Longarm helps a beautiful wife find her man…
After Bethlehem Bacon’s husband goes missing while out surveying on the Wind River Indian Reservation, Deputy U.S. Marshal Custis Long heads out to Wyoming Territory to lead the search. And when the beautiful Beth insists on accompanying him, Longarm finds himself distracted by desire for the sizzling Mrs. Bacon.
But bushwhackers’ bullets quickly bring Longarm’s senses back into sharp focus. Someone is trying to stop them from learning her husband’s fate. Once they reach the reservation, Longarm realizes he may have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. With shooters on every bluff, the lawman will have to rely on steely nerves, a quick draw and a steady aim to smoke out the fatback bastards and save their bacon…
About the Author
Tabor Evans is the author of the long-running Longarm western series, featuring the adventures of Deputy U.S. Marshal Custis Long.
Read an Excerpt
A Slice of Bacon?
Longarm awoke slowly, luxuriating under the covers with his eyes closed. Until he opened his eyes and saw that there was daylight outside the window. Unless he moved his butt, he would be late for work. Again.
He pushed the covers back and, yawning, sat up on the side of the bed for a moment. He rubbed his eyes—he’d had a very late night—and yawned again.
A hand passed over his cheeks confirmed what he already knew. He needed a shave. That would just have to wait, however. At this hour every barbershop in Denver would be as stuffed as a Christmas goose. Besides, the felons he was likely to apprehend would not much care whether the arresting deputy U.S. marshal needed a shave or not.
There seemed nothing for it except to get up and go to the office. He yawned again and shuddered as a chill ran down his spine. What he really needed was a cup of coffee. Or, he thought with a smile, a shot or two of Maryland distilled rye whiskey. Either of those could set a man up for the day.
In the meantime . . . He stood and stretched, smoothed his mustache, and ran a hand over unruly hair, then reached for his balbriggans and stepped into them. Picked up his shirt and trousers from the chair where he had draped them sometime before dawn and put those on. Pulled on his socks and slipped his feet into his stovepipe cavalry boots but refrained from stamping his feet into them. Stuffed his string tie into a pocket. Finally reached for his brown tweed coat and snuff brown flat-crowned Stetson.
“Where you goin’, sweetheart?” a small voice came from beneath the bedcovers.
“Work, darlin’. I got to go,” Longarm replied.
“But, Custis, aren’t you gonna fuck me again? Please? I do really like a morning fuck.”
“Can’t do it, Angela, much as I’d like to. I got t’ go to work.” He grinned. “Besides, you like t’ wore me out last night. Good as you are, darlin’, it might could be days before my dick is rested enough t’ get a hard-on again.”
“Did you really like it, Custis? Was I good?” A swatch of jet-black hair and one very bright blue eyeball peeped out from beneath the covers. “Honest now.”
“You were wonderful,” he assured her. He buckled his gun belt around his waist, shifting it back and forth slightly until the position felt exactly right, then he leaned down, pulled the covers back a few inches, and kissed Angela. And kissed her again.
He was tempted to give in and stay for another pleasant hour or so. But he really did have to leave. Dammit.
Longarm reached beneath the covers and gave Angela’s left nipple a pinch. The girl squealed. And laughed. “You come back when you can give me a proper fucking, Custis,” she said.
“Promise,” he assured her and turned away.
By the time he reached the door, that and all the other promises he might have made to her were forgotten. There were other things on Deputy Marshal Custis Long’s mind now.
Longarm skipped lightly up the stone steps leading into the Federal Building on Denver’s Colfax Avenue. He was a tall man, well over six feet in height, and was a study in brown: seal brown hair and handlebar mustache, brown checked shirt, brown corduroy trousers, light brown vest, and brown tweed coat.
The brown was relieved only by the gleaming back of his boots and his gun belt. And by the black gutta-percha grips of his double-action .45 Colt revolver visible at his belly in the cross-draw holster he wore there.
He paused to hold the door for a young woman who was emerging from the building. The lady was in tears, her shoulders jerking with her repeated sobs.
She stopped and looked up at him. “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to get in your way.”
“You ain’t in my way, miss, but I can’t help noticin’ that something seems t’ be troubling you. Maybe I can help?” Longarm said.
She shook her head. “No, I . . . I’m sure no one can help me.”
Longarm was on time for a change. But this young woman . . .
She was, he guessed, in her middle twenties or thereabouts. A small woman with brown hair and golden eyes, puffy now from crying but he suspected they were very pretty when she was calm. She wore a fitted shirtwaist that showed a trim figure. About five feet tall, he guessed. And her waist was impossibly tiny.
She was pretty. If she washed the tear tracks from her face and put on a dab of rouge, she would be a beauty.
She wore a small hat pinned to the back of her head. She either had her hair pulled back in a severe bun or had it cut exceptionally short.
All in all, she was a little bit of a thing. Longarm towered over her.
“I sure can’t help if you won’t let me try,” Longarm said gently. With a twinge of apprehension that this time he was going to be very late to the office, he said, “Whyn’t you an’ me go have a cup o’ coffee, an’ you can tell me what’s troubling you,” he offered. With a smile he added, “Most any burden gets lighter if there’s two folks t’ carry it.”
“You’re very kind,” she said. “but really, no one can help.”
“Maybe you haven’t asked the right folks t’ help carry whatever is burdening you, miss.”
“It is missus, sir, not miss. And that is the problem. My husband is missing and no one seems able to help me find him.”
Husband. Such a disappointing word, he thought. But still . . .
“Come on,” he said, offering his arm and guiding her back down the steps he had just come up. “I know where we can get that coffee.”
The café was two blocks down and a block over. It was frequented by politicians and lawyers and other such low types. But it was the sort of place where you could buy a cup of coffee and sit at one of the tables for hours without ever being bothered or made to feel that you were not welcome.
Longarm frequently had breakfast there when he was in town and had the time, but he had never brought a woman there before. The owner, a German named Klaus, gave Longarm a questioning look when he came in with a lady on his arm.
They sat at a table in the far back corner of the place. Longarm held a chair for the woman and suggested, “There’s a loo in the back. I’d imagine they would have a basin an’ pitcher of water if you want t’ wash some o’ them tears away. Meantime I’ll get us the coffee. Or would you rather have tea?”
“Coffee will be fine,” she said, “and you’re right, I would like to dash a little water on my face. Excuse me. I won’t be long.”
Longarm got up and pulled the chair out for her to rise again. When she was gone, he went to the counter. “Two coffees, please, Klaus, an’ some o’ them sweet crullers, too, I think.”
When the lady returned, Longarm again seated her, then said, “I think maybe we should work on some introductions first thing. My name is Long. Custis Long. But my friends an’ some o’ my enemies, too, call me Longarm. I’m a deputy United States marshal.”
The lady’s eyes went wide and she sat up straighter. “A deputy. Then perhaps a very kind providence has brought me to you, Marshal Long. I am Bethlehem Bacon.”
It was a good name, he thought, for she certainly looked edible to him now that the tear tracks had been wiped away.
She seemed to be waiting for something although he was not sure what. He wasted a few moments by sipping from his coffee and reaching for a cruller. It was sticky with sugar and still warm from the oven. Or oil or however it was that they made the things. That was something that was up to Klaus’s wife, Berta, who presided over the kitchen in back.
“What?” Bethlehem said after a few moments. “No jokes about my name?”
“No, ma’am,” Longarm said, careful of his expression. He, of course, had thought about it but was not rude enough to comment at the lady’s expense. He took a bite of the cruller. It melted in his mouth.
“Please call me Beth,” she said.
He smiled and said, “Try one o’ these crullers. They’re splendid.”
She ignored the pastries but did take a drink of coffee after loading it with cream and sugar. Longarm waited for her to feel like talking.
“My husband,” she said. “I think he may have been killed by wild Indians. I went to the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office. That is where I was coming from when you saw me. They said . . .” She looked like she was going to cry again. “They said there is nothing they can do.”
“You didn’t talk t’ the marshal?” he asked.
“No. Why would I? It was on the Indian reservation where Hank disappeared. My husband was . . . he was surveying for a railroad extension through the Indian lands. Then he just . . . disappeared. One man I talked to suggested that he might have left me. Oh, he didn’t come right out and say that. But he intimated it strongly enough that I certainly understood what he meant.”
Beth Bacon toyed with her spoon. Turned her cup around and around. Longarm finished his cruller and reached for another. He had not taken time for breakfast this morning and the pastries were going down pretty nicely, never mind the lady’s troubles.
“You’re gonna have t’ tell me more,” Longarm said, drinking a little coffee to wash the crullers down. “Then maybe you an’ me can go back over to the Fed’ral Building an’ talk to my boss, see if he’ll let me go have a look-see. But I got t’ know everything you do about this. Then . . . no promises, but then we’ll just see what we can see.”
He gave Beth a reassuring smile and helped himself to the last cruller as she did not seem to be interested in it.
“The man is a surveyor, boss,” Longarm said, standing in front of moonfaced and balding U.S. Marshal William Vail. Vail looked like a typical bureaucrat in his boiled shirt and sleeve garters, but in fact, he was as salty as any of his deputies. In his youth, which was not that long ago, he had been a Texas Ranger and a rough old boy. Now he sent other men out to do the things he himself had done in the past.
“He’s tryin’ to work out the route for a railroad extension. Others will come along after him t’ do the final surveys an’ lay out the tracks. But now Hank Bacon is missin’. No one seems t’ know where he is nor what happened to him. An’ the way I figure, it bein’ on reservation land makes it our affair.
“Miz Bacon has already gone to the BIA an’ they don’t want nothing t’ do with her nor with him. ’Bout all they want is for her t’ go away an’ pretend nothing’s wrong.”
Vail leaned back in his chair and peered across his desk at the pretty lady. Who might or might not be a widow at this point. He pondered the question for a long moment, then he leaned forward with a loud creak of the springs under his chair and said, “I agree. It is within our jurisdiction.”
“Does that mean I c’n go, Billy?” Longarm asked.
Vail nodded and with a grunt said, “You can go.”
Beth Bacon squealed with happiness. She dashed around Vail’s desk and planted a wet kiss on his red cheek.
Damn, Longarm thought, wishing he was the one to get that hug and kiss of happiness.
Still, it was probably for the best that she chose Billy instead. Longarm just would have embarrassed himself with a hard-on, he acknowledged. There was just something about Mrs. Bacon that made him want to get her drawers off.
But then there was something about most women that made him respond that way. Lucky for him, women often found him attractive, too, something he could not really understand as he was more craggy and rugged than he was handsome.
He never could have been a model for one of those catalog drawings that advertised shirts or cigarettes or whatnot. Hammers, maybe, or stock saddles. But definitely nothing that required a pretty boy. Custis Long was not that and never had been, not on his best day.
He reached forward and touched Beth on the elbow to bring her attention back to him. He shot his chin in the direction of the door, and she took the hint.
“I can’t thank you enough, Marshal. Thank you ever so much,” she gushed.
She followed Longarm out then said, “How will we travel?”
“Travel where?” he asked, both of them standing in front of Henry’s desk, Henry being Billy Vail’s chief clerk.
“Why, to Wyoming Territory, of course,” she said.
“Little missy,” Longarm said, “we ain’t going to Wyoming. I are. Uh, I am, that is. You are stayin’ right here ’til I get back.”
“Oh, but I can’t stay here. For one thing, I don’t have money to pay for a hotel. It took everything I had to get to Denver in the first place. So I couldn’t stay here even if I wanted to.”
“Sure you can,” he said. “I’ll park you in my room. It ain’t so much, but my landlady will be happy t’ have another female on the premises for a change. We’ll talk to her. See if we can work out something toward you eating at her table, too, though it ain’t usually board, just room.” He smiled. “Don’t you worry. We’ll work it out. Now you can set over there for a few minutes an’ wait while Henry here comes up with my travel vouchers.”
Beth did not look especially happy about the arrangement, but she dutifully went over to the side of the room and perched on one of the chairs against the wall there while Longarm conducted his business with Henry.
Beth went with him to his rooming house, where she was welcomed with open arms. Welcomed to stay in his room while he was away, too. Longarm left her there and picked up his carpetbag, already packed and ready as it was at all times.
“I’ve arranged for you to take your meals here, too,” Longarm told her. “With any kind o’ luck, I won’t be gone all that long anyway. I’ll see what I can learn about your husband an’ hopefully find him safe an’ sound. Meantime, you’ll be fine here.”
“Thank you, Marshal.” She smiled and squeezed his hand. Even that small, innocent contact made his dick hard. There was something powerfully attractive about Bethlehem Bacon, something he could not put a name to but could certainly feel.
Longarm thought about taking his saddle and rifle along but settled for just the bag. The rest of his gear remained in his room with Beth.
When he left for the train station, he had an impulse to lean down and kiss her but he refrained from doing it. Even so, he was a good five blocks away in a hansom cab before his hard-on completely subsided and he could put his mind to business.
“Which station will you be wanting, sir?” the hack driver called down to him.
“Wynkoop,” Longarm responded. The depot at Wazee and Wynkoop was the oldest in town and the closest to the rooming house. Longarm smiled a little to himself. The driver was undoubtedly hoping he would want the station where the Denver to Cheyenne line intersected with the Kansas Pacific line. That newer depot was farther north and would have resulted in a larger fare. Longarm was traveling on the taxpayers’ dollars, but that did not mean he could be wasteful.
He settled back in the seat of the hack and wondered just how in the hell he was supposed to find Hank Bacon when he got to the White River Indian Reservation.
He tugged his hat low over his eyes and attempted to doze on the drive to the railway station. After all, he had gotten practically no sleep the night before.
Not that he regretted the evening. It had not been time wasted. Far from it.
What was it about Beth Bacon, though, that made her so damned desirable?
He had had Angela for hours on end last night, had her in nearly every way a man could think of, yet now it was Beth on whom his thoughts lay. It was a puzzlement.
Longarm spent the trip up to Cheyenne in the smoking car playing cards with some friendly travelers, one a priest whose luck—if it was luck—was phenomenal. The man won and won and won some more. If he had stayed in the game much longer, Longarm figured he would have gone broke before they reached Fort Collins. Fortunately the priest took his winnings, and his Bible, and left the game after an hour or so. After that Longarm was able to get back at least a little of what he had lost to the man with the turned-around collar.
They reached Cheyenne in the middle of the night. A conductor came through warning everyone, and waking them, ten minutes or so out.
“If you leave anything behind, make sure it’s something valuable. I’ll give it to my old lady for an anniversary present,” the man said. Longarm was not sure if he meant that or not. Not that Longarm had so very much baggage to keep track of. There was just his carpetbag and he had that with him in the smoking car.
When the train lurched to a clattering, clanking halt at the Cheyenne station, Longarm got up from the table where he had been playing and thanked the other gents for the pleasure of the game.
“Next time let us win a little, Long,” a drummer dealing in yard goods said.
Longarm grinned. “Next time bring more money with you, Horace.”
Longarm retrieved his carpetbag from the overhead rack where he had left it and followed the crowd out of the car onto the platform at Cheyenne. The night air felt chilly after the smoky confinement of the railroad coach. He turned his collar up and headed for the Union Pacific depot nearby.
When he got there . . .
“What the hell are you doing here, dammit? I thought I left you safe an’ sound back in Denver,” he bawled.
Bethlehem Bacon smiled at him as if he had just paid her a friendly compliment. “It is nice to see you, too, Marshal.”
“But . . .”
Excerpted from "The Longarm #435"
Copyright © 2015 Tabor Evans.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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