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Late Nights


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Mature Content: Yes.

With: Brendan and Caroline
Location: Caroline's room
When: July 11, 1875 (picking a random date that works time-wise)
Time of Day: Night, after Caroline's shift ends

 

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Brendan adjusted his pillow under his head and turned on his side, feeling the floor beneath his hip. He made a face. It wasn't the first time he had slept rough - the beds in the Evergreen bunkhouse weren't exactly cushy -  but sleeping on the floor started to wear on you after a while. He had been able to sell off Billy, Greer, and Black Jack's horses and tack, and with that money had bought himself two new shirts and a bedroll so he wasn't sleeping just on the hard floor.

 

It wasn't so bad living above the saloon: there was always something going on, and he'd had the opportunity to win some money playing poker. It wasn't much, but it made him feel like he was doing something useful even if half the time he was just sat on his ass at a corner table.

 

He was always around when Caroline sang. At first it had been out of hopes that she'd take a fancy to him and he wouldn't end up sleeping on the floor at least for a night, and then it had been out of their friendship that had grown and out of a wish to help keep Arabella from pestering her. Not that Caroline needed any help with that. She treated Arabella with extreme coldness, or at least she had. They seemed to have mended things recently, but he just couldn't let it go. He didn't normally hold grudges, but his one he held for Caroline's sake.

 

He wasn't watching her tonight, however. He had too much on his mind. Bridget and Crabbe were at the forefront of his mind as the snatches of Arabella's piano playing, Caroline's singing, and the audience's applause drifted up through the floorboards. He turned and turned again but couldn't get comfortable and couldn't go anywhere with his thoughts.

 

By the time he heard Caroline's step outside the door, he was fed up with thinking. When she opened the door and came into the room, he sat up. "Good crowd tonight," he said conversationally. "Could hear whoopin' and hollerin' all the way from up here." Not that that was different than any other night Caroline sang.

 

He got up and lit the lamp on Caroline's bedside table, then went back to his bedroll and leaned against the wall, one leg straight out in front of him and the other bent so he could rest his elbow on it. He'd taken to sleeping in just his jeans rather than his long johns because...well...he would rather Caroline see his bare chest than see him in his long johns.

Edited by Bailey (see edit history)
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"Hey hon," Caroline was used to this scene, she had a cowpoke sleeping on the floor of her room, though she had offered him extra blankets to soften his nightly sleep. She was even used to seeing him half dressed, he was a handsome devil, and yeah, he had a manly chest and biceps alright. But she had let Brendan stay because he was a friend. Besides it seemed pretty soon he would sleeping with that youthful half-wit  crippled Bridgette. And she liked Bridgette, those weren't insults but the sad truth of her life.

 

"Good crowd tonight," he stated, "Could hear whoopin' and hollerin' all the way from up here."

 

"Yep it was and also, yep, I wowed him, I did. What I get paid for, it's my job," she plopped down on the bed and bent down to start untying her shoes while he lit the room lamp.

 

"I could undress in the dark ya know, I pretty much know how ta do it," she quipped dryly.

 

Truth of the matter was by now he'd pretty much seen her in various states of undress, though the most was her bare back and a few glimpses of her shapely rear end too, nothing frontal.  The issue was not that Caroline was shy, hell she'd never been shy.

 

@Bailey

 

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Brendan grinned at Caroline's simple yet proud assessment of her performance that night, and in general. It was one of the things he liked about her: she wasn't afraid to say when she was good at a thing.

 

"I know. I was tired of sittin' in the dark." He stretched both his legs out and then drew them up restlessly to his chest. He watched her take off her shoes, debating whether or not to bring up what was on his mind...or rather who was on his mind.

 

Finally he cleared his throat. "You think Crabbe's really dyin'?" he burst out. "He ain't just sayin' that?"

 

The more he thought about the whole thing, the more suspicious he became, and that was the part of the story that nagged at him the most.

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Shoes tossed carelessly to one side, Caroline's talents obviously did not include keeping a neatly ordered bedroom, she now pushed her voluminous dress up then began to strip off her stockings.

 

"Sorry life is so boring in here. You coulda been downstairs and watch me perform?" Caroline had no sympathy for his complaint.

 

"You think Crabbe's really dyin'?" he burst out. "He ain't just sayin' that?"

 

"Geezus, I don't really know," Caroline sighed, that news had really bothered her, he'd been a friend to her. Wait! Hell, he still was, he wasn't dead yet.

 

"I hope he aint lying about that cuz if I find out he lied to me about such a thing then I will go ahead and kill him," it was a joke of course but she said it with real serious conviction.

 

Now she stood up to start getting out of her clothing, "Hey Bren, mind undoing me in the back?"

 

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"I've seen you perform," Brendan said dismissively, then quickly added with a grin, "but I can never see you too many times. You're that good." Compliments never went amiss with Caroline, and he really did enjoy watching her, but he just hadn't been in the mood for watching her tonight.

 

"So either way, he's screwed, is what you're sayin'." He grinned, but his eyes were worried. Even though he knew Caroline's threat was a joke, there was still the question of Bridget's welfare. If it weren't for Bridget, he would already have decided to just let Crabbe die and be done with it.

 

He rose at Caroline's request, grumbling a little bit, and came to stand behind her. He began to undo the buttons on the back of Caroline's dress, squinting at the fabric. Buttons were a nuisance and they made women's clothes so hard to get off. If he was going to go through all the bother of undoing a woman's buttons, he wanted to get something out of it. Of course there was no getting anything from Caroline.

 

Theirs was an odd friendship: a cowboy and a saloon singer who shared a room but not a bed. Whatever Caroline's unnamed reasons were for her strange and - if Brendan was being honest - absolutely godawful frustrating - boundaries, she had proved herself to be a true friend. It was the least he could do to help her get undressed without drooling over her. That didn't mean he didn't enjoy the glimpses of her legs or arms he got to see, but he knew they were off limits.

 

"Corset, too?" he asked after undoing only two buttons. "Wait, have you even got on a corset under this dress?" She had to have on one to fill out the bust of the dress, didn't she? He unbuttoned a few more buttons to find out the answer to his question if she chose not to answer him.

 

And, anyway, he had more to say. "Bridget don't need to be on her own if Crabbe croaks. But I'll be damned if I can figure out some way to help her." There. He had said it. Even though he felt the need to protect Bridget - and yes, some strange sort of attraction to her - there wasn't a way it could work. Even if Crabbe's stipend scheme turned out to be true.

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Brendan moved in close to help as she had requested though he didn't seem all that enthused about it. Caroline stood motionless and let him start on the buttons.

 

"Corset, too?" he asked after undoing only two buttons. "Wait, have you even got on a corset under this dress?"

 

"Yes, of course I do. So yeah, when I get this dress off you can be a dear and undo the stays for the corset. Damn, it's been hot lately. I'm roastin' in this damn thing," she grumped.

 

He talked about Bridgette then. Caroline didn't mind. It was a fair topic.

 

 "Bridget don't need to be on her own if Crabbe croaks. But I'll be damned if I can figure out some way to help her."

 

"Look, if Crabbe goes n' dies, which I hope he won't, him bein' a good friend of mine,  I will not let that poor dear have to try and make it on her own. It's obvious you feel the same way too and that's a good thing. Together then the two of us will take care of her. I don't know the details yet but she won't be all alone in this world," Caroline then finished extracting herself out of the dress, leaving it pooled on the floor as she stepped out from it. 

 

Then it was onto the corset. Brendan proved to have pretty deft fingers, maybe he had done this enough for other women he'd had? Caroline didn't know and frankly didn't care.  Soon that restrictive thing was off of her then and that was followed by her very last of the layers of her outfit until she was completely naked.

 

"Thanks,  oh and Brendan...." she paused mid sentence then spun about so he got himself a full frontal view of her in all her glory.

 

"Well, don't go tellin' me you weren't curious. Yer a man ain't ya?" she let him look, utterly unphased by it all, at least outwardly.

 

Her breasts were small, her nipples dark pink against pale white skin.

 

"I'm sure you've seen better but I can only work with what I got, hon," she smiled.

 

 

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"You mean it?" Brendan had moved on to undoing Caroline's corset, which was easier to undo than her buttons. "You think we could take care of her somehow?" It was mind-boggling to consider taking care of Bridget in any manner, but doing it with Caroline would at least make the job a little easier. The question was, how would they manage it? Like she said, there would be details they needed to work out.

 

He loosened the corset enough for her to step out of it, and found himself distracted from his thoughts of Bridget by the sight of Caroline's bare back. And then it wasn't just her back he was staring at, it was her whole naked self. When she turned around, his eyes widened. One of his hands twitched slightly as he made a small, abortive movement as if to reach out and touch her and then pulled his hand back. He had imagined what Caroline might look like from the glimpses he'd seen of her body, but having his curiosity fulfilled and satisfied was not something he expected.

 

"Ain't seen much better than that," he said as soon as his voice would work, still staring. The room seemed stuffy now - it was hot outside, but now the air in the room felt thick with heat and tension - and he wanted nothing more than to slide out of his jeans the way Caroline had slid out of her undergarments.

 

"Why?" he asked huskily after a second. "Why are you doin' this?" Standing here looking at her, but knowing he couldn't have her, was almost physically painful. He tugged at the waistband of his pants and swallowed

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"Ain't seen much better than that," he said as soon as his voice would work, still staring.

 

"You're bein' nice now, don't wanna go makin' that a habit," Caroline smiled.

 

"Why?" he asked huskily after a second. "Why are you doin' this?"

 

"Ain't this what you always wanted from me? It's fuckin' hot up here, I'm goin' ta bed now," she turned and did exactly that, tossing the cover aside leaving one thin sheet then slipped under it.

 

"If you want, you can join me?" Caroline offered.

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Brendan stood speechless as Caroline got into bed, still stark naked. What in tarnation had just happened? What had started off as just another normal night had turned into an abnormal night, and he wasn't sure what had caused Caroline to act this way. Not that he really minded, but he wasn't sure what it meant.

 

He finally moved toward the bed slowly, wary of Caroline's reaction. If this was some sort of test, he was going to fail it...miserably. He couldn't help himself. "I wanted somethin' different. More," he said as he rested both hands and one knee on the bed in preparation to get on the bed. "You know that."

 

He eased himself onto the bed like he was walking out on thin ice. "Before I come any closer, tell me what's goin' on. I don't wanna find myself lookin' down the barrel of your derringer."  

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As she figured, Brendan approached the bed then.

 

"I wanted somethin' different. More," he said as he rested both hands and one knee on the bed in preparation to get on the bed. "You know that."

 

"I do. With me though, hon, you'll get what I give ya and when I give it to ya," Caroline smiled, "And you should know that."

 

He eased himself onto the bed like he was walking out on thin ice. "Before I come any closer, tell me what's goin' on. I don't wanna find myself lookin' down the barrel of your derringer."  

 

Caroline smirked, "Jeezus! Does it look like I got a derringer on me? You think I'm hiding it up my ass?"

 

She got more serious then, "You really think I would shoot you? Friends don't shoot friends and I certainly think I've proven myself as a friend to you by now?"

 

"Maybe it's high time you prove to me we're friends."

 

@Bailey

 

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"I know that." Brendan made a face and rolled his eyes. He knew perfectly well that Caroline was completely in charge of what he "got" or didn't "get" - and up until now that was precious little.

 

He grinned at Caroline's question about where she might have her derringer hidden. "Hey, I dunno," he said with a shrug. "Them things can fit places you wouldn't think of lookin'." It was probably on the floor somewhere with the rest of her clothes, since he couldn't imagine her being downstairs without it.

 

He, too, grew more serious then and rested his hands on his knees. "'Course you've proven it. I trust you, Caroline. I wouldn't be here if I didn't." She had helped him when he was in need, and had continued helping him. They had been friends before the Evergreen disaster, but their friendship had grown stronger since then.

 

His brows furrowed at her last sentence, which was rather ambiguous. Prove that they were friends? How could he do that? He leaned forward curiously. "Yeah? How?"

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"Like I said, it sure as hell ain't on me, don't be an idiot," Caroline rolled her eyes.  Men!

 

But more seriously at least he had to admit she had indeed been a good and loyal friend to the young man, she had proved it with her actions not just words.  Loyalty was important to Caroline. Though there were likely a lot of folk who might doubt it, she believed herself to be in many things an honorable person, saloon girl or not.

 

"Good, glad you realize it, hon," she was satisfied with his admission. But now she was testing if he also could be a true and loyal friend.  At least she had his curiosity peaked.

 

"Yeah? How?" he wanted to know.

 

"Just do what I say and you'll find out. First off, get in bed with me, quit yer lollygagging around. We can cuddle and you can put yer arm around me - wouldn't you like that? And then I am gonna tell you a story. A true story and I oughta know, cuz it's about me when I was younger.  And all you gotta do is be polite and listen. That won't be so hard now will it?"

 

She patted the mattress right next to her with one hand, "And you' ll do it not cuz you might get something out of it but because you're a good friend to me."

 

 

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Brendan tilted his head to one side and stared at Caroline for a few seconds. He trusted her, but what she was doing didn't make sense. But...why would he ever turn down the chance to cuddle with a woman as pretty as Caroline Mundee? There wasn't any reason to turn her down.

 

"Ain't never been much good at bein' polite," he said finally, almost apologetically. It should have been a joke, but whatever was going on here was serious and a joke would be untimely.

 

He slid under the sheet and then, since Caroline had said he could, slid one arm under her neck and rested his hand on her arm. His eyebrows were still puckered slightly in a confused frown as he stared up at the ceiling. If he looked at her, he might not be able to control himself and would end up doing something both of them regretted.

 

"So. A story," he prompted, rubbing his thumb gently over Caroline's bare arm without moving the rest of his hand or arm. As he spoke, he kept staring at the ceiling and trying to ignore the fact that he was lying right beside a beautiful naked woman.

 

He was Caroline's friend. He could do this. He had to do this; both for the sake of their friendship and to prove to himself that he could. Why it was suddenly so important to him, he wasn't sure, but it was.

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Brendan still seemed a bit unsure of all this, Caroline could understand why but he'd find out soon enough what she was all about and trying to get across. Or maybe not? Either way she was determined to carry this thru. 

 

"Ain't never been much good at bein' polite," he admitted.

 

"Yeah, on occasion I've noticed," she pointed out.

 

 

But he climbed into bed and nestled himself next to her even wrapping one muscular arm around her. Honestly it felt good,right ... despite her apprehensions. This was just something she had to fight thru. A part of her wished for a drink right now, maybe more than one but no, she was going to do this sober, dammit!

 

"So. A story,"  he said then.

 

"Yes, a true story," she reminded him then started.

 

"There was this girl who was born in Chicago. She knew who her mother was, leastwise that woman always claimed it so......but as for her father....maybe it was the man her mother was living with, maybe not. No matter, the man treated this little girl as his own. They lived in a saloon in the roughest part of the city. She was brought up in that saloon. It seemed normal enough to her, she knew nothing else."

 

"Anyhow soon as she became old enough, she started doin' chores like washing glasses and sweeping floors and such. Menfolk thought she was cute but her father made sure no one got too friendly. She never went to no school but her mother knew how to read and write and taught her....oh arithmetic too.  She was happy enough even when there were bad times. It was a rough place."

 

"By the time she was thirteen she was singing, there was an old gent who liked to play the piano and also the banjo, he provided the music. People said she was good at it, had a nice voice. People clapped or gave her pennies sometimes. She was liked and she felt good about it. "

 

"Anyhow....don't be too bored now....I'm gettin' to the important part, right. When she was past fourteen by a few months, she met this young jasper. He said he was from Cincinnati and he was fixin' to head out west to make his fortune. He was older than her by a few years at least, a handsome devil too with nice eyes and muscles...not as good as yers though.......I mean yer muscles," she smiled.

 

"He said all the right things, how pretty she was, what a good singer, and she believed every word of it. She fell for him right off, bein' young and naive. What's that other word some folks use? Oh...gullible."

 

"Then he started in on her that she should leave Chicago and go with him out west where they would make their future together. He promised her a lot of things, including a better life than this saloon one. She began to think on it - it would be quite the adventure, afterall she'd never seen anyplace other than Chicago. He even talked of marriage."

 

"She fell for it lock stock and barrel as they say. Then one evening they went for a little walk and were by the river, there was shack. He talked her into going inside and there was this cot with dirty blankets piled on it. He then told her he wanted to make love to her. Well, the girl got spooked, she'd never done anything at all like that, they hadn't even done much more than a couple stolen kisses. She turned him down, said they should go. He wouldn't take 'no' for an answer though. They argued, she tried to escape, he hit her...hit her some more than he threw her onta the cot. "

 

Caroline sighed, lost in the memories of it all, terrible memories.

 

"I think you can guess the rest of this here story. She tried to fight but she lost. He had his way with her and then left her there, her clothes torn and she was bleeding. As she stumbled outta there a local copper had come by and thought she was a whore. He said as much to her father too when he brought her back to the saloon."

 

"So anyhow, let's get to the ending. It's not really a happy one. The girl never saw that boy again, he probably had headed out west like he said he was gonna. Lucky for him for the girl's father swore he woulda killed him if he ever got the chance."

 

And then there was silence, Caroline was just lying there, staring up at the ceiling and remembering for maybe the millionth time that  awful day. It would never go away, she was sure of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brendan liked stories, regardless of whether they were true or not. Caroline had said multiple times that this one was true, so maybe it was an important one. It started out pleasant enough, and he was just starting to get bored when Caroline came to the part about the young man.

 

"He was older than her by a few years at least, a handsome devil too with nice eyes and muscles...not as good as yers though.......I mean yer muscles."

 

He grinned proudly and moved just a little closer to her, turning on his side. He could feel the small curve of her breast against his own more muscular chest. That had been a bad idea. He swallowed and cleared his throat softly as he moved onto his back again.

 

The story was beginning to sound promising in terms of drama, and when Caroline mentioned the shack by the river, Brendan glanced over at her and smirked. The girl and boy were going to make love there and then ride off into the sunset and...

 

The story took a sudden, disturbing turn. He turned on his side again and propped himself up on his elbow with a frown. Why'd she have to go and ruin a perfectly good story? And then he remembered that this true story was about Caroline. His confused frown changed to an angry one. That low-down, no-good bastard that had raped her was awfully lucky he wasn't around right now. And the policeman, too.

 

He stared down at her face, and his eyes traveled down her neck to her bare chest, and from there a few inches lower to the place where the thin sheet covered up the rest of her body. Now, finally, he understood why she was so adamant about not having intimate relations with men.

 

"And...after that?" he said after a minute, still propped up on one elbow.

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Well, Caroline had done it, for the first time ever she had poured her heart out to someone about her deepest darkest secret. She didn't do it to be pitied though, hardly. She did in the hopes he would understand why he, a devilishly handsome man had made almost no progress in the one area of their relationship that was (most likely) what he hankered for. It hadn't been his failure, it had been her past.

 

He stared down at her face, and his eyes traveled down her neck to her bare chest, and from there a few inches lower to the place where the thin sheet covered up the rest of her body.

 

 She turned then to look at him. Alright so his eyes were traveling over the length of her except for what was covered up lower below with the sheet. She let him stare, just waiting for him to say something, anything to all that she had revealed.

 

"And...after that?" he said after a minute, still propped up on one elbow.

 

That's it? That's all he had to say?  Caroline blinked.

 

"Well, he got away with it. And the girl, she would never be the same. And to this very day she swore to herself she would never ever let a man take advantage of her like that again.  And she kept that vow, I oughta know, I'm that girl," she answered him.

 

"In case you hadn't figured it out," she added dripping with sarcasm.

 

 

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The noise that they heard next door sounded suspiciously like a glass tumbler (the type of empty glass tumbler one might use, for instance, to listen through walls to hear everything that was being said in the adjoining room)  being dropped in shock and landing on the bare planks of a bedroom floor. Then the sound of a door opening with a creak, the pitter patter of tiny (well quite large) bare feet and the shock of the singer's bedroom door being thrown open and Arabella standing there looking like the Wreck of Hesperus (literally, her tatty nightie looked like a cast-off canvas of the famous, fictitious sunken  sailing vessel) with enormous tears welling and dribbling down her distressed face.

 

She made a horrible wailing sound like "OHCarolineI'msosorryI'msoreallyreallysorry!!!" as she ran to the bed and jumped on it to embrace her friend in heartfelt sympathy. Brendan might not have even been there, near-naked or not: she not only did not bother to acknowledge him, but actually landed quite heavily on his quilt-covered form in her scramble to comfort the victim of brute male abuse. In fact her knee was pressing dangerously into the sensitive area between his legs as she pulled Caroline close to her and salted her hair with tears.

 

"Oh God Caroline! That's so terrible!! You must feel... Oh God, I'm SO so sorry that happened to you! My poor, poor little dove!" she wailed, cuddling Mundee close and only vaguely aware that she was lying on something quite uncomfortable. She had heard Brendan's voice through the wall, that had piqued her interest enough to make her listen through the wall. He was still mad at her and she wanted to see if he said anything about her. Where was he now? Didn't matter. Caroline - Caroline and her pain, that was all that mattered at the moment. 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Brendan got the distinct feeling that he'd said something wrong, or hadn't said the right thing. But before he could try to remedy that, Arabella burst into the room. He had a momentary glimpse of her ghostly-looking nightgown before the shroud-covered girl was flying through the air.

 

She landed in a most inconvenient spot. Brendan's eyes bugged out and he made a strangled "Hurgghh" noise as the air was knocked from him, collapsing onto his back with Arabella. One of his arms was still around Caroline, and now he was doubly trapped by her body and Arabella's, which was somehow squashed between them. He figured she would move in just a second, but she didn't, and instead began cuddling Caroline and wailing like a banshee - a banshee with an awfully sharp, bony knee.

 

As he got his breath back, he tried to remember what he had been going to say to Caroline; something that fully expressed his anger at what had happened to her. Something like what Arabella was saying? That was what he should have said. But it was hard to concentrate when he was so uncomfortable. As Arabella shifted slightly, her knee sent a fresh set of signals from Brendan's abdomen to his brain. A wave of nausea swept over him and he struggled to sit up, but that seemed to make her knee dig even deeper and he got a mouthful of Arabella's long hair. He spluttered and swatted at the hair with his free hand.

 

"Get...off..." he wheezed hoarsely before pinching Arabella's side to try to make her move, or at least move her knee from its current offensive position.

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Suddenly the door was flung open!  (Caroline noted to herself she really needed to start locking that thing. Taking her eyes off of Brendan, rushing toward her was none other than a tearful Arabella. Now what?

 

"OHCarolineI'msosorryI'msoreallyreallysorry!!!" as she ran to the bed and jumped on it to embrace her friend. And crashing into poor Brendan in her dive to get access to the saloon girl.

 

"Ara!" was abpit all Caroline could get out before being both hugged and verbally drowned by Ara's flood of words.

 

"Oh God Caroline! That's so terrible!! You must feel... Oh God, I'm SO so sorry that happened to you! My poor, poor little dove!" she wailed, cuddling Mundee close .

 

"Easy, easy! I am alright, hon," Caroline tried to calm her, at the same time wondering how the devil the child knew what had just happened unless she had been....................listening in?  Leave it to the girl to eavesdrop.

 

There was one other person in the bed still, poor Brendan who had made a few sounds like he might have had some damage inflicted on him by Arabella's dive into the bed.

 

"Ara, get off of us! Yer hurtin' poor Brendan. Everything is alright. Just calm down," Caroline remarked.

 

Well, on the bright side at least SOMEBODY was moved by her tragic (and true) tale of woe!

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"Ara, get off of us! Yer hurtin' poor Brendan. Everything is alright. Just calm down," Caroline remarked.

 

Well, on the bright side at least SOMEBODY was moved by her tragic (and true) tale of woe!

 

"Uh?" asked Arabella dumbly as she wiped away a tear and felt underneath her, now dimly aware that she was lying on a person. "Oh, it's you!" she said to Brendan, who she loved dearly but who was still treating her mean and, unfortunately, the only way she had of dealing with that was to be mean right on back.

 

"Well, budge up!" she told him. "What you doin' in here anyways?" she asked, snaking herself between him and Caroline, and getting herself into the bed between them, in order to carry on comforting Caroline if needed. "Hey, hope you ain't got..." she lifted the covers and peeped under to see that Brendan was at least clad down below "... oh, that's all right, then!" she hmphed.

 

At this point there were more footsteps on the landing and the sound of Mammy Cookie's exasperated voice: one again her attempts to get some sleep had been interrupted by a ruckus in the bedrooms above hers. "What in the Good Lawd's name is a-goin' on up here now?! If I don't..." as she turned and looked into the bedroom, the sight that met her bulging eyes made her stop mid-complaint: there were a naked Caroline, a tearful Arabella, and a Cowboy all in bed together, as snug as three peas in a pod.

 

The big black cook just held up her hands and backed out of the room.

 

"I don't wanna know! I don't wanna know!" she repeated and disappeared, a horrified look on her face. This place was getting more like Sodom and Gomorrah every day!

 

"It'all right! He ain't got his diddler out or nuthin!" Arabella called after her, before sniffing back some of the snot she had produced crying over Caroline and let out a weak chuckle. "He he, I wonder what she though we was up to!"

 

@JulieS @Wayfarer

 

 

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Finally Caroline brought it to Arabella's attention that she just might be squashing the cowboy who was trapped underneath her. Brendan sighed in relief as she finally moved off of him and squashed herself further between him and Caroline.

 

But, being the nosy little girl that she was, she had to peek under the sheet at him. What would she have done if he hadn't had his jeans on still? He snatched the sheet back over himself after Arabella grabbed it, and his timing just happened to coincide with the moment Mammy chose to walk in. That made things look worse.

 

He hid his face in the crook of his elbow until Mammy had gone, as if that would keep her from seeing him. "Shut up, Arabella. You're just makin' it worse."  He pushed himself up to a sitting position and rested his head against the wall.

 

From there, he looked down at Caroline. "Hey. What I was tryin' to say...goin' to say...is that...I understand." It might not have seemed like much, but it was true. He did understand: about Caroline's past and why she was the way she was. But he didn't know what else to say. Should he say he was sorry?

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The overdramatic Arabella now inserted her scrawny frame right between Caroline and Brendan. While Caroline was grateful the girl cared about her she was also more than a little perturbed that it was evident Ara had been listening to the conversation and now had seemingly invited herself to stay.

 

"Ara, hon, I appreciate the support but you........." that's all she got out when who should show up but the negro cook. Oh fer cryin' out loud.

 

 

 

 

 

The big black cook just held up her hands and backed out of the room. Just lucky for her, the saloon girl didn't have anything in range to throw at her to chase her out.

 

"I don't wanna know! I don't wanna know!" she repeated and disappeared, a horrified look on her face.

 

"It'all right! He ain't got his diddler out or nuthin!" Arabella called after her, before sniffing back some of the snot she had produced crying over Caroline and let out a weak chuckle. "He he, I wonder what she though we was up to!"

 

"There ain't no 'we', Ara, this is between me n' the cowpoke here. You did not knock and I did not say you could come in," Caroline now pointed out as calmly as she could.

 

Brendan mean while had separated the distance and was sitting propped up against the wall, probably still feeling quite uncomfortable besides being embarrassed by the sudden appearance of the cook too, however brief.

 

From there, he looked down at Caroline. "Hey. What I was tryin' to say...goin' to say...is that...I understand."

 

"Good ta know, hon. Just wait a minute and we can continue this conversation once Ara leaves the room, shuts the door, and assures me she won't be listening in anymore. Got that?" Caroline eyed the teenager.

 

 

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"There ain't no 'we', Ara, this is between me n' the cowpoke here. You did not knock and I did not say you could come in," Caroline now pointed out as calmly as she could.

 

"I know..." replied Arabella sadly "An' I know I promised to do all them things but..." she shook her head a little "when I heard all them terrible horrible rotten things what happened to you, I was just so shocked and sad and angry that some low down bastard could do that to my sweet, pretty, lovely little Caroline, I just... well my soul kinda flew out to you, and my big ol' feet foller'd right along behind it."

 

She reached across and hugged her again and kissed her on top of her head again. Brendan then put in his two cents' worth.

 

From there, he looked down at Caroline. "Hey. What I was tryin' to say...goin' to say...is that...I understand."

 

"Good ta know, hon. Just wait a minute and we can continue this conversation once Ara leaves the room, shuts the door, and assures me she won't be listening in anymore. Got that?" Caroline eyed the teenager.

 

Arabella nodded compliantly enough, but then twisted in the bed so she was face to face with Brendan, whom she stared straight in the eye.

 

"But before I go, Brendan Connolly, you gotta tell me that you forgive me for all them silly things I said before and all them silly things I did cause even Caroline's forgiven me and she's the one I did and said them things to and we gettin' on all right now and I found out some stuff which made me change and I'm a better person now and it just ain't fair that you're still treatin' me so mean and, and..." she gulped down a sob and a lone tear appeared in the corner of her eye.

 

"... I really want you to be my friend again..." she wiped away the tear "... please."

 

@Bailey @Wayfarer

Edited by Javia (see edit history)
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Brendan shifted uneasily in the bed, only holding Arabella's gaze for a second before looking everywhere but her. He didn't want to forgive Arabella, but she had a point. If Caroline had forgiven her, then...why couldn't he?

 

He glanced up in time to see her wipe away the tear, and worked his jaw back and forth once. He had seen how quickly Arabella could go from crying to laughing before: who was to say she wasn't just acting again? But the way his heart was aching told him that she wasn't acting.

 

He sighed loudly and ran a hand through his hair. "Fine," he said finally, still not meeting Arabella's eyes. "I forgive you. What you did was...stupid an'...wrong." He looked at her now, frowning. "But if Caroline's forgiven you...then we can be friends again."

 

He reached out and ruffled her hair, the way he would ruffle the top part of a horse's mane. Arabella was a like a colt; spindly-legged, awkward, and in need of guidance. But she was growing up, growing out of her child-like exuberance and into a greater awareness of how her actions and words affected others.

 

"Now get..." he swatted her arm gently. "...before you turn me into a gelding!" He gave Caroline a wry grin.

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Like Brendan, Caroline couldn't be sure Arabella's tearful pleadings and regrets were sincere but the two women had dealt with their issues already and as far as she was concerned it was water over the dam. But it was up to Brendan to make up his own mind so she kept silent and let it all play out.

 

ooc: Right now it's really the other two talking to each other so I decided not to muddy the waters.

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