by Judi Milling


The night started out as usual. Some of the guys were playing cards, and Buck was, of course, missing. Buck had become enamored with a new girl Ezra and Jenny had hired since business had increased. But tonight, Jenny was serving drinks after singing because one of the girls had to visit her sick mother. It was late, and Jenny was really tired. Vin was at the bar talking with Chris. Jenny decided to take a walk outside and get some fresh air. It was so hot and stuffy that night. No breeze was even blowing. As she walked down one side of the street, she realized that she was the only one outside. The solitude was nice for once.

Just as Jenny walked past an alley way, a hand reached out, grabbed her, and pulled her into the alley. Not even having time to yell out, she was slammed against the wall. Still reeling from the pain, she jolted as a hand clamped over her mouth. She looked up into a pair of steely blue eyes. Evil eyes. The same eyes she had seen in her nightmares. She would have screamed, but the hand held her mouth shut tight. The eyes moved closer, and the face moved around to her ear. He lightly kissed her. Another hand, roughly moved over her body. Jenny was sick from fright. She had been this route. Long ago. Just then the face moved around towards her and moved back far enough to see. Jason. Jason Baron.

It couldn't be. It had been years and years. It was that slimy, no good dandy who had married her mother after her father died. "Well, my Jenny. Long time. She wanted to cry out from the fear of seeing him, here. His hand came off her mouth. He smiled an evil smile at Jenny. Jenny saw the same handsome debonair man his mother had married, but more aged. He had only been ten years older than Jenny when he married her mother.

"Get away from me you filth." Jenny almost spit at him. He leaned his body so close against her that she was totally pinned to the wall. Her left side ached from where he had shoved her against the wall.

"Well my daughter, I have waited a long time to see you. You are more beautiful than I imagined. What luck that I happened to come into this town. I thought you lost and gone forever, after you ran away. You never gave me a chance to show you how much I had come to cherish you." Jenny felt week in the knees, and sick to her stomach. Before she knew it, his other hand had worked its way up her dress. Mustering all her strength, her knee came up, and slammed into him. Bent over in pain, he released her. Jenny didn't know if her legs would carry her, but determination and fear kicked in and she ran. She didn't stop running until she got to the saloon.

Vin and Chris had seen Jenny go out and decided that they would give her a little time on her own. Chris had hoped the young man would confide in him about what was bothering him. All the men had noticed the animosity between Jenny and Vin. Luke had finished playing and walked over to the two men. He didn't like Jenny being out alone. Something was bothering him and he didn't know what. He just felt she might be in trouble. Just as Chris was about to walk out and see if Jenny was all right, he noticed the top of her head over the saloon doors.

Jenny stopped just in front of the saloon. She couldn't say anything. The thought of that man made her sick to her stomach. Tears were starting to fall. She couldn't go into the saloon looking like this. She tried to straighten herself up. No one had followed her. Maybe he died from the knee kick. She couldn't be so lucky. Jenny had always been cheery when leaving the saloon with goodnights for everyone. Tonight, she would have given anything not to have to go through that room. She held her head down, and whispered good nights to everyone, hoping no one would see her tears.

Passing by Vin, Luke, and Chris, Vin stopped her. He knew something was wrong. Taking her chin in his hand, he moved her head, and saw that she had been crying. All three looked at her. Jenny's face turned redder. "Please, I'm really tired."

Vin pressed her. "Miss McNeill, are you all right?"

Jenny jerked her head out of Vin's hand, and looked at all three. "I'm fine. Just fine. I just lost my footing because it was so dark, and fell." With that Jenny slowly walked up the stairs, wanting to run as fast as she could, away from the shame. Away from the hurt.

Ezra had finished his game, and noticed that when Jenny came in, she was not the same Jenny that went out earlier. Walking over to his comrades, he watched as Jenny went upstairs. "I'd say the lady protests too much. What happened?"

In a low voice, Vin said, "I don't know but I'm going to find out," and went up the stairs.

Jenny went into her room, closed it, and locked the door. She had never locked that door since she had been here. Now she was afraid. Afraid for her life. Leaning against the door, she could still feel his hands on her. She felt violated. Dirty. A knock on the door, scared her out of her wits. "Who is it?" Jenny tried to make herself sound normal.

"Miss McNeill, it's Vin. Open the door. I want to talk to you."

"Go away, Mr. Tanner. I'm tired. It's late. And it's not proper for a man to be in a woman's room. GO AWAY." Vin had heard that anger before, but something else was wrong. He wouldn't press it, but he would talk with her tomorrow and get to the bottom of it.

Jenny poured water in the basin, hoping to wash the filth from her body. Jason had made her feel dirty. She washed until her skin turned pink. Finally, so exhausted, she put on her nightgown and lay down on the bed. Sleep finally over took her, but sleep would not come without a price. Strange images, evil eyes, hands all over her. Snapping sounds, moans, yelling. Vin had gone to his room. It was so hot. He had a gut feeling about Jenny. Something was wrong. Really wrong. By damn, he would shake it out of her if he had to. Vin laid across the bed. He lay in the dark and dozed off. He must have been only asleep for about an hour when he heard something. At first he thought it was a dream, but then realized it was coming from Jenny's room. All he could hear was crying, and yelling. The voice was Jenny's, sounding frightened and hurting. "No, no, please, don't hurt me. Please, I didn't, I haven't. Please. Don't touch me. You're hurting me!" And then sobbing. Vin jumped. He knew Jenny was being hurt. Vin grabbed his lever action and ran out his door to Jenny's. He could still hear her. With all his strength, he slammed against the door, rifle ready.

Jenny's room was dark except for the small glow from her oil lamp next to her bed. Only Jenny was in her room. She was on her bed, thrashing around, still asleep. Vin shut the door, put his rifle down, and went over to her. At first gently shaking her, then harder to wake her up, Vin sat on the bed, calling her name. "Miss McNeill. Jenny. Wake up. You're having a nightmare."

Vin's shaking had done the trick. Jenny awoke with a start, staring at Vin, then bursts into tears. They came with so much violence, Vin could hardly see straight. What could be so bad to make her cry so hard. His arms wrapped around her as she kept crying. Finally, the sobbing slowed. Jenny hadn't cried that much since she was a little girl. The arms around her gave her comfort and they were warm. "Please don't let me go. Please hold me. Don't let me go." Vin ached at her words. They were like a child's plea. He held her tightly, stroking her hair, and whispering to her that everything was going to be all right.

Leaning against his chest, Jenny could feel Vin's heartbeat. Her hands were against his bare chest. His hands were rubbing up and down her back, making her feel secure, safe. She pulled her head back enough so she could see his face. The lamp was giving off enough light that she could see his face. He smiled at her and bent down. Jenny closed her eyes and waited for his lips to touch hers. At first, his kiss was light, just barely touching hers. They paused for just a second, then again touching hers with more intensity. His hands pressed her closer to him. His mouth became more possessive.

Vin leaned her back against the bed. Her back hurt but the power of Vin's kisses and touch, made her forget how much she hurt. His lips slowly moved off her mouth and down her neck. He could feel her pulse in her throat, beating furiously. Vin was like a mad man. With every touch, he wanted more. He wanted to make her forget all others, all pains.

Jenny had never been with a man before. "Vin, please. Make love to me." I've waited all my life for someone who I wanted to share this with. I hadn't found anyone until now. Please. Don't stop." Vin was finding it hard anyway not to continue. Jenny didn't have to ask. He was more than willing to go on. This was a special woman. A special lady. And bewitching. She had bewitched him. She took possesion of him body and soul. Now it was his turn.

Later, Vin looked into Jenny's eyes, the golden brown wide from lovemaking. He started to move, and Jenny whispered, "Please make love to me again." Vin didn't need to be asked. He had no control over his body. This time both Jenny and Vin met their common ground through primitive wanton and abandonment. Vin and Jenny both fell asleep exhausted, arm in arm, wrapped together as the sun came up.