Sunday, May 22, 2022

Elust 149

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Welcome to Elust 149.

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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Moon Feather: Part 40: The Unwrapping of Gifts


“What! But you said you weren’t mad at me!” She glared and tried to yank her hand from his grip. 

As strong as she was, he was still stronger. He smirked. “I ain’t.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Is this a real punishment or the sexy funtime kind?”

He shrugged and winked. “Little bit’a one. Little bit’a the other.” Lurching to his feet, he swept an arm under her knees and lifted her off the ground, making her squeal. He turned and leaned her toward the table. “Grab the butter dish, if’n ya please.” 

She frowned up at him in confusion. “Why?”

“You’ll find out eventually.” 

With another suspicious squint he was beginning to find absolutely adorable, she gingerly lifted the butter dish and held it on her belly. She squirmed a bit in half-hearted protest as he carried her up the stairs, but made no real move to dislodge herself. 

Everett kicked the bedroom door shut behind him and set Joey gently on her feet. He took the butter dish from her and set it on the dresser. Circling around her, he tugged loose the tie on her apron and reached around to pull the pins from the bib, folding it up and setting it beside the butter with the pins safely stowed in the fabric. He prowled around to her front, looking her up and down hungrily. Catching up her hand, one at a time, he unbuttoned the cuff of each sleeve and replaced her hands at her sides. His fingers went to the front of her bodice, slowly undoing each button while looking her in the eye. He pushed the fabric from her shoulders, letting it fall away from her torso. She slipped her arms from the sleeves as he unbuttoned her camisole, nodding at her approvingly as she shrugged that off as well. 

He pushed the skirt over her hips, and it slipped to the floor, pooling at her feet. He took her hand and helped her step out of the pile of blue cotton, leaving her in her petticoats. He carefully shook out the dress, folded it and set it with the apron. He circled around her again, his boot heels clicking ominously on the floor boards. He found the strings of her petticoats and pulled those loose. They fell away from her narrow hips and dropped to the floor in a sensuous whisper. Again, he held out his hand to help her out of the nest of muslin.

He looked her up and down, sighing appreciatively. “Pretty as the blue side of the mountain,” he said, smiling. 

Joey gave a delicate snort. “I find it a little hilarious that, despite having me constantly naked or nearly so for the last week, it’s the fifteen layers of the most modest underwear I’ve ever seen in my life that gets you worked up.”

“That’s the thing ‘bout gifts, Jaybird,” he said, turning to pick up the chair beside the dresser to place it in front of it, “the excitin’ part is the unwrappin’ of ‘em.”

He moved her in front of the dresser and stepped behind her to look at them both in the mirror. The difference between their sizes was almost comical. A great lumbering bear and a delicate wild angel, so small he felt she might slip through his fingers at any moment. He had to lean down a bit to place his large hands on her slender waist, somehow even more defined by the constriction of the corset. He held her gaze in the mirror as he ran his fingers up the silky lines of the stiff garment. Gripping the edges of the top, he deftly freed the hooks from the eyes. Her bosom heaved with the breath of freedom as he pulled the corset away from her, folded it, and added it to the pile. 

“So you do know your way around a corset,” she said with a smirk in the mirror, eyebrow arching gracefully.

He chuckled, running his hands down her body over her chemise. “I’ve undone a few in my day.”

He sat down in the chair in front of her, eye level with her in this position. He rucked up her chemise a bit and jerked her forward so she stumbled to straddle one of his thighs. He slipped a hand up under her chemise to find the seam of her drawers and pushed the split in fabric wide so her mons rested directly on his thigh. He grabbed her hips and pulled her up his thigh, scraping her bare sex against the coarse material of his britches, making her gasp. He moved both hands up under the chemise to grip her waist, her skin smooth and warm against his fingers. He could feel every fidget and squirm in the flexing of her muscles against his fingertips.

“If’n I didn’t know better, I’d be afeared’a breakin’ ya, little as ya are,” he said, stroking his thumbs along the undersides of her breasts. 

She let out a smug little laugh. “If my arm wasn’t jacked up, I could throw you, easily.”

Everett snorted. “Doubtful, Jaybird. Very doubtful.”

“Bet, cowboy. When I’m fixed up, we’ll see if I can’t make a believer outta ya.”

“Arms up,” he commanded. When she obeyed, he lifted the chemise off of her and tossed it aside. “Beautiful.” He brushed a thumb over one of her nipples, watching it harden beneath his touch. “Now, let’s see,” he said, stroking his beard thoughtfully. “There’s the foolishness this mornin’ with ya jumpin’ that fence…”

Joey scowled. “Hey! I thought we settled that already.”

He shrugged flippantly. “Changed my mind. So, the fence, then there’s your indiscretion with Mrs. Albritton. Four times, ya said?” Her eyes narrowed. “And I find I just don’t really care for the word bitch, so I’m throwin’ that one in too.”

“Not fair!”

He chuckled darkly, sounding a little bit evil even to himself. “Oh, Jaybird, none’a this were ever gon’ be fair.”

With a squeal from her, he tossed her over his left knee and captured her dangling feet under his right leg. Carefully, he arranged her so her ass was positioned just perfectly for his hand, and unbuttoned the back of her drawers. He peeled the two halves apart to reveal the smooth expanse of her well-formed backside. Draped over his knee as she was, the two globes were soft and relaxed, belying the toned muscle beneath. He ran his hand over the supple flesh, reveling in the contrast of his rough skin against hers. Joey shivered. 

“Ya know,” she said a bit sullenly, “you’re really lucky I was already into this sort of thing when you decided to keep me.”

He gave her ass a firm slap, eliciting a startled squeak from her. “Don’t think I don’t thank the Lord for that blessin’ every day, darlin’. Even if ya are a bit of a handful.”

She gave an offended huff and punched his booted calf. Everett clucked his tongue and cracked his hand down several times, hard enough to sting, but not enough to be really punishing. She wiggled a bit, and he smiled at the color blooming on her skin. Being midsummer, it didn’t get dark til near to ten o’clock, so he could see everything perfectly in the evening light still streaming through the window. The impression of his hand appeared in a lovely pink on her right buttock. He added a matching print to her left.

He felt her feet kick a bit under his thigh. He scooted his boot back toward the chair to give her legs less space to move. Rubbing at the remnants of his hand on her flesh, he eased what little sting was there. The little moan she gave had him grinning. 

She was right. He was indeed a most fortunate man. He had never courted a girl, and he didn’t much meddle with unmarried ladies outside of his capacity as a marshal. He had sisters, but Lord knew he’d never inquired about their education on the matters of the marriage bed. But he had spent perhaps a less than seemly amount of time in the odd bordello since becoming a man, and the doves who had entertained his company were quite instructive about what proper ladies were and were not taught. Namely, proper ladies endured the marriage act for the sake of producing children. Enjoying it was the way of the wicked and the wanton. Joey was certainly wicked and absolutely wanton, but then, she was quite clear she was no lady. And Everett was quite certain he didn’t want one. Not in the bedroom, at any rate. They’d have to come to an agreement about public though, elsewise his belt would wear out faster than he’d like being frequently applied to her backside.

Their first week as man and wife had been tumultuous to say the least, with untold arguments mostly born out of not being able to understand each other. It was that very thing that convinced him the most that her stories about being from another time were true. How could two people be speaking the same language and be so utterly incapable of comprehension? They understood each other well enough in the Biblical way, though. Joey didn’t so much as balk at his proclivities. Sometimes he thought she might be more well-acquainted with the practices than he, and he really didn’t want to think about how. 


If you would like a glossary of western slang used in this story, here is the reference I'm using: Western Slang, Lingo, and Phrases – A Writer’s Guide to the Old West     

Wicked Wednesday

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Moon Feather: Part 39: Fessin' Up


Everett wasn’t sure what he expected when he got home, but it wasn’t the thorough dressing down the young Mrs. Albritton had delivered. She wasn’t entirely out of line in her grievances, so he simply stood there for her tongue lashing right up until she hit him with her fan. It wasn’t especially painful, with her being a slight female half his size, but he couldn’t abide the disrespect. When she lit into him again with it, he’d threatened to recommend the same treatment she had been belaboring him for to Henry. That hobbled her lip right quick. 

He stood there quietly as she left and stared at Joey who sat on the sofa, playing nervously with her fingers, refusing to look at him. Lavina had gotten her properly dressed while he was gone. The dress was still simple, but less ill-fitting, the corset accenting her slim waist and giving more shape to her modest bosom. Her hair had been arranged into a graceful coiffure of loops and braids that swept over the sides of her head to hide the shorter hair. He was quite taken with her, and imagined stripping her down to her chemise later. She had slept nude next to him every night since their wedding, but there was just something about those unmentionable garments that enticed him. 

Finally, Joey gave him a nervous glance. 

What did ya tell her?” He said, putting his hands on his hips. 

She grimaced, baring her teeth. “Okay, so,” she said picking dirt from under her fingernails and wrinkling her nose, “she was askin’ about whether you were as ‘stern’ as you seemed you’d be, and, she was askin’ kinda like someone who wants to know somethin’ dirty, so I ran with that. I mentioned you whipped me with your belt, which is…which is true, and she was mildly horrified, but also, I think, a little bit horny,” she said, squinting and pinching her fingers together as her voice went high, “and then she started askin’ why, so I told her about the second time, but then she was like ‘second time!’ so then she wanted to know about the first time.” Her eyebrows rose and she shrugged as the words tumbled out of her mouth. “And I answered, and I think that’s what got ‘er riled.” She winced. “But!...but, I didn’t know she was gonna do all that, so you can’t blame that on me.”

Her hands settled in her lap, her eyes shifting nervously before circling around to look at him through the corner of her eye. Everett blinked several times, trying to make sense of the hasty ramble. He noticed she tended to talk faster when she was nervous, and her accent would start to peek through in those moments. 

“I like her. She actually offered to help me get away from you if you were abusing me, which I thought was sweet.”

Everett’s mouth fell open. “Ya told ‘er I was abusin’ you?”

Joey rolled her eyes, brow furrowing. “No, of course not! But, you did whip me to get me to agree to marry you, so surely you can understand where she might have come to that conclusion?”

Everett ran his hand down his face, regretting leaving her alone with someone so soon. He sighed. “Do you think I’m abusin’ ya?”

She looked at him as if it were a stupid question. “I already told you, you’d definitely know if I did. I certainly wouldn’t be fuckin’ you every day if you were.”

Everett grimaced and rubbed his temples. “Please tell me ya didn’t talk like that with her.”

“No, I didn’t say any form of the word fuck even once.”

He narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “What did ya say then?”

She looked off at the window. “Um…I might have said ass twice and damn once or twice, but the second damn and the second ass were because I said ass the first time, so overall, I think I did pretty good. She didn’t, like, swoon or anything.” She turned to him, eyes full of curiosity. “What did you say to make her stop hitting you with the fan?”

Everett smirked. “I told ‘er that if’n she didn’t cease that foolishness, she should stop worryin’ about your backside and worry about her own after I talk ta Henry.”

Joey tilted her head thoughtfully. “Explains the blushing. I dunno. I wouldn’t wanna unwittingly throw her under the proverbial bus, or strap, as it were, but you might go ahead and suggest it to him anyway. She seemed interested. A bit of a case of ‘the lady doth protest too much,’ if you ask me.” 

Everett scratched his beard. “Ya really suggestin’ I tell Henry ta spank his wife? Not sure she’d thank ya for such a recommendation.” 

“You’d be the one making it, so my name wouldn’t have to come into it at all. But, if you rather I confirm my suspicions about her interest first, it’s not a big deal,” she said, shrugging. “Are you mad at me?”

He sighed again. “No. I s’pose ya did as well as could be expected, given the circumstances. We can talk about it more later. After two hours of listenin’ ta two old codgers argufyin’ over a dad burned fence and bein' lit into by Lavina, I ain’t got the fortitude ta deal with your indecent verbiage. ‘Sides, ya look right pretty in your new duds and I wouldn’t wanna spoil it.”

He shrugged out of his frock coat and stepped into the foyer to deposit it on the rack by the door. He went upstairs and changed into his Union shirt. On the bed, he found an open box with a fetching bonnet and an apron. Taking the folded apron with him, he went back downstairs to find Joey still sitting on the sofa, picking at her skirts. 

“Mrs. MacMahon,” Everett rumbled invitingly, “if’n you’ll do me the honor of joinin’ me in the kitchen, we can have that lesson about the stove while I heat up supper. Hope ya don’t mind another round’a beans.” He shook the apron loose and held it out. 

She squinted at him suspiciously for a moment, then stood up and went to him, reaching out for the apron. 

“Allow me,” he said with a smile. 

A bit hesitant, she turned and he dropped the flannel over her head in front of her, tying the strings into a neat bow at the small of her back. He reached around her to pull up the bib and took the straight pins he’d stowed in his cuff to pin each corner to her bodice. He ran his hands over the bib, pretending to smooth out any wrinkles, but really just wanting any reason to touch her, even if it was through three or four layers of fabric. 

Sliding one arm behind his back, he held out his hand as if asking her for a dance. “Shall we?”

She gave him another suspicious squint but allowed him to lead her to the kitchen. 

Joey proved to be a quick study, but that didn’t surprise him in the least. She was stubborn to a fault, but smart as a whip. It turned out that her campfire cooking skills translated well to the cook stove once she understood how everything worked. She told him about the stoves of her time, which ran on something she called electricity and how you could change the temperature with little knobs. Ovens could be controlled right down to the degree. He had a hard time believing all that. It sounded like a fairy tale, but she was so earnest, he kept those thoughts to himself.

He liked listening to her talk, and though he didn’t understand a lot of what she said, he enjoyed listening just the same. He desperately wanted to hear her sing again. She hadn’t sung a note since he had brought her home besides the bit of humming she’d done at supper the night before. Perhaps he would get lucky and she would sing during the hymns at church, although he was loath to share her voice with others so soon. He wished she would sing to him. They’d had a rough start of it, but maybe he could make her want to. 

Everett sat both bowls down on one side of the table and tugged her into his lap. Encouraged by her lack of protest, he settled her into the valley between his thighs. She was small enough that his chin was well clear of the top of her head. He followed her lead as she crumbled her cornbread into her beans and mixed it up. 

“You better not get any of that in my hair,” she said as he was bringing a spoonful to his mouth. 

He moved his head to the left of hers to take his bite. “If’n I did, I’d just wash it for ya,” he said against her ear. The shiver that ran through her body afterward pleased him immensely. “Although, I s’pose it oughta wait til tomorrow. Saturday’s bath day. So’s we can be all spick and span for church.”

They ate in companionable silence for several minutes. He enjoyed the feel of her in his lap. And she fit there quite nicely, as small as he was big, but every part the woman. She smelled of goat's milk, honey, and prairie grass. He would need to find out where to get her more of that soap she used. 

“About Sunday,” he said, scraping the last bit of broth from the bottom of his bowl. “There’s somethin’ we need ta discuss.”

Joey took a sip of tea. “Are you about to warn me about the Harmons?”

Everett frowned. “...yeah…how…?”

“Lavina. Don’t worry. I know how to behave in church.” She hopped off his lap, taking their bowls to the sink. “I also know how to handle catty bitches.” 

He clucked his tongue, catching the wrist of her uninjured arm as she passed him. “I’m thinkin’ it’s time we had that talk about the cussin’.” 

She wrinkled her nose. “I told you I’m not going to censor myself in my own home.”

“That’s fine,” he said with a nod. “Still gonna punish ya though.”


If you would like a glossary of western slang used in this story, here is the reference I'm using: Western Slang, Lingo, and Phrases – A Writer’s Guide to the Old West     

Wicked Wednesday

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Moon Feather: Part 38: A Little Scandal


Joey obeyed, curious as to what Lavina was up to. 

“You got a hairbrush, darlin’?” 

“No. I don’t use them. I have a comb though.” Joey pulled open the top drawer of the dresser and pulled out a comb made of bear bone, with extra wide teeth on one side and a finer set of teeth on the other. 

Lavina took it and examined it curiously. “Where did you get this?”

Joey shrugged. “I made it. I have a couple of wooden ones, but I like the bone the best. They take longer to make though.”

“My my, you are full of unusual talents,” she said, before tugging the leather thong holding up Joey’s hair loose, and letting it fall down her back. “Oh, my, ya have such lovely hair. Why is it so short on the sides?”

“As you can see, there’s a lot of it even with half of it cut off. It’s just easier to manage this way,” Joey said. It was true enough. Joey didn’t think it would be good to mention the tattoo she had on the side of her head underneath the inch or so of hair that had grown since her last shave. “If Everett was such an eligible bachelor, why didn’t he marry any of them?”

Lavina snickered. “Ta hear Everett tell it, it’s because none’a them is out of pigtails.” She lowered her voice in a mock version of Everett’s baritone. “I ain’t lookin’ for no girl I gotta finish raisin’. I ain’t gonna be Pa to my own wife.” She giggled at her impression. 

Joey snorted at that. Everett didn’t want to be Pa to his wife, eh? She’d have to poke him about that later.

“The eldest of the would-be hopefuls is Margaret Harmon, and she just turned seventeen not a month past.” Having combed out Joey’s hair, Lavina began arranging it into a style that hid the short hair underneath. “Of course, Margaret Harmon’s gonna have herself quite a time tryin’ ta catch herself a suitor, on account of her bein’ just as petulant as her mama. But I suppose her daddy’s money’ll sort that out for her.”

Joey wrinkled her nose. “Sweet Jesus! Trying to marry a damn child to a man in his thirties? That’s just gross.”

“Oh my,” Lavina said, her eyes wide in the mirror. Then she frowned. “Gross?”

“Disgusting. Repulsive. Nasty.”

“Oh, yes. I see. Well, whilst I do not disagree with the sentiment, might I suggest you…ah…temper your distaste should the Harmons see fit ta be a nuisance at church?” Lavina said, nervously primping at Joey’s hair. 

Joey waved dismissively. “You and Everett can relax. I may be out of practice, but I know how to behave at church. Besides, I get in enough trouble around here on my own without giving Everett more reasons to whip my ass.”

Lavina gasped. 

Joey groaned. “Aw, damn it! Sorry! Oh, sh–I did it again! Butt! Bottom. Backside. Whatever word I’m supposed to use that isn’t ass.” She stood up suddenly. “Gimme a minute.” 

Joey whipped out the door and down the hall to the bathroom and latched the door behind her. She really needed to get a handle on the language thing. After seven years of not censoring herself, not casually throwing out curse words was extremely difficult. In college, no one cared. Everyone’s favorite word was fuck, and the professors often cursed as well. The other hands at Bearclaw were all fairly mouthy, and, though Charlie preferred that they not curse in front of the kids, they all did anyway. Once Charlie had spoken to her about it, but she told him that he was delusional if he thought he was going to get a bunch of delinquent teenagers to stop swearing. She banged her forehead on the door a few times.

Since she was already there, she spent a few minutes figuring out how to pee with all the fabric. The split seat in the drawers was actually fairly convenient for that, she found. With a sigh, she went back to the bedroom where Lavina was sketching quietly. They exchanged nervous looks.

Joey pressed the tips of her index fingers together. “So…ah…” She squinted. “I would appreciate if you wouldn’t mention the whole cussing in front of you thing to Everett, if you don’t mind?”

Lavina stifled a snort. “He certainly would not approve.”

Joey tilted her head back and forth. “And normally, I wouldn’t care, but church pews are hard enough as it is, and we’ve fought enough this week already.”

Lavina nodded sympathetically, her golden ringlets bouncing. “The early days of matrimony can be difficult, especially if ya weren’t well acquainted beforehand. Henry courted me for a full year before askin’ for my hand, and we still had our pains. I can’t imagine what it must be like for two people who barely know each other.”

Joey shrugged, then winced. The soreness was starting to set in her arm from the jump this morning. “I could tell you, but you’d be even more scandalized than you already are.”

Lavina sat up straighter, eyes full of curiosity. She leaned forward, looking through the open door into the hallway. Her hand came to her neck to rub it self-consciously. “A little scandal here and there never did no permanent harm.” Her eyebrows rose, but she didn’t meet Joey’s eyes. 

Joey laughed. “There’s a little, and then there’s the things I could tell you, and I’m not too sure you’re ready for that.”

Lavina lifted her nose and gave a haughty sniff. “I’ll have you know, Jolene MacMahon, that I have been married some three years now, so I would say I am far more experienced in the ways of marriage than you.”

“How old are you?”

Her brow furrowed. “Why, Jolene, that is a positively rude question!”

“Why?” Joey said, confused. “You’re not old and we’re alone.”

Lavina blinked several times, clearly unsure how to process Joey’s unfettered bluntness. “I’m twenty-two.”

Joey let out a little snort. “You might’ve been married longer, but I’ve been alive longer. Not that it counts for too much, since I’m completely out of my element here.” She tugged at her skirts to indicate what she couldn’t say. Let Lavina think it was the trappings of femininity or polite society, or whatever. It wasn’t untrue. She’d always had more of a masculine energy about her. It was why she fit in so well with the other ranch hands. “But in more…worldly…pursuits,” she said, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively, “I likely got you beat.”

“Wait. How old are you?”

Joey snickered. “Twenty-five.”

Lavina looked mildly offended. “You are not!”

“I am, and–” 

The sound of the door opening downstairs cut her off. The heavy sound of Everett’s boots on the wooden floors echoed up to them.

“Ladies?” he called through the house.

“Looks like we’ll have to save the scandalous talk for another time,” Joey said.

Before she could turn to go into the hall and downstairs, Lavina was flying past her, fan in hand, a mantle of righteous fury about her shoulders. 

“Everett MacMahon!”  she shouted, gliding down the stairs with practiced grace. “I have a bone ta pick with you!” 

Oh boy. Joey followed after her, stopping at the top of the stairs. She eyed the banister and suddenly had the urge to slide down it. She looked back to Lavina who was shoving Everett back out the door. He looked up at Joey in wide-eyed confusion, looking a bit like a deer in headlights. Joey threw up her hands and shrugged.

As soon as the door shut behind them, Joey sat daintily on the banister and slid down, thumping into the newel post. She giggled. It was just as entertaining as she imagined. Even more so with the long dress, feeling like she was sitting side saddle on the smooth beam. 

The sound of shouting came muffled through the door. Joey went to the parlor and peered out the window to find Lavina and Everett squaring off in the front yard. Lavina wasn’t exactly short. Joey would have put her at about five and a half feet, but pitted next to Everett’s sturdy six-three, she looked tiny. It was pretty comical, her standing before him, one hand planted indignantly on her hip while the other gestured wildly with the folded fan as she lectured him. Joey couldn’t make out exactly what she was saying, but Everett crossed his arms over his broad chest, his frown deepening by the second. She saw his mouth move, but whatever he said was calm and measured, so she couldn’t hear anything. 

Lavina gasped, stepped forward and whacked Everett on the chest with her fan. He frowned down at the spot she’d hit. Joey snorted, hiding her laughter behind her hand even though they wouldn’t be able to hear her. Everett’s gaze suddenly snapped to her and narrowed. Oh shit. Joey flung the lace curtain closed and ducked below the sill. After a few seconds, she heard Lavina’s unintelligible shouting again and peeked up over the sill under the edge of the curtain. Lavina was now smacking Everett’s arm repeatedly with the fan. Suddenly, Everett snatched the fan from her hand, leveled a glare at her that made Joey’s ass clench, and said something that made Lavina freeze and back up a couple steps. She took her fan back and ran back up the steps of the veranda, blushing furiously. 

Joey popped back up and busied herself with packing up the rest of Lavina’s things, stacking boxes and pretending like she hadn’t been watching the entire spectacle. She picked up a stack of boxes and started for the door. Everett stepped through, glared down at the boxes then at her face. He shook his head with a frustrated sigh and took the boxes from her arms. 

“Go sit down, woman,” he commanded sharply. “Shouldn’t be carryin’ things with that arm,” he grumbled as he took the boxes out to Lavina’s wagon.

Joey sat awkwardly on the sofa through the next ten minutes of terse silence as Everett and Lavina loaded the wagon. Lavina came in to say goodbye, hugging Joey and giving those phantom kisses on each cheek while Everett stood just inside the room with his thumbs hooked behind his belt.

“Would ya like an escort home, Lavina?” he said.

She whipped around, giving him a look as sharp as one of Joey’s knives. “No, thank you. I’ll get home just fine on my own.” She tilted her head up and stomped out of the house.

Joey was staring at the floor for several moments twiddling her thumbs, the oppressive silence of Everett’s stare washing over her. She snuck a glance at him, noting his bewildered expression.

What did ya tell her?” 


If you would like a glossary of western slang used in this story, here is the reference I'm using: Western Slang, Lingo, and Phrases – A Writer’s Guide to the Old West     

Wicked Wednesday

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Moon Feather: Part 37: Prostitutes and Pockets


 “Once it’s laced properly, ya should be able ta don it yourself without help,” Lavina said, tugging on the laces to the corset while Joey held onto a bedpost. “I’ll make ya one ta your measurements, of course, but this one should suffice til then. Everett can help ya lace the new one when I finish it.”

Joey wiggled, trying to get comfortable in the unfamiliar garment. “Would he even know how to do that?”

Lavina coughed. “Um…well, I wouldn’t know personally, but he has sisters, and I reckon men learn many things from the doves that they might not elsewise.”

Joey smoothed her hands over the stiff fabric of the corset. It wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as modern media made it out to be. “The doves?” she said, frowning.

Lavina’s eyes widened, a blush creeping up her cheeks. “Oh! Um…you don’t…the doves are…” She flitted about the room apparently trying to avoid the question. She unfolded a sample of fabric before whipping around and whispering “Courtesans!” and turning back around to hide the shame of the word. 

Joey snickered. “Ah. Prostitutes. Right. That makes sense.” 

“Not that I’m sayin’ that Everett is a habituĂ© of houses of ill repute. I would never say such a thing. Nor would I know, but–” she prattled rapidly, embarrassed panic in her voice and movements. 

Joey snorted, pulling on what she now knew was a corset cover, and then slipping back into the blue dress. “Lavina, Everett is a thirty-five year old man who I met only a week ago. I’m under no delusion that he was some sort of monk before I met him, nor do I care. I wasn’t exactly the virgin Mary either.” 

Lavina let out a horrified squeak, covering her mouth. “Jolene, my darlin’, I would not make a habit of sayin’ such things. Most would not take kindly to ‘em, and I would wager that Everett would not wish ta see your reputation tarnished.”

Joey winced. “Or his, I’d imagine.”

“That goes without sayin’. Now, Everett has commissioned three dresses, and I’ll add in a suitable number of aprons, as well as a few sets of underthings, of course. Are there any particulars that strike your fancy?” she said, sitting down on the chair by the dresser with a leather journal.

Joey examined herself in the vanity mirror. The dress fit better now, with the entire closetful of clothes underneath it. Lavina had explained the corset and the corset cover and provided a couple of petticoats she had forgotten in the initial bundle. But for the hair, which Joey still had wadded up at her crown, she looked like she’d walked off the set of Cold Mountain. It was a rather flattering look, she had to admit. Her figure had always been rather boyish, with her small chest and muscular limbs. Now she appeared to have the semblance of a feminine shape. 

“I don’t know anything about fashion, but I like blue, green, and brown, if that helps. Something I can easily move in would be nice.” She twisted back and forth, making the skirts swish. “Oh! And pockets.”

“Pockets?” Lavina said incredulously. “Why ever for?”

“To hold stuff. Why should men be the only ones to get pockets?”

“Well, I suppose I could manage that, if ya insist,” she said, making a note in the journal. 

“I do. You should really consider putting some in your own clothes. They’re super useful. I imagine they’d be good for hiding money with all these skirts. Or weapons. I know those little derringers would be easy enough to conceal,” Joey said, going to sit on the bed.

Lavina’s eyes widened. “Oh my, no. Henry’d have my hide if he were ta catch me with a gun.” Her brow furrowed. “At least, I believe he would. He’s a fairly indulgent man, but even he has his limits.”

“Well, I wasn’t suggesting you go buy one and hide it from him. I imagine if I tried to buy one, whoever sold it to me, if they would in the first place, would go tattling to the big scary Marshal at the first opportunity.” Joey rolled her eyes. “‘Cause God knows Everett would never let me have one. Which is fine. I prefer knives and bows anyway. Except you can’t hide a bow and I can’t really use one right now anyway.”

Lavina licked her lips, her pale gray eyes looking from side to side. “I was wonderin’. Is Everett as stern a husband as he seems like he’d be?”

Joey let out a surprised laugh. “Why? Your husband not heavy handed enough for you?”

Lavina let out a startled squeak. “Heavy handed? No! I mean…I just…” Her face flushed a deep crimson. 

Joey snickered. “He isn’t afraid to take that belt off, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Lavina’s eyes bugged out. Seemingly from nowhere, she produced a lacy fan that she snapped open with all the drama of a drag queen and fluttered it at herself. “That sounds positively horrid!”

Joey tilted her head with a knowing smile. This country had been plagued by puritanical views on sex since its inception at Plymouth Rock. The joke of “close your eyes and think of England” came to mind when she thought about the 19th century perspectives on sex. She was going to ruin this woman if she wasn’t careful.  “Are you embarrassed or titillated? Because I can’t really tell.” 

The fan moved faster. “What a preposterous thing to say!”

Joey shrugged. “I’m an utterly preposterous person. You’ll get used to it.”

The fan stopped for a moment. “His belt?” she whispered incredulously behind her fan, as if there were someone in the house who might hear her scandalous talk.

“Yeah. Army leather’s no joke.”

Flap flap flap. “What did ya do?”

“Oh, a number of things,” Joey said in a light tone. “But I believe the chief reason was absconding to the forest in the middle of the night.” She frowned thoughtfully. “Well, the last time, anyway.”

Flapflapflap. “The last time? How many times have there been?”

“With the belt? Twice.” 

“What did ya do the first time?” 

“Refused to marry him.”

What?” Lavina shot out of the chair and started pacing the room, fan fluttering with agitation. She stopped suddenly, closing the fan and gripping both ends in her long graceful fingers. “Tell me true, Jolene. Are ya all right here? I’ve only ever known Everett ta be a good, honorable man, but if I’m wrong, tell me now, and I’ll do everything within my power ta get ya free of him.”

Joey chuckled a bit, touched by the other woman’s concern having only met her a couple of hours ago. “I appreciate the sentiment. I’m fine, though. He hasn’t harmed me. Aside from whipping my a–uh…hind end a few times, he has been particularly fastidious about keeping me from getting hurt. Exceptionally frustrating, but not malicious. Besides,” she said, plucking a bone knife from under the blankets and twirling it between her fingers, “if he hurt me, I know perfectly well how to free myself.”

Lavina gulped, staring wide-eyed at the little weapon. “Ah, yes, I heard about the bandits.”

Joey put the knife away. “So, am I suitable for church, Sunday?”

Lavina grinned, awkwardness forgotten. “Oh yes. I’ve got a bonnet ya can wear as well. Should be excitin’. We got ourselves brand new hymnals recently. Some absolutely lovely compositions.”

Joey smiled at her excitement. “Maybe I’ll get lucky and actually know one of them. I haven’t been to church in quite a while.”

Which was true. She had been raised in the church, but after Bobby, she hadn’t been able to bring herself to step back into a consecrated hall outside of the occasional family wedding or funeral. There had been times over the years that she had felt bad about her apostasy and thought to try again, but the political climate of the last six years had left her with a distaste for the organized church. She largely kept her relationship with God to herself these days. That month alone in the wilderness had been one of the most spiritual experiences of her life.  

“Oh, everyone will be so delighted to meet ya!” Lavina said, then winced. “Well, some may not be, I suppose. Everett has been highly sought after, ya see, after it came out he was livin’ on more than a lawman’s wage. Once he started buildin’ this lovely place, all the town’s high society,” she leaned in to whisper conspiratorially, “if ya can call anythin’ in Ponderosa Point ‘high society,’ has been paradin’ their daughters past him with nary a rope thrown.” 

Lavina sat another hat box on the bed and opened it to reveal a pretty navy colored bonnet trimmed with a teal ribbon and decorated with powder blue silk flowers. Underneath it was a maroon apron with a flannel pattern. She held up the bonnet next to Joey’s head, judging its suitability. 

“Mrs. Harmon, the bank owner’s wife, done set her cap for Everett on her daughter’s behalf, so I’m sure she’ll be in a right snit come Sunday.” She sat the hat back in the box and went and moved the chair in front of the dresser mirror. “Come, come. Sit.”


If you would like a glossary of western slang used in this story, here is the reference I'm using: Western Slang, Lingo, and Phrases – A Writer’s Guide to the Old West     

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