Disclaimer: They're owned by someone, they're not mine. I don't intend on making a profit off of this story. Oh, warning, if you think Mary and Chris don't go well together, or the thought just makes you wanna hurl, don't read this. It gets intense, 'kay?

Started on Sunday, February 7th, 1999

Rated R for nearly explicit sexual situations between the opposite sex (duh), violence, and profanity.

This is my second fanfic, it's probably not very good, but here it is.

An Ill-Fated Love Affair
by Bethany Shamberger

1867 - Four Corners

At first, Mary Travis thought she was dreaming when she saw him walk through the door of her bedroom in the back of her newspaper office. Hunger burned deep in those normally steely green-gray eyes of his. A tingle of excitement washed down her spine. His outline was caught by the moonlight, eminating from the window. He looked like a phantom.

She heard the heavy clanking of his boots as he made his way across the wooden floor of the Clarion. She picked up the rugged scent of Chris Larabee's body as he approached and it set a fire of need inside Mary's heart. Only a woman could lust over a man's natural aroma. It encircled her and danced around her, but her eyes were locked with the man's green one's. The yearning in her abdomen was agony and she knew this had to be reality.

Mary pinched her left arm just to make sure, still keeping her gaze on his, and was rewarded with a flash of pain. But she paid no mind to her arm. All she could think of was how Chris looked so desireable. She nearly melted into a pool on her bed.

Never saying a single word, he slowly moved over to her bed like a ghost. Mary's heart was beating so wildly, she was afraid the other occupant of the room would be able to hear it.

She stood up quickly, ready to protest. "Chris-"

"Shhh..." He placed two fingers on her lips gently. She searched for any sign of fault in the situation. His eyes were lucid, and his movements were not slurred. He didn't smell of alcohol, which was awfully surprising. Slowly, he removed his fingers and he leaned down, kissing the edge of her mouth. A jolt of adrenaline raged through her body at the gesture and she moved to kiss him fully. Mary placed her hands behind his neck and he wrapped his strong arms around her waist. His tongue slithered into her mouth and twisted with hers. Mary couldn't believe this was happening. Her head was spinning with pleasure, she was literally unable to control herself. She had longed for this ever since her husband died and Chris had come to town about six months ago, her father-in-law had hired him along with six other men to protect their town, Four Corners. It was a mess and no one was safe. Mary remembered seeing the gunfighter for the first time and feeling a light flutter of infatuation just by looking at him. She thought he was sexy, mysterious, and intelligent. He was also quiet, kept to himself, was an excellent leader, and an even better gunslinger. That is why he was chosen to lead the six other men into protecting Four Corners. JD Dunne, the young sheriff from the East who was nothing but green and her own son, Billy admired him.

Mary moaned softly as his big, masculine hands roamed her body. Her own hands, though they were trembling a bit, explored his chest. He was strong and lean, muscular, exactly what she was attracted to.

Reason came back into Mary's muddled mind, and she broke off the dizzying kiss, looking deep into his eyes. Why had he come here? Why was he doing this? Was he drunk after all? Had she read into him wrong? Had he planned this whole thing?

Chris saw the questioning look in her clear blue eyes and smiled. She was so beautiful, so angelic, and gentle. He was shocked that he hadn't realized this before. But he had that night...the hard way.

He'd had a horrible nightmare about Mary and he couldn't help but relive it...

..."Afternoon, Mary," Chris greeted as he walked up the steps to the newspaper office. Mary smiled at him shyly and pulled her shawl closer to her body. "How's your day been?"

"Actually, very well, I just got a letter from Billy and it said that he'll be coming to town in about a month. I can't wait for the day." He smiled. Billy was a wonderful boy, and Chris couldn't help but treat him like his own son.

"I'm glad to hear that," he replied. He said a good-bye, then walked away towards the hotel he was staying in.

All of a sudden, a gunshot and a scream rang out from behind him. Chris spun around in terror, to see Mary laying on the ground, dead, with blood splattered all over her white dress and shawl. A man he remembered to be Cletus Fowler, though he was dead, held a smoking gun and a sneering grin on his face.

Guilt swept through his body like a tidal wave. He failed another human being. He had lost another loved one. He hadn't noticed the emotions he felt toward the woman, and now she was dead. He was too late...again.

Tears flooded his eyes and he ignored the men on horses, retreating the place quickly. Instead, the anguished man rushed over to Mary and fell on his knees, then delicately picked up her body, holding her in his lap. He rocked back and forth, sobbing into Mary's still form, the blood seeping out of her body and clinging to his light blue shirt, darkening the cloth with deep crimson red. Rain began to fall, just as the other half of Chris Larabee's soul was torn out of him. He screamed as loud as he could and he turned his face to the sky, shrieking curses to the Lord for taking his Mary...

But it was just a dream. He woke up from the dream, clutching his blankets, tears streaming down his cheeks and soaking into his pillow as he still murmured the curses into the night. He was surprised by the affect this woman had on him. He hadn't felt anything for anyone since Sarah and Adam's death.

The first time he saw Mary, he admired her. The way she took on those drunken men gave him a tickling, funny feeling inside of him. Right then, he hadn't been able to identify what the feeling meant, but when he had woken up to the horrible dream that night, he finally understood.

Mary was meant for him, he was meant for her, it only made sense. She was in need of a strong man in her life, some one to protect her and Billy forever and always, and he needed someone to comfort him. He needed to live life with a good family in a decent town. She had to be the one he was waiting for.


The name burned off half of his desire and eagerness for the current events in Mary's bedroom. Chris couldn't make himself forget her death, though he tried, and turned to a bottle of whiskey to exit his worst thoughts.

For three long torturous years, his dead wife and son ruled his life. He had to find the killers, whether it meant life or death. Not like death mattered to Chris Larabee, no, he'd stared death straight in the eye one too many times with out the flinch of a muscle. He had the reputation of a deadly gunslinger, a moody one at that. He had crawled into a darkness so black, he even dressed like it.

Then he came to a small place called Four Corners. A lawless little town that needed some hired guns to protect it. Mary's father-in-law, the Honorable Judge, Orrin W. Travis, asked for seven men's assistance. Chris saw it as a domesticating pull, and longed to hide in his darkness again.

But Mary, proud and elegant, shined a light on the darkness that had consumed him for so long. Sarah and Adam would always and forever be a part of him that would never ever die until the day he breathed his last breath, but he had a feeling that Sarah wanted him to move on. She was telling him that he had one more chance to have a good life and a good family again. And here she was now, in his arms.

"Mary," he whispered, lightly brushing away the blond hair that had strayed into her eyes.

"Shhh..." she said back, pressing two of her fingers against his mouth. He smiled and she led him over to her bed, having him sit down. She took his hat off, without a protest from him, and set it on her bed post. Mary then bent down and began to unbutton his black shirt. Chris' grin widened as she worked on the buttons. He knew she was nervous, but she did a helluva job hiding it.

Finally, it came open. He flung it off and threw it to the floor in a heap. Mary climbed to her knees on her bed behind him and leaned over, kissing the back of his neck softly. She heard him gasp, and she smiled, excited by the reaction she was recieving from him.

She kissed a path down and up his shoulders and stopped when she reached his spine. Then she brought her hands to his shoulders and squeezed the extremely tight muscles. She ground her thumbs into the strained tendons, going over every knot in his neck and back. Mary shocked Chris as she ran her fingers through his dark blond hair, loving the silkiness of it between them. She massaged his scalp, and could feel goose flesh rising on his exposed skin.

Mary licked the area behind his left ear, then bit it gently, like she was warning him that she was going to go on.

But Chris couldn't take it anymore. Her hands were amazingly expert as she loosened the tightness in his muscles. No one had done this for him since he was married to Sarah. Even his dead wife hadn't thought of massaging his head. He felt Mary's fingernails running over his scalp and he quivered slightly. This woman was driving him insane already!

Wild with passion, he turned and kissed her deeply. She answered just as crazily, wrapping herself around his body.

She felt him loosen her nightgown and in no town at all it was on the floor, piling on top of his black shirt.

"Hey, JD!" Buck Wilmington called out to the young sheriff as he exited the hotel he slept in. "Have you seen Chris anywhere?"

"Nope, haven't seen him since last night and he was in a helluva mood. Why? Is he not in his room?"

"No, he's not. He just left his door wide open and his bed sheets all rumpled and thrown on the floor." JD curled his dark brown hair behind his ear and shrugged unknowingly.

"I don't know, Buck. Why don't you ask Mrs. Travis?" The tall scoundrel grinned, knowing how silly it looked with his brown mustache. Hey, it did its job by attracting all the fine young ladies around the place.

"Good idea, kid." He patted the boy on his back and headed across the street to the Clarion, the newspaper office. It was 7:45 in the morning, according to his pocket watch, and she was always awake at the crack of dawn.

He knocked gently on the door. Getting no response, he looked inside the dark window. Hmm...that's odd, he thought. Oh, well. I'll come back in an hour.

Buck made his way for the saloon. Maybe Chris was in there, though he had checked about fifty times already.

He pushed through the swinging doors and spotted Ezra Standish, a conman, Vin Tanner, an ex-bounty hunter and superior sharp shooter, Josiah Sanchez, a preacher, and Nathan Jackson, an ex-slave who was quick with a knife both defensively and medically. He had learned all of his practice in the Civil War, healing wounded Northern soldiers. They all made up the Magnificent Seven. Buck once heard a man say this. They were Chris, Vin, JD, Buck, Josiah, Ezra, and Nathan.

The four of them were sitting at their usual table in the back.

The piano player ceaselessly played 'Clementine' in the backround. Those weren't the only noises coming from the back of the place. Buck also heard loud, boisterous laughter, clanking of shot glasses and the scuffling of men's boots as they lurched around drunkenly.

The smell of saw dust, smoke, whiskey, and sweat invaded Buck's nostrils. Ahh...the sweet, beautiful aroma of a saloon.

"Well, sit down with us, Buck, what are y'all waitin' for? Someone to pull out a chair for you?" Vin drawled as he leaned back lazily in his chair.

"Ha, ha," Buck mumbled sarcastically, removing his hat, smoothing back his ruffly, brown hair, and setting it back where it belonged. "You're so funny Vin." He took a seat. "Have any of you by chance seen Chris this morning? I got somethin' I need to tell him."

"Nope," was everyone's answer. Buck was getting frustrated. He needed to tell his long-time friend that he had just gotten a telegraph that a couple of notorious gangs were riding into town.

Buck knew what the old dawg would say. 'We'll deal with them when they get here' and grumpily turn to his friend called alcohol. Yet, he still felt that this was something he needed to know right at the moment.

"All right, well, he's a big boy. I don't need to run all over town to find him. He comes to me. Besides, he's bound to come here pretty soon anyway," Buck retorted.

"What's the message you so intently need to discuss with our extremely thick-skinned leader, Mr. Wilmington?" Ezra asked thoughtfully in his lazy Southern accent.

"Oh, just a couple of gangs ridin' into town in a few days. Not that big of a deal." The four stared at Buck in astonishment. "Well, don't look at me!"

Nathan tapped the table in anxiety. "We sure know how to pick our fights."

"Sure do," Vin agreed softly.

Josiah sighed. "I hope God is willing to have mercy on our souls in this one." The table went into an uncomfortable silence and was interrupted by Ezra.

"Well now, since we are all settled and cozy, can I interest any of you gentlemen with a small game of chance?" He pulled an ace card "magically" from his pocket and held it up smiling revealing his infamous silver tooth. "Hmm?"

Everyone but himself got up from the table. They weren't stupid enough to play poker with Ezra Standish, even if they were feeling lucky. He was a professional and usually cheated the money out of people. Trying to win him over in the game was a waste of time.

"You'll be back!" he shouted after their retreating figures.

The first thing Mary noticed when she woke up was the feeling of a body close to hers. She had gotten used to Billy sleeping in the same bed with her after a nightmare, but Billy was back East with his grandparents and besides, this body was big, bigger than hers. As she became more aware of things around her, she could hear heavy breathing, and an arm was clutching her waist protectively.

That's it, Mary, open your eyes, she thought to herself. One lid opened, exposing a suspicious clear blue eye, and she looked down. It was a man's hand all right. As she moved around to see what was going on, she discovered that her body was in the extreme state of undress. She was completely naked. Redness began to flow over her cheekbones, but suddenly, she remembered.

Warmth flowed through her veins as she recognized Chris' sleeping face, buried in her pillow. His hair was hanging over his forehead and Mary brought her fingers up, brushing the strands away.

He looked so much more at ease in his sleep. A frown was still carved into his features, but he seemed to be very vulnerable as he slept. She found herself liking it whole-heartedly.

Mary wrapped her arms around him and curled up against his also very naked frame. She nearly passed out, knowing that she was in bed with the man who many were afraid of. What were people to think of her if they found out the goings-ons of last night? Had anyone been aware of it? Did anyone see? Had anyone seen Chris walk into the Clarion, yet, never come back out? Mary was sacrificing her hard earned reputation for just one little night stand with him. She looked at Chris' face and her heartless questions vanished. He was worth it. Last night had been so intense and crazy. Her brain was in fact still fuzzy with the after glow of their lovemaking, and she was surprised at how it affected her so. She never realized the depth of her feelings for the black-clad town hero. Obviously, she had never been aware of his feelings toward her, either. Mary smiled.

Chris could feel a body gripping his own and at first, he wondered what the hell he was doing with a whore again. After what happened at Wickes Town, he made a promise to himself that he wouldn't touch another prostitute. Then he recollected the previous night in living color.


He couldn't believe how bold he had been. Never had he ever experienced the emotions like last night. She was so wonderful and special to him. Unlike his dream, he wasn't too late. Chris was shocked and relieved at the same time. Finally something was going right. He loved the feeling of everything going his way, but as a gunslinger, he knew that often good news was followed by bad news. Oh, shut up, Chris growled silently to the rational voice in his head.

He opened his eyes and found Mary's stare on him. His sharp, ice-cold eyes melted, he was for once unable to hide those expressions he hated to reveal.

Mary smiled softly. "Chris..." But, her mouth couldn't find the right words to say.

He sighed and placed a hand on her cheek, then kissed her forehead. "Good morning, sweetheart," he whispered. This brought tears to Mary's eyes. Sweetheart? So the hardened gunfighter who had killed plenty of men and put his life on the line was becoming a softy. She snuggled up to him as close as she could possibly get and was rewarded by feeling his arms pulling her tight to his body.

Chris remembered how soft her skin was. Like a rose petal. He trailed a callused finger over her smooth shoulder and felt her shiver under his touch. He grinned at the affect.

"I really would enjoy a lazy morning here with you," Mary said pulling away a little, "but I have a job to do, and plus, people will be wondering where we are."

"Yeah, I know," Chris groaned. They got out of bed and he scooped up his clothes, careful to turn around so that Mary had her privacy and he had his.

"Ya know, Chris," she mumbled as she put on her under garments, "that was a very wonderful night. I haven't experienced anything like that, even with my late husband." Mary bit her lip, thinking she said too much.

Chris finished with his black pants and as he yanked on his shirt, he could feel a beaming smile tugging at his lips. He turned around, the black shirt still open and untucked. He saw Mary struggling to pull on a dress quickly. Chris slipped over there and helped her with the rest.

"Thank you," she said quietly. After he was done with the last button, he spanked her lightly. She surfaced a squeal of exasperation and she turned around, laughing. Chris chuckled himself as he finished with his shirt and brought a hand through his hair.

It was a tad messy, but it would have to do. He took up his hat from the bed post and planted it on his head carefully. Mary scurried over to her desk where her mirror was and began to brush her hair and put it in a bun.

Chris examined the thing on her head and lazily stepped over to her. He pulled out the clip holding it in place. After she uttered a cry of protest, he replied, "I like your hair down. It's so long and pretty." He fingered the blond tendrils.

"All right. Well, I like it when you don't wear a hat!" She swiftly took off his hat and he made a grab for it.

"What's wrong with my hat?"

"Oh, nothing. I just like your hair."

"Even when it's this messy?" She just glanced at him in the mirror, holding fast to the hat and put some clips in the sides of her hair, leaving the rest down.

"Yes." He took his hat away and placed it so it was hanging down on his back. "Promise that you won't wear it around me?" she nearly begged.

"Oh, all right. I promise." Mary was done and she stood up, circling and facing him. Chris moved his arms around her, hugging her fiercely.

She rested her forehead against his chest and sighed contently, relishing the moment.

"Dammit, dammit, dammit! Where's that ol' dawg, Chris?!" Buck fumed. He had already waited two hours and now it was noon. Buck rubbed his mustache wearily. "I give up."

He began to tromp angrily back over to where everyone else was when he saw Chris walking over to the saloon. There he is!

"Chris! Where have you been?! I've been lookin' all over town for yer sorry little ass, now you gon' tell me why you've been gone!"

Chris studied his friend with an annoyed glance. "For a minute there, Buck, you sounded like my mother." He smiled light-heartedly and made his way to the saloon, leaving his old friend in confusion. Buck wondered what just happened. His friend hadn't even glared at him.

Chris is acting strange, Buck thought. He's...he's happy! Well, what was making him happy? Buck shrugged and went into the saloon.

He immediately heard laughter in the background. It seemed very familiar, yet, out of place. Then he realized who it was. Chris. Chris was laughing. Not haughty or sarcastic or bored. Genuine. Something was going on with him. But it wasn't a bad thing, obviously. If it wasn't bad, then why should Buck care?

Then he remembered the news in the telegraph, but he couldn't bring himself to tell Chris. Seeing his depressed friend in a good, laughable mood was unusual and rare. The news Buck brought would make Chris in a very sour, dark mood. Why waste this good time with a bad message?

Buck came up to the men and pulled up a chair, sitting down. All of the men's eyes were sparkling and he knew why. Because their moody, grumpy leader wasn't moody and grumpy that day. They weren't drinking that much, either.

"Chris, what is up with you?" his friend asked in complete astonishment. "You're so cheerful, it's starting to worry me! Where's Chris Larabee and what have you done with him?!"

"Buck," JD stated, with shock glinting in his hazel eyes. "What's wrong with Chris bein' happy?"

Josiah studied the man in black with suspicion. "What is making you so damn happy, Chris? Last night you were in an avoidable mood. Now you're merrier than Christmas. Tell us your secret."

But Chris just got up, adjusted his hat, winked at his friends, and headed for the door, leaving everyone in the saloon even more confused than before.

Vin shrugged. "At least he's happy."

Chris first went to his room to find a change of clothes and a bottle of cologne. He decided to put on his light blue shirt and clean up. He was going to do something he hadn't allowed himself to do for three long years. He was going to ask Mary for courtship.

This was going to be a very dangerous relationship, but a mighty important one, too. If he was gonna allow her into his life, she couldn't break his heart or walk out on him or nothing. He couldn't offer her anything but his love and protection, but he had an idea that Mary didn't have a whole hell of a lot to give him either. All he needed was a wife to love and support him, and a child, the bondage between a man and woman.

Chris went to the bath house at the end of the street and was in and out of there in no time. He had shaved, brushed his hair so he looked like a decent gentleman, not a scruffly unkept gunslinger, he put on his new light blue shirt, and black pants. He pulled on his black duster and picked up his hat, but didn't put it on. He slipped his gun belt over his left arm, then made his way for the door.

As he began to leave the room, he almost forgot about the cologne. It was an old imported French cologne that smelled like a wonder. Sarah had bought it for him two days before he left her and Adam on that tragic night as a going away present. He hadn't touched it since her death. But this was different. Time for a change. Chris twisted the lid open and the scent wafted into the air. It smelled very nice, he had to admit. Mary would definitely like it. Chris dabbed some of the liquid onto his hands and he slapped it onto his neck and chest. When he made sure he didn't put so much on that he would smell like a pack of wild Frenchmen, he finally left.

He stepped out onto the boardwalk and made his way across the street to the other side. Nervousness seeped into his gut like molten lava. It was an unfamiliar feeling, just as the over-whelming joyness was. Why was he so nervous?! He'd had sex with Mary and he was nervous about courtship? The fact that he hadn't been with a woman this way didn't help him one bit. Maybe it was because he was now afraid of commitment. No, it had to be the danger he was going to put her through by having a relationship with her.

His heart began knocking wildly as he saw the Clarion come into his view. Chris was having doubtful thoughts about what he was doing all of a sudden. What if she said no? Dear Lord, then he would feel like a damn fool and would most likely skitter on outta town in embarrassment without ever looking back.

The cheer left Chris and the grin was washed from his face. He longed to hide his scared expression from all the probing eyes of everyone out on the street. He could feel himself begin to drift into a dark mood. His head felt light without his black hat on, and he thought he looked weird in his blue shirt.

Chris stopped at the doorway of the newspaper office. Should he do this? Was he brave enough to risk it? He wasn't sure anymore.

Don't be scared of a little task, Larabee, he told himself. You've faced the devil himself more times than your friends put together, still pulling through and you're fearing a little billy-doo like courtship?!

Chris grumbled under his breath and he quickly stepped through the open door. He saw Mary immediately and his anger melted away like thin ice on a flame. She looked up from her work before her and greeted him kindly.

"Can I help you?" She tried to sound professional, but looked too giddish and innocent with a blush forming on her cheeks.

"I need to ask you a question, Mary." Chris masked a very serious face, keeping his eyes as impassive as ever.

Alarm flowed through her body at his solemness. "What?! Is something wrong?"

"No." Chris' gaze went down and he started to play with his hat. "I -I..." He couldn't find himself to say the simple words.


He grew hesitant, but his mind flashed back to the dream he had and how he'd been too late for her. It was time to take action, to take control.

Chris took her hands as a loving gesture and looked her deep in the eyes. "I want to court you, Mary."

Mary stared at him in absolute disbelief. Did he really ask her this? A slow smile spread across her numbed face.

"Will you accept?" He looked awfully hopeful.

He didn't even have to urge her. "Yes, I will!" she shouted enthusiastically. He laughed, feeling relieved just as she hopped out of her seat and hugged him. They just stood there in the Clarion, intent in being with each other for the moment.

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