by Judi Milling


Jenny was sure Cody would work out fine. He needed some tender loving care. The kind she could give, and in return, she was sure that the rewards would be greater than the giving. She asked Pete about the area, and headed out towards the direction that sounded like what she was looking for. Pete watched her ride off, astounded that this slight of a woman could accomplish what she did in a short time, where no man could have. What a woman. Too bad he was married. He definitely would go after her.

Jenny was only gone about an hour, when Vin came walking in to the livery to saddle his horse and take a morning ride. He loved the morning hours. They were quiet and peaceful. The town was basically still quiet and he needed time to himself. As he walked in, Pete came around the corner. "Hey, Mr. Tanner, you know that new lady singer that just came into town?" Vin turned around to face Pete, seeing a big grin across his face.

Vin wondered how many men in the town had already been taken by the lady. "Yep, I seen her. What about her?"

"Well" Pete said, "Ms. McNeill, well, she said call her Jenny, upped and come by this morn'ng, no more than several hours ago, wanting a horse. She didn't like nothing I had, except that big buckskin that's been here fer some time. Bought him right up. Got him to come to her, and she saddled him up and took off. Just like she had owned the horse fer some time. Right nice rider too. Even that horse seemed taken with her. She even named him. Sure beats all." Vin was dumfounded. Pete kept going on and on about Jenny, and all he could think of was how stupid could this woman be buying a horse before even trying him out, especially, when that horse had been known for his high spiritness.

Anger rose on Vin's face, and Pete stepped back a few paces. He had seen Vin mad before, and when he was this mad, you didn't stand in his way. "Pete, why in the hell did you sell that horse to her! That horse is no match for her. She's probably out there somewhere lying dead or hurt because of that stupid horse. Damn that woman!" Now Vin felt he had to go after her to make sure she didn't hurt herself. Vin muttered to himself that his morning was ruined, all for that foolish snip of a woman with those dancing light brown eyes. Exasperated, Vin asked, "Which way did she go?" Pete pointed the direction but didn't know anything else. "Damn" Vin kept cursing as he rode off to find her.

Meanwhile, Jenny had chanced upon a small lake, clustered in some trees and rocks. "Perfect" she stated as she slipped off Cody. He had been wonderful to ride. He seemed to respect her on him and she respected his strength. She untied her guitar that Pete had handed to her after she had mounted Cody. The look on his face had been priceless not to say that she thought there had been an inkling of respect for her. My god, it was beautiful here. This was the reason she came back from Europe. Only here, was the country wild, peaceful, and beautiful all at the same time.

Jenny slipped the saddle, blanket, and bridle off of Cody. Well this would be the test, probably a stupid test, because she might find herself walking back to town. Trust is what it all came down to. Cody stood there as Jenny quietly and softly talked and stroked the massive horse. She stepped back and Cody realizing that he was free started to bolt off. But something made him realize that this person was not going to beat him or tie him and he settled right down and gingerly walked over to a grassy area to graze. Jenny, satisfied for now that she wouldn't have to walk, gathered up her guitar and walked toward the lake.

With the sun just coming up, shining over the lake, Jenny was reminded of sparkling jewels she had seen on all those fancy ladies in Europe. Several big rocks jutted out into the lake. Jenny sensing that no one would be around here, at least for hours, hiked her skirt and petticoat up past her thighs and hooked them into her belt. Then she took off her blouse so that she was just wearing her white thin lacy camisole that barely covered her breasts. She laid the blouse over a bush and with her guitar in hand, she headed out toward the rocks. She loved these types of morning, mist still coming off the lake when the sun's rays kissed the water. And the water was inviting. Maybe some other time, she would come out here and go swimming. Just a little out in the water on the rocks, Jenny sat down, the sun shinning on her auburn hair and softly touching her exposed top and legs. Now she could work on her songs. She had several that she wanted to work on before tonight. Jenny always prided herself in doing the best she could do with everything she did. This was the perfect place to play and sing her heart out. As she started to sing, Cody perked up at the strange sound coming from this creature that had brought him here. He seemed quite satisfied that this voice was just part of his entire surroundings, and he went back to grazing.

Meanwhile, Vin was tracking Jenny. She was easy to follow due to the tracks the big horse left. He had been riding for about half an hour when he noticed the tracks led off into the woods. So she had probably found the lake. Vin headed his horse in that direction at least grateful so far that he hadn't found her body lying somewhere. "Damn woman. No sense of danger what so ever. Not only buying this fool horse but going out by herself. It isn't safe for a woman to go out alone," Vin said in a low whisper.

As he rode on, he became alert to some sounds. The closer he got, the louder the sounds. Music. Really pretty music. Apparently, he had found what he was looking for. He slipped down off his horse, and quietly followed the music. Through the trees, he saw the most beautiful vision. She was like a goddess coming out of the lake. Her skin shown like gold. He had heard of fairy tales written about lake witches, with long flowing dark hair and skin of golden hue basking in the sun in the early mornings. They would sing sweet songs to entice men to come to them. She looked just like one of those stories. God, she was beautiful and bewitching. Yep, that was it. She had bewitched everyone, including that damn horse. He thought about letting her know he was there, but something stopped him. He quietly came closer and leaned against a tree, not wanting to interrupt her singing.

Jenny had no idea that the man in the buckskin clothes had ridden up. She was too engrossed in her songs to care about anything else. After finishing her last song, she decided that she needed to ride some more before going back to town. She stood up and carefully walked across the rocks, and stepped onto a grassy area on the edge of the lake. As she looked up, she saw him. Startled, Jenny stood there just as Vin yanked his lever action rifle out of his holster, and yelled, "Stand right there and don't move." Jenny's blood drained from her as he leveled the rifle, and followed with a blast so loud that it left Jenny's ears ringing. She instinctively shut her eyes, waiting for the impact of the shot. All she felt was a stinging on her leg. As she opened her eyes, Vin came running over to her. She looked like she was going to pass out right there, and he wasn't too wrong. He reached for her arm. Jenny had been so scared. When the gun went off, and she was still standing, her knees started to go weak. As Vin grabbed her arm, he whispered in a deep voice, "snake, almost stepped on it." He led her to a rock to sit on.

While Jenny was still trying to get her wits about her, Vin started examining her leg and asking, "Are you all right? Does it feel like it bit you?" He cupped one slender ankle in one hand, while the other hand slowly went up and down her leg, past her knee and back down.

"No, I think I'm OK. Really, I'm OK," as Jenny mustered enough strength to speak. Vin looked up, searching her eyes to see if she was just being brave or was masking the hurt. Jenny then became aware of his hands going up and down her leg. They were strong and gentle all at the same time. The heat coming from those hands had sent sensations up her leg and through every part of her body. Her heart started beating faster. As their eyes locked, Jenny couldn't speak, couldn't think. His hands were magic. She leaned her head back ever so slightly, letting out a small moan of pleasure. Her head leaned forward again, her eyes covered with passion she couldn't deal with. Vin hadn't realized he was still moving his hand farther up her leg.

Her skin was smooth as silk, and he ached for more of her. His eyes moved down to the breasts rising and falling with such intensity that he had forgotten all about the fact that she might have been bitten. Those soft mounds outlined by fabric, were barely covered by lace.

Jenny, finally getting a grip on herself, said in a soft, hoarse whisper, "I, I'm fine. The gun shot just threw up some dirt and rock on, on my leg. Can I have my leg back now?" Vin moved his eyes back up to look at hers, not saying a word. His smile was all but devastating. Mustering all her strength to get the words out, trying to block out that lazy, sexual smile, Jenny slowly said again, "Excuse me, but could I have my leg back, please." Excusing himself, he was barely able to settle himself down enough to stand up and not embarrass himself. As he stood up, he again locked eyes with Jenny's.

She had all but forgotten her state of undress until Vin, breaking the spell, reached over, grabbed her blouse, and said in a low and husky voice, "You might want to put this on either before or after you put your dress down."

A red flush came to Jenny's face when she realized that a majority of her body was exposed. She thanked him and turned her back to Vin, slipping the blouse on. She looked down and realized that he must have seen everything. She was so flustered and embarrassed that she had a hard time getting the buttons to work, cursing out loud. While she had her back to him, Vin smiled at her cursing and then noticed the beautiful curve to her back, and tanned skin. He ached to touch her, feel that warm skin beneath his hands. God she was beautiful. She was bewitching. She was dangerous. And he bet she knew how dangerous she could be. She was a woman of the world.

Luke had said in several conversations with him that Jenny was the toast of Europe. How she stayed single he had not a clue. She had offers but never took one too seriously from what Luke had said. Vin bet she had offers. She was a tiny thing, a couple inches over 5', small built in the right places, budding in others. What confused Vin was her embarrassment. An experienced woman, who obviously had a body that would make a man forget where he was, wouldn't be embarrassed. Unless, of course, it was an act. And she did a good job of it too.

When she got everything together, he would escort her back to town and be rid of her. Then he had to figure out how to stay away from her. He had been on his own for a long time and didn't need a woman, this woman to complicate his life. It wasn't going to be an easy job in a small town to keep out of her way and the fact that he spent a lot of time in the saloon and so would she. To makes matters worse, her room connected to his.