Love Rides a Chestnut Horse Ch. 08bytigrlily320©
The next morning, he awoke as the sun came up, filling the barn with light. He looked over at Isabella, still sleeping next to him. He lay still, so as not to wake her, content with watching her sleep. She woke slowly, blinking over at him, and he smiled.
"Morning, love." He rubbed her arm as he spoke.
"Good morning," she smiled. She stretched her body, looking down as she did. She looked over at him. "It would appear that I have no clothes."
He grinned, "yeah you threw them out of the loft last night."
"Well, why did you let me do that?"
He laughed, "well, because you were naked and I was preoccupied with that."
She giggled with him. "Oh, right. Well, I guess I can't fault you then."
"Nope," he shook his head.
She wrapped the blanket around herself. "We should get back inside; Cappy's probably pacing in front of the door. Hey!" She gasped as he yanked the blanket away from her, going down the loft ladder as fast as he could. "Baby, stop!" She hurried down the ladder after him, reaching the bottom as he stopped and turned to look at her.
"Uh, your clothes aren't here baby," he tried to hide the smile spreading over his face.
"What?" Her eyes widened as she looked around. "How could they not be here?"
He snickered as he pointed at the floor, showing her raccoon track leading out the door.
"Those filthy rodents!" she gasped angrily.
"Actually honey, they're very clean. She turned to glare at him and saw that he was slowly backing out of the barn, still holding the blanket.
"Baby!" she cried. "I need that!"
He grinned evilly from the bright sunlight outside the barn. "Then come and get it."
"No!" She stared out at him, "I can't go out there like this!"
He kept backing further away from the barn, an evil grin on his face.
Her face flushed deeper, "baby, stop. Please? Come on!"
He held the blanket out to her, watching her subtle steps into the light. As she got closer, he yanked it away and held it high over her head.
"James, this is NOT funny!" she whined angrily as she stomped her foot.
He shook his head, "oh, but it is, honey." His resolve faltered a little as he saw her lower lip tremble, but held out. "Oh baby, don't pout." He turned and walked toward the house.
"James!!!" she called at his retreating back. She watched as he picked up speed. "Stop this, now!!!"
"CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
She took a deep breath and pushed open the door. She ran at him thinking she may be able to catch him with his bad leg. She could see the house getting closer and ran faster. She saw him run up the steps, stumbling, but staying on his feet. He got to the door and rushed inside, closing the door behind him. She was only seconds behind him, but when she reached the porch, she gasped, coming to a halt. Much to her dismay, she found herself face to face with Mrs. Sawyer and the ladies group from town. She bit her lip, looking down at her body and then back up at them. She heard the door open and felt James move up behind her. She took a deep breath and pushed him back.
"I can handle it, honey," she assured. ""Mrs. Sawyer, ladies, what a pleasant surprise, how can I help you?" She addressed the women as if nothing is wrong as they stared back at her with wide eyes. "Well, you must have had a purpose in coming here."
From behind her, she heard a snarl. "Are you going to answer her or just stand there looking stupid?"
"Baby, hush" she soothed. "I'm sure that Mrs. Sawyer and the other women just came out so they could go back into town to spread rumors about crazy Patty Murphy's crazy daughter. Well, it looks like I've given you a doozy. But know this when you tell it," she stated calmly as she took a step toward the women, causing them to back away in shock. "I'm not crazy. I'm a normal young woman with normal desires and needs, and a gorgeous fiancé with which to share them. So you can just run along back to town and tell people whatever you want. I don't care anymore."
With that, she opened the door and walked inside. James smirked at the women and followed her in, smiling from ear to ear. He found her leaning against the wall inside the door, breathing hard.
He grabbed her shoulders, "Baby, you were great!"
He saw the tears leaking down her face as she looked up him.
"I can't believe I did that."
"Oh, honey, don't cry." He pulled her close to him, hugging her tight.
She shook her head, "she's going to tell everyone." She freed herself from his arms, sliding down the wall to the floor.
"Honey, I'm sorry. That was my fault."
She looked up at him as he squatted in front of her. "No, it wasn't. They were just being nosy. That woman hasn't been on this property in years," she shook her head. "She would have just found some other rumor to spread. I'm not mad at you, baby."
"I damn sure should have heard and or seen that wagon come up," he sighed.
She shook her head, "honey, they've probably been sitting there since the crack of dawn just waiting for something they could use. You couldn't have known that. Please, stop beating yourself up. Do you KNOW how LONG I have wanted to stand up that that woman?"
He grinned, "well, I'm glad you did." He stood, reaching down for her.
"Did you see the look on her face?" She laughed as he swung her up into his arms, carrying her up to their room and laying her on the bed. Doc awoke and ran over to her, licking her face as she laughed louder. She lifted him up, smiling up at her boys. "Well, should we head out for chores?"
"I'll do them," he assured.
"I can help," she smiled.
He walked to the wardrobe and started to get dressed. "You know," she smiled, "I think old Mrs. Davidson was checking you out."
"Oh?" he raised an eyebrow, pulling a shirt on and glancing back at her.
She nodded, "I haven't seen her look that excited in years." She reached down to the end of the bed and grabbed a nightdress hanging there, slipping it on.
"That's what you're doing chores in?" he asked.
"You told me you were doing them," she smiled.
He looked back at her as he pulled on clean pants. "You said you wanted to help."
"No, I said I could," she shook her head at him.
He walked over to her and kissed her on top of the head. "Ok, mama. You stay here."
She laughed, "I can come, just give me a second." She stood and opened her mouth to speak, but then her eyes widened. She ran to the bathroom with her hand over her mouth.
"Aw, baby." He followed quickly, pushing the door open. Kneeling at her side, he held her hair, rubbing her back.
Her whole body shook as she retched, and then she laid her head against the cool porcelain. "On second thought, maybe I'll stay here," her voice was a quiet whisper.
James reached up to the sink, getting a cloth and running cold water over it. He started to stroke your face with the cloth, rewarded with a smile from her flushed face.
"I'm ok," she whispered. "He's just reminding his mama that he's in there."
"I know," he nodded, stroking her lips gently with the cloth. "Want a sip of water?"
She nodded slowly, "Please." She sat up as he filled a glass. He held it to her lips and allowed her to drink it slowly. He gently brushed her hair out of her eyes and she smiled.
"Go," she scolded. "I'm fine."
He shook his head, "I'm staying.
"You wanted to go into town today."
He smiled, "it can wait."
She laughed, "Baby, I'm fine. This is normal."
"I know," he rubbed her arm. "I want to experience everything that comes with this."
She smiled, "do you want to be the one throwing up? Because that would make me feel better."
"If I could, I would."
"I know, baby." She reached out and took his hand. "I'm ok, now." She pushed herself off the toilet, standing with his assistance. He kept an arm around her as he led her back to their bedroom.
"Do you want me to come help?" she asked as she looked up at him. "I feel ok now."
"No honey, you fix breakfast. I'll do the chores."
She nodded in agreement as he continued, "we'll eat and I'll go get a new horse and invite the Doc to dinner. You sure you don't want to come?"
She smiled, "maybe I do now. I mean, someone should be there to tell my side of the story."
He smiled, kissing her cheek. "Yes, I agree. Alright good, you can help me pick the horse. Want to ride double?"
She looked over at him, eyebrows raised.
"Leo," he corrected. "Ride Leo double. Naughty woman."
She shrugged, smiling. "You go do the chores. I'll make us some breakfast."
He kissed her lightly and walked out the door, trotting off the porch and out to the barn. She walked into the kitchen, opening the ice box and pulling out the milk and eggs. She grabbed the flour from the pantry and began to mix up the batter for pancakes. She paused for a moment to reflect on how much different her life was now.