Cady sat at the Red Pony bar, her favorite bartender and godfather keeping her company from the other side. He intermittently left to attend the needs of tables. She had a pile of papers to her right and a plate of fries and a beer to her left. She was going over papers from the legal aid center, trying to get caught up.
Jacob Nighthorse, the reservation’s wealthiest man and biggest advocate, hired her to provide legal help to the underserved people of the reservation. This happened to be most people, so it came as quite a challenge.
She came to The Red Pony hoping to seek advice from Henry. During different times, she might have gone to her dad for advice, but he had been less than supportive of her job under Jacob since he learned of her position. Walt had a deep-seated hatred for Jacob Nighthorse that Cady no longer had the energy to try to fight. That left Henry as her last person to turn to for venting.
Despite her dad’s feelings about Jacob, she never really bought that he was such a bad guy. He was mysterious, sure. Maybe he even had a darker side. But she didn’t believe he was a criminal. No evil person could try to build his tribe up the way Jacob did. The man was dedicated to his people and their betterment, as was Cady herself now.
“This case has been tough for me to figure out. It’s a jurisdictional nightmare,” she said to Henry. Cady sighed and stuffed a couple fries in her mouth. She mumbled, “I don’t know what to do.”
Her case was frustrating her beyond belief. A woman on the res named Clara Black Hawk was seeking her help. She was stuck in an abusive relationship with a white man. Trying to operate within the limits of reservation law was proving difficult, considering there wasn’t much to use against white people. This whole case was giving her flashbacks to J.P. Wright and Asha. Her sleep had been plagued with nightmares all week long, and she was beginning to feel the effects of her exhaustion.
“Nighthorse will be here soon, why not just ask him?”
She was still chewing a mouthful of fries as she raised her eyebrows. “What do you mean he’ll be here soon?” She wasn’t prepared to run into him today. Cady didn’t want to admit to herself let alone to Jacob that she’d been struggling with the caseload. Jacob handpicked her for the job and the last thing she wanted was to fall short in his eyes.
Henry nodded towards the door. “Ah, perfect timing,” Henry said. “He has just arrived.”
Cady turned to see Jacob strolling in confidently, headed straight for her and Henry. He was wearing his usual business attire, a sleek black suit and a light blue dress shirt beneath. In his hand was a folder. Cady turned back to Henry with wide eyes and tried to signal she didn’t want to bring up her case, but Henry was already looking to Jacob.
“Henry,” Jacob greeted.
“Hello, Jacob. Do you have what we discussed?” Henry asked.
“Right here.” Jacob handed over the folder to Henry, who nodded his thanks. Henry casually threw his towel over his shoulder and walked away to set the folder on his office desk. Cady quietly watched this exchange, and now she was alone with Jacob. His eyes were on her, observing her.
“Hi, Jacob. How are you doing?” She smiled politely.
“Very well, thank you for asking.” He eyed her with a hint of masked curiosity. “And yourself?”
“Fine, thanks.” She paused before taking a sip of her beer.
Henry walked back with a carry out bag of food from the kitchen. He handed over the bag to Jacob. “Here is food for your trouble, Jacob, and thank you for the information. It’s your usual.”
Jacob took the bag of food from Henry with a nod of gratitude and gestured to the papers in front of her. “Are those papers from the legal aid?” he inquired. He leaned against the bar next to Cady, calmly waiting for her response. Just as Cady was opening her mouth to respond, Henry jumped in.
“Yes, a particular case has been giving her headaches,” he stated. He walked back around the bar to go take the order of a new table of guests.
She watched Henry walk away and turned back to Jacob. Trying to change the subject before it came back to the legal aid work, Cady asked, “Are you and Henry doing business together?”
Jacob gave a half smile. “No, that was just information for a fundraiser Henry would like to hold at the casino for the tribe. I was simply helping him with a few details,” he explained. “Is everything okay at the legal center?”
“Um... yeah things are good, great.” She placed her hand on the stack of papers.
Jacob raised his chin a little and peered at her. She internally cringed, knowing that he could tell she was sugar-coating things. “Well, I’ll leave you to it. You let me know if there’s anything I can do to help with those… headaches.” He turned to walk around and leave but planted his foot to stop himself. He turned around and looked at her, as if contemplating, before saying, “If you have time, I need to you stop my office tomorrow.”
She was caught off guard. “Oh – sure, what time?”
“Five o’clock would be best.”
Cady nodded. “Okay, I’ll see you then.”
“Good night, Cady.”
“Good night, Jacob,” she almost whispered. He held her eyes for just a moment more before turning and leaving.
The next day Cady arrived at the casino to see Jacob. She was slightly nervous because she had no idea what this meeting was about. She made her way to the elevator, hit his office space’s floor number, and quietly rode up. The day was endless and this was her last stop before she could go home for the night. True to her word, she knocked on the office door at five o’clock.
Upon stepping past the door, she saw Jacob sitting at his wooden desk. He closed his laptop and looked up at her. “Cady, please take a seat,” he gestured to a chair in front of his desk. “Can I get you a coffee? Water?” he offered. Hospitality was indeed his specialty.
Cady smiled. “Coffee would be great.”
Jacob got up and walked over to a table in the middle of the room and poured her a cup.
“Cream or sugar?” he offered.
“No, black will be fine.”
“A woman after my own heart. Here you are, Miss Longmire.”
She smiled. “Thank you.” She took a sip. “I have to say, I’m curious to what we owe this meeting.”
He sat back down at his desk and folded his hands together. “Yes, I’m sure you are. I’ll get straight to the point. I asked you here today because I need a favor.”
This piqued her interest. “And what would that be?”
“I’m currently being sued by a former employee and I need legal representation.”
Cady took another drink of her coffee, contemplating what he said. “I’m confused. I thought Kevin Morris and his legal team represented you.”
Jacob nodded. “Yes, this is true. However, they’re working on another big project for me that is consuming their efforts completely. I need to hire someone outside of Morris’s team for this and I prefer it be someone I trust.” He gestured to Cady.
“I see. I’d certainly like to hear any background you can give me on the case. Our attorney-client confidentiality would kick in now so anything you tell me from this point on is privileged.”
“Good. Johnny White Deer was fired recently. He is now suing me for wrongful termination.” His tone was very matter-of-fact.
“Okay. I remember him, actually. He came to me for representation but I declined him. Seeing as he was suing my employer, it was a conflict of interest. I suppose my first question is, was he wrongfully fired?”
“No, he was stealing from me. But I have no evidence of this because at the time Malachi Strand was the head of security and was aware of these shady dealings. Malachi has since been removed but the evidence is gone along with him.”
She was nodding along, making mental notes of all the details. “Okay, I see where you’re running into trouble.”
“Yes. I’m trying to avoid the financial loss as well as the bad publicity. They are both the last thing this casino needs right now.”
“Well a wrongful termination lawsuit could cost you anywhere from forty thousand to a million dollars so I agree, the loss needs to be avoided. Any relevant information you can give me on this will help me. I’ll take his employee records, performance reviews, time clock slips, really anything at all. If there are any disciplinary records those could help us build a case. I’ll see first if I can find any loopholes there to cite as a meaningful reason to terminate Johnny. If I can’t find anything, we’ll go from there, okay?” She finished off her coffee and waited for his response patiently.
“I’ll get on that. Thank you, Cady. It means a great deal to me that I can put my trust in you. I won’t forget this.”
He stood up to shake her hand, his eyes lingering on hers and his handshake lasting just a little longer than necessary. A lump formed in her throat.
She cleared it and said, “I’ll do my best.” Her voice wavered just slightly.
[L] [L] [L] [L]
Cady arrived home and haphazardly kicked her shoes off. She sighed heavily, incredibly relieved to be home. She had a long day, but the payoff was completely worth it. She was finally able to help Clara Black Hawk legally separate from her abusive husband. It took a lot of digging and reading of fine print, but she was able to.
When Mathias put him in handcuffs and got him into the patrol car, he approached her and quietly said, “Thank you.” Those two words made all the struggle worth it. She knew that praise from Mathias did not come easy and she appreciated it. Today was a success. Clara was not Asha, and her husband was not J.P.
She breathed a huge sigh of relief that history did not repeat itself.
Walking into her bathroom, she began running hot water in her bath tub. A long hard day called for some well-deserved relaxation. She lit a candle and poured some bath salts into the hot running water.
Her phone pinged in her back pocket and she turned the screen on to read the message.
Jacob Nighthorse: 7:14pm
Just wanted to let you know I dropped off the papers you needed. They’re on your desk, I used my key to get in.
Her phone pinged again.
Jacob Nighthorse: 7:15pm
I look forward to working with you on this. Let me know if there’s anything else I can provide.
Cady deliberated on her response. She typed back slowly and reread her message three times before pressing send.
Sent to Jacob Nighthorse: 7:18
I’m looking forward to it as well. I’ll be in touch soon about his records. Thank you for dropping them off so quickly.
Cady read the messages again, her stomach always having a few butterflies after speaking to Jacob. She flipped the lights out in the bathroom, letting the candle set the atmosphere in the room. Climbing out of her clothes and slowly stepping into her bath, she was instantly relaxed. The steaming water and the silkiness of the salts soothed her muscles and skin. She allowed herself to let go completely and float.
Her mind wandered to her boss. She closed her eyes and pictured his dark brooding eyes. Remembering the feel of his hand grasping hers tightly, not letting go until he was ready, sent a shiver up her spine.
Sitting at her desk, Cady sipped on some coffee and reviewed the papers she found lying on her desk. Jacob had been able to get everything she had asked for and more. Not only did he deliver what she needed, but he also included the names of all the people who worked the same shift as Johnny and guest comments. Some good, some bad.
Upon sorting through the pile of information, she got the impression that although Johnny wasn’t squeaky-clean, she would be hard pressed to spin him as a bad employee. There were a few negative comments from guests she knew any good lawyer would point out that it is just the nature of the hospitality business. Everyone will get a complaint eventually. She moved away from that angle and found he generally was a good employee by most reasonable measuring sticks. Other than the fact that he would steal from the casino and proving that would likely be their only way of proving Nighthorse had reason to fire him.
Looking back over the list of people who worked shifts with Johnny, she tried to find any connections she could. There were 3 men who typically worked his tables with him. She decided to call up Mathias for help on this. She dialed his number and the phone rang three times before he picked up.
“Hi, Mathias, this is Cady Longmire.”
“I’m calling because I need some help on a case. I was wondering if you’d be able to run some background checks for me and fax them over to my office,” she said.
“Sure. Email me the names and I’ll have them to you by the end of the day.”
“Great. Thank you, Mathias. I owe you one.”
“Consider us even,” he responded, alluding to the help she had given to Clara. “Good bye.”
She hung up and went to her computer to start typing out the names she needed to Mathias. She included Johnny’s name for good measure, hoping to find something to show bad character in his background check.
About an hour later Mandy brought in the background checks that were faxed over to her.
“What are you checking these guys out for?” she asked.
“There’s a chance some of them have been stealing from the casino.”
Mandy scoffed. “If I were them, I’d think twice about pissing off Jacob Nighthorse. That man has some serious power.”
Cady looked up at her. “What does that have to do with it?”
She shrugged. “Just sayin’.”
Cady nodded. “Well, I’m going to be here late tonight. You can go home now if you like, there’s really no reason for me to keep you here.”
“Alright. See you tomorrow, boss.”
She began reviewing the background checks. Using a high-lighter she picked out potentially useful information and set them aside. She still had other cases to work on and resolved to stay late to work on them.
[L] [L] [L] [L]
The evening drug slowly by and the sun had completely faded. She flipped off her desk lamp and starting pulling her car keys out of her purse.
As she was getting ready to call it a night, she heard shattered glass come from the rear of the building. She froze completely and her heart jumped in her throat. Not again. Not again. Please, not again.
The gun Jacob entrusted her with, which she now kept loaded at all times, hung on her wall. She grabbed it and quietly moved to her bathroom. As silently as possible, she closed the door and slowly moved the latch the lock it. She hoped whoever was breaking in didn’t see her light in the office and had no clue she was there.
Pulling out her phone, she tried her best to type a text message to Jacob. She knew she couldn’t risk a phone call to Mathias with the res police letting her intruders know exactly where she was.
To Jacob Nighthorse: 9:03pm
Someone is breaking into my office. Locked in bathroom. Get Mathias.
She clutched her phone tightly and tried to listen to was happening on the other side of the door. Cady heard only one set of footsteps, of that she was sure. The sound of rummaging was heard next and then, to her disappointment, what sounded like her things being broken.
It was quiet for moment until she heard a spray paint can rattling.
Out of nowhere, her phone pinged. Cady’s heart leaped into her throat and she frantically silenced it, hoping whoever was intruding didn’t hear it go off. She clutched her rifle nervously. Her hands were sweaty and shaky. She couldn’t hear anything at all out there, and she wasn’t sure whether to be terrified or relieved.
Finally, she got the courage to let one hand off her rifle and read the message.
Jacob Nighthorse: 9:05pm
Stay silent and do not come out of the bathroom. I’m on my way.
She quietly sighed. What if whoever was in this office hurt Jacob when he showed up? Was Cady leading him into danger?
She set her phone down and resumed her nervous clutching of her rifle. It was the last thing she wanted to do, but she was ready to use it if she had to.
Cady heard more footsteps. Still only one set. Her breath stopped as shadows of the footsteps came up to the bathroom door. Shaking uncontrollably now, her heart pounded in her ears.
There was a knock at the door. She gripped her rifle so hard she was sure her knuckles were white.
“Cady? Are you in there?” Relief flooded through her. It was Jacob’s voice. She put the rifle down and scrambled to unlock the door. The moment it opened she threw herself into Jacob’s arms. Caught off guard, he paused for a brief second before wrapping his arms tightly around her. Her face was buried in his neck.
“I checked the house. It’s empty,” Jacob whispered to her. “You’re safe now.”
She sighed heavily and squeezed him tighter. In a strained voice, she said, “I thought they were going to get me.”
Jacob ran his hand along the back of her head, smoothing his hair in an attempt to comfort her. “No one is going to hurt you. Not if I have anything to say about it.”
She pulled back just enough to be able to look at him. They both became suddenly aware of how close their faces were to each other when fast paced footsteps caused them to jump. Jacob grabbed for the handgun on his hip.
Mathias came running in his gun at the ready. Jacob relaxed and put his gun back on his hip.
“Mathias. Whoever was here is gone now. They were gone before I got here.”
He nodded and put his gun back on his hip as well. Approaching Cady with concern he asked, “Are you alright?”
She nodded, still shaky. “Yeah, I-I’m okay.”
“Good.” Mathias looked around at the damage, and for the first time, so did Cady.
“Oh my god…” She began walking slowly, taking in all that her intruder did.
Glass covered the ground near her windows, which had all been broken. Everything on her walls had been knocked off. In red spray paint the message Leave Johnny alone – or else was left.
She walked over to her office. Her computer was smashed and her files and papers were thrown everywhere. She clapped her hand over her mouth. Jacob put his hand on her shoulder.
“Everything is going to be okay, Cady. We’re going to figure this out.”
Mathias added, “He’s right. I know you’re shaken up right now, but I need to get your statement while it’s fresh. Tell me exactly what happened. Did you hear anything while you were in the bathroom? See anything at all?”
Cady shook her head. “I didn’t see anything. I was just getting ready to leave when I heard a window in the back shatter. So, I grabbed my gun and sat in the bathroom until you guys showed up. And the only thing I heard was the commotion of all this. While I was in the bathroom with the door locked I texted Nighthorse and he got you, and here we are. Um, I heard only one set of footsteps. I wish I could tell you more but that’s it.”
Jacob crossed his arms. “Well, I think we know what the message has to do with.”
“Yeah, ‘Johnny.’ That name was on the list of background checks you asked for, Cady,” Mathias said.
“I hate to say it, but it sounds like your department has a leak, Mathias.”
Mathias looked troubled. “It appears so. You probably shouldn’t go home tonight in case anyone is waiting for you there. For the time being, you should gather whatever you need to work for the next few days from another location. At least until some of this is repaired.”
Mathias left with the advice that Cady should find somewhere else to stay for the next few days. She and Jacob were standing alone in her ruined office. Disbelief at her predicament washed over her. Returning to her home wasn’t an option, at least for tonight.
“Do you have anywhere you can go?” he asked.
Cady shook her head no. “I don’t think so. I would call Vic but she lives in an RV right now. I don’t think that motorhome can handle another occupant.” She sighed and covered her face with her hands.
“Hey,” he said quietly. He reached up and pulled her hands away from her face. “You can have a room at the hotel until this blows over. It would be safe there.”
She looked at him with relief. “Really? Oh my god, thank you, Jacob.” She was grateful she wouldn’t have to ask her dad to stay with him. She loved him but after this he would probably blow his top after hearing his only daughter was involved in another mess on the res.
The files were scattered all around the floor of her office. She did her best to sort and pick up what she would need. Crouching down to gather more scattered papers, she realized this would take longer than a few minutes to correct. “I better get a hold of people and let them know not to come into work tomorrow.” She paused and looked disappointed at her computer. Jacob took note of this.
“I’ll buy you a new one. I’m sorry it was smashed.”
She sighed. “It’s okay. I backed up all my files onto a cloud regularly so nothing is missing. It just sucks.”
He nodded towards the door. “Come on. It’s late.”
He was right. It was about ten o’clock. As she walked out the door his hand grazed her lower back, protectively guiding her past him.
They got into their respective vehicles and drove off to the casino. Walking through the parking lot, Jacob stayed close to her. The receptionist at the front desk was a beautiful young woman with long sleek black hair. When she saw Jacob walking toward her she sat up straight and ran her hand through her hair trying to fix it.
“Hello, Mr. Nighthorse. How can I help you?” she smiled amorously at Jacob.
“I need you to get my friend Miss Longmire here a room free of charge. Indefinitely. Make sure it’s a top end room.”
“Okay, it’ll take me just a moment to prepare the key cards.”
Cady sat back and observed at Jacob and the receptionist made small talk. She narrowed her eyes as she noticed it looked like this young girl, who must have been 25 at the max, seemed to have a crush on Jacob. She was giggling at everything he said. When she walked around the reception desk to give him the key cards, which she could have handed to him from across the desk, she was sure to place her hand on his arm and bat her eyes.
“Alright, allow me to show you to your room,” Jacob said to Cady.
Cady chuckled to herself when the receptionists face dropped. They began walking towards the elevator.
“What’s so funny?” Jacob inquired.
“That girl was flirting with you. It was entertaining.” They entered the elevator and Jacob pressed a button for the floor second to the top of the building.
“Ah, yes. I hardly notice anymore. It happens more than you would think.”
Cady scoffed. “Do you ever… indulge them?” She meant for her question to be light and goofy, but in reality it was loaded regardless of how she meant it.
His eyes met hers sincerely. “No.”
His voice was earnest and his expression was intense. Cady was at a loss for how to respond. The elevator stopped and made a beeping noise before the doors drew open. Jacob stepped out first and Cady followed him to her new room. He used the keycard to open up the door and held it for her to walk in.
She was instantly blown away by what she saw. When Jacob said ‘top end’ he meant it. The room was lavish. There was a big king-sized bed, a dinette, mini living room, and a massive flat screen TV. She pressed a button on the wall she assumed was a light switch, but the curtains began closing automatically.
“Holy shit,” she exclaimed. Flipping the button back, they began opening again. Another flip, they were closing. He smirked at her wonder. She walked around to the bathroom to see granite countertops, a big jacuzzi tub, a walk-in steam room shower combo, and stacks of huge fluffy white towels.
“The floor is heated too, by the way. Press this button and the tiles will get warm.” His finger pointed to a switch next to the light.
“No freaking way. Are you sure you want to waste a room this nice on me? It must cost a fortune to book.”
“Nothing I could give to you could hardly be a waste. The key card will get you complimentary breakfast as well as access to the fitness center, pool, and spa. I will tell the staff to waive your fees while you are here. It’s the least I can do, considering your office was vandalized and you were needlessly put in harm’s way for my sake.”
She met his eyes and quietly said, “If it’s for you it could hardly be needless.”
He half-smiled at her. “Take the weekend off. Relax and enjoy. Henry’s fundraiser is Saturday night. It’s in the ballroom. Since you’ll already be here… you should come.”
She smiled back. “Well, thanks for the invite. I’ll think about it.”
He nodded and turned to leave.
“And Jacob? Thanks for giving me somewhere to stay. And you know… for coming to get me so quick. When I was locked in that bathroom.”
Jacob put his hands in his pockets and met her eyes silently. “You’re welcome, Cady,” he murmured.
She paused to take him in. “Good night.”
The door closed with a thud and she turned to her new room. With a huff, she realized she didn’t have so much as a change of clothes. Stripping her jeans and top off, she settled to sleep in her underwear and worry about it tomorrow.
She climbed under the covers of the bed and settled in as best as she could. To take her mind off of the stress of the evening, she flipped through the channels on her massive tv. Settling on a sitcom, she watched until her eyes got heavy and she drifted off to sleep.
[L] [L] [L] [L]
The next morning Cady took her time waking up. She couldn’t go in to work so there was no reason to hurry. Stretching out, she took in surroundings groggily.
She checked her phone. It was 9:30am, so she got to sleep in pretty well compared to her usual early mornings. There was a missed text on her phone.
Jacob Nighthorse: 8:45am
We’ll go by your place to pick up some clothes and other necessities whenever you’re ready. I have a slow day at work today so just let me know when.
She had been planning on getting her dad to take her, but on second thought she was glad Jacob had offered. If she and her dad were to get together today it would probably only lead to an argument about the perils of associating with Jacob Nighthorse. A phone call to let him know what happened would suffice after she got her stuff.
Opting to just call Jacob back, she picked up the phone and listened to it ring a couple times.
“Hi. I got your message.”
“We can leave any time, I could really use a change of clothes.”
“Alright. I’ll meet you in the parking lot in five minutes.”
She hung up the phone and threw the covers off her bed. Her clothes from yesterday were in a pile on the floor. She yanked her jeans over her butt and quickly put her shirt back on. Using the complimentary toothbrush and toothpaste she brushed her teeth, her hair looking like some wild bed head. Running her fingers through her hair did nothing to help, so she put her hair into a messy bun.
In the parking lot, she made her way over to her car and pulled a hoodie out of the back seat. It was sunny so she grabbed her sunglasses as well. She pulled it on and looked at her reflection in the window of the car.
Leaning against the hood of her jeep, she crossed her feet and waited patiently for Jacob to come out. He came strolling out of the front doors and walked towards Cady. Unclipping his sporty sunglasses from his shirt, he put them on, making his face even more hard to read.
“You’re looking very… domestic, today,” he said as he got closer, referring to her look of a sweatshirt, Ray Bans, and a messy bun.
She scoffed. “You don’t even know what domestic is.” She gestured to his business suit.
Finally reaching her, he stopped in front of her and smirked. “Touché. Come on, I’ll drive.”
They climbed into his luxury SUV and drove to her house. Occasionally she’d throw out a “Take a left here,” or “Go straight at the stop sign,” and in no time they pulled up to her house.
They walked up to her front door. It took her by surprise when he lifted the front of his shirt up, exposing a little bit of his stomach to pull a gun from his waistband. He held his other hand out. She just raised her eyebrows in confusion.
“Keys,” he said. She placed them in his palm. Unlocking the door and putting the keys in his pocket, gun at the ready, he slowly pushed the door open. “Stay here till I come get you.”
Walking in tentatively, trying to be silent as possible, he checked his corners and behind the door. This process was repeated in each room till he deemed no one was in the house. He walked back out to the front door. “Come on, it’s clear.”
The inside of her house looked untouched from when she had left it last. It was at least a comfort that whoever broke into her office had left this part of her life alone.
Jacob lifted his shirt back up and put the gun back in the front of pants. This time he caught Cady’s eyes on his bare skin. Looking up, she saw that Jacob was watching her. Her face turned red and she walked up to the hallway closet. She pulled out a duffel bag and went her bedroom. Jacob padded after her.
“I hope the hotel was acceptable for you last night,” he said distractedly. He was looking at the pictures on her wall, a couple of them of her and Martha.
“It was great. I’m lucky I ended up there and not crashing on someone’s couch.”
She was shoving clothes into the duffel bag. Grateful that he was occupied, she quickly pushed a couple bras and panties in. Looking over her shoulder she saw he was observing her pictures of her mom. She walked over to the closet and grabbed a dress for the fundraiser.
“You know, my mom actually liked you. She hated the casino, don’t get me wrong there. She was a woman who stuck to her guns. But she always told my dad to lighten up on you, not to be so hard.”
He glanced to her with eyebrows raised in surprise, then back to the photos. “I had no idea. If only your father had taken her advice… I do see where you get your beauty from. You look strikingly similar to her.”
“I’d love to hear what she would have to say about us working together. I don’t know if she’d smile or shake her finger at me,” she chuckled sadly.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Maybe a bit of both.”
She bit her lip hard. Part of her wanted to cry thinking about it, but she wouldn’t cry right now. She refused to. Breathing deeply to steady herself, she starting organizing what she was putting into her bag.
He looked back to her again to see her putting more clothes in the bag silently, focusing on the task at hand with more attention than it required. Talking about her mom had to be difficult for her.
“I have everything I need,” she said quietly.
“Good. Come on, I’ll take you back to the casino.”
They rode back in comfortable silence, with some old music playing over the radio. When they got back he parked the truck. They looked at each other for a moment.
“Thanks for…” she trailed off. There were too many things to thank him for. It was really starting to pile up.
“You’re always welcome, Cady. Seriously. For anything and everything, I’m just a phone call away.”
She smiled. “Alright, I’ll remember that.”
They got out of the truck and began walking back to the front doors of the casino. Her path branched off from his and she headed toward her jeep.
“Going somewhere?” he asked.
“No, I’m just going to make a phone call before I head in. I’m sure my dad would be upset if he found out about the mishap at my office any way but from me.”
“Ah. Best of luck with that,” he said dryly. He waved goodbye and walked to the front doors. Leaning against her jeep, Cady watched him until he disappeared, her stomach churning.
With a huff she found the number for the station. Ruby answered.
“Hey, Ruby. It’s Cady. I was hoping my dad might be in the office.”
“I’m afraid not,” she responded. “You might have luck calling Vic and asking for him. Do you have her number?”
“Yeah, I do. Thanks, Ruby.”
She found Vic’s phone number and called her.
“Moretti,” Vic answered.
“Hey, Vic. It’s Cady.”
“Hi. What can I do for you?”
“I was hoping my dad might be with you. I’m trying to get a hold of him.” She chuckled.
“It’s for you, Walt,” she heard Vic yell.
There was a brief pause. Her dad’s gruff voice came over the speaker. “This is Walt.”
“Dad, it’s Cady,” she greeted.
“Oh, hey, punk. What’s going on?”
She cleared her throat nervously. “I was calling to tell you that – that my office was broken into last night. It was vandalized. Everything is okay, Mathias came out and helped. I just didn’t want you to hear it from him before you heard it from me.”
He paused. “Wow. Um, I’m glad everything is okay. Did you walk into that mess this morning?”
She cringed slightly. “Actually, uh, I was in the building when the break in happened. I locked myself in the bathroom, they didn’t even realize I was there.”
“You were there? Cady, what time did this even happen?” His tone was clearly unhappy with this.
“Around 10,” she guessed.
“Punk, what in the hell were you doing alone out there at 10 o’clock at night? I thought I taught you better than that.”
She rolled her eyes and ignored his last comment. “Anyways, I’m staying at the hotel for a little while. The break in wasn’t random, it’s tied to a case I’m working on. A disgruntled thief doesn’t like that I’m working against him. So, just to be on the safe side…”
“I’ve got to ask- does this have anything to do with Nighthorse?”
“Yes,” she said hesitantly.
“Damn it. I knew something like this would happen eventually. You shouldn’t be working for him.”
“Come on, dad. It’s not his fault. I’ve got to go, I just wanted to pass along this information. I’ll talk to you soon, okay?”
He sighed. “Alright, we’ll talk soon. I just – I just want you to be safe, punk.”
“I know you do. Love you, dad, bye.”
“Love you too. Bye.”
Just wanted to say thanks for the comments! I love reading them and appreciate them very much!
Cady walked into the casino ballroom. She wore a dark blue dress with a black clutch and black heels, with her hair down on her shoulders and slightly wavy. It wasn’t often she had an excuse to look this nice, and in the mirror, she had even blown herself away.
She walked in and scanned the faces of the crowd. A laugh overtook her when she saw Mandy in her skinny jeans and chucks, dancing and having a blast. Cady had no doubt in her mind that Mandy had been drinking, but she admired the girl for being herself at all times. Mandy saw Cady and ran over to her.
“Hey girl!” she said excitedly. She pulled Cady into a sloppy hug. “You made it. And you look hot. Ugh. Coolest boss ever.”
Cady chuckled. “Much appreciated. Been drinking the juice tonight?”
She shook her head. “The juice? Nah. I’ve been drinking rum and cokes.”
Cady rolled her eyes at her missed euphemism.
“Did you find the sonofabitch who fucked up our office yet? My week is going to be really boring if not,” she pouted.
“No, not yet. I’m working on it though.”
A group of girls waived at Mandy and her. “Those are my friends. They love you by association because, you know.” Mandy shrugged, implying her appreciation for her boss.
“You better get back, they seem to be ready to keep dancing.”
“Come dance, too?”
Cady paused hesitantly.
Mandy groaned and grabbed her hand. “Dance with us or I’ll come get a job at this crappy casino instead!”
She rolled her eyes. “Okay, I give in. This is a good song anyway.”
The group of girls greeted her like they knew her and moved out onto the dancefloor. They fell into the beat and started goofily dancing. Cady moved her feet and hips freely to the thump-thump-thump of the music, not caring that she was probably messing her hair up.
They were all laughing and smiling. It felt good to just let go and do something fun after the week she had. “Woo!” one of Mandy’s friends hollered, holding her drink up as she jumped up and down to the beat. Cady laughed throatily.
The song came to an end and Cady waved goodbye to Mandy, telling her she’d see her later.
She was searching the crowd for Henry and found him quickly. He was speaking to a group of people. They made eye contact and his eyes lit up. He motioned for her to come join him. She smiled and began making her way over.
“Henry! So good to see you!” she exclaimed. When she got close enough Henry brought her into a hug.
“You look wonderful tonight. I am glad you were able to make it.” He released her from the embrace and turned back to the group of people he was speaking to. “Everyone, this is my goddaughter, Cady.” Henry beamed proudly.
Cady smiled and greeted them. She recognized a few of them. One woman worked at The Red Pony and the others must be regulars because they were all generally familiar.
A man who she did not recognize stepped forward and said, “I’m sure you don’t know who I am, but my name is Joe Black Hawk.” He was Cheyenne. His long black hair was pulled back into a ponytail at the nape of his neck. He was older, maybe in his forties, and had a look about him that said he was tired. She could see it in his shoulders. He continued, “Last week you helped my sister at the legal aid center. She was able to leave an abusive husband because of what you did to help her.”
Cady was stunned. “I’m so glad I was able to help,” she said.
“We’re lucky to have you fighting with us on the res, sister.”
A hand rested on her shoulder from behind. Jacob had walked up to join them. “Yes, we are very lucky indeed,” he nodded, his eyes on Cady. He was handsome in his black suit, a dark grey dress shirt and a black tie to accent. A slower song boomed from the speakers. He broke her gaze and raised his head back to look at Joe. “Joe, do you mind if I steal our tenacious warrior away for a dance?”
Extending his hand to her as an invitation, he waited for Cady to take it and led them through the crowded ballroom to a place where they could dance.
One hand rested on his broad shoulders, the other being held firmly in his own hand. His free hand took its place on her hip. They fell into a comfortable rhythm of slow dancing. Stepping in a small circle, she prayed she didn’t step on his toes. Being in such close proximity left them with only each other to look at, and she thought this would feel awkward but it didn’t. It felt like she finally had an excuse not to look away.
“You look stunning tonight, Cady.” He looked down at her as though he was appreciating her beauty in this moment.
“Thank you. I surprised even myself how well I clean up. You don’t look half bad yourself,” she teased.
Jacob chuckled. “Thank you,” he said in flat sarcasm.
Cady took note of his eye color, noticing little flecks of green. She took in his eyes for just a moment more before realizing they had been making such intense eye contact. She exhaled and smiled, determined to enjoy his company during this dance.
“You looked like you were enjoying yourself a few moments ago,” he said referring to her impromptu dance.
She crinkled her nose. “You saw that?”
He nodded. “It’s good. The fact that you enjoy spending time with our youth shows you actually care about Cheyenne people.”
“Ah. Perception, right?”
He shrugged. “Yes and no. You’re someone… good for them to look up to. I’d like if we had some aspiring lawyers on the res as a result of your influence.”
“Hm. I guess I’d never thought of that.”
They moved silently for a moment, Jacob looking off into the crowd.
“So,” she began, “There’s something I’ve got to know.”
“Hm? And what is that?” he said quizzically.
She tilted her head to the side a little and asked, “Why did you really hire me?”
Unphased, Jacob replied “I already told you. There are special white women out there. I know because I was raised by one. And you have proven to be one.”
She chuckled. “Okay, but that doesn’t explain why you’re so invested in me, in my job, and in my safety over the hundreds of people you employ.”
They continued to step in a circle. One of Cady’s hand moved up from his shoulders to the back of his neck, loosely playing with the hair on his nape. He half smiled down at her, and then resumed his usual unreadable expression. After thinking about this he responds, “You... spark something in me.”
She gulped. “And what is it that I spark?”
He smirked at her, deliberating his answer. His hands slid from her hips around her lower back, bringing her just slightly closer. “I’m still trying to figure that part out.”
Her heart pounded in her chest. When she looked at his face, just inches from hers, her thoughts were consumed with the desire to kiss him. She wanted to bring his mouth down to hers and fall deep into him, to allow her hands to feel everything she has ever revered about him.
His eyes betrayed the same desire.
Their dance ended in silence and Jacob excused himself. Cady watched him disappear from the party and take the elevator up to his office.
She walked over to the bar and ordered a martini for herself. What in the world just happened? She gave her boss sex eyes. Oh god. And he gave them back. All while they were in a crowded room. She shook her head and downed her drink.
The bartender offered her a second drink. She nodded quickly. “On second thought, a whiskey too.” She took the drinks and against her better judgement, started walking the familiar path up to his office. She wanted to at least apologize to him.
She walked in without knocking. Jacob was leaning against his desk with his eyes closed and one hand pinching the bridge of his nose. His tie was slightly loosened.
His eyes opened and his head came up to looked to her.
“What are you doing up here?”
She raised her hands to point out the glasses. “You seemed like you could use a drink.”
Cady walked up to him and handed him the whiskey. Their fingers touched as she passed off the drink. Accidental touches still sent her heart fluttering.
“Yes. Thank you.”
They never broke eye contact as he tipped the whiskey back and finished it in one drink. He set the glass down on his desk and peered at her curiously as she took a sip from hers. Leaning closer to Jacob than necessary, she set her glass and clutch next to his glass. Suddenly, all intentions of apologizing were gone from her mind.
The music was quiet but it could be heard vaguely from his office. She took his hand and pulled him into her for another dance. “Dance with me again. It’s not often I get the chance.”
“You didn’t get enough dancing downstairs?” he questioned.
“No,” she said, her voice betraying her nervous feelings. His eyes were roaming her face as he stood and pulled her close. One hand held her hand close to his chest, and the other rested on her waist.
His brooding eyes robbed her of all the air in her lungs. It felt like her skin was on fire everywhere her body met his. She felt it in her fingertips where he held her hand to his chest. She felt it in her waist where she was held to him. The fire was everywhere.
In this moment, all she wanted was to be closer to him. Tentatively, she pressed her forehead to his. Bringing her hands to the back of his neck, she slid them up to his head, her thumbs on the trimmed sides and her fingers lost in the longer kept back. Their noses slid together as she moved closer to him.
“Cady,” he said, his voice low.
“Jacob,” she responded throatily, her lips just inches from his. He sighed audibly. She took a small pleasure in the fact that saying his name affected him as greatly as him saying her own did.
“We shouldn’t,” he muttered.
“So?” She wasn’t going to try to convince him there was no reason they shouldn’t. She knew there were reasons. She just didn’t care.
His hands slowly slid back to her hips and his fingertips press into her flesh. Their bodies were pressed together. She knew Jacob would never come to her first. She knew she had to be the one to start it. Allowing her jaw to move in slightly, her lips were just an inch from his. She slowly tilted her jaw in, ready to get what she wanted.
A knock on the door made her jump before she could kiss him. He cleared his throat and stepped back, his dark eyes boring into hers. Lips pursed, his hands reached up and straightened his jacket and tie and he composed himself before walking to the office door.
The door opened only a foot. “Henry.”
Henry leaned over to see past the door, a curious look on his face at seeing Cady with him.
“It is almost time for your speech,” Henry said.
“Ah, yes. I lost track of time.” He nodded. “I’ll be down in just a moment.”
Henry nodded but seemed reluctant to leave without him. He turned and left with a quizzical glance at Cady.
Nighthorse shut the door behind Henry but left his hand on the door. His back was still to Cady. She wasn’t sure what to do. He turned back to look at her silently before shaking his head and opening the door. He held it open and gestured for her to walk through.
Cady’s words got caught in her throat. Time was up. She gathered her dress and silently walked to the elevator, not missing the fact that he chose the stairs. Mandy and her group of friends were circled up, everyone listening to the Henry on the microphone. She walked over to them to listen to the speeches.
“Nighthorse is next,” Mandy said distractedly.
Cady nodded, feeling the leftover embarrassment from making a pass at her boss. She can’t believe she was so stupid as to think it was a good idea. All her mind could focus on was how badly she wanted to be close to him.
Her thoughts were interrupted by clapping and cheering as Henry introduced Jacob onto the stage.
He came on and shook Henry’s hand before waving at the crowd.
“Hello, everybody. For those of you who aren’t familiar, I’m Jacob Nighthorse, owner of Four Arrows Casino.” He paused for some clapping from the crowd. It got quiet and he continued. “Today is all about one thing. Our tribe. We’re here trying to make a difference. It’s the reason this casino was created in the first place.” He looked out among the people proudly. “We all want to see our people prosper, and I know each and every one of you here is dedicated to that same goal. We have a need for scholarships, for better infrastructure, and for more jobs and opportunity.”
Everyone was mesmerized as he spoke. Jacob’s voice was strong and influential. He really did have a way of manipulating reality to his will.
“That is why,” he led, “I’m excited to announce a project to bring lasting growth and stability to the reservation.” Cady’s eyebrows raised, taken just as off guard as everyone else. “This project will aim to hire workers from the reservation to learn on the job, hands-on construction skills. We’re going to build new roads on our land together, as well as a bridge that you, the people of the res, will have a hand in naming. Our reservation will have a strong infrastructure again.”
People were clapping loudly and hollering out their approval and joy. Jobs and training could change lives around the res.
“I would also like to announce a scholarship program that will be heading up for the next academic year.” Jacob paused and met Cady’s eyes. Like he was saying it right to her, he continued, “Five full-ride scholarships will be awarded to those who would like to see professional law degrees.” He took a pause to allow for clapping and broke his eyes from hers. Her jaw had dropped, and she had to consciously tell herself to close it. “In addition to the scholarship, jobs will also be offered to them upon graduation at our very own legal aid center in order to help our people as well as build experience for these bright and motivated individuals.”
Mandy turned to Cady excitedly. “Holy shit!”
“Holy shit is right!”
“Did you know about this?”
She tucked her hair behind her ear and shook her head. “I had no idea.”
The crowd clapped loudly as Jacob leaned into the microphone to say, “My biggest aspiration in all this is that one day, our people will no longer be in need of hope. Applications for both will be available on the Four Arrows website starting tomorrow. Thank you.” He waved goodbye and exited the stage.
Cady sat on the couch in her temporary hotel room, her legal papers spread out on the coffee table. The office may need repaired, but deadlines were still running on the rest of the world’s schedule.
Her mind was not without distraction, though. Ever since Jacob announced his legal scholarships, Cady had been dying for a reason to talk to him. She hadn’t found a good reason yet, so she was waiting till she did, not wanting it to be too thinly veiled. It had been days since they last spoke.
She decided to shower. The beautiful bathroom was just begging to be used, anyways.
Hot water shot out of the shower head and steam filled up her little glass steam room. Sighing heavily, she slowly massaged her neck, trying to work out the kinks she got from leaning over her papers all morning. Her soap smelled like lavender and filled the air. All in all, at least as a result of the vandalism her life got a little sweeter for a couple days. The water shut off and she got out, wrapping a robe around her body. Her phone pinged with a text.
This shit is boring. Where are you working from? I’ll come hang out.
Cady smirked. For some reason Mandy had really taken to her, and Cady had taken to her too.
To Mandy: 10:42am
I have a room at the casino hotel. Room 1412
She went out to the bedroom to go make a pot of coffee.
As she was dumping in the grounds into the filter, a knock came. It would be way too soon for Mandy to be there yet. Pressing the start button on the coffee pot and walking forward, she looked out her peephole to see Jacob standing outside her door. Better than vengeful burglars, she thought.
Opening the door, she smiled. “Hello. Sorry, I was expecting someone else, come on in.” Her wet hair clung to her face slightly. She ran her fingers through her hair as she tried shaking it off a little.
Jacob entered silently. The heavy door shut with a thud. His eyes raked over her bare legs where her too-short robe failed to cover. They lingered on her exposed chest where the robe had loosened and opened slightly.
“I see.” His tone seemed to have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ impression. Cady cringed as she realized how it must seem that she was in a bathrobe and said she was expecting someone else.
“Mandy from the legal aid is coming over later to help me with some of that,” she pointed behind her to her pile of papers.
He only nodded in response. “It felt a little pointless to text you while we were in the same building.” He held up what was in his hand. Her black clutch. “You left this in my office the other night.” He set it on the dresser.
“Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t even notice it was gone. Thank you.”
“We were both… distracted.”
She smiled awkwardly. “Um, about that. I just wanted to apologize for that. If I was inappropriate, at all.”
He ran his finger along the clutch he laid on the dresser. “It’s okay. I think we are equally to blame. I didn’t exactly… discourage you,” he said carefully.
Her heart skipped a beat. “I supposed not.” She cleared her throat and changed the subject before she said something to embarrass herself. “You made some pretty great announcements. I especially enjoyed hearing about the legal scholarships. It could be life changing.”
“I thought you might appreciate that. Yes… life changing. That’s the hope.”
The coffee timer went off and she turned around to shut it off. She leaned down to get a mug from the cabinet beneath the coffee pot.
She looked over her shoulder to see Jacob staring at the ceiling uncomfortably.
Confused, she stood up and turned around. He cleared his throat. “No, thank you. I won’t be staying.” He spoke tactfully, and she was confused. “You also might want to… put some pants on before you offer young Mandy any coffee.”
Her face turned bright red. She’d bent over in her robe to grab mugs. And exposed herself. This was absolutely mortifying. The abashed expression on Jacob’s face made it all the worse.
She covered her face with her hands in embarrassment. “Can we please pretend this never happened?” she asked.
He held his hands up. “Fine by me. See you arou-” he cleared his throat uncomfortably, trying to pick his words carefully. “Goodbye.”
She opened the door for him to leave, and right as he went to walk out the door Mandy came around the corner and smacked right into him. Her eyes went wide and she looked down between them.
“Oh my gosh, I’m sorry.” Mandy looked at Cady, wet hair and in a robe, and a flustered looking Jacob. “Am I interrupting something? Because I can leave and come back later.”
If Cady wasn’t mortified she would have laughed at the kill me now expression on Jacob’s face.
“That will not be necessary. I was just leaving.” He stepped around her. And began walking back to his office, his hands in his pockets.
Mandy stepped in and shut the door with her mouth curled into a huge smile. “Spill it. Right now.”
She rolled her eyes. “Don’t play dumb. What the hell was that? I don’t think Nighthorse has ever blushed in his life, but he was blushing for sure.”
“Your imagination runs too far.”
“Oh yeah? When I bumped into him I felt a gun in his pocket, but I don’t think it was a gun if you’re catching my drift. I think he was just happy to see ya.” She gestured to her state of undress.
“Oh, hush. Grab some coffee and sit on the couch, I’m going to go change in the bathroom.”
Mandy wasn’t giving it up though. “And at the fundraiser when you danced – yeah, that’s right, I saw your little googly eyes you two were making at each other.”
Cady gasped indignantly. “We were not making googly eyes!”
“Were too! I mean, I don’t blame you, girl. He’s hot. And he has this whole dark and mysterious thing going on. I’d want to tap that, too.”
She groaned audibly and threw her face into her hands. “Mandy! I don’t want to ‘tap that!’ He was just returning a clutch I left in his office. And then right before you came, I bent down to get a coffee mug and… well… I’m not wearing anything under the robe, and I wasn’t thinking…”
“YOU FLASHED HIM THE GOODS?!” she roared. She fell to the couch holding her stomach, laughing so hard she was going to start crying. “You flashed your boss the goods! Oh my god. That’s the best thing I’ve heard all day! Cady fucking Longmire. Who knew you had it in you?”
Even Cady couldn’t stop herself from chuckling. “It was an accident, okay?” she said through laughter. Before she knew it, she was laughing so hard she could barely breathe.
“The look on his face,” Cady said breathlessly.
“I know right!!” Mandy laughed, even snorting, which only made Cady laugh harder.
“Oh, god. I can’t believe that happened.” She gave one last chuckle before saying, “Okay, I need to go change before it happens all over again. I’ll be back in a minute.”
A series of loud, shrill beeps awoke Cady from a not-so-peaceful sleep. Pulling her head up groggily, she blindly searched for the alarm clock. It stopped sounding and she read 5:45am. She groaned and laid her head back on her pillow.
On the day she had to get up extra early for depositions, she couldn’t get any restful sleep the night before. It was just her luck. Every time she fell asleep her dreams were consumed by dark eyes, strong arms, agile fingers… Jacob. There was no release, just a dark paradise she didn’t want to wake up from.
It certainly made it difficult to stop thinking about her boss as more than a coworker or even a friend because it happened more than she cared to admit.
She sat up slowly and stretched her neck and shoulders. A hot shower would do her good. Cady usually set her alarm early to give herself plenty of time of mosey through her routine. Depositions started at 8:00 today, but they had to drive to Sheridan for it. Cady towel dried her hair and went to her duffel bag to pick out some clothes. Settling for a white button down and a grey dress suit, she put the clothes on and checked herself in the full-length mirror in the bathroom. She sighed and shook her head. Cady finished her hair by tying it into a loose bun on the back her hair and applied some light mascara to her eyelashes for the finishing touch.
Jacob and Cady met in his office to go over some of the documents that were given to them to read before the depositions. Sitting in two armchairs facing each other, she started shuffling papers around.
Cady said, “There’s plenty of time, but right now their case looks better than ours.”
“How so?” he asked.
“One of the documents presented shows that in the casino’s employee handbook, all employees are entitled to at least one verbal warning before they are terminated for misconduct. There’s no disciplinary records on his file. So, unless we get concrete evidence that he was stealing, we’re going to be hard pressed here. It’s also in the documentation that he’s accusing you of firing him because he wouldn’t perform illegal acts for you, probably the thefts you’re accusing him of. I’m guessing he’ll claim at the depositions that someone else committed the thefts and he got the boot for refusing.”
Jacob placed a finger over his lips as he processed this. “Is it correct for me to assume this has me looking really bad?”
She cringed slightly. “I’m afraid it does.”
“And it opens me up to possibly being investigated and arrested for the thefts?”
“It’s… possible, yes.”
Straightening his jacket, he remained silent. He stood up, agitated, and walked over to the window. He stood quietly with his hands in his pockets.
“Like I said, things are still early. Today are only the depositions, we’re going to have time to figure this out. Don’t let what they’re saying shake you. We have the truth on our side.”
He nodded. She could see his reflection in the glass of the window and could see his eyes were clouded with doubt and tribulation. Standing slowly, she walked up behind him. She put her hand on his shoulder.
“We’re going to get out of this. I promise.”
“You shouldn’t make promises you can’t keep.”
“I know,” she said. “I haven’t.”
His eyes scanned the fields that existed behind his casino.
“Part of me believes I’ll always be doomed to look like the bad guy. I begin to wonder why I bother trying to convince people if no one will ever believe otherwise.” His eyes stayed fixed out the window.
“Hey. I know you’re not the bad guy. I know it even if no one else does.”
Jacob turned his head and met her eyes.
“Thank you.” His expression showed a tenderness she hadn’t seen since the day he came to check on her after J.P. was killed. The day he told her he was proud.
“Come on,” she said. “Time to get on the road for depositions. We don’t want to be late.”
“No, we don’t. I’ll drive.”
[L] [L ] [L] [L]
The depositions went as well as could be expected. Nothing Johnny’s attorney said took her off guard, which was a good thing. Unfortunately, the whole time Johnny maintained a smug demeanor. This genuinely just pissed her off and gave her a new resolve to get him what he deserved. Jacob never failed to impress her, showing his quiet confidence and inability to be shaken throughout the depositions. It was charming and sexy, and gave Cady a small thrill to be at his side.
They were in his car silently riding back to Absaroka County. Mulling over all the new information, Cady was trying to form plans on how to spin this in court if she needed to. Yes, the missing money stopped when Johnny White Deer was fired, but that wasn’t concrete evidence. It could only support evidence.
Sighing, she began flipping through pages hoping something she may have missed might pop out at her. Upon hearing her sigh Jacob looked at her sideways.
“What?” he asked.
“Nothing, really. I just wish we had some way to prove this guy is dirty.”
“You and me both.”
She flipped to one of her earlier notes about the case from her first meeting with him about Johnny White Deer. “Let me make sure I have this straight. Malachi was head of security and was turning the blind eye to the thefts since Johnny was probably doing it for him for a cut of the money, and he took the evidence with him when he left?”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“So, if we can get a warrant for Malachi’s home and search it, do you think we could find the video surveillance?”
Jacob only shook his head. “He would never keep evidence to one of his crimes in his house. He has too many people he can pay to do the dirty work for him.”
She thought about this. “Well… maybe we should find who does his dirty work.”
He raised one eyebrow curiously. “And how do you propose we do that?”
That was further ahead than she had thought of so far. “I guess I’m not sure. Catching them in the act again?”
“The act of stealing from the casino?”
“Mm, no, we don’t want that. Maybe the act of breaking into my office again. You could let it slip in conversation with one of the table workers who knew Johnny that you have some killer evidence hidden at the legal aid office. Say you can’t wait to see the look on his face when you pull it out during court. I bet you anything he’ll send whoever it was that broke into my office the first time back to try to find it.”
“Except this time, we’ll be ready,” he finished her thought.
“It might cost us a couple more windows and some security cameras, but I think we can do it.”
“Cady Longmire,” he said with a smirk. “You really are tenacious, you know that?”
She looked out the window at the passing landscape to hide her blush.
Henry Standing Bear showed up to Jacob Nighthorse’s home. He threw his green truck into neutral and killed the engine. Nighthorse was outside already. Hopping out of the cab, he strolled over to wear Nighthorse was standing.
“Hello, Henry. What brings you here?”
“I wanted to talk to you about Cady Longmire,” Henry stated.
Nighthorse crossed his arms and tilted his head curiously. “You’ve got my attention.”
“It has come to my attention that you and my goddaughter have been spending more time together.”
Nighthorse waited for Henry to continue with a question of some sort. When he didn’t, Nighthorse responded smoothly. “Yes. We are working together on a case for the casino.”
“I would hate to see her mixed up in something that would not be good for her.” Henry put his hands on his hips.
“I’d appreciate it if you just came out and said what you mean to say,” Nighthorse said with an annoyed tone.
“I understand you are in some legal trouble with Johnny White Deer. Word travels fast on the res. I also understand that you are involving Cady. If you are using her to take the blows that would otherwise be aimed at you, there will be severe repercussions.”
Nighthorse pressed his lips into a thin line. He shook his head. “I expect this sort of thing from Walt, but from you Henry… you must be spending too much time with the sheriff.”
“You are avoiding what I said.”
Nighthorse sighed. “I care about Cady. I wouldn’t put her in danger.”
Henry raised his eyebrows. “You bring up my next point. At the fundraiser it seemed you cared for Cady quite a lot. Particularly in your office. It appears that your intentions are not exactly employer-employee appropriate. I hope for your own sake you have not crossed any lines.”
“Man. It just keeps on getting better. Wow. For the record, Cady is an adult and can do what she wants with who she wants. And I never put a hand on her.”
“She is bright, smart, beautiful, and has an incredible heart. If you do care for her, then stay away from her. She is too good to get mixed up with you.”
“Ouch, Standing Bear. You really know how to wound a guy,” he said sarcastically.
“You know what I mean. By mistake or design, your lifestyle is dangerous. In fact, you have required security detail on multiple occasions and still do. I do not think it would be in her best interests to be involved with you.”
“Anything else?” Jacob said dryly.
Henry crossed his arms. “That is all.”
Nighthorse only acknowledged his comment with a cold stare and walked back inside, leaving Henry standing in his driveway.
[L] [L] [L] [L]
Cady was in her office nervously cleaning. Her hands held a broom that rhythmically swept the dirt from the floor into a small pile. This was the only thing that would help for now because her mind was running a mile a minute. She bent over to hold the dustpan and swept the pile in.
Today the police from both departments were coming over to her office. A surveillance system was being installed so that in the case the vandalizers came back, they might be able to identify them and arrest them.
This also meant she and her dad would have to be together in her work office. Considering that he hated her job and would rather she quit altogether, she just prayed things went smoothly. Part of her hoped that with his deputies and Mathias there he might have enough witnesses to just be civil.
She dumped the dustpan into the trash and sighed heavily. Next, she got a wet cloth and began dusting. Anything to keep her mind occupied. She dusted the mantle that her rifle, the gift from Nighthorse, hung above. Reaching up, she touched the eagle’s feather hanging from the barrel. Mental images of the night J.P. Wright entered her office and tried to kill her and Asha flooded her mind. She imagined the blood fresh in her mind as if it was yesterday. That day would always haunt her.
The next mental images she saw were of herself cowering in the bathroom, clutching the rifle for dear life and hoping she wouldn’t have to use it again. She was so thankful the footsteps under the door were only Jacob and not someone who wanted to hurt her.
Her dad saw all of this as evidence that she should quit, that this job was too dangerous. But Cady saw this is as evidence to the contrary, evidence that she couldn’t give up on the people who had to live their lives in fear of what she had seen. After J.P. was shot, Henry told her she showed herself to be a true Cheyenne warrior. And Cady felt like one now. No matter what happened, Cady resolved that she wouldn’t stop fighting to improve their lives until the day they no longer needed her.
A knock at the door sounded. She turned around to see her dad peering in through the glass. He waved and opened the office door, stepping in.
“Hey, dad.” She smiled, happy to see her dad despite their disagreements. “Is everyone else here or did you get here early?”
“Zach is by the truck getting the equipment out and Mathias should be here any minute to hook up the feeds to our computers. I figured I’d uh – I’d let him deal with the computer stuff.”
Cady laughed at her father’s complete aversion to technology. “I’m sure Mathias and I will be able to figure it out.”
At this point Zach walked in with arms full of equipment. “What, no table to set this on?”
“Not yet, I’m still… decorating. Go ahead and set it up on the floor,” she chuckled.
Zach laid the equipment down and starting separating the various screws, mounts, cameras, and wires. “I feel like a kid putting his Legos together on the living room floor,” he muttered.
Cady rolled her eyes at him good-naturedly. Mathias showed up next.
“Alright, while Zach and my dad put up the cameras I guess our job is setting up the video feeds.”
Mathias nodded. “Just point me to the computer and we’ll get started.” She and Mathias sat down at her desk and began working. It didn’t take long, maybe only half an hour for things to be functional on their end.
Mathias walked out to the porch, Cady following to see how the progress was going. “Zach. Give me your phone.”
Zach looked down from his ladder, then back up as he drilled in the last screw on the camera mount. “You know, usually that’s Walt’s line,” he said distractedly.
Mathias rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. “Not to use it. So I can get you the video feed on your phone. Aren’t you in charge of the security on this property now?”
Zach pulled his phone out of his back pocket and dropped it down to Mathias. “Thanks. I’ll have it back in a few.” Mathias walked back into the house and into her office.
“Dad?” Cady asked.
“Did I just hear him wrong, or is Zach ‘in charge of security on this property’?”
“Nope. You heard right. He’ll be here during business hours too, keeping security while you work,” he said as he began stepping down his ladder. “There, we should now have a 360-degree view of what goes on around your office.” He put his hands on his hips and admired their work.
“You’re getting a little off topic here. Why didn’t anyone ask me about this?” Cady questioned incredulously.
“We figured you understood that this was the plan.”
“I can take care of myself, you know. I don’t need to be babysat.”
Walt turned to Cady. “This isn’t another J.P. Wright we’re dealing with. These are real criminals who are out to hurt you. If you’d just quit we wouldn’t need to be doing any of this and you wouldn’t be in harm’s way. So please, if you won’t listen to me, then at least let me protect you.”
She shook her head in frustration. “So what does that make J.P.? A ‘fake’ criminal? A girl scout?”
Her dad stared down at her, trying to find the right words. Mathias handed Zach’s phone back, who was clearly trying to pretend he wasn’t paying attention to Walt and Cady’s argument.
“Alright, my work here is done. You know where to reach me if you need me,” Mathias said.
“Thank you, Mathias,” Cady said. She waved her goodbye as Mathias left.
Zach chimed in, “I’m all finished too. I’ll wait for you in the truck, Walt.”
Cady turned and walked back into her office. She heard her dad’s boots and knew he was following her.
“I don’t want to argue with you, Cady… I really don’t. But I just have to get my two cents in.”
She leaned against the wall. “Alright. I’ll hear your two cents.”
“Mathias and Henry have both noticed that you… and Nighthorse… seem to be getting, err, closer.” His face showed how uncomfortable he was with this conversation. “Now, I know that no person is flawless… I’m not without flaws myself, I do know that. But punk, a flaw of yours is that you can’t see Nighthorse for who he really is. He’s putting you in harm’s way time and time again. How many times will you need to use that rifle to defend yourself?” he said, gesturing to the mounted rifle. “Will it even be the last time this week?”
“Dad. He hasn’t done anything wrong. He isn’t putting me in harm’s way. I choose to be here. I want to be here. The only thing Nighthorse did was fire an employee who was stealing from him. How in the world does that make him the bad guy here?”
One hand brushed his chin, the other was on his hip. “You can’t really expect me to believe he wasn’t in on that. I have no doubt in mind that he was in on it, taking extra cash on the side and then firing the employees involved to cover his own ass. Keep ‘em quiet. Except this time, it blew up in his face and now he’s using you as a shield to look innocent.”
She threw her hands up in exasperation. “Of course! Of course, it comes back to this. My god, dad, is there nothing you won’t accuse him of?”
“Think about it. He has to be the unluckiest son of a bitch alive if these many coincidences have painted him to look guilty. They’re not just coincidences. He’s guilty, I know it,” Walt exclaimed. Cady just shook her head.
“You’re right. They’re not just coincidences. It’s just you seeing what you want to see.”
Walt remained silent, clearly seeing the conversation was getting them nowhere. He sighed and adjusted his hat.
“I’ll try to help you find the guy who vandalized your office. Just don’t be surprised if the evidence leads back to Nighthorse. I’m just warning you who it is you’re dealing with so you aren’t taken off guard when I’m right.”
Cady pursed her lips, at a loss for words. She couldn’t have this conversation anymore. Hinting to her dad that it was best if he left was all she could manage. “Good night, dad,” she said deadpanned. Walt stepped forward and kissed her on the top of her head.
“Good night, punk.”
He left and the headlights moved across the walls of her office, blinding her briefly.
Cady arrived back at the hotel. Now that there were security cameras up at the office she didn’t see a reason to keep wasting Jacob’s money using a room. It was time to go home.
She saw his SUV in the parking lot. It was late for him to still be working considering that it was dark out. Walking into the elevator, her hand hovered over the button with her floor number on it. She moved her hand up a few buttons and pressed the button for his office instead. The least she could do was thank him for the room and let him know she was leaving to go home.
The door to his office was slightly open, just cracked a few inches. She knocked lightly and stepped in. Jacob was sitting at his desk and calmly looked up to her.
“Cady. To what do I owe the honor?” he greeted. He set his pen down and leaned back in his chair.
“I’m just here to let you know that I will no longer be needing the room you’ve offered me. And to thank you for allowing me to use it this long.”
Jacob’s eyebrows knit together in confusion. “And why is it that you won’t be needing the room any longer? Those who sought to hurt you are still around.”
She nodded. “My dad and Mathias have put up security cameras around my reservation office. They also placed a Zach as a security guard there against my wishes, but that’s a whole different conversation. And since my house is off-res… well, I just figured now is the right time to go home.”
He shook his head. “No,” is all he said.
“Just… no?” She was confused.
“They may have security at your office during business hours but there’s no security at your home. You won’t be safe there and being off-res won’t stop these guys if they decide they want you. So, no. I want you near me just in case.”
She smirked, a realization hitting her. “Is that why you’re here so late? To look after me?”
Jacob didn’t respond, just stood up and removed his jacket. His fitted dress shirt showed off his arms and chest in a way that made it hard to look away.
“I’d rather if you kept using the hotel room for the time being,” he stated.
“Okay. I will.”
A long pause.
She was the first to break the silence. “I have to warn you that my dad is on a new warpath. He seems to believe that you were in on the thefts I’m defending you for. Taking a portion for yourself and then fired the guys to cover your own ass.”
Jacob immediately perked up at this. “Is that so?”
“Yes. He thinks he’ll find evidence that will point to you.”
Jacob nodded, taking this information in. “I can’t say I’m surprised. This is pretty typical for your father and I.”
Cady sighed. “I know.”
“I suppose my only question is whether or not you believe it’s true.”
Cady looked him straight in the eye, trying to convey how sure she was in her statement. “No. I don’t.”
He took a deep breath and nodded. Standing with his hands in his pockets he asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Well… a walk back to my room would be nice.”
“A walk, I can do.” He opened the door for her and followed her out, closing it behind him. They walked in silence, took a short elevator ride, and arrived at her room. She used her key card and unlocked her door.
“Good night, Cady.” He began stepping away.
Cady piped up. “Would you- would you like a night cap? I have a bottle of whiskey I was thinking about opening. I’m not a huge whiskey fan, but… it was a gift from a client…” she trailed off. Just asking this put butterflies in her stomach.
He took a long time to contemplate this. Clearly there were abundant pitfalls in this scenario. All of which would require self-control. He knew their last private encounter almost ended in a physical situation. Henry’s words flashed through his mind. By mistake or design, your lifestyle is dangerous… If you do care for her, then stay away from her.
Something pulled him to say yes, though. Curiosity, maybe. Whatever it was, he found himself nodding and following her in.
She quietly set her jacket and her purse down on the plush couch and walked over to the table. The seal on the bottle made a snap in an otherwise silent room when she took it off. Two glasses were poured and one handed over to Jacob, the other kept for herself. Jacob nodded his thanks and said, “Cheers.”
He took a sip and examined the amber liquid. “What kind of whiskey is this? It’s good.”
She picked up the bottle and read the label to him. “High West Bourye American Whiskey,” she recited.
His eyebrows raised high. “Holy smokes. This is 80 dollars a bottle. Who in the hell bought this for you?”
“Um, that guy Joe from the party. His sister was actually the client, not him.”
“I’ve known Joe a long time. He’s a good guy. He works maintenance for me at the casino. That’s some high-end whiskey for just a thank you.”
Cady laughed. “Is it really that good? I can never tell, it’s all the same to me.” She laughed at the incredulous look on his face.
Jacob just shook his head in disbelief. “All the same - you’re crazy,” he snorted.
She chuckled and took another sip. Jacob observed her curiously. With her jacket off she had a sleeveless top beneath, tucked into her jeans. His eyes moved over every inch of her skin. Her arms, her chest, her neck. The perfect lines of her collar bones… he looked at her to see she had been doing the same thing he was. She met his eyes and her face turned hot. The way they were attracted to each other was laid out bare, undeniable and unavoidable. The air between them was electric.
He sucked in a breath. “Cady. I just have to ask… what your intentions are in bringing me back to your room.”
She sipped on her whiskey. “Can’t I just enjoy your company?”
He nodded slowly. “Yes, you may. But that obviously isn’t what’s going on here. We’ve recently had our share of… inappropriate moments. Such as what almost happened during the fundraiser.”
“I know,” she agreed.
“I think we need to set boundaries. Lines. And not cross them.”
“Because there are too many reasons why we shouldn’t. I’m your boss. And technically your client right now. Your father would skin me alive, and our age difference is reason enough. I’ve certainly… appreciated getting closer to you. But when we almost kissed… we allowed it to go too far. It’s good to have trustworthy people on your side. But I’m afraid this friendship is where it stops.”
She hadn’t even realized how bad she wanted this until he said it couldn’t happen. “I don’t want it to stop here,” she said. She set her whiskey down and stepped closer to him. “And when you look at me I know you’re thinking about the same thing I am.”
She took another step. “This. What it would be like to be together.” Her hand reached out, his eyes watching her every move. When her hand touched his chest, his eyes flicked back up to hers.
“Cady,” he warned. “We can’t.” She got near to him, near enough to smooth the collar of his lime green dress shirt. She ran her hands on his chest, down his abdomen. Her hands held his waist. And he let her. “Don’t do this to me,” he said. His eyes bored down into hers, full of conflict.
She pulled back slightly, searching his eyes. “Do what?” she whispered.
“Don’t make me want you like this.”
The yearning in his voice drove her over the edge. Cady leaned closer, her lips close enough to brush his. He didn’t retreat or step away, which meant some part of him must have been battling on whether or not to let her get close. And that was enough for Cady. Now, with no one near to walk in, nothing to distract them or stop them, she began to kiss him.
She was blindly seeking his mouth, running her hand up to his neck and pulling him closer. She kissed him now how she had imagined kissing him all week, the way she kissed him in her dreams. The taste of Jacob mixed with the whiskey on his breath burned in her mouth. He found himself briefly responding, but he stood there stiffly, not allowing himself to deepen the kiss. Even though it was all he wanted.
He was torn between two halves of himself, his rational half that said it was wrong, and the half that wanted to carry her over to the bed and spend the whole night worshipping her body.
The latter half was gaining footing. The carnal man inside him couldn’t hold out for long, and he put his hands on her waist, pulling her closer. He had no resolve left and let himself get lost in her lips. The hand he had at her waist moved up and was getting tangled in her hair. Her pulse was racing.
She contained a moan that tried to escape, but she couldn’t stop herself from pressing her body to his. Her mouth opened and she brushed the tip of her tongue along his lip. The spark ignited and they were both getting lost in each other, pulling each other closer still. Their kisses were forged in fire.
Jacob felt himself losing his remaining control. He had no coherent thoughts, nothing to cling to other than this raging desire he had, a desire to do so much more than kiss. And against his desires, he brought the kiss to an end.
Pulling away was hard, but if he didn’t, this whole night would slip away from him. He and Cady stood there with their bodies still pressed together, both breathing heavily. She could feel him slipping away, mentally putting his walls back up.
Her hands were still wrapped around his neck. “Please don’t stop,” Cady begged. Jacob’s eyes were closed because he knew so much as looking at her could unravel him again. Reaching behind his neck, he detached her hands from his body and stepped away. He turned back to the table where his drink was. Jacob leaned over and placed both his hands on the table, trying to compose himself. He finished off his whiskey in one gulp and set it back down a little louder than he intended.
Remaining quiet, he rested on the edge of the table. A lump formed in her throat and her whole body felt his absence. Searching his eyes, she could see they betrayed his efforts to cool things down. His eyes were consumed with desire for her.
But she could also see his resolve. There was nothing she could say to change his mind. Her stomach was sinking as she realized there was no bringing back the moment they had just shared.
“I’m sorry,” he said. These were not the words Cady was expecting. She didn’t even understand what he was apologizing for. Sorry for what? For kissing her? For not speaking? For the desire in his eyes? Because she knew she was guilty of all three.
“I’m not sorry, not even a little.”
“I know you aren’t, Cady. And I admire you for that.” He breathed heavily and ran his hand through his hair. “What I really want to say is that you have made me feel things that I never expected,” he paused, trying to find the right words, “But-”
“Why can’t that be enough?” she cut him off.
He continued, “But that’s why I have to walk away. You deserve someone your own age, from your own walk of life. Tonight, we could let ourselves forget all the reasons this would never work. But that’s all we could ever have, is tonight. And I know that would never be enough for us. You’ll come to regret it. Because you deserve more.” He shook his head. “I wouldn’t be good enough for you. I never could be.”
“That’s not true.”
All he did was shake his head again. He cleared his throat and she thought of gravel hitting bone.
“It feels like we started at the end,” Cady said, her voice cracking.
“I’m afraid we have.” He stepped forward and cupped her cheek with one hand. “I truly am sorry.” He kissed her cheek, letting it last just a little longer than it should have. “Good night.”
Cady stood there solemnly and watched him walk out without looking back.
By the end of the week the office on the res was finally looking good enough for her to return to. Sam Poteet had done an exceptional job, just as Jacob had promised. He replaced the broken windows, which were going to need replaced before the winter anyway and painted over the graffiti message.
Her morning had been pretty uneventful. She was still getting used to Zach sitting around while she worked, though it had become easier as the week went on. She ended up sending him to go grab lunch so she could have a little quiet time alone.
Sighing heavily, she watched out the window. She had been really dejected since her last encounter with Jacob. Their kiss replayed in her mind over and over, constantly torturing her. She thought her attraction to him was bad before, now it was really in overdrive. It was more than attraction, though. She genuinely cared for him and trusted him. If she was being completely honest with herself, he was all she wanted anymore.
Zach walked into the office through the propped door with burgers from The Red Pony.
“You want me to close the door?” he asked.
“No, the breeze feels nice. Thanks though.”
A new table sat in Cady’s formerly empty makeshift living room. It was bought for meetings but today it was for lunch. Zach pulled the food out of the brown paper bag and set Cady’s next to her.
“I’m starved,” she said.
Zach nodded. “Me too.”
They both took their seats and began eating their burgers. They sat in silence, Cady picking up a few fries at a time.
“You know, your dad has been kind of miserable lately.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Really? Let me guess… he’s still thrilled about my contact with Nighthorse.”
“Yeah, it really pushes him sometimes.”
She sighed. “Yeah. I know how much it bothers him, but I can’t live my life based on my dad’s opinions about people. And I know Nighthorse is a good guy.”
Zach put his elbows on the table and grabbed for his drink. He sucked on the straw in thought for a moment before saying, “I believe you.”
This took her by surprise. “You do?”
“Yes, I believe that you believe he’s a good guy. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he is good. You can’t separate the world into two categories of ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ Everything is so much more complicated than that. Sometimes we want to think a monster’s not a monster when we love it.”
“Is that supposed mean Nighthorse is a monster?” she asked.
He shrugged. “No. I don’t know. I just know there was a time when I was a monster, and I think it would have been good if I’d had someone like you to not give up on me.”
“I can’t picture you as a monster, Zach. You’re too much of a softie.”
He chuckled. “Once upon a time I drank. I don’t anymore.”
She nodded. “Well thank you for… the advice. I’ll think on that.”
To lighten the mood, she stuffed a few fries in her mouth and joked, “You know, I think I could get used to this whole babysitter turned meal delivery service gig. I think tomorrow I’ll run you to Wendy’s.”
“Next time I expect a tip,” he joked.
In the background, Jacob Nighthorse walked up unnoticed by the pair. He leaned up against the door frame and observed. The two were laughing, and Jacob noticed their knees were touching. This made him clench his jaw. Zach chuckled and put his hand on her arm. To create some space between them Cady adjusted herself further back in her seat, disconnecting any contact between them. Noted.
Clearing his throat, Jacob announced his presence. Cady jumped slightly. Zach’s head turned to the door with his hand on his belted gun before relaxing at the sight of Jacob.
“You seem to be doing a fantastic job here, Zachary.” His sarcasm was thick. “Nothing gets by you.” The receiving end of Jacob’s cold glare made the hair on the back of Zach’s neck stand up.
Cady stood up, looking between the men. Zach took a massive bite out of his burger and gave a big full-mouthed smile at Jacob to spite him. He dropped his sarcastic smile and glared back at Jacob. Jacob just continued to stare him down, hands in his pockets.
Cady stood up. “How can I help you?” she said professionally.
“I’m here to drop this off, Miss Longmire.” It was a manila folder. “There are two more men I think may have been helping Johnny White Deer.” His tone was completely cold.
While passing off the folder her fingers brushed his. Despite the air of professionalism surrounding their conversation, the touch still sent shivers up her spine. Her eyes snapped up to his to see if it did the same to him, but he was as stoic and hard to read as ever.
Zach stood up and said, “You know, you could have sent those straight over to our department. We’re going to want to see those.” He walked forward and subtly put his hand on Cady’s lower back.
Cady was standing directly in front of Jacob, between the two men. Jacob peered over her to look at Zach and his hands made fists at his side, his jaw clenched. “I believe your job is to provide security on these premises, not stick your nose in her work.” His temper was obviously climbing. Without another word he dropped his stare and exited the office.
She watched him leave the office and stroll back down the driveway to his black SUV.
“I’ll be right back.”
Zach raised his hands as if to say, ‘I’m staying out of it,’ and sat back down with his burger.
Cady followed him down the driveway, her pace quick to catch up him.
“Hey.” She caught up him. He slowed his pace but didn’t stop.
“Yes?” Jacob replied, looking ahead.
“What’s your problem?”
“No problem here.” They reached his SUV and Jacob opened the door. He gestured back to her office. “You should probably get back. Before he misses you too much.”
Cady scoffed and threw her hands up. “Unbelievable.”
“There’s nothing unbelievable about it.”
“So one minute we’re kissing, the next you’re saying we can’t, and now you’re jealous that Zach is here? He’s literally getting paid to be here.”
Jacob’s eyes softened. His tone lowered. “I said you ought to be with someone younger. Your age. Someone from your own walk of life.” He nodded towards the building. “He’s clearly interested in you. You should open yourself up to the possibility that he fits that.”
She shook her head and crossed her arms, clearly closed off to the idea. “I’m going to make myself perfectly clear because I haven’t flat-out said this yet. I want you. It’s more than just attraction. I would do anything for you.” Her voice wavered slightly. “There’s no relief. I -I feel you in my sleep. I’m going crazy thinking about you. So, no, I don’t want him.”
“I know,” he said, nodding. “I know.” He turned to fully face her. “But you should.”
Standing there, she met his stoic eyes. She wanted to look away but she just couldn’t. It was clear he had the same problem. “You know, you scare me,” she said softly.
Jacob’s eyebrows knit together in confusion, her words catching him off guard and punching him in the chest. Looking at her he tried his best to decipher what she meant, not ready to hear what was going to come next. The twinge of pain on his face nearly broke her, but she pushed through.
“Are you going to ask me why you scare me?”
He only stared back. Hesitantly, he said, “Why?”
“Because you’re not like anybody I’ve ever been with, not like anybody I’d ever date.” Her voice cracked under the strain of saying this out loud. “And I’m scared nobody’s ever going to compare to you.” Her eyes welled up with tears. “That I’ll never get kissed the way we kissed. Or feel this way again.”
At a loss for what to say, he looked away and processed what she said. He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. Truth be told, Jacob was scared of the same thing she was. It was part of why he couldn’t bring himself to be with her.
“Cady…” He only stared down her, clearly afflicted.
His lack of response pushed her frustration to its tipping point.
“You know, you could have emailed me those papers. Faxed them. Texted me the info. You chose to come by and drop them off. And then you see me sitting with another man, a security detail at that, and you nearly lose your shit. What, are you checking in on me?”
“I wanted to check how the repairs came out.”
“Right, of course.” She put her hands on her hips in frustration. “I opened the door for something to happen between us and you chose to close it. Okay, fine, I’m working on accepting that. But it doesn’t help when you drop by like this. And of all things, you suggest I go after said security detail.”
He stared at her unblinkingly. “I realize how I must seem. I chose to drive by because yes, I wanted to make sure you were okay and in good hands. I was resentful when I first walked in and saw you two. I’m just a man, Cady.” He sighed and smoothed his goatee. “Truly, my motives aren’t pure. I wish you’d be with someone like Zach for my own sake, even if it does cause me to be… jealous.” Saying the last word of that sentence was difficult for him. His lips were pursed.
She just shook her head. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“If you were with someone like him… it would be easier for me to let go of you. To stop thinking about you the way I have been.” He looked her up and down slowly, taking her in and fully appreciating her beauty. “Make it so I don’t want to touch you so badly it hurts,” he said in a hushed tone. Apparently, the week following their kiss had been as hard for him as it was for her.
Cady gulped. “Yeah, well… I don’t know what to tell you. You can’t have it both ways. Either you want me or you don’t. But I can’t keep up this back-and-forth.”
“Yes. We are in agreement there.” He took two steps back from her. “Stay safe, Cady.” He stepped up into the SUV and closed his door. Cady stepped back before he put it in drive and left.
Zach was sitting at home in his living room. It was late, and he couldn’t sleep.
He was slouching on his couch in his boxers with a bowl of cereal sitting on his belly. Slowly crunching on his cereal, Zach aimlessly flipped through channels on the TV. Every once in a while, he would shift his eyes over to his laptop. It was propped on his coffee table with the security camera streaming the office property.
This was generally Zach’s nightly routine. Monitor the footage when possible, try to sleep, fail, monitor the footage again.
Zach had never really slept well. It was part of what drove him to alcoholism in the first place. If anything could make him fall asleep, it was blacking out from a bottle of Jack. Nights like tonight didn’t test his strength like they used to. He was stronger now.
Flipping the channel again, some movement flashed out of the corner of his eye. He looked back to the laptop on the coffee table and shoved another spoonful of cereal into his mouth. He squinted and sat forward to get closer to the monitor. He made out the shape of a person skirting around the side of Cady’s office.
“Shit!” Flecks of cereal flew out of his mouth. He put his cereal on the coffee table and jumped up. “Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit…”
He sprinted to his bedroom and tried to put on a pair of jeans. One of his feet got caught and he toppled over onto the floor.
“Seriously?!” he yelled to himself, scrambling back to stand up and get his pants on. He threw a plain white t-shirt over his head and shoved his feet into boots without socks. He clipped his gun to his hip, shoved his badge in his pocket, and ran to his truck.
He pushed his truck as fast as it could go, making 90 mph on most roads. This could be his only chance to get the guy who had broken into Cady’s office.
His phone was in his free hand, the other on the steering wheel, as he dialed Mathias’s phone number.
He heard a groggy, “Mathias,” through the speaker.
“You need to get to Cady’s office now. Someone is breaking in again and I can’t be the one to arrest him, it has to be you.”
“Fuck,” Mathias said. “I’m on my way.”
Zach pulled into the road Cady’s office was on. The gun on his hip was now in his hands as he got ready to enter the office.
Approaching the window, he crouched down. As slowly as possible, he tried to peer in without being seen. The intruder seemed to be distracted, like he was looking for something.
Zach lowered himself back down, heart pounding. He saw headlights of what he was certain was Mathias’s SUV. Zach made his way to Mathias who had jumped out of his truck and was cocking his gun.
“What’s the plan?”
Quickly thinking, Zach responded, “I’ll go in through the back to drive him forward. Wait at the front of the building. It’s your jurisdiction so you have to be the one to cuff him and read him his rights. You ready?”
Mathias gave a curt nod.
Zach circled around the building and stood in front of the back door. He took a deep breath to try to steady himself before going in. With one hard kick, the door was busted open and Zach was entering the office. He had his gun raised and ready to fire.
“Police! Get on the ground and put your hands on your head!” he yelled.
He heard a muffled curse and shuffling of footsteps. A light switch was to his right and he quickly flipped it on. The intruder was trying to flee through the front door, not knowing what would be waiting for him on the other side.
Trusting that Mathias would have his back, he holstered his gun and sprinted as fast as he could to tackle the man. His body slammed into him and the both hit the ground with an ‘oof.’ Zach mounted the intruder with his knees on either side of his body, pinning him to the ground.
Mathias put his knee on the intruder’s back to keep him down while he put the handcuffs on him. They stood him up and Mathias nodded to Zach that he had it from here. The rights were read to the intruder and he was placed in Mathias’s truck.
“Everything okay?” Zach asked.
“Yeah. I just… this wasn’t a guy I ever wanted to arrest.”
Zach raised his eyebrows curiously and peered at the man in the back of the vehicle.
“Sorry to hear that. I’ll give Cady a call, I’m sure she’ll be relieved.”
[L] [L] [L] [L]
Cady was woken up from a phone call from Zach in the middle of the night.
“Hello?” she said groggily, not fully awake.
“Cady? It’s Zach.”
She sat up straight in her bed and tucked her hair behind her ear.
“Zach. Is everything okay? Is my dad-?”
Her heart pounded in her ears. She was praying she wasn’t about to hear that her dad had been shot or worse. Getting a phone call in the middle of the night as the sheriff’s daughter was terrifying.
“Everything is okay. More than okay, actually. We arrested the guy who broke into your office. He’s in Walt’s custody now. We got his fingerprints and they matched the prints lifted from your office the first time it was broken to, so we know it was the same guy.”
Cady’s heart calmed down. “Wow, that’s, wow…” Her sentence made no sense as her sleepy brain tried to catch up to the new information. “Um, how is he in my dad’s custody? My office is res jurisdiction.”
“Yeah, but he had an outstanding bench warrant in Wyoming for an old skipped court appearance. So, we were able to transfer him over to Walt. It was better this way. Walt can charge him on federal charges where Mathias can only hold someone on misdemeanors. It’s a good thing, Cady.”
“I don’t know what to say. Just… thank you.”
“No problem,” he said. “Good night.”
A thought struck Cady. “Wait – are you still there?”
“I’m still here.”
“I just have to ask, who broke in?”
“Oh,” he said. “Just some guy named Joe Black Hawk. Never heard of him before this, but Mathias seemed to know him.”
Cady was in shock. Joe? This had to be a mistake. Joe was happy when Cady helped Clara. He called Cady ‘sister.’ Even bought her expensive whiskey to say thank you. This didn’t make any sense.
“Thank you. Good night, Zach.”
She hung up and breathed a sigh. Part of her was relieved but at the same time, she was confused. Why would Joe of all people do this?
Getting out of bed, she pulled her briefcase up and snapped it open. It took some rummaging around, but she finally found what she was looking for: Jacob’s list of workers who shared Johnny White Deer’s shifts. When she first received this list, she only paid attention to the table workers. But Joe Black Hawk’s name was on this list too.
She remembered what Jacob said to her the night they opened the bottle of whiskey Joe had given her. “I’ve known Joe a long time. He’s a good guy. He works maintenance for me at the casino.”
She laid back down in her giant king-sized bed with a huff. The alarm clock on her night stand read 3:30am. There was nothing more she could now except go back to sleep and wait to figure this out tomorrow.
[L] [L] [L] [L]
The next day she drove to her dad’s office as soon as she woke up. Ferg and Ruby were the only ones there.
“Where is everybody?” Cady asked.
“Good morning to you, too, Cady!” Ruby said with a chuckled.
Cady shook her head at herself. “Sorry, Ruby, good morning. I didn’t mean to be so short. I just have a lot on my mind.” She smiled at Ruby apologetically.
“It’s okay sweetie, I was only teasing. Your dad and Vic are searching a house, and Zach is out on a call,” Ruby said.
“Whose house are they searching – do you know?” she asked.
Cady jumped as a voice piped up behind her.
“Mine,” the voice said.
She turned around to see Joe Black Hawk sitting on the bunk of the cell.
“Joe – I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there.”
“It’s alright, sister. I think I’m the one who should be apologizing to you,” he said solemnly.
She stepped closer to the cell. He was peering up at her with sad eyes.
Ferg started, “Cady, I don’t think you should-” but she cut him off.
“It’s okay, Ferg.”
She pulled the chair from Zach’s desk and sat down in front of the bars, now eye-level with Joe. She put her elbows on her knees and looked back to Joe.
“They’re searching my home right now. They’re going to find surveillance video of Johnny at the casino. They’ll probably find some of your files and the red spray paint I used.”
She sighed. “Joe, can I just ask why? I don’t understand what you have to do with Johnny.”
He stuttered emotionally, unable to keep his voice steady. “M-my sister… she was able to leave her husband because of your help.” He breath was shaky. “But she c-couldn’t afford to start her life over. He took all she had. And Johnny told me he’d hire me to hold onto some things for him and send a message. I didn’t want to, especially not to you, but I needed the money,” Joe said silently.
“And the gift? You gave it because you felt guilty and had just come into some cash?”
Cady’s heartstrings were being tugged on. “I’m so sorry, Joe.”
She knew she should be upset with him. But all she saw was a product of the broken lives on the reservation. A tear dropped from her eye.
“You know, Cady, we really are lucky to have you.”
She nodded, unable to speak. Reaching out, she rested her hand on the bars before standing up and leaving.
Cady walked out of her dad's office, her heels clicking with each step down the stairs she took. Breathing heavily, she got to her car as fast as she could. She threw the car into drive.
As hard as she tried to keep it together, she cried quietly anyways. Tears slid down her cheek one after another. She felt like if she had done better by Clara, seen her through better or offered the right assistance, things could have been different. Joe might have never felt so desperate to help her that he dealt with such a bad man as Johnny to get money.
She pulled up to the casino and gathered herself. Deep breaths. It was time for business. She got out of her car and straightened herself, cleared her throat, and wiped her eyes.
Jacob was in the lobby of the casino. He was wearing his typical tidy suit and looked as handsome as ever. This made her heart feel heavier for reasons she didn't understand. Their eyes met and he started towards her.
"Can we talk in your office?" she asked.
He nodded silently. His eyes showed worry for her. Cady probably still looked like she'd been crying. On her way to the elevator, following Jacob quietly, she caught a glimpse of herself in the reflection of glass. Her eyes were puffy and red.
He opened his office door and allowed her to enter first.
Cady spoke first, trying to get this conversation over with and leave as soon as possible. Not only was it hard to feel like she failed Clara, but to be in the same room as Jacob after their falling out was genuinely just painful.
"Joe Black Hawk was arrested at my office late last night. He was breaking in and Zach caught him on the security cameras. My dad searched his house and found he was being payed to hold the surveillance evidence of Johnny's thefts and commit the vandalism."
Jacob looked surprised. "I didn't expect that of someone like Joe."
"Me either," she said. And it was her fault. "The good news is we have evidence that Johnny White Deer stole from you, so his wrongful termination suit is null." She held out her hand to shake. He looked at it for a moment as if deciding whether or not to let her conclude the conversation. He huffed, took a hold and shook it. "It was a pleasure doing business with you. I'll be out of the hotel room in a couple hours."
She stepped past Jacob.
"Cady, I -" he reached out for her arm, his eyes showing concern.
She just shook her head. "Unless what you're about to say is about the legal aid center or the White Deer case, please don't say it. I don't have the energy right now." Her voice cracked and she cleared her throat.
Jacob just put his hands in his pockets and nodded. "Alright."
Cady left and walked back to her room. The key card slid smoothly into place and the green light flashed indicating she could enter. She walked in, kicked her shoes off, and collapsed on her bed. Curling up in a ball, she let the sobs she'd been holding in rack her body.
All she wanted was to make a difference. But it seemed like every time she made a step in the right direction something pushed her three steps back. She wasn't sure anything she did could really change the lives of people on the reservation.
She was crying all her broken feelings into her pillow when she heard a knock at the door.
No answer from her.
"I just need to check if you're okay." It was Jacob, of course.
She didn't respond. She didn't want to see him. It would only remind her of what she couldn't have.
"Cady." He knocked again. "If you don't open the door, I'm going to come in anyways."
Tough, she thought. He used his manager's universal key card to enter. He stepped in slowly and stood still looking at Cady. She had turned in the bed so her back was to the door.
"I'm okay. So you can leave," she said in a wavered but detached voice. No response from Jacob.
He walked around to the side of the bed she was facing. The bed shifted under extra weight. "What are you -?"
Jacob sat down on the bed next to her. He smoothed her hair. "Tell me what's wrong."
She just shook her head in response. This was mostly because if she tried to talk, she would just break down and cry more, which is the last thing she wanted. She closed her eyes and breathed a long shaky breath to try to steady herself. It gave her away.
"I know these past couple days have been… tough, to say the least. And I haven't made it any easier." He sighed. "I apologize for that."
She sniffed. "Please stop saying you're sorry all the time. I don't deserve it."
"And why would that be?"
"It's my fault Joe is in trouble. I helped his sister Clara leave her husband, but she was too financially unstable afterward. He did those shady things for Johnny for money to help his sister start over. If I'd seen Clara through after her case was finished this never would have happened," she sniffled.
Jacob found her hand. "I don't believe that. There is always another way. He chose to do those things." He shook his head disappointedly. "This is just a reality of res life, what I'm trying my hardest to fight. The hopelessness my people experience is my greatest enemy, other than myself. It's why I hired you. You're an unnaturally hopeful person Cady. I think… maybe that is what you spark in me."
He brushed her hair off her neck. His fingertips skimmed her skin.
"Jacob…" she met his eyes, searching them.
He looked back at her brazenly. "Yes?"
"You confuse me."
He gave a half-smile. "I know."
Wiping her eyes, she sat up next to him. She sighed. "You know, it really would be as easy as breathing between us."
"I know," he said again. His voice was quiet and soft, a low rumble in his chest.
She gave him a sad smile. "Well, I meant it when I said I was working on accepting the fact that you don't think this is a good idea. I'm done, I promise. It'll be purely professional from here on out," Cady vowed. "No hard feelings between us, right?"
"No hard feelings," he agreed.
A small twinge poked at her heart. "No regrets?" she asked.
His eyes held a mischievous glint. "To be determined." He raised his chin a little and peered at her, his gaze locked on hers.
"I should probably be getting to work. I'm late as it is."
He nodded. "Yes, that is probably for the best."
She gave his hand a squeeze and stood up. Jacob just sat there and looked up at her for a second, a proud gleam in his eyes.
She smiled subtly at him. "By the way, I have some papers I'll need you to sign if you want to press charges against Johnny. You can stop by the office or I can come to yours."
"I better come to you this time."
"Okay, see you at the office, Jacob."
[L] [L] [L] [L]
At the office, things were pretty uneventful. With her cases for Clara and Nighthorse being wrapped up, there wasn't much work to be done. She sent her employees home early for the day. At least seeing all the smiles on their faces when they heard they got a short day put her in a good mood.
It was getting later, around 4pm. She began prepping the paperwork needed to press charges against Johnny White Deer. It took longer than most people would guess.
Her phone in her back pocket began vibrating. She set her papers aside and picked it up. It was Zach.
"Hey," she answered.
"Hey, Cady, it's Zach."
"Yeah, I know. Caller ID," she chuckled.
"Right," he laughed. "I was just checking to see how you were doing after all the commotion from last night and this morning."
"I'm doing alright. Just another day in Absaroka County, right?"
"I suppose so."
There was a silent pause.
"Well, thanks for the security Zach, you turned out to be the right man for the job. I owe you one."
"No problem, Cady, really. I was wondering – er – would you like to go out sometime, now that I'm not, you know, being paid to protect you?"
Cady's eyebrows rose in surprise. Jacob was right about Zach being interested in her.
"Um, wow. I –."
A mental image of Jacob flashed in her mind. She pictured their kiss, and him breaking it off. She saw Jacob tell her to go after Zach in his jealous fit, his cryptic and confident expression he wore as a mask at all times.
"- I think you're a really nice guy Zach. But - I'm not exactly dating right now."
"Okay, I understand." He paused. "I just… I have to ask though, why?"
"That's really none of your business," she said flatly. "And I don't owe you an explanation, but you're my friend. So, honestly," she sighed, "I don't see the point of getting involved with anybody if my heart is with someone else."
"Fair enough," he said good naturedly. "Sorry, I didn't mean to pry. I'll see you around?"
"Yeah, see you around."
She hung up the phone and sighed.
A voice came in the background. "Hello."
Cady jumped out of her skin and turned around. Jacob was casually leaning against the door frame, just like before. He was no longer wearing his business suit, but jeans with a t-shirt and his brown leather jacket.
"Shit, you scared me." She sighed from relief. "I've come to the conclusion that you're just stealthy." Jacob just stared at her, his expression enigmatic. Why was he so hard to read? She cleared her throat. "How much of that did you hear?"
He pressed his lips into a thin line mindfully. "Enough to know you're not dating because your heart is somewhere else."
"Ah," she said, stalling her response. There was nothing to say on the subject. Cady knew that Jacob was attracted her. She was sure. But she also knew that he didn't want to be attracted to her. Despite this, she felt her skin burning everywhere his eyes moved over her. She wasn't sure if it was her imagination or if Jacob really was doing a slow perusal of her body.
He pushed himself off the door and walk toward her. He didn't stop until he had fully breached her personal space. She stood her ground, not moving an inch. His eyes bored down into hers unblinkingly.
"What are you doing?" she asked breathlessly.
Jacob pursed his lips and put one hand on her cheek. He was sizing her up. Tilting his head to the side, he carefully said, "I was hoping you might make an exception to the rule for me."
He leaned in to close the remaining space between them. He paused for just a moment, close enough that all she could feel was his breath on her lips. He came down strong, finally kissing her. Cady was certainly caught off guard but that in no way hindered her ability to respond. Her hands clasped to his chest and pulled him closer by his jacket.
He deepened the kiss and she opened her mouth her to his, his tongue sliding across her lip and brushing the tip of her tongue. She moaned into the kiss, her whole body experiencing a hot burn. Her face was being cradled by both his hands as he gave himself to her. His arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her as close as she could come. He slowed, lingering on her lips.
Jacob broke the kiss apart and looked down at her.
She breathed heavily. "If you kiss me like that again, all bets are off."
"That's kind of the point," he murmured. Her knees went weak as he lowered his lips down to her. This kiss was much tamer than the previous kiss. This kiss was a kiss of love and affection. They slowly moved their lips together, enjoying each second for all they had been missing and wishing for.
"Nighthorse, you son of a bitch," her dad's voice growled.
This is the final chapter. Thank you to everyone who left a comment! Special shout out to bluesybreeze for leaving a comment on every update! There's a potential epilogue/sequel fic to follow and a Cady/Jacob one-shot is in the works now. See you guys!
“Nighthorse, you son of a bitch,” her dad’s voice growled.
Jacob stepped back and cautiously turned towards Walt. Cady froze, afraid of what would happen if the two men clashed.
“Walt,” Jacob said. He held one hand out. “You weren’t meant to see that.”
“I ought to shoot you!” he yelled, pointing his finger in Jacob’s face. “My daughter…” he grumbled angrily.
“Dad-” Cady tried.
Her dad pointed to her and sternly said, “Stay out of this Cady.” He looked back to Jacob. “You. You’re nothing but a damn thief and a crook. You’ll stop at nothing to get someone to do what you want them to do. First you steal from other workers while colluding with Johnny White Deer -”
“I never did that,” Jacob exclaimed. “Never. I hate to break it to you, but your imagination runs a little wild.” His jaw was clenched and Cady could see Jacob’s temper was running short.
Walt ignored his comment. “- and then you use my daughter to help you cover it up. Now that it’s been pinned on someone else you’re free and cleared and you have her under your thumb.”
“I hate to poke holes in your big conspiracy, but there wasn’t a ‘cover up’ because there was nothing to cover up. I was the victim of a crime for god’s sakes.”
“You did it, I know you did you filthy son of a bitch. I’m tired of your denials about your arrangements with criminals.”
“There is no arrangement! I don’t know what I have to do to get this through to you.”
“I know you put Cady’s life in danger by using her as a shield for this crime. You’re no victim, she is. She only wants to see the good in people and you take advantage of it as many times as it benefits you. He doesn’t give a damn about you, Cady. He was manipulating you and he still is.”
Jacob exploded. “That’s wrong!” he yelled, chest heaving. He stepped back and ran his hand over his mouth, trying his best not to lose his temper right there. Cady stepped between the two men hoping to bring them both back down to earth. Jacob stepped to the side and yelled, “Of all the things I care for, the tribe and Cady are two things I would never put in danger!”
“Every minute she’s been employed by you you’re taking advantage of her.”
“Oh, please, I haven’t had any complaints that I’ve taken advantage of her.” Jacob tilted his head smugly to the side. “Quite the opposite, in fact,” he said suggestively. He had a cocky look on his face as Walt realized what he was insinuating.
Walt gritted his teeth and lunged for Jacob. “I ought to fill your ass with buck shots!” Walt yelled. Walt landed a blow on Jacob’s jaw, his head snapping back with the force of it.
He threw another jab. Jacob squared up and returned the punch with a strong right hook.
Walt tackled Jacob to the ground, his hat getting knocked off his head, and was getting ready to start ground-and-pounding when Cady grabbed Walt by the collar of his jacket and pulled him back.
“Get up! Both of you!” She exclaimed. They both stood stiffly, icy stares between them.
Jacob was fuming, pacing behind Cady and glaring at Walt. He wiped the trickle of blood that came from his nose.
“Jesus,” Cady said. “You guys are like children. I’m only going to say this once – both of you. Dad – leave him alone for fuck’s sake. He hasn’t done anything wrong, even though you’re hell bent on believing otherwise. You’re like a dog with a bone. Let it go!” Her dad opened his mouth to protest, but she just kept moving on. “And Jacob, please don’t say anything to make him any angrier. It’s hard enough dealing with you guys as it is.” Jacob grumbled but nodded.
“Cady-” Walt began.
“No. No more.” She put her hands on her hips. “I think it’s time you leave, Dad. We’ll talk about this another time.”
He picked his hat up off the ground, put it back on his head and glared at Jacob. Turning around, he angrily walked back to his Bronco, slamming the door and driving off.
Cady sighed heavily and put her hand on her forehead. “Wow.”
Jacob stood there silently. He figured the safest option was just to wait and see what she said.
“Well,” she started. “That went well, all things considered.”
Jacob scoffed incredulously. “You’re kidding right?”
She shook her head and walked to her desk to grab a tissue. Walking back, she held his jaw with one hand and wiped his face of the blood that trickled from his nose. He was looking her like she was batshit crazy.
“You aren’t pissed that your dad and I just got in a fist fight over you in your office?”
“Honestly, I figured if my dad ever found out I so much as had a crush on you, you’d be dead. He saw us kissing and no guns were fired. I consider that a small victory.” She walked to the waste basket to throw the tissue out.
“Fair point,” he said.
She turned back to him with one eyebrow raised.
He looked down at her. “Come home with me tonight?” Stepping closer to her, he whispered in her ear, “I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of people walking in on us.”
[L] [L] [L] [L]
Cady followed Jacob in her car, riding behind his SUV on the way to his house. Although she’d been here quite a few times before, she’d never really seen much of the inside. Jacob was a pretty private person, after all.
They reached his driveway and she parked her car next to his SUV. He got out first and walked around to Cady’s car so he could open the door for her.
“What a gentleman,” she teased.
He gave her a half smile and invited her into his house. It was beautifully decorated with Indian artifacts and expensive looking furniture.
He took her jacket and hung it on a coat hook.
“Alright, follow me.” He took her hand and led them into the living room. He sat down on the couch and looked expectantly at her. “Please. Sit with me.”
“I’ve got an idea. I’ll be right back.” She walked back to his driveway. Outside in her car, the high-end whiskey they had enjoyed in her hotel room was waiting to be drank. She walked around the couch to where he was sitting, watching her every step curiously. Getting close to him, he stayed planted where he was and let her come to him. She slid the cap off and took a drink right out of the bottle. Holding it out, she offered it to him silently.
“I like the way you think.” He took the bottle from her hand and tipped it back. Maintaining eye contact, he set it on the coffee table and took her waist, pulling her to him. Her heart raced so fast she could barely get a decent breath. Jacob had gone quiet and was just staring at her, taking her in. It made her feel self-conscious, but she couldn’t look away. He brought his mouth down to hers and kissed her lips passionately.
Cady brought her arms up around his neck and pressed her body to his. His warm mouth moved with hers, gently giving himself to her. He wrapped his arms tighter around her waist and set her on her back. Settled between her legs, he let his hands roam up her and get tangled in her hair. She wrapped her legs around him, wanting nothing more than to be close to him.
He silently gazed up at her, his hands on her hips and slowly moving down her thighs. “What?” she asked.
“You’re just… magnificent.” He kissed her lightly on the cheek.
“Touch me, Jacob,” she said softly.
Obeying, her kissed her jaw and roamed her body with his hands. He cupped her breasts, feeling them through the fabric of her top. His tongue made lazy circles on his neck, causing her to moan. Cady ran her fingers down his chest, finding the bottom of his cotton t-shirt and pushing it up to expose some skin. She ran her hand along the outline of his erection slowly. Reaching for his belt, she got it unbuckled before moving to unbutton his pants.
He grabbed her hand, stopping. “I don’t want you here. I want you in my bed, right where I pictured it.” Scooping her into his arms, he carried her off to his bed and set her down gently. The t-shirt was pulled over his head, revealing his torso. He climbed back on top of her and began kissing her again. His fingers hooked under her blouse and pulled it over her head. Standing up, he took her hands and guided her to stand. She slid his pants down and did the same with her own before laying back down and pulling him over her. Their mouths melded once again, and it was long before they came back up for air.
[L] [L] [L] [L]
Jacob was curled around Cady, spooning her. They laid quietly, their feet sliding between each other. He played with her fingertips and kissed the back of her neck. Lying flat on her back, she had turned so she could look him. She reached up and touched his cheek, and he closed his eyes and leaned into the touch immediately. Her thumb caressed his face lovingly. He kissed the palm of her hand and opened his eyes again.
She looked as though she was trying to figure something out.
“Is there something on your mind?”
Cady shrugged. “You never told me why you changed your mind. About me,” she stated in a matter-of-fact tone. “You just came and swept me off my feet.”
Jacob nodded. “It makes sense that you’d be confused.”
“Do you even know why yourself?”
He looked into her eyes as he formulated his response. “In the hotel… I realized… I had to be doing something really wrong to make someone as stubborn as you give up on me. I was hurting us both by denying you. It was enough that I’d rather face the consequences of why we shouldn’t be together then to never try at all.”
“I’m glad you changed your mind,” she whispered.
“Me too. Granted, I didn’t expect the consequence of Walt Longmire to be so instantaneous.” He looked down at his bruised knuckles.
“Was it worth it?” she asked.
“Absolutely. I want you.” He kissed her lips gently. “It’s not going to be easy. But I can’t keep myself from you. As long as you want me, Cady, you have me completely.”
She kissed his damaged hand and curled back up into him, letting sleep overcome her peacefully. Her mind and heart were happy. His arm wrapped protectively around her and he drifted off.