Once the Sheriff and Deputy left Roland Harrison faced the outlaws and asked, “Anyone care to start and tell me your version of what happened?”
Falcon said, “We were mindin’ our own business when that Sheriff and those men with him broke into our house and started accusin’ us of robbin’ a train…we knew nothin’ about it. He even planted money and things to try to frame us for somethin’ we didn’t even do…he even killed four of us in order to make it look legitimate.”
Roland arched an eyebrow and then held up the wanted posters on the desk that Brett had been processing.
“Hmm…seems to me that none of you are all that innocent…shall we begin again…this time with a more truthful account of things?”
The men looked at each other and then glared at the too smart lawyer, but then told Roland what had happened.
Roland listened quietly, then said, “You men will need representation…I’m not unbiased in this case so I shall send for an attorney who will meet with you and represent you to the best of his ability. He will be more objective as he has no vested interest in this situation.” His name is George R. Wright and he will come here from Denver .”
Falcon and the others spoke in quiet whispers and then Falcon said, “All right, we agree to be represented by this Wright fella.”
Roland nodded. “All right, I’ll contact him and once he arrives, which will be shortly before Judge Graham is scheduled to arrive I’ll have him come over and introduce him to you. He’ll then meet with you and prepare your case. I suggest you be as honest with him as you can and let him help you to the best of his ability.”
The outlaws nodded and Roland said, “Thank you gentlemen…I’ll see you when Mr. Wright arrives unless you need me for anything sooner. If you do just let the Sheriff or Deputy know. They’ll know where to find me.”
Falcon nodded. “We’ll keep that in mind.”
Roland gave a nod in return and headed for the door of the Sheriff’s office.
Jalen and Brett made their rounds and stopped at the Saloon. He saw Gabe and smiled at him as they entered the Diamond Dust.
“Hello there Gabe.” He called.
Gabe looked up and grinned. “Well hello you two, I’d of thought you’d both be takin’ a nap or somethin’ after yesterday and sleepin’ out last night and all the excitement of this mornin’.”
Jalen and Brett exchanged looks and laughed. “Now, what kind of lawmen would we be sleepin’ on the job with dangerous criminals locked up in the jail awake and plottin’ how to escape?” The Sheriff teased.
Gabe laughed. “Well…probably not very responsible ones.”
Brett chuckled. “Well, fortunately for Diamond Springs we’re responsible lawmen.”
Gabe nodded. “You’re right and it’s appreciated by every citizen.”
Jalen grinned. “How’s Dawn doin’?”
Gabe smiled. “She’s doin’ fine. She and two of my other girls, Ruby and Lily went over to Dan and Cole’s to keep Dan company while Cole takes care of things and works on some projects that came in while they were gone.”
Brett smiled. ”That’s kind of them.”
Gabe replied, “It is and I’m glad I have such carin’ girls workin’ for me.”
Jalen said, “Well Gabe, you treat them well and it’s returned.”
Gabe nodded. “That’s the truth.”
Jalen put some money on the bar. “Pour us a couple of beers would you Gabe? We sure could use them.”
Gabe poured the beers and set them on the bar. “There you go.”
The two lawmen and the barkeep visited for a bit while they drank their beers.
When the back door opened and the three girls entered with the tray of dirty dishes Gabe looked over and called, “How’s Dan?”
Dawn, Ruby and Lily came into the main bar room and smiled at Brett and Jalen. “He’s asleep now. Brett had to give him some laudanum and it knocked him out.” Dawn reported.
Lily and Ruby agreed. “Sleepin’ like a baby.” Lily said with a grin.
Gabe chuckled. “I’ll be sure to let him know you said that.”
Lily smiled. “All right.”
Jalen said, “Brett and I won’t disturb him then…we’ll just check in on Cole and make sure he doesn’t need anythin’.”
The girls smiled. “Cole was workin’ on some projects.” Lily informed Jalen.
The Sheriff replied. “Thank you…I won't bother them, just stop in briefly and see if they need anythin’.”
Gabe said, “Well, let me know if they need me for anythin’.”
Brett replied, “Don’t worry Gabe…we’ll be sure to do that.”
The two lawmen left for the saddlery.
Cole looked up as he heard a sound at the bedroom door, seeing Jalen and Brett; he put a finger to his lips, signaling the two to be quiet. He set down the lacing project he’d been working on and stepped out of the room closing the door softly behind him. “Hello there…how are you two?” He asked Jalen and Brett.
“We’re fine.” Jalen said, we just came to se how you and Dan were getting’ along.”
Cole smiled. “The girls from Gabe’s were here a while ago and Dan’s sleepin’ pretty good right now. I had to give him a bit of laudanum, but he needed it.”
Jalen nodded. “Well if he needs the medicine, then he should have it.”
Cole nodded. “Yes. Other than that he’s doin’ okay. He sat at the table with us for lunch, but we made him go right back to bed.”
Brett smiled. “Well I’m sure he’s goin’ to be all right with all that good care.”
Cole grinned. “I’m pretty sure he’ll be just fine.”
The Sheriff told Cole, “Gabe said to make sure if you need him for anythin’ to go over and get him.”
Cole nodded. “Yes, I’ll be sure to do that. He’d probably skin me alive if I didn’t.”
Jalen grinned. “Probably. Gabe may be the younger brother, but he’s very protective of his big brother.”
Cole grinned. “Yeah…I know.”
The two lawmen smiled and then took their leave, heading back to the jail.
When Jalen and Brett returned they almost ran into Roland Harrison as he left the office. They all danced around each other for a moment and Roland smiled. “Well, glad you two returned. I’m finished with them.” He shook his head. “They sure know how to tell some wild stories.” He told Jalen.
The Sheriff quirked an eyebrow. “Really? That should have been entertainin’.”
Roland nodded. “Their tale was interesting. None of it true of course. Well made up though.” He grinned.
Brett shook his head. “They should know better.”
Roland said, “I confronted them with their fabrication and twisting of the truth by showing them their wanted posters I saw on the desk.”
Jalen sighed. “Well thank you. We’ll take over from here.”
Roland said, “I’m going to send a wire and ask George Wright to come back and represent this bunch too. I helped him out not too long ago with a case in Denver , so now it’s his turn to reciprocate.”
The Sheriff smiled. “All right, I’ll be happy to see George again.”
Roland smiled. “He’s a good man and I’m glad he’s willing to help out when we ask.”
The Sheriff nodded and allowed Roland to go on his way before re-entering his office.
After leaving the jail, Roland Harrison stopped by the telegraph office. ”Hello Kelcy…how are things today?”
Kelcy looked up. “Not too bad, still lots of communications regarding the train robbery.
Roland nodded. “I’m sure there will be until the trial and everything is settled.
Kelcy nodded. “Yes, I’m sure. Is there something I can do for you?”
Roland smiled. “Yes, I need to send a wire to Denver to Mr. George R. Wright, attorney at law.”
Kelcy nodded. “Sure Mr. Harrison.” The young man took Roland’s wire and transmitted it. “Will you wait here for an answer or want me to deliver it once it comes through?
The town lawyer said, “Deliver it if you would please, I have some work to take care of.”
The telegraph operator nodded. “I’ll do that Mr. Harrison.”
Roland smiled and went back to his office to put together the files on the outlaws to give to George Wright when he arrived.
A few hours later Kelcy Johnson knocked on Roland’s office door. “Mr. Harrison? I have a response from Mr. Wright.”
Roland came to the door and invited the young man inside. “Come in Kelcy and let me read it to see if it requires a reply.”
Kelsey nodded and stepped into the attorney’s office. He was always amazed at the number of leather bound books that lined the shelves and knew they held all the laws that Mr. Harrison needed to know to do his work. He marveled at the man’s intelligence and his ability to be able to process all this and help people with their legal needs.
Roland finished reading the telegram and smiled. “No need of a response. I only need to notify him as soon as I know the circuit court judge is coming.”
Kelcy nodded. “Okay Mr. Harrison…then I’ll be on my way.”
Roland handed the young man a coin for a tip and Kelcy left to return to the telegraph office and Roland went back to his preparations for George Wright and the outlaws.
Four days had passed and Dan was feeling better every day. He didn’t get the headaches quite as often or as severe as he had when he first came home and had resumed working in the shop for a few hours a day. The shipment from Herman Oaks Leather Company had come and Dan and Cole were putting the supplies away.
“I’m sure glad we were able to order all this while we were at the Herman Oaks Leather company.” Cole remarked as he placed some folded leather on a shelf.
Dan nodded. “Yes, I am too. I’m especially glad we were able to get some new tools as well as patterns we can use.”
Cole smiled. “The decorative pieces too were nice. I’m glad we had such a good time together while we were there.”
Dan put the tools he was holding away in the chest they used for their leather tools. “Yes…we did and I want to have many more times like that together.” He said softly, Violet eyes meeting hazel ones meaningfully.
Cole flushed. “Me too Dan…I’d like that very much.”
The older man said quietly, “You need to be here for us to be able to do that you know.”
Cole smiled. “I plan to be.”
Dan said softly, “It didn’t look like that when you exposed yourself that way during the shootout with the outlaws, especially when I saw that hand come up and yank you down, and then a bullet trail go right where you had just been, I assume it was Jalen who did that?”
Cole bit his lip. “Yes…but I said I was sorry when we talked about this before Dan.”
The young man’s partner nodded. “I heard you, but Cole…you were careless with your life and I told you we’d talk more about it when I was feelin’ better. I’m feelin’ good enough that we can deal with this now.”
The young man squirmed inside. “Are you sure you’re feelin’ better Dan…I mean well enough to uhm…handle this?”
Dan hid a smile and said, “Yes, I believe I’m well enough to carry things through. It was my head that hurt, not my arms or legs.” He told the young man with a little smile this time.
Cole sighed and nodded. “I know…but it’s hard Dan.”
The older man nodded and brushed the dark hair back from Cole’s face and said quietly, “I know it is. You know I’d never harm you or do anything you didn’t want me to.
Cole went to Dan and snuggled into his strong arms. “Yes, I do know that too. Sometimes it’s just hard to submit to it…even when I know deep inside myself it’s the right thing.” Cole told his partner softly.
Dan ruffled the dark hair and said, “I understand. There’s a lot of trust involved in what we do.”
Cole nodded. “Yes, I know, I trust you to not hurt me in a bad way, even when you’re settin’ my backside on fire.”
Dan hugged his young partner. “Yes, and I’m honored each time you give me that trust. I never take that lightly.” The older man said quietly.
Cole nodded. “Yes…I‘m glad to know that too.”
Dan tipped the younger man’s face up with a finger under his chin until their eyes met. “You know what you did could have cost us our relationship forever.”
Tears filled Cole’s hazel eyes and he nodded. “Yes…and I would never really have wanted that…I just didn’t think at the time.”
Dan hugged Cole tight then. “It wouldn’t have been what I would have wanted for us either. A good reminder to think about things the next time you find yourself in a similar situation…and I sincerely hope neither of us does again in our life time…but just in case…might be helpful.” Dan told his young partner.
Cole stayed quiet for a few minutes, thinking over the events of the past several days and the part he’d played in them, his emotions and the one thing he had done that could have changed things forever had it not been for their friend and Sheriff’s quick reflexes had the younger man nodding his head. “Yes…I think you’re right Dan. I don’t want to ever do somethin’ that foolish or dangerous again.”
Dan hugged Cole tight in return at his words, and then said quietly, “Go fetch the paddle Cole.”
Dan’s young partner cringed inwardly, but knew deep down inside that he truly deserved this and went to the bottom drawer of the dresser in their room and retrieved the wooden implement.
Dan waited patiently for Cole to return. This part of their relationship was never easy for him at the best of times, but he also knew that to let this hang over Cole’s head for any length of time wasn’t a good thing either. He knew his young partner needed this discipline and also knew he would learn from it. Cole seldom did the same thing more than once Dan had addressed the issue in a memorable way. He loved his young man and would never hurt him in any way, but knew that what he was about to do would hurt of course, but not as much as the guilt that was inside his partner and he would never want that either.
He glanced up as Cole came back with the paddle.
Cole thought about Dan and the things he had said some more and knew without a doubt he was loved and well cared for. Dan had been like this from the very beginning. Predictable and consistent. He could count on him to correct him when he did something they had agreed needed to be corrected and always did the correction for pretty major things in a memorable way. His bottom always paid for his misdeed, but for some reason, he still had to figure out, it always made him feel better inside. Dan had told him once that it was because he was able to let go of his guilt and negative feelings about himself that he was holding inside, but couldn’t quite understand just why a fire on is backside accomplished that, but knew that it did. He shook his head and brought the paddle to Dan who was waiting for him in the small supply room they had fixed up just for these occasions.
There was an old sofa in there, suitable for their use and comfortable enough to snuggle afterward, but they seemed to always end up in their bed afterward and Cole didn’t mind that part at all.
Dan looked up as he heard Cole enter the room and reached out and took the paddle as his partner offered it, placing it aside for the moment. He reached out a hand to Cole and the young man took it and allowed himself to be drawn close to his lover and Dan pulled Cole into a tight hug. “I love you Cole Marshall Tucker.” He told the young man.
“I love you too Daniel Morgan Fairmont.” Cole said softly in return.
Dan kissed the younger man’s forehead and asked quietly, “Tell me why we’re here Cole.”
Cole shifted uneasily, but answered quietly, “Because I disobeyed Jalen’s orders and exposed myself fully to the outlaws and almost lost my life as a result.” He shivered a bit now at the realization of just how close he had come to doing that.
Dan put his arms around Cole and hugged him tight. “That’s right, but we’re goin’ to fix that so it won’t happen again.” He said matter-of-factly.
Cole nodded. “Yes Sir.”
Dan then released Cole and waited. He knew that his young partner knew what was expected from him now, but didn’t rush things or hurry him. He allowed him to ready himself for the correction in his own time.
Cole stepped back and for a moment studied the face he loved. The vestiges of the rough handling and abuse his older partner had suffered were still visible, but not as pronounced as they had been initially.
Cole knew Dan had been right in taking him to task and with steady hands unfastened his britches, sliding them to the floor and his underpants followed. He shuffled over to Dan’s side and then laid himself over his lap.
Dan watched the myriad of emotions going through is young lover and could see the moment of decision and determination. When he unfastened his clothes and prepared himself for the spanking that was to come Dan was very proud of him. When he began to lay himself over his lap Dan assisted him, adjusting him as comfortably as it was possible to be in this position, then pinned the young man’s legs with his and secured him with his arm, turning up Cole’s shirt tails and baring his bottom completely. He tipped him forward slightly a bit more so his cheeks stuck up and out in prime position for the paddle.
As Cole felt Dan assisting him and then adjusting him he bit his lip as he felt his legs being pinned and his bottom being pushed up and out a bit more than was usual for them. He understood this spanking was certainly going to be memorable…for several days. Dan didn’t spank him this way often, but he knew from past experience this positioning was reserved for only the most serious of things and he understood putting his life in danger had fallen into that particular place. Usually Dan would spank with his hand and warm his backside good before paddling, but this time would be different. He would feel the sting of the paddle from the very first until the very last, whenever Dan thought that should be.
Dan took a deep breath. This was not his favorite thing to do, but for the love of his partner he would do this thing. He picked up the well worn wooden paddle and laid it on Cole’s now vulnerable backside and brought it down with a sharp crack. He felt Cole’s body jerk and a moment later a yelp. Dan steeled himself and continued to bring the paddle down over and over again with the same sharp smack, striking at random, middle, left, right, two strikes in the same place, three in another, one in another, never allowing his young partner the opportunity to guess where and how many strokes would fall on his bottom. Cole didn’t stay silent, crying out and wiggling and wriggling as much as he was able in this position trying to get his burning flesh out of the line of fire, but being completely unsuccessful.
When the first stroke of the paddle fell Cole knew immediately this was not going to be good. He yelped loudly, “Ouch! then a succession of Oww’s! Followed by begging, “Please! I won’t do it again! Oww!” His bottom was on fire already and he knew it wasn’t even near over. He couldn’t help wriggling and wiggling, anything to try to get his burning backside out of the line of fire, but without success. He began to cry early on and as the paddle continued to fall in that random pattern that Cole absolutely hated began to sob.
Dan continued paddling until Cole’s entire backside was a scarlet almost crimson color and then tipped him over even further, now exposing the under curves, sit spots and the backs of his legs. He readjusted his hold as he knew as soon as the wood made contact wit the even more sensitive sitting area his wild one would arch and buck if possible, but Dan wasn’t going to allow it to be possible and just as he predicted as he landed the first stroke a loud wail followed.
Cole, feeling himself being tipped forward began to beg. He knew from past experience just how much this was going to sting and cried, “Pleas…Dan...No!”
He heard his partner respond quietly, “Yes Cole…right there…” followed by another stinging stroke. “Right where you’ll remember to think for a while.” His partner told him calmly. Another stroke followed and Cole found he could do nothing but endure. He couldn’t arch or buck or do any of the things Dan would sometimes allow him to do. He was being held fast and he heard himself wailing as the paddle continued to make contact with his sensitive sitting area and then…the worst…Dan had begun to scold. If the paddling wasn’t enough, the words and scolding were even worse.
Dan began to scold after his young partner had begged and pleaded for him to not spank him right where he was presently applying the paddle. He said, “Cole, I love you and care for you too much to allow you to put your life in danger…you will think about us and how your actions affect us the next time you are told to keep yourself safe.” He moved the paddle from the under curves to the sit spots and paddled there. He could feel Cole still fighting the spanking and he continued paddling and said, “I want us to be together for a very long time and I won’t have that cut short by foolish, selfish showin’ off.” Dan then moved the paddle back down further to the backs of Cole’s thighs. His young partner howled now and tried to twist and kick, all without success. “I know this hurts my wild one, but it hurts a lot less than you being permanently lost from my life, or injured in such a manner that it will change both of our lives forever and we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the things together we do now.” Dan continued to bring the paddle down firmly. He didn’t strike to bruise or blister, but created lots of sting and heat and an inner soreness that would last a while.
Cole howled, tried to twist, buck, kick, anything to get the burning strokes to stop, but they kept coming and the words kept coming along with them and at the last, the thought of Dan not having him for the rest of his life or being cripple or maimed by a bullet in a manner that would change things the way they were between them irrevocably had him sobbing his heart out and then going limp over his lover’s lap.
Dan, feeling Cole go limp, giving in to the correction and letting go of everything landed one more circuit with the paddle over the young man’s glowing backside, reigniting the fire there and then once more over the sensitive sitting area and then laid the paddle aside. He began to rub his lover’s back and murmur soothing nonsense words that he knew Cole wouldn’t be able to really hear over his sobbing.
Cole for a few moments didn’t realize that the spanking was over. Even after he went limp over Dan’s lap it went on and on it seemed forever. His backside throbbed, but he felt the familiar hands on his back and the familiar loving rumble from the older man and then felt himself righted as Dan settled him upright so that his very sore bottom touched nothing and he wrapped his arms around Dan’s neck and buried his face in his shirt.