Free Online Short Love Story

Written by American Author Sky Taylor

Lariat, a Western Romance

Nothing would ever be the same....

Diandra fumbled with the horse's cinch, bitterly fervent in her windswept solitude.  The moist heat of the summer day only seemed to feed her misery, the overcast sky unable to block out the intense heat.

As she paused to lift the curtain of long blond hair from her neck, a small wave of heat escaped, settling into the stillness - a stillness that had been prompted by the promise of rain.

"Featherloom, stand still," she stiffly ordered, noting his flared nostrils, his trembling flanks and his set jaw.  He was as agitated as she was - the two of them appearing to be in one accord.

Once the cinch had been tightened to her satisfaction, she anchored herself beneath the grove of giant oaks, a garrison of nesting wrens chirping overhead as she raised her head to study the ever-changing sky.

Finally, she felt as if she could think.  Putting some emotional distance between her and the commotion at the ranch house had been wise.

What had her lovesick father been thinking?  There wasn't one thing wrong with the inner-workings of their ranch, Twelve Sticks.  And in her humble opinion, she had been doing a bang-up job of managing the monstrosity since his heart condition last summer.

This was all his new bride's fault - a woman that he had only known a handful of days.  And it was her son that had become the thorn in her flesh, a foreigner by the name of Bodey Rainwater whom father had infringed upon to come and mold Twelve Sticks into shape.

Featherloom grumbled, his lips jostling around as if they'd been caught up in a cyclone, then spit out.

"Oh shut up fussing!" Diandra advised through the short distance, aware that he wasn't accustomed of being ridden in the middle of the day.  He did enjoy lazing around in the cool stables during the hottest part of the day.  "What a spoiled horse you are," she went on to comment, Featherloom lifting his lips and flashing his white teeth at her.

"Now go on!  Eat some green grass and we'll go home in just a bit," she told him, but he didn't budge an inch.  Featherloom had the nature of a mule - the most stubborn-headed horse that she'd ever rubbed elbows with.  But she loved him.  Somebody had to.

With a weary sigh, her sapphire-colored eyes seized the sun-split sky filled with looming clouds, becoming lost once again in her analysis of the Australian, Bodey Rainwater.

Her father, Dub Jackson had married his mother, the widow Jessica early this morning, the short ceremony performed in the large den at the main ranch house by a close friend of the family.  The event had brought tears to her eyes, hot angry tears because she was powerless to stop the disaster in the making.

Jessica had turned towards her with a warm charming smile and had innocently comforted, "Weddings always make me cry too, dear."

Diandra was amazed at the shallow depth of Jessica's brain.  Surely she was aware that by marrying her father she was shattering Diandra's world?   

And then the deliriously happy couple had departed the ranch quite quickly to enjoy a six-week honeymoon leaving Bodey in charge of molding Twelve Sticks into shape during that frame of time.

Diandra hadn't managed six hours with the man - much less six weeks!

Although she had attempted civility, he had arrogantly shot her down - deeming the ranch a disaster spinning out of control.   

She eased out a sighing moan as the she caught sight of the horse and rider gliding freely across the meadow floor southward, quickly closing the gap between them.  Bodey Rainwater.

Before she had completely recovered, he was standing beside her, his male gaze making frigid contact with her small defiant face, something flashing in the dark eyes, then his Australian tongue addressed her in a slow, deliberate concerto - sounding like nails on a blackboard to Diandra's flared ears.

"Why don't ya quit feeling sorry for yourself and return to the ranch house?  You're acting like an abandoned child - sulking in the meadows.  And that sour attitude appears to have rubbed off on your horse," he added, nodding towards Featherloom who stood in the distance, firmly planted like a rectified Tower of Pisa.

In response, the horse lifted his lips, exposing his white square chops while Diandra crossed her arms, a gesture indicating that the matter wasn't open for discussion.

The words were intended as more of an order than a suggestion, and she wasn't in the mood to be chastised.  Not at her age!  Besides, he wasn't her father.  No.  Father had skipped the country with the beautiful widow Jessica whom Diandra suspected had more in mind that her father's wampum bag - but of course, being her father, she didn't want to pause to ponder this thought further.

When she didn't respond to Bodey's order he continued in a stern voice, "Like it or not, you best accept the fact that I'm staying."

Sulking females - he detested them!  He could very well wring off his stepmother's pretty little neck for landing him here. Not only did he have to deal with this hot-head, the ranch was in shambles.  And what the devil kind of name was Twelve Sticks for a viable ranch - not that it was anywhere near viable.

"Your unseeded ideas and values come unwarranted," she clipped out tightly, fire in her eyes as she slapped her dusty jeans in an attempt to work out her anger.   

To be a man for five minutes, she silently raged. If anyone needed a lesson beaten into him, it was Bodey Rainwater!

Ignoring his disturbing face she continued, "I'm sure that you collaborated well with your mother on this-this situation.  My father may have been hijacked, but you'll ever gain any rights to our land, I assure you-"

She gasped as his gloved hands jerked her to him and when he spoke she felt his warm breath sweep against her suddenly-pale face.  "I advise you to never suggest such a preposterous, unfounded, ridiculous idea again, Diandra.  I assure you that I'm not here to suit you - nor for personal wants or inclinations, rather as a favor to your father."

Bodey pushed her away from him, resentful of having to deal with a woman lost in the prehistoric world of ranching.  Women - they didn't know beans when it came to ranching; it was clearly a man's world.

Diandra drew her fists by her sides, feeling a bit stupid as she lashed out, "Get your hands off of me!" because Bodey had already released her.  To cover up her blunder, she continued to attack, "You-you hayseed!  And don't think that I haven't seen through your methods - the way that you have cozied-up to my cowboys."

"I assure you that cozying-up to cowboys would be the last thing on my mind," Bodey quickly assured, his dark eyes sifting over her horse again.  What the devil was wrong with him?  He was still rooted to the same spot with his lips flared, the brightness of his teeth almost blinding as it collided with the harsh light of the half-hidden sun.  That couldn't be good - all that hot air hitting his teeth.

Diandra sifted her stony gaze over the too-tall masculine form, despising every handsome inch.  He was like a house void of femininity - total man just crying out for a vase of flowers to be put onto his mantle.  Only she wasn't the woman to do it!  Not that she would ever want to, either.

"What the hell is wrong with your horse?" he wanted to know, Diandra's smart attitude fleeing him for the moment.

She gazed over at Featherloom, then shrugged and lied, "He does that whenever he's around people that he doesn't like or trust."

"Hum," Bodey eased out thoughtfully.  "So now I'm wondering if he doesn't like me or, if he doesn't trust me."



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