A Wanton Woman(5)

By: Vanessa Vale

I angled my head toward the emptying train.

Walker shrugged. “We have to hope.”

The bulk of the passengers had left the platform and had moved quickly into the warm station. Only a few years old, it was an impressive structure, a sign that Denver was booming. I didn’t care for the city. Too many people, too much noise. The only reason I was here was for—


She was walking toward us, eyeing the Bible. I should have approached her, asked her name and grabbed the small bag she held. But I couldn’t. I just stared. And stared as if my feet had frozen to the ground.

“Fuck.” I heard Walker mumble under his breath as he took her in as well. It seemed my brother had the same intense—and instant—attraction for her. “Look at her,” he whispered.

Yes, we were truly fucked, for Mrs. Celia Lawrence was everything I could have imagined in a bride. Petite, her curves couldn’t be hidden beneath her light jacket. Her pale hair was up and tucked beneath a prim hat. The lanterns that lit the platform from the dusk set her skin to a warm gold. Her cheeks were flushed from the cold and I could see that her pale eyes were wary and hopeful at the same time. She stilled when she shifted her gaze away from the Bible and onto me, but she tilted up her chin and took another step closer.

She was… fuck, incredible. Lovely. Dainty. Shy. Daring. I wanted her. Instantly and desperately. My cock hardened and I was thankful my coat hid the reaction. She was my bride.

She was mine. Mine!

Walker had his wits about him, unlike me, for he moved around me to approach her. “Mrs. Lawrence?” he asked.

She looked up at him, a frown forming in her brow. “Yes. Mr. Tate?”

Her soft voice had me moving. Finally. I was fucking it all up and I hadn’t even said a word. She was just too… perfect and I felt as if I’d been hit on the head with a support beam from the mine. I cleared my throat and joined the two, removing my hat. “I’m Luke Tate, ma’am.”

She glanced at the Bible once more, then up at my face. Way up. I was so much taller; she only came up to my shoulder. She offered me a small smile, but I could tell it took effort. I was a big man, and a stranger at that. She was very brave to travel so far on her own, to be wed to a complete stranger. No, two strangers. I’d just met her and I was very proud of her. I wanted to take away the wariness and replace it with… hell, what would she look like when I made her come the first time? I’d find out soon enough if my cock had any say.

“It is… nice to meet you. Please, call me Celia.” Her voice was deep and sultry, a complete surprise and made my cock hard.

A shiver shook her small frame.

“Where is your coat?” I asked. Pushing the Bible into Walker’s chest, I stripped off mine and wrapped it about her shoulders.

Her tongue darted out to lick her bottom lip and I was transfixed. “I don’t have one. It is not this cold in Texas.”

Her voice had a slight accent to it, a slight twang that spoke of how far she’d traveled.

The cold air hit my torso and I could only imagine how chilled she’d been.

Smiling, she held the oversized garment together at the front. It was so large that it hung down to past her knees. It would keep her warm in the short term.

“Didn’t Mrs. Carstairs from the agency tell you your destination was Colorado?” The woman at the mail order bride service should have advised her of something as simple as winter wardrobe.

She lifted her shoulders and almost snuggled into the garment. “Yes, of course. But no shops in Tyler have coats like this. It is too warm year round for such items in Texas.” She glanced about and took in the snow that had been shoveled into piles to clear the platform. “I have never even seen snow before.”

I looked at the old snow, crusty hard from the top being melted by the sun and then frozen at night, gray from the soot and ash from the trains. This patch was far from remarkable. When we were home, she would know snow. Perhaps even become quite sick of it before the season ended.

“Come, let’s get out of the cold then,” Walker said.

Realizing I had yet to introduce her to her other husband, I felt even more of a bumbling fool. “May I present my brother, Walker?”

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