Monday, January 26, 2015

Slow and Steady

Hal Turpin slouched on a barstool, one heavy arm leaning on the bar. He sipped his ale and swept his narrowed gaze around the common room of the Best of Breed Tavern. Every so often he sighed.

His mood did not go unnoticed by Duff McDuff, proprietor of the tavern. “It can’t be the liquor that’s got ye so down,” McDuff said. “Be a good patron now, and confide in yer bartender.”

“The ale’s acceptable,” Turpin allowed. “Or would be, had I a comely lass to share it with. One night of no strings, to break the monotony. Is that too much for an old axe-slinger to ask?”

“You might do better with the ladies had you not worn your armor.”

Turpin shifted on the stool. Iron clinked beneath his cloak. “You know me, Duff. I feel naked without a shell on my back. Show me the right woman and I’ll doff it quick enough.” He tipped his mug discreetly toward the fireplace. “Like that one. The Amazon by the fire, drinking them boys under their chairs.”

Duff hid his grin. “Fancy Black Agnus, do ye? Cullen Ramsay’s daughter?”

“Red Cullen’s girl? That’s her?” Turpin instinctively ducked his head between his shoulders. “Saints above, no. I prefer both my heads where they sit. Might there be a less bloodthirsty girl in this beer-soaked joint of yours?”

“Ye’re speaking of Scots, y’know. And the Irish. There’s not a woman here couldn’t acquit herself in battle if pressed. No woman drinks in the Best of Breed unless she knows she can defend herself.”

“I’m not looking to wrestle her, dammitall. I was hoping to relax tonight.”

“Well then,” Duff considered, “I might have one in mind. I’ll warn ye now, she’s no spring blossom.”

“And I am?” Turpin snorted. He looked to be in his forties but was at least twice that. His breed of shifter lived long and aged slowly. “I’ll take a seasoned woman over some dewy little girl any day.”

“Let me ask her then if she’s interested. Otherwise ye might be wanting to try Dante’s Pleasure Club.”

“I said I wanted a woman,” Turpin growled. “It’s all skinny girls over there. I’m barely started and they’re already done. The young are too speedy for my blood.”

“That’s not what you said to the hare.”

Turpin sniffed. “Point me to a lass who appreciates patience and I’ll forget ye said that.”

Duff laughed and walked away. Turpin sourly sucked on his ale.

Not long after, a woman approached him. She had beef on her bones and a big bonny smile and a head full of bright orange locks. Turpin sat up on his stool, his sour mood gone in a blink. Now here’s what a man was talking about when he said he wanted a woman!

She leaned a brawny arm on the bar beside his and looked him square in the eye. “The name’s Clover,” she announced herself. “McDuff says you’re looking for a roll in the hay, no strings. I’m in the mood for a bit of fun, but the pickings are skimpy tonight.” She gave him the once-over and nodded. “You look like you might last a bit.”

Turpin slowly grinned. “More’n a bit, provided ye’re not as delicate as yer name.”

“Bite your tongue, man. I’m Scottish Highlander, born and bred. We go the distance, and then some. Think you’ve got the stamina to run with the bulls?”

“Ye should be asking yerself if ye think ye’ll keep up. Ye know what they say about tortoises?”

Her dark brown eyes lit up. “You’re that Turpin? The one who—”

“No need to advertise it, woman.”

“I should say not! I’d be all night fighting off every cow in the place, when there’s other things we could be doing all night.” She leaned in close to him. She smelled of meadows and malt ale. “A word of warning,” she whispered. “I’m no bawling calf.”

“Compared to me, ye’re a bonny babe.”

He told her his age. Her eyebrows shot up into her mop of hair. “To be sure, you don’t look it. Is the rest of you … ?”

“Still willing and able. It just takes a while for the gears to get grinding.”

Clover grinned broadly. “I’ve got all night, and nowhere to be in the morning, if it comes to that. Just no singing of ‘Roll Me over in the Clover,’ or I may have to take a hand to you.”

“I save my breath for better things. See how long you hold onto yours.”

Clover held out her hand. Turpin took it and slid off his stool. They led each other to the stairs and the guest rooms Duff kept in the loft.

# # #

The sun was well up when Clover finally stirred and stretched. Every last inch of her tingled happily. “That was amazing!” she gasped. “There’s more to slow and steady than I ever dreamed.”

Turpin lay on his back, likewise smiling and satiated. “Did I not tell ye so?”

“Aye.” She twined her fingers through his long, graying hair. “I’m sorry now we agreed on no strings.”

“That’s the beauty of no strings, lass. We can agree over and over. To dinner, perhaps, or a walk by the river. Or another night. Anything ye choose.”

“We can talk about the possibilities over breakfast. My treat,” Clover said. “But first … can I ask about the hare?”

Turpin’s homely face scrunched up. “Always with the bloody hare. Ye run one race in yer life and everybody wants to talk about it.”

“But you won. Against a hare.”

“I did nothing of the kind,” Turpin said. “The story’s wrong. Of course the hare won the race. How else could it have turned out?” His lips quirked upward. “I won the hare’s wife. She told me he was too speedy.”

Clover giggled. “Have you always been wicked?”

“Still am.” He gathered her against him. “If you’ve another hour, I’ll show ye what got me run out of Wales.”


Savanna Kougar said...

Oh, that was wonderfully inspired and great, Pat! I do love those tortoises...

Just one correction for Dante's sake... he's growling at me. Plenty of voluptuous NOT SKINNY women at the Pleasure Club, and women of every size and body type... Dante and his staff sends the skinny ones away if they're scarecrows.

Savanna Kougar said...

Or, if they're hungry, they get fed a lot!

Serena Shay said...

LOL..."Of course the hare won...I won his wife."

Love it! The visual of a tortoise and a bull makes me chuckle.

Pat C. said...

I'm sure there are plenty of sizes at Dante's. But let's face it: young girls tend to be skinny. And breakable, which is what a heavy guy like Turpin is afraid of.

Turpin falls into the "George Burns" category: "I'd date women my age, but there are no women my age."

Savanna Kougar said...

Pat, Dante wants to know where you got the idea that there are only YOUNG BREAKABLE SKINNY GIRLS at the Pleasure Club??? Kitty is scratching at the screen, btw.

Furthermore, Dante is glad Turpin found some good lovin' company that suits him. 'Cause, he's got no bone to pick with either Duff or Turpin. Nor does Dante care that Turpin hangs out elsewhere. Duff is a pal, and does stay at his place with his own living area.

Pat C. said...

That's Turpin's general opinion. He's old and cranky.

Savanna Kougar said...

Yep, understood. A terrapin has to do what an old cranky terrapin has to do... and I adore turtles, terrapins... all of them! Heck, I love the mutant ninja turtles.

Pat C. said...

Crap! I could have used a pic of the TMNTs for this post. Turpin was definitely a Rafael in his younger days.

Savanna Kougar said...

Naw. I loved the pic you did use. But in the future...