Archive for May, 2012
Read Chapter 8 before you continue…
The knowledge that Brooke did not fit into any part of Matthew’s romantic plans set Elaina’s mind to a sense of freedom that directly manifested to her body, which was now responding to his every touch with a hunger born of years of abstinence. She made up for the lost time – not only of the few days she had been rejecting him but all those years when she denied herself the solace of having someone covet her. She learned about mankind’s most ancient truth by imitating his every move with even greater fervor than which he imparted. She reveled in all the sensations he aroused in her and loved that she could do the same to him.
And when he finally broke the kiss, she protested by pulling him back for more. With firm grips on her shoulders, Matthew leaned back to look at her and chuckled. She was becoming cross-eyed with lust and he chuckled! But she could not rally enough outrage over his reaction. She just wanted to continue kissing.
“I think you remember now why you shouldn’t dismiss me anymore.” He sounded vaguely amused, but his voice was hoarse with the traces of his desire. When Elaina frowned in response, he smiled soothingly. “Oh, I promise you there will be more kisses later. More kisses and more of a lot more. But first we should get to know each other better, shouldn’t we?”
Elaina deepened her scowl. She was not feeling very particular about social norms right now.
Matthew dipped his head and peered into her eyes imploringly. “You understand what I mean by ‘a lot more’, don’t you?”
Oh! Elaina blushed beetroot and automatically averted her eyes.
Matthew laughed softly. “I gather you do. So how about a date? A proper opportunity where we may talk in a civilized manner without you challenging me in everything and maybe even coming to accept my suit for you?”
Elaina nodded, smiling shyly. Shyly? Oh Lord! He was turning her into a ninny.
Matthew brushed his lips with hers. Then as though unable to stop himself, he brushed them together again. “Thank you,” he said when he finally unwrapped himself from her and stepped back. “I believe that was the first time you agreed to one of my requests without any protest. I should kiss you more often.”
He was right. She should not let him off so easy. But when she opened her mouth to rectify just that, he pressed his index finger against her lips.
“Please don’t spoil this moment. I don’t know if I’ll get another one like it.” He looked so blissfully pleased with himself that she had to laugh. “Music to my ears. I’ll pick you up this evening around six and you can take me wherever is a good place for a date.”
“We’re going out tonight?” Elaina was sure her eyes were as big and round as 100 Watts light bulbs.
“Why wait? Tonight couldn’t be soon enough for me. So is tonight okay for you?
She took stock from his enthusiasm. “Yes.”
Matthew grinned and spontaneously dropped another kiss on her mouth. “I’ll see you at six then.” Before she could say goodbye, he stepped out of Marty’s stall and was gone.
Baffled by the rapid turn of events, Elaina picked up the sponge from the ground and dipped it in the bucket of water to strain it clean so she could continue Marty’s grooming. Marty snorted as though to chastise her for forgetting his needs for so long. As she sponged his back clean of the remaining saddle mark, she apologized to the horse for her inattentiveness and taking such inappropriate advantage of his private chamber. But she could not muster up the solemnity for it.
She was too busy smiling like a fool.
Matthew arrived at the Coreys’ house on the dot at six. Read the rest of this entry »
It seems – after an alliance, so full of fun, laughter, and promises, such complaints, resentments, tears, followed by a prolonged tug-of-war that fought for its continued facility against the odds that propelled its termination – that the end, when it is fixed as irrevocable, should be met with such quiet. The quiet that has settled on this battlefield seems almost anti-climactic. The quiet that is the result of an absence in our conversations, our laughter, our disputes, is more confusing than it is painful. Shouldn’t the end be marked by something more volatile, more earthshattering?
Someone should die, someone should marry, someone should rejoice! For it is freedom, we sought, from the tangled web of resentments that we wove. It is freedom, we sought, from the intoxication we called love that ensnared our senses and fogged our reasons – for and against.
But alas! It is only quiet. You are no longer with me; we are never to meet again. But do you think of me still, I wonder. Can you, too, feel the quiet of my absence? But it is a question I must only ask into the void, an answer that I may not expect but in void. Because all that remains is quiet – more elusive than silence (where, at least, comfort lies).
Read Chapter 7 before you continue…
Elaina stared at Matthew with trepidation, feigning a sullen silence as she was unable to come up with a greeting that was equally deprecating. It seemed ironic that, only a few minutes ago, she had decided to avoid this man altogether and already she was alone in his company, save for horse and hay.
Matthew looked on smugly at her discomfort. His stonewashed jeans were strapped by a length of woven suede around his waist and hung from narrow hips, clinging to his strong thighs before they fell to well-worn leather boots. The sleeves of his green chambray shirt were rolled up to his elbows, revealing the sinewy forearms of a man who obviously worked a lot with his hands. He had even donned a brand new Stetson that rested slightly askew on his head. In his current surrounding, he looked the spitting image of a rustic hero despite the expensive designer finish of his attire that begged to differentiate him from any cowboy that she knew. “Cat got your tongue?”
She searched the furthest recesses of her mind to deliver a smart retort but nothing. How could one kiss turn her into such a lack wit?
Matthew stepped closer, his eyes sparkling with mirth and insinuation. “That’s not fair. Since I already proved I can make better use of your tongue than the cat, I obviously should have had dibs.”
To Elaina’s utter dismay, she flushed four shades of crimson straight to her golden roots.
Matthew chuckled softly. “Well, I’ll be damned. Miss Devil-May-Care isn’t immune to my kisses after all,” said he, doing a fine impersonation of a Texan drawl. Then he lowered his voice to a huskier decibel. “You don’t know how encouraging I find that fact, sweetheart.”
And that put an end to her distress, as Elaina bristled at the endearment. “There’s just no getting away from you, is there?”
Matthew leaned against the column of the stall, his arms crossed over his chest as though he was just settling down to aggravate her and his ankles crossed comfortably to prove he had all the time in the world to do it. “I hope not, as I’m doing my best to ensure otherwise.”
Elaina narrowed her eyes. “Meaning?”
“Well, my dear, dear cowgirl, it hasn’t escaped my notice that since we’ve met, you’ve already dismissed me four times. Four times. I haven’t been dismissed by four ladies in all my life let alone be dismissed by one lady four times. So I decided that I needed to get back in the game before you took too much of a lead. I even took riding lessons today to balance the odds.”
“A bit sure of ourselves, aren’t we?” taunted Elaina.
Matthew grinned like a Cheshire. “Not without reason,” replied he, not even attempting to hide his self-confidence.
“And so claimed many a fool before meeting their downfall.”
“Oh, I’m no fool. I definitely plan to collect on what I enjoyed a prelude to yesterday.” Despite his affable tone, there was an indomitable glint in his eyes that told her he was quite serious about his declaration.
Elaina stepped around him and out of the stall to hide the blush that was beginning to creep up her neck to her face. It was not only the mention of their kiss that flustered her but rather her sudden need to comply with his demand. What was coming over her?
Matthew straightened and turned to follow her. “Just where are you going?”
“I promised Jonny I’ll teach you how to take care of the horses after they ride. The sooner that is over with, the sooner I can get rid of you,” replied Elaina without looking back as she came to a halt before the two horses that were left unattended in the aisle. She groaned as she saw the sight. While one horse had made his way to a large pile of hay in the outer corner of the stable and was chomping away at lunch happily unrestrained, the other horse had relieved himself of his breakfast in the middle of the aisle and was looking enormously pleased with his performance. “Marty,” chided Elaina at the offending beast, “you know better than to poop in the walkway!”
Marty snorted and Matthew shared his humor by snickering.
Elaina wheeled around, her hand automatically bracing against her hips as she belligerently glowered at the person she had already mentally monickering as an offending-beast-of-another-breed. “Think it’s funny, do you, Halls? Well you’re on aisle duty.” She grabbed the shovel and cart that just happened to be parked beside the nearest stall and shoved them at Matthew. “There you go. Oh, don’t you frown! It’s only a wee bit. Marty, here, obviously hasn’t done justice to his breakfast this morning. But it’ll be a very illuminating beginning for you nonetheless.”
Matthew stared at Elaina defiantly and only accepted the proffered tools when he saw she was serious about making him shovel manure. Grumbling, he made a furious stab at the odorous mess, spraying bits of excrement everywhere, most of which landed on his own designer jeans. Frustrated, he barked a string of profanity that was as colorful as they were inappropriate to fall on a lady’s ears. Elaina paid it no mind, however.
“You want to be careful with that now,” she drawled smoothly, a smile tipping up a corner of her mouth slyly. “I’ll just be putting Marty and Regis over there into their stalls and get a head start on taking care of Regis. Marty may volunteer himself for your lesson since you guys seem to be already bonding.”
Matthew scowled and went back to work as Elaina led the horses to their stalls, gleeful at how her mandatory time-sharing with Matthew was turning out. Ten minutes later, having done a prerequisite onceover on one horse, Elaina had already moved into Marty’s stall. She was congratulating the stallion again for helping her put her adversary in his place when Matthew drew up behind her.
“I’m glad I can be the source of such happiness but I wish your entertainments weren’t derived at my expense.”
“Must you always creep up on me?” Elaina yelled, thoroughly startled.
Matthew pouted. “I did not creep up on you. You asked me to meet you in Marty’s stall.”
“Right,” replied she, resignedly. “Let’s show you how this is done then.”
“What’s your hurry, sweetheart?”
“Stop calling me that.” Elaina spoke through gritted teeth but Matthew went on as though she had not spoken.
“It is a rare boon that I have this time alone with you and I’d like to prolong it for as long as possible.”
“Well, your time is almost up. Now this is how we do it,” Elaina spoke as she began unsaddling the dark horse, demonstrating each step. “Jonny unbridled him already so you already saw how that’s done. To unsaddle the horse, you first undo the cinch. You do this from his offside, that’s on his right. Now you should loosen the cinch soon as you’re done riding – before you cool him down – but you can undo it completely later.”
She carried on with her lesson and Matthew carefully observed her every move and word, the intensity of his focus making her nervous. However, soon she realized that his interest in what she was teaching him was sincere and he paid her all the deference a good student paid an experienced teacher. His questions were pertinent and she began to relax and even enjoy his company as she fell into her own element. She knew cattle and steed. She had done this a million time and it was gratifying to have someone show the kind of respect for her work the way Matthew was doing, even if it pertained to something as mundane as unsaddling and checking the hooves of a horse.
“Usually we do this out at the same place we tack up the horses but since Jonny already brought y’all inside we did the work here. Any question?” said she as she came to a finish.
Matthew shook his head. “You really enjoy working on the ranch, don’t you?”
Elaina scowled. “Of course, I enjoy working on the ranch. Why else would I be here every day before the roosters are up?”
Matthew shook his a second time. “No, I never doubted that you enjoyed it. I just didn’t realize how much until this minute. It’s a beautiful sight watching you work.”
Matthew’s eyes were warm with an emotion that made Elaina nervous. She was not experienced enough with men to understand what they were trying to communicate but they were making her start to hope for something she sure was not ready for. She turned from him to sponge the shiny coat on the horses back where some saddle mark was still visible.
“Hey” exclaimed Matthew.
Elaina paused, the sponge raised just above Marty’s back, and looked at him over her shoulder.
Matthew grabbed her arm and pulled her against him, the force making her startle and drop the sponge to the straw strewn floor of the stable. “I thought I told you I won’t let you dismiss me again.” Read the rest of this entry »