Word Count 617
(Written for an obscure holiday: Hot Enough For Ya Day, July 23, 2007. This story was originally posted on the Lancer Yahoo groups. I tweaked in July of 2014 for adding to the files at the Lancer FanFiction group on Facebook. )
Tuesday, on the twenty-third of July in the year 1872, a stream flowed from beneath the brim of Scott Lancer’s hat, washing over all in its downward path and drenching the collar of his shirt. For what seemed the hundredth time, he mopped his face with the back of his gloved hand.
“Hot enough for ya?” Johnny Lancer gave his brother a cocky grin.
Scott tipped his chin upward and squinted. “Hot? I hadn’t noticed.”
Johnny laughed. “I bet you haven’t.”
“No more than you, anyway.” Scott pointed a finger at his brother’s sweat-streaked face.
Scott took a swipe at the water dripping from Johnny’s chin. “Yes, I do, Brother.”
Johnny brushed Scott’s hand away. “This ain’t nothin’, Boston. You oughta spend a summer in Mexico. Then you’d know what hot was.”
“Oh.” Scott leaned back against the trunk of the oak tree they were standing under. “Ever been to the Sahara Desert?”
“No.” Johnny dragged the word out, his brows pinching together. “Where’s that? Someplace around Boston?”
Scott shook his head. “No. It’s in the northern part of Africa. That’s a continent on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.”
“Gets hot there, too, does it?”
“Hotter than hell . . . or so I’ve been told.” Scott covered his mouth to hide the smile playing at the corners of his mouth.
Johnny stroked his chin. “That hot, huh? You ever been there?”
Scott arched his brows. “No . . . but my grandmother’s brother was. He said the heat would melt the socks right off of your feet.”
“You don’t say.” Johnny wiped his forehead on the sleeve of his shirt. “So was it hot enough for him?”
“Must have been. He went back once a year as long as his health permitted.” Scott paused to draw in a long breath and looked thoughtfully at his brother. “You ever think of going back to Mexico?”
Silence hung between them, and Scott felt a surge of fear run through him. What if Johnny did return to Mexico? Would he ever come back to Lancer?
Johnny stopped digging at a clump of grass with the toe of his boot and slowly lifted his face to meet Scott’s gaze. “Yeah. I’ve thought about it.”
Scott swallowed at the lump in his throat. “And?”
“I figure it’s hot enough for me here.” Johnny took a breath. “You ever think of going back to Boston?”
“Sometimes,” Scott slowly replied.
Scott half smiled and ran the back of his hand up and over his chin to his mouth. He licked the salty water from his lips. “I kind of like the heat here.”
A grin crept into the corners of Johnny’s mouth. “So . . . it is hot enough for ya.”
“I’d say it’s just right.” Scott wiped another drop of sweat from his cheek.
Johnny’s grin grew broader. “I guess if it’s hot enough for you, it’s hot enough for me.”
“Good.” Scott slapped his brother on the back. “Now, if we don’t want it to get any hotter around here, we’d better find the rest of those strays before Murdoch comes along and thinks we’re shirking our duty.”
Johnny chuckled. “That would heat things up in hurry, wouldn’t it?”
Scott laughed as he mounted his horse. Urging the animal into a trot, he called out, “That it would, Brother. That it would.”
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