Rocky Mountain Rogue (Rocky Mountain Bride Series Book 5) (2 page)

The driver yelped and dropped his weapon, and Jesse felt he'd finally gotten a piece of luck. The man was a coward, and probably not attached to Doyle.

Jesse dismounted and started walking up the side of the coach. "I have my gun on you," he called. "Just keep your hands in the air and I promise you'll survive. This coach has something of mine—"

He reached the side of the coach, just as the door swung open and caught him on his side. He staggered with the blow, and then a shrieking weight hit him.

Jesse went down under the human missile. He landed on his back in the dirt, scrabbling with his attacker, who seemed to be wearing a copious amount of frothy petticoats. Whenever he got a grip on the fabric, the fancy cloth slipped through his fingers. He redoubled his efforts, and the sweet smelling bundle turned into a hurricane of scratching nails, ear piercing squeals, and flying blonde hair.

He flipped her onto her back and stared down at the most beautiful blue eyes he'd ever seen. Dirty blonde hair, pink lips, pert nose: the little miss would be lovely, if she wasn't such a screaming harpy.

"Madam, you will be silent." He shook her. For a second the lady seemed stunned into silence, staring up at him. Then her eyes rolled up into the back of her head and she fainted.

Jesse took the opportunity to check on the driver, who watched the whole event silently, his hands still in the air.

"Good man," Jesse said, still in control even though his arms were full of woman and his rifle lay beside him on the ground. At least his handkerchief was still in place. "I just want something in the coach that's mine. And then I'll let you on your way."

"Could you take her too?" the driver asked hopefully.

Jesse glanced down at his lovely armful and realized she hadn't come awake from her faint. As a man of the ladies, he could guess why.

Cursing, he flipped her over and tore at her dress, growling as he ripped at the tiny, delicate buttons. Goddamn women and their many layers. Usually he enjoyed this part and took it slow, but he had no time now for a fancy damsel who tied her stays too tight for some stupid fashion.

First the dress and the over-petticoat, and then he'd burrowed enough to find her corset. Drawing a knife out of his boot, he cut her stays and clapped the woman on the back. When she started gasping for air, he pulled off his glove and loosened her drawers so he could run his hand across her torso and down her slim waist and hip, checking for broken ribs. His rough hands caught on her silky skin, but there was no hurt, nothing but lovely, unblemished flesh, visible under the silky layers.

Jesse ripped off a strip off her fine drawers and bound her wrists while the woman heaved and coughed and drew air into starving lungs. With his help, she came up into a sitting position in his lap. A few seconds later, she realized her dress was gaping open, then discovered her hands were bound. Color came into her cheeks as she stared at him, open-mouthed. Jesse took the opportunity to give her a cheeky grin, which, even hidden by the handkerchief, more than implied how he felt about her in his lap.

She immediately regained her pique. "What is this? You villain! Untie me at once."

Deciding he didn't like the haughty tone in her voice, he turned her over his lap and smacked her bare cheek. She yelped and stilled.

Jesse liked that reaction so much he did it again, then took a fist of the dirty blonde hair and pulled her head up slightly. "Do as I say and you won't get hurt."

She grimaced and he tugged her head back further, his grip a little tighter. "Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir," she whimpered.

Jesse paused at the breathless answer, then decided he liked it. "Good."

He became aware of her curvy body pressed up against his, and almost groaned when she wriggled against him. It'd been too long since he'd had a woman. He'd abstained ever since he'd invited his bride to meet him in Colorado Springs. And now here was a lovely piece of calico just like he liked them, bound and half undressed.

A snort from his horse reminded him of his mission.

"Stay put," he told the lovely baggage, and deposited her on the ground.

"Damn you to hell," she said.

"Such fine language for a lady," he tutted. "Someone should teach you manners."

Out of the corner of his eye, Jesse saw the driver nodding in agreement.

Well, no one said business couldn't be pleasurable.

Instead of rising, he grabbed the lady's arm and hauled her up over his lap. He smacked her rump once, as she struggled to free herself. Her hands were tied before her, so she couldn't manage to reach back to protect her bottom. Jesse caught her bound wrists anyway, and held them out in front of her. He drew his thigh over hers, using the weight so that she couldn't kick her feet. The woman stilled under him, as if realizing she was completely pinned at his mercy.

"That's better," he chuckled, and brought his hand crashing down over and over again.

She screamed and kicked and flexed her hands in their bonds.

Jesse felt himself grow impossibly hard and gritted his teeth. What he wouldn't give to be able to smack her bottom rosy, then set her on her knees and order her to use her mouth to please him, while he pinched her nipples to teach her.

"This will teach you to mind, little lady."

She growled in frustration, writhing with all her might, and he redoubled his efforts until she settled down. Her bottom cheeks warmed to a delicious red before he stopped.

"That should do it, for now. I pity the man who takes you in hand for the rest of your life."

He gave her a final smack and tipped her off his lap. She settled on her knees before him, glaring up at him with her dress almost sliding off her shoulders and angry tears coursing down her beautiful face.

"Stay," he ordered, like she was a dog, and left her kneeling in the dust.

Raising his rifle, he ordered the driver down, and held it on the man, forcing him to carry most of the luggage out into a big pile, until Jesse found the big black box he was looking for: Doyle's safe.

"Just one thing and I'll be on my way," Jesse said cheerfully. He tried picking the lock first, then swapped his rifle for a pistol and took aim. The shot did nothing but make the horses nervous, and both the driver and the woman wince.

Grim, Jesse went to his saddlebags and drew out the stick of dynamite. Halfway through rigging it, Jesse heard a shout.

"Wait!" Hands still bound, the woman struggled to her feet, her neckline flapping. Jesse put his hand on his pistol, but didn't point it at her, even as she rushed at him desperately, her body half bent, her cleavage in serious danger of being exposed.

"Not my trousseau!" she shrieked.

"Whoa, little lady." Jesse caught the little miss around the waist when she rushed past him to the luggage, and held her against him.

"Please don't harm my luggage. It's all I have." She looked up at him with eloquent eyes, but it was her body pressed against him that persuaded him.

Jesse grinned down at her, noting how, with her corset loosened, she was curved in all the right places. With a gentle hand, he pulled her neckline into place. "Since you ask so nicely, I suppose I could let it alone. Kneel back down, sweetheart."

With a little sob, she did as he said and his cock hardened further. He liked giving orders to this little wildcat, and watching her turn sweet as a kitten when she wanted something from him. He especially liked it when she was kneeling, her head at just the right height for other entertainment.

Pointing his rifle, he guided the driver to separate the safe from all the other bags, then directed both his captives to stand back while he lit the fuse. The trunk blew open, scraps of paper flying about as Jesse stepped forward to take his treasure. He stacked the gold bars into two saddlebags and weighted Jordan equally.

Turning to the open-mouthed driver, he tipped his hat at the man. "Much obliged."

"Do you know who you've robbed?" the driver asked. "Silas Doyle, the most dangerous man in the whole territory. His men ride with the Royal Mountain Gang."

"You must be sure to pass on my thanks to him for sending you right past my stakeout. Take care next time you pass through here. There are some really awful men about."

He stalked back to his horse, but couldn't resist detouring near the little lady and offering her a hand up.

Her pretty eyes shot bullets at him, but she allowed him to help her to her feet. As he straightened, he noticed her staring at his ungloved hand and the burn scar marring the skin.

Cursing himself for his carelessness, he cast about for his glove and pulled it on. This was supposed to be a clean job: fly in, rob Doyle and worry his men, and ride off. He didn't have time to tussle in the dirt with a pretty, brave—if petty and misguided—piece of calico.

Still, he couldn't resist stepping closer to the little chit again and brushing a strand of blonde hair off her cheek.

"It's been a pleasure, my beauty, but all too soon we are parted." The little baggage was growing on him, he decided. Her features looked somewhat familiar to him, even twisted with hate.

"I hope they catch you," she spat. "Then you'll hang."

Gripping either arm, he pulled her close, until he could scent the lavender perfume she wore. Her bound hands pushed at his chest, frantic and ineffective, but her face tilted up to look at him enticingly. He bent his head close, so his lips almost touched hers. "Till we meet again, baggage." For a second, her sweet breath warmed his lips, and he was almost tempted to take her mouth, then throw her up over Jordan and ride off.

Instead, he set her away, pleased when she made a little sigh of disappointment. Seems he made an impression on the little baggage. "Enjoy the rest of your trip." He smirked, before turning on his heel, mounting his horse, and riding away.

* * *

A few days later, Susannah paced about her grubby hotel room, waiting for her fiancé to arrive. A mirror stood in the corner; she checked it every time she passed. Wide blue eyes stared back at her, framed with dark blonde locks that she smoothed nervously. She'd lost weight on the journey, but kept enough curves to fill out her new white muslin dress, though as the hours wore on, the fabric, like everything else in this awful town, was gaining a thin coating of dust. She hoped her new husband would understand her somewhat disheveled condition. After all, it was a miracle she and her trunks had arrived safely at all.

As soon as the black-clad bandit had ridden away with his stolen goods, she and the driver had repacked the stagecoach, leaving the smoking safe where it sat. The driver had fretted that his employer, a Mr. Doyle, might not believe the tale of the lone robber and therefore would suspect that he killed the guard and took the gold, but Susannah convinced him she would back his story. Once she arrived in Colorado Springs, she settled with her three trunks and six bags in a room at the Main Hotel to wait for her bridegroom, all too ready to put the event behind her.

To her dismay, the first night she dreamed of the man in black: not his murdering or pillaging, but the way he held her and spanked her bottom, then leaned in to kiss her, darting away at the last moment.

Impossible man. She would see that he was flogged before he was hanged.

The truth was, she couldn't get the bandit out of her mind. Half the time she spent thinking of ways he should die, the other half imagining the pull of his lips, his large, strong body encompassing hers, his hands on her body, touching her flesh, handling it with both authority and care. In her dreams he spanked her again, undressed her fully, and looked at her like she was a goddess rising from the sea.

Susannah woke gasping, and not even a rapidly waved fan or endless successions of baths could cool her ardor.

Even now, pacing in her room and waiting for the man she was to marry, she couldn't stop thinking of the bandit. The more she thought about the rogue, the more he seemed familiar, which was ridiculous. How would she, Susannah Moore, a schoolteacher and lady of Boston, have cause to know an outlaw? A scoundrel, a knave, a rogue of the worst degree, a no-name bastard with a devilish glint in his hazel eyes. If he were here, she'd give him a piece of her mind.

In fact, she wished he was here right now, so she could rip the bandanna off and spit into his face. That would serve him right. He'd ruined her best corset!

The only thing that kept her pride intact was the thought of how the thief would be caught and hanged once she reported him to the authorities. Indeed, within a few hours of her arrival, the sheriff had come knocking to get her report of the incident, but she'd feigned weakness until he'd ceased his questioning. Some reluctance kept her from telling the complete truth: she’d made the bandit sound scrawny and short, with a paunch and a limp, knowing the sheriff would chalk up her confusion to her womanly nerves. She neglected to tell him about her ruined clothes and corset, and hoped the driver had left out those particulars as well. For some reason, she wasn't sure why, she didn't tell the sheriff about the scar on the bandit's hand.

Realizing she was almost breathless from her frantic pacing, Susannah stopped and smoothed her dress. No use thinking of the incident, it was over and done, and by this time tomorrow, she would be a respectable, married woman.

Of course, if she had her way, she would choose a man like the tall rogue to marry. Powerful, confident, masculine, unwilling to let anything stand in the way of what he wanted. The way he had picked her up so easily, his touch firm yet gentle—in her weakness she wished for a man who would handle her the same way, one who would stand up to her temper and take control.

A knock brought her thoughts to a halt and sent her scurrying to the door. Mrs. Marsh, the hotel proprietor, stood outside. Susannah couldn't be sure if the woman liked or hated her; the matron had certainly been put out by all of the young traveler's luggage, and Susannah's request for a servant to assist with her toilet. Susannah's next best corset (in line after the one the robber had destroyed) laced up the back, and she wasn't going to meet with her intended wearing less than her best. She was sure her new husband would provide a maid to help her once they were settled in his home.

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