It went against everything he loved. Barbed wire was the downfall of civilization Buck was sure of it. Besides being inhumane, it was all about caging something that was meant to be free, but here he was requesting the mercantile to add it to his list of supplies. Being a ranch foreman wasn't what he was cut out for, but all he knew was cattle, and ever since cutting that same barbed wire became a hangin' offense, there were no other jobs that allowed him to do what he loved. A little frustration could be tolerated in exchange for the warm sun on his neck and the quiet crooning of the herd to fall asleep to. Still... barbed wire... it just wasn't natural. Buck paid the clerk and headed out the door. He threw his leather gloves on the buckboard of his wagon in frustration, then crossed the street and headed for the hotel trying to think of something else. Anything else! A hot bath and home cooking were certain to change his stormy mood, and he set his mind to focus on those rare comforts.
Delilah's hotel provided several services to the cattleman but few that were offered left a man feeling clean both inside and out. Besides Buck had sampled several of the other services and found them... well, temporary at best. The girls were all nice enough but none truly understood him. Hell he didn't understand him. How could he expect any woman to have that talent? But Buck was past the age were urges stampeded through his body creating pain that demanded release and at 38, his heart was looking for something a little more substantial than a roll in the hay.
The bath had soothed both muscle and mind, not to mention left the air around him considerably more pleasant of that he was sure. He glanced out the window and saw the wagon was still being loaded though the leaf springs looked ready to burst. He smiled, thinking to himself that a bite to eat would give them just about enough time to finish up. Buck was one that liked to keep to schedules if at all possible, even if it was a self imposed schedule.
It had been a month since he had devoured a good steak, and his stomach growled fiercely in anticipation as he took the steps down to the dining room. It was still late afternoon as he took his seat and he was the only customer. Delilah smiled and gave him a wink then went off to give the cook his familiar order. Buck had been a customer of hers for more years than she could remember and though she was quite drawn to him, he seemed not to notice. Still she knew him well enough to hit the target dead on when it came to what he needed and usually what he wanted. She brought a glass of cool water to his table and smiled coyly.
"Been a little long since you were here last, Buck. Been thinking I might need to grow horns and moo a little just to get you back in here," she offered. "You planning on staying with us tonight or do you have to rush back to that nagging family you call a herd?"
"Now you know my sweet Betsy with her big brown eyes and lips of velvet is the only one that can put me to sleep with her gentle mooing," Buck replied. "Besides her tits are almost as nice as yours," he teased with a wink. Buck accepted the slap on the back of the head as his reward and blew Delilah a kiss as she walked away.
Lilly felt tired and gritty from the long coach ride. It was impossible to rest or even relax on the way here. The road was so rough, often the seat she sat on randomly pitched her in the air. All she wanted was a hot bath and a nice meal.
She had never been this far west but she was in monthly contact with her uncle, who had owned the General Store. It was difficult for her to take when he had a heart attack and suddenly died. She wasn't surprised at all when she had learned he left the business to her. He had no other family. She was use to a comfortable life. Although she was nervous about the new land and the hardened people that lived here, she was excited about her new adventure too.
There was a hotel in town and the best possible place for a lady to stay. Lilly did suspect other things went on behind the closed doors, though. Delilah, the owner of the hotel, was very kind. After settling her in and providing her a bath, Delilah told her to come downstairs for a much needed dinner.
Lilly entered the dinning room feeling refreshed and hungry enough to eat a horse. She smiled at that thought. All the cowboys would probably frown at her and run to save their prized possession. Delilah spotted her and hurried over.
"My dear, you look like a new woman. Are you ready for some good'ole fashioned meat and potatoes?"
"Thank you, Mrs. Delilah, I'm famished."
"Oh honey, it's Miss." Delilah said. Her lips smiled but her warm, brown eyes held a slight sadness.
Other then a cowboy sitting alone, Lilly was the only other person in the dinning room. She smoothed down her light blue skirts. She knew her hair was in place, her dress freshly aired. First impressions were important and she wanted to make a good one. These were the people she was going to be neighbors with.
She couldn't help but glance his way again, he was quite handsome. Just then Delilah emerged from a backroom, carrying the biggest stake she had every seen. It was placed in front of the cowboy. When they began to talk in low tones, Lilly turned her interests elsewhere, being careful not to be impolite and stare. Even though she was no longer looking at him, the cowboy held her interest. What did he do? Where did he come from? Did he live around here? Did he visit the girls here, did he visit a special girl here? What did his hands feel like, what did his lips feel like? She shook her head, "stop doing that", she ordered herself.
Buck glanced around the room as he began to cut into his steak. He paused with the first bite half way to his mouth. Directly across from him a desert flower had appeared as if by magic. Her petals were delicate to say the least. White skin set on fire by auburn hair and green eyes. Buck had always been a sucker for a girl with freckles and she had a few. Not too many but just enough to make a stir inside him. When did she sneak in?!
He rose and set his hat on the back of his chair as he quickly brushed his hair in place, or as close as he could get, with his finger tips. "Ma'am, I don't want to impose, but it appears you are eating alone and it would be a sin for me not to invite you to join me. "
Where had that come from?! He always took his meals alone. He preferred being alone to most the idle chit chat that accompanied most of those wishing companionship in this lonely little town. So what had just fallen out of his mouth like water from a mountain top, shooting out with nothing to stop it. What kind of hold did this woman have on him?
Buck hadn't had time for women since his wife and daughter had both passed away with the fever. Worrying about a woman took too much time and energy so he just decided he wouldn't. Five years was a long time to be without a woman and Buck blushed a bit when he realized that just how long it had been was beginning to show in the lap of his pants. Before long it wouldn't be just time this woman could measure and her eyes seemed to be drifting that way.
She seemed to blush a little and replied, "Why thank you sir. That is very kind of you. I would enjoy the company."
Buck pulled the adjoining chair out for her and watched her form closely as she sat. There was no stopping it now he had a raging boner and no way of hiding it. He was glad to at last be seated across from her where the table could provide at least a little cover.
Buck was horrified! He had just met Miss Lilly and already he was telling her things he had never told anyone. How was she able to do this to him. He found he wanted to tell her everything about himself. He hung on her every word. This was insane.
Before he realized what he was doing Buck invited Lilly to an evening stroll down by the river. Worse still she accepted. Even more worse, he made the decision to spend the night in town, which had more than a few eye brows raised.
Buck walked along side Lilly listening to her recount all that took place to bring her out to Texas. When she at last got to the part about her uncle leaving his store to her, he got quiet and seemed a bit lost.
"Buck, are you alright," she asked.
"Pedro was a good man. He saved my scalp many times when we rode together on the trail. That seems a lifetime ago. Everything has changed since then. That's what finally kilt 'em ya know."
"I'm sorry. Who is Pedro?"
"Your uncle, if he's the fella that owned the mercantile. Pete didn't seem to fit on the trail, so we started calling him Pedro. It just kinda stuck. He once told me he had a niece he was pretty proud of back east. Had I known how pretty she was I would have turned in my horse long ago and headed east," he said blushing.
"Wait, so you knew my uncle?"
"Knew him?! I taught him how to cowboy! Why when he walked up to the ranch he was as green as they come. Didn't even own a horse. But he was a fast learner, your uncle. Got to where I wouldn't drive without 'em. I was there when he passed."
"Your name isn't by chance Bartholomew Luicious Scoggins is it??"
"Ummm, that would be why I go by Buck," he said tilting his hat just a litte and hoping to cover the color that had flooded his cheeks.
"So your that man...," she mused with a far away look in her eye.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Hmmm? Oh nothing really. It was just something in his will we thought was a little odd."
"Like what exactly? Odd was Pedro's middle name," he said with a chuckle.
Lilly got a mischievous look in her eye, and replied, "It was his will. A very private document. I am sure if he had wanted you to know he would have told you," she said with a big grin.
"Now lets go swimming!"
Lilly ran straight for the river while Buck stood there with a perplexed look on his face.
When she turned around he was still standing there seemingly dumbfounded.
"Oh come on, Buck. Let's swim. I may tell you one day, just not today," Lilly toyed.
"Oh no, Miss Lilly. It's not that. I just ain't got anything to swim in," he answered.
"Neither do I, Buck," she coaxed as her clothes all fell off at once and she dove into the water.
Buck started to turn around, but realized she had other things on her mind. And now so did he and it was beginning to show. He stripped and jumped in the water before she had a chance to notice, and was disappointed when the cool water had no effect on his manhood.