Kiss of Gratitude

by Jenn

Note: Here's the third story of the series. The "pairing" is unusual, but I did say that not all the kisses would be romantic ones. Hope you like it.

"You sacred your Ma almost out of her mind, boy," Buck informed the young child sitting in front of him on his saddle.

"I didn't mean to," Billy Travis informed Buck.

"I know, Billy. And so does your Ma," Buck reassured him.

As they got near town Buck remembered that morning and how it had all started. Mary had found them eating breakfast in the Saloon and told them Billy was missing. The Seven had immediately begun searching the town then spread out to search the outlying areas.

An hour ago Buck had found Billy at the bottom of a dry river bed. Billy had gotten to close to the edge and slid down to the bottom. The sides were so steep that he hadn't been able to climb out.

Buck had tied a rope that he'd brought to a tree and used it to get down to Billy and then climb back out of the riverbed will Billy hanging onto his broad back. He'd found that Billy was dirty and bruised up a bit, but otherwise unhurt. The tired and hungry child had been very happy to see Buck and get rescued from the deep riverbed.

He was brought back to the present as they entered town. Soon he was riding up to the newspaper office. Hearing the sound of the horse outside Marry went to the door. Seeing the small figure safely wrapped in Buck's arms she ran to them.

Buck had stopped the horse just in time and lifted Billy down into his mothers waiting arms. While Billy and Mary had their reunion the other members of the Seven gathered around. With the time it had taken to get Billy out of the riverbed Buck was the last to return.

Several minutes later when things were calmer Nathan looked over at Mary. "I'd like to check him out. Make sure he's not hurt."

"Thank you, Mr. Jackson. Thank you all for looking for him," Mary said and reluctantly set Billy down.

Looking up she met Buck's blue eyes. While Nathan checked Billy she took the few steps over to Buck. "Thank you, Buck."

Leaning up she placed a light kiss on Buck's lips. Out of habit and instinct he returned the kiss, but Buck was far to experienced to mistake the kiss of gratitude for anything else.

Looking on the others were all amazed to see the usually very proper Mrs. Travis kissing Buck in public. Chris was less than pleased to see Mary kissing Buck. He'd seen far to many women fall prey to Buck's charm. Chris pushed back the jealousy he felt by reminding himself that Buck was interested in Inez, not Mary.

Minutes later Mary was taking Billy home and the Seven men where heading to the Saloon. "Ya see, Mary kissing me in public just proves what I've been saying all along about my animal magnetism," Buck announced, causing the others to groan.