Situated conspicuously under a spotlight in almost the dead center of the room was a man in a floor-length dark duster and a hat. A black cowboy hat, in fact, with silver banding that caught the light. Ellis whistled to himself in astonishment and admiration, and dodged his way across the busy floor.
Clark had his back to Ellis and was shaking hands with a man in a waistcoat and slacks. “Yeah, I know, I know,” Clark was saying, turning. “Meeting somebody.”
“Lucky kid,” the man remarked. Clark laughed, caught sight of Ellis, and his expression changed into predatory recognition. Beneath the long coat, Clark wore a pair of black pants with a dull sheen that were so snug they left absolutely nothing to the imagination. They were tucked into combat boots that came up to mid-calf. He wore a chain belt with a huge silver buckle, and his upper torso was bare except for a black harness with flat silver studs that criss-crossed his sternum.
“Enjoy,” the man said, and Clark clapped him on the shoulder before strolling to Ellis in long strides.
Ellis considered falling on his knees right then and there. “Sarge,” he said, instead, and couldn’t help but compare Clark’s splendor to his own camo pants, dress boots, and t-shirt. “I…. wow…”
“Was just thinking the same thing,” Clark replied, eying Ellis from face to feet and back again. He tipped the brim of his hat with a boyish grin. “Howdy?”
Ellis smiled, instantly put at ease by Clark, even in these surroundings. “Hey. Yeah. You do that right.” Ellis sighed happily. “And look better’n I’d ever dreamed with that harness thing.” He reached out and hesitated just before touching one black leather strap.
“Thank you.” Clark caught Ellis’ hand, squeezed it, and lowered it without letting go. “Still up for this?”
Ellis met Clark’s eyes. “Yes, Sarge. Want it bad.”
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