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Saturday, July 3, 2010
Call It Even by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Claudia slapped him across the face, hard.
Blake’s eyes opened as his fingers gripped her wrist. "Just what do you think you're doing?" His voice was a low snarl. He was sprawled in the corner of her stable, dark hair matted with blood and still somehow he managed to seem dangerous.
"I found you here, passed out on the hay," she said. She swallowed hard. "You don't look so good."
His grip loosened. "You couldn't have used smelling salts?"
"Doc’s on his way," she said. "He'll fix you up." She wriggled her fingers, still stinging from the impact.
"Or kill me." He shifted up against the pockmarked wall. "Is the Sheriff coming too?" He looked at her face and laughed. "Yes, he is. He'll definitely want to kill me." He paused, dark eyes locked to hers. "Would you miss me?"
She pulled her arm out of his grasp, her cheeks flushing. "Of course not!" His grin only made her blush more. "Just don’t die before Doc gets here, bad enough you chose my place for a hideout."
"I just wanted to see you again." Blake's half-smile still made her want to kiss him or slap him harder, she wasn't sure which.
Instead, she walked to the door. "I'll just keep an eye out for Doc."
"I didn't do it, you know."
Claudia glanced back. "I know he stole your horses."
"That he did. I'm not pretending I wasn't angry. But I didn't kill the man."
"I'm telling you the truth."
"Tell it to the sheriff," she said and walked out. It was too tempting to listen to his rough voice spinning lies. Better to stay away. She rubbed her wrist. Maybe she shouldn't have sent Jimmy to get the Sheriff.
The sound of horses interrupted her thoughts. Doc's carriage came around the corner at full speed. She waved and ran to the stable.
"Doc's here," she said. But Blake had slid into the hay, legs sprawled. His lips moved but she couldn't hear what he was saying. She ran to his side. “Hang in there, just one more minute.”
"I’m dying, Claudia," he whispered, his breath hot against her cheek. "It’s too late. Will you just ..." He took another tortured breath and then, "Will you give me one kiss? Just for old time's sake?"
She stared at him. His eyes fluttered closed. She couldn’t imagine a world without Blake in it. She leaned forward, pressed her mouth against his dry cracked lips. His arms came up around her and he held her like that, without moving, for just a minute.
Doc cleared his throat in the doorway. She flew out of his arms, face hot.
"Blake." Doc sped across the room and knelt next to him, carefully checking his head. "Well, hell." His voice trembled.
Claudia's heart stuck in her throat. "Is he going to be OK?"
That’s when Doc started laughing and after a moment, Blake did too. Claudia stared from one to the other. Blake laughed even harder at the look on her face.
"He needs that muck washed out of his hair and he'll be the fittest gentleman in Clarkson County," said Doc, still laughing. "You've been taken advantage of, young lady."
Claudia stormed out of the stable, blood pounding in her ears. That man! She’d fallen for him again. She balled up her fists, wishing she'd slapped him harder when she'd had the chance.
Little Jimmy ran towards her. "Sheriff’s not coming,” he called. “He said they've got their man," he said, panting and hiccoughing at the same time. "He said Blake's innocent. He said it, I swear." He ran to the stable, eager to share the good news.
Claudia scowled. Blake must've known that too. Son of a gun. His only reason for coming here was to prove she'd been wrong about him. She glared at the stable and then crossed her arms. Well, she wasn’t sorry. He might be innocent but he was still more trouble than she could handle. She wasn’t even tempted to apologize, not one bit. She turned her back, watching the road.
She was still standing there when strong arms circled her waist from behind.
She stood stock-still as he pulled her hair away from her face and brought his lips to her ear. "I just couldn't stand the thought of not having at least one more kiss. I'll go now, if you want me to."
She swallowed hard. "Guess I was wrong about you."
He turned her around and pulled her to his chest. "Guess you were." He pulled her chin up and brought his face down until his lips were almost touching hers. "But one more kiss and we could call it even."
She thought about it for half a heartbeat and then tiptoed up to close the gap between them.
About the Author: Sylvia Spruck Wrigley was born in Germany, spent her childhood in Los Angeles and now lives in Spain where she writes within striking distance of the Mediterranean. Her flash fiction has been published all over the world, including Dark Tales Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, MicroHorror, Fear and Trembling, and True Romance. Two of her flash fiction stories were chosen for inclusion in the Best of Every Day Fiction print anthology. You can find out more about her on http://www.intrigue.co.uk/