Courting the Outlaw's Wife - Part One
by Paty Jager
It had been years since Sara Lynn blushed.
Finding the one man she wanted and could never have standing next to the waterhole where she liked to cool off on hot days flared heat to her cheeks and stuck her tongue to the roof of her mouth.
She’d stepped out from behind the bushes in nothing but her shift and found the handsome sheriff of Wasco County standing at the water’s edge.
“What are you doing out here, Mrs. Star?” Sheriff Shaw DeRai asked, his gaze taking its time wandering down her scantily-clad body to her bare toes and back up to her face.
The only other times he’d spoken to her had been while busting up rowdies on Saturday night in the saloon attached to her hotel. The deep timbre and amusement in his voice tickled her insides.
“Taking a dip in this waterhole. It’s miserably hot today.” She scanned the area to make sure he was alone. “How come you’re so far from town?”
“My horse threw a shoe, and we stopped for a drink. It is a hot day.”
His dark green gaze raked over her, again, and she could have sworn his tanned faced took on a rosy hue under the gray Stetson and blond curls.
The sound of pounding hooves and shouts tore through the stillness.
Sheriff DeRai shoved Sara Lynn behind him and drew his six-shooter as three rough looking men barreled into sight.
She studied the three. Her chest squeezed.
No, not now, not when she was finally feeling free and making a good living.
If they recognized her, she’d have to pick up and leave, again. Sara Lynn clenched the back of the sheriff’s shirt and buried her head against his spine. She’d moved six times the last two years to avoid coming across her dead husband’s band of outlaws. And here they were nearly running she and the sheriff over.
Shaw DeRai shot his pistol in the air. Mrs. Star jerked his shirt at the sound. He liked the way she burrowed into his back hiding behind him. Her actions proved she trusted him. Ever since she bought the hotel and he’d got his first glimpse of her at a town meeting, he’d wanted to get to know her better. Her copper colored hair, deep green eyes, and porcelain skin filled many of his lonely evenings as he daydreamed about courting her.
The horses dropped onto their haunches ten feet from him and Mrs. Star, coating them with dust.
His instinct was to pat her on the back, but the looks of the men peering down at them, he felt inclined to keep his pistol handy and his attention on the three men.
“What’cha hidin’ behind your back?” the man closest to him asked, waving his already drawn pistol.
Mrs. Star clutched his shirt tighter.
Shaw reached up and tugged on the collar so he could talk without being strangled. “It doesn’t matter what’s behind me. You three best be mosin’ on along.”
One of the men, sporting a dark beard had been sitting back listening and watching under the brim of a cavalry hat that had seen better days. He urged his horse forward and spat tobacco juice on the ground barely missing Shaw’s boot.
“We don’t take orders from no lawman.” He drew his pistol and clicked the hammer. “I’m close enough I could blow your head off and find out what’s behind you.”
Mrs. Star squeaked and stepped out from behind him.
“Ma’am, you don’t—” He reached out to move her back behind him. Her state of undress wasn’t something he wanted the likes of these men seeing.
“It’s all right, Sheriff. I don’t want you killed on my account.”
The bearded man in the cavalry hat hit the ground and strode forward. “Sara Lynn? We’ve been huntin’ all over this territory looking for you.”
Shaw moved to step back in front of her even as his mind was trying to figure out how these outlaws knew Mrs. Star, and by her first name.
The man shoved him to the side and picked her up in a big hug. “Damn woman, I thought I’d never lay eyes on you. When Chet died and you disappeared. I tore that town apart looking for you.”
“Put me down. There was a reason you couldn’t find me.” She beat on the man’s arms.
Shaw cocked his pistol and held it to the side of the man’s head. “The lady says she wants down.”
The man’s cold gaze raked over Sara Lynn in her chemise and then he shot a lethal glare at Shaw.
“You sparkin’ with this sheriff?” The man shook Sara Lynn like a rag doll.
That snapped Shaw’s limitations. He slammed the butt of his pistol into the man’s head.
Sara Lynn dropped and the man crumpled to the ground.
The click of two pistols rang in Shaw’s head seconds before he felt the bullets rip through him.
The last thing he remembered was Sara Lynn screeching before he passed out.
I'll post another section of this story every Friday during the month of March.
You can find more western stories, both short and novel length at my website: www.patyjager.net