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Chris Larabee put his shoulder to the barn door and shoved it closed, cursing himself all the while. The cold, bitter wind was whipping all around, coming at him from every direction and cutting down through to his bones, and he had no coat. No hat. No gloves.
Nah, I don't need a coat. He could still hear his dismissive words to Vin. I'll be out in the barn. Feedin' the horses'll keep me plenty warm.
Except he'd forgotten he'd have to walk back to the cabin from the barn. And he'd have to walk outside. In that brutal, bone-numbing wind. Through two days' accumulation of snow. With no coat. No hat. No gloves.
Goddamn it, Larabee, ya got no fuckin' sense!
He turned away from the barn and started toward the cabin -- cabin, damn it, not shack; Chris Larabee didn't live in no goddamn shack! -- and into the wind, putting his head down and hunching his shoulders, crossing his arms tightly against his chest and thrusting his hands into his armpits. Nothing helped. The wind sliced through his clothes like they weren't there and the snow seemed to seep right through his boots, stripping him of even the memory of warmth.
Shit, Tanner, you better have one helluva fire goin' when I get there!
He looked up at that, and saw the smoke pouring from the chimney pipe. A slight smile tugged at his freezing lips. Of course, Vin would have a fire going. The tracker felt the cold more keenly than anyone Larabee had ever known and would do everything he could to stay warm. Hell, by now, he might well have burned all the furniture...
He stiffened at that thought and stared fixedly at the stream of smoke, trying desperately to remember if he'd brought any wood inside. Vin wouldn't go out unless he had to, unless he absolutely, positively, no-way-around-it had to. If there were any other alternative...
Oh, Jesus, Jesus, tell me I brought in wood! I worked too damn hard on them chairs for that thin-blooded Texan ta use 'em for firewood!
He started forward, almost running. Tanner was a practical man, even ruthlessly so, and he was no great believer in the sacredness of "stuff." No mere chair, however painstakingly carved and fashioned together it had been, would stand between him and being warm. It wasn't as if the man was exactly used to sitting on chairs, either. He could be as comfortable on the floor as on a chair. Hell, more so if he was on the floor and warm.
Oh, shit. Shitshitshitshit...
Though his numbing feet made running difficult, Chris forced himself to cross the yard at a reasonable trot, hoping all the while he'd remembered to bring in more wood. Tears streamed from his wind-pricked eyes, and his face stung as if unseen hands were slapping it. Hell, even his earlobes were frozen!
Goddamn it, Tanner, if you say one fuckin' word about my fuckin' coat, I'll fuckin' well shoot yer scrawny Texas ass!
With a last burst of desperation, he leapt onto the porch and lunged for the door, thrusting it open and bursting through it with a snarled warning already forming. "Goddamn it, Tanner, you'd better not be b..." The words died on his lips as all his carefully-stoked anger abruptly deserted him, replaced by shock and wonderment. "Vin?" he croaked.
"Ya gonna shut that door, cowboy?" the tracker asked in his soft, lazy drawl. "Or you jist gonna kill us both with pneumonia?"
Chris swallowed hard, but obediently closed the door behind him. Never once did his gaze leave Tanner.
The tracker hadn't burned the chairs. He was sitting before the fire in one now, with his booted feet propped on the seat of the other, his long, slim legs crossed at the ankles. On his head was a low-crowned, flat-brimmed black hat, pulled down low over his eyes; in place of the dark red shirt he'd worn earlier was one of Larabee's black ones, buttoned up to his throat; and over that he wore a long black duster. His full, shapely lips were wrapped around a thin cheroot, which he puffed at slowly while watching Larabee from beneath the brim of that hat.
"Uh, Vin?" Chris finally managed to rasp, his blood heating and flesh stirring at the sight before him. Tanner looked completely different, slightly exotic, and thoroughly desirable in the black garb. The chill was leaving Larabee's body. Fast. "There some reason you're wearin' my clothes?"
Vin lifted his chin a fraction and stared at the blond in silence. As he saw the green eyes darkening with the familiar hunger, he took a long, deep drag on the cheroot.
Larabee stared at the cheroot, saw the beautiful mouth tighten about it, watched the end glow a bright red as Tanner drew on it. Then the tracker lifted a long-fingered hand and took the cheroot from his mouth. Pursing his lips, he slowly exhaled a stream of smoke. Chris went weak in the knees.
"Bin thinkin'," Tanner drawled softly, and Larabee knew he was in trouble. The Texan was the embodiment of the old saying, "still waters run deep." He rarely spoke, but that mind of his was never still. And when he had time to exercise his considerable imagination -- which, by his appearance, he'd clearly had -- it always, always meant that Chris Larabee was in for a hell of a ride.
Vin frowned thoughtfully, brows drawing down over brilliant blue eyes, and stared at the glowing end of his cheroot. "I'se ponderin' on what makes you so scary," he went on in that sandpaper-on-leather voice. He cocked his head slightly to one side, as was his habit when "ponderin'," and slid the tip of his tongue slowly over his lower lip, then let it linger for a moment at one corner of his mouth before withdrawing it. "Y'know, Larabee," he said matter-of-factly, "some folks jist turn ta jelly when you so much as look at 'em."
Chris swallowed hard and took a small step forward, praying his legs didn't collapse beneath him. Jelly. Yeah, he knew the feeling.
Vin's frown deepened as he continued to divide his attention between the cheroot, which was no longer burning quite so brightly, and Chris, whom he figured was just beginning to burn. He nodded once, another habit when thinking. "I reckoned it must be all this black ya wear." He uncrossed his ankles, bent one leg at the knee and hooked his boot heel on the edge of the chair, then pushed back until the chair he was in rested only on its back legs. He put the cheroot once more to his mouth, closing his lips and drawing slowly, deeply, until the end glowed brightly again. "So," he said, exhaling another stream of smoke, "do I scare ya, cowboy?"
Chris tried to answer, but was incapable of anything more than a hoarse, strangled croak. His throat was tight, his breathing quick, and his heart was pounding a furious rhythm in his chest. He stared at Vin in utter fascination, glittering gaze riveted to that lean, black-clad figure, and felt the heat from a thousand fires sweeping through him.
"Scared" wasn't the word.
Vin fought the urge to smile as another wordless groan escaped Chris. The gunslinger had spent the better part of last night turning him to jelly, and now he figured it was his turn. Wouldn't pay to let Larabee get too all fired high and mighty.
With that in mind, he pulled the cheroot away from his mouth again and studied it intently as he rolled it slowly between his thumb and forefinger. Then, with the lightest of gestures, he flicked away the accumulation of ash, glanced at Chris without seeming to, and blew gently on the end of the cheroot until it glowed.
Larabee shuddered and exhaled sharply, easily able to imagine that mouth blowing on him. In their time together, Vin had done a thousand and one things with that talented mouth to torment and delight him. Now he realized it didn't even have to be on him to have that effect. He was trembling just from watching, and his cock was straining to take the place of that damned cheroot in Tanner's nimble fingers.
"You g... you gonna share... any'a that, pard?" he rasped, praying Vin would know he wasn't talking about the cigar.
But Vin only raised wide, impossibly blue eyes to the tall, trembling gunfighter, cocked his head slightly to one side and swept his tongue lightly over his lower lip. "You want a smoke, cowboy?" he asked innocently.
Chris's mouth opened and moved, but no words could get through his dry, tight throat. His green eyes were wide, glittering, and a dark flush was rapidly spreading over his sweat-beaded face. He took a single, unsteady step forward, then stopped and shuddered again as that tongue flicked once more against those full, firm lips.
A sharp thrill of triumph swept through Tanner as he watched Larabee dissolve into helplessness before him. And he hadn't even touched the man yet! With a flash of wickedness, he decided to see just how far he could take this game, how much he could do to Chris before the man was begging for mercy.
Sometimes even the hungriest of predators played with the prey before finishing it off.
Setting his chair down on all four legs, he moved his feet to the floor and rose to them with a fluid, feline grace. The duster settled itself about him like a dark mantle, longer and looser on him than it was on Larabee, emphasizing the leanness of the body beneath. With a perfectly sober, serious expression on his face, without even the barest hint of a smile, he crossed the cabin with his silent, cat-like tread, seeming almost to float upon the air. Never once did those amazingly blue eyes leave the man before him.
Nor did -- could -- Chris's eyes leave him. Larabee stood transfixed, awash in heat, his blood rushing like molten fire through his veins, his every heartbeat echoing in his stiffened, throbbing cock. All at once, he felt a deep kinship with the rabbit caught out in the open by a circling raptor. The hawk was coming for him, and Chris couldn't have run if he'd tried.
Vin stopped less than an arm's length from Larabee and stared up at the taller man. Still without a smile, he raised the cheroot to his mouth, but did not set it between his lips. Instead, he turned it lengthwise, and slid his tongue slowly along it, almost to its burning tip. When he saw the green eyes go wider still, when he heard the shuddering gasp tear from the blond gunman, he licked just as slowly back the other way.
"Want some?" he asked in a low, lazy rasp.
Chris shuddered violently and only barely kept himself from sinking to his knees. "Vin--"
Tanner allowed himself the smallest of smiles, his blue eyes filled with wickedness. "Say 'purty please,' cowboy," he drawled. "Man oughtta have some manners." He flicked his tongue once more against the cheroot, then slipped it again between his lips.
"Pretty please!" Chris gasped helplessly, wondering when the hell he'd grown so jealous of a goddamn cigar.
Rather than surrender his to Chris, Vin reached into the duster's inner pocket and drew out a packet of the cigars, making a show of selecting one. "See, cowboy," he explained in that husky voice as he examined each one in turn, "some of us is jist natur'ly picky. Don't b'lieve in settlin' fer jist any ol' thang."
Chris swallowed hard, entranced by the sound of that voice. It was like nubby silk, soft and supple, yet given texture by that rasp. And the drawl that deepened and laid words over on their sides when Tanner was in the grip of strong emotion was the most seductive damn music Chris had ever heard.
Just like the siren's song in those old legends...
Intensely aware of Larabee's rapt attention upon him, Vin ran a long, slender forefinger over every cheroot in the packet, stroking lightly, tapping gently, pinching, rewarded by yet another strangled gasp. He took each one out and slid it slowly through a cupped hand before returning it to the packet. Only when Chris, his lean frame taut and trembling, had to brace himself by spreading his feet wide to keep from falling, did Tanner make his selection.
"Y'see, pard," he said softly, drawing the chosen cheroot out and holding it up before those burning green eyes, "there's an art ta this." He dropped the packet back into a pocket, having chosen his weapon, then drew deeply on his own cigar and exhaled a cloud of smoke. "Ya gotta use a li'l imagination."
Chris suspected any more imagination might just kill him.
But Vin was determined to exercise what Maude Standish would call his "God-given gifts." He raised the unlit cigar slowly to Larabee's mouth, slipped it between the gunfighter's waiting lips, then, just as they closed about it, pulled it out again.
"Cain't rush these things, cowboy," he explained as Larabee loosed a growl. "Some pleasures was meant ta be... savored." He smiled in satisfaction at having remembered the word.
Chris scowled and narrowed his eyes. "You been talkin' ta Ezra again." And again, damn it, he felt a sharp stab of jealousy.
Vin saw it in his eyes and stepped closer, smile fading, blue eyes wide and dark beneath the black hat brim. "Talkin', yeah," he breathed, reaching out to run the smaller end of the cheroot down Chris's chest. "But only talkin'. All the rest is jist fer you."
Chris struck suddenly, hands lashing out to grab Vin's arms and pull him closer. "Don't ever forget that, either!" he growled through clenched teeth. "Like I said before, I ain't one for sharin'."
Any other man would have been terrified. Vin Tanner wasn't "any other man." He gazed down at one of the strong, long-fingered hands gripping him, gauged the pressure of the fingers digging into his arm, then lifted his gaze once more to Larabee's smoldering one. And before Larabee knew what was happening, before he could react or change his grip, Tanner, who had a lifetime of experience in escaping such holds, relaxed his body, shifted just slightly, and wrenched himself free, spinning away with a laugh and leaving Larabee holding only the duster.
"If'n ya wanted yer coat," he teased, eyes dancing as he poised himself just out of Larabee's reach, "all's ya had ta do was ask."
Chris scowled deeply, though light and heat flooded his green eyes. "Playful today, ain'tcha, Tanner?" he growled, taking a step forward and watching as the tracker danced lightly away. He tossed the duster aside and crossed his arms against his chest. "But you still owe me a smoke."
Vin had held onto the cheroot and now lifted it, smirking at the glowering gunman as he puffed on his own. "Reckon mebbe you should come git it. Cowboy," he taunted.
Like quicksilver, Larabee lunged toward the smaller man. He'd not earned his fearsome reputation for nothing, was as fast on his feet as he was with a gun. He had all the coiled power in his lean body of a panther, and struck with that same strength and speed. Quick hands snaked out for the tracker...
And came up empty. Tanner waited until the last possible moment, then, with another laugh, whirled away again as light as a spring wind, blue eyes dancing with delight. He heard the growl of frustration deep in Larabee's throat, and felt it reverberate deep within his own body. He loved eliciting that sound in Chris, loved igniting the passion from which it sprang, loved knowing he alone could so tease and torment the man whom the rest of the world so feared.
Most of all, though, he loved knowing Chris loved him.
"You're slowin' down, Larabee," he heckled the gunman. "Y'ain't gittin' old on me, are ya?"
Chris narrowed his eyes and stared at the young man who stood just beyond his reach. The duster was gone; the hat would have to be next. "Way I figure it," he seethed through clenched teeth, "ain't but one of us here gonna get any older. Other's just gonna get dead."
Vin lifted his head slightly and threw Larabee a cocky, crooked grin from beneath the shade of the hat. "Don't worry, Chris, I'll take it easy on ya. Wouldn't wanta kill ya or nothin'. Old man."
Chris stiffened at the jibe, then drew himself to his full height, squared his shoulders and planted his fists on narrow hips. To his delight -- and just as he had hoped -- the change in his stance wiped the smirk right off the tracker's face and widened the blue eyes. He could have sworn Tanner damn near swallowed his cigar.
"Somethin' wrong, son?"
Vin shivered and bit down hard on his cheroot, watching in fascination as the black shirt stretched taut over the spread of Larabee's broad shoulders and down the length of his powerful chest. For long moments, he stood in silence and stared in frank admiration -- hell, adoration -- at the man before him, almost able to feel the hard muscles hidden beneath black fabric. And he would feel them before he was through, he was determined. He'd feel those steel arms twining around him, feel iron thighs clamping about him, feel the whole hard, hot length of that glorious body pressed close against him.
Or kill them both in the trying.
"Nothin' that I kin see," he answered at last in a low, raspy drawl. "'Course," the smirk returned and blue eyes swept insolently over the long, lean frame, "I ain't seen it all yet."
Chris arched a blond brow. "Keep up with that smart mouth," he warned, "and you won't see it, either."
Vin's smirk blossomed into a mischievous grin, and he stepped closer to Larabee. "Ooh," he purred, stepping closer still, "big bad gunfighter's gonna get tough now, is he?" Half an arm's length from Chris, he reached out and trailed one end of the unlit cheroot slowly down the black-clad chest. "Gonna show me who's boss." He took another step closer and brushed the cheroot down the front of the black pants. "Tell me, cowboy," he breathed, his breath fanning warmly against Larabee's throat as that cigar played across his crotch, "ya think you kin hold out aginst li'l ol' me?"
Chris actually thought he was going to explode. He watched the cheroot in Vin's mouth twitch with every word, felt his cock straining painfully against his pants as the other cigar brushed against it, and knew without a doubt that Vin Tanner would surely be the death of him someday. Hell, he could see it now. Killed by a goddamn cigar.
But not today.
"You," he whispered in a strangled croak, trying to will strength into his shaking limbs, "are one evil bastard!"
Vin knew what was coming the moment the thought crossed Chris's mind. With cat-like quickness, he snatched the cigar from his own mouth, leapt to plant a teasing kiss against Larabee's lips, then whirled away again, once more escaping hands that lashed out to grab him.
"But ya love me for it!" he laughed, returning the cigar to his mouth and puffing on it with enormous satisfaction.
And, watching him, Chris was struck anew by the depth, the intensity, the ferocity, with which he did indeed love Vin Tanner. Especially at moments like this. He sometimes forgot how young Vin really was, sometimes forgot that the quiet, steady, rawhide-tough man who could kill in so many ways and with such ease was in fact closer to JD Dunne's age than his own. But in that short life, he'd known more cruelty than kindness, seen more brutality than beauty, had had all trust and youth and innocence stripped from him and left to bleed and die in the dust. And it had aged him. He had old eyes and an older soul, and would never be young again. Except when he was alone with Chris. It humbled Larabee to know that Vin trusted him, loved him, enough to show this side of himself when it was just the two of them, to bring down his barriers and relax his guard and let the young man who still lived in the deepest part of himself come out to play. To see the blue eyes sparkle with life, to hear not just the quiet chuckle that was all Vin would permit himself in public but the all-out laugh that bubbled from him, to watch him dress up like a gunfighter and twirl away like a dancer...
"God, yes, I love you!"
The hoarse whisper stopped Vin in his tracks and sent a ripple of confusion through him. Sensing the sudden shift in Chris's mood, he frowned slightly and cocked his head to one side, studying the man intently. The green eyes, while still filled with light and heat, were softer now, and the long, lean frame was more relaxed. He knew Chris still wanted him, could see plainly the evidence of his desire, yet there was more, much more, and the truth and power and depth of it swept through him with all the force of a spring flood, filling his mind and his soul and damn near knocking him off his feet. Shuddering beneath the impact, his breath torn from him in an unsteady gasp, he went slowly, slowly forward, blue eyes dark and wide, all signs of teasing gone from his face.
Dropping the unlit cheroot to the floor and taking his from his mouth, he walked up to Chris and slipped his arms about the gunman's neck, pulling the blond head down to his. "Love you, too, cowboy," he whispered, pressing his mouth to Larabee's in a deep and hungry kiss.
Chris groaned harshly and snatched his hat from Tanner's head, tossing it carelessly aside, then closed his arms hard about Vin's body and crushed the smaller man to him, burying his mouth in Tanner's. Vin's scent -- soap, leather, and now tobacco -- washed over him, through him, and that scent, coupled with the taste of him, sent Larabee over the edge. With a low growl, he plunged his tongue into the warm, wet mouth, explored desperately what he already knew by heart, and raked shaking hands over strong shoulders and down that slender back, delighting in the play of taut, sinewy muscles beneath his questing fingers. With another growl, he thrust one thigh between Vin's two and slid a hand to Tanner's ass, pulling him closer and driving his aching, burning crotch into the younger man's.
"Jesus God, Tanner," he whispered into that sweet, maddening mouth, "what the hell have you done ta me?"
"Made ya mine," Vin rasped, nipping sharply at Chris's swollen lips with his teeth. He thrust a hand into Larabee's hair, twined his fingers through it and pulled the golden head back, then tore his mouth from Chris's and seized with it upon the exposed arch of that throat. "All mine!" he growled, sinking his teeth into the tender flesh at the base of Larabee's throat.
Chris howled as Tanner bit him and then sucked ravenously at the bite, as that hungry, talented mouth shattered his senses and resistance. A strong hand was digging into the small of his back, long fingers kneading hard, and Vin's crotch was moving against his, brushing, thrusting, grinding, driving shards of white-hot pain into his tortured cock. His need was like a thing alive inside him now, coiling through him, consuming him, devouring him body and soul. He couldn't see, couldn't breathe, couldn't think. He could do nothing except clutch frantically at the young man wreaking this hell -- this heaven -- upon him and plead for mercy.
"Need... need ya, Vin!" he gasped as Tanner bit and sucked a burning path along his throat. "Gotta help... help me out... here, cowboy!"
Tanner lifted his mouth from the delicious throat and raised his head, staring up at Larabee through eyes gone almost black with desire. Taking a step back, he dropped his cheroot to the floor and ground it ruthlessly beneath his heel, then, with hands free, tugged Chris's shirt out of his pants. He took only a moment to eye the row of buttons, then, with a low growl, simply gripped the shirt in both hands and tore it open, too impatient to wait. He would have done the same with the longjohns under the ruined shirt, already had the fabric bunched in his hands, but found his wrists suddenly imprisoned in an iron grip. He loosed a snarl and struggled wildly, only to be pulled immediately into a close embrace against a body he knew better than his own.
"Ssh, easy, Vin," Chris soothed, burying his mouth in a wealth of soft curls and kissing Tanner's head. "It's all right. I didn't mean ta scare ya, I'm sorry." He stroked Vin's back and felt the slender body relaxing. "I'm sorry, Vin," he said again. "Guess I forgot you don't always like bein' grabbed."
"'S'all right," Vin murmured, his voice muffled against Chris's chest. "Jist startled me a bit." He pulled back slightly and raised his head. As Larabee's eyes bored into his, a deep blush crept into his cheeks, and a shy smile curved about his mouth. "Reckon I wasn't thinkin' too clear." He lifted a hand and laid it against Chris's cheek, his smile fading. "I know you'd never hurt me, Chris. I know it better'n I ever knowed anything else in my life."
The simple -- yet, coming from this young man, so profound -- words filled Chris with wonder. To know that Vin, who trusted no one, trusted him so completely was one of the true wonders of his life. He'd rather lose his soul than lose that trust.
He reached up and took Vin's hand, then pressed it to his mouth and planted a tender kiss against the callused palm. "I'd rather die than hurt you, cowboy," he breathed. "But," a slow smile spread across his mouth and he again took Vin's wrist, "I can't letcha ruin any more'a my underwear. Miz Potter's already wonderin' why I buy 'em so often."
Again, that blush darkened Tanner's face, and he bowed his head. "Aw, hell, Chris, I'm sorry," he muttered in embarrassment, knowing he was the reason. "It's jist that all them buttons takes time!" He raised his head then, and the blue eyes were again going to black with desire. "I wantcha somethin' awful, Chris," he rasped, pressing a hand to the gunman's throbbing heart and stroking slowly, "'n I ain't aimin' ta let no goddamn underwear come 'tween me 'n what I want!"
Larabee arched a brow and smirked. "This from the man who wears ten layers of clothes in July?" he quipped. "Hell, I hate ta think what all I'm gonna have ta dig through today!"
It was Vin's turn to smirk. "Won't be no diggin', cowboy." He stepped back and unfastened the first few buttons of the black shirt, then slipped it off over his head, revealing his naked chest. As Chris gaped in obvious surprise, he quickly toed off his boots, kicking each one across the cabin, then unfastened and slipped out of his pants, kicking them aside and standing naked.
Chris's mouth fell open, first at the shock of seeing Vin in only one layer of clothes, then in delight at seeing Vin in nothing at all. As ever, the tracker's naked splendor took away his breath and robbed him of the ability to do anything but gawk. Tanner was beautiful. Blue eyes as dark and deep as a lake in summer gazed back at him, drawing his soul into them. Untamed brown hair framed his face and fell just past his shoulders in a thick tangle of curls, gleaming in the firelight and inviting his fingers to lose themselves in that wealth. A long, slender neck topped strong shoulders that ran down into a slim chest, flat stomach and narrow hips. Those hips gave way to long, slim, hard-muscled legs that Larabee ached to feel clamped around him. Yet most enticing of all was the thick, full cock jutting stiff and erect from a nest of soft, dark curls.
Seeing the flame igniting in Larabee's eyes, and seeing where those burning eyes rested, Vin smiled slightly and dropped a hand to his swollen staff, closing his fingers about it. "See?" he gloated hoarsely, stroking his length. "'S'jist li'l ol' me."
"Goddamn you ta hell!" Chris snarled, lunging for the younger man and grabbing him, snatching him off his feet. As Vin laughed out loud, Larabee bore him across the cabin and threw him onto the bed. Then, with another snarl, he pounced upon him, imprisoning Vin's body beneath his own and savagely claiming that laughing mouth with his. "Evil... bastard!" he growled between hard, demanding kisses, his hands gripping Tanner's wrists and holding them against the bed. "No good..." He sucked at Vin's lower lip. "Worthless..." He grazed hungrily along that beautifully square jaw. "Sorry..." He licked his way up to Tanner's ear and slipped his tongue inside. "Ornery..." He sucked on the earlobe, then nibbled at the tender flesh just beneath and slightly behind it. "No good..." "Ya s... said that... already," Vin moaned, writhing beneath Chris and thrusting against him in mounting agony as Larabee made love to his neck with that wonderful mouth. "Oh, God... Chrisss!"
"Shut up, Tanner," Larabee growled, working his way down that long neck to one inviting shoulder. "Talk too goddamn much!" He found the shoulder, and sank his teeth into it.
"SHIT!" Vin howled, bucking wildly as Larabee bit and sucked at his shoulder. He wrenched his hands free from the older man's grip and drove them into his back. But where he wanted to feel flesh, he felt only fabric, and began clawing at the longjohns in frustration. "Goddamn it!" he snarled furiously, determined to rip his way into Larabee's clothes if that was what it took.
"Jesus, Vin, will you stop?" Chris shouted, tearing his mouth from Tanner's shoulder and reaching back to grab the hands trying to shred his underwear. "STOP IT!"
"Then shuck 'em!" Vin tried to pull his hands free, but couldn't. Defeated, he stopped struggling and lay still, breathing harshly, heavily, and staring up at Chris through wide, frantic eyes. "Please, cowboy!" he whimpered. "I wanta feel ya!"
Chris chuckled quietly and leaned forward, kissing Vin tenderly. "Well, since ya put it so nicely." He released Vin and got off him, rising to his feet and starting his strip.
Vin turned onto his side to watch, raising himself up on one elbow and staring at Chris in utter fascination. As the gunfighter's nimble fingers worked their way down the row of buttons on his underwear, Tanner licked his lips slowly in anticipation, delighting in the ever greater expanse of chest revealed to his gaze. He loved Chris's body, loved the strength of hard muscles that rippled beneath firm flesh, loved the power of the broad shoulders and the perfection of the long, sculpted chest, the taut, flat stomach and the trim hips. And as it was all bared to him, one button at a time, he let a hand stray to his rigid, twitching cock, slowly stroking himself as he waited to see still more of Chris.
"Goddamn it, Vin!" Chris rasped in irritation, leaning forward and swatting Tanner's hand away from himself. "Am I gonna have ta tie these to the bed?" He brought the hand up to his mouth and kissed the long fingers. "You behave, y'hear?" he warned.
"Well, mebbe if'n ya wasn't so all-fired slow!" Vin sulked, snatching his hand away from Larabee. "Well, git on with it!" he snapped. "Shit, at this rate, the spring thaw will come 'fore I do!"
Chris laughed at that and shook his head, but dutifully hurried his pace. He loved teasing Vin, but he also knew better than to push too far. He'd already lost enough underwear to the man's ruthless hands; making only a dollar a day, he couldn't afford to keep replacing them. He unbuttoned them all the way down to the waist of his pants and peeled them off his shoulders and chest, then went to work on his belt.
Vin sat up a little straighter and slowly licked his lips, watching Larabee's fingers intently and silently urging them to hurry. Now and again, his hungry gaze slid upward to that beautiful chest, but always it returned to the gunman's crotch, as if his gaze alone could get Chris to hurry. His fingers twitched to take the take the place of Larabee's, and he was biting his lip hard to keep from screaming aloud in frustration.
Chris saw all this and had to smile to see the tracker's near-legendary patience shattering before him. Doubting even those strong fingers could rip through denim, he slowed his pace deliberately, lingering at the button before slipping it through the hole, then dawdling shamelessly at his zipper, taking it down a bit at a time.
And it all proved too much for Vin. With a harsh, wordless cry he sprang from the bed, grabbed Larabee by the shoulders, spun him around and shoved him down onto the bed. With a snarled curse he straddled the gunman, his back to Chris's face, and worked to rid him of boots, pants and underwear.
"Goddamn gunfighter!" he growled as he tore at the garments. "Fast as lightnin' on the draw, but slow as molasses in January when it's time ta shuck yer clothes!"
Chris grinned at the hoarsely drawled tirade and reached up, sliding his hands over the tracker's bare, bowed back. Vin stiffened and gasped at the unexpected touch, then instinctively leaned into it, his muttering losing some of its edge. Chris stroked slowly, long fingers playing lightly over supple muscles and hard bones, his thumbs massaging the ridge of each vertebrae. He followed the line of Tanner's spine all the way down, then gently caressed the noticeable curve in it near the small of his back that raised his right hip above his right. Another would probably look upon that curve as a flaw; to him, it was just one more thing that made Vin Tanner unique.
Vin shuddered heavily and exhaled harshly as that feather-light touch burned itself into his skin. At first, fearing it would make him less desirable in Chris's eyes, the curve in his spine had made him self-conscious in front of the man who was perfection itself to him. To his surprise, though, Larabee had never shown the slightest sign of distaste. He'd been curious, had spent long moments tracing it, memorizing it with eyes and hands, and that curiosity had given way to tender concern when Vin had told him of the pain he'd learned to live with because of that curve. But he gave it the same loving attention he did every other part of Vin's body, showering it with kisses and caresses, just as he was doing now, until Vin could no longer remember why he'd ever been ashamed of it.
Within moments, and despite the efforts of Larabee's hands to distract him, Vin had stripped the gunman of his clothes and tossed them aside with a triumphant cry. Turning himself around on Chris, still straddling him, he stared down at the chiseled face and sculpted body with a mixture of adoration and hunger, his hands sliding over the strong, broad shoulders and down the long, powerful chest, his every sense feasting upon the beautiful man beneath him. Unable to resist the lure of him, he leaned down and reclaimed Chris's mouth with his own, devouring the full, firm lips with a ravenous greed and thrusting his tongue through them that he might taste still more of this man. Chris's tongue rose at once to meet his, and the two joined, twined and danced together, the pleasure of it tearing growls and purrs from two throats.
Tanner's hands were just as busy as his mouth, roaming freely over Larabee's naked flesh, exploring every inch of the powerful body. Nails raked, fingers pinched, stroked and kneaded, palms massaged, until the gunman was writhing and moaning in the helpless agony of deepening arousal. He ran callused thumbs over the taut peaks of dark nipples, swept long fingers down Larabee's sensitive sides, stroked the narrow hips and slid his hands beneath the man to fondle the full, firm cheeks of his ass.
All the while, Chris clutched at Vin and thrust wildly against him, driving strong fingers into the tracker's back and grinding his throbbing, burning erection into Vin's. Each time their cocks met, lightning seared through the two men and tore another wordless cry from them, plunged them ever deeper into the fiery abyss of their need.
Vin tore his mouth from Chris's and staked claim with it to the long, inviting neck, kissing, sucking, biting, licking, marking this man as his. From the throat, his lips, tongue and teeth trailed down to Larabee's chest, licking a path between the pectorals, sweeping over and seizing upon each of the dark nipples in turn, sucking hungrily at both and leaving yet another mark in the flesh just above one.
Chris howled and bucked as Tanner bit him, then bucked again as nimble fingers found their way to his balls, cupping and squeezing the full sacs. From his balls, those fingers found their way to the tight, puckered opening, and, when one pressed against it, Larabee nearly flew off the bed.
"God... Vin... please!" he begged hoarsely, digging strong, merciless fingers into the smaller man's slim hips. "Need... need ya... now!"
Tanner was in little better shape, was panting harshly and damn near sobbing from the hideous ache in his needy flesh. Shaking and sweating, he thrust himself to his knees and leaned over to Chris to grope for the oil he prayed was still on the bedside table. All at once, a wet tongue slid over the length of his throbbing staff. He loosed a wild shriek and knocked everything off the table as his body convulsed violently.
Chris gave a low, strained chuckle as he heard the items on the table go flying. "Gettin' clumsy there, pard?" he rasped, gazing up into wide, glazed blue eyes. With a slight, wicked smile, he scraped a thumbnail lightly along Tanner's twitching, weeping cock.
"Fuck you!" Vin gasped, shuddering violently and nearly coming on the spot.
"Thought that was the plan. If you haven't lost the oil, that is."
Vin opened his mouth to utter another curse, but gave a hoarse squeak instead as that thumbnail was again dragged over his length. He clutched at Chris's hand and held it in place, closing the long fingers about his tortured flesh. "Please?" he whimpered.
Chris gently freed his hand and sat up, smiling as Tanner whimpered again. "Don't wantcha in my hand, cowboy," he whispered, pressing his lips to Vin's and kissing tenderly. "Wantcha inside me, where you belong." He kissed him again. "You think you can manage that?"
Vin nodded wordlessly, then, willing control upon himself, slid off the bed to search for the oil. Chris watched him until he started fishing under the bed, head down and butt up, when the sight of that tight, beautiful ass sent fresh tongues of flame stabbing through his cock. With a tortured groan, the gunman fell back on the bed and closed his eyes tightly, chewing his lower lip and trying desperately to keep from stroking himself. "Goddamn it, Tanner, hurry!" he snarled, losing the fight, his hand going to his hideously aching cock.
"Oh, no, ya don't!" a hoarse voice growled in his ear as his hand was snatched away. "If'n y'ain't doin' me, ya sure as hell ain't doin' yerself!"
"Nope." Warm breath tickled his ear. "I'm fuckin' you, remember?" And a tongue darted snake-like into his ear. "Cowboy."
"Gonna shoot you yet--"
"With what?" Vin murmured, nibbling at Chris's ear. "Y'ain't got a gun. Leastwise not one that shoots bullets." He sucked at the lobe.
"Jesus!" Chris groaned in torment. "Then why don't you just shoot me and get it over with!"
"Nope. Got somethin' better in mind." He slipped between Larabee's legs, brandishing the jar of oil. "Found 'er!" He opened the lid and raised the jar, taking a deep sniff of the fragrant oil. "Smells good. Wanta see?"
"I swear ta God, Tanner--" Before he could finish the threat, Tanner leaned over and smothered his words with those sweet, warm lips. "Goddamn you, Vin," he purred into that mouth.
"Prob'ly so," Vin whispered. "But not right now. I got plans." He kissed Chris again, then pulled away and sat up, drawing Larabee's legs up over his bent thighs. His hard cock throbbed and twitched in anticipation, and a shudder rippled through him. "Damn, ya got me fit ta bust here!" he rasped, dipping a hand into the jar.
Chris was in no better shape, and his thick, weeping staff showed it. He was breathing heavily, his skin darkly flushed and bathed in sweat, and he felt sure his heart would pound straight through his ribs. All at once, he felt an oiled hand sliding over his balls and stroking the tight hole behind them, and nearly screamed from the sensation. He arched his hips and thrust against that hand, and gave a ragged gasp as a finger entered him.
"Easy, easy," Vin whispered shakily, not certain whether he was talking to himself or Chris. He worked Larabee's hole carefully with his finger while oiling his own cock with his other hand, and prayed he could hold himself together long enough to get Chris ready. "God, cowboy, I need ya!" he rasped.
Chris only grunted, incapable of more, and knotted his hands in the bedcovers, closing his eyes and breathing heavily through gritted teeth. Another finger entered him and he bucked hard, loosing an anguished cry.
"Ssh," Vin whispered, glazed eyes fixed on his lover's face, his free hand going to Chris's hip to hold him down. "'S'all right. I'm gonna take care'a ya. Gonna take care of us both." He felt the ring soften and slipped in a third finger, rapidly nearing his own limits. He was so hard he hurt, and doubted he could last much longer.
Chris was thrusting down against those fingers, groaning in agony. His weeping cock screamed for relief and he slid a hand toward it, only to have it slapped away. Then the fingers were pulled out of him, and he almost sobbed in frustration. "Vin!"
Tanner withdrew his fingers and shuddered at Chris's cry. Immediately, though, he pressed the dark, swollen head of his cock to that entrance and pushed inside, and cried out himself at the feeling of being once more inside this man.
Chris stiffened and sucked in a sharp, hissing breath as the familiar pain gripped him, then forced himself to relax and chewed his lip until it passed. Within moments it was gone, replaced by the much more pleasurable feel of Tanner's size and heat filling him.
"Jesus, Vin... move!" he pleaded.
Vin did, sliding in slowly, surely, and uttering a soft, wrenching cry as he buried himself in that tight channel. Chris's moist heat engulfed him in a welcoming tide, drawing him in ever deeper, blanketing him in the wondrous feel of his lover. When he could bring himself to do it, he pulled back out just as slowly, leaving only his head embedded, and slid forward once more.
Chris was in agony, in ecstasy, his body turned to fire by the waves of pain and pleasure unleashed by Vin's every long, sure stroke inside him. He clutched at the covers and thrust down against the man filling him, needing more, always more, of Vin.
And soon they were moving together in their familiar, forceful rhythm, all gentleness and restraint stripped from them by the depth and power of their need. Vin thrust furiously into Chris, and his hand worked Larabee's thick cock with that same urgency, stroking and pumping ferociously, his every nerve on fire. He was lost in Chris, drowning in Chris, and never wanted to be found or pulled free. All that he was, all that he ever wanted to be, was bound up in this man.
Chris vaguely heard Vin uttering his name again and again, but was beyond answering. Tanner's flesh was pounding him, Tanner's hand was pumping him, and the primal pleasure of being worked inside and out was more than he could bear. He thrust frantically into that hand, against that cock, his overwrought body reacting instinctively to the unceasing barrage of incredible sensations. Tanner's heat filled him, flooded him, and his own rose up to meet it, boiling through him in a searing, white-hot tide and exploding from him with an elemental fury.
Chris's scream and the feel and scent of the man's potent seed spurting into his hand sent Vin over the edge and into his own shattering climax. Still pumping Chris, still pounding through him, he threw back his sweat-sodden head and howled wordlessly as his tortured flesh erupted and emptied itself into his lover's body. He cried out again and buried himself in Chris, pouring all that he was into him.
And even after it was over, when he had no more to give, still he remained inside his lover, not wanting ever to leave him, struggling to support himself on shaking, rubbery arms. Only when Chris called to him gently did he remove himself, immediately seeking refuge in the arms that waited for him.
Chris cradled Vin close against him, holding tightly to the slender, shaking body, his own strength nearly gone. He said nothing, for at such times no words were needed between them. The mere closeness of their bodies, their souls, conveyed all that they felt more truly than mere words ever could. Neither gauged how long the sweet silence lasted; moments, hours, an eternity, it didn't matter. All that mattered was this time of closeness.
Only when both were ready did Chris move, leaving the bed, and Vin, to find and wet a cloth for clean-up. When he returned, he had to laugh at the sight that greeted him. Tanner had gotten under the covers and was snuggled deep into them, curled up on his side and the blankets held close under his chin, with only his face free, and that shrouded by the tangled riot of his hair.
Chris knelt beside the bed and started digging through the sweat-matted strands. "You under there, pard?"
"Cold," Vin muttered, pulling the covers up higher still.
Chris chuckled. "Don't doubt it. You're coverin' up with the wet spot, pard. Why don'tcha let me clean us up, get some dry blankets, and you can start buryin' yourself under all those clothes you wear."
"Don't want no clothes. Jist want you. You're warmer'n anything else I know."
Chris laughed again, then leaned forward and kissed Vin's nose, the only part of that face he could see. "Some tough bounty hunter you are," he teased. "Did you ever take after anybody in winter, or just hole up and hibernate 'til it was spring?"
Chris kissed him again. "You should know. You've seen mine enough."
Vin shook his head slightly and glared fiercely through the strands of his hair. "I ain't gotta take this, y'know," he sulked. "I could always go somewhere's else, somewhere's I'm appreciated. Ain't no law says I gotta stay here 'n be insulted by a sonuvabitchin' gunfighter who thinks he's cock'a the walk!"
Larabee grinned. "My cock's been walked, thank you very much, and I do appreciate you for it. Now, you can pout all you want, but I know you ain't leavin'."
Vin glared harder. "'N jist how'd you know a thang like that?"
Chris arched a brow, his grin widening. "Because it's cold outside, and I know it'd take more than hurt feelin's over bein' teased to get you out inta that wind and snow. 'Specially," he winked, "when we both know there ain't no fire that can warm you up like I can."
Vin sighed and freed an arm from the covers, reaching out to run a forefinger along Larabee's jaw. "Ain't fair, y'know," he breathed. "You takin' advantage'a me 'n all. Ain't fair at all."
"Life ain't fair," Chris rasped, feeling that feather-light touch all the way to his toes. "Now, shut up, sit up, and let me clean us off and warm you up before you catch pneumonia. I ain't aimin' to explain ta nobody why you died naked in my bed."
"If'n I do as I'm told, can I have another one'a yer cee-gars?" Vin asked softly, running that finger down Larabee's throat.
Chris narrowed his eyes and tried not to feel what that finger was doing to him. "When the hell did you start likin' my cheroots so much?"
Glinting eyes and a wicked grin showed through the veil of hair. "Mebbe when I seen what my likin' 'em does ta you." He sat up slowly and leaned forward, pressing his mouth to Larabee's. "Shoulda told me a whole lot sooner," he whispered against Chris's lips, "jist how much fun smokin' 'em kin be."
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