Disclaimer: All the Magnificent 7, their bartenders and horses belong to some other folks. I'm just borrowing them, since I figure if they cancelled the show they've found new toys. I'll give 'em back and no one will even notice. Limited warnings for bad grammer, intentional use of poorly rendered dialect, and vaguely lewd, but not explicit, content.
The saloon stank of sawdust and beer, kerosene and sweat. Man sweat, horse sweat, all kinds of sweat. Not that anyone noticed, including the young man who'd just walked into the place, and certainly not the two men he was looking for. JD Dunne scratched at the thin scruff that passed for a beard on his smooth face and worked his way through the mid-evening crowd to join two of his friends. Buck Wilmington gave him a quick wave. Nathan Jackson didn't even do that as both men turned their attention back to a third, who sat half the room away playing poker. JD hesitated. Nothing unusual about Ezra playing poker. That was Ezra Standish's main trade. Plenty of times it seemed like being a lawman was just what he did to keep from being bored during daylight hours. But this didn't look like any poker game JD had ever seen.
JD felt around for a chair, not wanting to tear his eyes away. He heard the scrape of wood on wood as Buck shoved a chair out for him. "Who's that Ezra's playin'? I never seen her around before."
Buck rested his chin on his hand and watched. "That's cause she just came in on the stage this morning. Name's Sally Markham."
JD looked away for an instant, grinning at Buck. "She resisted your animal magnetism?"
"Talk nice, boy. She's a real pretty woman. Shame she's tetched in the head like that to turn down my obvious masculine charms."
"She ain't tetched." Nathan snorted. "Her and that damn gambler are lookin' to rob innocent folks of their cash."
The pretty blonde sitting kitty corner from Ezra fluffed back her hair - and tucked a card under her stylish curls. Buck chuckled. "Now Nate, you know that can't be true. Look at 'em. They ain't looked at another soul since they cut the deck, and it sure ain't money that's on their minds."
Ezra was walking his fingers up his opponent's arm to her shoulder and she was giggling and holding her hand of cards in a coy fan in front of her face. He toyed a moment with her curls... and leaned back displaying a card held jauntily between two fingers.
"Did you see the way he touched her?" Nathan gulped at his beer and slammed the mug back to the table. "I cannot believe he's doing that. In PUBLIC! I bet she's married. She's gotta be married cause he's going for a clean sweep of commandments."
"I don't see a ring on her finger." JD craned.
"JD, this ain't fit for your young eyes!" Buck slapped a hand over his friend's face and guffawed. "Oh balls, I can't believe he put his hand there!"
JD squirmed out of his grip. Behind him, heavy footfalls announced Josiah Sanchez. He moved to take the chair on the other side of Buck. It creaked as he dropped heavily onto the poor object. "Well, well, looks like Brother Ezra has found a kindred soul. Oh my," Josiah leaned forward, blocking Buck's view and for a moment the two of them scrabbled to get the best line of sight while Sally Markham pulled her cards to her abundant chest, ran one slim-fingered hand down Ezra Standish's fine, linen shirt-front and drew a card from the front of his vest. The color was high in both their cheeks.
Nathan groaned. "I seen a lot of immoral displays in my time but trust Ezra to top 'em all."
Josiah grinned. "Calm down, Brother Nathan. I don't see him murdering anyone, though you may drop dead if you keep holding your breath like that."
Another of the seven found a seat at the table. Vin Tanner slouched into the seat next to the healer. "You watchin' our souls as well as our bodies these days, Nate?"
"With what that damn scoundrel is up to, somebody better be watchin' souls. Bad enough to take a body's cash, but that poor woman..." Nathan trailed off as the poor woman in question kicked off a shoe and ran her high-arched foot up Ezra's leg, caressing his inseam to its fullest extent.
Josiah snorted. "I can't believe where the young lady has her foot."
Nathan shook his head in horror. "Oh lord oh lord, Josiah, this ain't fit for a man of God to see either. What is she... did she just..."
Josiah snorted, a deep sound of amusement. "Do what comes naturally? Man's got needs, Nathan, and so does woman. God put two sexes on the face of the Earth for a reason."
"And I thank Him for it every day," sighed Buck in blissful contemplation.
"I know. I know. But leastways Buck does the deed in private. This kinda public display is..." He floundered.
Buck didn't. "That kinda public display is amazin'! Look at what she just did with her toes! Damn, wonder if she's really got her heart set on Ez."
"Not her heart she's got set, Brother Buck."
"Dannng. Did she really just get her toes in his boot?" All five of them leaned forward to see.
"Looka that, Vin! How'd he get that card in there without us seein'?" Buck unconsciously fingered the top of his own boot.
Vin, on the other hand, sprawled back and chuckled. "Speak fer yerself, Bucklin. I saw him put it there."
"And you didn't SAY anything?"
"Why should... Oh. Mah. God." Vin's blue eyes widened as Ezra's hand explored layers of clothing which were normally utterly off limits. Vin sat up straight. "He can get arrested for that."
"You gonna arrest him?" Buck pointed generally in Vin's direction, eyes glued to the game.
"You OUGHTA arrest him!" Nathan knuckled his eyes like something had gotten in them.
"Brother Nathan, take a deep breath. Calm down. I don't see the lady protesting."
There was a faint mewing sound as JD's mouth opened and shut.
The black storm cloud named Chris Larabee blew up behind Buck. "Goddamnit to hell, my shift is over. Who the hell was supposed to be over at that damn jailhouse to... hooooly smokes."
"Yeah," breathed Buck in awe. "I didn't know Ez was double jointed."
Vin leaned forward. "Dannnng. With her dress so tight, how's he fittin' his hand down there lahk that?"
Josiah pulled out a chair and Chris dropped fast as his knees seemed to give out. "I think that's against the law."
"I think that's against a whole LOTTA laws," gasped Nathan as the lady placed her foot in a sensitive spot. Ezra leaned back in his seat and shut his eyes for a moment. Just a moment though, as she leaned forward and he sat up fast, pulling his cards to his chest.
His gold tooth sparkled in the saloon's smoky light as he leaned close, drew her hand up to his lips and kissed it. Vin raised his eyebrows at the hint of a pink tongue and whistled softly. When Ez let go he held a card which he deftly tossed to the discard pile, dimpling at the pretty blonde sitting so close.
Chris licked his lips and grabbed the bottle away from Nathan, who simply buried his face in his hands.
"This is unfit for law abidin' folks to see."
Buck nodded. "Ain't it great?"
Chris took another quick swig. He was careful to keep his eyes fixed on the action at the poker table, though that action was less about poker than any card game he'd ever seen in his life.
The lady drew her bare foot out of Ezra's lap and half rose. Ez clutched his cards close and smiled widely as she leaned forward, running her fingers through his hair. When she sat back she beamed and tossed a card to the discard stack herself.
Ez took a breath so deep his colleagues could see it halfway across the room and wiped a hand over his flushed face.
The lady giggled and glanced down at her cards, then took a card and pushed a small stack of bills into the pile in the center of the table.
Ezra tilted his head and they saw that pink tongue flicker out again. He leaned forward to make a comment. This time she pulled her cards close to her copious and well-fingered bosom and blushed.
She abruptly flicked out a small fan and fanned herself with a coquettish snap.
Ez raised an eyebrow and leered. Buck sighed in admiration at the technique he observed.
Chris leaned forward and tapped JD's hand. The youth jumped, but didn't tear his eyes from the spectacle that half the saloon was ignoring and the other half was watching.
"Shouldn't you be takin' over at the jail?"
"Yeah, JD." Buck never looked away. "I think it's your shift."
Across the room they heard the slam of heavy glass mugs hitting wood and a Spanish oath cut through the babble of voices.
"Sounds like our sister Inez is less than thrilled by the crowd tonight," noted Josiah in a distracted tone. Vin was squirming in the seat beside him and the big man was grinning, thoroughly amused. And thoroughly relieved that he wasn't gonna have to stand up for a while.
At the poker table Ezra ran his fingers up the pearly throat of his opponent and drew a card from her elaborately styled hair.
She, in turn, ran a hand down the brocade of his vest, fingers plunging towards his waist until Inez shoved her way into the miniscule gap that separated the two, and slammed a tray with two glasses and one bottle onto the table between them.
"Inez?" They could hear the puzzlement in Ezra's voice as both players leaned back in their seats. "I don't recall placing an order..."
"On the house," she growled, still standing between them as she snatched the used glasses from the table.
"She never brings me a new glass with my drink." JD sounded baffled.
"Me neither." Buck sounded envious.
Chris just snorted and took another swig.
Vin and Josiah traded amused looks and Nathan moaned again and continued to enumerate sins that were being committed.
"If we didn't sin a little, my brother, we wouldn't be as God made us."
"I don't think God had much to do with making what's going on there!" Nathan peeked through his fingers and groaned again. "I sure do hope he's got his lambskin."
"Lam -?" JD stuttered to a stop and blushed even deeper pink.
Inez finally had to remove herself from between the two players and they locked gazes again. A small crowd had gathered to see. Both of them licked their lips. Both of them fidgeted in their chairs - something Chris had never seen Ezra do playing poker before. Both took a deep breath and laid out their cards.
"Damnnnnn," breathed the crowd, staring at the perfectly matched pair of full houses before them. Ezra and Sally Markham leaned towards each other's cards, then reached for the discards together. Their fingers locked over the pile of cards and the two of them looked into each others' eyes.
Around them men shifted, shuffled and adjusted their jewels as the two of them fondled fingers and smoldered at each other.
Her light laugh and his musical chuckle broke the silence and they split the cash down the middle, grabbed their cards and rose from the table.
There was a brief hesitation. He swayed towards the door - and her hotel. She swayed towards the stairs - and his room. They finally looked up and around at the small crowd they'd drawn. Chris choked on his drink, Buck guffawed, Vin slunk low and Nathan just couldn't look. Josiah wasn't sure if JD would ever get his mouth closed again, but for his part he wanted to see how the lewd two would negotiate this.
Ez smiled a shark-tooth smile so wide it damn near reached his ears.
Sally smiled a demure little smirk that wouldn't fool a toddler and flicked her fan before her face.
"Well, my dear, it seems that we have reached an impasse."
"I thought you mentioned that antique deck you had, Sir."
Chris shut his eyes.
Ez cleared his throat.
"Of course. I couldn't dream of not showing you my..."
"Best cards," she supplied.
They flashed and twinkled at each other like a pair of fake diamonds, and he held out his arm to her.
And the crowd parted like a buckskin-clad sea as the two of them vanished. Buck smirked and grabbed the bottle back from Chris. "Damn. Guess they got tired of cards."
JD turned dazed eyes to his friend. "But didn't they say they wuz gonna go play more cards?"
Buck snickered. "They ain't playin' cards JD. She's gonna go play billiards with his balls."
Nathan stared at him. There was a soft thump as he dropped his head to the table. "Lord take me now."
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