I was sure those ole boys in town were pulling my leg when they told me about the Evening Star. Last I knew, that ranch hadn't seen an owner in near 5 years. I could just imagine the shape it was in. But I needed the work. School would start back up in the fall; I needed the cash from a summer job. So there I was, headed out to the ranch.
I drove my old truck up the dusty road, seeing the rusty gate across the private drive, made me question the boys yet again. I thought about the last time someone took up the reigns at the Evening Star. That would have been old man Crowley. He was a mean son of a bitch. Him and that son ?what was his name?. Tim?..Tom ?..something like that. The son had taken off a few years before the ranch went belly up. Funny that it was never sold.
I pulled up the drive; taking note of the condition of the barn and fences. In its day the Evening Star must have really been something. A thousand acres of prime grazing land with a stream running along the western border. Tall stands of trees littered the property on that side. The barn was huge and I did notice that for as long as it had supposedly sat empty, the roof was new. And the fencing of the paddock had been replaced recently as well. Guess someone had taken an interest in the old place after all.
The house came into view as I pulled past the barn. The usual style farmhouse for these parts , two stories, wrap around porch. Needed a coat of paint but otherwise looked sound, at least from the outside. I still wasn't sure about any occupants. I hadn't seen any sign of life. Parking my truck, I climbed out and went in search of the new owner.
Knocking on the door didn't garner a response, so I headed into the barn. I didn't get ten feet inside the door when I felt the barrel of a shot gun pressed to my back. Now I don't consider myself a stupid woman and I don't know anyone that would call me weak. I stood almost 6 feet and had worked a ranch all my life so I thought I was pretty fit. But there's something about being on the business end of a shotgun that will make even the strongest weak in the knees. Needless to say?..I stopped dead in my tracks and my hands went into the air faster then you could say, "stick 'em up".
"Who are you and what are you doing in here?" Came a low voice behind me.
I was taken aback by that voice. It caressed me, low and soft and??.definitely feminine. I was about to turn to see its owner when I was reminded of my rather precarious situation. She jabbed me with the gun barrel. OK so I didn't turn, call me chicken but I didn't think I would like my back air-conditioned.
I didn't get an answer.
I tried again. "Well ma'am I was looking for work and the boys in town said there might be something out here for me to do. If you would just put that down and take me to the owner I'd be much obliged". Mama always said?.be polite. And Daddy always said???be polite, specially when you aren't holding the gun.
"There's no work here. Get back in your truck and go". She ordered.
It's been said that I can be a tad bit dense and often times more reckless then is good for me. This was one of those times. Having a gun pointed at me when I really hadn't done anything was wearing on my nerves.I'm kind of funny that way. Quick as I could, I reached behind me and grabbed the gun barrel, twisting it out of her hands as I came around to face her.
Now I don't know what I was expecting when I saw her for the first time. But whatever it was, it sure wasn't what I got. I know this because I don't think I could be struck dumb by a vicious, gun toting, knuckle dragging , neanderthal woman. Ok, voice or no voice, I did have a picture in my mind. Like I said, that image and the reality didn't match up.
Standing there was the most beautiful woman I think I'd ever seen. And let me tell you right now. I've seen some beautiful woman and yes I've slept with my share of them, if you were wondering. She couldn't have been no more then 5'4, short gold hair framed her angelic face. She didn't look to be more then a girl, at least till you looked into those eyes. God Himself must have made those eyes special just for her. They were the color of sweet grass in the summer. So green you would swear they couldn't be real. But it was what was behind the amazing color that drew me. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul and if that was true, this woman's soul had seen it's fair share of pain and anguish. But there was a spark there, a certain fire that intregied me, held me. I saw passion, determination, intelligence and even the slightest bit of fear. Oh she tried to cover those emotions but I saw them. I saw it all looking into her eyes and in a matter of just a few seconds I knew. My past, present and future was standing right in front of me.
At this point I should probably tell you that the woman of my dreams was not at all happy about being so easily disarmed. In fact I'd say she was down right pissed. And I know this because those beautiful eyes had turned as cold and hard as emerald ice. Quite frankly ??I was pretty sure she didn't really need a gun to take me apart. If looks could kill I'd have been six feet under.
So I did what I always did when faced with an angry woman. I put on my biggest, cheesiest, most charming grin that I could muster. Hey??.it works, women find it adorable. My future wife and mother of our children however, was not as easily impressed.
"I asked you who you were". She shouted, stepping closer making it impossible for me to raise the rifle I now held in my hand. Oh she's so smart too.
"Umm?. I'm". I tried to answer but she cut me off.
"Never mind it doesn't matter because you are leaving". She ordered again. This time holding out her hand expecting me to turn over the gun.
I have no excuse for what happened next. It could have been the stress of being held at gunpoint or the fact that I was face to face with a real live angel. I plead insanity in any case. But I stepped up to her, so close I could feel the heat of her body against my own .. Leaned down close to her ear and ???
"You know?.you're beautiful when you're angry. But if you think I'm just going to hand over the same weapon you just held at my back, then you better think again darlin' ". I purred in the sexiest voice I could manage.
My answer was a resounding slap to the side of my face. I saw stars. I hadn't expected that. And when I recovered??..she had indeed, taken the gun back.
"Leave!" Was the last thing she said before she stormed out of the barn leaving me there staring after her? Not a bad sight really?she had a great ass.
Feeling completely dejected and oddly, slightly aroused, I know, I'm just sick. But I left, just like she asked me too. However???. she didn't say?...that I couldn't come back.
My trip back to town was a blur; my mind was on the little spitfire back at the Evening Star. I knew I had to see her again. I know it was just asking for trouble, but then?..I like trouble. By the time I pulled up to the hardware I had a plan. Well the start of a plan anyway.
The boys sitting in front of the store just laughed when they saw me. The red mark on my cheek hadn't faded none.
"Little bit of nothing got the jump on ya huh Trace?"
"Laugh it up boys". I chuckled. It was pretty funny when you thought about it. Not many could sneak up on me let alone get a good whack like that in. I had to admire her for that one. I rubbed my jaw. " Who is that anyway?"
Old Bob Tyler spoke up. "Not rightly sure. She came to town 'bout 4 months ago with the deed to the ranch, placed an order for supplies and no ones seen her since. Pretty little thing though".
Seemed strange to me that no one would have gone out to greet the new owner. People in this town tended to be??.friendly. Ok they were down right nosey. My curiosity got the best of me.
"Boys there isn't anything that goes on here that isn't all over town in a matter of seconds. You mean to tell me not one soul went out there to see who this woman was, where she came from, what she was doing? Come on ?..I know y'all better than that."
They all suddenly found the ground of great interest. I knew the old coots were hiding something.
"She chased Maggie off the property when she took a pie over as a welcoming. None of us thought it would be wise to try and be neighborly again." Old Bob told me.
"Let me guess??..she made her point with the barrel of a gun". I was shocked actually. Maggie Darrel ran the local diner and was probably the sweetest woman you could hope to meet. She was also the most stubborn woman you could ever have the displeasure of coming up against. That she had been run off like that had me intrigued. I left the boys staring at thier shoes and went to ordered some things for my return to the Evening Star.
My next stop was the diner. I had to know what had spooked Maggie. If my future lover had secrets, I needed to know what they were. Besides Maggie did make the best pie in the state.
I stepped into the diner and was greeted with a bone-crushing hug.
"Trace O'Dell, welcome home girl".
"Maggie, you're crushing me". I whimpered. Maggie was a very sturdy woman, not as tall as me but twice as broad.
" Well its no wonder you can't take a little hug Trace. Look at you, nothing but skin and bones. Don't you eat when you're out there in that school?" She laughed pushing me into a booth.
I didn't get a chance to answer and Maggie was gone. Yelling out orders about needing to feed the returning waif. She came back minutes later with the biggest plate of food I'd seen in awhile.
So I did. Not one to turn down a meal. I also asked Maggie to join me which of course she did. Like I said, women like me.
We chatted about the goings on in town. And I thought this would be the right time to talk about the Evening Star. So I told her about my trip out there today. Thought she was going to laugh herself sick. Personally I don't think my being held at gunpoint was all that amusing but then?..Maggie's strange.
"That girl is as jumpy as a fox being chased by hounds. You'd be wise to stay away from there. Billy Jackson went out there a month ago to offer some help and got the same thing. A rifle in his face." Maggie told me sadly.
"Who is she Maggie". I thought it best to get right to the point.
Maggie looked at me in that way she has. The one that says ' I know what you're thinking before you think it'. Which was only right she had known me all my life and nothing was a secret from Maggie for long. She let out an aggrieved sigh?.."She's Tom Crowely's wife".
I think the world ended momentarily.it at least went black and i was sure I'd heard an apocalyptic boom. The mother of my future children was married. This news did not sit well with me. Then it struck me. Where was Tom Crowley? If his wife was here, where was he? Surely he didn't leave her there to do all the work alone. What kind of man would ??..
Then I remembered Tom Crowley. He was a greasy two-bit hood. His father owned the Evening Star for years and as I said before ?.he was a son of a bitch. The son wasn't much better. Surely my angel didn't marry a man like that. Took me a minute to realize that Maggie was talking again.
" Don't know where Tom is, leaving that little thing out there to fend for herself". She tsked. " Not that the girl needs any protection. She seems to have that all handled".
I laughed. She did have a knack for making her wishes known. " What's her name Mag?" Ok I had to know ?.couldn't keep calling my new love?..her.
Maggie wouldn't let me pay for lunch and I had to promise to visit again. Which I would anyway so it wasn't a hardship. But I left there with more information about my true love and now she had a name???.Shannon. I liked the way it sounded.
The sun was bright in the early morning sky as I headed back out that dusty road. I knew I was taking my life in my hands by going back out to the Evening Star. But I had to see her again. And I knew my Shannon needed me. She just didn't know it yet. Besides I had questions and in truth ?.the ranch needed more work than one small woman could handle.
My first order of business was to start on the corral. I notice yesterday that it was in bad shape. My order at the hardware was for lumber and nails. Which I now had in my truck. I had been working pretty steady for about 2 hours.With no sign of the golden haired princess or her rifle. The sun was high and it was going to be a hot day. I had strip down to my tank and pull my hair back off my neck.
I was kneeling, putting the bottom board up with a tack so I could set it straight. When I felt the cold press of metal against my neck. I figured I had two options at this point. One?..I could do like we did yesterday and raise my hands but we all know how that turned out. My second option was to trust that my sweet angel wouldn't really shoot me and ignore the gun poised to blow my head off. I went with the second. Besides I needed to set that board.
"What are you doing here?" She hissed.
"I told you there wasn't any work for you".
"Well looks like I found some. Could you hand me that can of nails?" Yes I know I was taking a major risk. And I know that while I sounded calm as could be ???inside I was praying that gun didn't have a hair trigger.
The cold metal left my neck and for a fleeting moment I thought she might relent. Like I said ???.fleeting.
"I don't know who you are but I want you to leave. I don't need any help". God her voice was like a balm to my soul. Even when she was angry. We already know I'm sick?shut up.
"Ma'am. I've worked on a ranch all my life and I know that what you have to do here is to much for one person." I finished the tack and stood, turning to face her. I'll be damned if she wasn't even more beautiful today. The sun shone through her hair making it glow. I should probably tell you that while she was a beauty, she was also built like nothing I'd ever seen. Small but powerful. And?..stacked. Hey I'm not blind.
She looked tired today though. My poor angel probably hadn't been sleeping very well anyway. Being out here all alone. Something I would remedy if given the chance. We'll deal with that husband thing another time.
She looked a little uncertain and raised the gun again as I reached for my nails. I just grinned and went back to work.
" Are you stupid?" She shouted now clearly exasperated. The fact that she hadn't shot me didn't escape my notice. I took it as a good sign.
I couldn't resist the opening, looking over my shoulder at her I smiled; "Stupid is as stupid does".
She threw up her hands and stormed back into the house. Guess round 2 goes to me. I kept right on working with the biggest dumb ass grin you had ever seen.
It was long after noon when I stopped, my determination derailed by hunger. Grabbing my cooler from the truck I decided I hadn't tempted fate enough for one day and headed to the porch to eat.
Setting my self up real nice I leaned back against the step and stared out over the ranch. In truth I was listening to the sounds coming from the house. There wasn't any. At least not till I heard the door squeak. I made a mental note to oil that door later.
She didn't say a word just walked up behind me and tossed wad of cash in my lap.
"That's all I have. Take it and go".
"Shannon?" I called to her as she headed back in.
The sound of her name or maybe the fact that I knew her name stopped her. I looked up at her from my step. Catching the defeated look on her sweet face.
All I wanted at that moment was to comfort her. Hold her in my arms and take away that look. Replace it with rapturous joy and laughter. Ok I'm a romantic??.sue me. Instead I decided to stay on safer ground. I asked her what she planned to do with the ranch.
I couldn't have asked her a better question. Her face lit up and for the first time ???she smiled. I thought my heart was going to jump right out of my chest. My angel had a smile that could light up the blackest night.
She seemed, for the moment, to forget that I was there as an unwanted guest and told me her plans for the Evening Star. My Shannon was a sharp little businesswoman. That was my opinion as I listened intently to her lay out the plan. She had already acquired a breeding stock and had them boarded until the barn and fence on the main pastures where finished. When she was finished telling me about her plans to breed and sell horses she was flushed with excitement.
"Going to take a lot of work to get those things in shape for horses. Even as determined as you are it can't be done alone. Not in one summer anyway."
My soon to be lover then shocked me. She came over and sat on the step next to me. I almost lost my breath with her being so close.A familiar ache started low in my stomach. Oh boy ........I knew I was in trouble now.
" What's your name anyway?" She asked me while staring out over the pasture.
"Trace??..Trace O'Dell. My Dad ran the Triple D until he passed on a few years ago." I offered her a hand which she ignored.
"Sorry". My little golden angel whispered. " I can't afford any help and to be honest??.I really like being alone out here".
My poor brain was scrambling to find an answer to this. I refuse to believe that she was still married. She didn't wear a ring and she never once said "we" when she was describing her plans for the ranch. I think I went into overload at least that will be my excuse to the men in the white coats when they question why I did what I was about to do. Hmm??.maybe I'm already insane, I'm pretty sure I didn't even understand that.
"You know if you had help, you could get these fences fixed at least get enough to start on your plan. I'll make you a deal". I gave her my patented grin. She was just staring into the empty field. But she hadn't stopped me so I continued. " Well, I'll work the summer. I have enough saved to support myself but I'll need to crash in the barn. When we have the stock here and you get the first colts in this fall you can pay me from the sales". Yes, it's official ??. I'm nuts. I barely had enough to support myself and without the cash from the summer I would never be able to pay for my books. But my beloved had a dream and I'll be damned if I don't do everything I can to make it happen.
She turned and looked at me like I had grown an extra head. " Why would you do that? You don't even know me? and did you miss the part where I said ?..I like being alone?"
"Well you would still be alone. I'll fix up the bunkhouse. You won't even see me but to tell me what you want done". I was hopeful and I still held my ever so charming grin.
"Suit yourself". And with that?.she was gone.
I was thrilled. Ok so it wasn't much but at least I got in the door and I didn't get shot. In my book that's success. So I gathered my lunch and headed back out to the corral.
The next morning came and to my surprise??.I couldn't move. I may have overestimated my body's fitness. It's been awhile since I had done anything as strenuous as ranch work. In fact I've been in school for the last 3 years. The most physical thing I've had to do is carry my books. I was immediately grateful that I had kept up with my jogging otherwise I may have remained crippled. Probably hadn't helped that I sacked out in the barn on a couple bails of hay. Not exactly a serta sleep if you know what I mean.
I managed, after much groaning and promising to God and all other deities, to get my ass up and moving. First chance I got I really had to work on the bunkhouse. And thus my day began.
I figured since I had yet to see my new boss that I should just finish the fence. So long about noon I was putting the last board in place when she showed up.
I jumped about a mile and in the process smacked my thumb with the hammer.
"Shit!?..do you think you could make some noise when you come up behind me like that?" I hated being surprised.
I turned to see what the woman who haunted my dreams wanted from me today. I must have been staring because she got really nervous.
" Do I have something on my face?" She questioned.
Damn?..caught. I couldnt really help it , the staring I mean. She really was gorgous Need to come up with something. I'm quick, really I am, she just makes me forget things. Like my name, how to breathe, and stuff like that.
"I see you decided to go naked today". I quipped.
"Wh...what? She stammered. . You know I've never seen anyone blush that shade of red before but on her is was very appealing.
I thought it would be nice of me to relieve her discomfort. " You aren't holding a gun on me today". Then I took stock of her actual attire. Is it really possible to swallow your tongue? I was sure that's what I did. She had on the shortest shorts I had ever seen. And damn?..she looked good. God I wasn't to far off with the naked comment. Hell in my perverted mind it was a short step to undress her completely. Which of course I had done. That ache came back with a vengence.
"Well it wouldn't do for people to think I was using forced labor". She smiled shyly.
I had to laugh. My dream lover had a sense of humor. I didn't bother to tell her she wouldn't have to force me to do anything. I didn't think that would go over real well at this stage in our relationship. But still, I have a wicked side and sometimes it comes out before I have brains enough to control it. I moved a step closer.
"Oh I don't know?..maybe a little domination would get you some respect out here". I purred and winked. And quick as that???.there was that blush again. Gosh I love that color.
"Ah?.well?.." She was stuttering?.how adorable is that. Yes I know, I'm gone. I knew I had to save her before she actually went up in flames.
"So boss you have something you need me for?" All right it wasn't flirting?..not really. Well??.maybe a little.
She recovered herself and shoved a list at me. "I need you to get supplies".
"Sure Boss, I'll get right on it".
"Shannon" She said as I walked away. " You know my name, use it".
I grinned like a fool all the way to town.
In those first couple weeks we established a routine of sorts. I worked like a dog and admired her from afar and she stayed??..as afar as she could get. If I were working the back fences she stayed near the house. If I were in the barn she was out in the pastures. You get the idea. I was starting to get a complex.
I had done as much as I could to make myself at home. The bunkhouse was as fixed as my meager budget would allow. In fact, the money I had thought would last me the summer was fast becoming a thing of the past. At this rate I was going to need a second job to support my first one.
It didn't take long to get real broke real fast. after those first couple weeks I actually had taken to going into town in the evening and having dinner with Maggie. I ate for free so I helped clean up.
"Trace you need to get a job that pays". Maggie was harping on me again. She didn't understand the nature of true love.
"Mag's Shannon needs the help. She'll pay me when she can". I justified.
"When's that gonna be Trace? You told me yourself that money was for school what are you going to live on when you go back?"
I didn't have an answer for that. It was true. The money I was spending this summer was my support cash. I was just going to have to bite the bullet and get a second job.
"I'll find another job".
"Good. That woman's just using your free labor you deserve better then that Trace". Maggie was on a roll. She did tend to get a bit over protective. I thought it best not to tell her I would still work on the ranch for Shannon.
Before I left town that night I had a job with Mr. Griggs at the feed and grain, loading grain in the evening.
My angel actually appeared a few days later. Talking to me and everything. I know she was talking but all I could do was stare. She looked better every time I saw her. Did you know it's possible to fall in love with someone who hasn't said more then a handful of words to you? But I digress??..my future wife was speaking.
"I have them delivering the horse at the end of the week. I know it's kind of quick but I think we can finish the last fence."
Oh damn!............finishing that quick meant I had to put in some extra time. And with working at the feed and grain that was going to be rough. Then I made the mistake of looking into those brilliant green eyes and knew?..I would deny her nothing. "Ok". I'll sleep when I'm dead, right now she needed me.
She rewarded me with a smile, all was right with my world. We've established that I'm not right in the head ??just let it rest.
I worked like the devil himself was after my ass, the rest of the week.I never got home before Midnight and was back up at 5am. Coffee was my best friend. Shannon had taken to working along side me. She didn't say much but I was comforted by her presence. Besides I talked enough for both of us, and it kept me from falling asleep and whacking myself with a hammer.
Thursday evening we finally finished that last bit of fence. She walked along side me as we came up from the field. I knew she had something on her mind . She kept looking over at me like she wanted to say something.
"Would you umm?. like to have dinner tonight? Nothing fancy but you've worked so hard I thought well???you deserve something."
I stopped walking as the realization of all my hopes and dreams finally came true. Until???Damn!??..I had to work at the feed and grain. She finally asked me to dinner, something more than a little wave or smile was being handed to me and I had to fulfill another responsibility. Being a grown up truly sucks at times. .
"You don't have to". She said when she noticed I had stopped walking. "I guess why would you want to have dinner with a woman who has held you at gun point and hasn't done anything but grunt and order you around since the day you arrived". She sounded so dejected I thought it was going to break my heart. Could she really believe that I didn't want to be around her? Hell I'd given up a real paying job and all my school money just to be close enough to drool at a distance.
"No?..No??..that's not it at all. I just have?..ummmm??..other plans tonight". There that wasn't so hard.
Oh??..big date huh?". She said not looking at me.
I snorted. I hadn't even thought of dating once I saw her. Why would I ??..she was it for me. Well, she didn't know that but still??..
"Not a date. I just have something I can't get out of". She didn't know I had taken to working another job and I didnt want her to know. I was desperately trying to think of a way to do both. Then it hit me. Or maybe someone should have hit me. But in either case my mouth took off without my brain and left me standing there.
"I should be done in a few hours why don't you meet me in town at the diner and we can celebrate?"
I could see the fear on her face. She hadn't left this ranch in all the time she had been here. I didn't know the reason but I knew the thought of it made her uncomfortable. I didn't want to push her but damn I wanted to be with her tonight and this was all I could think of. I was about to retract my offer and tell her we could have dinner tomorrow.
Ok" She said.
I was floored. My future wife had agreed to an almost date. My life was complete.
You ever have one of those nights that should have been the greatest in your life but??.wasn't? This was that night. I worked like a beaver building a damn in flood, at the grain. Tryin to get it all done before our agreed meeting time. It would just figure that tonight would be the big delivery night.
I finish a half-hour late. I just knew that Shannon was waiting on me. I hate keeping a lady waiting it isn't polite. If I had known, when I showed up at the diner that I wasn't going to get fed. I would have had a bigger lunch.
When I walked in I saw it. Maggie had my precious Shannon backed into a corner tearing into her like a dog with a bone. . Mind you I only caught the tail end of the conversation but if that was any indication??.the whole thing was bad. Maggie was confronting her over my working two jobs. So much for her not finding out.
The look on that angelic face was enough to stall my heart forever. Her emerald eyes shone bright with tears. I tried to stop her as she tore out of there. But she ran past me leaving me in a cloud of dust as she took of down the road.
I was so pissed I could have taken Maggie apart with my bare hands. " What the fuck were you doing!"
"I was telling that girl ?..". Maggie had started but I didn't give her a chance to finish.
"Maggie I love you like a mother but you had no right to come down on her. She didn't know I was working 2 jobs. I never told her about school or what it was costing me to live out there. She knew nothing. She didn't do anything. I offered it."
"I'm sorry Trace I didn't know. I thought she was taking advantage of your kindness".
"Well thanks Mag's now weeks of work are down the tube. Do you know what it took for her to come out here tonight? You'll be lucky to ever see her again". Hell I'll be lucky to see her again and I live there.
Leaving the diner I had only one thought. Had to get to Shannon. She didn't deserve that treatment and I wanted her to know I was sorry.
When I pulled up to the house the lights were all off. Not a good sign. I pulled myself together and beat on the door. She had to answer at some point right. Who can sleep through all the noise? It took awhile and my knuckles were raw, but she finally did answer the door. God?.my poor little angel. She looked so sad. Her face still wet with tears and little nose was all red. Ok shut up, I still think she's cute.
"I'm sorry". Was all I got out of my mouth, then she attacked. She flew out the door and beat on my chest till she had me back against the porch rail. I wondered briefly why all of a sudden any of this was my fault.
"You let me go into that place ??.you knew she was going to do that. If you were so unhappy working here why didn't you just say so!" She was screaming and crying. I thought for a minute that breathing might be an idea. I was wrong???..she went right back at me. "I never asked for your help and you wouldn't go away. Why? ??.why wouldn't you just leave me alone? It was better that they didn't know me at all now they all think I'm using you".
I don't think I'm an unreasonable sort. But faced with the accusation that I had set her up made me angry. Now, its not often I let my temper show. And I would certainly never hurt the woman I loved more then life, but I wouldn't let her go on believing that I was the bad guy here.
"I did not set you up". I was calm at first, as I stepped forward backing her up. " I didn't know that Maggie would jump you for any reason. In fact I didn't even know she was aware I still worked out here". I backed her up even further my voice getting louder as I went on. . Her eyes were wide now and she looked at me in shock. I had never raised my voice at her before. I'm sure she was a little frightened. "I wanted to work here for you??..with you. If I hadn't I wouldn't be here, so don't you dare tell me I set it up so I could get out of doing that. I knew the day you held a gun to my back that I would be out here helping whether you liked it or not. Gods be damned stubborn woman. I want to see you succeed out here is that so wrong? I wanted to help. All I get from all sides is grief." I was on a roll now. No sleep, no food and no sex had finally made my brain snap. I hope they had a room ready at the funny farm I was going to need it. " You know what???.screw it???.I'm going to bed". And with that I left her standing on the porch as I marched myself off the to bunkhouse.
I flopped down on my bed, amazed that so much could go wrong in so little time. I just wanted to sleep. My stomach was sure my throat had been cut it was protesting so loud. And to top it all off I had yelled at the woman of my dreams probably ending any chance I might have had at a future with her.
I had just about convinced myself that I wouldn't starve to death by morning when a quiet knock on my door drew me out of my mental ranting.
"What?" Ok I still wasn't in the best of moods.
She came into my little room looking all shy and remorseful. "You didn't get anything to eat. I thought you might be hungry". She said holding out a basket.
Taking it from her hand I reached out and lifted her face to mine.
"Thanks". I smiled at her and she returned it. And yes??..I fell all over again. A truce had been reached and life was good.
Something changed between us that night. I'm not complaining mind you. She spent a lot more time with me. Wouldn't let me work long hours on the ranch anymore and insisted that I have dinner at the house most evenings. That was by far the best change. We would sit together and eat. Damn but the woman could cook too. See she was just perfect. Shut up I'm in love.
We didn't talk much at first but slowly over the following week or so she started opening up. I had hoped that she would eventually tell me about the missing husband. She told me about her childhood. Or at least some parts of it. Her father was a military man, so they moved around a lot. This ranch was the first permanent home she'd ever had. She told me about the different places they lived. About her sister, who she hasn't seen in 5 years. Both her parents were gone, her mom having passed when she was a teen. These evening I spent in awe, just listening to her talk. I loved the sound of her voice. She could have been reading a grocery list and I would have still been entranced.
The horses had been settled and we worked together to repair the other fences. She really was gifted when it came to the stock. I have never seen anyone so good with horses. It's like they all knew she would do anything and everything for them. She was never happier then when she was working with them. I almost envied the beasts the time she spent with them, the obvious love she had for them.
Other things changed as well, as she got more comfortable with me I noticed she touched me more. Now I'm really not complaining about that. But ?..well lets say the more she touched me the more I wanted her to touch me. Needless to say I became very friendly with my own hands. The woman could light me on fire without even trying. Just the thought of her made me go up in flames. I think I'd probably combust if she actually ever tried to seduce me.
The weeks passed slowly and I was beginning to think I might never get the story about the ranch or the husband. I'm the curious sort and well?.the need to know if the mother of my future children, had a husband that might try to blow my brains out, was kind of a pressing issue with me. Call me crazy but I like to know these things. So in my infinite wisdom I decided that we were close enough that I could just ask.
We had finished dinner and as had become our custom, we took our coffee to the porch. She was sitting on the swing and I leaned against the rail. I gathered my courage I had to know.
" Where's your husband?"?.Ok not the smoothest segue.
She was surprised I had asked. She looked up at me like a deer caught in headlights. Then her expression changed, softened, and for the longest time she just stared, looking right into my eyes. I couldn't look away, she held me there with those amazing eyes. She stood and walked right up to me. Standing so close I could feel her. She reached up and caressed my face. And I couldn't help but lean into her touch.
" Does it matter?"
That was all she said before she dropped her hand and walked into the house.
Did it matter? My brain screamed that it did. But my body had another answer. No! It didn't matter. I had her now and he wasn't here. My heart settled the matter??She was mine. For this moment in time, I knew she was mine.
I didn't, however, follow her into the house that night. Which is what I really wanted to do. I wanted to climb the stairs to her bedroom and show her everything I felt for her. But I didn't. No I'm not chicken. I needed to think?.. that's my story and I'm sticking to it. So I went out to my little bunk and spent the rest of that night tossing and turning. Lost in dreams of deep green eyes and heated touches. It wasn't a very restful night.
The next few days were a bitch for me. I was frustrated and in desperate need of relief. And all the while the object of my lust and love had turned up her unwitting torture. Oh she didn't know what she was doing to me , at least I don't think she did. . But the little touches had become lingering caresses. Her gentle smiles became more intimate and more frequent. God I needed that woman. I started to avoid contact. It hurt physically, to be near her and not being able to touch her or hold her.
I'm not sure what happened. Ok?.that's not true. It was the storm. We had a huge storm that night. Storms in the summer were dangerous, violent and wild. We had just gotten the horses safely into the barn and made a mad dash for the house as the rain started beating down, soaking us to the skin.
I stood in the entryway dripping on the floor staring at her. Her thin t-shirt stuck to her body like a second skin. The chill in the air brought her nipples to hard points pressing against the wet material. My breath quickened and I felt the heated flush of arousal spread over my body. I didn't even feel the cold, I was on fire. I needed her. If she touched me now I knew I couldn't stop, I wouldn't stop. It scared me to want her so badly. I had to take the chance , looking into her eyes praying for some sign that she felt the same for me. What I saw took my breath completely away. Her eyes were dark, intense and filled with desire. Laid out there for me to see in all its naked glory. She wanted me??..
Without a word passing between us, we came together. The storm outside dimmed as our bodies met and our own passionate storm raged between us. I leaned down and captured her lips with mine. Oh God, she was so soft. Her arms came up and she drew me in closer. Her hands slide through my hair, her mouth opened in invitation and I took that first kiss deeper. Exploring her, tasting her, drowning in her. One of us moaned, I'm not sure who. It didn't matter?..I was lost.
I found myself pressed against the door, surprised for an instant that she had taken the initiative, but then all thought was gone. Her hands were everywhere. Burning me wherever she touched. Her mouth was against my neck. Kissing, sucking?.leaving a scorched trail as she moved down my body. Somehow my shirt had been removed. I don't remember helping but she had gotten it off. Her hands, callused but gentle, cupping my breasts as she devoured my mouth again.
She pressed tighter against me our legs entwined, her thigh pushing against my center. I know I moaned this time. I had to gain some control here or I was going to burn up. I finally gathered myself enough to explore a little on my own. Running my hands under her shirt. Over her tight stomach until I could feel her beasts pressed into my palms. She arched into my hands. From that point on it became a blur. Over come by my hungry and need for this woman I lost control. Not that I ever had it. Clothing disappeared in a flourish. The first touch of her naked body against mine is etched into my memory. So hot and soft. I touched every single inch of exposed flesh. Drive her need higher. She was not idle in this time. Her hands burn their own path along my body. I thought I had died when those sweet lips found my nipple and she pulled it into her mouth.
We never made it out of that entryway as we rode out our passion. We simply slide to the floor moving against each other. She lay atop my body sliding her wetness against my thigh, desperate for the contact. I capture her nipple in my mouth and bit down gently. She arched and moaned loudly. I had taken about as much torture as I could. I need to feel her; I need to taste her. Turning and sliding her under me I moved down her body. She writhed under my touch.
I slipped between her thighs opened and ready for me. Placing my hands on her hips I pulled her to me and took her in my mouth. My tongue running wildly over her sex. She cried out??breathless, begging me not to stop. Like there was a chance I would. I flicked my tongue hard over her clit?.then sucked her into my mouth. Her fingers slide through my hair pulling closer, holding me tight against her. Moving up to meet my mouth. God she was sweet. I needed to have all of her. I took more of her into my mouth and sucked harder as I slipped my fingers deep into her wet core. She screamed driving herself against me. I could have spent eternity right there and been happy.
We moved in a fevered rythym. I took her higher?flicking my tongue over her hard clit. Pushing deeper inside her. She was lost?. Chanting my name?.begging me to take her. I knew she was close, I pulled her into my mouth once again, sucking her over my lips and sent her over the edge. I rode out her climax as if it were my own. I felt her all the way into my soul. Her body racked with spasms; shaking and spent I drew her into my arms. Cradling my beautiful love, I whispered to her. Soothing her, rocking, as she wept. I kissed away the tears.
When she recovered she looked up into my eyes, caressed my face, leaned up and kissed me and???the storm of passion began again.
I noticed two things that morning when I opened my eyes. First??there were birds chirping?.loudly in the tree outside the window. Note to self?.cut down that tree. The second was much more pleasant. I was pinned to a soft bed by an even softer body. Some time in the night Shannon and I had finally made our way to the bedroom. And here I was my eyes gritty from to little sleep, sore in places that hadn't been used in quite awhile, and so deliriously happy.
I pulled her closer, not wanting to wake my new lover but needing to feel her. The thought hit me that ?.maybe she would wake and realize this was a mistake. I was in a panic. What if she didn't want anymore than what we had last night? Could I live with that? Would that be enough to sustain my existence? I had worked myself into a good old fashion tizzy; it took a moment for my brain to register that the love of my life was awake. Oh! What was she doing with that hand? Ok?..crisis over. The rest of the morning passed much the same way the night had gone. Sometimes life doesn't suck.
To say life on the ranch changed would be a gross under statement. It was drastic and quick. We still worked side by side. But the soft touches had turned into heated, lingering caresses and much of the time we abandon our work for more pleasurable pursuits. And it didn't matter where we were. Shannon who had seemed so reserved and shy turned out to be a wildcat when she wanted me. Which, lucky for me, was often. I know ???poor me.
Our evenings were spent the same as they had been. I would get home to have dinner waiting for me. The difference was that we would both sit on that porch swing, my arms wrapped tightly around her, and the golden head leaning against my chest. We spoke of everything and nothing. Learning all we could about each other, as lovers do. We shared our dreams, our hopes, needs and wants. The last two, often lead us back to the bedroom.
Each day that passed found me losing more of my heart to this woman. By the end of August, she had it all. My heart, my soul, everything. She owned me. If she smiled, I was happy. If she laughed I felt the joy. If she cried my heart broke. Her kisses seared my soul and her touch inflamed my passions. Alright ?get the picture??.I was way gone.
School would begin soon and I knew it was on my mind if not hers. We needed to talk. I really didn't want to leave her to return to my studies but I had put so much into my degree I felt I needed to complete it. I guess you could say I was a bit insecure. Ok a lot insecure. I needed to know she would still be mine when I returned. So I broached the subject one evening after dinner. She was curled contentedly in my arms.
"Mmmm?..yes babe". I love when she calls me babe.
"Schools going to start in a few weeks??.". I started. She must have known then what would happen. She turned in my arms and silenced me with a kiss.
"Let's think about that later". I would have pressed the issue but my little angel had slipped her hand down the waistband of my shorts. Needless to say?..all conversation was stalled. We would talk about??.later. Much later.
As it happened, that conversation never was addressed. But it didn't matter. I loved her, heart and soul and if she would have me, I would stay with her. Right there on the ranch. That was where my home was, that's where she would be and I wanted nothing more than to be there with her. I had made that decision in the truck bouncing down that long dusty driveway. She had sent me out for supplies.
While in town I stopped in to see Maggie. Yes I had forgiven her. Besides I did mention the best pie in the state right? She had shoved me into a booth as usual.
"Well that little girl must be feeding you right you look healthy".
I had to laugh, for some reason Maggie was always trying to feed me, for someone else to be doing it must have chapped her ass.
"We're doing fine Maggie". I told her barely able to suppress my grin.
"It's 'We' now it is?" She was smirking at me. I hate that. And besides that?..I blushed. Not something I like to do either. Gives people ammunition to tease you.
"Oh Trace. Love looks good on you girl".
I had to agree with her there. I was in love and I couldn't feel better if I were twins. I spent the afternoon talking to her about my decision to leave school. She wasn't happy but she did understand why I wanted to do it. At least until we had the ranch operating out of the red. Then I would think about finishing up.
My ride home was filled with plans for our future. I wanted to get started right away fixing up our house. I thought I could get the roof done and have it painted before it got to cold. Then I would need to make sure the barn heaters were working come time for foaling. My mind was racing a mile a minute. I was overjoyed at the prospects of our life together. I couldn't wait to get back to Evening Star and tell Shannon about my plans.
I pulled up the driveway and practically jumped out of the truck before it stopped moving. Shannon was racing down the steps towards me. I scooped her up and swung her around kissing her the whole time. I set her down gently and cupped her beautiful face in my hands. "I love you".
There I'd said. It was the first time and I meant it with everything in me. She looked at me with those brilliant eyes shining with tears.
"I love you too". She whispered. My heart soared.
I tried to pull her to me but she stepped back out of my arms.
The door to the house squeaked and heavy footsteps came down the stairs.
"Who's this baby?" A man said as he pulled my Shannon to his side.
She looked at me. Her eyes pleading, begging me not to say anything. I couldn't have anyway.
That's all I heard.The blood pounding in my ears drown out most of what was being said. The rest of the introduction was lost in a haze. I know he shook my hand, if he noticed I was shaking he never mentioned it. I know he thanked me for helping his wife out with the ranch. Thanked me??.can you believe it? Yes, thank you for all those passionate, wild nights you spent in our bed. Thank you for making her scream your name. Thank you for loving her so deeply that you never bothered to question anything. I couldn't move I was so stunned. How stupid I had been. Her words came back to me. "Does it matter?"
It should have mattered. It should have been a lot of things but not this. This was too much. I needed to get away. I don't remember how I got to the bunkhouse. I think I was in some sort of fugue state. I vaguely remember getting into the truck. Everything I owned piled up in the back. I remember driving out of town, going where I didn't know. Away was my only destination. Away from the Evening Star. Away from the man who held the love of my life. Away from Shannon stood there while my heart shattered at her feet.
So that's where I went???.away.