Fidelia Schiller is hell-bent on a mission to find whoever murdered her brother and turned him into a guitar-playing ghost. She joins forces with Chess Hudson, who has wasted his youth on a wild European spree. But before he straightens up to manage the cattle ranch, Chess has one last blowout with stunning ranch hand Spenser Murphy.
The singing spirit leads the trio on a whirlwind journey following the trail of Spanish fly, giant spurs, and stuffed tigers. Chess is a tough and callous libertine who has known sensuality but not love, and Fidelia and Spenser have got him acting in ridiculous, passionate ways.
Meanwhile, a deranged maniac is running about, stealing Chess’s Stetson and staging a production of Hamlet. The trio must put an end to this madness before they themselves become victims of the Mirror Man. But to catch him they must work closely with him…too close for comfort.
But when she headed back to the bathhouse, she could hear the two men yelling at each other from down the hallway.
Again, she paused in the doorway, peering around the corner. The two men were standing in their tubs waving the sheet tents about angrily at each other.
“I saw her first!” Spenser was shouting, the first time she’d ever heard him raise his voice. “She’s been working at the Gallery for a week now!”
“Yeah, but who’s the one with the standing to court her?” Chess yelled back. “I own a damned ranch! You’re only a fucking ranch hand!”
Spenser bellowed, “Who needs to be upstanding to court a gal who works at a poses plastiques gallery? Why don’t you go pick on one of the Fowler or Boswell daughters?”
Were they talking about Josephine? Josephine worked at the Gallery. Josephine had been in town a week. Could they be referring to the woman who posed as Eve? That gal, Josephine, was awfully handsome, with her long, rippling, almost silver hair. She held herself aloof like an angel, superior to all beings around her.
Fidelia boldly walked in. What did she care if they wanted to court Josephine? She—nearly—had her murderer now, that was all she cared about, and she banged the tray down onto a stool, sloshing the emerald absinthe around in the glasses, spreading a cloud of lovely licorice scent about. She clanged the silver slotted spoon over one glass, set a sugar cube on it, and poured cold water over it from a carafe. She didn’t bother straining out the wormwood or fennel, figuring the men could just strain it between their teeth.
They had stood silently ever since she had entered, and when she moved to hand Chess the first glass, he angrily snapped his sheet in Spenser’s direction and whipped the glass from Fidelia’s hand. “Hell-fired actor,” he spat.
Spenser’s eyes were fiery. “Goddamned perverted frog,” he snarled at Chess.
The strange, hallucinatory properties of the drink wouldn’t improve the situation any, but Fidelia’s work was done. Leaving the tray, she spun toward the door, but the men weren’t finished with her yet.
“Fidelia,” bellowed Chess with authority. Spenser must have told Chess her name while she was fixing the drinks. A year ago—hell, even a month ago—Fidelia would’ve swooned with horror to imagine standing here before two nude, dripping, beautiful men. Ten minutes ago she might have even swooned with whatever she felt when they kissed—an odd sort of lust, she supposed. Now? She just wanted to get away.
Chess pointed at Spenser with a stiff, commanding arm. “Who would you consider a more attractive, desirable suitor? Me or this lunkheaded hick from Yankton?”
“I’m not from Yankton!” Spenser yelled. “I was born in Abilene!”
“Does it make any difference?” Chess yelled back. “They’re both places that breed out-and-out potato-headed jackasses. Your family tree is probably a shrub!”
Fidelia went limp when she saw the ire rise in Spenser’s face. The tomato color flushed him, and when he made a move as if to leap out of the tub, Fidelia inserted herself between them. She had to slap a palm to Spenser’s wet chest and shove him back into his own tub while he clenched his fists, eyeballs bulging and nostrils flaring. His nipples even poked out stiffly in a very attractive way.
She was accustomed to this, having had a brother. Now she was an only child, thanks to one of the two brutes who stood here locking horns, huffing and puffing at each other.
“Boys! Boys.” She gave Spenser one last shove before folding her arms under her breasts and glaring at the men. “You are both very strapping, delightful men. Each of you has your own charms. It completely depends upon the woman to choose which of you she finds more desirable. Some women, it is true, would choose the man with the best purse. In fact,” she reflected, “most women, I’d venture to guess, would choose that man.”
“Hah!” spat Chess victoriously.
“Shit sack,” growled Spenser.
However, Chess irritated Fidelia, mostly for being Ulrich’s suspected murderer, so she glared at him and said pointedly, “However, some women put more stock in men who show respect, manners, and a high regard for them. Some women do not tear about flinging themselves at, for example, men who enjoy tying up others and forcing themselves upon them.”
Spenser’s pulse quickened as he prepared for Chess to punish the barmaid for speaking so freely. But Chess turned to Fidelia and said mildly, “Yes. I was a selfish, lazy, hedonistic bastard. That’s all very true.” He ceased to fiddle with his cufflinks and placed his hands at his sides, looking Spenser boldly in the face. “I should be punished for being such a selfish bastard.”
Spenser nearly lost all reason then. Chess was issuing him a challenge and at the same time making himself vulnerable to a position he had rarely—if ever—been in. Spenser’s cock plumped so lewdly against his thigh, he knew the slightest touch would bring him off. “Of course you should be punished.”
Breathing deeply to gain his senses, he brandished the quirt and came forward. To his utter surprise, Fidelia grabbed ahold of Chess’s wrists and held them tight behind his neck. It looked as though that saucy lass was binding Chess’s wrists with his own pigtail thong. How inventive she was! As Spenser had done, Chess nominally struggled with this bondage, but his thick cock bulging the crotch of the denims let Spenser know that was all for show.
He did look exquisite with his hair softly falling about his shoulders, and now Spenser tweaked his taut nipples. Chess squeezed his eyes shut in tolerance and even bit his lip. “You’ve been a terrible, awful bastard,” Spenser said in a low voice. “This perky barmaid and I will demonstrate to you what happens when an impudent buck is allowed to run roughshod over others, showing no respect for them.”
“I realize that,” said Chess obediently.
Spenser tried to be brutal when he unbuckled Chess’s gun belt and dropped it to the carpet. He tried to curl his upper lip in a bastardly impression when he yanked apart the denim buttons at Chess’s crotch. Chess didn’t flinch, perhaps being accustomed to this sort of abuse—only, from the other side of things. Spenser shoved the starchy fabric down around Chess’s knees, and when Chess’s stiff erection bounced up eagerly, Spenser slapped it.
“This makes you hard, does it? Does it excite you to know what an awful bastard you’ve been? I can slap your cock and you can’t do a thing about it.” It was a satisfying feeling, the sting of the hot, shiny cock against his hand when he spanked it. Slap! Spenser snatched Chess’s necktie from the carpet and knotted it around the cock at the base, as Chess had done to him with the stupid damned handkerchief.
“I know I’ve been bad,” was all Chess would admit to, mildly.
Spenser slapped the erect cock some more, then grabbed the quirt. It gave him great pleasure to finally see the man nearly nude, vulnerable, defenseless. And he loved the slope of his strong lower back, the firm plane that flared outward into the rounded silhouette of his impudent ass. Spenser’s first instinct was to reach out and fondle that enticing slope. Chess even obediently spread his feet farther apart on the carpet so Spenser could tickle the scratchy anal ring and diddle the full, hanging scrotum. Spenser saw Chess’s nostrils flare as he compressed his lips with tolerance and stared straight ahead.
But Fidelia had no patience with this. She had been standing dutifully by, her eyes shining as she drank in the vision of Chess’s warm nude body, bared for her enjoyment.
Now Fidelia snatched the quirt from Spenser and posed with one eyebrow uplifted. She slapped her own palm with the quirt and cocked one hip as she assessed Chess’s ass. “I think I’m much better at this than you are,” she said. That syrupy, thick German accent added to the allure of the scene.
Spenser was amazed by her sexual boldness, but he didn’t want to question where she’d learned such a skill. She placed a hand on Chess’s shoulder and forced him to his knees. Chess went down, staring straight ahead like a man about to be executed. Fidelia turned her adorable, innocent chipmunk face to Spenser, still slapping the quirt in her palm.
“Don’t you agree, Spenser, that butter would make the spanking sting more delightfully?”
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