tagRomanceThe Lady and the Cowboy Ch. 06

The Lady and the Cowboy Ch. 06


The days had fallen into a routine schedule. Tripp worked often, but when I did see him, we usually met in the barn, where we would nurse the young filly, or go out riding...or make love, which was our favorite way to spend the time. Each night he would take me, slowly, quickly, passionately, tenderly, ruthlessly. We did it multiple times, in multiple places, and in multiple ways...and every time we would worship each other's bodies as if we were the last two people on the face of the earth. The day after that horrid storm we ended up falling asleep together on the fresh straw in one of the storage barns, exhausted from the previous night when our passion had been as restless as the raging rain.

My family wasn't stupid. After that rainy night when I hadn't come back to our cabin, they figured out what was going on, especially after they confronted Lucy who had received a text message from me telling her that I was all right, and that they shouldn't worry about me. I had never really been in this situation before, and surprisingly, my parents didn't try to stop me from seeing him...though I had listened to my mother and father heatedly talking one evening in their room.

"Well what are we supposed to do?" My mom had said, talking quietly to my father with clear frustration in her voice. "She's nineteen, she can do what she wants."

"I don't care, this is a family vacation, and I'm the one paying for it, which means I make the rules about running off in the middle of the night with strange men!" My dad rarely got angry, but he was mad about my behavior.

"He's not strange, he's like a son to the Waterman's. I met him our first night here, he seemed very nice."

"He's too old for her, and didn't you see him in the Lodge the other day? Nearly smashed that man's face in two!"

"Well what do we do? We can't lock her in the cabin, and you think if we tell her she can't see him that she'll listen?"

"We could go home early."

"We are paid for two weeks, we are not going home early," my mother whispered tightly. "Besides, it wouldn't be fair to Lucy or Luke. I think Kira's an adult now, and she's got to make her own decisions and learn from her own mistakes."

"What if she gets pregnant? Is that a mistake you want her learning from?"

I hadn't wanted to listen to anymore after that bit, so I crept back to my room, my stomach churning. But I was surprised when the next time I was with my parents, they hadn't mentioned anything about what was going on. I would be lying though if I said my family, including Lucy, who at this point realized just how deep my relationship with Tripp was, acted completely normal around me. The disapproving looks were never-ending, and I felt as if I was constantly being watched. In truth, they were scared for the same reasons I was, and they pondered the same question that I worked to force from my thoughts – what was going to happen when we left?

Now though, we all sat at the breakfast table where we were joined by the Marshalls, another routine that had been going on the last few days. I blinked sleepily with a glass of orange juice at my lips, trying to drown out the sound of Willy next to me, bragging to us about his relationship with some senator. Instead, I tried to remember all the wonderful reasons why I was so sleepy that morning. Neither Tripp nor I had really slept much last night. Every time we tried, we somehow wound up making love again. If I was tired now, I felt awful for Tripp who was working out on the range.

"Kira, you really do need to take me up on my riding offer. What are you doing today?" Willy had been asking me to go riding with him for days now. So far, I had been able to effectively deflect his persistent proposals to, as he had put it, show me his fine horsemanship skills. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing out loud at that one.

"Willy, I've already said, I'm really not much of a horseback rider." I tried to sound polite in order to appease my parents.

"That's alright, I'll help you. I'm quite good, I even won an equestrian contest at my parent's country club a few years ago." At that point I choked on my sip of orange juice, trying to hold back the giggles. All I could picture was Willy trying to show me how to ride after all the times I'd gone out with Tripp behind me in the saddle.

"Erm, sorry, just swallowed wrong...um..."

"Kira, I think you'd have fun going out riding with Willy." My father knew that I wanted nothing to do with Willy, but anything that took my focus away from Tripp was good in his eyes. "Besides, we're here on vacation at a dude ranch and you've hardly ridden any horses yet."

That wasn't true. I'd gone out with Tripp several times now. He loved to show off how capable he was at riding by demonstrating the various things he could do to my body while still keeping control of the horse. I shuddered at the memories, heat washing over me.

Willy was smiling as I glanced over at him, racking my brains for some excuse to get me out of this. The whole table was looking at me and I could tell I was defeated.

"Well, I guess I could go today..." It was true, I could go, as I wasn't planning on meeting Tripp until tonight, since he had to spend most of the day out with the cattle. The idea was completely unappealing to me though.

"Fantastic," Willy said with one of his fake smiles that suggested motives ulterior to those he presented. "We can go take the South Trail down toward the main road."

"Lucy," I turned to my sister, begging her with my eyes. "Would you like to come with us?" If I had to endure this, I sure as hell didn't want to do it alone.

Before Willy could protest, my brother piped in. "Actually, Lucy was going to come with me this afternoon up to see some of the caves on the mountain. We've been meaning to go up there all week." I groaned inwardly. Luke of course was siding with my father on this whole thing. Lucy gave me an apologetic look before I turned back to give Willy a forced smile that came out to be more of a grimace.

"I...I guess it's just us then," the hesitation in my voice couldn't be missed, but Willy took nothing of it. The man was too arrogant to even consider that I wasn't interested in him.

* * * * *

A couple hours later, Willy and I walked into the barn. Correction - Willy walked in, I was more dragging my feet behind him in reluctance. We had talked to one of the ranch hands outside about taking two of the horses out. After Willy reassured him that we knew how to ride, he had told us they had someone in the stables who would help prep the horses. It was a pity that the ranch didn't require a guide to go along with guests who wanted to ride down some of the shorter trails. I wished Willy had wanted to go riding through the mountains, where we would have needed someone to accompany us. However, I think the aspect of being alone together was the whole point of this outing for the stubborn man. I firmly reminded myself that since we weren't going to be around anyone else, like our families, I didn't need to take any bullshit today.

I cringed as soon as we walked through the door, and my heart leapt up into my throat. I wasn't expecting Tripp to be the one in the barn, tending the horses, but there he was, rubbing down a chocolate-colored mare, looking as beautiful and dashing as ever in a worn pair of jeans and a dirty white t-shirt. He had told me he was going to be out on the trail for most of the day, and this was the last thing I needed right now. It was bad enough having to go out riding with Willy at all, let alone having to hear a bunch of guff about it from Tripp.

He looked formidable, especially wearing the dark Stetson that covered much of his face, but he turned to us as we walked into the stables and his eyes bore into mine before glancing over to Willy. I had frozen momentarily before deciding that in order to avoid an awkward situation, it was best to try and act normal, as if I didn't know Tripp intimately. The difficulty of keeping myself from running into his arms however was proving to be a nuisance.

An eyebrow rose on Tripp's face as Willy went ahead of me. I widened my eyes and rolled them, glancing at Willy in front of me, trying to signal to Tripp my intense discomfort with what was about to happen. Tripp didn't say anything, but the hard, confused look on his face didn't go away.

"We'd like two horses to take out on the South Trail." Willy said it to Tripp in a cocky manner that reeked of superiority. I instantly became annoyed, or at least, more annoyed than I already was, at the way Willy acted as if he were better than Tripp, who he obviously saw as no more than a simple stable hand.

Tripp seemed amused though as he raised both eyebrows now and spoke to Willy in an accommodating tone. "There's a fine selection of thoroughbreds down at that end of the stables for someone like yourself." He said it in a way that recognized Willy's self-importance as he pointed toward the other end of the stalls and started walking toward me. "You ma'am might be more interested in some of the ones down here." His back was turned away from Willy so the man couldn't see him take my arm as he dragged me down a ways, out of earshot from where Willy began examining the horses.

"I tried, Tripp. He wouldn't take no for an answer," I whispered, frustrated.

"Well perhaps he needs some persuasion..." Tripp turned around to look back toward Willy, a fist forming in his hand.

"No." I put my hand on his arm to stop him. "His grandparents are friends with my mom and dad, and they've been joining us for meals recently. I've been deflecting his advances for days now, but I couldn't today, practically my whole family was against me. They were pressuring me to go."

His eyes rose at that. "Doesn't your family have an idea that you're involved with someone else at the moment?"

Involved. That's what he called us. It wouldn't have been my word of choice, but it was a start at least, some sort of recognition of us as a couple. Of course I didn't know what he meant by 'involved'. That could just mean sex, but I refused to believe that. There was something between us that went much deeper than a purely physical need, even after just the few short days we'd known each other.

"How could they not when I'm sneaking off to your bed every night? I think that's why they wanted me to go with him. I'll just ride for a little while and then I'll feign a headache or something. It won't be that bad. Besides, don't you need to get back out to the herd?"

"I suppose..." he looked at me hesitantly. "I don't know, California. I don't like the idea of you going riding alone with some pup who looks like he couldn't manage a pony from a petting zoo."

I smiled at him. "Well you're just going to have to trust that you've done a good job teaching me this last week."

He grinned. "For some reason the last few times we've been riding, I don't think you've been concentrating very hard on my instruction." He began curling a piece of my hair in his fingers. I gave him a look of mock surprise.

"Why Tripp, of course I have!" I lowered my voice to a sultry whisper. "You think I wasn't listening to you when you were telling me to lift my skirt, or ride your fingers...or grab your..."

"Kira!" he growled as desire flooded his gaze. "I have half a mind a drag you back to my cabin right now and spank you."

"Now, now," I teased. "That sounds delicious, but it wouldn't be very sporting of you. Poor Willy, I think he deserves a chance to show me how impressive his riding skills are." Tripp could tell I was choking trying to hold back my laughter. "By the way," my face grew concerned and serious. "How is the foal doing today?"

"No better or worse since you saw her yesterday." Tripp seemed somber as well. I suppose one couldn't expect a horse to get better in only a little over a week, but it was disheartening not to see any improvement.

"Kira!" Willy yelled across the stables. "Have you found a horse yet? I've chosen mine."

I rolled my eyes and looked at Tripp. "Saddle up Winter for me." He nodded, giving me a light smile. Winter was a white mare we'd been out with a few times. She seemed to like me, and even when I'd been on her alone without Tripp, I'd been pretty good at handling her. I was surprised at how much my horsemanship skills had improved in just a few short days. Then again, when you had a master like Tripp giving you one-on-one lessons, anyone could become adept at riding one of these things.

We walked over to Willy who was looking at us curiously. My eyes sank with the prospect of having to waste my time with this man, who had a cold gleam in his eye.

"Kira, are you all right? You seem a bit weary." Willy looked at me skeptically.

"I suppose I'm just tired," which was true. "I didn't get a lot of sleep last night."

Tripp choked on a laugh and turned to give me a hidden smile before he began preparing for us to head out. We both knew neither of us had enough sleep, and with the memories of last night, I couldn't help but wish it were Tripp that I was going riding with, although I tried not to think about it. Dwelling on the matter would simply make it worse. It was just with Tripp there in the barn, it made it so much more apparent how unappealing Willy was.

Tripp saw my forlorn look, and whispered to me before I mounted the horse. "You can still say no..."

"No. It would be so rude to back out now... I'm going."

* * * * *

Willy and I headed down the South Trail which would take us through a couple of hills before leading back to the ranch. I tried to focus on something besides his annoying chatter during our ride, such as the beauty of the pastures before us. My mind floated back to one of the first conversations I had with Tripp, where he gushed about his love for this place. I hadn't seen it at the time, the appeal of it all, but as we rode up the small green hilltop that overlooked the fields, I realized how much I had grown to enjoy being here, a place so different from the smoggy, bustling city I was used to.

My newfound appreciation for the ranch of course had to do with my intense feelings for Tripp. In my mind, Tripp and this land were one and the same. How could I not appreciate something that was so much a part of him? It was dusty and there wasn't much to look at, yet in just over a week, I had found myself beginning to feel at home at the Waterman Ranch.

"Kira?" Willy snapped me out of my train of thought and I turned to look at him. "You've been awfully quiet. I'm not boring you, am I?" His voice didn't sound hurt in any way, but it gave off a hint of anger, something I hadn't heard before in his typically pompous, oblivious character.

I raised my eyebrows and decided that the best course of action for this ride would be to put up a courteous front. "I'm sorry, I'm not bored, I just don't have much to say," I said politely, trying hard not to let my annoyance show.

"Yes I have noticed that you're more of a quiet girl." His voice relaxed some. "I like that. I can't stand women who like to talk too much." He said it as if there was nothing wrong with it, as if he were talking about the weather. The smile on his face was completely fake and insincere, almost as fake as mine had been a moment ago.

I gritted my teeth together as I gave Winter a small kick, picking up the pace. "Well I'm glad I could be so accommodating for you," I said in a tone only lightly drenched in sarcasm. Willy chose not to notice.

"You know we have a lot in common, you and me," he said smugly.

"Do we?" I failed to see it.

"You strike me as the type of girl who knows what she desires in life, the type who's willing to go after what she wants."

I didn't think that sounded like me at all. I thought I knew what I wanted before I came here, to this ranch. Now, everything was so confusing. What I desired in life suddenly wasn't so clear anymore. The idea of returning to my old life in California right now made my stomach hurt.

"And I suppose you're the same way?" I asked airily as I thought on my own situation. "Always going after what you want?" Of course he was, I told myself. Mr. Ivy League, Rich Daddy, Senator Schmoozer always got what he wanted.

His conceited laugh was unnatural and out of place as we rode down the pastures of the ranch. In a place so care-free and lovely, Willy seemed like a weed in a rose garden. "I do have a tendency of setting a goal and making it happen," he said arrogantly. "That's how I finally got you to go riding with me, wasn't it? Not taking 'no' for an answer? Being persistent? It's a good quality to have."

This man was going to be seriously put out when he found that I had no interest whatsoever in any sort of relationship with him. The only reason why I didn't argue with him, or tell him that he had a better chance of establishing a romance with one of the cows than he did with me, was because I didn't want to start anything. It would be too much effort, better to simply decline his advances later if he decided to become more explicit.

If only the ranch wasn't so deserted out on some of the shorter trails, such as this one. Aside from the scenery and my own inner musings, there was very little to distract me from my riding partner. We rode down a couple more miles before he started in on a new subject. "So you're going to the big dance in a couple nights aren't you? All the guests are going to be there, and I'm sure your family has expressed interest." The way he said it, it was as if he'd already decided that I was going.

But indeed my family had expressed interest, and last night I had heard Lucy tell me all about it. Apparently every summer, on the first Saturday of August, the Waterman's had a big formal social at the Lodge which they put a lot of work into. My family had been excited that we were going to be here when it was to take place this year. I had been mildly intrigued, wondering instantly if Tripp had any interest in going, since we usually spent our nights together. But then again, as one of the main hands on the ranch, why wouldn't he, especially if it was supposed to be a dance for the guests and the staff. As Willy just confirmed, it was the type of thing that everyone usually went to.

"Yes my family mentioned something about it to me last night. I suppose I'll be going, especially if everyone else is. I wouldn't want to miss out on all the fun..." That last part was said rather dryly, as I thought about bright lights, loud music and large crowds. It would probably be even worse than the typical nights that took place at the Lodge. Suddenly I wasn't so excited anymore.

"Excellent. Well I suppose I'll see you there then..."

I could tell this was leading up to something. "Yes...I suppose you will," I said hesitantly.

"You know, if you'd like, we could go together."

I had experienced quite a number of awkward silences in my life, but this had to be one of the worst, and it only grew more uncomfortable the longer I left it. Finally I said something.

"Willy, why did you ask me to go on this ride with you?"

He gave a small laugh, like it was obvious, almost insulting me for asking such a stupid question. "Well I thought I've made it clear that I like you, Kira. And you know I think we would complement each other well..." his tone was courteous, but completely forged.

"Willy..." I figured using logic was the best way to address this. "You know, my family only has a few more days here at the ranch, and after that we're heading back to California. I'm not really what good it would do to start something between us..."

"Well it's not as if I'm asking you to marry me, Kira. I just believe that I would be good for you. And you know I travel to L.A. frequently..."

He would be good for me? My god, his arrogance was astounding. With men, I usually liked to at least try and let them down gently before I laid the cards on the table. I could see though I needed to be more frank.

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