If you had told Jacob Cayden he would end the evening in a woman's bedroom he would never have believed you. Girls didn't figure highly yet on his list of things to do. They were necessary he knew, the hero always kisses his girl at the end of a good old shoot out. If he was injured it was her job to patch him up. That's always how it went in the dime novels he read. But as for anything else, they smelt nice. That was one thing he was noticing lately. Girls generally smelt nice. They put something in their hair when they were washing it or something. There were other attributes he was noticing but they were best left unsaid. For the most part Jacob even at 14 felt himself generally too busy to pay them too much heed. But this saga didn't start out with a girl it started with a coach, and what a coach.
Jacob just stood and stared at the massive beast of a thing. It wasn't anything like the stage that shuffles into town every Friday with passengers. This thing was twice the size, it was made of wood as any carriage but every surface was smooth, shiny and jet black. Jacob went across the dirt road and put a hand to it. He had to feel that surface; it didn't even feel like wood. Once when he was little his family went to a church and he put his hand to a fine piano. That's what the wood felt like, that piano. He looked up and could see two lamps. They obviously cost a fortune. They were like the ones you'd see in a Benson and Newbury catalog and you'd need to send away for them. It would take weeks for them to arrive. You'd nearly forget you ordered them only they were so expensive. As his thoughts rambled on, his eyes went to the interior. It was decked out in a fine leather upholstery the color of a crimson rose and the tiny windows were embellished with velvet curtains to match. His eyes met with hers. She smiled out at him.
Jacob quickly backed out into the street.
"Here watch out boy, you wanna get yourself run over," Ike Peabody yelled as he swerved his cart to avoid hitting the boy.
Jacob suddenly felt hands take hold of him and he was pulled back up onto the wooden walkway. He was quickly put into a line with other boys and two boxes were handed down from the coach and put into his arms. Someone patted him on the head and then quickly walked to the top of the line.
Jacob looked at the boxes in confusion. He didn't work at the hotel. What was this?
One of the other boys grinned down at him.
"Imagine, we're getting a whole dollar for this. What you gonna spend yours on?"
It made sense now. Miles Pender didn't have enough staff to tend to this lady. His boys were bringing up her trunks but all the little boxes would need to be brought up too and the manager was anxious to get everything in off the street lest anything went missing.
Jacob took a look back at the carriage. His heart did a strange flip as the door was opened and a small gloved hand appeared. Miles Pender, the owner of the hotel took the hand and she stepped out. She smiled at her surroundings with such an air of warmth Jacob could feel it as well as see it. A smile played on his lips as he gazed at her.
"Come on, no staring," a concierge about the age of his older brother Oliver tapped him on the head and moved him on as the line of boys started into the hotel.
Jacob had never been inside a hotel before. His eyes grew wide as he noticed a strange tiny box. People went in, a cage door was closed and they seemed to go upwards. He would have liked to have ridden in that strange box that moved up and down but the boys with the trunks had piled into it. The smaller boys had to take the stairs. They were directed to a room at the very top of the building and ordered to leave the boxes down on the floor.
Jacob looked around him as did the other boys. He felt grubby and untidy and felt he shouldn't touch anything in this splendid place. The large plush sitting room had chairs so fancy you dared not sit down and a table with a stone top. It was pure stone. His brother Alister would say it was marble but Jacob drummed his nails on it. It was stone, he nodded to himself.
Through some small lapse in security the boys were left in the room on their own. They were to leave the boxes and head down to the lobby to pick up their dollar but that didn't quite happen.
One of the older boys opened up a door.
"You shouldn't do that," another smaller boy said.
He grinned back at them. "It's her bedroom,"
Jacob couldn't help himself. He sidled over with the rest of them. He could get the feint scent of perfume and he suddenly had an urge to see where she would be sleeping.
They all gazed at the four poster bed. It was magnificent. It was covered in a fine pink eiderdown with massive pillows decked in frills. The bed could fit Jacob's entire family.
"I wonder who she'll be entertaining in that," the older boy grinned.
The younger ones looked up at him questioningly. Jacob knew what he meant but what an idiot.
"She's an actress, you know what that means. She probably beds down with her leading men every night. That's what they do. They kiss for the audience and then when the curtain comes down..."
They all suddenly heard a voice in the corridors outside.
The younger boys tried to scramble out through the door. Jacob tried to go too but an older boy pushed him backwards in his haste to get out. Suddenly the door was shut. Jacob put his hand to the handle and then took it off as if he were burnt.
He looked frantically around the bedroom as out in the other room he could hear the boys getting a right ear full from the manager. Talk of telling their parents and time spent with a belt. Jacob fled to the large window. It wouldn't budge. He cursed under his breath, it wouldn't budge.
Out in the living room the boys were all thrown out and told to leave immediately. They all groaned and blamed each other as they were told they wouldn't be getting the dollar after all for their tomfoolery.
"Miss Lane, I am so sorry. If I had known..."
"Think nothing of it. They were just boys and it was kind of them to bring my things up to my room."
"You are so very kind," Miles Pender purred in his very best accent.
"Now if you don't mind, I am very tired, it has been such a long journey."
"Of course madam." He bowed. "If there is anything else I can do for you please don't hesitate. Ring the bell by the fire place and one of my staff will be straight up."
"I will, and thank you," she smiled.
"May I say Miss Lane what a great honor it is to have you here with us and gracing our little theatre with a performance was the epitome of kindness,"
"Thank you very much," she nodded. She was getting tired of this now.
Miles Pender knew exactly. He practically ran from the room and closed the door quietly behind him.
She let out a breath. She shrugged off her coat and let it flop down on the little couch. She then moved to the bedroom. The curtains were already closed, they must have known she needed her sleep. Just as well. Quickly she pulled pins from her hair and began to unbutton her dress. She felt relief as she wrestled her way out of the restrictive garment. It went to the floor and she stepped out of it. She reached to pick it up and threw the awful thing on a chair. Next time she would pick her own clothes. Miss Peters swore it would be perfect for her figure and yet this was the first time she had taken a full breath all day. She was used to her corset being restrictive but that thing was full of bone... She let out a scream as suddenly she caught sight of the shoes sticking out from behind the curtain.
Jacob came out from his hiding place immediately.
"No please, I'm sorry." He cried desperately.
He looked to the door expecting for the manager and his men to burst in any minute. They would burst in and march him off. They would quickly erect a makeshift scaffold and hang him. Then someone would send a note back to his brother Oliver. Oliver would read the note and go yeah that was bound to happen sooner or later.
"What are you doing here?" She asked as she pulled on a robe over her bare shoulders.
"I brought up some boxes, I sorta wanted to just look in here and someone closed the door on me,"
He wasn't prepared for the burst of laughter from her but it was a lovely sound.
"Oh silly boy," she smiled. "Aren't you naughty?"
She had a strange accent. He could listen to it all day.
"Where are you from?" He asked.
She should have thrown him out there and then for his impertinence but she knew him to be just a boy. He looked to be in his mid teens and she knew he meant no harm.
"I'm from London," she smiled. "I grew up in a place called High Gate."
"High Gate," Jacob repeated. "Did you live in a castle?"
"No, just a small apartment with my uncle. Then I left home to pursue a career in acting," the smile began to fade from her lips.
"Perhaps you should go now." She said. "If you're caught up here the manager would most probably take you over his knee."
"No ma'am, I'd probably spend a night in the local jail. You know I'm 14." Jacob answered, raising himself up to look taller than he was.
"Of course," she nodded. "Well I wouldn't want that."
Jacob began to head for the door.
"I've been in jail before. It ain't nothin as long as you know how to handle yourself."
He spent an evening in the outer office with Deputy Glen Taylor. He was caught taking money from tables at the saloon and spending it on candy sticks. When Oliver came to fetch him later the candy sticks were on the Sheriffs desk, he was mortified. He winced as he recalled it now.
"Well I wouldn't want you to land in prison. Not over me," she smiled.
As he was about to exit this plush apartment she scurried up to him still wearing her robe. There was a slight hint of perfume as she stood close to him.
"Be careful. Go down the back stairs so no one will see you." She said.
Jacob nodded. He could gaze at that pale doll like face all day.
It was a good job Ned knew his way home because if it was up to Jacob they would have ended up in Cheyenne territory. The little pony took the sure and direct route he knew so well.
The lamps were already lit in the windows of the little cottage and everything looked warm inside. Jacob took Ned to the stable and began unhooking him from his harness. The little pony was happy and bobbed his head up and down at the prospect of a bucket of oats and a brush down. Jacob frowned as his brother David appeared at the stable door. David came up and took the brush from his hand.
"I take it I'm in trouble with the Brothers Grimm." He said as he handed it over.
David laughed loudly.
"Shhh, you'll have them out here and a barn is just about the perfect place for someone to take a belt to your butt."
David looked up at him then.
"No, Oliver never did that. You don't remember Pa David, he used to do that. He used to do that a lot of times," Jacob ended abruptly there and said no more.
David wanted to tell his brother that he did remember Pa but it took so long for David to manage to say anything. Instead he reached up and patted Jacob on the arm.
"Go on now," Jacob shrugged it off. "Here give him these oats David. I've already filled the bucket."
Jacob put a hand to the younger boy's shoulder and headed out of the barn.
"Where have you been?" Jacobs 18 year old brother rounded on him immediately.
"I was in town," Jacob told him defensively.
Oliver stood over him blocking out all light.
"In town spending all your pocket money in one of them saloons."
"No," Jacob told him.
Alister was pouring out a bowl of stew.
"Here Jacob, come and eat," he said as he put the steaming bowl down on the table.
"I wouldn't be feeding him," Oliver groused at his brother.
Alister shrugged. "So he gambles all his money. He'll get in a fight and end in prison and heaven knows he won't get a descent meal there."
He looked up at Alister with a grubby grin, grateful for the fine smelling broth loaded up with potatoes and meat.
Oliver leaned on the table.
"You're three hours late, Myself and David had to do your evening chores." He told the boy angrily.
"Sorry," Jacob mumbled.
Alister looked to Oliver
"Was that an apology? Did Jacob Cayden actually apologize for something? Oh my God he's killed a man. We are about to get a visit from the sheriff."
"No, I'm just tired." Jacob looked up at his older brother. "Look I'm sorry. I'll do David's chores tomorrow. I promise. Right now I'm tired I just want to go to bed."
He got up from the table after only a few mouthfuls of food.
Oliver changed his tack.
"Are you okay?" He asked. "Did someone upset you in town?"
Alister reached up a hand and put it to Jacob's forehead.
Jacob waved them away.
"I'm just tired. I want to go to bed. I feel fine, really." He said as he began already pulling his braces down from his shirt. He sat down on the bed and began to pull off his boots.
It wasn't exactly the truth, he didn't feel fine. He felt sick to his stomach but it was a sickness he had never felt before. It was unpleasant and yet very pleasant all at the same time. He lay down putting a hand behind his tousled blond head and closing his eyes. A smile played on his lips as he thought again of her playful laugh and her perfect doll like face. A blush came to his cheeks as he remembered that brief glimpse he got of her in her under things and he didn't feel like he would sleep at all that night.