getting back to the fire. Gonna get dressed.” She gave him a feigned look of admonishment. “No peeking!”

With that, she turned and headed back to the fire with her coffee, the blanket sliding lower on her slender back. Longarm watched her go, sipping his coffee, then dropped to his knees to begin dressing the fish.

As he worked on the trout with his fold-up barlow, he glanced once behind him in time to see Lacy standing naked by the fire, her back to him. It was nearly dark now, and the fire's glow bathed her backside in shiny copper, her rump round and full. The side of one breast peeked out from under her arm as she stooped to step into her dress.

She glanced over her shoulder at him. He turned away with a chuff. She giggled.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the creek, a tall man with a rifle stepped out from around the bluff and hunkered down behind a boulder, poking his hat brim off his forehead as he cast his gaze toward the camp.

Another, shorter man stepped up from behind him and squatted beside him. He was beefy and thick-bearded, and he wore an eye patch. He fingered the Henry repeater that he rested across his knee.

“Take him from here, Stony?” he asked, keeping his voice low so that he could not be heard above the muttering of the creek.

“Not yet, Frank,” said Stony Millen of the Gunn and Cruz Bunch, the fire's glow reflecting in his eyes set deep in bony sockets. “Not . . . just . . . yet . . .”

BOOK: Longarm and the Banker's Daughter (9781101613375)
8.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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