John Wilkerson swore a blue streak under his breath and cursed his wretched luck as he slogged barefoot through muck and mosquito-infested backwaters. His boots were slung over his shoulder, tied together at the laces, his pants rolled up to the knees. Muddied and torn, his once pristine white shirt - he'd stripped off his jacket hours ago - was soaked through with sweat. His toes squished in the slimy mud, and once or twice he'd felt something quick and cold slither in between his ankles.
It had been an accident that had left him alone and unarmed, wandering the thick swamps that edged the Mississippi River. Having run into a streak of bad luck in a saloon in St. Louis, he'd run up a tab he could never hope to pay. John knew - just knew - that the men he'd been playing cards with had cheated, but he couldn't put his finger on just how they'd managed it. Before he could blink, they'd taken him for a bundle. He'd thought it best to leave the fair city for a while, rather than risk getting shot in the back or strung up by the men to whom he owed the money.
He'd been a passenger aboard the Southern Star, a stagecoach line that had been reputed to be the best and safest venue of travel to the city of New Orleans. The Star may have been the most luxurious, with thick, plush seats and red velvet drapes hung at the windows of the coach but, as it turned out, its reputation for safety had been sorely exaggerated. The Star had broken an axel while racing over a stretch of rough prairie halfway between Memphis and New Orleans, and had overturned.
John had been sitting quietly, listening to the chatter of the two men with whom he shared the coach. Businessmen both, they'd been jawing about a land deal they had in the works when suddenly the world had turned upside down. The sound of splintering wood and the screams of men and horses filled John's ears as the coach crashed and rolled. Then everything had gone black.
When he'd awakened he'd been lying facedown in thick sawgrass, the taste of blood and dirt filling his mouth.
Slowly sitting up, he'd gingerly felt a large, tender lump on his forehead. He'd been scraped and scratched and bruised like an overripe tomato, but nothing seemed to have been broken. Unfortunately, he couldn't say the same about either the stagecoach, its driver, or his traveling companions.
The Southern Star lay scattered across road, ripped apart into useless pieces of kindling. The driver, an older, grizzled man who'd purported himself to be an old hand at driving the southern route, was dead, as were the two businessmen with whom John had shared the coach. The horses were gone, freed from their harnesses during the accident.
John was a card player, a professional gambler. He knew poor odds when he saw them, and his were scraping the bottom of the barrel at the moment. His luck couldn't possibly get any worse. The Star had been due to arrive in New Orleans in two days. It could be at least another day before it would be considered overdue, and perhaps a week or more before scouts were sent out to look for it. It might be as long as two weeks before help would arrive.
One of the best card sharks in the business, John could bluff his way past St. Peter and into Heaven with a bottle of whiskey under one arm and a whore under the other, but he couldn't lie to himself. He'd never survive long enough to be rescued if he sat on his ass next to the wreck and waited for help to arrive. He had little food, no shelter, no weapons to speak of (the stock of the driver's shotgun had been cracked in half and its barrel had bent at some point during the accident, and John had only a few bullets for his own derringer), and no idea of how to survive in the wilderness. The land west of the Mississippi was untamed, only sporadically settled, and dangerous. The area teemed with wolves, rattlesnakes, and bear. Indians attacks were not out of the realm of possibility. Camping out in the open near the wreckage would make John a sitting duck.
No, John couldn't accept the odds of staying put. He'd stake his money on moving out and looking for help, rather than waiting for help to come to him.
He'd collected what little food he could salvage from the wreck, tying a handful of dried apples, two potatoes, and a couple of pieces of hardtack into a square of burlap. He'd hung the driver's canteen around his neck, tucked his derringer into his pocket, and had set off.
Now, roughly six hours later, John was cursing himself for his decision. He'd originally headed east, judging the direction by the sun's placement in the sky overhead, thinking he'd come to the shores of the mighty Mississippi and follow her south. Even John, a dyed-in-the-wool city slicker, knew that his best chances of finding help would be along the banks of the river. But thick clouds had rolled in shortly afterward, darkening the sky and obscuring the sun completely. Now he was hopelessly lost with no idea of the direction in which he was traveling. It was getting on toward full dark, and he was stuck wading knee-deep in the brackish water of a swamp, being eaten alive by mosquitoes.
A long, undulating howl pierced the air, freezing John in his step. He spun around, his hand pulling his derringer from his pocket, but it was too dark to see very far. Holding the gun in his shaking hand, swinging it from one direction to another, his heart hammered in his chest. It was no use - a wolf could be at his throat and he'd never see it coming in time to shoot at it.
Splashing through the water, he moved as quickly as he could, trying to outdistance the pack of snarling wolves that he imagined would soon be snapping at his heels. He lost his footing, falling down face-first and came up sputtering foul tasting, muddied water. He realized that his hand was empty - he'd lost his derringer when he'd fallen. Now completely unarmed, he panicked.
Bellowing for help, he pushed on through the water as fast as his legs could carry him. Suddenly, his feet hit hard ground and he scrambled up out of the water, running hard. Branches whipped across his face in the dark, thorns scraped his skin bloody. He tripped over a root and fell again, landing hard enough to knock the wind out of himself. Unable to find the strength to stand, he continued to crawl on his hands and knees, dragging himself forward through the brambles, refusing to give up. Finally reaching the limits of his endurance he collapsed, mercifully losing consciousness.
Cool water touched his dry, cracked lips, and he drank greedily. Along with the return of his consciousness came pain, and John moaned softly. His body had been battered and pushed beyond its limits, and it protested even the slightest movement on his part.
Gentle fingers touched his cheek. He cracked his eyes open only to scrunch them tightly shut against the bright light that burned them like the very fires of Hell. Slowly, as John's eyes adjusted to the daylight he realized that not only was he still alive, but that he'd been rescued.
He was lying on his back, looking up at a cerulean blue sky that peeked between a canopy of green. The heat of a campfire warmed his cheek. A trapper must have found him! Turning his eyes, his breath hitched in his chest and his body tensed.
Looking back at him was a pair of sober, dark brown eyes framed by long, thick black lashes and smooth brows, set above a proud, hawk-like nose and high cheekbones. A small, blackened tattoo-mark sat high on the man's left cheek. Full lips parted to speak, and although the language was incomprehensible to John, the intent was clear. Lie still, rest, the man seemed to say. His voice was soft, deep, rumbling; his teeth were straight and white.
Long, blue-black hair flowed to his waist in a shimmering curtain, knotted in places with feathers and beads. His chest was broad, smooth and bronzed, marred only by two dark nipples. Heavily muscled shoulders and sinewy arms were marked with tattoos similar to the one on his face.
He was quite possibly the most beautiful man John had ever seen. He was also an Indian and that realization hit John with the force of a mallet to his gut, the blood draining from his face as his body quaked with fear.
The newspapers back in St. Louis had been full of weekly reports that had detailed Indian attacks on settlers. Headlines had screamed of bloody raids and massacres. Wild and savage they were, the stories had said, scalping homesteaders, burning farms, stealing cattle. Thieves, murderers - the devil's own children - they'd ride bareback out of the darkness, painted and whooping like demons, descending on innocent settlers like locust and leaving no one alive in their wake.
But the fingers that had touched John's cheek were gentle. The Indian had spoken softly and his tone had been compassionate, even though John couldn't understand his words. He'd saved John from death - of that John was certain - given him water, warmed him by a fire, watched over him while he slept.
John was not a stupid man. He made his living by his ability to accurately read other card players, to look past impassive poker faces and see the truth of what cards they held in their eyes. The eyes that looked at him now held no malice, no murderous intent. He relaxed, letting his breath out in a relieved sigh.
Smiling up at the man who watched him carefully, John pointed to his chest and said his name. 'John Wilkerson. Johnny.' He motioned toward his rescuer, and waited.
His savior's lips tilted slightly, but his returning smile centered more in his eyes. Their dark depths twinkled, and they crinkled in the corners. 'Waya,' he answered, thumping his solid chest with the palm of his hand. He pressed the same hand to John's chest. 'Ja-nee,' he repeated solemnly.
'Wa-ya,' John said, lightly touching the silken skin of Waya's chest with his fingers. He received a small nod for his effort.
Waya stood up, stretching. He was well over six feet tall, John estimated, and a bear of a man. Wearing only a breechclout that barely covered his genitals, every muscle group of his body was as defined as if they'd been sculpted from stone, testament to a lifetime of rough outdoor living. He was not only tall, he was strong, powerful, and John felt incredibly small and weak in comparison.
John had always been slender, and had never grown to top the six foot mark. Raised by his mother, who'd earned their keep on her back in the Red Curtain, one of the largest brothels in Kansas City, he'd grown up in relative luxury. He kept himself ensconced in that same level of comfortable living as he'd grown, learning to fleece marks at an early age and ultimately earning his reputation as a gambler. John had always lived by his wits, not by the strength of his arm.
He was soft, and he knew it.
This man, this nearly naked giant looked as though he could snap John in half without breaking a sweat. John resolved to stay on Waya's good side and hopefully keep his scalp where it belonged - firmly attached to his skull.
He lay quietly all the afternoon, watching Waya gut and skin a brace of rabbit, spitting them over the fire. By the time he'd scraped the skins clean and had rolled them up tightly, the sun was setting again.
Finally, John pulled himself up to a sitting position then managed to drag himself to his feet. Surprisingly, he felt better moving around than he had lying still, and he stretched, working out some of the kinks. He needed to pee in the worst possible way, and at Waya's raised brow, John pointed to his crotch. 'I have to go,' he said, knowing that Waya didn't understand his words, but hoping that he understood John's intention. Eyeing the way John danced from foot to foot, Waya seemed to understand and nodded.
Hobbling over a few feet into the bushes, John unbuttoned his fly and pulled out his cock, arcing his stream into the brush. He sighed with relief as he emptied his over-full bladder. Shaking his dick free of the last few drops, ready to tuck himself back into his pants, he was startled when Waya appeared silently next to him.
Waya was staring hard at John's cock. He reached out with one long finger and touched the round, circumcised head with a look of astonishment on his face. Grabbing the front of John's shirt, he pulled him back toward the fire then dropped to his knees, examining John's dick in firelight.
Strong fingers lifted John's flaccid cock, stoking it gently until it firmed under their touch. Waya's other hand cupped John's balls, kneading them in his palm, his dark eyes watching John cock intently as if grew into a full blown hard-on.
Sex was sex as far as John was concerned. During his youth in the brothel there had been times when he'd sucked cock for a buck or two, when the ladies of the brothel had been otherwise occupied and some miner or cowboy didn't have the time or inclination to wait until one was free. He might have kept at it, if he hadn't discovered that gambling paid better.
Now he relaxed into Waya's touch, closing his eyes as familiar warmth flooded his belly. That Waya hadn't seen a circumcised cock before was clear in the way his eyes were riveted to John's dick, and accounted for his fascination with it. He touched it, stroked it, and finally, tasted it. John moaned softly as Waya's lips closed over the head of his erection, and as his warm, wet tongue swirled over his cock's head.
John moaned, rocking his hips, threading his fingers into Waya's silky black hair. He's good at this, John thought with admiration, thoroughly enjoying the tingles of pleasure that the heat of Waya's mouth was sending rippling through his groin.
It had been a while since John had last gotten himself laid, and as Waya sucked harder at the delicate skin of his cock, he felt his orgasm boiling in his balls, the pressure rising, readying to release. Pulling away from Waya's hot mouth, John finished the job himself, jerking his hand rapidly over his cock. Gritting his teeth to hold back a yell that would have echoed in the forest, he sprayed Waya's broad chest with white ribbons of sperm.
Waya looked down at his chest and ran a finger through the sticky white fluid that clung to it. Grinning as he looked up at John, he was evidently pleased that John's unusual-looking penis functioned normally. He licked his finger as he stood up and looked down at the top of John's head. The smile was still on his handsome face as he pulled his breechclout aside and bared his own erection.
Waya's cock was as massive as the rest of him. Thick, uncut and long, it stuck straight out from the silken black hair at Waya's crotch, pointing directly at John and bobbing like a reddened divining rod.
Well, tit for tat, John thought, dropping to his knees and opening his mouth. He reached for Waya's lean hips, but Waya backed away from him.
Evidently a reciprocal blowjob was not what Waya had in mind. Strong hands grabbed John's shoulders and spun him around on his knees, pushing him down to the ground. Barely before John realized what was happening, his hips had been lifted up and his pants had been roughly ripped down, baring his ass to the wind.
John heard Waya spit, then a moment later felt his iron fingers prying apart the cheeks of John's ass. When the head of Waya's cock breached his tight asshole, John silenced a yelp by biting the inside of his cheek, hard.
He'd sucked cocks before, but had never been buttfucked. This was a new experience for him, and not likely one he'd have chosen to have had he been asked beforehand. But Waya did save his life, not to mention just give him an incredible blowjob, and if Waya wanted a piece of gambler ass in payment then John was willing to ante up.
As Waya began to thrust his cock into John's ass, John felt as though he were being fucked by one of the wagon spokes from the wheels from the Southern Star. His asshole burned as it was stretched wide, and his rectum worked furiously to rid itself of the thick intrusion, trying desperately to push out what was pushing in.
Waya grunted behind him, his sharp hipbones slapping against the soft flesh of John's ass as he pounded his cock into him. Suddenly, Waya shifted slightly, and John felt Waya's cock brush against something deep inside of John's body that he hadn't even known had existed. It sent an electrical jolt of pleasure ricocheting into his balls, almost as if Waya was somehow stroking John's cock from the inside. He felt his dick stir and begin to stiffen again, bobbing and growing a bit more each time Waya thrust into his ass and hit that magic spot, until John once again sported a full-fledged erection. He reached under his belly and helped it along, managing to bring himself to another climax shortly before Waya hissed through his teeth and came himself.
A fiery hot gusher filled John's ass with unbelievable pressure as Waya shot his seed deep inside of him. After a moment, breathing hard, Waya pulled his softening dick out of John's ass, and moved away. John felt a warm wetness trickle out of his ass and down over his scrotum, although he was still too sated from his double orgasm to care to move. He remained as he was, resting his head on his arms with his bare butt thrust up into the night air, until a smack on the ass from Waya forced him to sit up.
Waya handed him a charcoaled rabbit then sat down next to him, gnawing on one of his own. Silently, they stared into the flames of the campfire, eating and licking their fingers, having no way to communicate with each other - not that either would have had much to say anyway.
Soon after, Waya lay himself down near the fire and closed his eyes. John watched him sleep for a while, wondering what tribe Waya belonged to, why he was alone, why he had saved a white man from certain death by exposure, and most of all, where he had learned to fuck a man senseless. Knowing that he'd most likely never learn the answers to any of his questions, John eventually lay himself down next to Waya and fell asleep.
Up with the sun, Waya quickly cleaned up the campsite so that no trace remained. It looked as if they had never been there at all. No ashes from the campfire, no bones from the rabbits, nothing at all remained to show that two men had camped out the night on that spot.
Gesturing for John to follow, Waya led him into the wood, following a trail only Waya could see. Hours later, he stopped, holding his hand over his mouth in an obvious sign to John to remain silent.
He pushed aside a thick branch of pine. Peering around Waya's shoulder, John saw a clearing, and a ramshackle cabin sitting near the bank of a wide river, a thin curl of smoke rising from its chimney.
John's face creased into a huge grin, and he laid an excited hand on Waya's shoulder. Moving past Waya, he stepped out of the forest and into the clearing. Turning around, wanting to thank Waya for not only saving his life but leading him out of the wilderness, he searched the screen of foliage for the Indian's handsome face.
Waya had vanished - melted into the brush without a sound, without disturbing a single leaf. Gone.
Sighing, John smiled, saddened that he'd most likely never see Waya again. He tipped the brim of his non-existent hat to the brush where Waya had last stood then turned and trotted toward the cabin, hoping that whoever lived there would be amicable and disposed to taking in a lost gambler for a spell.
His luck had finally changed for the better.