“We will,” Clint said. “On the other hand, if there are men who are coming here to kill you, maybe the cat will take care of them for us. We'll have to wait and see.”
Clint decided to start unloading the buckboard now, and not wait for the rest of Tesla's equipment to show up with a couple of men to help him.
“There must be something you have that we can bring in ourselves now,” Clint said.
“It's all pretty heavy,” Tesla said.
He was right. Apart from some antennae that were easy to carry, the rest of it was metal and heavy.
Tesla was apparently able to sit in one place for long periods of time and think about his experiments. Although Clint could sit comfortably in the evening and read, during the day he grew antsy.
While Tesla sat inside and went through his books, Clint went out back to check on the meat. He'd hung it high. Judging by the claw marks on the back of the house, some kind of animal had tried to climb up the wall and get it. He doubted it was the big cat. That animal probably could have leaped that high if it really wanted to.
He walked around the entire house, checking for any sign of the big cat. There were other tracks, smaller animals like badgers, prairie dogs, mule deer, and the like. No sign, though, that the big one had come aroundâyet.
He went around to the front of the house and wished they had brought some wooden chairs with them. He made do by sitting down on the edge of the porch.
He spent a couple of hours there, just watching, until it was time to make supper.
Tesla agreed that heated venison stew would make a fine meal.
“What were you doing outside today?” Tesla asked as they ate.
“Staying out of your way,” Clint said.
“Did you see anything?”
“If you mean the cat, no. I've seen other tracks, but not his.”
“That is good, right?”
“Well, I can use your help with something.”
“What would that be?”
“Since we brought the antennae in,” Tesla said, “I'd like to erect them on the roof. Can you help me with that?”
“Sure,” Clint said. “We'll still have some daylight after we finish eating. Let's do it then. Do you want to be on the roof, or on the ground?”
When Roman, Lefty, and Donnie got back to the saloon, Givens was at the bar, alone.
“Where are your new friends?” Roman asked.
“Joe and Les went to get somethin' to eat.”
“So you got their names?”
“Well, of course,” Givens said. “If I'm gonna help them unload their wagon, we should know each other's names, right?”
“So they hired you?”
“In a minute.”
“Good. Did they tell you the names of the other two?” Roman asked.
“Just one,” Givens said. “Nikola Tesla.”
“Nikola?” Donnie said. “What the hell kinda name is that?”
“Foreign,” Givens said. “They said the guy was foreign.”
“Well, the one with the ax handle, he ain't foreign,” Lefty said. “I'd still like to know who he is.”
“What happened with the sheriff?” Givens asked.
“Nothin',” Roman said.
“She ain't around,” Lefty said. “I think maybe you scared her off.”
“It don't matter,” Givens said. “Joe and Les are gonna take us right to Mr. Tesla and his friend.”
“When?” Roman asked.
“First thing in the mornin'.”
“So we got all night?” Donnie asked.
“All night,” Givens said.
“Good,” he said. “Lookin' for that sheriff started me thinking about whores.”
“Me, too,” Lefty said.
“Well, go ahead,” Roman said. “Have all the whores you can afford. Just meet me in front of the livery first thing in the morning.”
“Just don't show yerselves until me and my new friends head out,” Givens said.
“You got it,” Lefty said, and he and Donnie headed out the door.
“What're you gonna do, Givens?” Roman asked.
“Eat somethin', and then come right back here. Why? You thinkin' about whores, too?”
“Well . . .”
Miranda camped on the trail that night, spent most of the night awake. She felt someoneâsomethingâin the dark, watching her. Her horse was uneasy, and several times she had to calm it so it would not pull free of its restraint. If it had been the men from Gunnison, they would surely have taken her. More likely it was an animal, hungry, but frightened of the fire. She dozed, but came awake often enough to keep the fire going.
At first light she saddled up, broke camp, but before mounting up, she walked the perimeter of the camp and found the tracks. They were huge. Some kind of big cat. Now she knew why her horse had been so uneasy. She was going to have to be careful the rest of the day.
She mounted up and began to ride.
Roman, Donnie, and Lefty spent the evening with whores, and then Roman stayed the entire night with his.
He rolled over in the morning and stared at the girl next to him. She had a fleshy body, but then she had to be close to forty. There wasn't much of a choice when it came right down to it, but he liked women with pale skin and dark hair, so the fact that she was a little meaty was something he overlooked. In the end he was fortunate, because she was very experienced and did things with him that he usually had to pay extra for.
As he watched, she rolled over onto her back. Her big breasts flopped to the right and left, but he didn't mind. Her skin was very white, which made her big, brown nipples look even darker. He leaned over and took one nipple into his mouth, then the other. She moaned, reached to cup his head to her breast.
She moaned as he slid his hand between her legs, found her hairy pussy already wet. Suddenly, his cock was rock hard. He slid a leg over her, mounted, and slid his cock into her. She was hot and ready, wrapped her legs around his waist, and held on while he fucked her, slamming in and out of her mindlessly . . .
Givens met his new friends, Joe and Les, at the livery. They had the buckboard team already hooked up as he strode up.
“Just let me saddle my horse and I'll be right with ya,” he called.
They waved and Joe said, “No hurry.”
Givens saddled his horse, wondering if Roman and the others were watching. He didn't want them to be too far behind the buckboard when they left.
He walked his horse out and mounted up.
“Ready?” he asked.
“Let's go,” Les said, and snapped the reins at the team.
Givens risked a look behind him, didn't see anyone. Those assholes better not have fallen so far into their whores that they overslept!
Roman got to the livery in time to see the buckboard pull away. He hurriedly saddled his horse, was ready to go by the time Donnie and Lefty got there.
“Get your asses saddled up,” he shouted. “They left ten minutes ago.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Lefty said, hung over.
Donnie silently saddled his horse. He just wanted to get going.
They walked their horses outside and mounted up.
“We got some easy tracks to follow,” Roman said. “I'll take the lead.”
The other two didn't care who had the lead. They were going to doze in their saddles anyway.
Clint prepared a batch of flapjacks and some bacon for breakfast.
“I swear before the rest of my equipment arrives, I will gain twenty pounds,” Tesla said.
“We can move on to smaller meals, then,” Clint said.
“No, no,” Tesla said, “I'm not complaining, just making an observation.”
Clint was about to reply when he heard the sound of a horse approaching.
“What is it?” Tesla asked.
“The cat?” Tesla looked nervous.
“No,” Clint said, “someone on horseback.” He stood up. “Wait here.”
Clint rode, walked to the front window, and looked out. He saw a rider sitting tall in the saddle, riding up to the house. He had strapped his gun belt on earlier that morning, when he first dressed, so he walked to the door, opened it, and stepped out.
As the rider drew closer, he recognized her.
“Sheriff Lawson,” he greeted. “What brings you all this way?”
“I have something to tell you,” she said. “Is that bacon I smell?”
“And flapjacks. Step down and join us, if you've nowhere else to go.”
“This was my destination,” she said.
“Then come inside. I'll set you up with a meal and then see to your horse.”
She tied off her horse and followed him inside. Tesla stood as she entered.
“Sheriff,” he said. “What a pleasant surprise.”
“Mr. Tesla,” she said.
“The sheriff has come to join us for breakfast,” Clint said. “Sit, please, Sheriff.”
“Miranda,” she said. “Please call me Miranda.”
“Flapjacks and bacon, Miranda?” Clint asked.
“And coffee, please.”
He quickly whipped up a stack of cakes and strips of bacon and set them before her.
“I'll see to your horse if you're going to stay awhile.”
“Maybe I should first tell you why I've come,” she offered.
“All right.” Clint poured himself some more coffee and sat at the table with Tesla and Miranda. “What's on your mind?”
She told him.
“Four men?” Clint asked when she was done. “Not three?”
“Four,” she asked. “The one who came to see me was a big brute.”
“He didn't hurt you?”
“He looked down the barrel of my gun,” she said.
“Good for you,” Tesla said.
“But I thought it was wise for me to leave town,” she added. “And I figured I might as well warn you.”
“We appreciate it,” Clint said. “I'll see to your horse now, and arrange a room for you.”
“I don't want to put you out. If you have a barnâ”
“You'll take my room,” he said. “I can bunk out here with my bedroll.”
“A bed,” she said, “and a wonderful breakfast. What more could a girl ask for?”
Clint left to take care of her horse.
“So those men are looking for us?” Tesla asked.
“Well,” he said, “if they find us, I'm sure Clint can take care of them.”
“Four against one?” she asked.
“Well . . . that is supposed to be what he does, isn't it?”
“I guess so,” she said.
“More coffee?” he asked.
She smiled and said, “Please.”
Clint unsaddled Miranda's roan, rubbed it down, and gave it some of the feed he'd bought in Denver for the teamâsomething else Tesla had forgotten to buy.
When he reentered the house, Miranda was standing at the stove. He put her rifle and saddlebags down by the door.
“The coffeepot went dry,” she said. “I made some more.”
“I made it strong, since the cup you gave me would have removed paint.”
“That's the way I like it,” Clint said.
“So do I.”
“Does anyone want the last piece of bacon?” Tesla asked.
“No,” Clint said.
“You have it,” Miranda said.
Tesla plucked it from the plate and popped it into his mouth.
They had more coffee and then Miranda insisted on cleaning the plates and cups. Tesla went to his room to read his books. Clint sat at the table and watched her, drinking another cup of coffee.
“Did you camp on the trail last night?” he asked.
“You didn't happen to run into a big cat, did you?”
She turned and looked at him.
“I felt something looking at me from the dark. In the morning I saw the tracks. Have you seen it?”
“No,” he said. “We were hunting and crossed its trail. Haven't seen it, but it's a big one judging by the tracks.”
“What were you hunting?”
“A young buck. Left most of it for the cat.”
“He won't thank you.”
“What'd you make?”