By D. Musgrave




Chapter One
D. Musgrave

A flash of light, followed by a ground-shaking clap of thunder wrenched him from the whiskey soaked slumber. He bolted upright in his sleeping bag. Thank God, the rain hadn't started yet.

Struggling awkwardly with legs still coiled in the bedroll, Dakota reached out and grabbed a branch of the tree he'd camped under. The wind had kicked up and smoke from the fire choked his lungs, launching him into a series of throat burning coughs. Steadying himself against the limb, he tried to decipher how he'd gotten here, wherever here was.

The last three days were a blur; all he remembered was what happened, not why. The stinging in his side grew more intense as he stood in the gathering wind of the approaching storm. Wetness rolled down his side although it wasn't raining. He looked down to find his shirt soaked with blood.

The bullet wound had begun to bleed again. The searing pain in his ribcage began to throb in rhythm with his rapidly beating heart as wakefulness grew and the inebriation subsided. This wasn't a safe place; shelter was fast becoming an important commodity. Another blinding flash of light, followed immediately by a hair-raising crack of thunder, forced him into action. Dakota quickly grabbed his bedroll and gun-belt. He could smell the rain and knew he'd have to get a move on.

No sooner, had he mounted, than a bone-chilling deluge crashed down upon him and his steed, Trice. The skittish Mustang began to fight the reins, trying to break into a gallop. Dakota pulled back on the leather straps and spoke calmly in her ears, "Easy there Trice, this ain't nuthin' but a lil' rain." Dakota's soothing deep voice comforted the filly. Fortunately, they were familiar with the trail and made their way down the mountainside in the alternating lightness and darkness of the thunderstorm.

He had no idea he was being watched, and had been for some time. The same pair of eyes had stalked him from Cortez, Colorado. She'd seen the Slade brothers ambush Dakota and a couple other cowboys in broad daylight. Fortunately for Dakota, he was able to make it to the livery stable and his mount. Not so fortunately, his partners had been gut shot, a death sentence in this part of the world. As Dakota flew down the dirty main street of Cortez, he'd taken a slug in his side. Somehow, he'd managed to stay in the saddle.

That was three days ago and he'd slept little since, constantly moving. He knew that Carl Slade; the eldest brother, would be hot on his heels. Revenge of his youngest brother's death spurred him and his other siblings onward. If they caught up with him, he'd be just as dead as Earl and Charlie.

Sure he killed him, but Joe had the drop on Dakota. He simply hadn't planned on the speed and accuracy of Dakota's draw. The bullet from the Colt revolver tore through his heart before he'd pulled the hammer back on his Winchester. His only crime had been one of birth; a half-breed wasn't accepted in these parts. He'd come into town with money in his pockets looking for a place to eat and sleep.

Just as Dakota disappeared from view, she'd spurred Chestnut and set off in pursuit. She'd followed the same path as Dakota and his beautiful gray mare. When she reached the edge of the mesa, she peered over to see them entering the dank, dark interior of the cave.

Betsy smiled inwardly as she knew the history of the cave. Knew he'd be safe while she covered his trail and steered the Slade posse off in the wrong direction. The rain had long since soaked through her clothes and she fought off the chills running up her spine. She longed to follow the half-breed into the grotto, to tell him she'd help him any way he needed; but she wasn't sure he'd accept, not from a young woman. Women were supposed to be meek and mild, not good with a gun, running a ranch, hunting game, or satisfying a man.


Dakota led his mustang into the interior of the cave and tied the reins to a large stalactite. He had an uneasy feeling, but the pain in his side overrode any hunch he had about the Slades. For the last day, he hadn't seen anyone other than a lone rider on his trail. He thought nothing of it, figuring the rider was just a coincidence.

He staggered to the back of the cave and found an old campsite. Fortunately, there was some dry wood piled next to the wall and he sat about building a fire to dry himself. The task was made easier by the fact that there was also a small pile of flint next to the wood. Once the fire began to burn, he peeled off his clothes and placed them flat on the rocks around the campfire to dry. His lean dark body was a framework of supple muscles and taut skin. He'd been fortunate to be born with the best of both races coursing through his veins; deep blue eyes, long coal black hair, and the lean frame of the Cheyenne tribe. 

As the heat from the fire warmed him, he inspected his wounds. It wasn't looking good. There were red streaks shooting down his sides and the hole was seeping. Luckily, the bullet passed through when he was hit, so all he had to worry about was infection, which appeared to be setting in.

Slipping on his boots, he walked unsteadily to Trice, pulled out his bottle of whiskey, and tore one of his shirts, making a rag. With the rag soaked in bourbon, he pressed it into the bullet-hole. Searing pain tore through his wound and he groaned. His voice echoed in the cavern and reverberated in his ears. Stars whirled about his head and knees bucked. He'd collapsed to his knees as pain wracked his body.

Several minutes later, Dakota pulled himself back up with Trice's stirrups and grabbed the bottle and his bedroll. The trip back to the fire was difficult and a couple of times he nearly fell. He rolled out his pallet and collapsed in a heap beside the fire. He needed to eat, but his wound drained any appetite. The thought of walking back to get the jerky out of the saddlebag was unthinkable.


Betsy pulled the reins back on Chestnut and dismounted. The rain was still coming down in torrents and she'd begun to shiver from the cold. Although she feared discovery, the need for shelter was strong. Finding an acceptable spot to tie the horse, she crept to the mouth of the cave. As she crouched next to the opening, a bolt of lightning struck the ground. It was close enough that the sizzle of the fire forced her to hastily enter the cavern.

Just a few yards inside the opening stood his mare, bigger and more beautiful than she'd imagined. The horse seemed to be unconcerned and quietly looked at her. Betsy slowly walked up and began to stroke her mane and neck, whispering, "Howdy there beauty. My aren't you a lovely one. You're lucky to have such a nice looking rider too."

Just as she summoned the courage to walk around the horse, she heard footsteps. He was coming toward her. 'Had he seen her? Was he going to hurt her?' She couldn't be sure, so she did the only thing she could. She crouched down beside the horse and prayed he hadn't seen her.

The footsteps grew louder and her heart leapt into her throat. She held her breath as he appeared from behind a large boulder. All she could see were his legs, which were bare except for his boots. Her hand flew to her mouth, muffling a gasp. His well-muscled thighs were just inches from her face. The rippling sinew looked like it had been carved out of granite.

Without thinking, she leaned her head under the horse's belly to get a better look. Just as she was about to observe his manhood, there was a loud ripping of cloth and the smell of whiskey. She leaned back, heard a cry of pain, and watched in horror as the naked form crumbled and dropped to his knees. The thought of voyeurism left her mind as she sank back against the cave wall.

His breathing was harsh with agony. She watched intently as a stream of whiskey and blood trickled down his side. His body shuddered as he reached up and pulled himself back to his feet. Betsy sat up and leaned under the horse again. She wanted to jump up and help him, but was still afraid of how he'd react.

She knew he'd been hit in the gunfight. He needed help and she could give it, but the fear was too much. As he slowly staggered to the back of the cave, she rolled under the horse and peered over the boulder. He swayed unsteadily and nearly fell again. She stifled another gasp while gazing upon his naked back and buttocks. His body was near perfection. If not for the wound in his side and the scars on his back, he'd be the vision God had in mind when creating man.

He eventually made his way to the campfire and dropped the bedroll. As she looked at him, she remembered her horse, the sulfur, and the clean rags in the saddlebags. As soon as he collapsed onto the makeshift bed she scampered out of the safety of the cave and ran to Chestnut. Her actions were now dictated by the thoughts of his safety, not her fears.


Just as he'd managed to get comfortable on the cave floor, he heard footsteps and rose on his elbow. He didn't see anything, but Trice was looking out of the cave. Something or someone was just outside; here he was naked and defenseless.

Dakota reached for his Colt and pulled the hammer back. Whatever or whoever it was would rue the day they came after him. He was dangerous enough in the open, but when cornered, he was doubly dangerous. Fighting sleep, he waited for the attack that was sure to be coming.

The mouth of the cave was his focus as the sky had lightened and provided a backdrop to furnish a silhouette of the intruder. The opening suddenly darkened and his hackles rose. He waited; not one to shoot first and ask questions later. It got darker and he knew it was bigger than any man he'd ever seen. His blood ran cold and his heart slowed as it always did when in danger.

Appearing at the opening was a horse. It wasn't alone though and he called out, "Who's there?"

The horse and the rider stopped.


Betsy ran headlong up the path to her horse and snatched the reins from around the stone. Before she could change her mind, she led Chestnut down the path to the cave opening. The sky had begun to lighten as the storm abated and the sun had started its ascent on the eastern horizon.

She paused at the entrance and took a deep breath. With a resigned exhale Betsy stepped into the cave and heard a voice call out to her. "Who's there?"

Not sure what to do, she froze. Before she could answer, he called out again, "I said who's there?"

She stepped in front of her horse and said, "Betsy Stone. I'm here to help."

"What makes you think I need help?"

"Because you've been shot. I've got sulfur, clean rags, and water."

"How do you know I've been shot? Are you with the posse?"

"I saw ya in Cortez and I've been followin' ya since ya lost the posse's trail. No I'm not with them, I wanna help ya." She replied in her most convincing voice.

When he didn't respond, she took another step into the cave and saw he'd passed out. His body was covered from the waist down with a blanket. She quickly tied the quarter horse's reins next to the mustang and got the sulfur, rags, and canteen.

The wound had become infected and poison was coursing through his veins. She soaked a rag in the fresh canteen water and rung out the excess. The streaks of red looked angry against his dark skin. Betsy unscrewed the cap on the sulfur and carefully poured the chemical onto his open sore. Dakota's body flinched involuntary from the sting of the sulfur and his eyes fluttered open.

He gasped, "Thank you," and passed out again.

Betsy cleaned and dressed his wound both front and back. All that remained was to wait for him to fight off the infection. She was also worried that the Slade's had picked up the trail and could be just outside the cave. With this thought in mind, she covered his body in the blankets, threw a couple of logs on the campfire, and went to her horse.

Her rifle and revolvers loaded, she crept to the cave entrance and looked out into the bright sunshine of the morning. The rain had stopped and the sun was rapidly drying everything. The moisture had made an already hot day, unbearably humid.

Crouched behind a large rock, Betsy listened for any sign of approaching riders. Beads of sweat appeared instantly on her forehead and trickled down the side of her face, tickling her chin. The only noise was that of the roadrunners, chirping loudly and searching for a meal.

The fact that there were birds about, was a good sign to Betsy, who'd been taught to track by her father Vance. Now she was on the side of being tracked and realized that the lessons he'd taught her applied to being hunted as well.

Emboldened by the indication of nobody near the cave opening, Betsy took a step out of the cave and peered over the edge to the valley below. Off in the distance she saw a flash of reflected light. She dropped to her knees behind one of the boulders and watched for any movement. Her breath caught in her throat as she waited. Minutes passed and no further signs of movement. Just as she was about to give up, there was another flash of light.

She watched as the reflections appeared more often and grew brighter. Yet, she didn't see any movement of the lights from her viewpoint. Betsy was suddenly struck by the realization that they were moving, directly toward her, the cave, and her man. 'Her man,' she thought. 'Where'd that come from? I don't even know his name.'

The vision she watched slowly came into view. It was four riders, travelling fast. Certainly, they hadn't seen her, but just in case, she moved into a better position. As she took position, she turned back to the cave and saw wisps of smoke rising into the air from the natural chimney in the roof of the cavern. 'That's what they see.' She thought.

Betsy's concern for him took precedent over her own safety. If they wanted him, they'd have to go through her. Minutes passed slowly as the four riders continued their approach. The closer they got the slower her heart beat. Just like her daddy, she was cold blooded like a snake when in danger. Ready to strike without warning.

CLICK CHINK. A bullet was chambered in her rifle. Aim was taken on the lead rider. If it was the Slade posse, she had to be ready. A missed shot and all would be lost. Betsy had seen how viscous they were in Cortez; 'her man' was lucky to be alive. They not only killed his partners; they dragged their bodies down Main Street to make an example of them.

The four riders stopped at the bottom of the trail leading up to the cave and began to argue. She was too far away to hear what they were saying. It was apparent that a couple of them didn't want to go up the blind trail. Carl Slade pulled his pistol and leveled it at one of the posse. Without hesitation, his gun belched smoke and the rider's hat flew off his head.

Shivers ran up Betsy's spine, if he'd threaten his posse, what would he do to her and 'her man'? She had to act fast, before they resumed their pursuit. Picking up a rock, she flung it over the edge away from the trail. Hidden behind the rocks she watched as they all turned and headed toward the noise with their guns drawn. She'd learned early on from her daddy that distraction was the best way to get the drop on someone. As they moved away from the trail, they moved right into her sights. They were heading right into an ambush. 

Everett Slade was the first one she got a clear shot at. Though she wanted to get Carl first, she couldn't be fussy. Coldness pervaded her body as she leveled her sights onto Everett's hat. Her right pointer finger curled around the trigger and she squeezed evenly.

Her rifle roared, spewing forth fire and death. Everett slumped over in his saddle as his hat flew off. Before they could turn around she'd chambered another round and squeezed off a shot at Buster, hitting him in the neck. Blood splattered from his juggler in a stream onto the man that Carl threatened. He spurred his horse and took off away from the ambush. The shot was a difficult one, but she knocked him off his steed with a gaping hole in his gut. She loaded again and found Carl. He'd jumped off his horse and was running for the rocks. She took aim and fired. The bullet shattered his knee, but he made it to safety.

Betsy was unsure if Carl was dead or not. She moved away from the edge and began to pick her way down the trail. Suddenly, there was a gunshot and a bullet whizzed past her head, smacking into the rock behind her. Betsy dropped to the ground and crawled to the nearest boulder. 'Well, Carl isn't dead,' she thought. 'Now what?'

From below came a voice. "Hey up there, give up we've got ya surrounded and there's no way off this mountain."

'Who's he kiddin',' she thought. "Not a chance, mister. I've been watchin' ya for three days and you're the last one left. You need to give up."

"Now wait a minute missy, ain't no woman's gonna tell me what ta do."

"There's always a first time fer every thing."

Another bullet bounced off the rock, nowhere near her. She'd already begun to move into position. He couldn't see her, but she couldn't see him either. She moved down the steep edge to a better advantage, picking her way between rocks and remaining quiet and calm. To make things easier she left her rifle on the ground and unholstered her six shooters. Hiding behind a large boulder, she heard a horse galloping. A sick realization jumped in the pit of her stomach.

She peered over the edge to see Carl urging his horse up the trail toward the cave opening. Betsy clambered up the side of the mesa to get a shot at him but he was too fast. By the time, she made it to the path, he was already near the cave opening. She took aim and fired off a couple rounds. One grazed his shoulder and he fell off his horse.

All looked lost as he jumped up and limped into the cave. 'Her man' was as good as dead. Betsy screamed, "No!" and took off at a dead run for the cave. Just as she neared the opening, there was a gunshot from inside. Tears welled up in her eyes and she dropped to her knees. Carl had found 'her man' and she knew he was gone.

Betsy crawled into the cave. If 'her man' were dead, she'd make certain his death would be avenged. Standing up behind the horses, she looked into the cave with tears streaming down her face. She couldn't see Carl. 'Was he hiding too? Did he know she was here?'

As she rounded the corner, she heard a groan. On the ground was a pair of legs sticking out from behind a rock. She gasped as she realized it was Carl's feet and he was face down. 'Her man' was lying on his side with his Colt clutched in his right hand; smoke still curling out of the barrel. His eyes flickered open, "Is that all of them?"

Betsy ran to his side, "Yes, he's the one that shot you."

"Good." Then he passed out.

She lowered herself to his side and ran her fingers through his sweat soaked hair. "Everything will be alright now…" Tears of relief streamed down her cheeks.

His fever was higher than before and she soaked another rag, placing it on his forehead. Concern etched her brow. Now he had a much harder fight on his hands. The Reaper was knocking and he had to fight him off alone. She couldn't help, just try to make him as comfortable as possible.

By nightfall, she'd hidden all signs of the skirmish. She'd dragged the bodies into a shallow grave and covered them with dirt and rocks. A proper burial was in order although they deserved to die. She was human after all and respect for the dead needed to be accorded them. Their horses were unsaddled and set free. She buried their guns with them but kept the ammo. Their food and water supplies bolstered by those of the dead men. Last thing was the saddles. She had to get rid of them as they were branded with the Slade Ranch Lazy 'S'. They couldn't sell them. The only option was to burn them.

That night was a long fitful night. Pain, night sweats, and nightmares tortured his body. A couple of times his eyes opened and he seemed to be awake, but she couldn't get him to respond. The fever had hold of him and didn't seem to be letting up. Each time she cleaned and dressed his wounds, he moaned and flinched from the invasion of the sulfur.

By morning, Betsy was dog-tired and had drift off to sleep. She hadn't slept for more than two days and her body needed to restore itself. Her mind was filled with erotic dreams. She hadn't had any erotic thoughts for some time. Her focus had been on helping her daddy and Momma Kathleen run Stone Ranch.

She was shook from her sleep by a voice, "Betsy, are you awake?"

Her eyes flickered and she looked at him, "Yes, how ya feelin'?"

"I'm thirsty, can I have some water?"

"Course, here," handing him her canteen. "Ya want something to eat yet?"

"Yes, I'm starved. I've got some jerky in my saddlebags."

"I'll do ya one better. I've got some side bacon and coffee.

"That would be great. Oh where are my manners. I haven't told ya my name have I?"

"Now that you mention it, no you haven't." She smiled back at him as she walked to her horse. She noticed he was staring at her backside and felt shivers run up her spine.

"I'm Dakota, Dakota Tomichi."

"Well Dakota, it's nice to meet ya."

"Thanks for helping me, I'd surely be dead if you hadn't shown up when you did."

"I've got to be honest with ya, Dakota, I've been helpin' ya since Cortez. I've been keeping them off your trail and keepin' ya in my sights."

He smiled and said, "So you've been watching my back for a while then."

"I guess so, I don't why, it just seemed like the thing to do."

"Well, I'm glad you did. Thanks again."

Betsy crouched by the fire and began to heat up her skillet and fill the coffeepot with water. "Can I ask a question Dakota?"

"Of course."

"What's it like to be a half-breed, God I hate that term, what should I call ya anyway?"

He laughed and said, "Call me Dakota. I'm just a man. It's not easy; the white man doesn't trust me. Fortunately, Little Pony has always treated me as one of his own. That's where I was headed."

"You know Little Pony? He's one of my daddy's friends."

"I thought you're last name sounded familiar. Is your father Vance?"

"Yes, he's been Little Pony's blood brother since before I was born."

"Well, then we've probably met. I'm the son of War Eagle and White Dove, a runaway from a mining camp."

"So you're the lil' boy that was always asking my daddy when his green eyed daughter was coming to visit." They both laughed; somehow, it felt like they were destined to meet.

After they finished the meal, Dakota slipped into a deep sleep. The struggle against the infection had drained him of all his strength. Betsy sat and watched him sleep peacefully. He seemed to be having much more pleasant dreams than the night before. So pleasurable were his dreams that when he rolled over onto his back, she could see a large bulge under his blanket.

She felt the telltale signs of excitement welling up in her loins. Absentmindedly, she reached down and rubbed herself through her clothes. It had been several months since she'd had sex and the simple touch through her clothes caused her to moan almost imperceptibly.

Her eyes didn't blink as she focused on his crotch. The petting of her pussy became more intense and she soon had loosened her pants and slipped them down her hips to her ankles. The thought of being discovered hadn't crossed her mind. If honest, she wanted to be caught.

Pants and panties around her ankles, she now had complete access to her inflamed pussy. The dark curly hairs were matted from her extreme wetness. Betsy sank her fingers down through the downy hair and spread her lips. As if on cue, Dakota's hardened member began to throb under the blankets. She saw his cock's action and sank her middle finger into her sopping hole.

Her body began to convulse, catching her by surprise. The orgasm came on suddenly and violently. She groaned and thrashed her head from side to side. Her dark hair falling down over her face, obstructing her view of Dakota's sleeping form. As she came down from the orgasmic high, she heard a moan and opened her eyes to see Dakota awake and staring at her exposed sex. Her first response was modesty. He smiled and pulled the blankets off his body.

Betsy stared at the exquisite shape of his body. He looked better than she'd imagined. His musculature was near perfect, the only flaw; his dressed bullet wounds. The hardness of his body matched by that of his throbbing member. He gripped his cock and began to slowly stroke himself. Betsy watched as he scanned from her pussy up to her eyes. As their eyes met, they locked on each other. As if under a trance, she pushed her pants off and unbuttoned her shirt, revealing her bra clad breasts.

Dakota gasped, as her body was uncovered for his viewing pleasure. He watched with rapt attention as she reached up and slid the camisole off her shoulders. When the straps slid down her arms, the camisole fell to her lap revealing her creamy breasts. The erect nips hard and longing for attention. Betsy gaped at his cock as she stripped for him. Her desire grew as she exposed herself to his piercing eyes. The lewdness of the act seemed to add to the excitement, causing her wetness to flow out and seep down, coating her nether hole.

The speed of his strokes grew more urgent and forceful as he neared the peak of his self-gratification. His cock swelled in his fist with the rapidly approaching orgasm. Dakota knew he couldn't last long; her beauty was such that his impending orgasm would soon spill out. To stave off the inevitable and make the moment last, he slowed the pace of his masturbation. This did little to reduce the building pressure. It didn't help much that Betsy had completely shed her clothes and was masturbating in response to his display. He watched as her fingers splayed and teased her sensitive lips toward her own climax.

Nothing was said, but each could tell the other was close to orgasm. She threw her head back and moaned as she sank three fingers into her dripping pussy. Her thumb pressed against her clitoris as she screwed her digits deeper inside herself. Dakota gripped his hard shaft and stroked the full length in rapid succession.

Their eyes locked on each other and simultaneously plummeted into a mind-numbing climax. His cock swelled further and spewed forth a volley of searing cum into the air, landing on his chest. Her pussy clamped down on her fingers and gushed as she pressed upward. The mutual masturbation pushed each into a state of blissful satiation. Stream after stream of his heated release launched into the air and landed on his chest and flat belly, as Betsy quivered with each spasm from her orgasm.

Slowly, they floated back to earth and reality set in. Neither felt shame for what they'd seen or done. Betsy raised herself on her knees and crawled over to Dakota, kissing him full on the mouth. Tongues and lips entwined in a love making session of their own.

She broke the kiss and lowered her head to his chest, trailing her tongue through his spend. The act of licking him clean elicited a moan from Dakota and a smile of satisfaction from Betsy. The salty-sweet taste of his cum excited her taste buds. She slowly worked her way down to his semi-hard cock and cleaned it of his seed.

Betsy sucked him soft, slid back up his side, and kissed him on the mouth again. He tasted himself on her tongue and his limp member twitched in response. Dakota wanted to roll her over and plunge himself deep into her. However, his strength was now completely gone and he fought to keep his eyes open. Betsy saw the internal struggle in his eyes and whispered while laying her head on his chest. "Sleep now, you'll need your energy later."



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