Chapter 1

Clint was in a dead end job. No chance for advancement. Forty-seven thousand a year and not much to show for it. Expenses were too much. He was just scraping by.

His only vice was the quick draw challenge. Each weekend he'd load up his '67 Chevy Impala with his gear, and head out of the city. There would usually be a competition within one hundred miles of home. While the twenty something year old clunker drank gas like water through a sieve, he just had to get to those shootouts. It's what kept him sane for the other five days. Besides, he was always hopeful he'd see Janie there. She was darn good at the draw, herself, not to mention good looking. That was just an extra. Clint usually got flustered and tongue tied around good-looking women, but not with Janie. She lit a fire in him, especially when she drew her .32-40 and blasted the balloon faster than any other woman at the match.

Janie was tall, like Clint. Her figure was not overbearing like many of the women these days. She wasn't a skinny runway model, nor a top-heavy runway model of the adult kind. Neither was she fat, nor overbearing, nor Goth, nor slob looking. None of those. She was a good wholesome example of womanhood, just as those who were touted in the early days of broadcast television.

Clint was thin for his height. He always maintained that he should be five foot, nine for his weight. He'd been trying for years to gain, but his BMR prevented it (Basil Metabolic Rate). What he ate, he burned. His six foot two inch frame could stand to be two hundred pounds, but he hovered right at one seventy. It was mostly muscle that he kept toned. He had been a runner in college and he still went out for a ten miler once in a while. He was at a steady fifty-four minute rate for the ten miles. He could leg press damn near five hundred pounds, but don't ask about bench pressing. His upper body strength was limited to speed with the six-gun.

Clint was an average looking guy with dark brown hair and deep-set brown eyes. His stare could drill through a client and he usually was successful in selling product to the reluctant. Still his marketing genius went unrecognized by the upper echelons, and the lack of appreciation weighed heavily on his psyche.

Janie was the atypical strawberry blonde. Tall at five foot, ten inches, she let her hair sweep down to her mid back. Clint loved how it glistened in the sunlight. Her eyes were an unusual blue. They reminded Clint of the actress Karen Black's eyes. They too could pierce the soul of any man. What Clint didn't realize was that Janie only had eyes for him. She made sure she knew what event he was going to attend so she could be there. He didn't know that she was chasing him. He thought he had no chance with her.

It would be a mistake to call her figure hourglass. As we said, she was atypical. Her hips were almost perfect for a platform for her gun rig. The belt ran smoothly around her hips, gently grazing the top of her buttocks as it encircled her waist. The leather ties at the bottom of the holster caressed her thigh lovingly. Men noticed the slight gap in between her thighs, as she stood comfortably at the refreshment stand. Her waist dipped inward above the iliac crest of her pelvis, but not too much. It was just enough to give the viewer the indication that she did have a waist.

Her shoulders were strong and she stood proudly erect as she walked. They needed to be strong for they were the mainstay of her skill. Her muscles were trained for the quick draw ... if only her breasts would stay out of the way. She wore two high-tension sport bras to keep those mammaries controlled. When she dressed up to dance, her lacy bra would accentuate the cleavage beneath. The trained eye would say she was either a large C or a D cup, but she wasn't telling. On her tall, broad frame, they were perfect and did not look out of place, as did the aforementioned models of the adult persuasion.

While all these attributes would stir Clint's attention, especially the not so Little Clint, it was her smile that got to him the most. Her teeth were perfect, thanks to years of pain with braces and the thousands it cost her parents. They sparkled when she smiled. Clint longed to touch them with his tongue as they exchanged fluids in a kiss. That fantasy had yet to be fulfilled.

Clint had that rugged looking face one would expect from a gunslinger of the old West. Not quite as ugly as some, not quite as handsome as others. Maybe he could be likened to a combination of Jason McCord, Wilton Parmenter and Paladin. Little children wouldn't run away screaming for their mothers when he approached, but other men took him seriously when he spoke. Again it could have been the eyes.

Janie thought they were dreamy. At her 9 to 5 job, she spent a lot of time thinking about them and about Clint. She wondered how she could win his heart. Her humdrum life as executive assistant (read that as 'secretary, ' to Mark Caldwell, CPA), was just that: humdrum. He did pay well, and didn't make too many passes at her ... especially when his wife was around ... or, when she stood up and towered over him. Can you say Danny DeVito? She had a good ten inches on him!

The match this weekend was held in conjunction with a sesquicentennial celebration of the town. They had it all: reenactments of famous battles, a campsite, an Indian village, and dancers, and all. It was like a Renaissance Faire for the Old West. Clint was no exception. He dressed similarly to the way Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke dressed on the TV series. He'd watched all the shows on Nick at Night. He listened to all the radio shows with William Conrad as Matt, too. He really looked the part with his low riding fast draw rig. He shot traditional style, not the way most did with the holster high on the hip.

Not to be outdone by any of the other women, Janie had a Calamity Jane outfit that was perfect. It gave the illusion of perfection in just the way Jane was presented in the Buffalo Bill Wild West Shows. Janie could shoot as well as it was claimed that the real Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary) did, but she was a hell of a lot easier on the eyes. (Jane was ugly as sin) Her outfit mimicked the ones seen in the movie starring Doris Day. Now there's type casting ... NOT!

The celebration was in full swing when Clint arrived at the encampment. Re-enactors had started arriving several days ago. Places to pitch a camp were getting scarce. He was at the registration table, filling out the paperwork for the shootout, when her heard the dulcet tones of a voice he recognized. It had been imprinted in his brain from the first day he'd seen and heard her.

"Hello, stranger, can I buy you a drink?" the crystal clear soprano voice queried.

He trembled a little and his hand shook as he didn't look up, but continued writing.

"I believe, ma'am, that the question is a bit forward for a lady. I am assuming you are, indeed a lady, even if you are the infamous Calamity Jane."

He finished writing and stood tall and turned towards the sound of the voice. His heart skipped a beat as he looked into her face. She was smiling. There she stood, six-gun on her nicely formed hip, and a rifle held like a baby in her arms.

"Instead of that," he said, "how's about I buy you a drink. A real drink ... if it won't offend your sensibilities, that is?"

He had already stepped into his weekend role of western warrior. He was comfortable with it, and it allowed him to interact with females of the opposite sex without the usual stuttering. (Yes I know what the phrase should be, humor me.)

'Oh, God, he so handsome. I wish he would take me seriously. Seriously I wish he'd take me!' her mind screamed as she stood there smiling.

She had put on her most fetching smile, pulled her hair over one shoulder, the way she knew he liked it and she'd even worn the perfume she knew he liked. She'd heard him comment on it, once: Charles Revson's Ciara. He extended his arm. She took it, just as a lady of the West would have. They made their way to the refreshment trailers.

Clint knew to stay away from hard liquor. He knew Janie had a bad life experience with an alcoholic stepfather. His own mother was also an alcoholic. That was why he guided his charge to the sarsaparilla stand. There were several brands of that, and modern root beer, too. They were from a cottage industry of brewers similar to the microbreweries that had sprung up all over the place for beer and other spirits. The names on the stuff were hilarious at times. 'St. John's Tonic' was a favorite of the crowd, but it had alcohol in it. To Clint, who had tasted it, it was like cough syrup.

The 'Tennessee Old River Root Beer Company' offering was the best tasting drink there. He paid for two ice cold bottles, used the opener nailed to the side of the stand and handed the frosty brew to Janie. Next door was a funnel cake stand and he ordered one with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Janie's eyes gleamed when he did that. He'd remembered that was the way that she liked them. She was duly impressed, and it gave her a glimmer of hope. He was nowhere near as standoffish as he had been in the past.

Janie was walking on a cloud, as Clint escorted her around the grounds. She had arrived the day before, taking one of her leave days, and had found a prime camping spot. She had gathered up the courage and finally asked him if he had a camping spot yet. When his reply was negative, she quickly invited him to join her in her spot before her courage waned. To her joy and excitement, he agreed. He could see that there were very few spots left, and all of those were undesirable.

They went to her campsite to prepare. The most unusual aspect of her site was a large, gnarled oak tree in the middle. It must have been there before the town was settled. Clint noticed that there was an opening, a split in the trunk, where a couple of people could sit. He thought that maybe, later, if things worked out...

Janie asked him if he wanted to put his guns in her gun safe. He asked to see it. She smiled. Her gun safe was in her tent. The tent was a square canvas tent, of the style used by the 1850's to 1870's military officers. Inside and to one corner, there was a footlocker. A screw stake in the ground secured the footlocker. Clint guessed that the chain was tempered and no bolt cutter would touch it. The lock was likewise tempered. She spun the combination dial on the locker and the door clicked open. She placed her Winchester inside and removed her gun rig from her hip. Clint couldn't help watching as she bent and untied the leather strap from her leg.

He quickly slipped his own rig off and placed the .44-40 Colt in the safe. She closed it and spun the dial. Taking Clint's hand she led him outside again.

"I just thought, it really isn't proper for a lady to invite a man into her room without a chaperone. I do apologize for the indiscretion. Will you forgive me?" she asked.

Her lyrical voice was having the desired effect on the man next to her. Inwardly she smiled at the thought of having Clint as a friend, a companion ... and yes, even as a lover, if it came to that. She felt she couldn't do any better, and wished with all her heart he would want her.

She didn't know that he felt the same way about her. He would never in a million years dream that he would be able to find someone as sweet, kind, generous and beautiful as Janie to call his own. (If only they would talk to each other!)

Clint and Janie were known entities at these gatherings. Acquaintances would greet one or the other, or both, as they walked through the ever-growing crowd. The crowd swelled as more spectators and tourists began to show up. Unlike the participants ... who were there, and up at the crack of dawn, or before ... the spectators usually didn't start coming until after eight in the morning. They came in droves when they did, and today was no exception!

The pair got to the participant parking area with only a little trouble. A lost child was the cause. Clint hefted the little girl in the cowgirl outfit up to his shoulder and let her look around. She saw her momma's head, and pointed. Clint and Janie moved swiftly in that direction. The girl was soon reunited with her family. At first the woman was taken aback that her daughter was on the shoulder of a strange man. She quickly changed her demeanor when she saw the beautiful woman who had attached herself to the man. She breathed a sigh of relief when he handed down the tyke. The little girl thanked him for saving her from the minions of the bad man she'd seen. (He was dressed all in black and looked a little like Jack Elam)

Once at the car, Clint unloaded his stuff from the huge trunk the old Impala that he had made famous. He even had brought a wagon to help carry the extra stuff. He could do it in one load, if it was carefully packed. It took little time to get that task accomplished. With Janie's help, his tent (which was very similar to hers) was placed in the clearing near, but not next, to her tent. The tree was between them. They got it up just in time, as a committeeman for the organizers came by. He was about to tell Janie that her space needed to be shared. Since she was already sharing, he moved along without saying anything.

Clint laid out his camp area as it would have been like a hundred fifty years ago. He built a fire ring with the stones he'd brought with him. He knew on site stones would be either non-existent, or extremely hard to find. He had also brought his own firewood. He knew from past experience there wouldn't be any to be foundp

except for what was for sale by some intelligent entrepreneur who was charging outrageous prices for each piece. He was right, too. Janie was going to forgo the campfire, but Clint built it in the space between the two tents so they could share it.

Clint had retrieved his long guns from the car. He had a .45/110 Quigley rifle (1874 Sharps Buffalo rifle from the Shilo Sharps Rifle Company. It's cost was over four thousand dollars) with a Creedmore sight. He also had his Winchester 73 rifle with the period appropriate scope that was nearly as long as the rifle. It was chambered for the .44-40 shell. Janie took them and placed them in the safe as well. Clint had brought plenty of black powder cartridges; blanks for the fast draw and loaded for the accuracy shooting. They were kept in the army surplus canisters in his tent. They were waterproof and it was always best to keep your powder dry. You never know when it would be needed.

The first day was the preliminaries for traditional fast draw, new style fast draw, and targets. Clint was second in traditional and third overall with targets. Finals and long gun shootouts would be tomorrow. He was a killer with the .45/110 and knew he'd take the prize for distance. He was also very good with the Winchester and would place respectably in the offhand shoot. The match rules prohibited competing in both bench and offhand, so he chose offhand. He was sure the number one shooter would take bench, so he had a chance with the offhand class.

Janie had checked. Nicole Franks had not come to this event. Janie knew she had a real good chance to take the bacon on this one. At the end of the afternoon, after the scores were tallied, Janie was in the lead. Only Nicole could beat her in blanks and it was a real tossup for the 15 ft. wax contest. Clint was proud to be seen with Janie after the competition. They both received congratulatory slaps on the back. Of course, Janie only gave her fellow female contestants that privilege. Her heart started fluttering when in a moment of excitement, Clint dared to place a kiss on her cheek. She quickly covered it with her hand as if to rub it in, and she flushed crimson.

Clint quickly apologized for taking such liberties but she assured him that it was okay. He continued to fuss until she grabbed his collar and planted a return kiss squarely on the lips. She held him there as the kiss continued on for some time. When she released him, she was out of breath. So was Clint. And the blood had rushed from his brain to his little brain and there was an uncomfortable bulge down below. Janie glanced quickly down and back before he noticed and she grinned at his discomfort.

"Now will you get it through that thick skull of yours that I don't mine one bit if you decide to kiss me. I'm pretty sure you enjoyed that as much as I did, so quit acting the fool. You are allowed, do you understand?" she demanded. He looked at her, nodding his head. He noticed the points on her chest stretching the fabric of her shirt, straining to be free. He grew even more uncomfortable down below.

Trying to get his mind off what he'd like to do, Clint suggested they go get some Buffalo steaks at the big food tent. The buffalo was cooked campfire style and served with beans and sourdough bread in a tin plate, just like it would have been had Cookie made them from the chuck wagon. Both of them agreed the food was great as they pushed back from the table, stuffed. Clint took the liberty to spear the last bit of left over steak from Janie's plate. She waved him off, giving him tacit permission to do that.

They left the tent and as they walked, Janie surreptitiously slipped her hand in his. He noticed immediately, and he heart nearly burst with joy. They strolled around the camp area, listening to the many and varied musical instruments that had appeared. Music filled the air. The bar tent had opened after the shooting events and by now, some of the participants were in their cups. Both shook their heads as they passed one of the many establishments of spirits. Already there were several who couldn't hold their liquor. One was passed out on the ground, just outside the tent. He had been pushed to the side so no one had to step over him.

As they made their way back to the campsite, Janie looked up.

"Oh, my! Look at the sky," she pointed as she spoke.

Thunderheads were forming and the sky was darkening quickly.

"We need to get back to our tents and get everything secured," Clint advised. She nodded as she gripped his big hand and then began to run. The wind had sprung up and was getting stronger. Janie had taken the more advantageous location in the site and she suggested Clint move his ammo and sleeping stuff to her tent. They could seal it up and keep each other company during the storm. Clint didn't have to think about it very long. He knew the situation outside would get worse and Janie's tent was in a better position than his. They were both the same manufacturer's product so he agreed. She assisted him in transferring his stuff. He took the heavy stuff and she took the light. In no time they were tying down the flaps to the tent.

Janie went around the perimeter of the tent and double staked every loop. While she did this, Clint added additional lines to the corner stakes and replaced Janie's knots with taut line hitches he'd learned years ago, in Boy Scouts. These knots would not slip! He secured the flap once more just as the first drops of rain splattered against the stretched canvas roof. It may have been a minute before the deluge came. The tent placement, combined with the trenches dug out from the perimeter allowed the inside to remain dry, despite the flow of water outside.

As a precaution, the ammunition canisters were placed in waterproof bags. The gun safe was already waterproof and it wouldn't be a problem. The wind picked up and the rain was striking the sides of the tent, but due to their diligence, it held firm. A little water was blown in under the tent on the windward side, but it was channeled off rather quickly.

"You know, this storm is going to last quite a while," Janie began. "Why don't we zip our bags together and we can maybe snuggle together?" She was just a little shy about asking. She didn't want to scare him away.

"You mean share our body heat? Just like in 'The Spy Who Loved Me'? Where Barbara Bach as Agent Triple X and Roger Moore as James Bond keep warm together with 'shared bodily warmth'?" he asked.

She coyly nodded as the loud zip of the fastener punctuated her action. It was audible over the din of the storm, though. Clint quickly copied her action and the two bags were joined together. Janie had turned on the non-authentic LED lantern because the darkness had enveloped the tent. The storm was raging outside now, but the tent was tough enough to withstand Nature's onslaught. They both slipped off their boots and slid into the conjoined bags. Still fully clothed they faced each other.

They talked for a time about the events of the day. The storm continued to make it's presence known by the thunder and lightning that was now being produces. The thunder boomed as the lights of the electrical display danced across the heavens. The lightning strike were getting nearer as the weather front drew closer. The electric light show was now a continuous stream of flashes across the landscape. As it drew nearer, it began to frighten Janie. She had slipped off her jeans earlier in hopes of a tryst with Clint, but now she was just plain scared. When one flash/boom was almost instantaneous she scooched close to Clint and held on tight. He could feel her shiver with fear.

Clint's mind was in a quandary. He was very attracted to Janie and he'd seen her remove her jeans. He had followed suit without her knowledge. Now here she was, clinging to him for support. He felt the lace of her panties as he held her close, but quickly moved his hand away. He wouldn't play on her fears. He was above that. She had started to cry and he felt helpless. He didn't know what to do. He was whispering words of encouragement to her when a boom crackled almost on top of them. They could smell the ozone left by the lightning strike. She sought out his lips. He complied with her wished and put his heart into that kiss.

Just then it hit. The tent, sky and all around turned whiter that white as the deafening boom of the thunder rang out. They both were blinded by the light and deafened by the thunder. Their world spun around faster and faster. Then as quickly as it appeared there was nothing. No light, no sound, not even feeling. In her mind she knew she was clutching Clint, yet couldn't feel him. Clint's mind was racing, as he knew Janie was clutching him and yet he felt nothing.

'Am I dead? Did the lightning strike us and kill us? Where did she go? Why can't I feel her?' These thoughts raced through his mind.

'Where is he? Why did he leave me? Why can't I see. I scream and I don't hear anything. What's happening to me?' Janie thought through her panic.

Without warning a new sensation flooded their senses. Still silent and black as night, the feeling surged through their bodies like electricity through a wire. It pulsed and grew in strength until they could take it no longer. Janie passed out first. Clint didn't know this, nor did he know she was lying up against him. All he knew was she was gone. Then all senses left him and he was out.

Janie slowly opened her eyes. Her head was throbbing. She quickly shut them again. The pain lessened. She lay there and listened. There was sound. She heard the steady breathing of another being close by. She slowly reached out her hand and felt another person. She remembered and opened her eyes into slits. She saw Clint lying beside her. With relief, she slid closer and hugged him close to her. He didn't wake and she closed her eyes again and dozed off.

Later, Clint peered through slits in his eyelids. He was obviously awake. Actually he had been awake for some time. He just didn't want to disturb the beautiful angel sleeping in his arms. He thought back for a moment and decided he had never been happier than right now. Opening his eyes, he glanced at her hair, which was spread out like a shawl along her back. It was silky smooth and smelled so good. He caught a slight hint of Ciara along her neckline. For him, it was like he had died and gone to Heaven.

The darkness outside was starting to dissipate. The storm had passed and Nature had calmed down. Every so often a drop of water from the nearby oak would splatter on the tent. The rest of the world was silent. After a short while, Clint began to think everything was too quiet. With the dawn, the re-enactors always were up getting ready for the day. In the gray half-light of dawn, it was still deathly silent outside. Something was amiss and he had to find out.

Gently he rolled Janie's limber body off him so as to not wake her. He pulled himself out of the joined sleeping bags and after checking for spiders and snakes slipped on his pants. Same process was followed for his boots. Once dressed, he put on his hat and untied the flaps of the tent. When he stepped out of the tent he couldn't believe his eyes. He had stepped into another world!

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