|xie_xie_xie (xie_xie_xie) wrote in qaf_challenges,|
@ 2008-05-17 03:52:00
|Entry tags:||challenge in two parts|
Graphic Number 20: "Garland, and All Points East"
Title: Garland, and All Points East
Warnings, if any: Justin/Other
Author's notes: My eternal gratitude to firehead30.
Graphic: Image #20 by gundamnook
It was a shade past high noon when Brian crested the final ridge. Satisfied with the view of the valley below, he got off his horse and began his survey, mapping out the topography west and north of Garland’s highest hill. After several hours of meticulous notations and diagrams, he snapped his notebook shut.
Enough for today.
He had two more days to complete his work, and at the moment, the only real estate he cared about was the lake he’d seen on his way up. He’d forgotten how hot and dusty the frontier was in high summer.
Mounting his horse, he pointed him downhill and spurred him to a canter, grimacing as the animal picked up speed. The day’s rough terrain and his lack of recent riding had resulted in sore muscles, and aches in unaccustomed places. He was looking forward to the lake’s waterfall beating down on his back.
In less than twenty minutes, he was under the large oak that marked the turn-off for the lake, drinking out of his canteen. He’d just taken his hat off to pour the last of the water over his head, when he heard shouts and the sound of galloping horses. Tightening the grip on his reins, he backed the horse further under the tree and waited.
Seconds later, a magnificent Palomino ridden by what appeared to be a blond boy, thundered up the hill, rushing right toward him. Brian’s horse reared up, pawed wildly at the air and nearly dumped him out of the saddle. Quick reflexes kept him seated, but it was close. The rider veered at the last second and disappeared down the lake trail, Brian’s curses lost in a cloud of violent dust.
He was about to chase him down, intent on delivering a scathing diatribe when a second horse came charging up the road. Reining back sharply, he watched as a large, red stallion streaked past him, hot on the heels of the Palomino.
Brian took off, hell bent for leather, heat and sore muscles forgotten. When he burst through the trees into the clearing, he found the two riders laughing and circling each other, still on their mounts, in obvious high spirits.
They quieted down when they caught sight of him.
“Howdy,” called the tall one, trotting forward and giving a small wave.
“You two nearly ran me off the road,” Brian said, voice tight with anger.
“Considering you were under the oak, which by my estimation puts you a good fifteen feet from the road, that really wouldn’t have been possible.” The blond dismounted his horse with an easy grace and flashed a smile. “But we’re sorry if we frightened you.”
“You didn’t frighten me,” Brian bristled, “you-”
“We’re not used to folks on the trail this time of day,” the tall one interrupted, jumping off his horse to sit on the grass and take off his boots. “We race up here every day at four. Been doing it since Justin,” he gestured toward the one with the smart mouth, “learned how to ride. He only just started beating me this year.” He beamed proudly at Justin who was unbuttoning his shirt. “He says it’s cause of his new horse, Apollo, but truth is, Justin’s a horseman to the manner born.”
Brian opened his mouth to say he didn’t give a good goddamn about Justin’s riding prowess, their schedule or who beat who, but the tall one kept talking. “We start in front of the post office, you know, because it’s on the outskirts of town and there’s less chance of folks getting hurt. I think we’ve only had one mishap in the five years we’ve been lake-racing, Just one, right, Justin? That time Deputy Michael fell into the mud hole trying to get out of the way?”
“Yeah,” Justin laughed. “Ole Doc Hughes had to flush his ears out for a solid month.”
“He couldn’t hear Deb ringing the supper bell and showed up late half the time, missing all the meat. Had to eat potatoes three days in a row.”
They laughed uproariously while continuing to strip.
Brian stared incredulously.
Then the tall one started talking again, completely naked now, except for his hat. “Mercy me, but I’ve forgotten my manners! I’m Emmett Honeycutt, and this here’s Justin Taylor.”
Brian looked from Emmett to Justin and saw that he was now naked too. He quickly revised his previous assessment. This was no boy - Justin Taylor was very much a man.
His gaze swept the length of Justin’s body, eyes lingering on the lean torso, the finely muscled legs, the unexpected cock, thick against a golden thigh.
Suddenly, Brian’s horse skittered backwards, whinnying in protest.
Damn. Brian relaxed his legs, relieving the pressure he’d put on the animal and the horse immediately calmed.
Emmett and Justin watched him, obviously amused. Waiting.
Waiting for . . . oh, right.
“I’m-” Christ, they were both well-endowed. He cleared his throat. “I’m Brian Kinney.”
“From New York City,” Emmett added. “Long way from home, aren’t you?”
Justin smiled again, then turned away and walked into the water.
Wait. How had Emmett known that?
“How’d you know that?” Brian asked, but his eyes were on Justin who was now cupping water in his palms and drinking. Carelessly. Most of the water ran in rivulets down his chest, chasing its way down his flat stomach, sparkling in the dark hair at his groin.
Brian dismounted his horse.
“It’s a small town, Brian,” Emmett replied. “Is it all right if I call you Brian?” Emmett went on without waiting for an answer. “But what everyone really wants to know is why you’re here.”
“I’m sure everyone does,” Brian said, taking his holster off.
“There’s no oil in these parts,” Emmett mused as he unsaddled his and Justin’s horses.
Brian shed his shirt and unbuckled his belt.
“Or gold,” Emmett continued
“No,” Justin agreed. He was lying on the white, sandy beach, mica glittering around him, water lapping at his hips. “But there is a railroad, and a valley without natural obstacles that runs north all the way into the Wyoming Territory.”
Well, fuck. How had he known that? Brian kept his eyes on the ground as he took off his boots.
“They’re fond of copper trim on those fancy Park Avenue mansions, aren’t they, Mr. Kinney?”
Poker face in place, Brian looked up and unbuttoned his jeans. “They’re fond of a lot of things, Mr. Taylor.”
He slid his pants off slowly and folded them with deliberate care.
Across the lake, a hawk dove then flew up to the sky, silvery prize flashing against the deep blue.
Emmett coughed and Justin pushed off from the bank, floating out on the lake, watching Brian with hooded eyes.
“Last one in is a city slicker!” Emmett yelled, splashing into the water with a whoop.
First one in needs to be fucked until he shuts up, Brian thought, following at a more dignified pace before diving in and setting off for the waterfall with a powerful crawl stroke.
When he reached the other side, he climbed smoothly onto one of several flat rocks at the base of the waterfall. As he’d anticipated, the water felt divine, but he found this pleasure secondary to watching the water play between the two friends. They reminded him of seals he’d seen in the Pacific once.
He caught himself. These two were no seals. Sharks was more like it. How had Justin guessed his purpose for being in Garland? He’d been in town for less than a day and hadn’t talked to anyone except the owner of Schmidt’s Stables where he’d rented his horse. He narrowed his eyes and watched Justin intently. He’d always admired sharks.
After a while, the two tired of their games and climbed out beside him. Emmett flopped back on a sunny rock and Justin disappeared behind the curtain of water. Maybe he needed to piss. Better yet, maybe he needed a hand.
“Nice up here, isn’t it?” Emmett asked, interrupting his thoughts.
Brian nodded. Maybe if he didn’t talk, Emmett wouldn’t either.
Seconds later, Justin emerged, holding a large, brown jug. “Cider?” he asked, gesturing toward Brian.
Brian arched a brow. “Hard?”
“No other kind,” Justin said, grinning slyly.
Brian reached for the jug, and wasn’t surprised when Justin didn’t let go. They engaged in a silent tug of war until Emmett noticed and threatened to take it away. “Save that for later, this here boy’s parched as a heifer in the desert.”
The cider was just how Brian liked it. Cool, not too sweet, and delivered a powerful kick. He raised the jug to Justin, and took a long swallow.
By the time they finished the cider, Brian was pleasantly drunk and decided Emmett wasn’t so bad. He also decided he was going to spread that golden ass and fuck Justin senseless before he left town.
Maybe more than once.
Later that night, after helping Debbie close down the saloon, Emmett and Justin went upstairs to their rooms. They shared a three room suite at the top of the Rough and Ready Saloon and had done so, since Justin, orphaned at thirteen, had come to live with Debbie, his mother’s half-sister, five years ago.
“He fancies you,” Emmett said, turning down the lights.
Justin was at the window looking out into the night sky. The moon was nearly full.
“Who?” he asked, though they both knew exactly who Emmett meant.
“Mr. Kinney,” Emmett said, joining Justin at the window, “that’s who.” He wrapped his arms around Justin’s waist and humped him playfully from behind.
Laughing, Justin wriggled in reply. “Mr. Kinney fancies cock and ass. He doesn’t fancy me.”
“I know a thing or two about men, my young friend, and that was more than animal lust in the water today.”
Justin turned in Emmett’s arms and looked up at him. “He was just trying to figure out how I knew about the copper. Mr. Kinney’s a scheming, self-absorbed peacock.”
“Yes,” Emmett agreed. “But he fancies you. I could see it on his face, much as he tried to hide it.”
“How would you know? You couldn’t take your eyes off his considerable manhood,” Justin teased, mimicking Emmett and squeezing between his legs.
Emmett yelped and caught Justin’s wrist. “He is hung like Sheriff Bruckner’s horse, isn’t he?”
“Yeah, he is,” Justin sighed,” leading Emmett to the large bed in the center of the room.
They drew back the covers and settled into their usual positions, curled around each other, Justin’s head on Emmett’s chest. Litter mates since the beginning.
“You like him, don’t you?”
“No,” Justin denied, digging a finger into Emmett’s belly button.
“Stop that,” Emmett chided, resettling Justin’s hand on his hip. He gave Justin’s ear a gentle tug. “Admit it.”
“Maybe a little,” Justin grumbled.
“Maybe a lot.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Justin said around a wide yawn. Emmett chuckled at the obvious sham and pulled Justin close, stroking his hair until he fell asleep.
Morning arrived and with it came Debbie storming into their room. A herd of stampeding horses would have made less noise.
“You two stop diddling each other and get on downstairs! They’re installing the chandeliers today and you’ve got to move all the furniture! Up!”
“Land O’ Goshen, Deb,” Emmett groused, putting his pillow over his head. “Ever heard of knocking?”
“Yeah, but where’s the fun in that?” She laughed raucously and slapped a beefy thigh. Her gown was trimmed in scarlet ostrich feathers and her breasts, as usual, were in danger of spilling out.
“Get a wiggle on, Sunshine!” Debbie swept past the bed, and threw back the wood shutters with a bang. “The sun’s shining, the birds are singing, and I just paid ten percent under market for a case of Irish whiskey.” She cupped her breasts and bounced them up and down. “Who needs bullets, boys, when you got live ammunition?” She threw her head back, laughing, and Justin poked his head up from under the covers, smiling, at one of his favorite sounds.
He started their game. “What’s for breakfast?”
“Fried buzzard, bear jam and a side of varmint.”
“Vic made varmint yesterday.”
“And he’ll make it again tomorrow!” Debbie delivered her punch line and Emmett threw his pillow at her.
Shortly after Justin had come to Garland from Philadelphia, he’d confessed to Emmett that he’d expected to be fed ‘all manner of varmints.’ Debbie had heard about it, and for a week, had served cuts of beef and pork under heavy gravy announcing it was possum, squirrel and chipmunk. Justin had eaten every bite without complaining. Had asked for seconds, even. Debbie, who’d thought she was inheriting a spoiled, rich kid, fell in love with him on the spot.
After pancakes and half a day of chores, Emmett snuck off to spend the day with one of his favorite Pony Express riders who’d ridden into town the night before.
Restless and unsettled, Justin decided to ride into the hills and paint for the rest of the day. On his way out of town, he rode by the Magnolia Hotel, on the off chance Brian would be around, but just as he’d expected, Carl told him he’d left at the crack of dawn.
He’d been in his favorite meadow for over an hour, and hadn’t painted the first cloud. The vista held no appeal. All he could think about were Brian’s thoroughbred thighs, the way he’d handled his horse, the color of his eyes. Justin had counted no less than eight shades of green.
By late afternoon, he’d drawn six likenesses of the man. All nudes and most of them indecent.
That’s it, Justin thought. He was going back to the Magnolia. He made quick work of Apollo’s grooming, and just as he’d hoped, when he reached the hotel, he found Brian on the balcony, drinking whiskey in the light of the westering sun.
“Evening,” he called out.
“Mr. Taylor,” Brian replied, tipping his hat.
“Have a good day?”
“Ever hear of phosphorescence?”
There was a moment of silence and then Brian said, “I was educated abroad.”
“Well, they obviously didn’t teach you how to answer a question. Was that a yes or a no?”
Brian took a sip to hide his smile. “That was a yes. Why?”
“I thought you might be interested in seeing something unique to this part of the country.”
“I’m always up for something different,” Brian drawled, standing up and setting his glass on the rail.
“All right then. I’ll meet you at the stables.” Justin made himself walk away, excitement and anticipation warring in his belly.
The trail they took was one Brian hadn’t been on. Narrow and winding, they rode it single file, Justin at the lead. Twice, he had to warn Brian to keep back. “You don’t want to get kicked by Apollo. He shattered a man’s leg last month who wouldn’t listen and rode too close.”
Before long, they came to a rocky outcrop, and Brian saw the entrance to a cave.
“This is it,” Justin said, jumping to the ground and tying Apollo to a nearby tree.
They entered a low passageway, lanterns held aloft, Justin leading the way. Fifty yards in, Brian became aware of a faint blue glow up ahead.
“Turn off your lantern,” Justin instructed.
As they continued, the glow intensified, becoming deeper, more vibrant. When they reached the source, a low, round room whose walls and ceiling glowed an intense shade of blue, Brian stopped dead in his tracks.
He’d never seen anything like it. It was unearthly.
Justin allowed Brian some minutes to take it in before speaking.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
Brian didn’t answer and Justin turned to look at him. He found Brian staring at him.
“What?” Justin asked, reaching up uncertainly.
“Your hair,” Brian said.
“Oh,” Justin laughed. “Emmett always says it reminds him of-”
But Brian was on him. Yanking his head back, pulling his hair, hot, velvet tongue pushing into his mouth. Yes, Justin thought, yes. He clutched Brian to him, drinking him in, the heat from his body, the taste of his mouth making him swoon. He’d been thinking of this all day, Brian’s mouth all over him, eating him up, eating him whole. He kissed back, hungry and dizzy, his cock harder than ever before.
He wanted Brian’s mouth on it now. Now. Tugging down on Brian’s shoulders, Justin urged him to his knees.
But Brian ignored him, kept kissing him, kept biting the tender skin at his throat.
Justin drew back breathlessly. “Suck me.”
Brian let out a low laugh and pulled him back in, squeezing his ass and whispering in his ear, “that’s not how it works.”
“What?” Emmett never refused him. Maybe Brian hadn’t heard him. “I want you to suck me.” He tried to push Brian down again, but Brian grabbed his arms and held them tightly behind his back.
“I say who I suck. No one else,” Brian said, tightening his grip as Justin struggled.
“So you get to make all the rules?”
“Now you’re learning,” Brian said, attempting to pull Justin back toward him.
“Well, that doesn’t work for me,” Justin snapped, breaking free of Brian’s hold and shoving hard. “That doesn’t work for me at all.”
He stalked into the passageway leading out of the cave.
“What are you doing?” Brian shouted in disbelief.
“What does it look like, Mr. Educated Abroad? It’s called leaving,” Justin yelled without turning around.
“There’s a word for men like you,” Brian shouted in frustration.
“Oh yeah?” Justin turned, fists clenched at his sides. “There’s three for men like you! Pompous, arrogant prick!”
It was a conspiracy. Brian was convinced.
Today had been his last day in Garland and he still didn’t know who owned the land north of town. All he’d gotten were vague answers and vaguer promises. The sheriff had politely sent him to the postmaster who had sent him to the tax collector who had had a sign on his door saying he’d gone fishing.
For a week.
Right now, the only person he wanted to see was the bartender.
“Come to bend an elbow, Mr. Kinney?” Debbie spit in the spittoon, wiped her hand across her mouth, and slapped the bar top.
“Or two,” Brian said, ordering a pair of whiskeys. He threw them back and ordered two more.
Slowly, the tension began to drain away. He paid for a fifth shot and took it to the back of the saloon, where hopefully no one would try and talk to him.
Maybe Justin would show up. Fuck. Why was he still thinking about him? After last night, he’d told himself that he was done. There were plenty of men he could fuck without all the hassle and backtalk.
Problem was he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him all day. Damn the upstart and his yellow horse!
He knocked back his whiskey and looked around the saloon. Not your typical saloon decor. Paintings covered nearly every inch of wall space. Most were landscapes, but sprinkled throughout were portraits, and they looked like they had all been done by the same artist. Brian recognized some of the town’s residents. The dark-haired deputy who had a mouth as near as smart as Justin’s and the schoolmarm, Miss Lindsay, who had told him she thought the land was owned by someone in Venice. A merchant, if she recalled properly.
It had taken Brian a full minute to realize she was pulling his leg.
The artwork was good. Excellent, actually. It reminded him of his time in Paris and all the artists he’d fucked. It had been a while since he’d fucked an artsy type. They were definitely his favorite fucks. No inhibitions and their creativity knew no boundaries.
He stood up and looked closely at the nearest painting, seeking out the signature.
The artist was one Justin Taylor.
He gave up, and went back to the bar. Debbie was looping a string of beads around a stuffed vulture.
“Is Justin here?”
She spun with deadly speed and zeroed in on him. A hawk would have flinched, but Brian managed to stay nonchalant.
“I expect he’ll be around directly. Why?”
“Just wondering.” Were those rattlesnake tails hanging from her ears?
“You listen to me, Mr. Kinney,” she said, stabbing a shiny, red talon into his chest, “you harm one hair on that boy’s head, and you and me will have us a showdown. And just so you know, they don’t call me Double Barrel Deb because of these!”
She grabbed her breasts and pointed them at Brian.
After Brian had lied and explained that he was interested in commissioning some artwork, Debbie had given him his sixth shot, on the house, and told him where to find Justin.
The stables had a back door, and Brian had used it, hoping to slip in unnoticed. He was standing in the shadows by a window, smoking and planning his approach.
It was easy to see why Justin had named the horse Apollo. Brian had never seen a Palomino quite that color before - pale yellow with a shocking white mane and tail. He wondered where Justin had gotten him. Maybe from the Indians. A horse like that would cost a fortune.
He watched as Justin brushed his horse, murmuring a steady stream of words too low for Brian to make out. Every once in a while, the horse whickered softly in return. It sounded for all the world like they understood each other.
Suddenly, Justin looked up, a frown on his face. He’d smelled the smoke. His lips tightened into a thin line.
“You shouldn’t smoke in here. The horses don’t like it.”
Brian stepped out of the shadows, took one last drag, and ground the cigarette out on a post.
“I don’t think the horses care one way or the other.”
“It’s a fire hazard,” Justin said flatly. “There are nearly two tons of hay in the loft.” He turned his back and resumed brushing Apollo, pointedly ignoring Brian.
Brian stepped into the stall and circled them silently. By his third revolution, Justin was brushing harder than necessary, and Apollo stamped his foot in protest.
He whirled around. “What do you want, Mr. Kinney?”
“What happened to Brian?”
Justin glared and crossed his arms.
Now or never, Brian thought. He moved in quickly, taking Justin by surprise, kissing him deeply, hands at Justin’s belt, his fly, undoing everything deftly.
“Stop! Justin cried, pushing at him. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“It’s called fellatio, it’s French, and I think you’ll like it.”
For a few seconds, Brian was certain he’d finally succeeded in shutting Justin up. But no.
“Who says I want you to suck me?”
Justin looked down, and saw it was true. Traitor.
“Go easy on it,” Brian teased. “There’s not many that can resist.”
Justin was about to tell him that he, not his cock, made his decisions, but it was too late. Brian had fallen to his knees and just like that, Justin stopped thinking.
No one. Not ever. How was this possible?
Mustering every bit of his resolve, Justin pulled Brian off his cock. “Wait.”
“Now what?” Brian looked up, his lips rosy and so wet.
Justin shook his head to clear it. “Not here.”
“Where then?” Brian asked, talking with his mouth full. Maybe it was the whisky, but Brian thought Justin’s balls were the finest he’d ever seen. High and tight, and fuck, they tasted good.
“Stop,” Justin said with a groan. “Up. To the loft.”
Sighing, Brian got to his feet. Probably had something to do with the horse.
The ladder to the hayloft was nearly two stories high and Brian made Justin go first so he could catch him if he slipped - he was trembling and seemed somewhat disoriented. When they got to the top, Brian quickly took off their clothes, threw Justin down onto the nearest pile of hay and swallowed him down before he could say anything else.
Justin came almost immediately, flooding his mouth for what seemed like forever with his sweet, eighteen-year-old come. Brian had forgotten what it was like to suck off a teenager. Balls full of creamy come that never quit.
He spit out what he hadn’t swallowed and coated himself liberally. Christ, he was hard.
“Hey,” Brian called softly. Justin lay sprawled, eyes closed, a dreamy smile on his face.
He opened his eyes, and Brian felt a shock wave go through him. Unearthly blue. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to steady himself.
“What’s wrong?” Justin asked, sitting up to touch his cheek.
“Nothing,” Brian said gruffly, pulling Justin to him and kissing him to hide his confusion. Justin responded immediately, moaning with pleasure, running his hands over Brian’s back, his arms, thrilling at the hard muscles and smooth flesh.
Catching one of Justin’s hands, Brian put it on his cock. It was slick with Justin’s come, wet with his saliva.
Justin inhaled sharply and looked down.
“I’m going to fuck you now,” Brian said. “Any objections before we start?”
“Let me guess. You want to fuck me.” Brian leaned forward and bit Justin’s lip. Hard. He’d been wanting to do that since they’d drank the cider. “Sorry, but that’s where I draw the line.”
“No,” Justin said. “It’s not that.”
“It’s just that,” Justin said with a smile, “I’ve never been fucked.”
“Bullshit,” Brian said in disbelief. “Don’t tell me you and Emmett don’t fuck each other.”
“We do. Or rather, I do,” Justin explained. “Emmett’s never fucked me. Not because I’m not willing. He’s got this quaint idea that because he knew me as a boy, it isn’t right. Doesn’t stop him from sucking me and letting me fuck him, though,” Justin said, with a grin. “And,” he confessed, kissing Brian on the mouth, “there’s never been anyone else I’ve wanted until now.”
Brian regarded Justin steadily. “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” Justin said without hesitation. “Just-”
“Okay,” Brian promised, lying Justin back down.
Justin swung his legs onto Brian’s shoulders and took a deep breath.
“Don’t hold your breath,” Brian instructed.
“I know that,” Justin said, kicking Brian’s back. “Hurry up.”
Brian smiled at Justin’s impatience and positioned himself, surprised at the slight fluttering in his stomach. He hadn’t felt like this in years. Pushing in slowly, he kept his eyes on Justin’s face, ready to stop if he saw any signs of distress.
But all he saw was concentration, determination, and when he started thrusting, unbridled joy.
They’d been fucking for mere minutes when Justin unclasped his arms from around Brian’s neck and pushed at his chest. “Stop,” he panted.
Brian froze. “Is something wrong?”
“No, I just want-”
Justin believed that actions were better than words, so he dropped his legs and, in one smooth move, rolled them both so that he ended up on top, straddling Brian, cock still firmly in place.
“Do you always have to be in control?” Brian asked, lust and admiration on his face.
“Yeah,” Justin said, wearing a blissed-out grin. He lifted carefully, trying out his new position, then sat back down with a rush.
“Fuck, that feels good.”
“Do it again,” Brian urged.
And Justin did.
More than once.
It was dawn before they finally stopped.
“Do you have a cigarette?”
“What about the inferno that’s sure to result?”
“Damn the inferno, and give me a light.”
They smoked in companionable silence for a while.
“So, were you successful in your venture?” Justin asked, propping himself on his elbow and picking hay out of Brian’s hair.
“Not entirely,” Brian said. “No one seems to know who owns the land around here.”
“I may have to come back and track him down.”
“That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?” Justin asked, nuzzling Brian’s neck.
“I can think of worse things.”
“You’re not a pompous, arrogant prick."
“And you,” Brian said, “can demand that I suck you anytime.”
They parted at the Magnolia, and Brian had barely enough time to shower, dress and get to his train on time. He was debating a second cup of coffee when he heard the knock.
He looked up expectantly. “Come in.”
His porter opened the door and stepped into the suite. “There’s a delivery for you, sir.”
“What is it?”
The man came forward and gave Brian a rolled tube of thick paper.
“Who gave this to you?”
“A boy. Six or seven. Said it was for you, and ran off before I could ask any questions.”
The paper was creamy and of obvious high quality. Brian untied the leather lacing and the paper unfurled. It was a charcoal drawing of himself. He looked thoughtful, pensive, all veneer stripped away. It was the best likeness he’d ever seen. He glanced down at the signature.
He looked up. “That’ll be all, Sam. Thank you.”
“Yes sir.” The porter bowed slightly before exiting.
Brian spread the drawing out on the table, holding it flat with both hands. He studied it briefly, but his eyes were drawn once again to the signature, to the first letter of Justin’s name. He traced the ‘J’, his finger following its sharp ascent, its final, confident flourish.
The train whistle blew two long blasts, startling Brian from his contemplation. He glanced down at his watch. Exactly eight twenty three. Union Pacific’s reputation was well deserved.
He looked out the window to the hills beyond, and rested his head on the glass.
On a high ridge overlooking the town, Justin watched the train station and waited for the whistle.
Reaching into his pocket, he took out one of the dozen or so business cards that he’d been given over the last three days by the town’s residents. Brian Kinney, Entrepreneur, Wealth Acquisition and Management. The Park Avenue address, in smaller print, almost an afterthought.
Justin smiled. It had been too long since he’d been back east. He couldn’t wait to see Brian’s face when he showed up in New York. And if he was feeling generous, maybe, just maybe, he’d sell him some of his 500,000 acres. His smile grew wider at the thought of that negotiation.
Movement below caught his eye and he pocketed Brian’s card, watching as the train left the station. He watched until it disappeared over the horizon and all traces of smoke were gone.
Stroking Apollo’s neck, he whistled loudly, and dug his heels in. The thoroughbred tossed his head and took off at a gallop, down the hill toward Garland, down the trail to the rest of Justin’s summer.
He spurred the horse to go faster, and let out an exhilarated yell. Apollo was going to put all those city horses to shame.