Longarm and the Horse Thief's Daughter (9 page)

Chapter 34

He woke to the sound of pots rattling, the stove door clanging, and the chatter of customers out in the café. Now that it was daylight, he was able to see a little through the slits that were his eyes at the moment. He seemed to be in a storage room. There were crates and boxes and sacks arranged along the walls and two doors, one that would lead into the café, he supposed, and the other into an alley.

Belina's seemed to be popular now that Big Tim McGuire's people were not coming around to chase people away. Longarm smiled. He had accomplished that much anyway. Hadn't learned a damn thing about Frank Nellis or what happened to Sybil, but at least he had done Belina some good.

He tried once again to sit up. The pain in his belly and side was too much. He probably could have taken the pain if he had to. Fortunately he did not have to. He lay back down and closed his eyes again.

* * *

“Can you sit up?”

“Wha . . . Oh, it's you.”

“Who did you expect?”

“I dunno. Sorry.”

“Don't be. Can you sit up a little? You need something to eat.”

At the mention of food, his belly rumbled and growled. It was almost completely dark in the back room. A candle was burning out in the café, but there was no light in the back. Possibly the woman did not trust the threat of an open flame due to the jumble of goods she stored there.

“I don't know,” he admitted.

“Try, please. I'll bring some broth that I made for you.”

When she returned, she was carrying a saucepan and a spoon. Longarm shook his head and said, “Not possible quite,” he winced, “quite yet.”

Belina seemed to ponder that for a moment. Then she smiled. “I know what we can do.”

She set the saucepan down but took the spoon with her. The next time she came back she was carrying a metal tube with a rubber bulb on one end. “It's a baster,” she said. “I use it to suck up the juice from a roast or whatever and squirt it over the meat.” She smiled. “I don't see why it can't be used to squirt broth into your mouth.”

Belina propped Longarm's head on the pillow, parted the hairs of his mustache, and pressed the small, open end of her baster between his lips.

The first shot was too much for him to swallow. He coughed out half the broth. But the liquid, rich with fats and spices, was almost sinfully good.

“Not so . . . not so much. But it's wonderful.”

She tried again, less at a squeeze this time, and Longarm sucked at the baster like he would at a tit. “Damn, that's good.”

After she had gotten a cup of broth or more into him, she removed the pillow and said, “That should be enough for now. I don't want to make you sick. You've been empty for a long time.”

“Long time?” he asked. “Didn't I have lunch here just today? Or maybe yesterday?”

Belina laughed. “You've been lying here out cold for four days, mister.”

“I'll be damned.” He closed his eyes and slept again.

* * *

Longarm woke to feel the warmth of Belina's plump body beside his, pressing against his side, her hand flung across his chest. He squirmed, trying to find a more comfortable position. The movement—or something—caused her hand to shift. Lower. So that it was lying on top of his cock.

The accidental contact was enough to make his dick swell and grow. In moments he had a rock-hard boner that he tried to will away, not wanting to exceed his welcome in the woman's bed.

It did not work, and in her sleep Belina moved ever so slightly. It had the effect of rubbing his cock.

Longarm's breathing became rapid and shallow, and he felt fairly sure that if he did not wake her or somehow move her hand away, he was going to squirt hot cum all over her hand, his own belly, and the sheet that loosely covered the two of them.

Then he realized that Belina's breathing was rapid too.

She moved. Slid down toward the foot of the bed until her head was at his waist level.

In the darkness he could feel her breath hot on his cock.

She took it in her hand. Peeled his foreskin back.

And took him into the heat of her mouth.

Longarm stroked her head, her back, discovered that she was naked. He began to thrust upward with his hips. That hurt like hell, but he could not control the impulse to drive ever deeper into her mouth.

It was over in moments. Longarm came in a rush. Belina swallowed hard, sucked on him a little longer, then with a sigh lay back down close against his side.

He closed his eyes and again slept.

Chapter 35

He was feeling better. Well enough to leave, actually, after six days flat on his back. But there was something he had to do first.

“Wait a minute, Belina. Before you open up this morning, come here, please.”

“What is it, Custis?” She obediently came over to the bedside, her dress in her hand, her underwear stark white against pale, puffy flesh.

He took her hand and pulled her down onto the bed beside him. Each morning and again every evening for the past two days she had favored him with blowjobs. Now he wanted to give something back.

Longarm lifted her chemise and suckled her tits, tantalizing her nipples with his tongue while he kneaded her other tit with a hand.

He squeezed her tit and ran his hand down across her more than ample belly. Belina's body did not excite him, really, but she was a good and generous woman, and he was sure she wanted more of him than she had been taking. Was sure she wanted more than the feel of his dick in her mouth and the taste of his cum.

He ran a finger through the wire-tough curly hairs at her crotch and found the opening to her pussy. A minute or so of stroking and Belina was wet and already beginning to writhe and moan under his touch.

He pulled her drawers off and levered her legs apart, then shifted his body over hers, lying on top of her. And then in her.

Belina gasped when she felt Longarm's length enter her body. She lifted her hips to him, and he began to slowly pump in and out.

After no more than a minute, Belina cried out and clamped her thighs hard around his hips as she shuddered and gasped in the throes of her climax.

Longarm kept going. Slowly. Then faster, faster still, until he was pummeling her body with his. Faster until he felt the sap rise within his balls and explode outward into Belina's pussy.

She cried out again from her second climax, and he joined her in the sweet release.

Belina held him tight and began to cry.

Longarm pulled back, saw the tears streaking her cheeks. “What's wrong? Did I go an' do something wrong?”

She shook her head violently from side to side. Still crying, she said, “No, Custis, you did nothing wrong. I just . . . I just . . . It was so wonderful. It was everything I hoped it would be. I know . . . I know I'm fat and men don't find me pretty, but you . . . I'm so glad my first time was with you.”

“First time?” he asked.

She nodded. “No one has ever cared for me like that before. Oh, I've diddled myself, like with cucumbers and things, and when I was little a boy taught me how to suck a cock. But I've never . . . you know.” She smiled through the tears. “Until now.” Belina kissed him. “Thank you. Now, please excuse me. I really have to get the café open, dear.”

She got up, dressed quickly, and hurried up front to start cooking for the day.

Longarm took his time about getting dressed. It occurred to him, not for the first time, that he had no idea what had become of his rented mare and the burro with all his things loaded onto it.

He could ask a cop, he thought with a half smile. They seemed to know everything that happened around here, so maybe they would know that too.

Longarm yawned and stretched and went out front so Belina could cook him some breakfast before he left to resume his search for Sybil Nellis.

Before he left the small, dim room where he had been Belina's patient for all these days, he slipped a twenty-dollar double eagle into the pocket of an apron she had hanging there. He knew good and well she would not take pay for what she had done for him, but he had been eating her food—and sharing her bed—for all this time. He thought it only right that she not be out for the cost of all that food.

Chapter 36

“Animals found on the street like that would be impounded and taken to Zuniford's Livery out on the edge of town. The owner can come claim them up to ten days if he pays for their board and impoundment fees. After that they become public property and are sold at auction,” the desk sergeant said.

“What about in this case?” Longarm asked.

“All right, what about this case?” the sergeant returned.

“In this case, your officers beat the crap outa me and laid me up so's I couldn't tend to that horse and the burro. I'd think it was the department's responsibility to see to my animals,” Longarm said. He was becoming more than a little irritated with these local police.

The sergeant only shrugged and went back to reading a newspaper on his desk.

“I want to see the chief,” Longarm said, his voice hardening.

The sergeant looked up. “He don't want to see you.”

Longarm headed toward the police chief's office, fully intending to barge in unannounced if he had to. Or by main force if it came to that. He was saved from the necessity by the chief himself who was on his way out somewhere.

“Aw, Long. You, um, look much better than the last time I saw you. What seems to be the problem now?”

When Longarm explained the situation to him, the chief looked at the sergeant who had followed and was standing behind Longarm now—Longarm guessed that was so he could employ his nightstick in an attack from behind; he suspected most of these cops were a sorry lot.

“Jerry, write the man a note.” To Longarm he said, “Give the note to Clete Zuniford. The town will pay to house your animals while you were, um, unavailable.”

Longarm grunted and turned away. He did not feel any need to thank the chief for simply doing what was right . . . after first the man and his people had been doing what was so very wrong to begin with.

He did, however, collect the note from the desk sergeant. He stuck it into his pocket and headed for the land office, the original reason he had come to town.

Once there, he ran into more officious bullshit.

“I'm sorry, sir. Claim filings are not public record. I can't show them to you.” The clerk was a small man who looked to be in his twenties but whose hairline was receding to the point of being nearly bald already. He wore sleeve garters and eyeshades over wire-rimmed spectacles. And he looked almighty pleased with himself to be able to turn down a request by a citizen.

Longarm sighed. If it weren't for Belina Jenkins, he would have been awfully tired of this town. He reached into his pocket and produced his wallet.

The land office clerk's expression brightened. No doubt, Longarm thought, the sorry son of a bitch was thinking he was about to receive a bribe for giving out information that should have been public record anyway.

Instead of paper currency, Longarm produced his badge. “I ain't the public, mister. Now get those recent filings. And do it right damn now.”

The clerk peered down at the badge, then up at Longarm's iron-hard expression and ice-cold eyes. “Yes, sir.”

Chapter 37

Clete Zuniford was much more pleasant to get along with than the so-called public servants had been. The man was an aging, stove-up former cowpuncher who used a cane to help support a leg that bent in places where legs should not bend, but that did not seem to slow him down much. It certainly had not made him bitter, like so many invalided punchers Longarm had seen through the years.

“Oh, yes. Fine animals, sir, and I think you will find that they have been well taken care of.” He smiled. “I can't abide seeing an animal go hungry or thirsty. They've had all the hay and water they want and,” he winked, “they may have gotten a little grain now and then too. Even the little guy.”

“Do you have my packs too?” Longarm asked.

“Yes, of course. I put them in my office there so when I wasn't around they were under lock and key. I'm sure nothing was taken. If you do find that anything disappeared while they were in my care, just let me know and I will pay for the missing things.”

“If anything did go missing,” Longarm said, “I'm betting it would be into the pocket of one of your policemen. My opinion of those folks isn't very good.”

Zuniford offered no comment to that, which Longarm suspected was comment enough in itself. Not that Longarm blamed the man. He lived here and had to do business with those tarnished coppers. If they wanted to, they could make trouble for Zuniford.

“They're in the back there. I'll get them for you,” Zuniford said. “You can grab your things out of the office.”

Longarm checked his pockets for the map he had purchased at the land office—the miserable little son of a bitch there had made him pay for it—then went in to get his saddle and packs.

There were four different sites that conceivably could have been the Nellis find. The time frame fit if nothing else. And the timing was really all he had to go on. Each had been marked on the map for him. At least the man had done that much without charging extra.

When Zuniford led the mare and the burro in from one of the small corrals behind the livery barn, Longarm saw that both animals were sleek with fat. It was obvious that the man had not only fed them well while Longarm was recuperating from his beating, but also brushed them to a gloss—even the fuzzy-eared burro.

“They look good,” Longarm told him, meaning it. “Thank you.”

“Oh, they were nice company. I enjoyed having them here.”

“You're sure the town will pay for their board?” Longarm asked.

Zuniford nodded. “They will. I have that note you gave me. It will serve as a warrant for payment.”

The crippled former cowboy loaded the burro for him while Longarm was busy with his saddle. Built a pack that was tighter and tidier than Longarm could have done too.

When the animals were ready to head out, Longarm said, “Let me check to make sure I didn't miss anything in there.” He hadn't and he knew it, but there was one more thing he wanted to do inside Zuniford's office cubicle.

He stepped inside, fished another of his double eagles out of his pocket, and laid it on the liveryman's cluttered desk. He deserved that for the care he had given to those animals.

Finally he stepped into the saddle for the first time in too many days and touched the brim of his Stetson to Clete Zuniford.

A slight squeeze of his legs and the mare stepped out, the little burro following at the end of the lead rope.

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