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How'd that happen 7

ongoing machinations
I woke up feeling pretty chipper, The sun had just come in the window and it looked like a real nice day. My houseboy and all around caretaker, Pablo, must have heard me stirring around and getting up and dressing, 'cause he showed up with another damn cup of hot chocolate.

“ Damn it, Pablo, I've told you I like coffee, not chocolate, in the morning.”

“ No, Senor Sam, chocolate is best in the morning.” This is the same argument I'd had with him every damn morning since I hired him.

I know, you want to know why he's calling me Sam. I'll get to that if you'll just hold your horses. Why I need a houseboy I'll let you know now. Simply, I own a house.

That's too simple? I was in a “friendly” card game with Jack Slack and I won a house. Still too simple? I have to meet Jack later today anyway, and I'm in a little hurry right now, so I'll tell you then. I have to get to the hotel to see if everything was still going smooth. I grabbed a quick bite of something Pablo had made. Went out to my horse Pablo had saddled, and hastened to the hotel.

The first person I saw as I entered the lobby was Emilio as he rushed over to me. “Senor, I have done as you asked and kept people from disturbing Mrs. Whitaker, but I don't know how much longer I can. Some very influential personages wish to be announced and I will have to let them, soon.”

Seems it took even shorter than I figured for the story to get around.

I quieted Emilio by saying “Don't worry, my friend, I will go up and prepare her for a few visitors if she's agreeable.”

“ Oh, thank you, Senor, but please, come over to the corner, I would like to tell you something.”

We walked to a secluded corner where Emilio peered around to see that there were no eavesdroppers nearby and whispered “ I didn't realize how overcome with grief the poor lady was until I passed her door last night before going to bed as I always check the halls before retiring. But, even through the thick doors of her suite, I heard her wailing and shrieking with agony over her poor dead husband. I am glad you warned me, Senor, or I might have intruded, thinking something was wrong.”

I sure as hell wasn't going to set him straight over Sandra's howling during amorous exercise, so I said “ Um, yeah, well I hope no one else was disturbed. I will talk to her companion, maybe she can console Mrs. Whitaker when she becomes overwrought.” After a few more words I went upstairs.

After I was allowed in I looked around to see if we were alone and barked “Damn, Sandra, You have to quit that yowling when you're gettin' screwed. We could have been tossed out last night. Jasmine, if she starts that yammering stick a pillow or a tit or something in her mouth to shut her up.”

I was rewarded for my outburst by a scowl from Sandra and a huge grin from Jasmine.

We all calmed down after a bit and I sat and asked Jasmine if there was any whiskey left. She got it and glasses and we all had a good taste.

Jasmine wondered “Horse, this is a pretty high class place. Should we be calling you Horse? Won't that lower you in some eyes? We have kept from naming you so far but it'll look strange if we don't call you something.”

“ You're right, and I should have told you sooner. I go by my middle name in Sante Fe. It's Sam.”

“ Just Sam? If we have to introduce you we can't as “Just Sam” can we?”

“ I'll tell you, but you better not laugh. You did enough of that when Tom told you my first name. I'll tell you the whole story, but then by damn, I don't want to hear another word on it”

“ This has got to be something” Sandra piped up.

“ Just shut up and listen. My old man was a real joker, so much so that it got him shot when he pulled one on the wrong guy. He liked to play with names and when I was born he gave me three of them instead of just one. He named me Horace S, for Sam, Ash. So I go by Sam Ash here. Think about it.”

There faces screwed up in thought but it didn't take long for Jasmine to chortle out “ Oh my god, Horace S. Ash, horses ass if you say it fast, That's hilarious.”

“ No it's not” I bellowed. “And that's the last damn time I want to hear anything about it, you hear.” I already knew it was too late, as they were damn near breathless from laughing.

“ I'm sorry, Mr. Ash. Yes sir, Mr. Ash. Is there anything else Mr. Ash?” Sandra could hardly speak, she was trying so hard not to laugh.

After they finally calmed down I told them about their callers waiting to see “Mrs. Whitaker” and that they'd have to see some of them, and as that's what we wanted anyway, I'd tell Emilio to only allow the prominent ones up, one at a time. I asked them if they wanted me to stay or if they thought they could handle it. That was a mistake on my part.

“ Damn it, Mr. Ash, I've told you before, we are real fine actresses. After handling stage door Johnies, some of which could have bought this whole town, why would you think we need you for this.” chimed Jasmine.

Backing out the door I went down, found Emilio, told him to only let up the ones he had to, one at a time and check between each one to see if “Mrs. Whitaker” could see another without being upset. As these were the ones we wanted, it worked out nicely. The I went to see my friend, Jack Slack.

I don't even know if that's his real name, I think if they'd called him Jack Card Cheat or maybe Jack Conman, they'd have been a lot closer to the truth. But he was my friend. I had met him when I was asked if I wanted to sit in a poker game. I like poker now and then and I sat. I'm not a stranger to a deck of cards but it took me a while to see who was cheating and who were the pigeons.

Jack was the only cheater that was expert at it, it took me quite a while to see him do it, his hands were so fast. Although he bumbled and stumbled his shuffle he was really stacking the deck. I didn't win much 'cause I knew better when one of the sharpies was dealing and just folded. I was actually just admiring Jack's expertise.

There were two real hardcases in the game and they were losing bigtime. The more they drank the more they lost and the more they lost the madder they got. Suddenly they did catch one the clumsiest cheaters when he dropped an extra card while trying to change it for another.

Their knives came out, and the little weasel squealed and pointing to Jack cried “He's the cheat, he's got all the your money, I haven't won anything of yours.” Actually, that was true, he was so poor at poker, much less cheating, that he'd been losing too. But he got the two hard men to switch their attention to the pile of money in front of Jack.

Jack was pretty spry as he got a good ten foot head start on them boys. The rest of the occupants of the table backed a long ways from those knives. Once the two were gone after Jack the little weasel came back and tried for Jack's money which was still there. After I tapped him on the head a time or two, I snatched up Jack's money and followed the knife wielders out the back door.

It wasn't any trouble finding them when you could hear Jack yelling his head off down the alley a bit.

They'd caught him when he tripped over a full spittoon someone had set out back. The spittoon was now empty but Jack's pants weren't so lucky. His pants were not only soaking but they were down about his knees, and the two hombres were about to make a soprano out of him while he was laying there on his back.

I couldn't see that happening to a true card craftsman so I tried to bend my pistol barrel on one of their heads, and seeing it hadn't bent yet, tried the other head. After helping Jack up, and letting him pull up his pants by himself, we left. He took me to his house for fresh pants and, while there, I gave him back half his money. Under the circumstances he considered that more than fair. A friendship was born.

After that night I sat in on a few games while Jack was playing and plying his trade. Most times when Jack was dealing either I won or he did. I never checked too hard to see if he was playing fair as I really didn't want to know. I just chalked it up to coincidence and extremely good luck.

One day we were playing in a pretty high stakes game and in the game was one of the tool wholesalers that Tom and I were planning to put out of business. These men were cheating the mine owners like crazy with cheap tools and high prices. He had learned a little about our plan and didn't like it. I couldn't fault him for not liking it but I didn't much like him anyway. His name was Umberto Garza.

He was the kind of person that just rubbed me the wrong way, loud, bragging, insulting, overbearing, and all around asshole. He was also a poor poker player, which he never would have believed. I had the idea that Jack was building him up for something 'cause Garza was winning a lot more than he should have been. He was getting over confident. He probably thought his superb poker skill was finally coming forth.

When Jack dealt the next hand of five card draw he winked at me and slightly nodded at him. Garza picked up his cards, stiffened very slightly, and his eyes widened a little. I told you he was a bum poker player. I looked at my cards and laid them back on the table. There were six men at the table. The first man in the betting rotation knocked, the second opened, Garza raised, the fourth man folded. I stayed in and Jack folded. Jack called for the draw, the first man still in asked for two. Garza asked for one, not a bad move 'cause if he had four of a kind most people would think he was trying to fill a straight or flush. In that case he shouldn't have raised on the first round as he hadn't filled it yet. I figured he had four of a kind. I called for two cards.

Jack knew almost to the penny how much I had with me, and if I was figuring right, very close to how much Garza had, too. He had something going. Now there three left in. Again, I looked at my cards and laid them down.

The first man bet, a fairly large bet, Garza raised, I raised again, the first man called and again, Garza raised, almost doubling the pot, I picked up my cards and peered at them as if I wasn't sure of what I had, laid them down and raised. A light sheen of sweat was now on Garza's face. The first man dropped out and threw his cards in the dead pile.

Garza stared at me and said “ You gringos come to my town and think you can drive out us honest merchants, well, I'll show you.” and he raised almost his whole stake. He was sweating pretty hard now. I raised with everything I had left. He looked at what he had left and blustered, “I haven't that much left, you should lower your last bid.”

“ No, if you can't match it, I guess I win” and started to reach for the pot.

“ No, wait, I have something.” and he reached inside his coat and pulled out a paper. “ This is a title to a house I own in the city. It is worth much more than your last bid. I bet this.”

“ I should take your word on this? You want to bet an old shack against my bid? I don't think so.”

He turned to the other two men at the table “ You men know this house. Isn't it as I say?”

They both agreed that the house was very fine and easily worth more than my last raise. As I knew these were honest I finally agreed. “Alright, but you're putting up the whole house, not just part of it to cover my bet, is that understood”

He again looked at his cards and said “Yes, Senor Ash, it is.”

“ Alright lets see 'em.”

He proudly turned over four Aces, and then slowly sunk into his chair as I, card by card, turned over my straight flush, Jack high.

Now you know how I won a house and quite a few thousand dollars, too. Was it worth the wait?

But I digress. I told you I was on my way to look up my pal, Jack.

After a few hours I finally located him in one of the few high class bordellos in the city. He was even reasonably sober. As he was finished with his business there we left and walked down the street, getting reacquainted and catching up on what we'd been up to since we had last seen one another. Then I brought up the reason I'd wanted to see him.

“ I've got something going, Jack, that could pay off pretty good if it works out for you, me, and my other partners, but I need some help from you. Let me ask you something, is your reputation here as bad as it should be? Do the powers that be know about your little games and shenanigans, or are you pretty clean?

“ Sam, I've been very careful about my name, I even have a little store that is run for me by a Mexican fellow I helped when he was in trouble with a loan shark. That gives me an alibi for my income. I can show my face anywhere in town, and have.”

“ What about your poker games?”

“ When I play poker with the bigwigs I never try to make a big killing and even purposely lose sometimes and make sure they know it. They think I'm a businessman, a fair poker player and a hale and hearty, pleasant comrade. Sometimes, in a small way, a business partner.”

“ Good, we're going to need your honorable appearance to pull this off. This shouldn't damage your reputation, in fact, probably will enhance it,” I assured him.

He looked sideways at me, “You're probably the only one who knows what a rapscallion I am. Let's keep it that way.”

“ Okay, Jack, what I need from you right away is information on the real powers in town and how they fit in the scheme of things, who's really running things, who's got the money, who's running the rackets, and anything else you think will help. I'm sure you'll know what I want if anyone does. Let's find a quiet place, have a drink, and I'll fill you in.”

We spent a couple hours in a nice little tequila joint going over everything and then I took Jack to the hotel to meet the girls. I told him to act the part of a wealthy businessman for now 'cause I wanted to see how the girls acted to him.

When we entered the lobby Emilio greeted us, and then took me to the side and reported, “Senor Ash, Mrs. Whitaker saw some of the callers, but then became weary, so I told the rest they would have to return some other time. She saw the ones that I couldn't have kept out, so everything is fine, so far.”

That's very good, Emilio, keep up the good work, I'm sure you'll be rewarded when appropriate.

I'm going to take an old friend up to the lady. He'll be able to make things easier for her.”

Jack and started up when I asked him, “Jack, what's your last name? It's not really Slack, is it?”

He smiled and said “No, it's not, but for now let's say it's Porter, I've used that from time to time and it's clean.”

We knocked, Jasmine let us in, we saw that Jasmine had retreated to the background and Sandra was semi reclining on the now cleaned lounge and looked spent.

“ Mrs. Whitaker, I would like to introduce an old friend and influential person in town, Mr Jack Porter.”

I wasn't allowed to continue. “I'm sorry Mr. Ash, I just couldn't be amiable to anyone now, the day has been exhausting,” she murmured, and looked away with a weak gesture of dismissal.

“ That's great acting, Sandy, but you can give it up now, Jack's one of us. Jasmine, would you fetch the whiskey?”

“ Why you bastard, Sam, you were testing us, weren't you. When in hell are you going to realize we know what we're doing,” she yelled as she stood up with her hands on her hips, and glared at me.

I put my hands up to ward her off and apologized “Sandy, I was just pulling a little joke, I'm sorry.”

“ Alright, I guess it was a little funny. Jasmine, where's the booze?”

As this was going on Jack kept switching his view from one of the ladies to the other. It wasn't hard to see he was overcome somewhat with their beauty. We all sat down, I poured and we had a touch or two, and I asked “ What's been going on today? Fill me in.”

Jasmine started, “ Emilio's been popping in and out all day, introducing the callers, seeing if we needed anything, and making sure Sandra's not going to start wailing again, I think. He's kinda cute, I think he's got an eye out for me.”

Sandra continued, “He's eying Jas all right, and he has been very kind and protective. I told him most of my clothes were destroyed when we were robbed and he's sending up a seamstress tomorrow even when I told him I couldn't afford a lot 'til my money arrived.”

I wondered,”Have you enough to pay her?”

“ He said some of the callers said if we needed anything just put it on their account and if I wanted I could repay them later. I don't think a young rich heiress and widow would even think about how much things cost and I'm going to take advantage of it. We could use a new wardrobe.”

I said, “That's all well and good but I'm more interested in your callers. Fill us in.”

Jasmine took over again, “We've some real good prospects, Sam. I was able to observe better than Sandy as she had to act her role while I, as just a servant, stood in the background and could see how they were acting and what they responding to. Some of them were damn near drooling over her. Even the real old ones were affected and almost all of them hinted at possible business deals. I've a list of them and my observations.”

“ That's fantastic, girls, and even more than I expected on the first day. We'll go over the list with Jack, He's the one who knows the ones that are real and the phony ones. But I don't think we should stay too long or Emilio will start wondering, But we'll be back in an hour or less.”

We went downstairs, said goodnight to Emilio, went out to our horses, rode them down to a livery stable, rented a stall, and walked back in an alley to the back door of the hotel, and up to their room. On the way I stepped in the back door of a tavern and bought some more happy juice.

Knocking quietly, we were admitted. We sat around the small table in the room and went over Jas's notes for an hour or two. It was a good thing I had brought back more whiskey. Sandy and Jas were unwinding after a pretty intense day and were doing justice to one of the bottles while Jack and I shared the other.

I wasn't so far gone that I didn't notice the glances, peeks and, after awhile, leers that Jack and Sandy were exchanging. Suddenly Sandra stood, stated,“We've done enough tonight, I'm going to bed.” She was swaying quite a bit and staggered a little. Jack jumped up and declared, “Wait, I'll help you.” They helped each other to the bedroom door and entered. When the door closed I knew I wasn't going to see either of them until morning.

That left Jasmine and I just sitting there, looking at one another. She had a sparkle in her eyes and really bizarre grin on her. This girl had more kinds of grins than Texas had cattle.

She leaned over, almost nose to nose, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Well, are you ready to jump my bones now, or are you gonna crap out again.”

“ WHAT, ME, CRAP OUT! If you remember, young lady, I had already put in a tremendous effort in trying to satisfy a couple of horny young nymphomaniacs before I stopped for a few minutes to try to think up something else to appease their libido! Huh, crap out indeed!”

“ Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize that snoring was part of your concentration process. Never mind, I'm willing to give you a second chance.” and she grabbed my arm, pulled me off the chair and into the other bedroom.

What followed wasn't anything like the wild boisterous copulation of our previous sexual congresses. Instead of the wild tearing off of her clothes, Sandra almost did a mating dance as she disrobed, carefully folding her garments and placing them aside, all the while moving gracefully to first expose and then hide her attributes, teasing and taunting with her guileful glances from under lowered lashes.

I was almost stupefied by her performance, and stood, unmoving, captivated by her flowing movements for a few moments until I too, following her example, slowly disrobed.

We came together, not in a clutching grapple, but in a deliberate enfolding of one another in our arms, followed by along tender, open mouthed, kiss. While still entwined we lowered ourselves to the bed, and continued our caresses. I nuzzled and softly licked her neck and shoulders, working down to her fabulous breasts which I kissed and licked small circle around her nipples, while kneading and lightly pinching the nipple on the other.

I followed a few minutes of this by continuing to her navel and repeating my ministrations there. I then went even lower, softly blew on her small line of hair just above her engorged lips which I then gave a few delicate kisses and tongues while capturing a taste of her juices which were starting to flow. Then I started the slow, delightful return trip.

While I was taking my delightful journey, Jasmine was writhing and squirming, trying to present herself to me to her best advantage and all the while uttering little whimpers and sighs, and directives to me; “Ooh, yesyes, uugh, right there, more, that's it, until she just kept on with a continuous low moaning. When I reached her mouth again she gave me a long lingering kiss that never stopped, just hesitated momentarily, and continued for at least four or five minutes while we cosseted one another.

Finally Jasmine pulled away just a bit and whispered, “Now Sam, now, make love to me, don't just possess me but treasure me, treat me as you would one you truly loved. I don't want to feel alone tonight, Sam, do this for me.”

And for the next period of time, I tried to do just that, with long strokes into her receptive grotto and small endearments murmured into her ears until, I don't know how much later, we fell asleep, still holding one another.

As always, I welcome comments and/or criticisms. I would also appreciate a vot

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