The impossible blue Montana sky arched over the rolling hills. I'd gone there for the summer along with my brother and his wife. They planned on staying on after the summer, but I had to get back to school. I had jeopardized my deferment by dropping out of college that spring.
Yes, this was back in the dark days of The Draft. In the late sixties, when this all happened, the war was ramping up steeply in Vietnam. So I'd put my neck in the noose when I dropped out. Nevertheless, I'd been living with Bill and his wife, Terry when they made the decision to go to Montana. My only choice was to go back to my parents' house across town. I was 19. There was no choice. I wasn't on the best terms with my parents anyway.
My brother, Bill, had found himself a great deal. A rich rancher had just bought another ranch and needed a manager for it. The guy was offering big bucks for the manager and any additional hands he needed. Before our family had moved to Portland, we'd had our own small ranch in Colorado. So Bill contacted the guy and nailed the job.
Bill and Terry had both worked in offices in Portland. I knew Bill could handle going back to ranch work, but I wasn't so sure about Terry. She'd been a city girl all her life. Well, I thought at the time, at least I'll still be able to look at her. I had developed a weighty crush on my sister in law.
Bill is six years older than I am. Terry was two years younger than Bill, so we weren't that far apart in age. Now, I love my brother because he is my brother. Still, there has always been a lot about Bill that I've disliked, or at least that I've never understood. He's an ass with women, always trying to be "Mister Swave and De-boner", as he used to call it. Terry's his second wife and I knew for a fact that he'd already been unfaithful to her, just like with his first wife.
I wondered how he was going to get any strange stuff out on the ranch. It was supposed to be over a thousand acres. The nearest town was ten miles away and that was all there was for a lot of miles around. Maybe he would finally open his eyes and see what a gem he was married to. That's how I saw her anyway. She wasn't beautiful, or even conventionally pretty. She was my height (5'8"), and very slender. Her breasts were small but she had very sensitive nipples.
That was one of the things I'd learned in the four months I'd been their live-in dishwasher. Terry had offered to reduce my room and board by $10 if I'd do the dishes. I was pumping gas for $1.25 an hour and going to the community college. Of course I took her offer. (Remember, this was almost forty years ago. The gas I pumped at a discount station sold then for between 29 and 31 cents a gallon.) So I moved into their basement, finally away from my parents.
Many evenings the three of us spent sitting around their living room watching TV or playing cards. Usually Terry would have changed from her business clothes into jeans and a tee shirt or else directly into her satin robe. She was either unaware that her nipples were frequently visible or she didn't care. I studied the way she moved and the way she spoke. I waged silent arguments with Bill in my mind when he treated her like something he owned. Yet, she put up with it, so who was I to say anything?
Some nights I'd help Terry make dinner. Bill never cooked except when they barbecued. Anyway, the times I liked best were when Terry wore her robe and watching her move around the kitchen. The overhead light gleamed on the pale yellow satin of the robe and I could see every contour of her body for brief instants at a time. I would always get hard when we were alone in the house, or even just in the room. Like I said, I was nineteen and also relatively inexperienced. I had been to bed with two girls then so I was pretty green about sex and seduction.
When we cooked together, as well as at other times we were alone, Terry and I talked a lot. She complained that Bill never had anything to say except about sports or work or the running of the house. We talked about ideas and all the things we had going on in our lives. I hadn't dated since just after Thanksgiving when I had bedded Loretta, who had been my second.
Terry and I discussed relationships and attraction. She had a broad view of love and of life in general. She was a "go along to get along" person, which was why she put up with Bill's rude treatment and infidelity. She knew about his activities, but she said he didn't know she knew. I asked her why she didn't call him on it. "Why?" she asked. "It wouldn't make him stop. I don't feel like he's taking anything from me when he fucks around." Terry was the first woman I ever heard use that word. "I get all the sex I need...well, almost anyway."
When she said that my cock was painfully pressed against the counter as I washed the dishes. I mumbled something about not understanding her attitude and just kept washing and rinsing. I ached to make love to her and show her how she should be treated. I fantasized so heavily about her that I became almost obsessed with sensuality. I had a Japanese silk kimono that I'd never worn much. It only came to my knees and was kind of brown with printed scenes rendered originally in pen and brush.
One night in the basement I put it on to wear up to the shower. After I dried off I put it back on and left it on for the night. It felt outrageous sitting there, nude but for the robe, with Terry equally almost naked. I began wearing that robe as a habit. Sometimes I knew that I was partly exposed if Terry cared to look. If we played cards, when Terry leaned forward to gather the deck I would catch a glimpse of tit and even her nipple. But it was all so casual nothing was ever said. Bill was totally ignorant of anything but his newspapers, sports teams, and his pipes. He liked to smoke a pipe sometimes and had collected several. He made it almost a fetish.
At any rate, we packed up and went off to Montana at the end of March. Bill had hired two hands who were supposed to have already arrived to get it all ready for us. Bill drove the rented truck and Terry and I took turns driving their car. We made it to Missoula the first day, still about two hundred miles short of our goal. We shared a motel room in Missoula. There had been snow in the mountains and the night would be cold, maybe even freezing, according to the radio. Even in Missoula there were traces of tired, dirty snow in the hollows and ditches.
That night in Missoula was the first time I ever saw Terry naked. I'd seen her in panties and bra once when she didn't know I was home. But when she slipped out of their bed in the motel room that night she was completely bare. I had stripped to my underwear for bed. When I came out of the bathroom, Bill and Terry were already in bed. I woke up for some reason just as Terry decided she had to pee.
I had left the light on in the bathroom so we wouldn't trip over something in the dark. The door was almost closed so there was just a thin sliver of light to see by. It was enough for me to be able to feast my eyes on her slender, angular form. Her nipples were hard and pointy in the night air. The cloud of brown pubic hair hid her pussy from sight, but I knew it was there. I thought she may have glanced my way just before she pushed the bathroom door open. When she did, she was bathed in the bright light and I watched her pear shaped ass disappear.
I waited an eternity for her to finish and emerge. But she clicked the light off before she came out. Then there was only the pale glow around the thick curtains over the window. All I saw was her silhouette as she passed between the window and my bed.
We didn't start too early the next day. I woke up about six and went to shower. I was scrubbing away when the door opened. Through the pebbled and steamy glass door I saw Terry stick her head in the door. "Meet us at the restaurant next door when you get dressed," she said. I couldn't tell if she was looking at me or not. If she was she was getting a blurry view of my cock sticking out from my groin. Fortunately, I'd stopped stroking when I heard the door open. I acknowledged her request and she closed the door.
We arrived at the ranch just after noon. The last five miles had been on the ranch drive itself. It wasn't in too bad a shape, but it was dusty. All around were more of the rolling green hills we'd been driving through all morning. The house was big and set on top of a rise. The bunkhouse and barn were thirty feet away from the main house. There were two other buildings that held the front end loader and a pretty well equipped shop.
We had passed through the nearest town about half an hour before we arrived. I won't tell you the name of the town for reasons that will become clear later. Suffice it to say that the place was small and everybody knew everybody else. All the town consisted of was two blocks of commercial area and four or five blocks of residential. The sign said the population was just under a thousand.
On Main Street (of course) were the essentials: grocery store, hardware store, gas station, the post office and a bank. Scattered among these big guys were several smaller businesses. There was a hair salon and a bakery. There was an auto repair attached to the gas station. There was a café that probably had been losing business to the fast food chains back out on the highway. Where the sidewalk ended at the end of the street there was a big steakhouse/gift shop/bar called the Roundup. And of course, there were two bars. It would be a few days before we would get back to explore the town, however.
At the ranch, we met the two local guys Bill had hired. Tom Foley was about twenty five and rail thin. He chewed snooze or tobacco and punctuated his sentences with streams of brown spit. Carl Banaczek's grandparents had emigrated from Poland before the turn of the century. Carl was thirty six. He was fatter than I expected a cowboy to be. But he was friendly and open faced while Tom had a face like a fox.
They'd done a great job of cleaning up and getting started. I sat with them and Bill while they described the lay of the land and the various things that were going on. Terry listened, too, but she wasn't sitting at the table with us. Since it was a beef ranch, there was a fair sized herd of cattle. They couldn't know how many since they were out grazing on the new grass. They told Bill that there would be more than the 150 head he'd been told about. "There's probably a handful or so of new calves out there, too (Spit!)." At least in the house he used a Styrofoam cup to spit in.
Along with the cattle were six horses and a mare in foal. Bill had hired the men provisionally. He decided to hire them full time and made them an offer which they accepted. They were already staying in the bunkhouse so it was easy. That made me wonder if I would be staying out there or in the house with Bill and Terry. Nobody had said anything about it. I presumed I'd be relegated to the bunkhouse, since I was actually going to be an employee.
Terry made the decision for me. When Carl gave us the tour we passed the master bedroom and several other bedrooms and a bathroom. At the end of the hall was the last bedroom. It had windows and sliding glass doors that led out onto a small deck that looked out over the valley below. There was a queen sized bed in the room, along with the usual bedroom furniture.
"Wow, Danny," Terry said, "I'd pick this room if I were you." I told her I'd take it. We spent a few minutes gazing down at our new home. Carl told us and pointed directions to Helena (50 miles west) and to Great Falls (about ninety miles north). Terry was standing next to me, our shoulders almost touching. I could smell her. It was not perfume or cologne. It was just the way Terry smelled. I know we all give off different scents all the time. This wasn't sweat or anything like it. It was just a pleasant smell of her skin and hair. She suddenly turned to me and grinned. Then she bumped my shoulder with hers. "Let's go have a beer," she said, so we did.
After getting settled that night, the five of us made quick work of unloading the truck. Tom and Carl went on with their normal chores while Bill, Terry and I went to town. Bill had made a list of ranch needs and Terry had one for the grocery and hardware store. We'd made sure the gas station would take our truck in before we left Portland so Terry let me drive when we followed Bill to town.
Main Street was about what I had expected. I went with Bill to the hardware store but Terry went grocery shopping first. The hardware was an experience. It looked as if it had been picked up somewhere about 1945 and dropped here in one piece. They had a little bit of just about everything a rancher or farmer would need. A sign above the cash register read, "If we don't have it, you don't need it!" Bill hooked the guy behind the counter and they went off with his list.
I wandered around the store. It was two rooms of merchandise with a big warehouse out the back door. There was a second floor where they had some furniture and appliances. I was looking the furniture over when Terry climbed the stairs. "There you are! Where's Bill?" she asked.
"He's out back with the hardware guy," I said. Just then my eye fell on the back section of the wall. There were three racks of clothes -- work clothes and coats mostly. On the wall were two rows of hats. "Hey, Terry, want a hat?" I asked, pointing to them. We went over and tried on a few. She told me to get the straw cowboy hat like the one Carl wore. Tom liked a felt cowboy hat. I tried it on and felt foolish. But Terry reminded me how hot and bright the sun was going to be that summer. So I bought it and wore it out of the store. The owner amazed me when I took it to the counter. He introduced himself and asked me if I wanted to pay cash or charge it.
When I explained that I didn't have a credit card, he laughed. "No, I meant do you want to charge it to your store account." It turned out that the town already knew who we were, what we were doing there, and where we were from. Feeling a little like we were on stage, Terry and I followed Barry's (the 'hardware guy') directions to the Hitching Post, a bar and grill at the end of Main Street. Bill had told him to send us along when we were done.
In the smoky bar Bill was sitting at a table with a bottle of beer. He waved us over. I'd never been in a bar before except for the Elk's Club back in Colorado. But the barmaid didn't bat an eye or ask for ID when I ordered a beer. From her manner, I think Bill was already making moves on her before we got there. I didn't think she minded it either. I glanced at Terry but she was pointedly ignoring the whole thing. It really pissed me off.
Life on the ranch was a lot of work. I'd spent the previous year and a half in school and doing as little physical labor as possible. I started that spring carrying about twenty pounds too much. Before the end of June, I was back down to my usual 155 pounds and beginning to put on some impressive muscle tissue. Working next to Tom and Carl, I had to put forth a lot of effort to just keep up. Bill was out of shape too, but he spent more time managing than working outside.
He also had to make frequent runs to town for 'supplies'. He always brought something back with him but I wondered how much time he was spending in the bar or somewhere else with the little barmaid.
There was a ranch pickup in addition to Bill's car. One Saturday Bill asked me to take the pickup to town for a tune-up. He needed to pick up some things too, he said. "Since we don't know how long they'll take with the truck, I'm gonna drive the car in, too," he told me. That seemed a little bit of a stretch to me, but I just caught the keys to the truck when he tossed them.
I dropped the truck off and wandered over to the bakery. I'd already discovered they made killer glazed doughnuts. I had two with a cup of coffee and tried to flirt with the girl who worked there. She was friendly, but made it clear she wasn't interested, so I just pulled out my book. A while later she was joined by a tall kid in a letterman's jacket who was obviously her boyfriend. When I glanced up they were hugging. She was looking my way and he was turned away. She grinned at me and winked. I just nodded my head.
After I finished my coffee, I went outside. Down in front of the bar was Bill's car. I guessed he had finished his errands early so I walked down the sidewalk to see. He was at a table back in the back. Lindsey, the barmaid, was standing next to his chair and resting a hand on his shoulder. He hadn't seen me yet and had an arm around Lindsey's thighs and patting her ass.
When he did notice me approaching he didn't act as if he was doing anything wrong. In Bill's mind, it was his right to try to get as much ass as he could, no matter whether he was married or not. Lindsey might have been embarrassed or maybe she saw some disapproval in my face. In any case, she said she had to get back to work. Bill gave me a nasty leer.
"She wants me to jump her bones," he told me. I just shook my head. We'd talked about his infidelity and he knew I didn't approve, not that he really gave a shit. He just assumed I wouldn't say anything to Terry. That pissed me off too. I waited with him while he finished his beer. Then we drove up to the station to check on the truck. The mechanic said he'd found a problem. The rotor cap was cracked.
"Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, and neither would your plug wires," he explained. "I just don't have the parts right now. I sent my boy to Helena to get 'em." When he finally told us (with a lot of head scratching and counting hours on his watch) it would be another three hours, Bill told me to take the car and get back to work. He said he'd wait and drive the truck home.
He leaned down the driver's window of the car. I rolled the window down. "Tell Terry we're not sure how long this will take. I'll have some dinner at the Roundup," he said. I just nodded my head and drove off. I knew there was no work waiting for me. Tom and Carl had sent me off that morning telling me to take the day off. But I knew Bill was going to be screwing Lindsey that night so I cussed him all the way home.
It was almost five when I got home. Twilight was getting deeper and there were lights on in the bunkhouse but the house was dark. That seemed odd so I entered the house with as little noise as possible. I reached down and turned on the lamp next to the couch. Nothing was out of place. I went from room to room downstairs before searching upstairs for Terry. When I saw she wasn't in their room I concluded she'd gone for a walk or something.
I was disappointed, but I also welcomed the time alone. I went down the hall to my room. The drapes were wide open on my deck doors and the last rays of sunset turned the whole room orange. Terry was sleeping on my bed. She stirred and woke up when I entered the room. I watched her stretch (there were those nipples again!) before she yawned, smiled sleepily, and said, "Hi." Her tee shirt had ridden up when she stretched and most of her belly was exposed. I sat down next to her.
I related the details of our trip to town. Naturally I omitted any mention of the stop at the Hitching Post and any mention of Lindsey. When I told her Bill would be eating in town, her expression changed. It was a kind of resigned grimace, but she was sad, too. Her stomach was still bare and I didn't think about it before my hand was resting on her warm, smooth skin. She looked into my eyes and put her hand on top of mine. "You're going to have to talk to me a lot," she said quietly. I leaned forward and kissed the lips I'd been dreaming about for a long time.
We kissed a long time without doing or saying anything else. When Terry pushed me back and sat up, she pulled her shirt over her head. There were those lovely nipples I'd seen by the dim bathroom light in Missoula. She helped me get mine of as she told me she'd been on to me from the start. I pretended not to know what she meant.