This is something of a big ole mess, but here's some more of Brass In Pocket. Unedited and out there. Foolish? Brave? Idiotic move? Trying something new.
Sheridan lay on the uncomfortable cot with her old cowboy hat tilted over her face and her boots crossed at the ankles. One on top of the other, her hands rested on her stomach as she waited for Ethan to make an appearance.
“He’d better have a hell of a breakfast ready for me,” she grumbled under her breath.
The rustle of clean starched sheets seemed loud to her ears in the silent space as she wriggled her shoulders trying to get more comfortable. Ethan had returned with them and a pillow a few minutes after he’d locked her in last night. He wouldn’t open the cell and help her with them even though her left hand was pretty much useless from the way she’d gotten it jammed last night. Smart man. She had been madder than hell and probably would have done him physical harm if he had gotten within striking distance. She’d struggled and done her best to cover the dingy mattress with what he’d brought, cursing him only as a good Texas girl could the entire time.
There had been a lot of time/hours to think last night as she lay on the cot, once she’d calmed down some. Normally when she’d return to the motel after her Friday night hustle, she would’ve gotten her trusty map out and seen where she’d be going next. It was always better to know beforehand where you were headed just in case you had to make a hasty getaway. Old Jim Walker had taught her that.
“Girl, you can gamble on human nature, and play the odds, but you can’t come to rely on them. People nine times out of ten will do it the same way, but sometimes it falls to pieces around your ears. You always gots to have a way out.” She could still hear his gravelly voice that had been ravaged by years of smoking his filterless cigarettes echoing in her head.
But last night she hadn’t had the option to plan. All she’d had was a lot of endless hours in her head. Time to think about her life and where it was or was not going. Not something that she could usually afford to take the time to do. Not really something she cared all that much about doing.
She was always too busy out thinking and out maneuvering, staying one step ahead of her opponents. Constantly calculating and measuring just how far she could go, just how much she could lose, just how much she could go without and still stay alive. It’s what she’d done her entire life. The effort and strain of day to day living with no real thoughts for the future and no one to turn to for help had worn her down like a nubbly old pencil that had been sharpened too many times.
But last night she couldn’t help but consider her options. She forced herself to be honest. To take a good long hard look at her life, and she didn’t like what she saw. She was running scared from her own life. She could call it other things, put a different spin on it like “traveling” or “seeing America”, but the cold hard facts of it were that she had no formal education, no friends, no family, no savings, and no hope. Just existence day to day. Running from what she had long ago labeled girlish fantasies.
Sheridan worked hard to squelch all thoughts of finding someone to love who would actually love her back. Ruthlessly crushing ideas of starting a family of her own. She figured life would be easier if she did, but she could never fully destroy those secret dreams she so desperately desired. Deep down she craved for love and marriage and children. Children who she could show what it was supposed to be like. What she’d never had. Parents who loved them, who would never leave them, who would always stick by them and who would support them with whatever they wanted to do.
Sheridan had also examined the two half-hearted attempts she’d made in the past to attain those childish dreams. The two men she had started to let in past her walls had clumsily battered her fragile heart, and she’d never bothered to try again.
But Ethan. He had walked right through her defenses as if they weren’t even there. Her walls crumbled around her, and she felt naked and exposed and completely unsure of herself. Not a good position to be in in her line of work. All night she had tentatively shored up her walls so she didn’t feel so vulnerable, but all the while that faint glimmer of hope that refused to be stamped out of her soul quietly asked very annoying questions in the back of her mind as she prepared herself to close Ethan out. What if he truly does care like he said he did? Why would he say he wanted to protect you if he really didn’t? Why did he kiss you so long and hard?
Oh, her mind had some very bitter answers to that little voice that wanted her heart to be put in jeopardy again. Who has ever cared for you in your entire life? It’s his job to protect people. Oh, I don’t know, maybe because he just wants to get into your pants? He is a man after all.
But the last question that annoying little ray of sunshine brought up that she had no smart comeback for disturbed her the most. But why did he tell you about his father being killed?
Sheridan had no answer for that and it niggled and niggled in her brain like a worm on a hook until she couldn’t think straight anymore and had finally succumbed to exhaustion.
Now she waited, with her wobbly walls of protection back up around her heart and a swollen wrist that would keep her from working for at least a few days. She sighed again as she waited for the man who was rapidly becoming important to her to show his lousy face. Snorting at her bad humor, she readjusted her hat to cover her face more fully and went back to bolstering the defenses that had worked so well in the past to keep her heart intact.
Sitting forward in his chair, Ethan studied her intently on the black and white surveillance monitor as he had done for most of the night and all of the early morning hours.
“Never took you for a coward before, Ethan. You gonna sit there and stare at her all day, or are ya gonna take in the breakfast you got for her before it turns stone cold?”
He turned his disgruntled gaze on Henry as the grey haired officer chuckled, knowing his barb had hit the mark. The old man had been his father’s best friend and deputy for more years than Ethan had been alive. He was as close to an uncle as he’d ever had, and in the past two years he had been more like a surrogate father for which Ethan was very grateful.
“Though I don’t know if you’re being a coward or a wise man. She did lay out Earl Rantlett, for cripes sake. Whooo-eee, I wish Ida seen that!” The grizzled older man slapped his thigh and continued to chuckle.
Ethan rose and scowled down at Henry who leaned back casually with his feet propped up on the desk in the chair Sheridan had sat in last night. The memory of kissing her flooded over Ethan for the hundredth time since he’d locked her in the holding cell. He forced back the spike of lust that shot through him and averted his eyes from the far wall as he remembered how good she’d felt pressed against him and how much he’d wanted to haul her up against it and sink himself into her wet heat again and again until he lost himself in her.
He shook his head to dislodge the thoughts entrenching themselves in his mind and raked his fingers through his hair. Grabbing the take out container of food from the local diner he’d picked up and a file folder full of papers, Ethan made his way around his desk to head back to Sheridan. Time to face the music.