tagRomancePalomino Ch. 05

Palomino Ch. 05


Lacey sat in the passenger seat of the old pick-up, staring out the open window as they drove back to the motel. Lance had apparently left with some cute cowgirl and left her and Wesley to get back to the motel on their own. They had booked two rooms earlier, but they hadn't been anywhere near each other. They were on opposing ends of the building, which was probably a good thing after the boot she had inadvertently thrust into her mouth earlier with bringing up something that was clearly painful for Wesley. She was actually looking forward to getting behind closed doors and kicking herself.

Wesley drove quietly. He'd had a couple beers, but the hour he'd taken had allowed the alcohol to settle alright to warrant safe driving. He pulled to a stop at an intersection as the light turned red and flipped on his turn signal as he waited. "I didn't mean to spook ya back at the bar, Lacey..." He said it softly, apologetically.

Lacey glanced over at Him, hearing the tone of his voice and quietly breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn't upset. That much was clear, at least. "Please don't apologize, Wesley. I'm clearly the one at fault here. I'm so sorry."

"Nah... was my fault for getting defensive. I didn't mean to. I just don't talk about it much is all. You don't know no better. I shouldn't'a got upset." He lifted his hat and tucked his hair back. The light turned green and he waited for a passing car and turned left on the street that led to the hotel.

Lacey smiled a bit and reached over to gently squeeze his hand that rested on the stick shift protruding from the floorboard between them. Whoever the woman was that hurt him had been lucky to have a man that clearly still had very strong feelings for her. But Lacey wasn't about to broach that topic. She had already done enough to keep him away from her, probably the remainder of her trip. Drawing her hand back, she began to think that maybe she should head back earlier than the scheduled Sunday morning flight out.

He pulled the truck to a stop as he parked it and flipped the headlights off. He got out of the truck and rounded the front of it, opening Lacey's door for her and offered her a hand to let her step out.

Lacey slipped her hand into his momentarily as she stepped out of the truck and smiled as he closed her door. They entered the building. Their eyes met for a long moment when they stood before her hotel room, and then she smiled, pulling the key from her pocket. "Well I guess this is good night," she offered.

Wesley's mood darkened a bit. He didn't want a good night with a lady ending on a sour note. He'd enjoyed the outing, the dances, and the talk. His reaction back in the bar seemed to muddle it all up. "Yea.... I guess. G'nite then, Miss King." He tipped his hat.

Lacey glanced at the cowboy one last time, a look of longing crossing her face that couldn't be hidden before she smiled gently and closed the door between them, pushing the bolt into place before leaning against the door with an exasperated sigh. "Good god, Lacey. Can you be any smoother?" she chastised herself before pushing away from it to head to the bathroom, gently setting the hat upside down on top of the television. At least she had tonight, part of it anyway, to remember.

Wesley stood outside the door for a long while, just staring at it as he turned his hat over and over in his hand. He half hoped she'd open the door again, just so he could see her, to be sure she wasn't going to run away on him. When nothing budged, he turned away and walked down the hall, silently cursing himself for his poor performance tonight. He pulled his room key from his pocket and slid it into the lock in the door, opening it and tossed his hat onto the bed, ruffling his hat-flattened hair and flipped on the TV.

Lance walked out of the bathroom right on queue with nothing on but a towel wrapped around his waist and a grin, followed by a gorgeous little redhead toting the same brand of towel. "Hell Wesley ... you don't pay attention to 'do not disturb' signs, do ya?!" Lance's eyes twinkled in merriment ... time to launch Plan A.

Wes looked up from the TV screen and blinked at his old-time friend, arching a brow as he saw the good looking gal behind him. "Thought you were goin' with her?"

Lance chuckled good-naturedly and picked up Wesley's hat and shoved it back against his friend's chest. "You thought wrong buddy," he grinned, jerking his head a bit towards the gal. "You don't mind ... you know ... getting another room for the night, do ya?"

Wesley grabbed his hat with a soft snort and put it back on his head, glaring at Lance, rather irritated. "Fine... but you're payin' fer it." He looked to the girl and tipped his hat to her. "Ma'am." He looked back at Lance. "Lance. G'nite." He turned and stalked out the door. It closed with a slam behind him. Boy! Lance had the nerve sometimes to just irritate the living daylights out of him. He walked down the hallway toward the main lobby.

Lance tried hard not to laugh as Wesley stomped out of the room and both he and the girl ran for the window, peeking carefully out of the closed curtains at Wes' retreating form. "Boy, is he gonna be pissed when he finds out he can't get another room tonight," Lance chuckled softly before grabbing the giggling girl next to him and easing her onto the bed. "How long do you think it will take him to head to Lacey's room to ask to borrow her shower before telling her he's gonna sleep in the truck?" The girl laughed as she rolled over on top of her long-time friend and occasional sleeping partner. "How much you wanna bet that she refuses to let him sleep out in the truck when there are two beds in her room?" They both laughed at Lance's brilliant plan before getting lost in a searing kiss.

Wesley growled and glared at the receptionist in the desk. "Ma'am... when I made the reservations this very afternoon there were all kinds of rooms open. You tellin' me they've all filled up in the last eight hours?"

The woman behind the front desk made a brilliant show of checking her computer again, the hundred dollar bill burning in her pocket as she shook her head and gave him the best "I'm so sorry, Sir" look she could muster. "With the rodeo finals tomorrow and the monies up for prizes, we always fill up this time of year, Sir. I am so sorry. I can suggest some other nearby motels and call them for you to check for vacancy, but at this time of night, I'm afraid all of them are going to be in the same situation that we are."

Wesley's face hardened, his eyes flashing with irritation. Damn that Lance. All he wanted was a hot shower and a bed. He had work to do with that bitchin' horse tomorrow. "No Ma'am. Thank you." He tipped his hat and stalked away. He'd just sleep in the truck... but he needed a shower. Damn Lance! He cursed under his breath, glaring at the door as he passed it. Finally he made it to Lacey's door and he took a deep breath, removing his hat from his head and gently knocked on the door, half-hoping she wouldn't answer, the other half begging that she would.

Lacey stopped mid-motion of drying her still damp hair, the hair dryer flipping off as she turned her head a bit to look at the door. Her eyebrows knit together, and she wondered if she heard what she thought she had heard. As the second knock followed with a call of "Miss King?", she blinked, recognizing the voice. What the hell was Wesley doing back here? She quickly looked at her reflection in the mirror and quickly tried to make herself half presentable. Here she was dressed in cotton short-shorts and a tank top, freshly showered and shaven and glowing from both the tan she had received from a week of being outdoors, and the heat of the shower. Crossing the motel room floor, she unlatched the dead bolt and pulled the door open with a welcoming smile. God, he was gorgeous, and she wanted more than anything to pull him inside and throw herself into his arms. "Wesley. What are you doing here?"

"Lance kicked me out of my room," he said grumpily as he smoothed his hair habitually, still ticked off at the brash man, and the receptionist that had nothing to do with all this, but she was a good thing to be angry at. "Can I use the shower?"

Lacey glanced down the hallway towards the direction of Lance's room and then shrugged her shoulders with a soft laugh and stepped out of the way, opening the doorway wider. "Yeah, sure ... are you gonna have to get another room?" she asked as he walked in.

"Already tried. They're all full." He looked from one bed to the other, figuring quickly which one she was sleeping in and set his hat down on the other as he loosened his collar and unbuttoned the top button. "I just need a shower. I'll sleep in the truck. No biggie."

Lacey blinked, hearing his words. "The truck?! No way! You can't sleep in the truck! That's ridiculous. I have an extra bed right here," she said, closing the door and pushing the bolt into the lock once more.

His eyes narrowed a bit at the idea. "I won't invade a lady's space. No. The truck is fine." He unbuttoned his cuffs and peeked into the bathroom to see if there were dry towels available. He could smell the aftereffects of her shower earlier, smiling at the soft breezy scents.

Lacey placed her hands on her hips as she looked at him looking into the bathroom. "Wesley, stop being so stubborn. There is no way I'm letting you sleep in that disgusting truck when I have a perfectly empty bed right here!"

He eyed her again. She was as irritating as Lance had been. The man had been a sneak. Whether this was a planned encounter on his part or not... it'd worked. And if it was planned, Wesley was gonna whoop his ass. With a huff he sat down on the bed and pulled his boots off. "I'll be fine."

Lacey watched him as she sank down on the bed opposite him. Fine! If he wanted to be that way, then let him sleep in the damn truck. She could feel the sting of his rejection strongly though. It was obvious that he didn't want to be near her and wanted to get out of the room as quickly as possible. She glared at him a moment before rising and went to finish up drying her soft long blonde mane, running a brush through it as the air blew the remaining dampness out of each strand.

He watched her a long moment, almost entranced by the simple movements. She acted just like Anne did when she was upset with him. He chuckled to himself and got up off the bed. He closed the door to the bathroom behind him, and soon enough running water could be heard as he enjoyed a hot shower to wash away the day's work.

After shutting off the hair dryer, Lacey saw the keys to the truck laying on the bed right beside his hat. Chewing on her bottom lip for a moment, she suddenly acted without really thinking what the consequences might be for her actions, but there was no way she was letting him sleep in an old beat-up truck. Taking the keys, she hid them under her pillow, and grabbed her book to bury her nose in it as if nothing had happened, trying to keep her heart from racing, knees up to look as relaxed as possible. He was probably going to kill her, but hey, he wouldn't be sleeping in a shitty truck all night.

Wesley grunted as the door stuck a bit and then squeaked open. He glared at the joint. He'd found a large beach-sized towel down in the cabinets and his lower half was currently wrapped up in it. Suddenly he realized he had nothing more than the clothes he'd brought with him that were on him. He really didn't want to sleep in those dirty things that smelled of horse sweat and dirt. "Fuck..." he cursed quietly and ducked back into the bathroom momentarily.

Lacey glanced up at the door squeaked open, her heart racing a million miles a minute, and then breathed a sigh of relief as he ducked back into the bathroom. Taking her chance, she grabbed his keys and pulled open the drawer beside the table and tucked them inside next to the Gideon Bible laying there, and pushed it closed once more as she rolled over onto her stomach with her head at the foot of the bed, she waited for the explosion to come when he realized that he wasn't going to sleep in a stinking truck all night.

Muttering under his breath he stepped out of the bathroom again. The towel was wrapped tightly around him and he looked thoroughly irritated with the world as he huffed and sat on the bed.

Lacey glanced over at him, seeing that he was already irritated and hadn't even noticed that the keys were missing. She could only imagine what he was going to be like in a few moments. She smiled tenderly at him as she laid down her book innocently and asked, "Feel better now?"

"Hmm? Oh... yeah." He ran his fingers through his damp hair. "Thing is I have no clean clothes. And I sure as hell ain't puttin' horse sweat back on. I rather like being clean 'less it's round-up." He muttered more under his breath. "That son of a bitch...." With a sigh of defeat he leaned back against the pillows, looking at Lacey across the way by means of the mirror on the dresser. She was cute without being all dolled up, too. He liked to see her all natural. That's the way a girl should be 'less she's showin' off in the arena.

Lacey glanced over at him as an idea stuck in her head. "Well I can go down to Lance's room and pick up you some clean clothes ..." She stopped for a moment before adding, so that he would get the whole hint. "In the morning."

His face darkened at the idea. Disturbing Lance now would be pointless. If he was busy with some gal, there'd be no way in hell he'd answer the door. Wesley sighed and leaned his head back some. "Did ya'll plan this 'er what?" He chuckled good-naturedly and reached for his hat to dust it off and set it over on the little dresser between the beds. Then he realized there was something missing. "'ey.... where's my keys?"

Lacey was about to deny vehemently that she had planned nothing right until he mentioned the keys, and quickly glanced down at the book in front of her, hoping he would just let it drop.

Hearing no response he shrugged. Probably left them in his jeans when he thought he'd laid them on the bed with his hat. That reminded him. He'd simply left his clothes in the bathroom. He rose from the bed again, keeping the towel securely around him as he walked back into the bathroom. He came back out with a handful of clothes and he deposited them onto the floor near his boots, kicking them under the bed a bit.

Lacey glanced over at him, unable to keep from staring at his muscular form or the outline of his firm hips and ass in the damp, tight towel. 'Good lord, he's trying to kill me' she thought, absently licking her lips as she glanced back at her book, the words all blurry before her. And when she could focus, the damn book was at a steamy sex scene. Slamming the book closed, she tossed it aside with a sigh. 'Just stop it Lacey ... don't even go there,' she kept trying to warn herself silently over and over.

He sat down on the bed again and nestled against the pillows at the headboard. His eyes glanced over to the cover of the book she was reading and he chuckled. "Bodice rippers, eh?"

Lacey glanced over at him, seeing the amusement on his face and that half-cocky grin that she loved, but at the moment, despised. Damn Lance! She had a feeling he had done this on purpose, and then she had added to it with trying to be nice. Now, with his words, all she could think of was him ripping something off her. She glanced to the book and then to him with a shrug of slender shoulders and rolled over onto her back, bending a leg to pull it towards her as she inspected her toenails, making sure they were still painted and looking cute. "Yeah, well ... it's a girl thing, ya know," she tried to laugh it off.

He grinned. "Anne had loved 'bodice rippers', she called them. She'd read them all the time. I have shelves of them, if you'd like to take a look sometime." He smiled wistfully at the memories. At least they didn't hurt as much anymore when he thought back. He was able to grasp onto all the good things. Again his focus turned to the pretty girl across the room. "Guess we're stuck, eh? Lance sure did a number this time. I'll whoop his ass in the morning."

Lacey couldn't help but chuckle, deciding she might as well confess she was going to make him stay anyway as she turned onto her side to face him, propping her head up with a bent arm. "Well, it's not like I was gonna let you sleep out in the truck, you know."

He muttered something about stubborn women and rolled over to fluff the pillow to lay his head on it. He could never sleep too well in a hotel. It just wasn't his bed. He looked at Lacey with that crooked smile. "You wouldn't, huh?"

She smiled mischievously and shook her head, soft blonde waves sliding over her arm as blue eyes regarded him. "No ... I wouldn't." She couldn't control the way her eyes roamed over him just laying there in a towel and then decided that she better do something fast, or he was going to see her lusting after him. Turning, she crawled up towards the headboard and got beneath the sheets, covering up before wiggling out of her little shorts, just leaving the tank top and skimpy little panties on underneath. Fluffing her pillow she settled down to try and get some sleep, even though the only thing on her mind was the half-naked man lying on the other bed.

He pulled back the blankets and wiggled down under them. He lay on his stomach with his arms folded beneath his head and his pillow. He couldn't help but watch the gentle rise and fall of the sheets as she breathed. He smiled wistfully. She really was a decent gal, for a city-slicker. It wouldn't take much to whip her into shape if he had the chance. He probably wouldn't, he reminded himself. She would be leaving soon. He'd accidentally heard part of her conference call in the morning when he'd picked up the phone to call the hotel they were now staying in. He'd heard that she was leaving the day after tomorrow. "Y'know...." he began gently, testing to see if she really was trying to sleep. "I really didn't mean to scare ya... back in the bar."

Lacey's soft voice could be heard even though her eyes remained closed and her breathing patterns pretty much stayed the same, "I feel horrible for doing anything to upset you, or cause you pain." She turned her head to gaze across the small space that separated them, their eyes locking for a long moment.

The smile on his face was very forgiving, very comforting. "It's not yer fault, Lacey. Honest." He sighed. He should probably tell her now, even if he didn't really want to. "That hat you were wearing tonight... was my wife's."

Lacey just looked at him for a long moment, sensing that the pain that went along with the story that he was about to tell her ran deep, and she smiled gently, tucking her folded hands beneath her cheek as she rolled to her side to regard him. She was afraid to say anything ... that it would stop him from opening up to her.

"I... never talk about her much."

She nodded gently in understanding, her blue eyes locked with his as she softly spoke. "You don't have to now either, if you don't want to Wes."

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Everybody else knows.... ya need to know too, if yer gonna stick around at all. Can't dance around it forever," he met her gaze gently in the dim light. This was going to hurt, but she did have to know.

Lacey just looked at him quietly, lending him her silent support. His words struck a cord with her, though. "if yer gonna stick around at all". Was she? How could she? But in the same breath, how could she leave?

"Her name was Anne. Great little gal. From Cheyenne. One of those love at first sight things in your books."

Lacey smiled gently at him as she listened quietly, watching the way his eyes glowed as he spoke of the woman.

"We married young... she was 18. Were married about four years. She moved with me up here when I took the job at yer daddy's ranch. Worked there 'bout three years 'r so. 'Bout three years ago... she was drivin' up from Cheyenne back home. Was dark. I'd stayed home durin' that rodeo for some reason or another. She'd gone down with Lance. The roads were slick."

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