A Shared Moment
Genre: Western Romance
Summary: Ezra and Inez are the only ones left at the saloon at closing time.
Disclaimer: Ezra Standish, Inez Recillos, Chris Larabee, The Magnificent Seven and all characters within this story are © & TM CBS, The Mirisch Group, MGM, and Trilogy Entertainment. Everything else is © & TM Kitka. The author makes absolutely no profit off of this work of fan fiction.
Her brown eyes watched him silently as he sat at the table she knew was his preferred seat in the saloon. She watched his hands as he shuffled and flicked the cards. His movements were swift and sure, clearly displaying his remarkable skill with the cards. Not for the first time, she wondered what those hands might feel like on her naked skin, and again not for the first time, Inez hurriedly shoved the thought away.
Inez quickly shifted her gaze to glance outside. Closing time was within seconds, so she might as well go ahead and begin cleaning down. Picking up a rag, she walked around the bar and to the nearest table, her long skirt swaying around her hips and slender legs as she did so. She stifled a yawn as she began her work. She was intent on scrubbing a particularly dirty spot clean when he spoke.
Although she had not expected him to speak, his smooth Southern accent did not startle her. Instead, it thrilled her ears. What was it about the way he spoke that caused her heart to leap and sent delicious chills racing through her? "You appear rather fatigued this evening. I take it you have had a particularly long night, senorita?"
She was surprised that he had noticed. She knew he could not know that her back ached terribly from her hours of walking the floor and standing behind the bar, but she could only hope that her long hair was not sticking out at any array of peculiar ends. As she finally managed to remove the spot, Inez nodded her admittance. "I'm not one to complain, though," she hastened to add. "The saloon needs the business."
She moved to pick up a chair to set it on top of the table and was surprised when he suddenly appeared by her side and grasped the chair. He smiled at her, and his gold tooth winked in the light of a nearby lantern. "Please, allow me."
His charming smile stole her breath so completely away that she could not speak at first as she simply relinquished her grip on the chair. As she watched him set the chair on top of the table, a smile spread over her tired lips. "Thank you, Senor Standish, but I thought you didn't do menial labor?" she teased him gently.
He winked at her, and her heart again skipped a beat. "I certainly do not make any habit of it, but this one time can be our secret, my dear."
Before Inez even realized what was happening, Ezra had released the chair and began to gently lead her to sit down in its companion. "Senor, I --" she started to protest.
"Yes, I know, senorita," he acknowledged. "You have work to do, but no one is coming at such an atrocious hour. I only wish to assuage your pain." Although his smooth voice was gentle, his hands were even gentler by far as they pushed her slightly down into the chair and began to rub his neck.
How could she possibly protest when the feel of his hands on her skin thrilled her heart beyond compare? She turned her head slightly, and her long, raven hair fell to one side of her throat, allowing him better access to her slender neck. His expert hands gently rubbed away the tension in her neck before sliding over her smooth skin to her shoulders and continuing the soft massage. She could not help the tiny sounds of pleasure that escaped from the back of her throat nor could she stop her eyes from closing in sheer ecstasy.
Although Ezra had began the massage merely in his hopes of assuaging the pain he could note in the stiff movements of her shoulders and back, he could not seem to keep his green eyes from admiringly appraising her smooth, rich skin no more than he could cease his fingers from thrilling when they brushed against the silky strands of her raven hair. Both could have gladly spent the remainder of the night like that, but a gruff voice suddenly broke through the quietness of their shared moment. "Time to ride, Ezra."
Her brown eyes and his green eyes simultaneously darted to the saloon's entrance to see a man in black standing in the swinging doors. His expression was grim, and dire trouble rolled off of him in great waves. "I shall accompany you before you can reach the town's borders, Mister Larabee." Chris' steady gaze flicked from Ezra to Inez and then back to Ezra. He nodded once and then left without another word.
Ezra returned his attention to Inez and silenced the sigh that rose in his throat. His hands returned to massaging her back for just a brief second before he reluctantly removed them. "As you heard, Senorita Recillos, I am needed. I only hope that I was able to successfully assuage at least a small amount of your fatigued muscles." With remarkable speed, he stepped before her and offered her his hand.
Inez's head lifted as her brown eyes rose and found his green eyes even. Her hand slipped smoothly into his only to find their delicate grasp to be a perfect fit. Despite her concern for him and the other men, her beautiful smile did not falter. "They have not felt this well in weeks," she dared to admit even as he helped her to her feet. "Thank you, Senor Standish."
"Please call me Ezra," he told her with a brilliant smile. "My purpose here is done for the night, my dear." He brushed his lips against the back of her hand in a soft touch that sent a flame rocketing through her entire being. His eyes never left hers until he straightened and finally released her hand.
He was at the door and about to step out onto the boardwalk when she called after him. "Ezra?" He looked questioning back to her, and she hesitated for only a heartbeat before saying, "Be careful."
He smiled, and his gold tooth winked at her from the shadows. "Do not fear for us, senorita. We shall be back before you know it." Then, he was gone.
She did not know how long she stood there, gazing at the last spot she had seen his handsome face before he had vanished into the shadows of the night, but eventually, she realized that he had not gone back to his table. Surely, he had left his cards. She rushed out to the boardwalk, calling his name, but no answer met her ears. From a considerable distance, she heard the galloping of hooves and knew that the Seven were already heading out. Returning inside, Inez hurried over to his table, but she only found two cards. Holding them up to the light of a nearby lamp, her eyes widened in surprise at the two faces staring back at her: the King and Queen of Hearts.
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