Having Your Cake

by Helen Adams

Author's Note: This is just a bit of silliness, not to be taken seriously or canonically, though there is a twisted little nod to “Penance” thrown in just for kicks. Written with love and giggles for Kim, the world’s biggest shirtless Ezra fan. Happy Birthday, hon!

“Oh my ... God! Did you see what those women did?”

Buck’s eyes had a dreamy cast to them. “Yeah.”

Ezra’s hands clenched into fists. “First you . . . and then it . . . and then they . . . oh my GOD. I still can’t believe that woman actually did that!”

“What’d I miss?”

Buck grinned at Vin, who had pulled his truck up outside the Saloon and got out just in time to hear Ezra’s spluttering. Ezra ignored him, too busy swiping at his ruined clothing and smeared skin in a vain attempt to remove a sticky substance, all the while repeatedly invoking the Almighty. Vin shot a questioning look at Buck.

“Thanks for coming to get us,” Buck told him. “Hell of a time for my car to break down.”

Vin grimaced. “Bullshit. You just didn’t want to let him inside to mess up your new leather upholstery.”


“You should be guilty, you bastard,” Ezra growled, swiping futilely at the mess coating his shredded shirt. “And you wouldn’t have thought it was so much fun if it had been happening to you!”

Buck heaved a weighty sigh and endeavored to look sad.

Ezra snorted. “I nearly forgot who I was talking to. Of course you would have enjoyed such an experience.”

Vin crossed his arms over his chest. “One of you want to fill me in? Thought you were just supposed to be doin’ Inez a favor and helpin’ her out here today.”

“Oh, we helped all right. Until she decided to help herself!”


Ezra gave him a withering glare. “Of course not.”

“Well, then who the hell are you talking about?”

“Think he means the birthday girl,” Buck offered.

Ezra shuddered from head to toe at those words.

Confused but sensing a good embarrassing story, Vin grinned and asked Buck, “What did she do to him?”

Glancing behind him, Ezra shot the bar a glare so intense it should have incinerated the building on the spot. Jabbing an accusing finger at Buck, he replied in the other man’s stead. “It was entirely his fault. He gave me the signal to wheel out the tray bearing the birthday cake, as we had prearranged. The ladies reacted favorably and amused themselves by flattering us, saying that they hardly needed cake when they had two handsome men to feast their eyes upon.”

“Don’t sound so bad.”

“It wasn’t, then, it was rather amusing. However, as I set the cake before her, our calculating celebrant commented that I did, in fact, look good enough to eat and this gave Mr. Wilmington the clever idea to remove a curl of frosting from the confection and wipe it on my cheek.”

“And the birthday girl . . .?”

Licked me!”

A snort of disbelieving laughter escaped Vin at the indignant response. He looked to Buck for confirmation. “Is he kidding?”

Buck merely shrugged.

“Does it look like I’m kidding?” Ezra snarled, hands flailing as he indicated his messy appearance. After a few more swipes, he gave up his torn and frosting splattered shirt as a lost cause, removed the offending garment and chucked it into a handy garbage can.

Vin’s brow rose as he cautiously poked at a glob of chocolate decorating Ezra’s clavicle, surrounded by a set of small red abrasions on the skin. “Are these teeth marks?”

“Well, she’d had a couple of drinks by the time he brought the cake out,” Buck offered, snickering at the indignant expression this produced.

“A couple? Allow me to correct your mathematical skills, Mr. Wilmington. A couple implies two, not three, not six! If the lady had confined herself to a mere couple of drinks, this fiasco might never have taken place!”

Vin tried to placate his seething friend, knowing he was making a bad job of it when he could not stop grinning. “C’mon, Ez. One little nibble ain’t so bad.”

Ha!” he blasted, gaining startled glances from his friends and appreciative if puzzled ones from a couple of female passerby as he took off his smeared and sticky slacks right there in the parking lot, removed his wallet and keys from the pockets and sent the pants to join his ruined shirt in the trashcan. Standing in the parking lot wearing crimson silk boxers, a pair of handcrafted Italian loafers and a liberal coating of half dried chocolate frosting, Ezra looked as angry as a cat caught in a water-balloon fight. “After she took her little sample, our shameless celebrant invited all of her friends to join the fun.”

Vin was turning bright red with the effort not to laugh in the enraged man’s face. “What’d Buck do?”

“He ripped my shirt!”


Buck shrugged. “I was tryin’ to pull him out of the pack before somebody got hurt. Grabbed him by the back of his shirt. How was I supposed to know that the thing was so damned flimsy it’d just shred like that?”

“That shirt was made of hand-woven silk, you imbecile! It wasn’t meant to be manhandled like some cheap rag off a WAL-Mart half price shelf!” Ezra bellowed. Turning back to Vin, he continued, “Unfortunately, the sight of exposed male flesh simply drove the estrogen-crazed Mongol horde to new heights of depravity. The cake was quickly reduced to so much crumb-coated finger paint as I became their canvas of choice. You can just imagine what happened next!”

Vin lost his battle not to laugh. “I got a feeling my idea won’t be half as good as the real thing.”

“Yeah, the ladies kinda figured all that yummy chocolate shouldn’t go to waste,” Buck offered, his attempt at a sympathetic look ruined by a guffaw at the memory. “I felt downright jealous, let me tell you. Half a dozen beautiful drunken women helpin’ themselves to a big ol’ slice of . . . well, him.”

“Bastard,” Ezra growled. “Buck was laughin’ so hard at my plight that he didn’t lift a finger to help, even though I was busy fighting off a twelve-handed Amazonian octopus from hell. In fact, he was cheering them on!”

Buck waved off the complaint. “Come on, now, it wasn’t that bad. So they got a little personal. It wasn’t like they hurt you.”

Pointing to another clearly delineated set of teeth marks decorating his left pectoral, Ezra squawked, “They bit me!”

“Big baby. Ain’t you ever had a hickey before?”

Ezra glared fiercely at Vin’s comment. “Shall I send you inside to ask the ladies for an encore? I’m sure they’d be more than happy to oblige.”

Watching the seething southerner pick crusted frosting out of his hair, Vin stepped back a pace. “Uh, I think I’ll pass.” Turning to Buck he asked, “So other’n’ laughing at him, what were you doing all the time he was getting his pastry frosted?”

“Collectin’ our pay.”

Ezra froze in the act of scraping dried icing from his chest. “Excuse me?”

Smugly, he produced a sizeable wad of bills from his pocket. “Well, see, Inez was supposed to bring in a stripper for her friend’s birthday bash, only she forgot. She couldn’t find anyone at the last minute and she was getting kind of desperate, so I decided to help her out.”

Ezra took a threatening step forward. “Just one damned minute. Are you telling me that you and Inez were conspirators in this degrading series of events? You two deliberately set me up to be mauled by a collection of hungry sex-starved cougars?”

Buck stepped back. “Well, now, it wasn’t as bad as all that, right? I mean, I didn’t know they were gonna be all over you like that. I figured they’d just cuddle up and give you a few thrills.”

Thrills? That sweet little grandmotherly lookin’ one put her hand down my pants!” He took another step forward, backing Buck up yet again.

“Uh, guys, we’re kind of attractin’ a crowd here,” Vin told them. “Maybe you should just get in the truck. I’ll give you a ride home, like you called for.”

Ezra was beyond hearing him. “How much?”

“Only a couple of . . . okay, okay, a few . . .” Buck gulped and offered a nervous smile. “Three hundred dollars?”

Ezra stopped in his tracks. His teeth unclenched and astonishment removed the tightness of rage from his tone as he repeated, “Three hundred?” He looked thoughtful. “I think I may be in the wrong line of work.”

Hopefully, Buck held out several bills. “What do you say? Give you half!”

Green eyes narrowing dangerously, Ezra snatched the offered cash. “All of it.”

“But I made the deal. I should at least get to keep . . .”

Stepping close enough to send flakes of dried chocolate flying across Buck’s shirt, Ezra’s voice grew quiet. “All of it.”

“Right, sure, since you’re the one who did all the work,” Buck agreed quickly, handing over the rest of the cash.

Vin patted Ezra on the shoulder, wiping his palm down his jeans with a disgusted grimace when it came away coated in frosting. “Okay, now we got that settled, why don’t you go get in the truck before somebody decides to arrest you for public indecency?”

Suddenly, Ezra seemed to recall that he was standing half-naked in a very public parking lot and wasted no time in obeying the suggestion. As Buck moved to follow, Vin held him back. In a low voice he asked, “How much you really get?”

Buck grinned. “Six hundred. Josiah, Chris, Nathan and JD bet me a hundred fifty apiece that I couldn’t make Ezra lose his cool in public. I think stripping his clothes off and yelling like a maniac in broad daylight counts, don’t you?”

Vin laughed. “I’d say so. How come you left me out of the action?”

“Sorry about that. You were off attending that weapons seminar in Oklahoma when it came up. Besides, I wanted an impartial witness.”

“So that’s why you called me here? To back up your story?”

Waving a hand toward the bar, Buck drew Vin’s attention to the swinging doors, over which he could just make out Inez watching the scene. She grinned and waved a digital camera in the air.

“Figured it wouldn’t hurt.”

“Dang, man. What the hell did Ezra do to piss you off so bad?”

The mustached man scowled. “Remember that little date he set up for me with the Bonner twins last year?”

Vin chuckled. “Should’ve known you wouldn’t let that one go so easy. But you gotta admit, they were damned pretty for transvestites.” Holding up both hands in a warding off gesture when Buck’s glare turned on him, he said, “Remind me never to get on your bad side, Bucklin.”

Rubbing his hands together, Buck gave his best madman cackle. “Vengeance is mine at last!”

A snort was Vin’s reply. “Just remember that when Ezra sends you the bill for them fancy duds you just ruined. I’ll bet he paid five hundred dollars for ‘em.”

Buck’s nose crinkled. “You don’t think he will . . .”

Swiping up a glob of frosting that had landed on Buck’s jacket, Vin grinned at him. “I know he will. Reckon Ezra will figure this is a good case for havin’ his cake and eatin’ it too, ‘specially if you let those pictures get out.”

For a moment he looked dismayed, but then Buck glanced at the truck and saw Ezra staring at them with an expression that clearly demanded to know what was taking them so long. His brown hair was sticking up in stiff spikes where he had tried to get the frosting out and a long muddy looking streak of the stuff was smeared across his face from temple to cheek.

A hearty chortle bubbled from Buck’s lips. “It was worth it.”

Following his gaze, Vin also started to laugh. “Reckon it probably was at that.”