The saloon had finally emptied out for the night, leaving the manager Inez and the gambler Ezra all alone in the now vacant establishment. Inez was busy cleaning up after a brawl that had broken out between two ranchers over some women named Liz. This was going to be a long night she thought as she carried two empty glasses over to the sink to be washed. She had been so engrossed in what she was doing that she did not see Ezra move from his usual perch until she felt his breath on the back of her neck.
"A gentleman does not allow a beautiful woman, such as yourself, to engage in menial labor if he is present." he remarked in a cool southern drawl.
His closeness made her tense up. She had always found him handsome and intriguing but they had not become close friends. Everywhere she turned Senor Wilmington seemed to be standing there. His flirting didn't bother her but it did prevent her from being able spend time with other people.
After a brief silence, she answered him. "Senor Standish, I thought you said you weren't cut out for honest labor."
He merely chuckled at that as he picked up a towel off the bar to dry the dishes she had been washing. His laugh was intoxicating and contagious. She couldn't help but smile.
They continued to converse back and forth while they continued to do the dishes. Inez had become so consumed by the conversation that she was not watching what she was doing and jerked a glass out of the soapy water. The glass had been filled with dish water and the contents of the glass hit Ezra squarely in the face. Water droplets hung from his face and soaps suds were displayed on his nose.
She watched minor annoyance set in on his face as he shook his head and tried to dry off his face with a towel. Despite her best efforts to stifle her laughter, she could not. She burst out laughing. Ezra watched her slightly amused. If Inez had been paying closer attention she would have seen a mischievous glint in his eye.
"You find this amusing?" he asked smiling.
She tried to form the word no but only laughter seeped out. With one swift movement Ezra ran his hand through the water and splashed her. She yelped as the water hit her and at first a look of indignation adorned her face. She began to rub the water off her face with her hands when that sweet southern voice floated up to her.
"Allow me, darling."
He took the towel he was holding and lifted it to her brow and slowly moved it across her face. His eyes fixed on hers and hers fixed on his. They stood there a moment lost in each other's eyes. As Ezra dropped the towel, he tilted his head and his lips slowly brushed against hers. They pulled back slightly to look at each other. In each other's eyes they saw permission granted. This time their lips met in a passionate kiss which lingered well into the night.
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