A Wanton Woman(4)

By: Vanessa Vale

“Fuck, Luke, I said I’d do it and I keep my word.” His dark eyes flared in anger, but it was quickly banked.

I sighed. “Shit, sorry. I’m just… this is just not how I expected it.”

“What? Freezing our balls off for a woman we’re committed to for the rest of our lives just because Slate Springs doesn’t have enough women?”

Yeah, that described it pretty well.

“Fine, I did this out of duty, but really, I want someone to share my life with, just like most men in town. Children. Companionship. Hell, someone to warm my bed on a night like tonight.”

I tugged the collar of my coat up against the wind that whipped down the platform.

“All you had to do was come down the mountain. Denver has enough women who would gladly marry the mayor of Slate Springs, and a mine owner to boot.” He lifted his hands and cupped them around his mouth, exhaled warm air onto them.

The Trusty mine was putting out silver at a pace that was making me as rich as those up in Butte digging up copper. I knew it wouldn’t last, that the vein would dry up eventually, but I had more money than I needed in my lifetime. Now, it was time to share it with others, like a wife and children.

“I’m more than a mine owner. I don’t want a woman who’s only interested in my money. I want a woman who wants me.”

Standing still, the cold seeped through the bottom of my boots. Passengers began to alight the train. Porters passed us to help the weary travelers with their baggage.

I turned to my brother, trying to justify this marriage. “I took the job just to keep Thomkins from getting the position. If I remember, we flipped for the job.”

The corner of his mouth tipped up. “Yeah, and you lost. Being mayor might keep Thomkins from fucking up the town, but it gets you a bride, too.”

Yes, being mayor and voting on the law that allows two men to marry one woman had me setting the example, a precedence for other men in town to follow. Thus, Walker and I were in Denver meeting a woman who would be ours. Maybe I should have let Thomkins be mayor after all. He didn’t need to find a bride. He’d been married to the meek Agnes Thomkins for ten years or so. He’d been an asshole pretty much since birth when his daddy founded the town and he’d been one ever since. He wouldn’t do right by the town if he were mayor, probably ban mining or some such nonsense when there were mouths to feed. My anger toward Thomkins was enough to keep me in the leadership role and keep me standing in the cold waiting for our mail order bride.

“And you,” I added. “You get a bride because of how much we fucking hate Thomkins, too.” We were in this together. This woman would be ours together.

I heard him sigh, but he said nothing more.

Passengers began to pass and I watched them all closely, looking for Celia Lawrence, widow from Tyler, Texas. And my bride. Celia Tate, now. I had no knowledge of her appearance, only that she was a widow and twenty-five years old. I gripped the Bible in my hand and placed it so it could better seen. While I was not an overly pious man—I was committing to marry a woman in a very unbiblical way, with Walker and without our union       blessed in a church—but the Bible was the way for Mrs. Lawrence to discern me from the crowd.

“Are you sure?” I asked, wanting to confirm one last time. “You vowed never to marry again after Ruth’s death. You can still change your mind. I can find someone else.”

He could back out, but I couldn’t. The proxy marriage was legally binding. Luke Tate, husband. Celia Lawrence, wife. But I had no interest in sharing a bride with just any man. I’d only do it with my brother. We were close, close enough to have shared women in the past, to have the same interests—and darker desires—when it came to taking a woman. Some might find our predilections to be sinful or even wrong, but dominating a woman only led to her pleasure, her ultimate satisfaction. We put her first. Sure, we might tie her up and spank her ass, even fuck it, too, but she’d like it. No, she’d love it.

“I want children, too,” he admitted. “But love?” Shrugging his shoulders, I knew he was jaded. “That’s for you. She deserves it and you’ll give it to her. This works perfectly for me.”

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