When we went back aboveground, the sun had set, and the air had turned cold. I set the lantern down, straightened, and stretched. Will grabbed the canteen off his saddle, removed the cap, and took several long swallows.
“I’ll tell ya, Sam,” he said, wiping his mouth dry. “I wish there was liquor in this thing. I could use a stiff drink about now.”
I snorted agreement, rubbing the small of my back. “Well? We decide that old coot was lyin’, and go back and pound his ass?” He’d lost to us big in a poker game and convinced us the “treasure” would pay his debt. I studied the hand-drawn map again. “That had to be the spot. Nothin’ else like it anywhere near here, and the cave was exactly where he said it was.”
Behind us, the mountains nearly blocked the sky, they were so tall. Ahead, a sea of sand. It would take hours to get home. We’d been smart to plan on spending the night.
“I say we try again in the morning.” He grinned. “If we don’t find anything, then we go back and pound that old man’s ass.”
We gathered wood and started a fire. I turned off the lantern. Dinner was boiled potatoes, beef jerky, and dried fruit. We both wished we’d remembered the whiskey.
By the time we finished, it was full dark. We gave the hobbled horses a ration of grain, found flat places for the bedrolls, and hunkered down side by side. It didn’t take Will long to reach for me.
“Come ‘ere,” he said, yanking on my arm. “I’m freezing.”
“Snow’s coming. I can smell it.”
We curled up together, something we rarely got a chance to do on the ranch. It didn’t take long to fumble past the layers of clothing we wore–pants, shirts, long johns–and get to each other’s hot center. He worked my shaft while I worked his, and in minutes, we both erupted, our breathing harsh and loud.
We settled down to sleep. With the weight of his head on my shoulder and one leg raised over mine, I stared at the stars overhead. The moon would be up soon, bathing the landscape in silver light. One of the horses snuffled, then fell silent.
“Doesn’t matter if we find treasure tomorrow,” Will said softly. He tightened his grip on me. “I got mine right here.”
I pressed my lips against the top of his head. “Hell, yeah.”
Word count: 442
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