an exerpt from "Red Rider of the white sage"

by Adddriennne Thunderrrstorme

part of the Harpo-Collins Historical Western romance line



Their eyes met under the low-hanging full moon, its light casting its brilliance over the entire desert. She had hoped he would come here: the one chance she had had was that he was on foot and she on horseback and there were precious few places in the scorching deserts of the American West where you could find life-giving water. 

“How”. He said quietly.

Enough time had passed that Carruthers’ cruel whip marks had faded to a fine tracery of almost completely healed lines and she remembered that night as well, him shirtless and tied to a tree as thunder and lightning crashed overhead, the terrible sound of the cracking lightning and the cracking whips. She had tried to come to him, but was no match for the lone ranch hand Carruthers had grudgingly paid to supervise the few cattle they had turned out to have. If not for the intervention of the Indian’s horse, suddenly riding in and expertly knocking him out with one front hoof, who knows how much cruelty he would have inflicted on him. Carruthers was cruelty incarnate.

The ranch hand had let her go then but only to reach for his gun, and as he shot at the Indian he only managed to kill the horse. That allowed her the time to swing the cast-iron frying pan at the back of his head, and both men lay still that night, their evil blood washing away in the desert rain. She had called out to the Indian then but he was fleeing expertly on foot, and she was no match for a young, strong man like himself.

But Carruthers, Bill the ranch hand, and that terrible night were behind them now. She had ridden the range for days looking for him, but she was an outcast girl from polite British society, and was no tracker. She decided instead to go to the only source of water in the area, spending so much time there she had finally built a small fire and brought what provisions were left in what was now an old home in an old life that didn’t belong to her now.

That was then, this is now. Now the Indian was standing before her, six feet and four inches of rugged frontier man, his handsome face and lantern jaw framed by raven flowing locks.

He walked impassively, but politely by her and knelt by the stream, cupping his hand and bringing it to his face to drink. She saw the muscles of his shoulder moving beneath his tanned smooth skin and her courage suddenly failed her. But then rose again, Phoenix-like beneath her ample but firm bosom. After mama had died her father had told her they’d both have to be incredibly brave. She finally understood his message now, lost as she was in the mesa.

She stepped forward, and stood before him, the flame red hair of her Irish ancestry and pale porcelain skin of her Icelandic heritage hopefully even more stunning in the pale moonlight. “I’m sorry”, she said by explanation. She reached out pointing to the thin line that had wrapped around his back, just under his full and sinewy tricep, healed to a shivering silvery memory. He moved slightly away from her, instinctively.

She looked down, crestfallen, and this noble savage looked up at her quizzically, starting to understand.

He stood, and looked curiously into her eyes. It was then that she realized there would be a language barrier. She was going to have to breach all social convention as well as all of the linguistic niceties and formalities she had learned in that English finishing school an ocean away and what seemed like eons but was only precious few years ago. 

The only thing she could think to do in her passion and desperation was tear at the front of her dress, allowing the twin orbs of her womanhood to shine in the pale moonlight, and bit her full, luscious lip hoping that he would understand a language that needed no words, her heart pounding in her chest as she went against everything the old white men who had run her life had tried to instil into her, with their rules, and their cold draughty dormitories, and the cruel and often unjust sting of the cane.

She stepped to him, throwing all caution to the slight wind which disturbed the sage and mesquite-scented tang in the desert air, the wind catching at her flaming curls, swirling them slightly around her heart-shaped face.

And then she fell into him as his firm, strong arms wrapped gently around her, their lips meeting not as their peoples had done but as their peoples should have done, twin parallels meeting, sharing, intermixing with their fiery touch. She brought her hands to his muscular chest and slid them under his vest, her fingertips exploring his smooth, taut skin with its unyielding muscle beneath. He for his part was every bit the gentleman, passionate but keeping his own hands to respectable parts of her body, supporting her tiny swooning body in the pale moonlight.

The ecstacy of his touch was everything she had imagined all those months, having seen him for so long riding on the very edges of Carruthers’ property - that which had finally ignited the old man’s jealousy, the only emotion he had ever shown her apart from contempt.  The Indian's grip was sturdy but tender, and his body found hers with a gentleness and a love she had never known.

The heat was rising south of her border, and the tingling of her womanhood was like the sting of sand in a strong wind combined with the fiery touch of the scorpions that scuttled across the hot desert, and as his hand finally found the porcelain weight of her breast, their mouths devoured each other now with a passion that couldn’t be put into either of their languages.

She groped at the waist of his buckskin and he was unfamiliar with her European dress so they both quickly and delicately shed their respective clothing, nobody around but her horse (who had politely turned his back to them) to see, to judge. The clothing being cast into the sands with careful abandon. He lowered her to the blanket she had been sitting on by the fire, waiting and hoping for him to come, and he had finally come.

She was hot like the noontime Texas sun and torrented like the Rio Grande and as she reached for him at first she thought he had not removed the large Bowie knife he had carried, with its thick and weighty handle, but it was him, and before she could fear such an intrusion his turgid manhood found her delicate innermost parts. And she was glad - finally glad - of the mercifully brief and painful interlude that took her innocence after their mean and Spartan wedding in Charleston in the boarding house. That night of humiliation and discomfort was well past her now, but it meant that as he mounted her as firmly and surely as he did that horse her body could do nothing but welcome him, slippery as the sidewinding snakes that glid across the dunes and she was amazed that her body could yield to a commanding manhood that had been nothing like her late husband’s.

It came back to her in waves as he rode her body as expertly as he navigated the range with his beloved horse, his manhood feeding her hungry body the same way the heavy desert rain penetrates through to the desperate plant roots under the sands, thirsting for its touch. Her mind flashed back to the day her impecunious father made a deal to salvage the good family name by marrying her off to this brash but aging Texan with the haughty demeanor but also the three hundred thousand head of cattle. They had both come to America by the tossing, raging seas for the wedding but also for her to be sold to him like one of his cattle, her bravely telling her tearful father everything would be alright. Papa had died during the trip, his frail body and the consumption taking him one night under the canopy of stars on top of the Atlantic ocean, much like the brilliant firestorm of stars above her now as the Indian, on top of her, brought her body to the heights of ecstacy she had never known.

Carruthers had naturally been a liar all along, only twenty cattle or so and a dusty patch of scrubby tumbleweed and a broken down frontier house. Their utter lie of a wedding had not been the lavish affair he had promised but a rickety pastor with clacking wooden teeth doing the bare minimum in the boarding house bar for the price of a small bottle of whiskey, and then her hellish life as a prisoner under the scorching Texas sun had begun. 

But that was all over now, now all there was was a pale flame-haired woman spreadeagled on a Navajo blanket under the stars and a man whose eyes were pools of obsidian in the pale moonlight, him satisfying a need deep inside her she had never known, her meeting his movements with hers of her own, sudden, insistent. His breath was coming faster now and what bare experience taught her told her he was close, and she was so hot and taut inside her she thought idly that something inside her might flower and burst.

She now knew, truly knew that Carruthers had murdered her father on that Atlantic voyage, and she was glad she had turned away from the ranch hand and finished with one righteous blow what the horse had started. The clang of the pan against his skull, a sound that once signified her eternal damnation as had been caned into her in that cold draughty boarding school, was now a clear meditation bell freeing her of everything. The polite society, the constricting tight and scratchy clothes, the required morning chapel at the finishing school, the ever-present and ever-growing list of things a young lady did and didn’t do, and the growing list of drudgery and chores. His plunging into her was an exorcism, part of her wished his ministrations would hurt but she was amazed it didn’t, him opening her up inside, opening her up deeper and wider than she ever had before, his purple tipped saguro becoming harder and more insistent and her almost not able to endure it - her feeling like the old Caroline was being split in half and forever gone revealing a butterfly underneath the stifling cocoon her body and her life had become.

And then suddenly he arched his back, every rippling muscle taut under the pale moonlight the same way his back had arched under Carruthers’ whip under that lightning sky but this time he did cry out, and she grabbed his lower back with her hands and pulled him tight to her, trying to keep him there and hold that moment forever, and at that moment the dam broke for her as well and the raging torrent overtook her, gasping and surprised, a brand new and liberating rebirthing wave of euphoria as she screamed out to the heavens as well.

Their cries echoed to the craggy rocks of the desert, and the universe echoed their sound back to them, as a faint, ghostly reminder.

They lay there for quite some time, him still inside her and her around him, a true meeting of their two peoples, being warmed by the crackling mesquite fire and witnessed by a multitude of twinkling diamondlike stars in the night sky. He slid expertly beside her and held her in the pale moonlight watching the twin pink tipped globes of her femininity moving in ragged gasps as the last of the tides within her subsided. 

He fished into the bag he had discarded amongst his clothes, and fished out a cheroot, a scratchy brown roll of tobacco which he lit from the fire and inhaled, adding to the sandy tang and the sage and the odorous mesquite. She had hated the stink of Carruthers’ pipe but when he brought it to her lips to her own surprise she had inhaled it, taking the aromatic smoke into her burning and tender body, coughing slightly at its harshness. It was strangely comforting and just what she needed. It felt right.

He lay back again on the blanket, and she put her arm around him with her head on his chest, feeling and hearing the steady war drum of his heart. Her old life was gone, and her new life was uncertain, but she knew at last that all the calamities that had brought her to this moment in this godforsaken desert had been nothing other than destiny.

Request 2018 - Romance story

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