Stupid chickens. And stupid humans for letting them roam wherever they wanted. All it meant was more work for the people assigned to take care of them, to gather up all the eggs they laid in every nook and cranny of the barn. If she were lucky she would find enough whole, fresh ones to keep her mother from berating her too severely. If not, she wasn’t sure which was worse—laying hands on a broken, rotten egg, or her mother laying hands on her.
“Whoo-ee, there’s a nice view,” said a voice from behind her as she bent over in the straw.
“Then again,” she continued out loud in a sarcastic tone, “some people don’t even understand the concept of work.”
“What? I do my workin’,” he claimed, feigning indignation. He came up behind her and grabbed her hips, pulling them lewdly against his own. “I just work with a gun, that’s all.” The double entendre was intentional but not subtle.
She twisted away from him in irritation, turning to glare at his cocky grin. “Go away,” she warned him, futile though it might be. “I gotta get my chores done.”
He approached, backing her against the wall of the barn. “So wrinkle ya nose, and get ‘em done,” he suggested. He leaned his arm on the wall beside her and started to fumble with her long skirts. “Folks gone into town, they ain’t gonna notice.”
She shoved his hand away. “Wood! How many times I gotta tell you to leave me alone?” she snapped, pushing past him.
“Well I guess one more, Iva,” he responded pointedly. He watched her boldly as she continued working. It was not the best era for women’s fashions and she certainly couldn’t afford the best examples of it; but even so she stood out like a lantern in a storm, even to the ordinary people around her. “Why don’t you and me go to Kansas City?” he suggested. “H—l, Chicago even. I’ll make enough money you won’t have to dig through hay and chickens—t ever again.”
“Well that’s real sweet, Wood,” Iva commented dryly, “but I don’t know how you think you’d make that much money, or stay alive to use it, once Jesse found out what you’d done.”
“You are a rule-abidin’ sort, aren’t you,” he observed. This was not necessarily a positive trait in his opinion.
“Be kinda boring if you just snapped your fingers and got whatever you want,” Iva shot back saucily.
Wood snapped his fingers and Iva found herself pinned to the wall again, while he took his time strolling over, looking her up and down as he did so. “I don’t think it’s boring at all,” he decided.
Iva scoffed. “Have I mentioned I don’t like your hair?” she told him. “Whenever it’s long it makes your nose look funny.”
Wood glared at her briefly. He did tend to be a little full of himself and she always knew just how to deflate that. Her discomfort as he pressed himself fully against her made him smirk again, though, and he leaned in to kiss her.
She stopped him with her fingers on his lips. “My mama will know, and there will be h—l to pay,” she warned him.
“Your mama will know if I kissed you,” he repeated skeptically. “Alright then, I will just have to kiss you somewhere she will not see.” He went for the buttons on her blouse, not exactly sad about it.
Iva stopped him again. “My mama strips me down every night, lookin’ to make sure I don’t have any ‘marks of the whore’ on me.”
Wood blinked at her. “Really?” he asked, momentarily breaking character.
“Well, only down to my underthings,” she clarified sheepishly.
“That’s f-----g weird,” he judged. “And you don’t want to leave here with me?”
Her expression indicated she felt the situation was beyond her control, which was of course ridiculous. “Well, I was plannin’ on marryin’ Aaron Johnson, and gettin’ out from under her thumb.” Then a certain smug outlaw had come along and disrupted everything.
Wood smirked and pushed his knee between hers, gathering up her skirts again. “Well I will marry you if that’s required.”
She tried to slow the hand that was creeping up her inner thigh, but not very hard. “Jesse won’t let you,” she insisted, beginning to gasp for breath. She put one arm around his shoulders even as she added, “You gotta stop, Wood. He promised me to Aaron Johnson.”
“Well who the f—k is he to promise you away, huh?” Wood wanted to know. He nuzzled her neck, careful not to leave any marks. “He’s not your father.”
“He’s the closest thing, and he will shoot you if you don’t stop—“ Iva closed her eyes and moaned slightly. “—stop with your dirty fingers and—“
“If you really want me to stop, honey, all you gotta do is start screamin’, and your mama will be out here with a shotgun,” Wood pointed out, a snarl creeping into his tone as he fought to stay in control. “No? Then shut your mouth and let me put my dirty fingers where I want.”
“Well since you put it so romantic,” Iva managed to shoot back. “You got anything other than fingers?”
“Now that’s what I wanted to hear,” Wood proclaimed. He lifted her off the ground and went for the buttons of his pants.
“Hello there!” called a voice from outside, and they froze.
“S—t,” Wood hissed in her ear.
“That’s Jesse,” Iva whispered to him.
“I know what Jesse f-----g James sounds like,” he snapped.
“Jesse!” they heard Iva’s mother greet from the house. “Weren’t expecting you back so soon. Come on in and set a spell, most of the boys went off to town.”
“Well, thank you kindly, Martha,” Jesse replied.
Wood and Iva relaxed marginally when they heard Jesse go into the house and they quickly disentangled themselves. “That’s f-----g timing,” Wood grumbled.
“Well you better clean up and get in there and make a good impression,” Iva advised, as if he didn’t already know that. “He’ll probably like you since you’re crazy and vicious.”
Wood grinned. “Well let’s hope so, since I am plannin’ to relieve him of quite a bit of money, and one eligible young woman.”