Welcome to Saturday afternoon at the Westerns. Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of ice tea and enjoy a chapter of Eight Seconds to Glory a contemporary western romance set in Colorado on the Glory B Ranch.
“Go on now with the both of you.” Alma shooed them from the kitchen.
He waited outside while Glory picked up the laundry basket containing the sheets and
three sets of towels. Hearing the screen door slam, Travis looked back. His hands
tightened on the head of his walking stick. This spoke of being wrong. He couldn‟t rein in
the feeling of uselessness that followed. It should be him. He should be the one carrying
the basket. Yet, he didn't trust his own unsteady steps. She must have sensed his
dilemma. She looked up and smiled.
“It's not heavy.”
Travis brushed off her words and asked, “Which way?”
“Just this way.” She gave a nod toward a small, single-story bungalow painted a
sunny yellow similar to Glory‟s home. The little house was tucked beneath two tall oaks
and behind a small shelter that led to a pasture full of yearly cattle. Great, he thought to
himself. Then pushing the negativity aside, he realized that seeing the steers each day
might lessen the fear that seemed to brand him a coward. He fell in step beside her.
“Alma has a unique accent,” Travis said, as they walked beneath the shade of the old
oak trees that bordered the lawn. “I can't quite place it.”
“It's Cajun,” Glory responded. “Alma and her husband were from a small island just
off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.”
He felt his brows arch. “Colorado to South Carolina, it's quite a haul.”
“Alma's husband, Jim, was in the air force with my dad,” she replied pushing an
errant strand of hair back behind her ear. “When her husband was stationed here in
Colorado, Alma moved onto the ranch to help my mom and she's been here ever since.”
“Nice. Her husband work around here?”
“No, Jim died oddly enough in a hurricane. He'd gone back to Charleston to close the
deal for the home they sold there when Hugo roared through; he didn't get out in time.
She's never wanted to go back. She says the ocean took her life that day, so she will stay
here and make a new one.”
“I'm sorry,” Travis whispered, wishing he hadn't pried so hard into her business. “I
didn't mean to—”
She stopped and shifted the basket on her hip. “You weren't prying, Travis. It's a
natural question. I am glad that you asked me and not Alma though.” Her fingers found
his arm and beneath the cotton of his shirt, Travis felt his skin warm. “Alma still gets
misty-eyed when she speaks of Jim.”
“He was a good man?”
She drew her hand away and disappointment swept over him.
“Let me open the door,” she murmured. Bending her knee, she balanced the basket
and stuck the key into the lock. A smooth turn of her wrist and the lock tumbled. “Here
you go, keys to the mansion.”
Travis scooped the house keys from her hand, stepped out of the way so she might
enter, and followed her inside. While Glory teased about the small home being a
mansion, to him it seemed just about right. After living in an efficiency apartment with room enough for a bar stool and a bed, the large living area felt like the Taj Mahal. A
sofa, chair, TV—by golly he‟d hit the big time—even a fireplace complete with a mantel.
He thought perhaps he‟d stepped into one of Norman Rockwell's paintings. Stepping to
an end table near the arm of the sofa, he picked up a framed photograph of two men in air
force uniforms standing in front of a jet. One black, one white, but their arms were tossed
around each other signaling a deep friendship.
“My dad and Jim,” Glory whispered. “They were the coyote and roadrunner.”
She caught his bewildered look and smiled. “My dad was the coyote, the cunning
hunter. Jim,” she pointed to Alma's husband, “he was the fast one. He would swoop in
and cover my dad's back when they flew missions in Nam.”
“Ah,” he replied, the light dawning on him.
“In the background you might catch the two characters from the cartoons they painted
on the plane.”
Travis turned it toward the light and caught the outline of the bird, his feet a whirl of
circles as the coyote leaned toward him. “You miss him?”
“Yes, I do.”
Her soft voice was honest, yet the way she spoke indicated a recent hurt. Curious,
Travis wanted to ask her about her dad, but when he turned around and caught the slight
shimmer in her blue eyes, he stopped. Now was not the time to bring up her sorrow. He
watched her shake off the melancholy and step away.
She took a deep breath and continued on. “Alma keeps some chairs in the pantry. You
can use them on the porch.” Her voice echoed as she walked toward the rear of the house
and placed the basket down on a chair. “It's a very compact home, but you'll find
everything you need.” Glory moved toward the archway against the left wall. “Your
kitchen and pantry are through here,” she backed up three steps and opened a door. “A
full bath and shower. You know, of course, laundry is done at the main house.” Then
moving toward the last door against the back wall she pushed it wide. “Bedroom.”
Travis ambled over and stood beside her, peering into the large room that contained a
bed, dresser, and small table. “Very nice,” he nodded.
“There's a double closet over there,” Glory leaned in and pointed along the back wall.
He stepped closer to take a look and felt her shoulder against his chest. The warmth of
her body moved through his shirt to saturate his skin. Travis's heartbeat quickened
against his chest. A soft rush of air moved from his lungs as certain regions that had so
long been ignored stirred to life. Her head turned toward him. Those sapphire eyes gazed
up into his and showed no fear.
Close up she was more beautiful than he could ever imagine. The scent of her hair
filled the space between them with the hint of honeysuckle. Without thinking, Travis
lifted his hand and pushed a streamer of gold behind her ear. “Just like silk,” he heard
himself whisper aloud, and for good measure he grazed the edges of his knuckles down
her cheek. His knees nearly gave way when she closed her eyes and leaned into the stroke
of his hand.
Threading his hand along the back of her neck, he gave merely a hint of pressure and
her head tipped up. Her eyes opened; he could see the blue turn to velvet as she
dampened her dry lips with the edge of her tongue. With a slow, steady measure, he lowered his mouth toward hers, watching, waiting for any sign of protest. Just a whisper
away and with nothing to stop him, Travis's lips brushed hers.
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