Read Saviours of Oestend Oestend 2 Online

Authors: Marie Sexton

Tags: #Fiction, #Erotica, #Romance, #Paranormal

Saviours of Oestend Oestend 2

A Total-E-Bound Publication

 

www.total-e-bound.com

Saviours of Oestend
ISBN # 978-1-78184-026-9
©Copyright Marie Sexton 2012
Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright June 2012
Edited by Stacey Birkel
Total-E-Bound Publishing

This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.

Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.

The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.

Published in 2012 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank, Ruston Way, Lincoln, LN6 7FL, United Kingdom.
Warning:
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has a
heat rating
of
Total-e-sizzling
and a
sexometer
of
1.

 

This story contains 266 pages, additionally there is also a
free excerpt
at the end of the book containing 8 pages.
SAVIOURS OF OESTEND
Marie Sexton
Life on the prairie has never been easy, but now Oestend itself seems bent on destruction.

Banished from the BarChi by the man he loves, Dante Pane must find a way to rebuild his life and heal his broken heart. Unable to love women, afraid to love men, Dante wants only to find some peace.

But peace is hard to come by in Oestend.

Dante’s new home reeks of death, he can’t keep his ranch hands in line, and his new cook is taking over his house. As if that’s not enough, strange occurrences plague the prairie—dead animals, unnatural weather, and voices riding the wind. Dante is determined to persevere, but it soon becomes clear there’s more at stake than his ranch. All of Oestend is at risk, unless somebody can set things right.

With the help of his faithful ranch hands, Frances and Simon, and the combined strength of friends, both old and new, Dante will fight for his life, his home, and the heart of the one he loves.

Dedication
For all the travellers who don’t need a map.
Author’s Note
On the pronunciation of Oestend—it’s not as hard as you might think. It comes from the Spanish word oeste, which means west. Just say oh-EST, then add the “end”. Oh-EST-end. ~Marie
Chapter One

The house still smelt of death. It was a horrible, cloying scent that filled the halls, permeating the wood and the curtains, and clogging the air. The house felt heavy with it. When Dante had first entered it, he’d had to turn on his heel and run right back out to vomit violently in the dirt. And even now, weeks later, the smell got to him.

It wasn’t as if he was a stranger to death and its aftermath. He’d seen it before. He’d killed men himself. But this death that filled his new home, clawing at the back of his throat and tainting his every breath, was different, because one of the rotting corpses found in this home had been his younger brother, Brighton. No matter what else Dante had done in his life, no matter how stupid or irrational or selfish he’d been, he’d loved his brother with all his heart.

Another of the dead found in the house had been Brighton’s wife, and two more had been their sons. Dante was ashamed now to admit how little regard he’d had for the woman and the boys. In truth, he’d always thought Shay an arrogant bitch, and although there was nothing inherently wrong with the boys, they’d constantly reminded Dante of his own failings in his marital bed. Yes, it may have been a sin that he grieved so little for them now, but he made up for it by grieving for his brother, each and every day.

Still, life in Oestend did not stop for anything as trivial as grief. The sun continued to rise. The wind continued to blow. Cows and horses gave birth to young. The cattle needed tending and fences needed mending. There was nothing he could do but rise every day and do his best to carry on.

“I hope they get here tonight,” Frances said that morning, looking west at the sky. “Travelling tomorrow will be awful.”
Dante didn’t have to ask who he meant. He’d sent Simon to town several days earlier for supplies and to recruit new men. Their first group of hands hadn’t lasted long, mostly because the stench of decaying bodies wasn’t confined to the house. Several maids had died in the barracks on that fateful night as well. The building smelt as bad as the house. Possibly worse. And until Simon returned with the new men, it was just Dante and Frances, and one other young hand named Ralf who was as skittish as a colt, trying to get everything done.
Dante followed Frances’ gaze. The sky to the west was pale and white, hanging low and heavy like the belly of a pregnant mare. Dante shivered just looking at it. “Too early for snow. Shouldn’t be seeing it for another month or more.”
“It’s coming, early or not.”
“You’re right about that.” Dante eyed the skyline, assessing the cold, clear brittleness of the horizon. He noted the way his breath was already coalescing in the air. Everything was deathly silent and perfectly still, except the tops of the trees, swaying in a breeze he couldn’t feel. He shook his head. “Gonna be a damn cold night. If they don’t make it back, you and that kid ought just as well come to the house.” After all, there was no point in burning fuel to heat both the barracks and the big house when there were only three of them there on the ranch. “Easier for me to keep you warm.”
Frances bent back to his work without a word, but Dante noticed the way the tips of his ears turned bright pink. It confused him, until he replayed his words in his head.
Easier for me to keep you warm.
He hadn’t meant it that way, and he suspected Frances knew that, but he also suspected Frances would have jumped at the invitation if he
had
meant it that way. They’d certainly never discussed their sexual habits, but Dante was pretty sure he knew which side of the fence Frances stood on.
Of course, that made Dante think about what it would be like if he
did
take the boy to his bed. He thought about the two of them skin to skin under the covers while the snow fell outside.
No.
Dante wasn’t about to let anything like that happen. He slammed a mental door on the thought and turned away, praying to whoever might hear that Simon would make it back before the snow came.
As it turned out, his prayer was answered. That evening, just as the snow was beginning to fall, just past when the supper bell might have rung, if they’d had one, Simon appeared, with a string of men and a full wagon behind him. And one other thing Dante wasn’t expecting—a woman. She was tall for a girl, and slender, with deep brown hair that fell in her face, and huge, dark eyes that were guarded and wary.
Dante grabbed Simon’s arm and pulled him aside. “What the hell you thinking bringing a woman here?”
Simon was only a couple of years younger than Dante, and just as big, and he clearly didn’t appreciate being manhandled like a mere boy. He pulled his arm free from Dante’s grip. “She asked to go to the BarChi, but when we got there, Aren said I should bring her here.”
Dante clenched his jaw, biting back on the anger that always welled up in him at the mention of Aren. “Not enough he drives me off the BarChi? He thinks he can call the shots on my ranch now, too?”
Simon’s patience was clearly wearing thin, and no wonder after so many days on the road. “Look,” he said through clenched teeth, “I got no idea what went down between you and Aren and Deacon. All I know is, she’s got nowhere else to go. She asked specifically for the BarChi, but with Olsa there, and Tama and Alissa, they don’t have work for her. Aren thought we could use the help here.”
Fuck, but Dante hated it when Aren was right. Dante knew how to run a ranch, but there were so many things the women at home had taken care of. He hadn’t quite realised at the time just how much work they’d done. He’d already vowed more than once that he’d get down on his knees and thank Tama to the heavens next time he saw her.
Simon seemed to relax once he realised Dante was done being angry. He pulled his hood up onto his head and brushed at the fat, soft flakes of snow that dusted his shoulders. “She says she’ll cook and launder.” He shrugged, motioning towards the big house. “Not like you don’t have room.”
Yes, she’d have to be given a room in the house rather than the barracks. Dante wasn’t sure if he liked that idea or not. He turned towards her and pitched his voice loud enough for her to hear over the hubbub of the new men.
“Go inside. I’ll deal with you later.”
She didn’t thank him. She didn’t say anything at all. She just picked up the blanket roll at her feet and went past him to the house.
Fuck, but women made life difficult.
Frances came out of the barracks to greet Simon, obviously pleased that the older man was back. Dante watched them together—the familiar way they gripped each other’s hands, and the happy smiles they shared. He’d wondered many times if they were lovers. Most of the time he thought not, but there were occasions when he saw something in Frances’ eyes that made him want to change his mind. He almost hoped they were. It would be just one more reason to not let himself give in to the dangerous temptation Frances offered.
Dante turned away from the two men to survey the five recruits Simon had brought back with him. As usual, the new hands were mostly young and green as the spring grass. Most of them were hugging themselves against the oncoming storm, looking with wide eyes around the ranch and watching the moody sky to the west.
“Do they know what happened?” Dante asked Simon. It was better that they be warned ahead of time about the deaths, in case any of them were superstitious.
“They know,” Simon said. “And I warned them about the smell.”
“Good.”
One of the hands stood out from the others. He was still younger than either Simon or Dante, but older than the other boys. Dante guessed him to be twenty-five. He stood apart, with his arms crossed over his chest. His sleeves were rolled up despite the cold, and Dante could see multiple brands on them, proving he’d worked ranches before. One brand stood out, partly because it was still fresh enough to be puckered and red, but mostly because it matched the one on Dante’s own arm.
“His name’s Foster. He’s from the BarChi,” Simon said, confirming what Dante already knew. “Wasn’t there long.”
“Why’s he here now?”
Simon shrugged. “No idea. Just said he wanted to come. Deacon said he’s a good enough worker, but to keep your eye on him.”
“For what?”
Simon shrugged again. Simon wasn’t much of a talker and neither was Deacon. Between the two of them, it was likely that was all they’d said. Aren, on the other hand, was more straightforward. Dante hated to ask, but he swallowed his pride and did it anyway. “And what did Aren say?”
“Aren said he’s trouble. He said, trouble for him, and maybe trouble for you for the same reason, but that maybe you could handle it better than him ‘cause you’re stronger.” Dante raised his eyebrows at that, wondering what it might mean, but Simon waved him off. “That’s all he’d say, so don’t ask me to interpret.”
Dante pondered Aren’s words, wishing he knew exactly what they meant. He couldn’t think of any rational reason a man would choose to leave the BarChi to come out here, to the furthest known end of the prairie, to a ranch that produced more grief than cattle.
It really did speak of trouble.
He waved Foster forward and the man came. Dante didn’t see any reason to waste time with chatter, so he asked immediately, “Why’d you leave the BarChi?”
Foster stood up straight and squared his shoulders. “I won’t work for men like them.”
“Who you talking about?” Dante asked. “My father or Deacon?”
“Deacon and that dandy who warms his bed.” Foster turned and spat pointedly on the ground. “Men like them disgust me.”
Dante saw the flash of alarm in Frances’ eyes at Foster’s words. He saw the quick glance the boy threw at Simon. Simon seemed unalarmed, although it was clear he had no sympathy for Foster, either.
Well, at least the mystery of Aren’s words had been solved. Aren knew that Dante was just like him in his sexual tastes. Except Aren had said Foster wasn’t as much of a threat to Dante as he was to Aren, because Dante was stronger. Dante knew that was wrong. It took strength for Aren to face those other hands at the BarChi every single day, each of them knowing he was essentially Deacon’s wife. It took strength to accept what he was, to stare unflinchingly into the eyes of other men and admit his proclivities. If there was anything that would save Dante from Foster’s contempt, it was that Dante was weak. He didn’t want the world to know what he was. He wanted to hide it away, like the terrible secret his granddaddy had made it out to be. It was that weakness that had cost him Deacon.
Dante turned away, not granting Foster a response. “Take them to the barracks,” he said to Simon. “You know what to do.”
Simon shouted out to them, telling them to follow him, and in the hubbub, Dante reached out and took Frances’ arm. The boy turned to look at him with his huge blue eyes.
“He gives you any trouble, I expect to hear.”
Frances was like an open book, every emotion he felt showing on his face. Confusion then alarm, and then embarrassment as he undoubtedly wondered how much Dante knew about him. The answer was, not much, but it seemed he’d guessed correctly.
“I’ll be fine,” Frances said at last.
That was probably true. Simon may not have been his lover, but he was certainly his friend. He’d probably kill Foster himself if the man threatened Frances.
“In that case, you tell me if he makes trouble for any of them others, all right?”
Frances smiled at him, a big broad smile that lit up his face and his blue eyes and almost made Dante wish he was as strong as Aren and could reach out and claim Frances as his own. “I will,” Frances said. “Thanks.”
Dante let him go. He watched them all trail across the grounds to the barracks. When they were gone, he turned to look at the big, empty house that until now had sheltered nobody but him. Now it would be home to some strange woman as well. Somehow, he knew she was bound to cause trouble. Women always did.
He sighed and went to face her.

Other books

Song Magick by Elisabeth Hamill
Be Careful What You Wish For by Jade C. Jamison
Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
Pat of Silver Bush by Montgomery, Lucy Maud
El monstruo subatómico by Isaac Asimov
Massively Multiplayer by P. Aaron Potter