Look at her, look at her! Was she serious? If I looked at her I was going to touch her, smell her, and taste her. Then I would just become a babbling fool with mush for brains.

Breathing hard, I looked down at her. I was such a girl. I really should turn in my man card. I kept my hands at my side and tried to act like nothing had ever happened between us. “Sure, I’m going to look at you, Al.”

She looked into my eyes, “Thanks for the help with that cowboy.” She was smiling, and I was turning to jello. Man card hell, I was back to a horny teenager card.

“Hey, I would’ve done that for any lady in distress, but far more so for you.” I looked at Joe and he smirked back.

“Need another Shiner, Mac?”

“Um… Yeah… I think so, thanks.” I replied.

I looked back to Allie, she was still smiling, “Two beers in one night. Really Mac, are you going to sleep in your truck tonight?”

“Nope, two will be my limit on beer and a lot of salty peanuts.” I moved to the stool next to her, so she had to turn away from the table of cowboys and I could keep an eye on them, “By the way congratulations on the World Record. That’s amazing. Did you do it on that big Nokota stallion of yours?”

“Why thank you and yes I did do it on Bullet.” She stopped and drank the last of her coke, “He’s very agile for a big horse. If I just hold on and let him do the work, we win most of the time.”

“Have you thought about coming to the Stockyards Rodeo while your home to give the people a chance to see a World Record Holder in action?” I pointed to her empty glass and Joe gave it a refill. “I have the EMT/Clown job one more weekend.” I looked at her and thought this could be interesting.

She looked down at her glass, “Yeah… um…. I saw you a few weeks ago.

She never looked back at me, but I could see the blush in her cheeks. The next thing I know my thumb and forefinger were on her chin and I turned her to face me, “So that was you at Billy Bob’s.”

She tried to get free, but I held her firm, she sighed, “Yeah, it was me.”

I let her go and stood between her legs, “Why did you run?”

She wouldn’t look at me and I just barely heard her over the music, “I was scared. I thought you would tell me to get lost. What if you had gotten married, had kids.” She shuddered, and I felt it even though I was no longer touching her. “What if you’d told me to go to hell for how I treated you.”

I stepped all the way to her and wrapped her in my arms. She was as soft as I remembered. She still smelled like vanilla. It took just a minute for her to relax into my arms and when she did, all time stopped for me. We’re the only people in the bar and nothing else mattered; just Al in my arms again.

I lowered my head, so my mouth was at her ear, “Al, I was hurt when you left me. I even tried to move on with some others. I tried to forget you, but the truth is….”  I stopped, lifted her head so I could see her, and she could see me. There were tears in her eyes. I needed her to believe what I told her next.

Grabbing a deep breath, I moved on, “The truth is Al, no one was you. I have only ever loved you.” I stopped when she gasped for air, “To this very day I have only loved you Al. By the way, I could never damn you in any way.”

She buried her head in my chest. Now she was crying. “Take her to my office.” Joe said.

“Thanks man.” I replied as I lifted her into my arms and carried her to the back office.

She was clinging to the front of my shirt. I sat on the couch with her in my lap. I tried to adjust her, so she wouldn’t feel how badly I wanted her, “Talk to me Al. What’s got you so upset?”

I didn’t push her. She’d tell me in her own time or she wouldn’t. In the meantime I’d just enjoy the time I had to just hold her again.

I ran my fingers through her raven blue-black hair. It was as smooth as silk. She had more of her mother’s Indian in her than her brother. Her eyes were almond shaped and dark chocolate brown. Her nose was wide at the bridge, long to just a small point at the end. High cheekbones with full, pink, kissable lips. Her skin was dark, just sun kissed brown from her head to her toes. In the years we had been apart, she had filled out in all the right places. Her arms had muscles from working with horses. Her thigh muscles would be nice and tight as well from riding every day. I could feel her small round breasts up against my chest. When we were younger she never wore a bra. I had to know if she wore one now.

I laid my head on hers and moved my hands up and down her back, then down to her sweet round butt then back again. I was hoping to give her some comfort at the same time I was on my quest of a bra.  Damn no bra and maybe no panties either. I moaned at the thought.

Trying to get my head back under control, I thought about all the time we had been apart. “Al please talk to me. I need to know what you’re thinkin’ here.”

She took a deep ragged breath, then a few more. She let go of the front of my shirt, so she was now only leaning on me as I held her.

“I don’t really know where to start.” She gasped again, “I was such a fool to leave you. In college I dated a few guys but there was something missing.”

I could understand that, I felt the same way when I dated.

“Finely, I put all my free time into Barrel Racing. I moved Bullet to Denton, rented a stall at a ranch in Sanger, where I could ride Bullet every day after school. I started riding local rodeos on the weekends until I graduated.”

She stopped, so I asked a question, “Why didn’t you ever ride this way? It wasn’t that far.”

She looked up at me, “I didn’t want to see you if you had a new girl on your arm.”

“Okay, fair enough.”

“Anyway, after graduation, I went on the Pro Barrel Racers Circuit. I was winning, so that became my life, one town after the next. One motel to the next motel.”

She got quiet again, “Is there more Al?” I didn’t want to push her, but I needed to hear her story.

“Cowboys and Cowgirls who ride the circuit never get attached to each other… you know romantically. We each know going into it that it’s just a one-night thing. Most of the time not even staying all night together.” My heart was killing me. I wanted to tell her to stop. That it was okay. That I understood. “Mac the last time I was with anyone was two years ago. I just couldn’t do it anymore. All those times I wanted it to be you and it wasn’t you so…. if I couldn’t have you, I’d just not have anyone.”

Damn, I felt bad. Now, what did I say? “Al, I quit seeing other women longer ago than that, I always only wanted you.”

She relaxed more into me and I savored every minute of her in my arms. “Mac, do you know a Candi Williams?”

I groaned, she was the last woman I’d been with and it didn’t end well. “Yes, we dated four years ago. It didn’t end well.” I took a breath, “She was the last woman I dated. I almost married her.” I shuddered, “How do you know her?”

“It was her record I broke.” She stopped, “Later that night she cornered me at a bar. She threatened if I didn’t quit racing she would make sure I had a very bad accident.”

Damn, that woman was going to make me have her arrested. I really hated to do the next thing I did. I lifted her head and her body followed. So now, she was only sitting in my lap and I was suddenly very cold. “Al has she hurt you in any way?”

“No, not me, but in Albuquerque when I stopped for the night my trailer tires had been slashed.”

Damn, Candi did that to my truck too when I told her we were through.

I pulled my phone out of my pocket. Pulled her back to my chest and wrapped her in my arms. Her warmth flooded me. Home, Al was home.

I texted Angus.

Hey bro you and Randy still here at the bar

Yeah what’s up

Good both of you come back to Joe’s office please


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