The Cowboy

Written By: Solo's Girl

Warning: This story contains adult situations, love-making and brutality. Older readers Please.

Chapter 1
"Love Conquers All."

Crystal Falls, Texas

It was another dry, hot day. The sun beat down on the earth like fire. The occasional breeze that kicked thru did nothing but move the hot air around. It had been like this for almost a month now, no rain, nothing. The dusty streets soaked in the heat, and whenever a horse and rider came by, the dust cloud they raised lingered in the air chocking everyone around it. Little children lay on the cool wooden floors of their homes or on their front porches. The younger men pitched in to make sure everyone’s cisterns was filled and that water buckets and ladles’ on the porches were full and clean.

Their days work finished the young men would go down for a swim in the creek just past the town. And today was no exception. They all gathered in front of the Sheriff's office to see if everyone was finished for the day. All the homes had been taken care of except two, the Widow Parker and the new Judge, Morrison. They were going to draw straws to see who would do the job, when one of them spoke up.

"I'll do it," Lee said taking off his hat and wiping his brow, "Then I'll meet you fellas at the creek."

He had hardly finished his sentence before the dust from the others running nearly choked him.

He turned and went first to the Widow Parkers house. The handsome young man smiled at the old woman as she supervised his work. It drove the others crazy when she did that. But Lee took it all in stride. He finished up his basic work and asked her politely if she needed anything else taken care of. The old woman smiled and patted his face. She told him no so he tipped his hat and left.

Lee was unlike any of the other boys in the small Texas town. He was 17 years old, and stood nearly five foot ten already. He was well built, broad shoulders narrow at the waist. He had a crop of thick jet black hair that had a tendency to flop down over his forehead if he didn't keep his hat on. He had a smile that was both sexy and mischievous and he had small dimple in his chin. On the lower side of his left cheek was a small mole that made him look very dashing.

There were many young women in town who wished to be his. Unlike the other boys, Lee was somewhat modest. Where the other boys would walk about town in just their pants, boots and hats, Lee always wore a shirt, no matter how scorching hot it was. He had a deep respect for the women of his town and thought it showed great disrespect to them to go around half naked. Only if he was working away from town on his adopted family's ranch, with the horses or in the field, would he work without a shirt.

The handsome cowboy walked into the barber shop. Mr. Willet the barber smiled when he walked in. Lee pointed towards the backroom. Willet smiled and nodded him back. Lee went into the back room. He removed his shirt and filled a bowl with cool water. He scrubbed down his arms, chest and neck. The water felt wonderful on his sun soaked face. Lee held his head down over the bowl and poured the cool water over his head.

After he had combed down his hair and put his hat back on, he put his shirt back on. He was finishing up the last button as he walked back out into the shop. He tucked his shirt in and adjusted his clothes and hat.

"Finished up early today?" Willett asked.

"No sir," Lee said checking his appearance in the mirror, "Still got one more stop..Judge Morrison."

"I see," Willett said knowingly, "I take it you've seen his daughter, Cassie."

Lee's face blushed. He reached in his pocket and took out a two-bit piece to pay for his constitutional. Mr. Willett put the coin back in his hand.

"You need to start saving your money," Willett said, "She is obviously use to the finer things..You can use my shop anytime you want at no charge."

"Thank you sir," Lee said pocketing the coin and tipping his hat, "Thank you very much."

Lee left the shop and headed down the street towards the Judge's house. He walked up on the porch and knocked on the door. Mrs. Morrison stepped up to the door and smiled at the sight in front of her. Lee had seen the woman coming towards the door and quickly removed his hat. She smiled at him.

"Can I help you young man?" she asked.

"Howdy Mame," he said, "I'm Lee..I'm one of the town volunteers. We go around checking that everyone has water enough on days like this and doing any odd jobs that need to be done. I see if you....needed anything." Lee had a strange look on his face.

Cassie had stepped up behind her mother. She smiled at the handsome young man on the front porch. Her mother slowly opened the screen door, so as not to hit the man. She laughed quietly as she looked at his face. She remembered the Judge looking at her that way the first time they met.

"This is my daughter Cassie," the older woman said, "Cassie this is..Lee was it?"

"Yes Mame," he said nodding.

Cassie curtsied and smiled at him. Lee felt his heart beat faster. His face flushed. A blush crossed Cassie cheek and she looked shyly away from him. Her mother invited him in and in no time Lee had filled all of the water storage containers in the house. He went into the back yard to fix the porch railing. He was sweating in the heat of the day as he hammered and nailed the railing back into place.

Cassie came out on the porch with a large glass of lemonade.

"Here you go," she said handing it to him, "You look kind of thirsty."

"Thank you Mame," he said.

He took the glass and took a good long drink. Lee took off his hat and wiped his brow with his sleeve. He took a second drink and drained the glass dry.

"That was wonderful, thank you, Mame."

" me Cassie," she said.

"Thank you....Cassie," Lee said smiling at her.

He put his hat back on and went back to work. A short hour later, Cassie watched from her window as the young man strolled off towards his home. Her eyes followed him down the street and watched until he disappeared around the livery stables.

That night, Cassie dreamed about the handsome cowboy. She woke up in a hot sweat, her body flushed. She poured water into her basin and dipped a towel into it. She rubbed the cool wet towel around her neck. She wiped down her face and arms. Once again she dipped the towel into the cool water and let it soak. She checked that her door was bolted closed. The young woman removed her nightgown. She took the cool towel and wiped it across her soft breast. She sighed as she thought about Lee. She moved the cool towel down across her stomach and she gasped as she wiped the cool towel against the inside of her legs. She laid her head back and sighed at the thought of his strong hands touching her. She put the towel back in the basin and climbed back into her bed.

Cassie smiled.

Lee hadn't slept at all. He lay back in his bunk and stared out the window. He held one hand against his chest as he thought about the beautiful woman he had seen. Her eyes were amazing, he thought. He tossed and turned but his thoughts always returned to her. The full moon shone brightly thru his window. He sighed.

Cassie looked around with extreme caution. Her ears listened closely for any sound. Nothing. She was alone. The moonlight bounced of the water of the creek and made it just light enough to see but not really be seen. She slipped out of her clothes and walked cautiously into the cool creek. She went under and as she came back up for air she pushed her long brown hair back. She swam a few yards and then she just floated. That’s when she heard the splash. Cassie tried to franticly get her bearings and remember where she had left her clothes. She started towards the shore when something swam into her.

Lee suddenly stopped swimming. He jumped back. Not knowing what or who he had hit. He wiped the water from his eyes and tried to focus. Then he saw her in the water. He tried to not look in her direction. Lee turned away from her. She saw the water glisten on his skin. Her hand involuntarily reach out and touched his back. He was startled and turned around. The water rippled around her. The creek water was deep. Lee stood up. The water came just to his waist.

Then to his surprise, Cassie stood up as well.

The cowboy gasped with ecstasy as the water dripped down her naked body. He saw the cool water harden the nipples of her tender breast. He walked towards her and she towards him. He put his arms around her and gently lifted her out of the water. Lee carried her to the shore and put her down. Cassie's face blushed at the sight of his masculine, naked body. Lee looked into her eyes as he laid her back in the cool grassy bank. She felt his hands gently caress the inside of her legs. She gasped as he began to kiss and suck her breast. Cassie cried out in joy as he spread her legs and gently moved his body into her trembling body. She heard him moan as he moved in and out of her. She clutched at him as he pumped harder. Faster and faster he moved until they both cried out in the purest pleasure.

Lee sat up with a jolt. His body was covered with sweat. His hands were shaking. His head was pounding. The handsome cowboy looked out his window at the full moon.

Cassie sprang up in her bed and sat looking down at her body. She felt like she was on fire and ice cold at the same time. She put her hands to her face and cried as she thought about him. No man had ever made her feel like this. She quickly dressed and went back to bed. But she couldn’t fall asleep.

Lee and Cassie lay back in their beds and looked out their respective windows. Eventually they both fell into a deep sleep.

It was a few days later before the saw one another. Cassie was standing outside of her father’s office. Lee was walking up the wooden sidewalk with several of the other young bucks from town. They rounded the corner and he saw her. Cassie was startled to see him. Her face blushed. Lee became flustered and stepped off the side of the wooden porch. He stumbled to regain his footing as the other boys began to laugh hysterically.

Lee stumbled and slammed into the end of the hitching post. He bit his lip and doubled over in pain. The other boys fell over with laughter. He held the cross bar of the post and pressed his hand against the inside of his aching leg. He rocked to and fro. The pain in his groin was bad enough but the pain in his heart was even worse. He had made a fool out of himself, in front of her.

Judge Morrison had stepped out as the young cowboy fell. He watched with deep sympathy as the young man tried to correct his actions to no avail. Cassie pushed the other boys aside, non to gently. She stepped down off the porch and put a hand on Lee's back. Her other hand held the front of his shoulder and she tried to help him stand. He looked over at her. She could see how much pain he was in. He looked away.

The other boys shouted a few assorted comments towards Lee and walked off down the street making no attempt to help their injured friend. Judge Morrison saw the way his daughter was looking at the young man. He stepped down and between himself and Cassie they managed to get the cowboy into the Judge's office. The Judge sat him on a small couch in his private office.

"Run down the street and find Doc Cotes," he told his daughter.

Cassie gently touched Lee's face and turned towards the door. The young woman ran as fast as she could to find the doctor.

"She's gone," the Judge said smiling, "Go ahead."

"Oh dear God!" Lee screamed leaning forward, moaning in agony.

The Judge smiled and patted the cowboy on the back. He felt sorry for the young man as he rocked back and forth in pain. Lee sat up slightly. The Judge could see his injured area was swollen. He tried to calm Lee down as he saw Cassie returning with the doctor thru the office window. The Judge got up and shut the blind on the window. He met the doctor in the front office, explained what had happened.

The Judge and Cassie went out on the porch as the doctor went in to check on the young man. He looked at the worried expression on his daughter's face.

"Quite a handsome young man, there," he said, "Must be around your age. Is he the one mother was talking about yesterday? Fixed the back rail?"

"Yes Papa," she said, "His name is Lee. He lives on the big ranch just outside of town."

The Judge was impressed. That was the biggest free range horse ranch in that part of the state. He hadn't met the people who owned it but now he felt it was his obligation to. The doctor stepped out on the porch and shook his head with a smile.

"He'll be alright in a few day," the doctor said. "Once the swelling goes down he'll be right as rain. I'll get my rig and take him home."

"No need," the Judge said, "My trap is right here. I've met everyone in town except the folks at the ranch. We'll give him a ride."

The Judge and Cassie walked into the office to help Lee. The Judge cringed when he saw the young man. He could tell that he was in extreme pain and tried to be as careful as possible as they moved him from the office to the wagon. They had to lay him on in the buckboard. Cassie tried to avoid looking at his injured area. She looked into his eyes. She climbed up next to him in the back as her father snapped the horse into motion.

Cassie gently lifted his head and laid it on her lap. It was a rough ride to the ranch. Cassie gently held his face with her hand and looked in his eyes. She smiled at him and carefully brushed his hair back off of his forehead. Lee reached up and touched her hand. He tried to smile at her. The Judge brought the trap to a stop in front of the house.

An elderly man and woman stepped out on the front porch. The woman saw Lee lying in the back of the wagon and ran to him. She and Cassie helped him out of the buggy. The two women helped the injured man across the yard to a small bunk house. The woman opened the door and they took him inside.

"What happened?" the elder man said.

"He lost his footing on the walkway and ended up having a one sided discussion with the end of a hitching post," the Judge said smiling, "Doctor says he'll be fine in a few days. He just needs to wait for the swelling to go down."

The elder woman was coming back across the yard. She reached the porch.

"The damn idiot," the older man said.

"With all due respect, sir," the Judge said, "It was an accident. Your son will be fine."

"He's not our son," the man said.

The old woman had started up the steps. She stopped in her tracks and looked at her husband. The Judge looked at them both.

"I'm sorry," the Judge said, "But I thought he..."

"He's a bastard. A no name," the old man said coldly.

The Judge saw tears in the old woman's eyes. He looked back towards the bunk house then back at the elderly couple.

"I beg your pardon," the Judge said.

"His mother was a prostitute," the old man said matter-of-factly, "She worked the saloon in town. Got herself pregnant, then died when he was born. The Judge who was here then said if anyone wanted him they could take him. Otherwise he was going to the Asylum in Capital City."

"We had lost our own child so I asked to take him," the woman said crying, "I love him like my own."

"We gave him a home, clothes, food and taught him a trade," the old man said indifferent to his wife's tears, "He's not much, but he's a damn hard worker."

The Judge felt his blood boil. The elderly man walked past him and headed for the bunk house. He turned back to the old woman. She was on the verge of a breakdown. He reached over and touched her arm. She looked away from the Judge.

"I'm very sorry," he said, "You did a good job raising him. My wife said she had never met any young man with the fine manners he has."

The old woman turned towards him and smiled. She nodded towards the bunk house. The Judge looked to see Cassie coming back across the yard. She had a strange look on her face. She walked up to her father and took his arm.

The old woman looked back towards the bunk house. She knew what was going to happen. She thanked the Judge for bringing him home and turned to go inside the house.

Cassie and the Judge climbed back up in the trap and drove away. As they turned onto the main road, Cassie jumped suddenly. She had heard something, but wasn't sure what it was. Her father looked at her and asked if she was alright to which she only nodded. The Judge whipped up the horses and they went on their way.

A few days later, Cassie went out to the ranch to see Lee and see how he was recovering. She hid behind a row of trees as the old rancher and his wife passed in their wagon. She watched them disappear and started running to the ranch. She went to the bunk house and knocked. No answer. Cassie carefully opened the door and peeked in. He wasn't there. She closed the door and looked around. Cassie smiled when she saw him.

Lee was working in one of the stable yards. He wore only his trousers, boots and hat, in the heat of the sun. She saw him working cleaning the yard, moving the bales of hay. His muscular arms straining against the weight. She walked up to the rails and leaned against the fence. Cassie saw him take off his hat and walk to the trough. She watched his body lean into the cool water. He stood back up throwing water everywhere. She saw him brush back his wet hair and put his hat back on. Lee stretched his sore back and turned around.

The young cowboy panicked when he saw her. He turned his back to her quickly.

"What are you doing out here?" he asked.

Cassie felt hurt. She only wanted to see if he was alright and he was mad at her.

"I'm sorry," she said almost crying, "I wanted to see if you were okay. I didn't mean to...I mean...I'm sorry." She began to cry.

Lee couldn't stand to hear her crying. He turned and went to her. He opened the gate and stepped up to her. Cassie wiped her eyes and looked at him. She felt her heart stop.

His face was black and blue. One eye was swollen shut. He had several bruises on his chest and neck. She slowly reached up and touched his cheek. He took her hand and held it. He looked quickly around.

"Did anyone see you come here?" he asked, his heart pounding.

"They passed me in the wagon," she said, "I don't think they saw me...Lee, what happened?"

The young cowboy looked around for his shirt. Cassie could see he was in pain. His other injury had started to get better. Not as much swelling now.

Lee took her hand and led her across the yard. He leaned up against the bunk house wall. Cassie touched the bruise on his chest. She saw his chest harden at her touch. He took her hands once more and pressed them to his face. She felt him kiss her hands. Her body trembled.

What had happened to him? Why did he seem so scared?

"Did he do this to you?" she asked.

His silence answered her question.

"You need to go back to town," Lee said, "I'll be alright..I've got a ton of work to do..And I have to get finished."

"But.." she said.

"Please for my sake," he said, "You have to go back. Don't let anyone see you...Please."

Cassie put her hand against the side of his bruised neck. Lee held her face and leaned forward. He kissed her forehead. She saw him give her a weak smile. Cassie slid his face closer to hers. She kissed his lips. Lee began to breath heavy as his lips savored the kiss. He looked at her. His arms wrapped around her, pulling her close and he kissed her passionately. Then he let her go.

Cassie felt tears of joy fall on her cheek. She took one more look at him and ran into the woods. He put his hand to his chest. His heart was pounding so hard. Lee turned back to the yard and went back to his work at twice the speed. He had to clean the barns and get the horses fed and watered before the old man got back. He prayed quietly to himself that they had not seen her.

Cassie headed straight to her father's office. She saw the rancher's trap tied up at the general store. The old woman walked out followed by a young man carrying her packages. She saw Cassie. The woman looked away and climbed up in the wagon. Cassie walked over and stepped next to the wagon. She looked up at the old woman.

"What happened to him?" Cassie whispered.

The old woman looked startled. How did Cassie know something happened? She looked down at her.

"I saw him, “Cassie said, "What happened?"

"Please," the old woman said, "Stay away from the ranch...And from Lee..I beg you.."

Cassie saw the old man coming out of the office with the Sheriff. The men shook hands. The Sheriff walked away. The old rancher walked to the wagon.

"He is much better," the old woman said, an edge to her voice, "Thank you for asking. Boys can be so awkward sometime. But he is up and working."

Cassie saw the old man looking at his wife. He looked down at her. Cassie smiled at them.

"That’s good to hear," she said, "When he gets well enough and has the time, my father has a few things that need fixing around the house."

"I'll tell him," she said.

The old rancher snapped the reins and turned the wagon around. They headed back to the ranch. Cassie watched them disappear. She turned back towards her father’s office only to see him walking towards her. She ran to her father and hugged him. He was startled. She was 16 years old. Hugging her father in public had ended nearly five years ago. He hugged her back. He saw a tear on her cheek.

"Cassie, what's the matter?" he asked.

"Daddy, are there laws to protect grown people from being hurt," she asked, “Not like shootin’ hurt but...well..”

"There are a lot of laws for that," the Judge said, “But different laws cover different things. Is someone being hurt?"

"Lee," she said, "I went to see if he was okay..Oh papa. Someone has beaten him really bad. I think it's his father."

The Judge held his daughter.

"That's not his father. He is Lee's guardian," the judge said, "You say he has been beaten? How bad?"

Cassie told her father about the boy's injuries. His chest, his face. She started to cry. Her father held her close and rubbed her back.

“He was really scared that they might have seen me,” she cried, “I think he might get beat again if they know I was out there.”

"Come on," he said, "Let’s see what's going on."

The Judge and Cassie walked back to his office and collected their trap. The Judge snapped the horse into motion. They turned towards the ranch.

The elder owners of the ranch had arrived home. Lee met the wagon and carried the boxes of supplies inside. He held his head low as the old man stared at him following his footsteps. The old woman looked at them. Her husband stepped up behind Lee. He slid his leather belt off and held it in his hands.

"She was out here. Wasn't she?" He yelled.

He brought the belt across the young cowboy's back. Lee's back bent in the direction of the strike.

"Yes sir," Lee said, "She wanted to see if I was getting better......"

He yelled as another strike crossed his back. The old man shoved him out the front door and off the porch. Lee fell face down into the dust. He wiped his face and tried to get to his feet. The old woman ran out to him. She held the young man in her arms. The old man stepped down and grabbed the hair on the back of his head. He swung the boy from her grasp. Lee grabbed for the back of his head and got to his feet. He staggered and headed towards the bunk house the old man right behind him. She saw her husband stop outside the bunkhouse door. She saw him pick up a discarded buggy whip and walked inside the bunk house. She clutched the rail and put a hand to her throat.

The Judge and Cassie pulled up in front of the house. The Judge tipped his hat to the woman. She continued staring towards the bunk house. Cassie felt panic building inside her. Suddenly the still air was pierced by an agonizing scream. The sound of a buggy whip being snapped and the cries of pain and begging for mercy. The Judge jumped down from the trap and started towards the bunk house.

"Please don't," the old woman cried out, "He'll kill him if you try to stop him."

"From the sounds of it, he may kill him if I don't,” the Judge said running towards the cries.

He burst thru the bunk house door. Lee was laying face down against a wobbly wooden table. His shirt had been torn off and the old man stood holding a bloodied buggy whip in his hand. Lees back was cut to shreds. The old man ignored the Judge and brought the whip down on the boys back once more. Lee gave out a painful gasp and his lifeless body slid from the table onto the floor. The man pulled the whip back again.

The Judge caught it with his hand.

"THAT'S ENOUGH!" he shouted at the old man. He turned back towards the open door. "Cassie bring the trap. Hurry"

Cassie turned it towards the bunk house. She whipped the horse into action and in a few moments she was at the house. Cassie cried out as her father carried the limp, bloody body of Lee out and laid him once again in their wagon. She could see the deep cuts in his back. With each beat of his heart the blood flowed faster. He was unconscious but he could still feel the pain. Cassie slide into the back of the wagon. She ripped off her petticoat and wrapped it around his body. Her tears fell on his cheek.

The Judge took the reins. He looked back at the old man.

"I should have you arrested," he said, "I will see that you pay for this."

He clipped the horse into motion and headed back to the town. He saw the doctor on the street and picked him up. The Judge took them all to his house. The doctor looked back at the young man. He shook his head.

They got Lee inside the house. Mrs. Morrison gasped at the sight. She and Cassie began gathering up all the clean towels they could find and tearing a sheet into strips for the doctor to use as bandages. The doctor took a damp towel and cleaned Lee's back. He looked at the cuts. This boy was going to bleed to death if he couldn't get him sewn up quickly. The Judge told his wife to boil some water for the doctor. She ran to the kitchen.

The doctor opened his bag and took out a thick roll of thread and a several needles. Cassie walked up into the doorway looking at her handsome cowboy. Her heart was breaking at the sounds of his cries. The judge held the young man's shoulder's steady as the doctor began to stitch up the gashes. Lee's body jumped in pain his cries rang thru the house.

Cassie grabbed a towel and tied a knot in it. She knelt down next to bed. Her hand gently wiped the tears from Lee's face as she slid the knot into his mouth.

"Bite down on this," she said.

She kissed his cheek. Cassie looked to see her father looking at her. He had seen the kiss.

"That was a good idea, Cass," he said smiling at her.

Cassie stayed with him. She wiped his brow and touched his face. She spoke to him trying to comfort him. Each time he winched in pain, a tear fell on her cheek and she would lean closer to him to sooth his pain. Her mother kept the hot water coming. The doctor had to stop and stretch his hands to keep them from cramping up on him.

Finally after nearly two hours he was finished. Lee had passed out, but Cassie had stayed with him. She held his hand and brushed his hair back. The doctor packed his bag and gathered up the bloody towels. He looked at Cassie and smiled.

"Thanks for the help," he said.

" he going to be alright?" she asked looking at Lee.

"He just needs time to heal," the doctor said.

He picked up his bag and walked out. The doctor met the Judge coming back in the front door. He had gone to the Sheriff to bring charges against Lee's guardian. The Judge looked up towards the room the back at the doctor. His wife stepped up took the Judge's arm.

"He's in bad shape," the doctor said, "He lost a lot of blood. His back is now more thread then skin. I've never seen anything like that before."

The woman squeezed her husband's arm and laid her face against his shoulder. The Judge and the doctor started towards the door. The Judge looked back at his wife. He nodded towards the bedroom door.

"Better go check on Cassie," he said.

"Your daughter is one tough young lady," the doctor said, "I've seen grown women who couldn't take something like that. She really helped!"

The woman smiled at the praise and went up the stairs. She opened the door to see her daughter sitting on a small stool next to the bed. Cassie laid her face against the top of Lee's head. She held tightly to his hand. Her other hand gently caressed his soft hair. Her mother could hear her softly singing to the young man and whenever Lee would move the slightest bit she would try to calm him. The woman smiled. She would let her daughter be for right now.

She headed back down the stairs. As she approached the front door, she heard the two men on the front porch.

"So the old man told you all about him," the doctor said.

"Yes. Unfortunately," the Judge said, "I'm afraid Cassie really feels something for this boy. I don't know how I'm going to..."

The Judge turned around and saw his wife standing in the doorway. The doctor excused himself and left. The judge went inside and walked to the kitchen with his wife. They sat at the table and he told her what the old man had said about Lee. His wife started to cry. Her husband put his arms around her and held her.

"That doesn't change his heart," Cassie said.

She had stepped up to the door as her father was talking. The Judge turned to his daughter. The woman stood up and walked over to her. She put her arms around Cassie.

"He's still the same person he was this morning," Cassie said with a slight panic, "The same person he was when he fixed the rail. I don't care about anything else before that. Why should anyone else. It's not his fault." She began to cry.

Cassie turned and ran back upstairs.

"She's right you know," her mother said, "It's not his fault he is what he is."

"Now don't you start," the Judge said, "There are just some things that can't be changed. And this is one of those things."

"You would rather have your only daughter be miserable for the rest of her life, then to let her love someone who had the unfortunate fate of being born out of wedlock," she said, "I've seen this boy in action. And if I had to choose between him and any of the others in this town, Lee and Cassie would be married tomorrow."

"Don't even mention married," the Judge said, "They can stay friends. But she will marry someone of the proper station. This boy has no future other than being a field hand or a laborer of some kind. Do you want your daughter to live like that?"

"As long as she was happy," mother said, "I wouldn't care if he was a beggar in the streets. She loves him."

The judge looked surprised. He knew his daughter was fond of the cowboy, but loves him? No. He wouldn't allow it. Once Lee was well he was out of the house and off to wherever he could go but he would not get near Cassie again. He stood up.

"There is nothing else to discuss," he said, "He can stay until he's well then he is out of here."

Lee's recovery though was slow and painful. Two weeks after his beating the doctor came to remove the stitches. He only made it thru about a third when Lees agonizing cries stopped him. He told the young man he would come back in a few days to remove some more. It took nearly four visits before the doctor was able to remove all of the stitches. He looked a Lee's scared back and shook his head. The doctor swath the young man’s back in a thick save and wrapped clean white bandages around him.

Cassie came in carrying a bowl of hot soup. She helped Lee sit up. Then she sat on the side of the bed and held the bowl while he ate. He was starting to look a little better. His face was still ashy but his appetite was coming back. He finished the entire bowl. Cassie sat it on the night table and looked back at him.

She took his hand in hers. They looked deeply into each other's eyes. Lee leaned slightly towards her and she towards him. Their lips met in a kiss. They sat back and looked once more at each other. Lee reached up and took her arms in his hands and pulled her close again. She put her arms gently around him and they kissed passionately. She laid her face on his shoulder and cried.

Lee closed his eyes and tilted his head back. Cassie looked at him. She saw his lips move but heard no sound. He looked back at her.

"What did you just do?" she asked.

Mrs. Morrison had walked up to the door and saw them. She stepped back out of sight and listen to them.

"I was thanking God for sending you here," Lee said, "I have never had anyone who truly loved me. But I know you do."

"I do," Cassie cried, holding him again, "More than anything else."

The young lovers kissed once more. Her mother cleared her throat and walked into the room. Cassie and Lee snapped apart. The woman walked over and picked up the bowl. She smiled at them. Her baby was in love. She remembered how she felt when she met the Judge the first time.

"Cassie, your father is coming up the street," she said, "You better get ready for dinner..And don't let your father catch you doing that." She smiled.

Lee felt a sense of relief come over him. His face blushed. Cassie went out of the room. Mrs. Morrison looked at Lee. She smiled at him and helped him lay back down. She checked his temperature with her hand and turned to walk out. She stopped and looked back at him.

"It doesn’t matter to me," she said, "But the Judge has a set mind. I just want Cassie to be happy in her life. How do you feel about it?"

"I love her, Mame," he said, "All I want is to have her by me forever. She'll never be sad or lonely with me around..Will you help us? Please?"

She smiled at him. She had never heard anyone his age speak so much like an adult. He had wisdom well beyond his years.

"Lee," she asked, "What do you want to do for a living?"

"I want to be a Sherriff or even a state Marshall," he said smiling, "I want to change things. Make a difference in people's lives, Mame."

Mrs. Morrison felt a tear fall on her cheek. Because of his background it would be almost impossible for him to fulfill that dream in a small town like Crystal Falls. She smiled at him, nodded in approval and walked out. She shut the door behind her.

Lee lay back in the bed. He put one hand against his chest and took a deep breath. He could still smell Cassie's perfume. He sucked the air into his lungs and dropped off to sleep.

A week passed. Lee was able to get out of bed and walk around. Every morning Cassie came in and swathed his back with the aloe vera suave and wrapped his body with new bandages. She helped him down the stairs. They walked out on the back porch and sat on the steps. Lee took her hand in his. His body ached. She heard him sigh. He looked down at his clothes. They use to fit well. Now they hung on him like rags. He had lost weight during his recovery. They looked out across the yard.

Cassie slowly slid closer to him. Lee carefully put his arm around her. Cassie laid her head on his shoulder. He laid his head against hers. Cassie's mother watched them thru the door.

Later that afternoon, Mrs. Morrison walked down to her husband’s office. She went in and waited while he finished up his business appointment. She walked in with his lunch neatly packed in a basket. She sat with her husband while he ate.

Cassie and Lee walked to the edge of town and into the woods. They walked over to the creek. Lee lay back in the grassy embankment. He put one hand behind his head and looked up at the sky. Cassie walked over and sat down next to him. He heard her sigh as his hand gently rubbed against her back. Lee gently tugged at her blouse. Cassie lay back next to him. She laid her face on his chest.

"I had a dream about this place..." they both said.

The young lovers blushed.

"You had the same dream?" Lee asked.

Cassie smiled and slid her hand across his chest. He took her hand and kissed her fingertips. She felt her body tremble. Cassie sat up sideways and looked at him. He looked different today for some reason. She turned her head and looked again. She suddenly realized that she was no longer looking at a young boy, but was in fact looking at a man. A man she loved dearly. A man who loved her more with each passing day. She leaned over and kissed him. Lee wrapped his arms around her. He held her close.

They began to feel a strange sensation rush thru them. Lee sat up with her in his arms. Cassie sat across his lap. Her lips caressed his, then his cheek and neck. She untied his neckerchief and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. Her lips kissed the tender nape of his neck. She heard him give out a small moan and the sound made her smile. She felt his hands gently untie the bodice of her dress. He felt her breast swell at his touch as he slid the garment open. The tops of her sweet tender breast were exposed to the air. Lee pressed his face gently against the soft skin. He felt her shake as he softly kissed her.

Soon they stood up and straightened their clothes. Lee looked down at her and took her face with his hands. She put her hands on his and stared into his eyes. Their lips met in a wild passionate kiss. They walked arm and arm back to the house and up to Cassie's bedroom. She locked the door and turned to him. She took his hands and lead him to the bed. They sat down together.

"I love you, Cassie," he said.

"I love you too, Lee," she said pulling him closer.

Lee sat on the edge of the bed. Cassie stood up in front of him. He watched as she slowly unbuttoned her bodice and let it fall to the floor. She smiled when she saw his body react to her as she removed her blouse. He reached out for her. Cassie took his hands and put them on the buttons of her skirt. She felt his trembling hands undo the buttons and the skirt fell away. She felt him pull her close, his face pressed against her bare stomach. Cassie laid her head back and gasped with delight as he slid her petticoats away.

"Oh my God," Lee said his voice shaking, "You are beautiful."

He pulled her naked body close and kissed her soft skin. She felt his hands slid around her buttocks and caresses her body.. Cassie felt her legs go weak. He gently sat her on the bed. Lee stood up and removed his shirt. He saw her smile as his chest expanded with the anticipation of what they were about to do. Lee slowly removed his pants and she trembled at the sight of his ample body. He removed his boots and lay down on the bed next to her. Their hearts were racing. His hands carefully massaged her tender flesh. He looked into her face. Her eyes sparkled at him. The young man parted her legs and moved in-between them. She cried out in pain as he entered her. He kissed her to try and sooth her pain. Tears fell from her eyes as he slowly moved further inside her. She was in pain, but she held tightly to him. They both felt the rush as his body erupted inside of her.

Cassie's back arched and she cried out once more. Lee pressed harder inside her. He held her there until both their bodies were drained of energy. He felt the sweat run down his back stinging the scares. He moved out of her. Cassie felt her body contract and she curled up. Lee felt a tear in his eye. He reached over and touched her shoulder. Cassie trembled at his touch. Lee felt a stabbing pain in his heart.

What had he done? He loved her. And now he had ruined everything. He put his hands to his face to hide his shame. Then he felt her hand on his arm. He looked over at her thru bleary eyes. She motioned for him to come closer. Lee leaned over and to his delight and surprise, she kissed him. The worst of it was over. The lovers crawled up under the sheets and lay together.

After a rest they tried again. This time no pain. Only the intense pleasure of having her handsome cowboy deep inside her. Lee looked down into her eyes as he moved his body against her. His lips playfully bit at hers. Then her neck and her breast. She felt him swell inside of her and they both cried out as he once more filled her body. They lay together their bodies still together and fell asleep.

Later that night after her parents were asleep, Cassie and Lee went back down to the creek. They made love twice in the cool water of the creek. The moonlight sparkled off their naked bodies as they lay on the grassy bank. Their lips pressed hard against each other and he held her tight. She heard him take a shaky breath. She looked at her lover.

"Lee," she said, "What’s wrong, my love?"

"If your father finds out about us," he said, "I mean, I know what he thinks of me. What everyone thinks of me. If anyone finds out...Why do I have to love you much? The thought of not having you with me scares me to death. If I lose you, I will lose everything."

Cassie put her arms around him. She knew he was right. If her father found out he would kill him. They decided then and there that they would try to restrain their urges to make love. It was the only way. Until he could get them away from that town, they had to be careful. The lovers dressed and went back to the house. They walked arm in arm looking tenderly at each other. They were so engrossed in one another that they didn't see the figure watching them from the upstairs window.

Her mother watched then as they strolled across the yard and up on the porch. She got back in the bed with her husband.

Over the next week, Lee rose before the rest of the family and went out. Sometimes he was gone the entire day. Cassie would ask where he had gone because she missed him. He would give her a vague answer and tell her not to worry. He would always make it up to her by making passionate love to her. Each time they were together it was more wonderful then the last time. Lee's love making skills were rivaled only by his stunning good looks. He no longer had that young boy look. He was a man with responsibilities.

After the judge was asleep, Lee made his way to Cassie's room. He slid into the bed next to her. Cassie laid her face against his chest. She saw him smile.

The next morning, Lee dressed and left early. He had some things to do in town. Cassie cleaned up and dressed. She was on the way towards her bedroom door when it suddenly opened. Her mother stood there looking at her. The older woman took her hands and they sat down on the edge of the bed.

"Cassie," she said, "I know what you and Lee have done. I knew it was just a matter of time. But you mustn't make love to him anymore. If your father was to discover what was happening. I know how deeply you and he care about each other but I don't want you to suffer for that love."

Cassie's mother told her about the dangers of what they were doing. She had heard them and knew that their love making was intense. She told her daughter to be careful that she did not end up like Lee's poor mother. She told her to have him move out of her just before the moment. Cassie blushed as he mother spoke to her. She thought of how wonderful it felt. The woman warned her against her keeping his body in hers as they slept. Her mother told her how to watch for signs of being with child. Mrs. Morrison begged her daughter to be careful. The two women hugged each other.

"I love him too," Mrs. Morrison said to her, "That's why I don't want to see anything happen to him. I'll try somehow to get your father to see how wrong he is about Lee."

Just at that moment the young cowboy stepped up in the doorway. His face blushed. Mrs. Morrison stood up and walked towards him. Lee tried to avoid making eye contact. She stopped at the door and looked at him. The older woman took her hand and lifted his face. She kissed his cheek.

"Never be ashamed of being in Love, Lee," she said, "Just be careful."

She walked out the door and down the stairs. Lee turned back to Cassie. She jumped up and ran to his arms. She kissed him passionately.

"What was that all about?" he asked nodding in the direction her mother had gone.

"She knows," Cassie told him, "She just wants us to be careful."

Lee and Cassie walked down the stairs and out onto the front porch. Cassie made a sharp gasp.

Tied to the post at the front gate was the most beautiful horse she had ever seen. The animal was a deep chestnut brown with a jet black mane and tail. A tan blaze down the front of his nose gave the animal a look of extreme power. He was impatient to go and pawed at the ground. As Lee approached, the horse calmed down and whinnied contently. The cowboy gently stroked the animal’s nose. Cassie laughed as the horse kissed his owner. Lee pressed the horse’s nose to his face and patted its face again. He looked over at Cassie.

She stepped up and touched the horses face.

"Lee, he's beautiful," she said, "Is he yours?"

"Yes," he said, "I've had Chester here for about three years. I kept him boarded at the livery stables. Otherwise he might have been sold. Let's go for a ride."

Lee climbed up into the saddle. He extended his hand down to Cassie. She looked up at him. He looked so handsome on the horse. She took his hands and he lifted her gently up on the horses back. Lee choked up on the reins and clicked the horse into motion. They rode quietly thru town. The other boys stopped and watched as they rode past. Lee held his head up high. Cassie tightened her hold around his waist as the rode out past the railroad tracks and into the wide open plains.

Lee suggested she sit straddled on the horse instead of side-saddle. She turned and sat with her legs spread over the wide body of the horse.

"Hang on," Lee said with a smile.

Cassie nearly fell off as he clicked the horse into action. She squealed with delight as they bounced and flew like the wind. She held tight to her cowboy. Lee pushed the animal faster. She had no idea where they were going. Neither did she care. It was one of the best days Cassie had ever had.

And it was about to get even better.

They rode on for about an hour. Lee slowed the horse and they the rode along at a gentle sway. He felt Cassie's arms around him and smiled. He could hear her softly singing as they rode on. The horse crested a small hill. Lee reined the horse up and pointed down the hill. Cassie looked down.

"Capital City," she said, "What are we doing here?"

Lee turned slightly and kissed her. He reached in his pocket and took out a beautiful Ruby ring. He took her finger and slid the ring on it. He looked into her eyes.

"I'm not going to lose you," he said, "I want you to be with me for the rest of our lives. Will you marry me, Cassie?"

Cassie began to cry. She had never been happier in her life. The young woman tried to answer but no sound came out. All she could do was shake her head yes over and over. Lee turned the horse and they rode down to the city.

He stopped the animal in front of the Justice of the Peace's office. Lee dismounted and helped Cassie down. They walked into the office. Lee removed his hat. The old magistrate stood up and walked around his desk. He shook Lee's hand.

"Good to see you again, Mr. Malone," he said, "I suppose this young lady is your intended?"

"Yes sir," Lee said smiling, "This is Cassie. My soul mate."

"I'll go get my witness' and we'll get things under way," the Magistrate said, "Have a seat and I'll be right back."

The old man walked out of the office and went towards the sheriff's office. Cassie looked at her husband to be.

"Mr. Malone?" she said.

"That's me," Lee said, "I checked the city birth records to find out what my mother's name was. She named me Leon Francis Malone before she died."

“Leon?” Cassie said teasingly.

Cassie held him tight and kissed his cheek.

The Magistrate and the deputy plus one of the city matriarchs came back into the office. While Lee filled out the necessary certificate, the old woman took Cassie into a room where she could freshen up. She handed the young girl a small bouquet of wildflowers. Cassie blushed.

They rejoined the men in the office. By now the Sheriff had joined the small group. Everyone took their positions. And in a few short minutes, Cassie and Lee were joined together in an unbreakable bond. Husband and wife until death do they part. He kissed his bride.

"I know you want to get going on your honeymoon," the sheriff said, "But we have one more thing to do."

Lee looked at Cassie and smiled. He released her arm and turned towards the Sheriff.

The men faced each other. The Magistrate held his bible up and Lee placed his one hand solemnly on the book. He raised his other hand. After the recitation of the oath of office, Cassie watched, beaming with pride as the Sheriff pinned a shiny Deputy badge on Lee's shirt. The two men shook hands. The Sheriff kissed Cassie's cheek.

"You start in a week," the Sheriff said, "You kids enjoy yourselves."

"Is there anything else you haven't told me about?" she said playfully smiling at him.

"Maybe just the house," Lee said helping her up on Chester's back.

"What house?" she said surprised.

Lee smiled and snapped the horse into action. They rode down the center of town and turned down one of the side streets. At the end of the street sat a small neat house. A fence around the property and a small barn in the back.

It was perfect for the young lovers. Lee slid from the horse and helped Cassie down once more. They walked up to the house. Lee opened the door. He swept her up in his arms and kissed her.

"Welcome home, Mrs. Malone," he said smiling.

He carried her inside.

Lee had been going back to the bunk house retrieving his personal stuff and bringing it to the house. The house itself was his. Bought and paid for. He had put away a tidy sum from his years of working. When the rancher would hold a horse auction, Lee always made good money in tips from the buyers. He had saved all of his life and now he had everything he ever wanted.

He kissed Cassie. Without saying a word he carried her to the bedroom and laid her down on the bed. The happy couple made love like never before. Their passions intensified by their love. Bodies hot and sweaty, Lee looked at her with so much love he could hardly contain it. She looked up into his eyes and smiled at him. She brushed his hair back from his forehead. Cassie pulled his face to hers and their lips met once more.

Mrs. Morrison walked into her husband’s office. She sat his lunch out on his desk. While he ate she looked at her husband. He was still just as handsome in her eyes as he had been the day they met. She tried to think of a way to change his mind about Lee.

Little knowing that Lee had already solved the problem.

It was getting dark and Cassie wasn't home. The Judge had arrived home to find his wife distraught. Cassie was always home by dark. But more disturbing was the fact the Lee was also gone. No one had seen either of them since earlier in the day. The Judge was getting worried.

He rode out to the ranch. He checked the bunkhouse only to find it completely empty. All of Lee's personal effects were gone.

The Judge returned home and checked Cassie's room. Nothing seemed to be missing. The Judge went around town looking for the kids. They had literally vanished. The Judge went to see the Sherriff about forming a posy to search for the missing pair.

"I saw them earlier today over in Capital City," the deputy said coming in the back of the jail, "The boy was all neat and pressed, your daughter sitting up behind him on a beautiful Chestnut. Maybe they lost track of the time."

"I'll wire the Sherriff in Capital City. He will be able to find them."

The Sherriff and the Judge walked to the telegraph office. The Sherriff wired Capital City.

In half an hour, the reply came back.

Sherriff-Crystal Falls Texas-stop-Malone sworn in as Deputy this afternoon-stop-married Cassie Morrison before the swearing in ceremony-stop-any message for them?

The Judge looked at the Sherriff. There was nothing he could do. By now the boy had taken his daughters innocence. She was gone forever.

He went back home and showed the telegraph to his wife. She cried.

Next morning they packed all of Cassie's belongings on a wagon and had it taken to Capital City.

The Cowboy Chapter 2