DISCLAIMER: I own nothing at all connected to this show and am writing merely as an outlet for what could have been. This is a F/F romance story all the way. If that's not your thing, you may want to find another story.
AUTHOR'S NOTE/WARNING: This begins with an alternate telling of one of my favorite scenes and when my love of Rebecca was reaffirmed. I have no idea what the writers were doing but after episode 4 but the interactions between Kat and Rebecca died off and Morgan got on my very last nerve. Not at all because 'he' was actually a woman but because he was a liar and a hypocrite who never treated Rebecca the way she deserved to be treated. Kat was the only person who respected Rebecca just as she was which is why I shipped them almost immediately. Hence this new path to their relationship. This will not necessarily follow the same storyline. I had to change some things to fit the story and I may have gotten some names and situations wrong, so please forgive. And lastly, the beginning can be construed as 'dubious consent', but it is brief.
SPOILERS: All episodes starting with Episode 2 just to be safe.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To KJMusings[at]gmail.com
"Here. Here's a thousand dollars for the release of Mrs. Loving and her girls," Rebecca stated, handing the packet to the frightening brothel woman.
Isabelle Slotter looked at the female doctor with some bemusement. This woman confused her and she did not like being confused. Here she was, a woman who looked as if she'd jump out of her skin if someone so much as whispered boo, now stood before her offering an incredible sum of money that Isabelle could only guess at where she got it, to 'buy' a woman she barely knew.
Isabelle couldn't deny a flicker of admiration for the would be doctor but it was quickly overridden by the memory of how the woman had dared threaten her in her own home. Nobody threatened her. Not anymore, not without paying the price for it. As for the Loving woman, Isabelle would love nothing more to see that arrogant bitch spending every night of her miserable life on her back under some disgusting pig. However, a thousand dollars was something she simply couldn't ignore. Suddenly a slow smirk crossed her lips as an idea formed. She would teach young Misses Blithely what it meant to threaten her and she would put Kat Loving in her place once and for all. If they didn't go for it, well she wouldn't be any worse off than she was now and she'd at least have had the amusement of seeing their reaction.
"You realize that I simply can't just let her go," she finally said conversationally. "She has an obligation to my husband and he's not one that so easily let's things go."
"But but I'm giving you money," Rebecca pleaded, not understanding what the Madame was getting at.
"I know Mrs. Blithely and I admit, it is a very tempting sum of money, however the problem still stands. Mrs. Loving offered to whore herself in place of her daughters and my husband agreed. I can't just ignore that."
The very small part of Isabelle that was once her innocence, almost took pity on the woman, but she hadn't gotten where she was by being soft.
"I will take your money," she interrupted, "however, I'm afraid I must insist it be in trade."
"I don't understand," Rebecca frowned.
"You wish for Mrs. Loving to be released from her obligation and there is only one way for that to happen. I will take your thousand dollars but she must fulfill her part of the bargain." Isabelle rolled her eyes and sighed as she saw the woman still wasn't getting it.
"You will be buying her services Mrs. Blithely. As a whore," she stated bluntly. Whatever reaction Isabelle had been expecting, it wasn't the curious expression that crossed Rebecca's face.
"But I'm not in need of a whore," she argued simply. "Besides I'm not a man, so effectively Mrs. Loving would still be unable to fulfill her obligations."
Isabelle nearly laughed out loud at that. She should have guessed this bizarre woman wouldn't behave like a normal woman and faint from the pure offense of the demand. No, she looked at it as a scientific curiosity.
"You truly are an innocent," she said curiously but then shook her head. "You see Mrs. Blithely, there are women and men in this world who desire members of their own sex."
"Really? I had no idea," Rebecca mused.
"Yes," Isabelle said quickly, sensing a litany of questions was about to thrown at her and not wanting to be diverted. "And there are indeed many ways that a woman can pleasure another woman as well or even better than a man even without the er "
"Penetration?" Rebecca asked in surprise.
Isabelle was not pleased to find herself blushing at the woman's bluntness. "Exactly," she said fighting to retain her composure. "Women know best what they enjoy. Women are softer, more inclined toward slow loving instead of hurried groping and passion can be just as fierce but with a gentleness that many men don't possess."
"That does make sense," Rebecca nodded, thinking of her big husband. He had yet to touch her that way, but even his embraces were more suffocating than reassuring.
"Be that as it may," Isabelle replied, "I don't have time for a lesson in intimacy right now. The deal is, we will release Mrs. Loving from her obligation for your thousand dollars and she provides the services that any number of gentlemen downstairs are willing to pay just as much. if not more for. Do you agree?"
"I agree," Rebecca said firmly, still unclear of what was being required.
Isabelle shook her head, wondering how this woman would ever be able to function on her own, still her greatest enjoyment would come from explaining the arrangement to Kat Loving and seeing her reaction to the deal she'd just made as well as the additional condition she'd just came up with.
"Well then, I shall go tell Mrs. Loving she has a customer than, yes?" she grinned. "Please wait here and I will return shortly to let you know if we have a deal."
"You are out of your goddamned mind." Kat had never wanted a gun in her hand more than she did at that moment.
"Oh but I'm not," Isabelle smirked, relieved to finally get the reaction she wanted. "Mrs. Blithely offered me a great deal of money for the release of you and your girls. However, you still have an obligation to my husband, so the deal is, you 'service' the lady doctor and then your obligation will have been met and you'll be free to leave."
"Mrs. Blithely couldn't have possibly been the one to suggest this," Kat retorted, knowing the woman who had been her savior and her friend since the moment they met was far too innocent to understand what was being asked. She disdainfully turned away from the overdressed Madame and quickly removed the braids she'd been forced to wear.
Isabelle clenched her teeth at the woman's contemptuous attitude. She would not be dismissed by some woman who played at being a man and decided to increase her amusement by poking the bear. "No, but she certainly agreed quick enough. In fact, she agreed so quickly, I can't help but suspect she's been itching to get into your pants all along."
"You shut your goddamned mouth," Kat snarled. She'd heard of those who only took after their own sex and she didn't much care, but she would not let Slotter's wife dare imply the painfully naïve Mrs. Blithely was some shameless slut with ulterior motives.
Isabelle's first instinct was to slap the arrogance off of the upstart woman's face.
"You forget who is in control here Mrs. Loving," Isabelle snarled before reigning in her temper. Just knowing that Kat Loving would either have to stand by while her daughters were whored out or have sex with a woman herself was revenge enough.
"So are you refusing then?" Isabelle asked more calmly.
"What if I am?"
"Well," Isabelle tapped her chin in mock consideration as she walked around the young widow. "Then your deal with my husband is terminated and your daughters take your place."
Kat went cold with fear at that but she'd be damned before she let this woman see it. "That's not the only option. I can refuse Mrs. Blithely and stay here like originally agreed."
"No, I'm afraid not. If it's known that we allow you to pick and choose who you service, well the other girls might get ideas and then nobody is servicing anyone. That will cost me far more money than you will earn from Mrs. Blithely. No, you have your choices. You and the good doctor conduct the business that's been paid for, or your daughters are returned to their original place in this house."
Kat was literally shaking with the strength of the hatred and fury she was feeling at that moment and it was made worse knowing she had no choice.
"Fine. I'll do it and you can go to hell," she hissed.
"Oh I'm sure we'll both be there sooner or later," Isabelle replied. "Let me fetch your customer then, shall I?" She laughed happily as she left the woman to stew in her own anger.
Kat wasn't sure what she was expecting when her door opened and Rebecca Blithely entered her bedroom, but the presence of Isabelle and her husband John Slotter, the man she despised above all living things, wasn't on the list.
Ignoring the doctor for the moment, she glared at the devil's kin standing smugly in her doorway.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she demanded.
"This is my house Mrs. Loving," Slotter pointed out casually.
"Cut the shit. I agreed to your wife's disgusting demands, so why are you here?"
"Oh come now. I would hardly use the word 'disgusting,'" Slotter grinned as he approached Rebecca. He stalked slowly around the oddly stoic young woman, running his eyes over her in a manner that enraged Kat even if Rebecca didn't seem to notice.
Kat looked at Rebecca and was surprised to see she appeared almost hurt.
"I didn't call her disgusting," she clarified, looking at Rebecca, hoping she knew she didn't mean to hurt her feelings. "I called forcing an innocent to perform for your sick entertainment disgusting."
"I'm not forcing her to do anything," Slotter argued almost happily. "Am I dear Doctor?"
Rebecca looked at Kat with an earnest expression. "He isn't," she insisted. "I want to help you."
Kat sighed. "You don't know what they're expecting us to do, do you?"
"I believe they expect us to have sexual intercourse," Rebecca stated casually.
Kat blinked at the almost indifferent bluntness and shook her head while Slotter laughed outright.
"Well, if that don't put one in the mood I don't know what will," he chortled. "And to think I almost told Isabelle to forget this scheme."
"Well why didn't you?" Kat turned away from Rebecca, needing the distraction.
"Because when I thought about you being the one to corrupt this sweet young thing, well now, how could I pass that up?"
Kat wanted to slap that disgusting grin off his face and shove Rebecca out of the room to safety but she knew to do so would mean her death as well as Rebecca's and her daughters.
"Well then maybe you should get the hell out so we can get this over with," she sneered.
Slotter laughed again. "Oh no darlin'. Didn't Izzy here tell ya? We're here to watch, just in case you have a mind to trick us out of what you owe."
"You wish to you plan to watch us copulate?" Rebecca asked, appalled and for the first time beginning to grasp the enormity of what was being asked of her.
"Oh hell no," Kat protested, stepping between Rebecca and the perverted couple leering at them.
"You don't have a say," Slotter said coldly, his patience wearing thin. "You are a deceitful bitch Kat Loving and I don't trust you to keep your word. So you either get busy now, or the deal is off and I bring in your daughters."
Rebecca gasped at the man's horrible cruelty. "Surely Mr. Slotter, you can understand our hesitation," she protested.
"I do," he smiled at the strange young woman, "I just don't care, now quit stalling."
Kat glared at the disgusting couple. "I ain't one of your paid whores," Kat growled. "I don't perform in front of an audience."
Slotter just grinned, his eyes running over both women. "Well now, technically you are, even if you ain't earned the title yet and considering that if you meet the terms of the deal, I'll be saying goodbye to a hell of a lot of money, I gotta get somethin' out of it."
"Yes but when purchasing a whore, it is the client who decides what services the whore is to perform is it not?" Rebecca asked matter of factly, causing Kat to shake her head once more and the Slotter's to stare at her.
"And what's your point?" Isabelle said shortly.
"I am the purveyor of Mrs. Loving's services, so therefore it is up to me to choose what she does or doesn't do, or whether there is an audience."
John Slotter would kiss his father before he admitted it, but Rebecca Blithely disturbed him. He found people painfully predictable, but he didn't understand this woman at all. The way she talked, her lack of emotions even when cutting folks open indicated she was of a like kind with him, but she wasn't. There was a purity that lay beneath that freakish façade that intrigued him and he sometimes felt an unwelcome flicker of protectiveness for her, but now, watching the beautiful strange doctor, knowing she'd be laying hands on the hot Indian woman, touching her the way he touched his wife, stirred something else. Something wild and fierce.
"Maybe, but as for the moment I own the whore you're buyin', I decide who she takes to bed. And since I ain't convinced this is nothin' more than another attempt to take from me what's mine, I'm going to make damned sure she carries out her end of the bargain."
"I gave you my word," Rebecca argued.
"That's not good enough," Isabelle stated.
"Well I don't find being watched by two perverts to be a turn on," Kat threw out, not caring anymore what that asshole Slotter did as long as he kept his hands off Rebecca and her girls.
Slotter cocked his head. He knew enough whores who didn't care who watched them work. Some even liked an audience, but these two weren't like that. He may have to admit there was a limit to the victory he would achieve over that damned Kat Loving but he'd take every damned inch that he could.
"Alright. Considering Mrs. Blithely's thousand dollars is a very generous offer, and considering I like her, I suppose I can be a bit more flexible," offered with a clearly fake benevolence.
"You will let us go without the need to fornicate?" Rebecca asked bluntly, with Kat rolling her eyes and Isabelle snorting despite herself.
"Nope," Slotter's grin widened. "However, as soon as you two ladies convince me and my wife that this isn't a trick, we will leave you your privacy."
"And then we may go?"
"After we make sure Mrs. Loving completed her part of the deal," Slotter said.
"And just how the hell do you plan to do that?" Kat snarled.
"My wife has her ways," Slotter grinned and then shifted in the big chair crossing his legs. "Now, if you don't mind, we have other customers to attend to so ." He gestured for the two women to get on with it.
Kat sighed, realizing there was absolutely no way she was getting out of this damned house without layin' with the unusual woman who'd become her only friend. She would only admit to herself that while the thought of being with a woman the way she'd been with her husband had never occurred to her, there was something about Rebecca Blithely that made the idea not quite so distressing. She was definitely a fine looking woman though it was clear her elderly husband did nothing to let her know that and there was a passion beneath the emotionless façade that Kat found herself wanting to see and it infuriated her that Slotter and his whore wife would taint what was likely the woman's first time.
"Since you've given us no choice, the least you can do is sit there with your mouth shut so we can at least pretend you aren't here."
Gritting her teeth at the leering nod she got in response, she gently guided Rebecca back into the farthest corner and placed herself between her and the prying eyes of Slotter and his whore wife.
"I don't understand how this happened," Rebecca frowned. "I just wanted to pay them to release you and your girls."
Kat offered a small smile, hoping to put the skittish woman at ease at least a little. "I don't know where you got the money and I won't insult you by askin', but this is the third time you've saved us Mrs. Blithely," she pointed out.
"You've saved me as well," Rebecca reminded her, "but we aren't free yet so technically I haven't saved you."
You are so wrong about that Mrs. Blithely," Kat thought. "Are you afraid?" she whispered, stepping closer to Rebecca, deciding they had dragged this out long enough.
"No," Rebecca answered honestly, "well, not entirely. Thomas has never so much as kissed me so I am unclear of what is to happen."
Kat looked into the honest brown eyes and sighed. She reached out to place a hand on Rebecca's face but paused as she remembered the shy woman's wariness of physical contact.
"May I touch you?" she asked, part of her marveling at the fact the whore was asking permission to touch the customer.
Rebecca nodded once, her eyes locked on Kat's, bracing herself for the touch she normally avoided. Then a warm hand touched her cheek and she started, not from any aversion to the contact but from the warm sensation that filled her. Kat Loving's hands were smaller than her husband's but there was a roughness, callouses, Rebecca surmised, that were so different from Thomas's smooth ones. It sent a shiver of something she couldn't identify through her.
"Mrs. Loving?" she whispered fearfully.
"I think given the situation, you best call me Kat."
Rebecca suspected the older woman was laughing at her but she ignored it. "Kat, have you ever been intimate with a woman?"
Kat shook her head. "No. But I'm thinking that with one big exception, it can't be that different."
"Do you "
Kat heard Slotter impatiently clearing his throat and had to fight the urge to go stick a knife in it. Instead she kept her eyes on Rebecca's determined that she would do all she could to protect her and make this as bearable as she could.
"I'm going to kiss you now," she stated softly.
Rebecca's eyes grew wide at the intense look in Kats' eyes but she nodded.
Kat's eyes dropped to Rebecca's mouth as she slowly lowered her head until her lips were touching Rebecca's. The jolt that shot through her surprised Kat and she desperately tried not to acknowledge that it was the same jolt she felt the first time Jeremiah kissed her.
"Are you alright?" she asked softly as she pulled back. If Rebecca was terrified in anyway Kat was putting a stop to this, even if it meant whoring for every man in the camp. To her amazement, all she saw looking backing at her was a definite interest.
"Again please," Rebecca urged. Feeling Kat's lips on hers was a sensation like she'd never experienced and she needed to discover if the feeling was an aberration or not.
Kat quirked an eyebrow, though she supposed she shouldn't have been surprised.
"Yes ma'am," she smiled. Her hands moved to rest lightly on Rebecca's waist as she pulled her closer. "put your arms around me," she ordered softly. "It's alright," she added at Rebecca's hesitation.
Against her every instinct, Rebecca slid her arms around Kat's neck and then soft lips were on hers once more.
Kat touched her lips to Rebecca's again and again, getting used to the different sensation of soft female lips as opposed to the firmer masculine ones she was used to and then she heard it. A small little whimper that had nothing to do with fear and it lit a fire inside of Kat. Acting on her own instincts, she took Rebecca's lips once more, this time it was deeper and longer and when she felt Rebecca's hands push deeply into her hair, her knees nearly gave out.
Lips caressed lips, no longer tentative but with sensual exploration that continued to deepen and both women grew lost in the sensations that were bombarding them.
"Kat," Rebecca panted, shivering as Kat's intriguingly hot lips down moved to her throat. She couldn't hold back a moan as a tongue flicked out against her neck and then she gasped as Kat began to suck gently. Right over the jugular vein, the tiny part of Rebecca's mind that was still functioning pointed out, however for the first time in her life she didn't have any interest in pursuing her scientific curiosity. As feelings exploded inside of her, her fingers clenched helplessly in the hair that was remarkably soft.
Kat groaned at the painful tug at her hair. "Are you okay?" she asked breathlessly, reluctantly pulling back to make sure the innocent woman wasn't about to faint in panic.
"I don't know," Rebecca breathed. "I'm feeling I feel so hot and light headed. I'm trembling all over and all I can think of is your lips on mine again."
Kat chuckled again at the woman's unusual bluntness. "I think you're supposed to feel that way."
Kat ran a hand through Rebecca's hair, easily releasing it from the pins that confined it. "If you want to stop now, we will. Slotter and his deal can go to hell."
Rebecca shook her head fervently. "I'm not leaving you or your girl's here," she insisted. "Besides, I wish to continue to explore these feelings. It could be of great scientific use."
Kat grinned. "You do say the most romantic things," she teased.
"Romance is merely a "
Kat placed a finger on Rebecca's still swollen lips, knowing a lecture was imminent. She turned to look at Slotter who had a disgusting expression of arousal on his face and his wife was now sitting on his lap, skirt raised past her knees.
"Get out," Kat ordered through her teeth.
"You don't "
"We will continue," she interrupted, fighting a gasp as she felt a suddenly curious tongue flick out against her finger. "You said you would leave after a little display, well you've gotten it."
Slotter looked between the two women, more turned on than he'd ever been in his life and he had no doubt they would continue their activities. He was sorely tempted to tell the obstinate woman he would stay as long as he pleased, but then he looked at Izzy who had a very familiar expression on her face and he had a powerful itch that needed scratchin'.
"Come John," she said hotly and then leaned close to his ear. "And remember what lies behind the portrait in the next room," she reminded him of the clients who often merely liked to watch activities instead of participating.
Slotter swallowed and got to his feet. "Enjoy yourselves ladies," he rasped out. "And just remember, we will know if you don't finish the job," he smirked and then grabbed Isabelle's hand, pulling her out of the dimly lit bedroom.
Kat exhaled sharply and then lowered her forehead to rest against Rebecca's as she tried to still her racing heart.
"Rebecca, it's not too late. Take your money and leave here. You and your husband can get as far away from this shithole as you can and be safe."
Rebecca's brain was spinning with so many thoughts and feelings she didn't understand. She had never been comfortable with physical contact. When she had been in Bedlam, physical contact usually meant pain, but the touch of Kat Loving's hands on her, the kisses, they were gentle but they weren't comforting. They had awoken an ache inside of her that no amount of research could begin to explain or ease.
"I don't want to leave," she found herself saying. The low, throaty sound of her own voice was a surprise and a tiny part of her wondered at how such intimacy could alter the vocal chords, but she ignored it.
"Why?" Kat asked, not understanding anything about this woman. She looked into Rebecca's face and her breadth caught as she finally let herself see just how beautiful this woman was. She was innocent, she was almost fragile, but she'd shown her courage so many times, including offering her money and now her body to help a woman she barely knew. Now there was a fire in those brown eyes that Kat knew was desire and despite her own inexperience with women, she found the fact that she had caused that heat in Rebecca's eyes to be more exciting than it should have been given the situation.
"I want to help you," Rebecca answered with her usual directness.
For some reason, Kat found herself disappointed with that answer and she stepped away. "You need to help yourself Mrs. Blithely."
Rebecca frowned, not knowing what she'd done to upset the woman that she'd become so fascinated by, but she wasn't finished answering Kat's question.
"I am helping myself. I want Mr. Slotter to release you, but I want to stay because I also would like to continue to experience what you were making me feel."
Kat blinked. "What?"
"I have never felt anything like what I was feeling just now. It was like an electric current between us and your mouth on my neck stirred up all these sensations that were frightening and exciting and I want to feel it again. I need to feel it again."
Kat's mouth opened and then closed. She was unsure if she would ever get used to the woman's directness, but in a world full of liars, she found she kind of liked it.
She smiled a little and carefully lifted her hand once more to Rebecca's face, relieved when the skittish woman didn't flinch.
"Are you sure?"
"I am. And and I also think that its time someone took care of you for a few moments." Rebecca offered sincerely.
Inexplicably, tears stung Kat's eyes. She'd given up the thought of ever hearing those words again and she never would have expected it from a woman people thought had no feelings.
"Rebecca," she breathed, caressing the sweet face and then forgetting where they were, the reason they were there and the fact she was with another woman, Kat brought their lips together once more and in second the desire that had merely been simmering during their discussion boiled over.
Rebecca's hands went back into Kat's hair, while Kat's hands began to wander and she was surprised by the strength she felt. Unexpectedly she remembered her first conversation with the doctor. Rebecca had been swimming and stood unabashedly in her damp shift. Kat had listened with a fond sort of amusement as the woman rambled about her own peculiarities. She had found her endearing but at that time she had felt more protective than anything. Now, however, she felt anything but. She wanted to see Rebecca once more unfettered by the trappings of traditional womanhood. She needed more. Her trembling fingers went to the front of Rebecca's dress and slowly unfastened each one until she slid the jacket from slender shoulders and then unfastened the skirt, carefully lowering it to the ground.
Her eyes ran over the doctor, her breath catching. "You are quite beautiful," she said quietly.
To her dismay, Rebecca found herself blushing. "Physical beauty is merely a result of a random arrangement of " she stopped when she saw Kat's lips twitching. "Thank you," she finished instead and then not entirely sure what she was doing, her hands went to the buckskin dress she knew instinctively Kat had been forced to wear.
She nervously lifted the dress over Kat's head and she found herself mesmerized by the site before her. Rebecca inquisitively slid her hands over Kat's shoulders and then down to the part of her chest that was exposed by her shift, marveling at the unfamiliar sensation of touching such smooth skin and her even stranger reactions.
"Isabelle was correct," she mused. "You are very soft, yet you are also quite muscular as well. It's a strange contradiction."
Kat couldn't help but chuckle at Rebecca's never ending curiosity which always seemed to rise at the most inopportune times.
"Thank you, I think," she replied drily, though she couldn't deny the fact that those long doctor's fingers sliding slowly along her skin were having an unexpected effect on her.
"Oh I didn't mean to offend you. You are very beautiful," she rushed to say.
Kat laughed softly and then trailed a finger down Rebecca's cheek. "I'm not offended," she assured her. "And thank you."
Rebecca's' mind was racing as she was bombarded by feelings she never knew existed and she was confused. She looked up at Kat, the one person who had ever been able to calm her thoughts. "I do not understand the purpose of this," she said almost desperately.
Kat snorted. "Isabelle Slotter is as evil as her husband and gets off on humiliating people," she muttered.
"No," Rebecca shook her head, not really understanding the other woman's comment. "I meant this," she gestured between them. "Thomas would not let me study human interpersonal interactions because he said it wasn't proper, but from what I was able to discover on my own, sexual intercourse is meant solely for reproduction and as we are both women, that is not possible. So what is the purpose?"
Kat didn't know whether to laugh, cry or scream at the woman's almost detached demeanor. Here she had bravely offered what was probably all she and her husband had in the world to save her only to be coerced into having sex with the woman she was trying to save and she wanted to use it as a learning experience? Kat knew that this woman was different. She wasn't slow or simple, but appeared so disconnected from everything, so emotionless that some may see her as touched. Kat, however, had seen fire in her. She had seen the fire as she talked about medicine and science and she'd seen it each time she stood up to save Kat and her daughters. And, as she looked, she could see it now, a flash in Rebecca's eyes as she ran her hands over Kat curiously. It was surely desire and Kat suspected Rebecca wasn't aware of it, but she was. And she couldn't deny that whether she liked it or not, the gentle, innocent caresses were having an effect on her as well.
"Rebecca," she whispered, not knowing how to proceed but knowing they didn't have time for her to explain sexual desire to the other woman.
"Please kiss me again," Rebecca urged.
Kat swallowed but then did as requested. This time when she covered Rebecca's mouth, it was with pure intent and passion. She held nothing back, partly because she knew the more they lingered, the bigger the chance of one of them backing out, but mostly because she couldn't stop herself. It had been so long since she'd been touched with a lover's hands. So long since she'd had someone treat her like a woman and Rebecca's gentle fingers felt so good as they ran over her skin, tentative and curious and then more aggressively as if she had finally given herself over to desire and couldn't get enough.
Kat led Rebecca to the bed and they slid under the covers. Kat wasn't stupid and she suspected that though they weren't in the room, the Slotter's were watching somewhere, not that she'd tell Rebecca that, so she made sure that even though the covers hid them, she was covering Rebecca.
For a long moment she looked down into the pretty face, surprised and enchanted by the rare smile on Rebecca's face. She stroked her hand down a soft cheek. "You are an amazing woman Doctor Blithely," she said quietly. "You are so strong and brave, no matter what you've been taught to believe. And you're about the smartest person I've ever known."
"You really think so?" Thomas had called her a curiosity and only praised any achievement he saw as relevant, but always dismissed any new ideas she came up with on her own as ridiculous and often questioned her sanity. He had never once called her smart or brave.
Kat's heart broke a little at the doubt she saw and she cursed the people who had seen her intelligence and threw her into a mental hospital because of it and that old bastard of a husband for treating his young wife as a science experiment. "I know so," she said firmly. "And you are very beautiful," she stammered. She'd never before said that to another woman, but it was true and if anyone needed to be told how beautiful they were it was Rebecca Blithely.
"I don't know how to say personal things or compliments," Rebecca admitted, for the first time feeling what she assumed could only be shame.
"You don't have to," Kat said. "Rebecca, you don't ever have to be anything but yourself with me. Okay?"
Rebecca nodded and then knowing that her verbal skills were sorely lacking, she lifted her hands to the Kat's neck, trying not to notice the heartbeat pounding beneath her fingers.
"I I need you Kat," she whispered, worried that she would drive the strong proud woman away. "I need "
Kat was lost. She dropped her mouth to Rebecca's and kissed her once more but this time, she let her desires control her action and she flicked her tongue across Rebecca's lips, thrilling when Rebecca instantly parted her lips without question. Inexperience was forgotten as tongues danced together as if they had always done so. As the kiss deepened, Kat's body began to move subtly against Rebecca's almost without thought and she thought she would go mad from the pleasure of it. She moved her lips to Rebecca's shoulder, kissing along the soft skin and then trailing up her neck, pausing to bite lightly then soothing gently with her tongue. Only in her mind could she admit that never had anything smelled or tasted as good as Rebecca's skin. She sucked gently until she got the response she craved, a little moan that created a matching one in her own throat and there was to be no more talking, no more explanations as Kat taught Rebecca what it was to touch and be touched with affection and desire.
Rebecca finished cleaning the scraped knee of one of the children. She offered a smile that seemed to scare the child who ran off without even a thank you. Rebecca sighed, wondering why she always drove people away.
Almost immediately, her thoughts went to the new Sherriff of their little community. She had thought that Kat Loving was someone she could call friend. Kat never seemed afraid of her or disgusted by her mental abilities. The night she had gone to save Kat from the brothel Rebecca shivered as the unusual tingles wracked her body once more. She had never considered physical pleasure to be a necessity for her existence. There always seemed so many more important things to concentrate on but what she had experienced with Kat, the feelings were so overwhelming that she still wasn't sure how to process them. She'd been studying the effects of electricity on and in the body but never had she believed that the touch of a hand on one's breast, or the press of lips against one's pulse point could generate such responses. Every sensation had fascinated her and had felt so very good, though that word barely scratched the surface of what she'd experienced. And for the first time in her life she had felt cherished.
Then, when both had achieved what Rebecca had only could describe as completion, Kat had looked at her for a long moment, kissed her once more and then slid out of bed. Rebecca had watched in confusion as she dressed and left the room without another word. She hadn't seen the other woman since and that was two weeks ago and inexplicably it hurt and she found herself wondering who had actually been the whore in that situation after all.
Then she had met Morgan Finn. He was as quiet as she but he had been one of the few people who befriended her. He was attentive and he flattered her at first and she found herself succumbing to the attention and then one night he kissed her. It had been pleasant but she hadn't felt the strange spark she had felt when Kat had kissed her. Still it felt nice and she had felt wanted once more so she accepted his attentions, even after he began condemning her for her research. She supposed she should simply accept that she would forever be judged as less for what she was.
Sighing, Rebecca gathered her things and then went to tend her husband.
"It's fine, Rebecca," Thomas said shortly, even though he winced as she prodded his injured leg.
"It isn't fine," she said, unusually curt. "It's infected and unless you let me "
"You are not a doctor, no matter how much you pretend you are," he snapped. "I am a doctor and I say my leg is fine. We are in the backwoods of nowhere which is why it is taking a little longer to heal, so leave me be."
For once Rebecca wasn't hurt by his dismissal. Instead she found herself growing angry. "Fine, suit yourself. Than you can remove the limb yourself when it gets to that." She stormed away, not noticing the surprised look on her husband's face.
Rebecca stalked through the trees and headed for the swimming hole, longing for the days when she never felt anything and had no interests outside of scientific research. These emotions swirling inside of her threatened to take what was left of her sanity and she fully blamed Kat Loving for that.
Kat dismounted her horse and for one moment she wearily rested her forehead against his neck. It had been an exhausting two weeks, mentally and physically. After she had fled the Slotter's house, she'd been approached by the Marshal Caleb Mecredi about a rumor of someone smuggling opium into the miner's camp.
She had gratefully turned her attention to poking around the camp, looking for any sign of addiction to anything other than whores and alcohol and though she knew that her best source of information would come from either of the Blithely's, she simply couldn't bring herself to face the woman she'd just been so intimate with.
So she had investigated on her own and after nearly two weeks of sneaking around the mines, carefully poking around the Chinese camp and the railroads and doing everything she could to avoid the hurt brown eyes of Rebecca Blithely and finally found the lowlife who was selling the drug to men and women who sorely didn't need the added burden of addiction. She had hauled him to the Marshal's and then in one moment of insanity had fallen into bed with Caleb. She surrendered to the touch of a strong male, feeling the stubble against her cheek and large hands on her body. It was nothing like the tender loving she'd had with Rebecca, but it was what she knew, and if she felt guilty and a little ill throughout, well it didn't really matter.
After two days, Kat knew she couldn't stay away any longer, if for no other reason than her girls were probably worried about her so she said a curt goodbye to Caleb and headed back to the makeshift little town. She went directly to the tent she shared with her kids. The heaviness in her heart was lifted considerably when Robin and Kelly rushed to hug her.
"Are you okay?"
"We missed you," the girls exclaimed at once.
"We thought you'd run off," Neill added morosely.
Kat went to her adopted son and placed a hand on his shoulder. "That won't ever happen Neill. I know you don't have any reason to trust me, but I don't go anywhere without you. We have a ranch to set up, remember?"
"Well when is that going to be? Ain't nothing good going to happen stickin' around here."
"I know," Kat said and her heart ached. She had vowed to wait until Jeremiah returned, but she had been forced to accept that her husband was never coming back and with the way she had left things with the only friend she had in this God forsaken place, moving on was on the top of her list of things to do.
"Rest up," she said abruptly. "We head out first thing in the morning."
"Really?"" Neill said with an excitement Kat hadn't seen in months and she couldn't help but smile. The boy had nothing but bad memories of this place and these people and it would do him a world of good to get far away. She looked at Robin and Kelly, surprised to see less excited expressions.
"Girls? You don't look so happy."
"We'll go where ever you want us to," Robin said quickly, "but "
"There won't be any other folks around," Kelly added.
"Not at first, but I'd a thought you had enough of people for now," she said glumly, reminding them about everything they'd been subjected to.
"Well yeah, but we like the doc well enough," Robin said.
Kat was surprised. "That old man? He's barely said two words to anyone."
"No, the lady doc. His wife? She's been real good to us."
Kat sighed. Rebecca. "She's been good to all of us," she agreed sadly, shame at how she'd treated the woman in return washing through her.
"She don't have a good life here," Kelly said. "That man of hers don't treat her right."
"I know, but look. Rebecca Mrs. Blithely is strong. Stronger than anyone thinks. Stronger than she thinks. She'll be alright."
"Well maybe. At least she's got that new fella paying her attention."
Kat frowned. "New fella?" She didn't understand the strange anger she was suddenly feeling.
"Yeah, Morgan Finn. You know, that small quiet young guy? They've been walking out at night together some time."
"Is that right," Kat questioned with a dangerous quiet. She didn't like it. No she didn't like it at all. Rebecca Blithely may be strong, but she was far too trusting for her own good and Kat was well aware there were sleazy men like Slotter just waiting to take advantage of such an innocent.
"Yeah, but I heard him the other day. He don't seem to like her doing what she does. Says it 'ain't natural' and offends God,' Robin snorted. "Like anything that happens here don't," Neill snorted.
Kat's eyes narrowed. Rebecca already had enough doubts about herself and some wet behind the ears brat had no right to add to her vulnerability, but she shook her head. It wasn't her business.
"She knows better," she lied and the look on the girl's faces told her she knew she was lying too.
"Can we at least say goodbye to her?"
Kat swallowed as she realized the time had come. "Sure, but uh, I need to speak to her first about something. Okay?"
She left the tent and paused and gathered her nerve and tried desperately to think of something anything to say to the woman who'd drummed up courage she didn't know she had to threaten that vindictive bitch Isabelle, who used every last cent she had and even her body, to secure Kat's freedom and that of Kat's girls, and the woman she'd spent one of the most amazing nights of her life with.
Sighing, she braced herself and headed toward the cabin where the Blithely's were staying. She froze when she heard Rebecca's voice. She couldn't help but smile when she heard the animated musings of the usually stoic woman, explaining some new theory Kat had no hope of understanding with an excitement she'd only heard one other time that still sent chills up her back.
"You are not god!"
The loud shout of Rebecca's husband was followed by a sound that Kat recognized all too well and she pushed through the door, to find Thomas glaring and Rebecca holding her cheek. Instantly her gun was in her hand and she was between the large man and his wife.
"You touch her again and you'll have a hole in your gut to match the one in your leg," she swore.
"This is none of your concern Mrs. Loving," Thomas retorted.
"Yeah. Yeah it is. I get your leg is hurting you but your wife doesn't deserve to have anyone, especially her man, laying hands on her. Understand?" she said dangerously.
Thomas finally understood the very real threat facing him and he held up his hands.
"You're right of course," Mrs. Loving. "I have never laid a hand on Rebecca before and I shouldn't have now. I'm just "
"No excuses," Kat interrupted. "Don't do it again. Are you alright?" she finally turned and addressed the woman who'd haunted her thoughts for two weeks. Fury warred with concern and a rare bout of tenderness as she saw the red welt on the cheek she knew to be soft as satin and tears in the gentle brown eyes.
"Come on," she said gruffly, nodding toward the door.
"Where are we going?"
"Nowhere," Thomas interrupted. "It's unseemly for women to " he stopped when he saw the glare on the dangerous woman's face.
"We're going for a walk Mrs. Blithely," Kat said gently, not wanting to frighten the woman more than she already was.
Rebecca didn't move. She was still in shock that her kindly husband had struck her and for the first time she was afraid of him, but then there was Kat. She rubbed her sore cheek as she warily looked at the woman who had completely shaken her familiar safe world.
"We need to talk Rebecca," she said quietly, not giving a damn if Thomas Blithely heard or not.
Rebecca desperately wanted to refuse, but the thought of being in the same room as her husband frightened her more than walking with the woman who had hurt her.
"Very well," Rebecca sighed and followed the black clad woman out the door. They walked for several minutes, neither saying anything even though Rebecca wanted to demand the woman at least slow down so she could catch up.
Finally, they stopped and Rebecca was curious to discover it was in the spot they had first spoken, when she had nervously revealed all of her weaknesses to Kat whose only response was to place a gun in her hand.
"Why are we here?" She asked warily. Kat Loving had disappeared for two weeks without even a goodbye and now she had come and dragged her into the woods alone.
"It's like I said. We need to talk."
Suddenly Rebecca was angry. She had always been taught that anger, like all other emotion was unproductive and served no purpose, but all she could think of was how wonderful Kat had made her feel, the gentle touches and kisses and whispered compliments had made Rebecca feel normal and wanted and then as if she'd regretted every moment, Kat had run from the room and hadn't looked back and Rebecca had felt shame and she had believed that she once more had not been good enough.
"I might have agreed, two weeks ago," she said coldly.
The anger in Rebecca's voice was a surprise to Kat and only added to her guilt and remorse for what this woman had been forced to sacrifice on her behalf.
"I'm sorry that I haven't talked to you before now," she muttered. "I was helping the Marshal with "
"You're lying," Rebecca interrupted tonelessly.
Kat stiffened. "I don't much like being called a liar," she said angrily. "I was helping him."
"Maybe, but that's an excuse. You were ashamed. I embarrass you."
Kat flinched. She surely should have known that Rebecca would fault herself. She turned to face the woman who had grown so important to her. "God no, Rebecca, that's not it at all," she said urgently.
"I don't believe you."
Kat lifted a hand to touch Rebecca and she couldn't help but feel a little hurt when the woman backed away.
"I know I'm not the worldliest woman. I don't have experience in in carnal matters. Not even with my husband," Rebecca admitted quietly. "You were the first person I've ever kissed."
Kat swallowed, not understanding why that was such an arousing statement. "I know Rebecca and I can't even begin to tell you how much that means to me, but the fact is, everything that happened, well, you were forced into it, because of me. How can I not feel shame over that?"
"I wasn't forced into anything," Rebecca argued. "I was given a choice and I made it."
"You didn't understand "
"I am not as incompetent as people think," Rebecca came close to shouting, causing Kat to draw back in surprise.
"I know that," Kat assured her. "Rebecca, you are by far the smartest woman, the smartest person I've ever known, but you don't have experience with the likes of Isabelle Slotter."
"It may have taken a few minutes to fully understand what she was asking from me but when I did, I still agreed."
"And I don't get it," Kat retorted. "Why the hell would you agree to lay with me, a woman you barely know, a woman who ain't nothin' but "
"Because you traded yourself to save your girls, even though they aren't your blood. Because I think " she paused, worried she was going to say the wrong thing again and Kat would either leave, laugh or hit her.
Kat saw the fear on Rebecca's face and she cursed every single bastard that had ever made this woman afraid to speak her mind. She wasn't sure she wanted to hear what Rebecca thought, but she'd be damned if she forced her to stay silent.
"Because why?" she prodded gently.
Rebecca looked away. "Because I don't think you've ever had anyone willing to sacrifice for you."
Kat's eyes stung at the whispered admission even though she was still confused. "But why?" she asked again. "Why you?"
"Because, you are all I have!" Rebecca cried, her emotions threatening to overwhelm her. "I've lost the woman who raised me and coming here I would have lost myself so many times, if it weren't for you."
Kat's heart nearly broke at the look on Rebecca's face. "No Rebecca, you are far stronger than you give yourself credit for. You have saved me and my girls so many times that I'll never be able to repay you. Especially the thousand dollars you paid."
"I don't want your money," Rebecca insisted. "I just want to know why you don't like me anymore."
Kat threw her head back and fought back a groan at the almost childlike question. She met Rebecca's eyes and stepped into her personal space, relieved when she didn't back away.
"Rebecca, I do like you," she countered. "More than I expected to and that's why I ran away."
"I don't understand."
Kat sighed. "Jeremiah was the only person I've ever kissed, much less lay with and I had never even considered being with a woman in such a way."
"I hadn't either, though I can appreciate why such a thing could be satisfying, given the way that "
Kat smiled at Rebecca's predictable rambling and she reached out to place her finger on the very soft lips she remembered.
"Maybe we can talk to about that later," she said fondly. "I'll listen to your theories I promise, but right now, there's something more important that I need you to understand."
Rebecca was used to being cut off when she began talking about her ideas, but only Kat promised to listen to her. "Alright," she said.
Kat took off her hat and ran a hand through her hair, trying to gather her thoughts. She wasn't much for talking about her feelings but if anyone deserved to hear them it was the woman looking at her so innocently.
"Rebecca God. You have no idea how sweet, how beautiful you are, do you?"
Rebecca frowned, even though her heart seemed to inexplicably increase the speed of its beating. "You told me so before, but "
"I meant it," Kat interrupted. "And I know looks don't matter to you. They don't matter much to me either. Like you said, it's just the way you're born, but you aren't just pretty. You're like nobody else I've ever met. You're so smart and the way your face lights up when you're talkin' about some new thing you've learned is about the prettiest thing I ever saw."
"Mrs. Loving Kat, I am grateful for your kind words but "
"They aren't kind," Kat interrupted, afraid that if Rebecca didn't let her finish, she'd never have the courage to get it out. "They are the truth. And you are one of the strongest people I know, even if you don't know it. You stand up for anyone who needs it, despite your fear and you don't back down until you get what you want, but you never stand up for yourself."
And like that Rebecca's eyes stung, feeling embarrassed to once again be lectured for her failings
"I'm sorry," she said quietly.
Kat was instantly in front of Rebecca and placed her hands on the sweet face. "Stop," she ordered gently. "Rebecca, you never have to say sorry to me for anything. I owe you my life several times over but that's not..." she paused and took a step back, needing the space between them.
"What happened between us at Slotter's' "
"It was a business transaction," Rebecca stated, repeating Isabelle's words.
"I know, but did you feel anything?" She wanted to bite her own tongue off for the stupid question.
"I " Rebecca wasn't sure how to answer. She had felt so many things but didn't have any idea of how to express them.
"Never mind," Kat muttered.
"No," Rebecca replied firmly. "I did feel something. I felt I just, I don't know how to express it. I felt hot and light headed and even I knew it wasn't from lack of oxygen or elevated blood pressure."
Kat's lips twitched, but she stayed silent as Rebecca worked through her thoughts even as she forced herself to not get so lost in the memories she stopped listening.
"When your hands touched my body, it was " she shivered as if she could feel those warm calloused hands on her skin as she spoke. "I have often suspected the body held electricity, but when you touched me I could feel it. Your hands sent sparks across my skin and I never knew anything could feel so wonderful and your kisses I never understood why the press of lips together could invoke such strong feelings but when I felt your mouth on mine, I understood what addiction was, I was filled with this craving for more and my chest ached in an oddly pleasant fashion. I don't know exactly what all of that means, but that is what I felt."
Kat bit back a groan. This woman's honest way of speaking would be the death of her, but she couldn't be any less honest.
"I loved my husband," she said softly as a pang of loss hit her. "Layin' with him was wonderful. He was gentle but he had a fire in him that I " she stopped, not feeling at all comfortable talking about her private moments with her husband.
"What I felt with you," she continued, and this time she closed her eyes as she allowed herself to relive their time together, "it was so different than with what I had with Jeremiah but the feelings were no less powerful. You ," she stepped closer to the wide-eyed woman staring at her.
"God. You are so soft, Rebecca," almost unable to help herself, she carefully reached out and trailed a finger down Rebecca's cheek. "The way you responded, the way you kissed me with such innocence made me crazy. I found myself wantin' to stay in bed with you for days and that scared me."
Rebecca was surprised as she didn't think much, if anything, could scare the woman in front of her, but the ache had returned to her chest as Kat stood so close to her and touched her so gently.
"I know what it is to be scared," she said quietly. "I'm scared all the time, except for when you're around."
Kat's heart flipped at the genuine statement, thinking it was almost frightening to realize that she would never be in doubt of this woman's true feelings on anything, but she didn't mind. She'd never had much use for liars anyway. Still, she was troubled by something else.
"What about Morgan Finn?"
Rebecca didn't understand the guilt she felt as if she had somehow betrayed Kat. It was illogical. For one thing guilt was pointless. What was done was done and couldn't be undone. For another, if anything she should feel some guilt for laying with someone not her husband. She did in truth betray her husband, but that didn't bother her at all. She did it to save a woman who had saved her and she simply couldn't find it in herself to feel any regret over something that had made her feel more complete than she ever had.
"What about him?"
Kat was surprised by the rare attempt at stalling. "I heard he's been payin' you a lot of attention. More than that man of yours."
Only briefly did Rebecca wonder at the heat she felt in her face. "He has been quite helpful in my work," she found herself lying.
"Yeah, that's not the way I hear it. I hear he's been moonin' after you like you were the last woman in the world."
Rebecca stiffened in anger and instead of repressing it as she had become used to, it wouldn't be held back.
"And what if he is?" she said coldly. "Is it so bad that someone is interested in me? Not what he can show off to others, not as some experiment, but interested in me as a person?" She felt her emotions starting to unravel but she couldn't seem to help it.
"No," Rebecca interrupted. "I know that I'm not normal. I know that I scare people with the things I study and the things I do. People don't talk to me unless they have to and even Morgan " she paused as she remembered their last conversation. Unconsciously she rubbed the spot over her heart as if to sooth away the ache that had lived inside since Kat disappeared and was only made worse by Morgan Finn's last words to her.
"Morgan?" Kat scowled.
"He told me that I offend God. That I'm unnatural."
"The hell he did," Kat nearly shouted, but instantly calmed when she saw the way Rebecca jumped at the tone of voice.
"He only spoke the truth."
"No Rebecca, he didn't," Kat said firmly but more calmly.
"No? Is not removing organs from bodies unnatural? Is a woman's interest in science and anatomy not unnatural? And what we did? Does two women having carnal relations not go against God?"
Kat sighed. "I don't claim to be as religious as Mrs. Briggs," she admitted, "but it seems to me that a person ain't born wanting to learn about bodies and such. Someone gave you your interest in science and that someone must be the one that gave you the smarts to understand it."
Rebecca opened her mouth to argue but then closed it when she realized she had no argument.
"As for what happened with us, you were helpin' out someone in need, but what we felt...that was natural Rebecca. It was true feelings. At least it was for me and I can't think that the God I may look to, would be against something when true feelings are involved."
"Then why did you run away from me?" Rebecca asked quietly. "What did I do wrong?"
And there it was, Kat thought, shame of her own cowardice nearly choking her. "Oh Rebecca, you didn't do anything wrong," she insisted. "I swear it. I was what I felt when I was with you, I never expected to feel that again and it was just too much. And I was afraid that I had taken advantage of you, that you didn't "
"That I didn't what?" Rebecca asked coldly. "That I didn't know what was going on? That I am too mentally damaged to understand what "
Hearing Rebecca call herself mentally damaged was the last straw for Kat and she wasn't about to let her finish that statement. She quickly took Rebecca's face in her hands and covered the still moving lips. Rebecca stiffened but immediately her lips softened and parted for Kat's and the kiss turned from one of frustration to one of desire.
Rebecca lifted trembling hands to Kat's hips, her resistance to touch once again forgotten in the storm of feelings stirred up by Kat Loving. As she lost herself in the feel of Kat's lips moving against hers, her hands almost instinctively slid up Kat's back. She needed to be closer. She needed more of Kat's mouth, more of her body against hers, more everything.
Kat heard the little whimpers coming from Rebecca and it made her crazy and when Rebecca's arms pulled her tighter, she nearly forgot herself all together. She groaned softly and flicked her tongue out to lick at Rebecca's lips and immediately was drawn inside and for a long intense moment she savored the sweet passionate mouth kissing her back so deeply she could almost feel Rebecca's heartbeat. She reluctantly pulled her lips away, thrilling at the small sound of protest but then kissed along Rebecca's strong jaw and down her throat until she could feel that strong heart beneath her lips. The taste was as sweet as it was the first time and Kat licked and sucked hotly at her neck until she felt the familiar hard tugging of her hair. She pulled back enough to look up and her knees nearly gave out as she saw Rebecca's head thrown back and her eyes clenched tightly in what could only be desire. All she wanted to do was lower the strange, wonderful woman to the ground but she wouldn't do that to her. Rebecca deserved so much better than a quick tumble in the dirt, especially given what she had to tell her.
She cupped Rebecca's cheek. "Rebecca," she whispered, and she almost forgot her intentions when she saw glazed eyes focus on her, lips swollen and almost demanding to be kissed once more.
Swallowing hard, Kat took a deep breath. "Me and my kids, we're leaving in the morning."
It took an oddly long moment for the words to penetrate the fog in Rebecca's mind. "What?"
"It's time," Kat explained carefully. "I've been putting off going to the land Jeremiah and I were going to build our ranch on, but I can't anymore." She could see the tears spring into Rebecca's eyes and she rushed to explain her decision before the woman fled from her. "My boy and the girls need some stability," she said quickly, "and so do I. We need to get away from Slotter and all the bullshit that keeps dragging us down."
Rebecca felt as if she might be ill and she didn't like it but she refused to show any weakness to this woman, and she would not beg her to stay. "Well I guess I should thank you for at least telling me this time," she replied dully. "Good luck to you Mrs. Loving," she added and then started to walk away but a hand grabbed her wrist, stopping her.
"Come with us," Kat blurted, surprising herself as well as the other woman, but she knew she meant it.
"Come with us. You don't belong here either. You belong with people who can see how amazing you really are. How smart and brave and beautiful. Someone who won't judge you for being who you are and learning anything you want to learn. Someone who won't hurt you," she finished, fury rising once more as she remembered Thomas Blithely so easily striking his wife.
"You hurt me," Rebecca accused bluntly.
"I know," Kat admitted. "And I'm sorry, but I mean it. Please, come with us. We won't have much at first and you won't have much doctorin' to be done, though I'm sure between me and my kids trying to build a house, there will be some," she offered a smile.
"No," Rebecca answered softly.
Kat didn't particularly care for the disappointment that filled her. "Why? I said I was sorry."
"I know," Rebecca replied and studied strange woman who'd been the one person to ever take her seriously and she could see the sincerity on her face. "I believe you, but I I am married and my husband needs me."
"No he doesn't," Kat snapped. "He uses you and and I'm sorry for speakin' so plainly but lookin' at him, It's clear he doesn't have much time left."
"It's true," Rebecca admitted, wondering why she wasn't unhappier at the thought. "He will not let me amputate and the gangrene will only get worse."
Kat wanted to push her until she agreed, but Rebecca Blithely was a surprisingly stubborn woman. Still she would not leave her here alone where people shunned her, beat her and condemned her for everything that made her so special.
"Then we will stay too," she announced.
"But but you can't," Rebeca stammered.
Kat grinned. "You should know me well enough to know, I never let anyone tell me what I can or can't do."
"You need to go," Rebecca repeated firmly. "You and your children need to build your home. I will be fine."
"No, please. I must stay and tend my husband and I fear that you may " she paused, confused to find herself embarrassed.
Kat saw the rare blush on her face and her lips lifted in a smile that Rebecca could only describe as arrogant.
"You think I'd be distractin' you?" she smirked, feeling a bit smug at the reluctant admission.
"Yes," Rebecca answered with predictable honesty.
Kat laughed, wondering if she would ever be able to fluster Rebecca the way she did to Kat. "If you're sure, we'll leave as planned, but I'll be back to make sure you're alright."
"If you must," Rebecca tried to sound indifferent, but she failed miserably, causing Kat to laugh softly, and then unable to help herself, she reached out and took Rebecca's face in her hands and kissed her once more.
"I will be back," she promised, "and once your husband has passed, you will come back with us. Right?"
"If I am not needed here."
Kat heard the sad, underlying acceptance that she most likely wouldn't be needed and it broke her heart a little. "Oh Rebecca, you are needed," she said sincerely and then cursed her own loose tongue, afraid she'd said too much, she took Rebecca's hand and led her back to the house.
"I will see you again Rebecca Blithely," she said firmly, before walking away.
Rebecca stood in the ice cold water of the stream, scrubbing her skin raw. The blood had been long washed away but Rebecca could feel it still.
The cries of the man haunted her still as he pled for his life, but John Slotter would not hear any of it. He had held a gun to her throat and forced her to cut the man open, while he lived. Part of her hadn't cared. This man had assaulted Finn. Tried to force him her, to have sexual relations. She had held a gun on him, and she would have shot him gladly, but Captain Slotter had stepped in.
Rebecca was relieved that Thomas was no longer alive to see what she'd become. To remove a man's heart while it still beat went against the oath to do no harm that Thomas had given her on his deathbed. The pleading in the man's eyes had nearly weakened her, but the gun against her throat forced her to continue.
"You murdered that man."
Morgan's cold accusing voice broke the silence and caused Rebecca to scream in fright.
"Morgan," she choked.
"You cut him open and took his heart while he was beggin'."
Rebecca had become used to the disappointed expression on Morgan's face, but remembering how badly 'he' had deceived her just made her angry.
"Captain Slotter forced me," she said defensively. "He would have shot me if I hadn't."
Morgan snorted. "He wouldn't have. He's been sniffin after you like a dog in heat and don't' think I didn't notice you lettin' him. He never would have shot you and you knew it. You wanted to cut him open."
Drawing on the strength Kat had convinced her she possessed, she gave up trying to protect her modesty and glared at the person who'd deceived her worse than anyone.
"I had a gun pointed at me," she repeated angrily. "And in case you've forgotten this was a man who tried to to assault you."
"Yeah well that was my fight," Morgan said coldly.
"Yet you have no problem trying to dictate to me about what I do and how I behave."
"I was trying to protect you," Morgan argued. "Tryin' to save your soul."
"Maybe you should worry about your own soul," Rebecca pointed out. "You are the one pretending to be something you aren't. You let me believe you were a man. You kissed me as a man, not thinking I had a right to know the truth, yet you judge me?"
"That's different. Yes, maybe I should have told you, but at least I don't play God and I don't kill helpless people. You do it without so much as blinking. Hell Rebecca, don't you feel anything?
"Of course I do," Rebecca protested, her chest aching with the cruel words.
"No. I don't think you do," Morgan replied, hurt at Rebecca's dismissal after learning the truth and disgust at what she'd done, fueling her anger. "You aren't capable of it. You're just as heartless as that bastard Slotter."
The words stung more than Rebecca would have imagined but before she could respond, a recognizable click sounded in the woods behind her. Startled, she turned to find Kat Loving standing there with her gun pointed at Morgan.
"Kat?" she whispered, thinking this would be a good time to attempt to grab her clothes, but she couldn't seem to move.
"You will take that back," Kat ordered Morgan coldly. She had ridden into Jamestown for supplies and to keep her promise to Rebecca and had been surprised to learn that Thomas Blithely had died nearly three weeks earlier. She had instantly tried to find Rebecca only to find out that she'd been spending time with Slotter. That made her skin crawl but not out of any anger toward Rebecca. She knew Slotter wanted something from Rebecca and Rebecca was far too trusting for her own good. It didn't take long for one of the whores to tell her what Rebecca had done to the bounty hunter and it enraged her to the point where had John Slotter crossed her path he would have had a bullet between the eyes without even a word spoken.
Fiona Briggs had been the one to tell Kat that she'd seen Rebecca go into the woods and with barely a nod of acknowledgement, Kat set off, instinctively knowing where she had gone. She had reached the clearing and froze when she saw Rebeca standing in the stream bare as the day she was born. She had seen Rebecca naked the day they had Kat shook her head to clear it of that distracting thought, but seeing her now, the sun shining off of her perfect skin, Kat had thought she'd never seen perfection until that moment.
She stepped forward quietly, not wanting to frighten her but then she heard the voice coming from the woods and stopped, wondering what kind of man would intrude on a naked woman and not have the decency to apologize and leave.
Kat had been shocked to the core to learn Morgan Finn was a woman, though she could understand why she was hiding it, but to court a woman, to seduce her without telling her such an important truth was despicable. Did Finn not expect to be discovered the moment her clothes came off?
Suddenly the thought of Rebecca sharing with Finn what she'd shared with Kat, made her see red but it was the hateful accusations about Rebecca's feelings that had her drawing her gun.
"You will take that back," she ordered, stepping behind the scrawny, would be man.
"This ain't no concern of yours," Morgan snapped, her eyes firmly on Rebecca.
"Rebecca Blithely is my concern, and you will not insult her further."
"I speak only the truth. All I tried to do was love her and protect her, but she has no heart. She just takes them from "
"Shut your mouth," Kat snarled, she'd seen the pain cross Rebecca's face and her fury doubled. "You don't know anything about her. If you don't have her heart, it's because you didn't earn it. If you haven't seen her feelings, it's because you don't deserve to."
"You don't know what she did," Morgan protested.
"I heard some pig tried to assault a woman and she stopped it," Kat said, finally figuring it out that this was the woman, "so whatever happened to him doesn't break my heart any, but I also heard Slotter didn't give her a choice either."
"That don't make what she did right. She offends God each time she "
"Get the hell out of here right now," Kat ordered, sick of all the holier than thou hypocrites in these parts. "Get out before I offend God by putting a bullet between your eyes. You don't deserve her."
Morgan saw the fire in the woman's eyes and swallowed. "All I wanted was to love you," she told Rebecca sadly.
Rebecca, who was shivering wildly as the breeze hit her damp skin, shook her head. "No. All you wanted was to control me," she said. "I do wish you well Morgan and hope you find someone who will love you as you are."
Morgan nodded and then all but ran out of the woods.
The sound of movement in the water caught Kat's attention and she looked away from the retreating figure. She cursed herself and quickly shrugged out of her coat and rushed to Rebecca's side.
Rebecca was hurriedly slipping into her shift, hoping Kat had followed Morgan out of the woods. It was all too much. Morgan's cruelty, Kat's kindness, her inability to say anything in her own defense. She was trembling with her struggle not to weep and when she felt the sudden and unexpected weight of a coat on her shoulders, she almost screamed in fright. She spun around, only to be wrapped in Kat's protective arms.
"It's alright Rebecca," Kat whispered in her ear. "Finn was wrong."
"I do have feelings," Rebecca whimpered, "I do," and then the tears she'd held back from the moment her parents had left her at Bedlam, would no longer be contained and she began to cry. She cried tears for every pain, every indignity, every insult she'd endured. She cried for every second of loneliness she'd suffered her entire life.
Kat's heart hurt as the woman in her arms fell apart. She had known, even if nobody else did, that this woman felt deeply. She had seen her protectiveness when she had threatened Isabelle Slotter to save her. She had seen the despair when she had told Rebecca she was leaving to spare her girls more pain and she had seen her passion when she had sold herself to free Kat and her girls. As she stroked Rebecca's back and whispered soothing words into the distraught woman's ears, Kat found herself stunned to realize the only times Rebecca had expressed any true emotion involved Kat in some way and now this woman who had so many walls up it was surprising she was a gentle as she was, had lowered them all enough to release her tightly guarded tears in Kat's arms and a feeling Kat hadn't wanted to feel again pierced her heart.
"Oh Rebecca," she whispered. She pulled back and lifted Rebecca's face, looking into the wet, innocent eyes. She wiped the tears away and gently stroked the soft brown hair.
"I know you feel Rebecca and anyone who thinks you don't can go straight to hell," she said firmly. Her thumb stroked across lips she knew better than she'd ever expected to and all she knew was want. She wanted Rebecca Blithely in her life and by her side. She needed her strength, her intelligence and her honesty. She needed her faith and she needed her heart.
"Mrs. Loving Kat, you came back?"
"Of course I did," Kat smiled softly. "I told you I would."
"People tell me a lot of things."
Kat sighed. "I know, but I hope you've figured out that I'm not like most folks."
"No you aren't," Rebecca mused, though the feel of Kat's hands in her hair, the closeness of her body were clouding her mind. "You fascinate me," she blurted.
Kat fought a grin, not wanting the vulnerable woman to think she was laughing at her. "Is that right?"
"Yes. You are so fierce with most people but you are so gentle with your girls and with me. You are the only person I've ever known who makes me feel like I matter."
The casual way she said it, brought tears to Kat's eyes and she pulled the doctor close, relieved when tentative arms finally slid around her waist.
"You do matter Rebecca. You matter to me. More than you will ever know."
And like that, the peculiar yearning filled Rebecca but this was so much stronger. It urged her to turn her head and place her lips against Kat's neck and she did. The skin was soft and smooth and then she had to taste. Remembering Kat's own actions, she gingerly flicked her tongue out. She had no idea skin had a taste, but Kat's did. It was undefinable, but she craved another taste. This time she licked a slow trail up the length of Kat's throat and feeling the moan beneath her tongue stirred a fire inside.
"I don't understand this feeling that tasting you, touching you causes inside of me," she whispered in Kat's ear, "but I need more of it."
This time it was Kat's turn to whimper at the innocently spoken words. God help her if Rebecca Blithely ever deliberately set out to seduce her. She turned her head and captured Rebecca's lips before they had her legs giving out beneath her.
She kissed Rebecca with every ounce of want and desire she felt, that Rebecca deserved to experience. It was slow and it grew deeper with every little moan Rebecca uttered. Her tongue slid effortlessly against Rebecca's, mimicking the way she had once moved against her body. And as had apparently become habit, Rebecca's strong doctor's fingers delved into her hair and clenched tightly in a way that was far more pleasure than pain and she was lost. She gently lowered Rebecca to the soft leaf covered ground and proceeded to show Rebecca just how very much she mattered to Kat.
Kat moaned and her eyes opened as she came fully awake. She was briefly confused as saw trees overhead and that the sun was going down. Then she felt it. Sweet, hot pressure across her belly. She looked down and gasped to see Rebecca's light brown hair draped across her chest as she pressed hot kisses across her skin.
Kat's head fell back as she lost herself in sensations she'd never felt. Jeremiah had been a wonderful lover, but Rebecca's inexperienced but enthusiastic explorations set her on fire. There was no stubble to scratch her skin, just soft lips and the smoothness of her cheek as she paused to rub it against Kat's stomach as if she were a kitten. It was clear to her that Rebecca was unaware Kat was awake and was most likely contemplating and analyzing her every action and each of Kat's reactions and it was as arousing as it was amusing.
When kisses became little licks, Kat's back arched off the ground and she grabbed at Rebecca's hair, not sure if she wanted to make her stop or keep her in place.
"Oh you're awake."
Kat's eyes opened and she met the curious brown ones and she couldn't help but laugh, even as she reached out to brush soft curls out of the beautiful face.
"I am now." Her smile faded as Rebecca looked away with a worried expression.
"Hey, what's wrong?"
"I'm sorry," Rebecca muttered and to Kat's horror, she sounded if she might cry again.
Kat placed a finger under Rebecca's chin and pulled her sad eyes up to hers. "For what?"
"I molested you while you were sleeping. I I assaulted you."
If Rebecca hadn't looked so sad and remorseful, Kat would have laughed out loud at that. Instead she cupped her cheek, letting her thumb stroke her face gently.
"No Rebecca, you didn't."
"But, I I kissed you without your consent."
"Rebecca, after what we just shared, nothing you do, whether I'm awake or not, will offend me. In fact, If I woke up that way every morning, I would probably wouldn't be as irritable."
"You aren't irritable," Rebecca insisted, unwilling to let anyone insult Kat. Even Kat herself.
"I know three kids who'd argue," Kat replied with a smile, but then she grew serious as she sat up, not even bothering to cover herself.
"Rebecca, I came back for you. I wanted to check on you and I heard your husband died."
"I tried to save him," Rebecca replied quietly. "I took his leg but it was too late and I failed."
"No Rebecca you didn't fail. He did," Kat assured her. "He was a doctor and knew what needed to be done but he wouldn't let you. You did everything you could."
"If only he trusted me the way you do," Rebecca couldn't help but look at the woman who'd changed her life, with a sense of awe.
"Oh sweetheart, you have to stop looking at me like that," Kat said shakily, "or we'll never leave this clearing."
Rebecca frowned, about to ask what she meant, but the look in her eyes answered the unspoken question and she blushed. "Sorry."
Kat shook her head but continued. "You remember what I said when I left right?"
"You said many things. You sometimes talk a lot."
Kat opened her mouth to protest but then she saw it. A gleam in Rebecca's eyes she'd never seen before and a lifting of her lips and her heart flipped. "Why Rebecca Blithely. Did you just make a joke?"
Rebecca shrugged shyly.
Kat promised herself to pursue that later but she wouldn't be distracted. "I said that once your husband had passed, I would come back for you. That I want you to come live with me. With us, far away from all the miners, the Slotter's, those who make you feel less than you are. Will you?"
"Of course I did," Kat said, almost hurt that she would doubt her word, but saddened that her life had made her so distrustful. "Will you come?"
Rebecca had thought of little else since Kat had left, wondering how it would be to be free from a husband who had never wanted her, free from fear of being sent back to the mental hospital and free from the insults and judgments or people who wanted to control her. As she had no basis for comparison she simply couldn't imagine it and she stopped trying.
"But what about my studies?" That was the one thing that kept Rebecca from immediately agreeing.
Kat was suddenly afraid Rebecca was going to say no and it physically hurt. "I'd never keep you from that. Ever," she said a little offended. "I know I don't have much to offer you in the way of teachin' or healin', but it's a home where you would feel safe and we would make sure you have all your books and I could find a way to get more."
"You won't protect me?"
"Everyone claims to want to protect me, but you don't."
Kat frowned. She knew she needed to answer that carefully. "Rebecca, I won't let anyone hurt you," she said slowly, "but I've seen you shoot and I've seen your temper. I know you can protect yourself. And me if it comes to it," she smiled.
The smile that crossed Rebecca's face told Kat that her answer meant more to Rebecca than anything else that had been said. If it had been anyone else but Rebecca Blithely she might have been confused by that.
"And will we continue to " she paused searching for any word but the one that came to mind, not wanting to offend the woman she was with.
"Fornicate?" Kat answered with a grin, using Rebecca's own words to save her the obvious trouble she was having finding another.
"Well yes, but I was attempting to be less formal. It makes people uncomfortable."
"Never change anything about yourself to please other people Rebecca," Kat said seriously. "The way you talk is just fine with me."
And Rebecca felt an odd melting inside that always seemed to happen when Kat Loving spoke so. "You didn't answer my question."
This time it was Kat who was out of her element. "I this is very strange for me," she began. I've never been attracted to a woman before and I don't expect I ever will again, but I have feelings for you Rebecca. Strong ones that I can't fight and don't really want to. And when we're together? Like this? She gestured between them, I can't there's nothing that feels the way you do, so yes, if you are willing I'd like us to do this again and again."
"But this is frowned upon, everywhere. Even I, who'd already lain with a woman, when I found out the man who had kissed me was a woman I reacted badly."
"Of course you did, because Finn lied to you. Anyone would have been mad."
"When I was locked away in Bedlam, I heard rumors about other patients," Rebecca continued. "Women who were there because of unnatural relations with other women."
Just the thought of Rebecca locked in a mental hospital was enough to infuriate Kat, but knowing people were put there for who they loved was impossible to accept.
"Does that mean you don't want to be with me this way?" Kat asked, feeling a wave of disappointment.
"If I say no, will you take back your offer?"
"Of course not," Kat protested. "Whatever is between us doesn't change the fact that I like you and that I respect you. It doesn't change the fact that you deserve better than what you've had here."
Rebecca nodded. That was what she had hoped to hear, but one thing more concerned her. "And if we continue to have these encounters, what will your children say?"
Kat frowned. "Oh hell. I hadn't thought about that."
"Then that is our answer and in that case I'm afraid I won't be able to go with you," Rebecca sighed sadly.
"Wait, what? Why?" Kat protested.
"Because I know its improper to admit, but I like these encounters. I like your kisses and your touches and I like waking up with you," Rebecca answered if it was the most obvious answer in the world.
Kat scratched her chin and studied Rebecca for a moment. This one woman confused her quicker than anything or anyone she'd ever met and she smiled as she admitted she wouldn't have it any other way.
"Okay, well I like those things too so ?"
"So, to live in the same tent or under the same roof with you and not be able to experience your touch, it would be far too difficult and I would do nothing to jeopardize your relationship with your children."
"They like you a lot," Kat assured her, "but not knowing how they'd react to this we would have to be careful at first and try and hint around to see what they thought about it, but if they really don't like the idea of us " Kat paused, as she remembered their reaction to finding out she was part Indian. How would they react to discovering she wanted to lay with a woman the way she did her husband? She wouldn't be able to bear it if they shunned her but she wasn't sure she could give Rebecca up even if they demanded it.
"I don't know what we'll do Rebecca," she blurted. "It hurts me to think that they would turn away from me because of who Io because of my feelings for you," she corrected quickly, nowhere near ready to say that particular word. "All I know is that after losing my child and my husband, I deserve a little bit of happiness and you, my strange little doctor," she playfully poked at Rebecca's nose, grinning at the reflexive twitch, "you make me happy. And you sure as hell deserve to be happy for once too. Whatever they think, no matter what anyone thinks, we can...we will find a way to be together. If that's what you really want."
Rebecca studied Kat as intently as she had studied any textbook, so many feelings swimming inside of her that she couldn't name them all. "I've never known what it is to ask for what I want," she admitted hesitantly, "but I do know what it is to want. I want you Kat. I want to be with you, whatever that means and I want to share a bed with you again. I've found it to be an incredibly pleasant experience."
"God damn but you confuse me," Kat chuckled, shaking her head. Unable to help herself, she reached out and pulled Rebecca into a kiss meant to express all she wasn't able to say with words.
"I think we should get dressed before we both develop pneumonia," Rebecca panted when they broke apart.
"I don't think that's possible. I'm too hot," she protested.
"Perhaps you're already developing a fever?" Rebecca said with concern.
Kat opened her mouth to tell her she was only joking, when she saw the tiny playful gleam appear once more and Kat hoped she would soon become used to seeing it. She smiled and placed her hand on Rebecca's face.
"At least I have you to take care of me if I do," she said teasingly.
"Always," Rebecca said sincerely.
Ignoring her desire to kiss Rebecca again just for that, she got to her feet and helped Rebecca to hers. "So? Will you come with me?" she asked as they dressed.
"Yes. Yes, I'll come with you," Rebecca agreed with a confident smile that warmed Kat's heart.
"Then let's get your things," Kat said grinning. "We've got one room built of the house already and the kids are sleeping in there which means we get to share the tent."
"That means we will be able to "
Kat quickly covered Rebecca's lips with her fingers. If Rebecca finished that sentence, Kat wouldn't be accountable for her actions.
"Let's get the hell out of here and we can finish that thought later. At home."
"Home," Rebecca repeated with longing as she took Kat's hand and followed her through the woods and to her new future, for the first time not frightened by the unknown life that lay in front of her. As long as she had Kat Loving beside of her, she would never be frightened again.
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