Yes, being mayor and voting on the law that allows two men to marry one woman had me setting the example, a precedence for other men in town to follow. Thus, Walker and I were in Denver meeting a woman who would be ours. Maybe I should have let Thomkins be mayor after all. He didn’t need to find a bride. He’d been married to the meek Agnes Thomkins for ten years or so. He’d been an asshole pretty much since birth when his daddy founded the town and he’d been one ever since. He wouldn’t do right by the town if he were mayor, probably ban mining or some such nonsense when there were mouths to feed. My anger toward Thomkins was enough to keep me in the leadership role and keep me standing in the cold waiting for our mail order bride.
“And you,” I added. “You get a bride because of how much we fucking hate Thomkins, too.” We were in this together. This woman would be ours together.
I heard him sigh, but he said nothing more.
Passengers began to pass and I watched them all closely, looking for Celia Lawrence, widow from Tyler, Texas. And my bride. Celia Tate, now. I had no knowledge of her appearance, only that she was a widow and twenty-five years old. I gripped the Bible in my hand and placed it so it could better seen. While I was not an overly pious man—I was committing to marry a woman in a very unbiblical way, with Walker and without our union blessed in a church—but the Bible was the way for Mrs. Lawrence to discern me from the crowd.
“Are you sure?” I asked, wanting to confirm one last time. “You vowed never to marry again after Ruth’s death. You can still change your mind. I can find someone else.”
He could back out, but I couldn’t. The proxy marriage was legally binding. Luke Tate, husband. Celia Lawrence, wife. But I had no interest in sharing a bride with just any man. I’d only do it with my brother. We were close, close enough to have shared women in the past, to have the same interests—and darker desires—when it came to taking a woman. Some might find our predilections to be sinful or even wrong, but dominating a woman only led to her pleasure, her ultimate satisfaction. We put her first. Sure, we might tie her up and spank her ass, even fuck it, too, but she’d like it. No, she’d love it.
“I want children, too,” he admitted. “But love?” Shrugging his shoulders, I knew he was jaded. “That’s for you. She deserves it and you’ll give it to her. This works perfectly for me.”
I angled my head toward the emptying train.
Walker shrugged. “We have to hope.”
The bulk of the passengers had left the platform and had moved quickly into the warm station. Only a few years old, it was an impressive structure, a sign that Denver was booming. I didn’t care for the city. Too many people, too much noise. The only reason I was here was for—
She was walking toward us, eyeing the Bible. I should have approached her, asked her name and grabbed the small bag she held. But I couldn’t. I just stared. And stared as if my feet had frozen to the ground.
“Fuck.” I heard Walker mumble under his breath as he took her in as well. It seemed my brother had the same intense—and instant—attraction for her. “Look at her,” he whispered.
Yes, we were truly fucked, for Mrs. Celia Lawrence was everything I could have imagined in a bride. Petite, her curves couldn’t be hidden beneath her light jacket. Her pale hair was up and tucked beneath a prim hat. The lanterns that lit the platform from the dusk set her skin to a warm gold. Her cheeks were flushed from the cold and I could see that her pale eyes were wary and hopeful at the same time. She stilled when she shifted her gaze away from the Bible and onto me, but she tilted up her chin and took another step closer.
She was… fuck, incredible. Lovely. Dainty. Shy. Daring. I wanted her. Instantly and desperately. My cock hardened and I was thankful my coat hid the reaction. She was my bride.
She was mine. Mine!
Walker had his wits about him, unlike me, for he moved around me to approach her. “Mrs. Lawrence?” he asked.
She looked up at him, a frown forming in her brow. “Yes. Mr. Tate?”
Her soft voice had me moving. Finally. I was fucking it all up and I hadn’t even said a word. She was just too… perfect and I felt as if I’d been hit on the head with a support beam from the mine. I cleared my throat and joined the two, removing my hat. “I’m Luke Tate, ma’am.”
She glanced at the Bible once more, then up at my face. Way up. I was so much taller; she only came up to my shoulder. She offered me a small smile, but I could tell it took effort. I was a big man, and a stranger at that. She was very brave to travel so far on her own, to be wed to a complete stranger. No, two strangers. I’d just met her and I was very proud of her. I wanted to take away the wariness and replace it with… hell, what would she look like when I made her come the first time? I’d find out soon enough if my cock had any say.