The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Susan

 

 

Good Honest Sweat

The dirtiest job on the ranch had been his today; he'd drawn the short straw and had dutifully, publicly complained, while secretly not minding at all. And the work had been solitary, hot as blue blazes and solitary. He had worked hard all day in the sun, dreaming of the evening ahead, a cool breeze, a strong drink, pleasant company on the veranda.

Now, nearly home, he could feel the grit on his skin, the stale sweat, knew that he reeked from it. Even though he had taken his shirt off early this morning and had only donned it again before riding home, sweat still soaked the collar of his shirt, and had already created a damp crescent on his back. He was completely and thoroughly tired, dirty and hot, but it was honest sweat, and it felt good to have earned it.

When he reached the stable, he handed Barranca off to Felipe and continued on towards the hacienda, slapping his dusty hat against his even dustier, dark work pants. He pulled a red bandanna from his back pocket and rubbed it across his face and the back of his neck. Then, taking out the watch his father had given him months ago, he saw that he had plenty of time before supper and detoured straight to the bathhouse.

 

 

To the Lancer men's constant irritation, she had never learned to knock, but standing here now, she couldn't help but think that it did have its sweet advantages. Silently, shamelessly she stood in the open doorway and watched him. The beauty of what appeared before her took her breath completely. The steam from the hot bath water blurred the air, making the scene seem almost dreamlike, but she could see him; oh, she could see him.

He had stood from the tub just as she entered, a lazy, sensuous move, and, with drops of water clinging to him, with his hair wet and dripping, he wrapped a small towel around his slim hips. With her eyes wide, she thought about how he had been too lean when he had first come to them, underfed, undernurtured. She had cared for him after he was shot and had known his body nearly as intimately as a lover, could make a pretty good guess about some of the hardships he had faced, things he had put his body through or been forced to endure, but the months here at Lancer, the backbreaking labor, the good healthy food, had sculpted his body into something that caused her to nearly drop the stack of soft toweling she carried. He was perfect.

She stared at him, at his warm, brown skin dripping wet. She stared at the smooth slide of that skin over the muscles in his arms, in his finely-haired chest. Without conscious thought, her eyes were drawn downward to the tight muscles of his stomach, to the small white towel into which a line of dark hair disappeared. She ached to touch him.

And now he caught her eyes with his own, looked at her, unashamed, eyes dark and unreadable, and a slow grin appeared. “Querida,” he said, in a whisky-smooth voice that caused a fluttery sensation in her stomach which she had never felt before. And, with steam chasing through the doorway behind her, she fled.

 

~end~

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