Faith Hope and Charity by JT Seate
from the Buckle Down anthology
erotic historical western cowboy romance
Release Date: 02/13/2014
Cover Art by Winterheart Design
In the old west, a young couple have plotted a future rendezvous for any chance of a life together, if only poor Johnny isn’t gunned down first by Faith’s father who is out for the cowboy’s blood.
An ocean of desert surrounded him. The sand seemed as hot as the merciless sun beating down. If Johnny had been the contemplative sort, he might have wondered how it had come to this, how he might have behaved differently. There was nothing but the reality of his fate and the reality of his actions to ponder.
He could almost picture Sloan on the shimmering horizon with his deep-set cobalt eyes and his handlebar mustache, looking twenty feet tall astride his horse, coming ever closer. Just a mirage for now, but how much longer?
Johnny thought about standing up to Sloan, but words wouldn’t deter his fury, and Johnny was no gunslinger. The only option that made sense was to lead Sloan east then head north to Santa Fe.
There was something larger than life about the man who had followed him over a sea of scorpion-infested earth and through two dusty jerkwater towns. Johnny wondered what would happen if Slone caught him out on the lone prairie. Would he kill him and leave him where he laid, his un-mourned bones bleaching in the sun, a victim of romance?
A dark corner in Johnny’s brain wished Sloan dead so this cat and mouse game could be at an end. He might have considered putting the barrel of his pistol to his temple and ending it rather than let Sloan take him. But in the end, he’d decided air was still better than dirt. And there was still Faith.
~* * *~
Life was tough all around on the frontier. When Johnny Concho was eight, his mother died of consumption. His father took up with an Indian squaw who served as a surrogate until he was twelve when his father left their small ranch for a supply run into town. He never returned. He was bushwhacked along the trail for a few measly dollars.
Soon after the shooting, his second mother returned to the reservation. Though she cared for Johnny, she didn’t care for ranching. There were those times when he ached for a gentle parental touch as he might ache for a missing limb. At age fourteen, Johnny sold what was sellable and lit out with no real plans for his life. Johnny was one of many lads who eked out a living with skills learned out of necessity.
He was barely beyond his teens when he ran afoul of the law. It hadn’t amounted to much, just borrowing a horse that someone else had already stolen. But it was enough to make him move on down the trail from where he’d been working as a bronco buster and fence-mender.
The little town of San Lucas didn’t amount to much either, but the place Johnny had wound up in was big enough to hold an annual street dance to celebrate its anniversary. On that particular day, food was sold along with tankards of ale. Indians from the reservation displayed trinkets on colorful blankets. A piñata was hoisted from a tree branch and laughing, blindfolded children bashed at it with sticks.
At dusk, the square was lit with colorful lantern shades placed over oil lanterns. Johnny thought the festivities would be enough to give a man a laugh and he wasn’t wrong. The law loosened up a bit for the fiesta. Public intoxication outside the saloon was tolerated, and many of those who were brave enough to dance in public appeared to have imbibed considerably.
While the skirts of the ladies whirled, the plucks and strums of a fiddle and guitar rang out tunes from a makeshift stage in the middle of the street. Johnny sat beneath an archway in one corner of the plaza. He’d never had an occasion to dance and didn’t intend to pick this party to take it up. There were enough drunks making fools of themselves already.