Warning- R-rated scenes
Bonanza: Innocence Gone
Celestine Irons


    When the other man's knee struck him in the groin, he doubled over. The other made quick work of him. A double fisted bust to the back of his head and he was on the ground, trying to curl around his privates to protect them from further damage. That left his ribs wide open to the boot toes that brought fire with them. Again and again they struck. When he tried to stand, another blow to his privates knocked him down. Then it seemed like forever as he felt rough hands on him, going through his pockets. If he had been capable of speech he would have told them that three dollars was all he had on him. In fact, he would have told them that three dollars was all he had in the world and he would give it to them if they would just leave him alone.

    Through the hazy mist of pain and embarrassment, he heard the sharp curses that ended with his body being kicked again, as if for good measure. He lay still, praying they were finished with him and would go away.

    "Did ya check his belt? Maybe he got one of them fancy money belts?" a grating voice sounded and again the rough hands assaulted him, pulling at his clothes.

    By then, he could breathe again and gamely put out a hand to stop them, to tell them they'd gotten all he'd had. This act seemed to defy them, telling them he was hiding something. This time, it was a boot that connected with his scrotum and acid bile rose in his throat, choking him. There in the dark, the hands, now four of them, raked over him as he writhed in the dirt and vomitus.

    "I tell ya, he ain't got nothin' else. Ain't no money pouch on 'im." The voice sounded far away as he drifted away on a cloud of hot pain. Griff King could have told them that he had never had much of anything to put into a money pouch, much less his own pocket.

    The hands that touched him now were gentle ones. He tried to open his eyes but they seemed unwillingly to respond so he simply remained still, letting the new sounds and sensations wash over him. He figured he was in a bed, a good one, since it was softer than any he had felt beneath him before in his life. He also came to the conclusion that he was bare-assed naked since the warm wet cloth that seemed to come and go from his skin was touching a section of it recently much abused. He tried taking a deep breath but a painful twinge along one side stopped him.

    "Any idea who'd a-done this to the boy?" a scratchy voice asked off to one side. It angered him to be called a boy but he couldn't find the strength to voice his opposition. "Or why?"

    Then a voice rose that he knew. It was his old friend Candy's voice, low, soothing and from not far away. "Far as I know, nobody in this town even knows him. As for why? You saw the state his clothes were in. Looks to me like they were robbing him?"

    The other voice came back, full of irritation. "That boy's clothes? Just lookin' at 'em, you know he ain't got nary a pot to piss in ner a window to throw it out of! So why would someone want to rob him?"

    "Sheriff, if you persist in speaking so, I ask that you take it out of my hearing." He was not surprised to hear the woman's voice there close beside him. The hands that had been washing him were too small to be a man's. As he considered it, he also felt a flush rise over him. She had her hands where a woman's hands had no business being…

    "Shh, now," her voice soothed him and the warmth of her breath, across his ear, made him comfortable. "You just stay right still and I will have you cleaned up in a jiffy. Just relax. I know you're awake but you don't need to be. Just rest. Relax, that's it. Easy now. That's it, easy," she crooned and the simple words, spoken over and over again lulled him back to sleep.

    When he awoke the next time, he was able to get one eye open. It did little to allow him to assess his whereabouts. The room was darkened but through the crack of the drapes, he could see a sliver of faint sunlight. Casting around the room, he was struck by the opulence there that he could barely make out. The pitcher and bowl on the stand next to his head had edges that caught the light. Turning his head carefully to the other side, he saw a dark chair pulled close to the bed. Across one arm was something light in color. For a moment he tried to make sense of what he saw then the pounding headache made him forget to even try. He shifted uncomfortably under the soft warmth covering him. The pressure building in his bladder told him that he had to move soon or he would ruin his nice bed.

    He struggled to turn to his side, the mere movement making him gasp out in pain and close his one good eye. She must have heard him, must have been somewhere in the dark room because those soft woman's hands were touching him, caressing his ears with her voice. Through clenched teeth, he tried to tell her of his need but she didn't seem to hear, just continuing to tell him to lay still.

    "It's all right," she was saying, "Just go ahead. Let it go."

    Unable to stop himself, he let his stream go and was surprised that her hands held his manhood easily, directing it even. When he finished, he heard the sound of crockery being set aside and realized she had held the chamber pot for him there at the side of the bed.

    "See? Everything was all right. Although I imagine that it did hurt a little, didn't it? But there's no blood in it. You were lucky, I guess." She was pressing him back onto his back and covering him again. For a moment, her hand lingered on his cheek and he struggled to open that eye again.

    "How long?" he croaked out, his tongue heavy and thick in his dry mouth.

    "Long enough," was her simple answer. She brought a cup to his lips and while lifting his head and cradling it, she let him drink half of what was in it. Then she touched his lips with her fingers and let his head rest again on the soft pillows.

    "My friend, " he started but got no further. She was brushing something soft across his face, something soft and warm and vaguely damp. And her voice, again feather-light and repeating simple words of assurance over and over, lulled him back to sleep quickly.

     The next time he awoke he was able to open both eyes and study the room in more detail since the drapes were slightly parted, allowing bright daylight in. The furniture was of a dark wood and heavy in appearance. The walls were covered with a light colored fabric with broad silken lines running through from ceiling to floor. To one side, a fireplace gave off warmth and the cheer of bright flames behind a screen of shimmering silver. The chair that had been at his bedside had been pushed back and now sat there before the fire, a small footrest before it. In the glow of the fire, he could see it was covered in a deep red color many called maroon. To him it looked more like old blood. From what he could see of the floor, it was covered by a multi-colored rug with intricate designs running around the edges. He shifted on the bed, feeling again the brush across his nakedness of the sheets. He fingered them, feeling the richness he wasn't used to. He studied the blankets and coverlet over him and rubbed a work-hardened palm across them. He was sure they were silk as they whispered back to his caress.

    "I'm glad you're awake. I thought for sure you would never wake up!"

    The voice beside him made him jump. It was Candy.  Stepping out of the shadows, he appraised his friend carefully.

    "What are you so jumpy about?" Candy teased as he pulled himself up tall beside the bed, hands cocked on his hips, his hat knocked back jauntily on his head.

    "Need water," he croaked out. Candy pulled him up to rest against the headboard then handed him a glass of water.

    "Griff," Candy said evenly, "you got any idea who did this to you? Or why?"

    His hand shook a little as he gave Candy back the glass, now empty. "No. No idea but I would remember them. They were mean sons-of-bitches."

    "Which is why we need to find them. Remember anything about them? Did you see them before they jumped you?" Candy pressed gently.

    Griff shook his head then wished he hadn't when stars formed before his eyes. He groaned and ran a hand across his forehead. He was surprised to find a bandage there. The expression on his face must have told Candy that he had no memory of what had occurred.

    "Doc says a concussion, busted rib, a whole lot of bruisin' in places a fella doesn't like to think about damagin', along with a few minor cuts. He says you'll live for maybe another fifty years or so if you stay out of dark alleys."

    He tried to laugh at his friend's words but came up short, the pain on the one side of his face making him grimace lopsidedly.

    "Oh, forgot about that," Candy went on. "That's a jawbone that's taken a wallopin'. Knocked out a tooth. Sorry, but I couldn't find it.  Doc says he can't put it back anyway. So you'll have to do your chewin' on the other side for a while. Speaking of which, you hungry? I'll see about getting you some soup, if you think you can handle it."

    Once the mention of food was made, Griff realized with a jolt that he was hungry. Candy laughed and swatted at the blanket-covered leg, just seeing the expression on the younger man's face. Telling Griff to wait where he was, Candy disappeared from the room.

    Sighing, Griff eased his sore body back down under the warm blankets. However Candy had managed to snag this place, Griff wasn't sure he wanted to know. Not a week ago, they had left the herd of Ponderosa cattle at Fort Churchill. Paid for in cash, Candy had immediately gone to the closest bank and had a draft made out to Ben Cartwright, their employer. Only twenty dollars, Candy called it "travelin' cash" was held out. Griff and Candy had been headed back to the Ponderosa when Candy's horse threw a shoe. Putting up overnight in the little town seemed like a good idea. They'd eaten in the little café, gotten a beer from the saloon then headed for the hotel. It had been their intention to get a couple of rooms for the night and leave at daybreak. Griff had forgotten something in his bedroll and while Candy had registered, he had returned to the stable. When he hadn't made it back to the hotel in an hour, Candy had gone looking for him, only to find him, beaten bloody and senseless in the alleyway beside the livery.

    "Here, drink this." The voice of the woman brought him awake, unsure of when he had fallen asleep. As she helped him to sit up, Griff took notice of her, seeing her for the first time. In the shadows of the room, she was lovely. Her hair was cornsilk blonde and worn in long curls swept back from her face and held by a shimmering ribbon of blue. Her eyes were soft gray and reminded Griff of the color of a mourning dove. Her face looked at once ordinary but then she smiled and the dimples at the corners of her mouth made Griff remember a story from long ago about a princess held captive in a castle. She looked like the woodcut in the book, her hair now cascading over one shoulder.

    Once she had his shoulders lightly pressing the headboard, she sat beside him, and with her hands lightly touching his, helped him to drink the milk she had offered.

    "How are you feeling?" she asked, taking the empty glass away and setting it on the stand beside the bed. When she did so, her breast brushed the side of his head. For that moment, Griff blushed furiously at the thoughts that had risen that quickly. Through the fabric of her dress, he thought he could see her nipple. She turned back to him and he pushed the thought aside, figuring it was his own wild imagination.

    She laid a hand on his cheek then swept it across his forehead. "You're running a little fever, I see. What about your side? Any pain?" As she spoke, she shifted around to face him and pulled down the blanket covering his chest. He noted the white bandage wrapped tight just below his breastbone and figured that was what made it hard to breathe. She checked the bandage's snugness by running a finger between it and the warm flesh beneath it. There wasn't a lot of give to it and she smiled, those dimples coming out again. She let her delicate hands rest there on his chest, her dove-gray eyes searching his face for pain.

    He cautiously lifted his hand and covered hers. "I wanted to thank you for taking care of me," he began and delighted when he saw her head dip to one side. "Ain't nothing like a pretty woman tending to a man to make him feel better real fast." He smiled for her and she did the same. "My name is Griff King. What's yours?"

    She tugged her hand from under his and pulled the blanket up over his chest. "Griff. What kind of a name is that for a young man?"

    "Mine," he answered with a broad smile on his young features. She chuckled and went to stand by the fire. Griff watched, transfixed. As she stood between him and the flames, her dress seemed to lose all substance. He could see the shadow of her legs, long, lithe things and his heart rate picked up. She turned and used the poker to prod a little more life from the logs. Griff swallowed whatever it was that had risen in his throat for in the glow of the flames, he could see the swell of her breasts as they strained against the muslin dress. Once, twice, three times, she drove the poker into the flames. Each time she did, it forced the sullen flames into life a little more. Likewise, it brought a discomforting shift to Griff's privates.

    To cover his growing discomfort, he had to get her away from the yellow glow and back into the shadows. Then and only then, he felt he could control his embarrassment.

    "Candy, my friend, went to get some soup for me. He should be back in a minute or two. Say, what is this place? This some whore house or something?"

    Once the words were said, he knew they were the wrong ones. As they left his mouth, he watched her back straighten and her head lift in arrogance. Without another word passing between them, she slipped to the door and was gone, taking the empty milk glass with her..

    Candy did indeed return with a tray for Griff. On the tray, a bowl of soup, something that smelled vaguely of vegetables, sat with a glass of milk and several slices of bread. With a flourish, the Ponderosa's foreman placed the napkin across his friend's lap and lowered the tray majestically.

    "There you go. You eat all of that and I'll see about getting you something else. That is if you are still hungry and can chew!"

    Griff lifted the glass of milk and studied it with a scowl. "Ain't there anything else in this town to drink but milk? Or do I just look like some fool kid?"

    Backing away with his hands held shoulder high, Candy sat in the chair next to the fire. "Sorry, but I didn't think you wanted to be belting back a beer with your dinner. The sheriff thinks he knows who it was that beat you up."

    Without looking up from his bowl, Griff just grunted so Candy continued. "Some small time ruffians named Steele and LaRouche. Sheriff has them locked up over to the jail. He says as soon as you are able, he'd like you to identify them for him."

    The younger man laid his spoon aside. "I told you all that I hadn't gotten a good look at their faces. One of them had a gravelly voice. Other one sounded like he was Irish or something foreign. Candy, when we headed home? You know how I hate just layin' around."

    Candy chuckled and leaving the fire came back to stand beside the bed, a smirk on his rugged features. "Listen, kiddo. I saw what they did to your, um, your equipment. If that doc hadn't been so handy, you'd have drowned yourself first time you took a leak. If I were you, I don't think I'd be too anxious to be sitting a saddle. And there's more than a day or two between here and the ranch." Candy cocked his head to one side and studied the younger man for a long moment. "There something you need to be tellin' me? Like why all of a sudden you want out of this town? Something about the men who robbed you?"

    "No, I told you. I don't have any idea why they robbed me. They sure didn't get much for their troubles. Three dollars was all I had and I'd of given them that if they'd asked instead of…" he let his voice trail off, easily signifying to the older man than he was uncomfortable talking about what had happened to him.

    "Well, when Doc says you can go home, we'll head for home. Nice and slow. Maybe you should take the stage -"

    "I don't want no big fuss made over this Candy," Griff said sharply, sharper than he had intended.

    "Sure kid, sure. Listen, I got some things to take care of. Gonna wire Mr. Cartwright and tell we've been delayed a few days. Don't worry, I ain't gonna spend the money to tell him what's happened. Far as I'm concerned, you just got beat up and robbed. That's all. Anything you want to tell, it's up to you."

    Alone in the room, Griff sank down into the comfort the bed gave him. He stared for a time at the ceiling, thinking only of the woman. There was something about her that spoke to a long held need of his. Lacing his fingers behind his head, he conjured her vision up before him but this time, without the clothes. He imagined her standing again by the fire and in his mind's eye, the flames arced and danced upon her naked ivory flesh. Without stretching his imagination too far, he thought he could feel her breasts in his hands, warm soft round globes with delicate nipples that seemed to beg his mouth to them.

Griff groaned and tugged at the covers, trying to mentally shake himself from his own invented vision.

But it returned. This time, he thought he could feel her body, her naked body, slip into the bed beside his, one of those long legs sliding across his thighs in a silken whisper. Her delicate hands smoothed across the plane of his chest then dropped lower, tracking fire across his belly. Then she was cupping his balls, warm yet cool was her touch, gentle as she simply held them.

He felt himself growing hard. A small portion of his mind turned to thoughts of fishing, anything to distract his thoughts from the turn they had taken. He longed for a cold water dousing, thinking that what he was doing was wrong, evil and would eventually ---. Griff brought his thoughts up short.

There's nothing wrong with a little imagination, he told himself. The crime is only when you let it carry you away. That lady, that woman, she ain't no pure innocent virgin. You can tell that by looking at her. How she stood by the fire! How she helped me…he groaned softly, remembering how her hand had cradled his cock as he had relieved himself. It was the first time since he had reached manhood that a woman had touched him there. At one and the same time, it was thrilling yet defying, these thoughts of taking the woman in such a carnal manner. He had never had a woman that way yet he would never tell anyone that. Too many years in prison at too young an age had denied him of that rite of maturity other boys attained. Now, with the other men of his age being experienced, he felt ashamed to admit that he was a virgin. He had ducked out the times when Candy and the others had gleefully trudged up the stairs with the saloon girls, saying he had something else that needed doing. And the night of Candy's birthday, the ribald party Joe Cartwright had thrown down at the Gilded Lily, Griff had purposely gotten drunk and passed out on the settee downstairs, never having made use of the other facilities that night. Now, looking at the bulge rising between his legs under the covers, he wondered why. And would he ever be able to keep an erection, considering the damage done to it?

"Oh my," came the exclamation right beside him, making Griff's eyes fly open. Frantic to hide his condition, he tried to sit up but the bandaged ribs halted his quick intention. There she stood, her own eyes wide but with a peculiar smile that made Griff think again that she wasn't as innocent as he had first perceived. When she said, "Well, I was wondering how that felt. Guess I know now."

Griff tried for a worldly shrug and expression, his jaw aching as he clenched his teeth tightly. He tried looking right into her eyes but failed, seeing her nipples come erect beneath the thin fabric of her bodice, the buttons there straining to close the gap and failing. He swallowed hard, searching for a quick comeback to her assessment.

"Do you need to…?" Her hands fluffed and fluttered between them, trying to pull the words she needed from the charged air there.

The voice that came from Griff certainly didn't sound like his when it said "I could use a little help, iffen you've a mind to."

"Close your eyes," she whispered and he obeyed. "It's better this way." She was right, hearing the dress fabric fall to the floor; feeling the cool wash across his bare skin as the blanket raised up and she came to rest beside him; then came the suffuse of heat that her hand, gently cradling his cock and balls, brought. He thought for certain that he would explode in ecstasy but he didn't and, pressing his shoulders back into the mattress and pillows, he let her hand slowly stroke him.

"Listen," he managed to get out over his uneven breathing.

"Shh," she warned and shifted her body against his. She took his hand and pressed it against her breast as it lay there on his chest. Beneath his palm he could feel the rigid tit.

"I've got to tell you," he tried again. She rose above him then, her finger crossing his lips. Then just as swiftly, she replaced the finger with her own lips, hungrily kissing him, her fingers now laced through his thick hair, caressing him more erotically than when she had held his manhood. He tried to give her as good as he got but he was distracted as her breasts continually brushed his chest.

"Here," she encouraged and rising a little higher on the bed, presented him with a breast. "Just take it in your mouth. That's it. Pull on it a little if you like." He did as she asked, feeling the tip hardened by his tongue. She held that position but brought his hand to the other breast. Instinct drove him and his fingers gently fondled it, stroking it with fingers more used to leather than a woman's flesh. He came to the conclusion that what he was doing was right because she moaned softly, the sound pure animalistic in its tone.

She pulled away from him and he half rose to follow her but she pressed him back to the pillow carefully.

"Listen, Griff King," she said, her voice low and husky. "I know what you want but the shape you're in, it would probably hurt and I couldn't bring myself to hurt you. So we'll do it this way. Okay?"

He opened his mouth to protest, to claim that he felt fine but then allowed it to snap shut. He had no clue as to what she meant but her demeanor said she knew far more than he did. So he let her raise the blankets, sweeping them back away from him, exposing both of their bodies to easy view. Avoiding his bandaged ribs, she slid her flesh down the length of him then lifted herself so that she lay between his legs. When she asked, he scooted up further on the bed so that he reclined among the pillows and had a good view of her.

What she did next made his heart stop beating for a long moment. Carefully situating herself, she pressed both breasts against his balls then lowered her head and took his manhood into her mouth, her tongue cradling it, tasting it, massaging it. With gentle tugging, she slipped up and down its length bringing him closer and closer to a final climax. Lost in the delirium of passion, Griff caught her silken hair in his hands and arching painfully back, exploded. Again and again he felt himself throb and pulse into her waiting mouth. The motion raked her nipples against his privates, the warm soft flesh brushing his inner thighs. The last thrust and arch of his body brought forth stars to his closed eyes and he lay panting, one arm holding his aching ribs, the other hand entangled in her hair.

Exhausted, he pushed his body deeper into the mattress, allowing it to fold around him the way her mouth had his manhood., embracing, supporting and warm. He felt her slide her body up along side his then the blankets returned with their warmth. Still breathing deeply, he pulled her body to his, intent on telling her how much that meant to him. Instead, with her close beside him, he fell into a deep and restful sleep.

    When he awoke, he found himself alone. The sleep had been such that he was rested but he longed for the strange woman to return. There were so many questions he wanted answers to but more than that, he wanted that experience again. Something older than himself whispered in his loins that there was more to have and that she would teach him, show him and experience it with him.

Slowly and carefully, he rolled to the side of the bed and cautiously swung his legs over the side. He levered himself upright with one arm, holding his ribs with the other. He eased forward, letting gravity take control and he felt his feet hit the thick carpeting on the floor. For a bit, he half reclined on the edge of the bed, letting his toes sink into the carpet. He wiggled them a bit. He'd had the idea that this was some fancy whorehouse. No place that he had ever been was so lavishly furnished but then what did he really know? He'd been in so few but he'd heard talk and the talk had always been about the women there, not the furniture. He finally moved a step from the bed. He had no idea where he was bound for and stark naked, he didn't think he would actually go far but he had to test his body and he did so.

Unfortunately for Griff, his body wasn't ready to be tested and he found himself ignominiously sprawled face down on the floor, eye ball level to the chamber pot under the bed. He tried to get his arms untangled from beneath him so that he could lift himself up but help came barging through the door.

"Hey, kid!" Candy's shout seemed unnecessarily loud. Griff thought he could have survived that but the next thing he knew, Candy was rolling him over and picking him up as though he were naught but a baby. For those few heartbeats that he did manage to have, he wished he could have fallen through the carpeting and hidden. It wasn't that he was ashamed that he was naked before his friend's eyes. Prison life had taught him early on that you simply looked away from another's privates when they were exposed for whatever reason. But there was a niggling concern that something of his recent adventures would have lingered, flaunting his actions and passion like a red flag. He mind flitted back to the night of Candy's birthday party, searching for a clue as to what would be the telltale sign. There had been plenty beforehand, as he recalled, on the other men there that night. My God, and he blushed at the thought, if Joe Cartwright had gotten any bigger no woman would have wanted him! But afterwards, he couldn't recall anything other than the half-finished sentences and how the women had sighed when they left. And how, once their hangovers were behind them, how the men all seemed more relaxed around one another.

"What do you think you're doing? Tryin' to get out of bed? I told you that we weren't gonna push things, Griff," Candy was lambasting him even while he was throwing the blankets back over Griff. Griff grabbed at them, hastily pulling them over his chest. "Lord, looks like you might be runnin' a fever now."

"No," Griff asserted knowing that his redness of face had nothing to do with any other part of his body but his pride. "I don't think it’s a fever. And I just wanted to get out of this bed for a while, that's all."

"Why? You afraid Ben Cartwright is gonna dock your pay 'cause you got roughed up? I can tell you flat out that that won't happen. If anything, he'd have Hop Sing hovering over you like some mother hen, stuffin' you full of food, makin' you all comfy in bed and what not! Trust me. I've been there! Granted, it ain't too bad but any more than a few days and it begins to grate on your nerves." Even as he spoke, Candy was doing much the same sort of things that Griff imagined Hop Sing would be doing: tucking the blankets and covers in all around him; fluffing the pillows behind his head and generally fussing up a storm. Candy must have recognized the scowl on his face because he pulled up short from touching Griff's forehead again.

"Well, since you can't go down to the sheriff's office to identify your attackers, I brought up a piece of evidence. You tell me for certain that it's yours and the sheriff will have them two yahoos doing yard work for the mayor for a month." Candy dug into his vest pocket then dropped something round and slightly heavy onto the blankets covering Griff's chest. The light from the open drapes reflected off it and Griff gingerly picked it up. He smiled up at Candy.

When they had taken the cash into the bank and changed it for the draft and their traveling money, Candy had given Griff half of it to carry. And to avoid losing it all easily, they had taken the money in hard currency. Small denomination hard currency. One of the coins had curious bite mark on it that Griff and Candy had both laughed over. They'd joked about how someone hadn't believed that a dime was real and had tested it in an age-old manner. But the dime had found its way into Griff pocket and stayed there. That is until the two lowlifes had taken it from him. Now it lay on the top blanket.

"Is this all they had on 'em?" Griff asked, fingering the coin carefully, feeling the rough toothmark in its center.

"No," Candy reached over and took it from him. "They hadn't managed to spend any of it. And now I guess they won't! Listen, I'm going back down and tell the sheriff the good news. You want me to bring you anything when I come back? Like some supper maybe?"

There was more than supper that Griff wanted Candy to bring back but he allowed that supper would be a good idea since suddenly, he was ravenously hungry. And it wasn't all just for food but he didn't recall her name so he couldn't ask for her. Not that he could have figured a way to say the words to Candy in the first place.

He and Candy shared a companionable dinner that night. Their talk was of old friends and other times. Only once did Griff come close to asking about the blonde haired woman but something stopped him before he could completely form the words. He was sure that Candy had noticed her. Candy noticed every female, eligible or not and they took stock of him as well. The only time he ever saw a woman not interested in his friend was when Joe Cartwright had sauntered into the saloon with the top four buttons undone on his shirt on a hot afternoon. With that thought in his mind, Griff looked down at his own chest. Then he tried to remember what Candy looked like without his shirt on. Griff swallowed hard and studied his plate. Next to Candy and Joe, he felt he didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell.

"What's the matter?" asked the older man, concern filling his voice. "You look like you just lost your best friend!"

Griff started to say something but changed his mind, pushing the tray off his lap. Candy caught it just in time to keep the remains from spilling onto the coverlet.

"You feelin' okay? I mean here we are just talkin' and all of a sudden you look real sickly. Should I get the doc?"

Griff shook his head, his shaggy hair tickling his neck. How could he ask Candy about the woman and not give away his secret?

He laid awake far into the night wanting the woman to come to him again. He thought he had it figured out but staring long and hard at the ceiling didn't make her appear. The hands on the clock on the mantle were just creeping passed the one o'clock mark when he got out of bed, this time a bit more cautiously. Leaning on the bed and then the chair for support, he managed to get to the window and look out over the sleeping town. From his vantage point, he couldn't see much but then decided it was more because there wasn't much to actually see.

"Not much of a town," he muttered. "How does it rank such a whore house?"

"That's the second time you've called this a house of ill repute." Her voice rose behind him in anger. The sound not only shocked but surprised him and as he turned, he nearly lost his balance. Only grabbing hold of the chair and placing it before him saved him from another look at the carpeting up close.

"Well, isn't it? And you! You play the innocent real well, missy. Candy tell you to do it that way? Make me think you were some nice little gal? Does it pay more to act like that?" Griff hissed, trying to keep his voice down but it kept trying to rise in pitch as well as volume.

"If you are referring to the gentleman who brought you here, Mr. Canaday made no such request of me. And this is not a bordello. It is a first class hotel, I'll have you know! Your friend insisted on the best room for you and this is it. As for me-"

Griff cut her off. "You the best they got here or just the youngest?"

Her hand hit the side of his face with a resounding smack. Startled by the woman's action and reaction, all Griff could do was put his hand to his cheek, feeling the burning still there. Her dress swirling about her ankles, she turned to leave.

"Wait!" Griff called out and she stopped with her hand on the doorknob. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. I just figured that Candy had put me up in this whore house, gotten a whore to…to…well do what you did earlier."

She half turned and the light from the fire seemed to turn her into a golden statue. "Why would he do that?"

Griff looked at the seat of the chair, seeing the red velvet. "Because he's figured out that I…I've never had a woman. Not like that. Knew it was just a matter of time but I'd kind of hoped .." He let his voice trail off until he could no longer form words.

"There's nothing wrong with never having had a woman, Griff. It makes you…special. But there's a difference in types of women. The type of woman you thought I was, a harlot, well she would look at you as just another job. Another dollar or two in her pocket. But there's good women out there who would look at you and expect you to be experienced. Any woman in her right mind wants a man who knows what to do on their wedding night. Can't think of any surer disaster than two virgins trying to figure things out that first night, can you?"

Griff had to smile. He shook his head, finding himself losing his anger as she spoke. He leaned his forearms on the back of the chair and gave her another lopsided grin. "Makes me feel real foolish, ya know? Not only do I think this is a whorehouse but that you're a whore and then to top it all off, that Candy some how arranged all of this! Only one thing makes me feel dumber yet."

She turned completely and leaned against the door, her head cocking to one side. "And that would be?"

"That I am having this conversation while I try to hide the fact that I am stark naked behind this chair, my butt nearly hanging out this window behind me."

"Well then come out from behind the chair," she urged and stepped closer.

He swallowed the lump that had risen in his throat. He felt himself blushing clear to the roots of his hair. Why was it so hard when she had seen him naked right over there in the bed? Griff, self conscious of his appearance and recalling his meandering thoughts on what his friends must look like compared to him, took a small step to the side.

She extended her hand, letting it barely touch his as it rested on the chair back. Taking a step forward, she let that same hand now run up his arm and it felt to him as though he had been branded, her touch was so hot to his cool flesh. Closer she came and rested one knee in the seat of the chair, then dropped that same hand to his hip, caressing his flank, urging him to take another step from behind the chair. He did, finding his breathing growing shallower.

"Come on," she whispered. "I've seen you, remember?"

"And I know you didn't think much of what you saw-"

"On the contrary, I very much liked what I saw. Some women like bunches of muscles; others like a hairy chest on their men. Me? I don't care what you look like. It's what you can do that impresses me. And from what I glimpsed earlier, you have the makings of an impressive male. What you need is a little teaching, a little coaxing and some reassurance. I can help you with all three of those things. But you have to do one thing first." She leaned against the back of the chair and ran her hands through his wild unruly hair, bringing her face closer and closer to his as she spoke until at the last, her lips were nearly touching his.

"What?" he breathed, then let her catch his lower lip in her teeth for a moment. Had she of asked, he would have given her anything she asked for: the moon, the stars, anything.

"You've got to step around here into the light. Come out from in back of your chair, Griff King."

With her hand pulling at him, he did as she asked. With both hands, she swept across his shoulders and down the planes of his chest until they touched the bandage. Up they flew then went down his arms, barely touching yet leaving fire in their wake. She grasped his hands and placed them on her shoulders then stepped closer. Down his back they tracked, grasping his buttocks firmly then whispering around to his belly. With her fingers splayed wide, she pushed between them until she had her hands there again at his cock. But instead of clutching it, she instead slipped her hand beneath his scrotum and just held it.

"Kiss me," she ordered, her voice husky. He did as she asked, filling his own hands with her hair, cupping her neck but he did not stop with her lips. Instead he let himself taste her neck, her earlobes. Tiny kisses he rained over her flesh until she moaned and arched into him. "Take my clothes off. But slowly. Make me your princess, your whole heart's desire."

Unsure of how to proceed, he fumbled with the buttons there at the front of her dress but she showed no impatience, continuing to kiss him and demanding his lips. "That's it," she whispered once he had them undone. "Now, pull the sides away and slip your hands, yes, that's right." He filled his hands with her breasts, remembering again how they had pleasured him earlier. Dipping his head, Griff began to knead them, then brought one's nipple to his mouth to suckle. He didn't have to be told that what he was doing met with her approval; he could hear her breathing change, going shallow one moment then deep the next.

"My skirt," she said softly and his hand flew as if by magic to the waistband. The single button there didn't give him a speck of trouble and before she could gasp in delight, he was shoving down the remaining cloth that covered her, his hands smoothing over her skin, his head dropping so that he might kiss her belly, her hip, her thigh. He reached behind her and filled his hands with her buttocks.

"You're a quick one, Mr. King," she teased, her voice soft and full. "Come on," and she tugged one hand around from behind and led him to the bed, its blankets swept aside. She lay back on the white sheets, her body barely making the mattress dip. Griff, his hand still held in hers, followed.

"No," she cautioned when he sought to pull her legs apart. "You've got to learn to do this right. And one of the things you have to learn is patience. Here, beside me." Griff let his body sink down beside hers. "Lay on your side. It shouldn't hurt the other ribs but if it does, say so."

He swallowed hard. He couldn't have told her that he had any other body part except what lay between his legs. It seemed that all of his existence was there, probing, searching. Griff moaned when she pulled it up to rest across her hip.

She took his hand and told him to relax and even as she asked, he could feel the slow pull loosening his muscles. The hand she held, she positioned it on the mound of hair there between her legs. Griff's first instinct was to clutch it but he remembered how gently she had held his personal anatomy and did likewise. Her voice barely carrying to his ear, she told, "Cup it, that's it. Now let your fingers slide.."

He figured he was doing it right but that was much later. As he did it, all he could think about was how warm, wet and silky she was. He wanted to ask her a thousand questions but she pulled his head to her breast and he knew what she wanted without him asking. He filled his mouth with it, his tongue encircling the nipple, coaxing it erect.

"Slowly," she murmured and her hand covered his at her privates. He hadn't realized that he had been moving it but her touch told him so and he did as she did, his fingers gently and slowly stroking, his palm cupping over the mound. She arched and twisted and turned but never enough to take herself from his hand and mouth.

"Now?" he asked, giving the tit another pull.

"Yes," she breathed. "But slowly, draw the sensations, the motions, out slowly. Delight in each and every one of them."

He couldn't tell her that he was straining to keep control. Twice he had nearly erupted but something about how she made him relax also gave him the ability to hold back. So he let one leg cover hers, then lightly pull to the side so that her legs spread. Raising up, he did as she had done, letting his body fall between them without haste and hurry. Instinct drove him as he watched her raise her hips, her legs crossing behind him. She reached down and with one hand, guided his cock into her. From the expression on her face, Griff knew it pleased her. The gentle contractions encircling him pleased him.

"Now, rock back and forth," she urged, her hands tracking up his chest. She pulled him forward.

He knew what to do. Something primal rose and he knew, with her legs curling about him, he parried and thrust, feeling wave after pleasurable wave wash across him. But there was a problem. He couldn't take in the air he needed to sustain himself, the bandaged ribs restricting, pinning, controlling. She must have realized the problem because just before he would have come, she stopped him and demanded that he roll over. He wanted to scream at her, take her the rest of the way with him but she was stopping him and asking him to rollover? In the back of his mind he thought about slapping a hand over her mouth and just finishing but quickly decided that that was rape and he never ever wanted…

Before he could finish his thoughts, as wildly careening as his body at the moment, she had him laid on his back and she straddled his narrow hips. Down she plunged over him and he understood now what she wanted: she would take him, would let him complete his new-found purpose but without straining his body. He was deep within her, he could feel it yet when she rose and dropped again, he felt there was something else she wanted yet had not spoken of, not asked for. Recalling how she enjoyed his suckling, he pulled himself up and grasped one golden breast in his hands, straining to let it reach his waiting mouth. She leaned forward and gave it to him. He kneaded and played with it but his attention kept wandering to further down. He wondered what it felt like to be deeper, so he experimented, flexing his knees up.

If he had thought "explosion" before, he knew later that he was only reaching half way. It began as he felt her contracting around his shaft, tightening with every wild thrust of her body upon his. He heard her and recognized his own throat moaning in deep-seated pleasure. He pressed hard into her and felt his whole body seem to drain, pulsing, throbbing. In return, she rode him as though he were a wild horse, thighs grabbing and holding him as they both rose and plunged together, his hands on her hips now forcing her to remain with him. Then with white-hot pleasure, they came together, she opening wide to him and he filling the waiting void. Totally spent, she fell, panting heavily onto his chest. Griff, lightheaded, held her.

When he could finally speak again, the woman had rolled to his side, one leg across his as though to hold him in place. "Is it always like that?" he whispered, afraid to break the spell their lovemaking had cast.

"No," she sighed. "That's the shame of it, I guess. But, if it was like that all the time, would we appreciate the act, the beauty? You've done well, Griff King, for your first time."

He smiled, stroking the soft shoulder beside him. She wasn't baiting him, he figured. "Wait a while and we can see if it was beginner's luck."

"No," she said and her voice, like her body, backed away. "You need to keep today special. Besides, I don't want you hurting yourself." She playfully tugged at the loosening bandages around his chest. "You're gonna be sore. Surprised that you aren't here." Her hand dropped gently to cover his now dwindled privates.

His face twisted as he grinned ruefully. If he had hurt there, he certainly hadn't felt it! But she was right, his chest, every time he took a deeper breath, tweaked him. "But with you on top-" he started to rise, leaning for her.

With a delicate hand to his chest, she held him and rose from the bed. She grabbed blankets and coverlet and pulled them across his nakedness. Something in her eyes told Griff that there would be no more lessons that day.

"Will you be back later?" he begged, hating the sound of his voice, wishing it deeper, more masculine.

She had gone to her clothes on the floor before the fire and with her back to him, she dressed without answering his question.

"Please? Tell me you'll come back. I may need some practice-" Griff tried to tease, cajole and tempt her to answer. "I can tell Candy that I am feeling poorly and that I need my rest."

As she ran her fingers through her hair, she turned back to him. He knew what he looked like then and both hated it and took advantage of it: a young man, yearning for more of delicious treat like a child at a candy store window. If he could just get her back for a short while…

"Griff, like I said, today needs to be something special for you. Let it sit there in your mind. Swirl it around a little and then let it settle slow so you'll remember it always. Every fella needs to do that so when they find that special woman, they can pull it back up and relive it with her."

"I can do that!" he smiled as he spoke, not fully comprehending what she was saying.

"I know you can and because you can, I won't be back, Griff. Any more learning and you need to do it with some lucky girl that you fall in love with. Now don't look so crestfallen, Griff."

"But aren't we suppose to -ah shoot, what's the phrase Candy uses?"

"You mean for playing with those other women?" she winked at him and he could feel the blush begin to climb up his neck, headed for his ears. "Not necessarily, Griff. Your friends are just playing around. They're older. They've had women they cared about who aren't in their lives anymore. You can't expect someone with gray in their hair to go without a fling now and then. But you, you're young and expected to go hunting for the right woman. I just showed you what to do when you find her. Good bye Griff."

He sat there stunned. Had he done something wrong while making love to her? But he had felt the passion run through her! He had felt the tremors shake her, heard her moaning with pleasure. But the more he tried to analyze it, the more he knew she was right: he needed to just let it settle in him a while. Griff dropped back onto the pillows and rested. Maybe he could get Candy to….

Daylight came creeping into the room slowly. The night's fire was now dead and gone, leaving the room chilly and Griff gratefully snuggled deeper into the bed's caress. More out of habit, he took a deep breath and yawned hugely. His brows jerked with surprise. There was no twinge of pain in chest although he could still feel the bandages around it. Closing his eyes, he reached down and lightly touched his balls and cock. They felt normal but he was sure they should have sore, black and blue even, considering what had been done to them lately. Pleased with his young body's ability to recover so quickly, Griff stretched, hearing joints pop and muscles slip back into place. Yawning again, he rubbed a hand over his growling stomach. Making love must be hard work, he thought, smiling a little.

"Well! You're not gonna sleep like you did all day yesterday are you?" Candy hooted as he opened the door and stepped into the room, a tray held before him.

Griff didn't have to be told that it held his breakfast. He could smell the bacon and it made his mouth water. Quickly he sat up in the bed. "I didn't sleep all day yesterday! You bring me coffee this time?"

Settling the tray without the flourish of the napkin this time, Candy chortled. "You did too sleep all day yesterday! Tried to wake you a couple of times but you just pushed me aside and scooted around a little then went back to sleep. The medicine the doc gave you make you like that?"

The toast wrapped bacon stopped half way to Griff's open mouth. Had he slept away a whole day? Inwardly flinching, he knew Candy was right. His activities, his nighttime ones, had left him spent and exhausted so it was conceivable that he had slept so deeply. "Don't know about the medicine doin' that," he mumbled then shoved the toast into his mouth so he didn't have to give any more of a reply.

"Well, once doc sees you eatin' like that, he's gonna say you can head for home. You ready?"

Griff chewed and swallowed. He didn't want to leave whatever town this was. He wanted to see her again but there had been such an air of finality about her last night- or was it the night before?- that Griff knew that staying here another month wouldn't bring her back to his bed.

They had ridden slowly back to the Ponderosa. Griff didn't chafe and buck like he would have done before: anxious to go and see and do. Instead, he took the quiet ride doing just what she had suggested. As he rode through ever-heightening mountains, he let his thoughts linger on all the tiny things of their night together: how her hair had smelled, what her skin felt like, what the lamplight did. Again and again, he felt her breasts caressing him, felt her hands cradling and caressing him, smoothing his hair. Candy, Griff considered, must have thought he had lost his mind somewhere when he asked, late one afternoon, if there were any nice young women in Virginia City. At first his friend had laughed aloud, his head thrown back. But then he had quieted and together they had discussed some of the better families in the surrounding countryside. By the time they camped for the night, Griff had a list of possibilities.

Getting back to the ranch meant getting back into routine. Candy had been right and Mr. Cartwright had fussed at him then turned a solicitous eye to Griff. Once again, Griff caught himself in the care of a doctor, this time Paul Martin. Doc Martin confirmed that Griff was basically sound but did suggest light work for short while, just to make sure the boy was all right. Barn chores, Griff grimaced but didn't balk at them.

It was the sharp whispered "psst!" that grabbed his attention one afternoon. He looked around and saw no one so he went back to currying Joe's pinto as it stood in the barn stall. Then he heard the whispers, recognizing Candy's and Joe's low voices behind the barn. He didn't want to but he listened any way.

"Did you hire those yahoos to beat him up?" That was Candy's opening which Joe quickly filled with a negative. "Well, they nearly undid the whole thing! But Joe, you were right. Ellie is a looker."

Griff's heart fell to his boot tops. He had been right. In oh so many ways, he had been right. She, Ellie was her name he knew now, was nothing but a whore that his friends - he wanted to spit at the thought of calling them that- had bought for him. Tricked him with! But he remained still, listening at the wall.

"Easy there," he heard Joe warn and his tone was hard. "Ellie is a good woman. She wasn't in the business long when she met Dave. I was best man at their wedding, remember? I wanted to bust down there and bring her back when I heard he'd died."

"She's teaching school there now. Ain't that somethin'?" Candy's voice had a smile to it.

Yeah, she's teachin' all right, Griff dryly thought to himself. He couldn't help but look at his boot toes, feeling somehow dirty and used by his friends. That was when he remembered something she had said. Again, he wanted to kick himself. She had made a passing reference to one of his friends having gray hair and them having lost someone they cared for. She had known Joe and Candy. His blood began to boil and he threw down the currycomb and brush and stalked angrily for the back door.

"I certainly hope the two of you got your money's worth!" he shouted, startling Candy and Joe. "Should have known the two of you would do something like that! Now I suppose that ever'body's gonna hear about how Griff finally got hisself laid! God, you make me sick!"

The stunned look on their faces somehow didn't please Griff the way he thought it should have. Joe started to say something but Candy raised a hand and he closed his mouth without speaking.

"Unless you do the talkin', ain't no one gonna know nothin' about you and Ellie." Candy took the few steps and stood before Griff, thumbing his hat back.

    The younger man balled his fist and hit Candy's chin with it, putting all his weight behind it. The other man went down in a heap, his eyes wide. Griff, his eyes tracking the downward movement never saw the hand that grabbed his shirtfront and slammed him against the wall behind him. There were two green eyes boring into him before he could shake the hand free.

    "You listen to me real good, Griff King! When I'm done, if you want to take a poke at me, you're welcome but first you are gonna hear me out. You understand?" Joe shook the slighter man as he spoke. Seeing the eyes drop momentarily, Joe let Griff go.

"When I was fifteen, my brother Adam took me to a whorehouse. I had me a grand time, that night. I thought I was somethin' special because of what I had done! Ha!" Griff heard the derision in the single syllable but Joe went on, his face a few inches away. "But the next morning, I could feel every eye on me as I walked through town. Couple of men even made a little fun about it; called me a cocky rooster. The saloon girls and the whores all looked at me and grinned. That was when it dawned on me. They were making fun of me, Griff, because I thought I was something I wasn't. They looked at me like a hungry dog does fresh meat. Whether you want to believe me or not, you go right ahead, because I know the truth: I was embarrassed that they knew what I'd done the night before. Hell, seemed like the whole town knew! I was fifteen and because I'd had one night with a whore, I thought I knew everything there was to having sex! I knew nothing Griff but I got over it. But you're older than I was. Candy and I figured you out after his party at the Gilded Lily. We wanted to save you some of that embarrassment. To do that, we had to get you way away from here, where nobody knew you and there wouldn't be talk about it. Yeah, I wrote Ellie and asked her. I even sent her some money to pay her but she sent the money back! Said she didn't do things like that for money any more. She did what she did to help you, Griff. Can you understand that? You may be old enough to be a man but until Ellie showed you, you didn't have the knowledge to be a man." When he was finished, Joe drew a ragged breath and stepped back.

    Griff looked from one man to the other. He swallowed hard, still bunching and unbunching his fists at his side. Joe was right when he'd said that Griff might not believe him but there was a ring of truth in what Joe had said. And Griff had known enough embarrassment in his life. "Ain't right to do that to a fella," he finally got out. "I mean, get him…" He ground to a halt, unable to say anything else. What Joe and Candy had done for him, he now saw as a sign of friendship, of saving him from more embarrassments. "Queer way to show you're being friendly."

    The other two laughed shortly, Candy rubbing his chin.

    "Was she good?" Joe squinted as he spoke and stepped back from Griff's reach.

That's when he did it. He took two steps and planted his fist in Joe's midriff, the force shoving his boss back into Candy. The two tumbled to the ground in a jumble of arms and legs, accompanied by yelps of surprise.

Still on the ground, Joe glared up at Griff. "Listen, if this sort of thing rubs you the wrong way, pack up your nut-bag, squirrel brain, and go back to your tree! We aren't teasin' you or makin' fun of Ellie!"

"Yeah," Candy pulled Joe up as he got to his own feet. "So why go and lay into us?"

    "It's just that I don't have anything to compare her against!" Griff admitted, his brows reaching for his hat. "Yet."

    "Well, it's payday-" Candy grinned broadly and put a friendly hand on Griff's shoulder. "And if we got into town before dark, we might have a shot at some of those new gals I heard came-"

    Griff hung back as they started for the corral of horses. To him, it was obvious that Joe and Candy were headed into town for one purpose only. He didn't want that so he walked behind them, slowing more and more until he stopped completely.

    Joe noticed first and turned back, his description of one of the women drifting down to nothing. "You coming?" he asked.

    For that moment, Griff weighed the possibilities. He could stay there at the ranch, claiming falsely that his ribs hurt too much after his long day. Or he could go with them and indulge himself in the many women and the far more beers. The last option stung at him, remembering what Ellie had said about learning more with a woman he loved. The urge to try out his new role of lover pulled at him.

    "Well?" Candy called when Griff hadn't spoken or moved.

    "Yeah, I'm comin'," he sighed and followed the older men. But just because I've got it doesn't mean I got to use it.



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