Authors: Isabell Lawless,Linda Kage
- A Gass County Novel
Published in the United States of America
Isabell Lawless, 2015
Thanks to you, dear reader, for picking up this book. You are my foremost and most important person and therefore needs to be thanked and appreciated the first.
Secondly, thank you to my group of beta readers, who have with their ability, given me the good and bad when it comes to editing this book to full publishing material. Thank you, Linda Kage, for the wonderful cover design created for this book. With the illustration you captured the essence of the romance between the characters.
Finally, a big thank you to the Missouri Department of Conservation for their extensive information on wildlife and nature.
However, my biggest thank you goes out to my wonderful daughter who has been the best of sleepers, and gone to bed without a fuss every night, making my writing a possibility. Mommy loves you very, very much.
“It’s best to treat people the same way you want to be treated. That also goes to say, if you’re treated poorly, they should know what to expect.”
“Can I help you with something?” She startled him where he was standing, bent over to look inside the driver’s seat of her car in the parking lot.
“Oh, shit! Sorry, you scared me. Hi… uhm… no. I’m just into old cars and
one I’ve never seen around this town. I’m sorry, I just had to sneak a quick look of what it might look like inside. It’s been a dream of mine to own one of these.”
“Aha, so you just walk around and look into people’s cars?”
“Uhm… no. I’m sorry, once again. I really didn’t mean anything about it. Seriously. I’m Jeff by the way.” He said, apologetically and held out his strong hand to meet hers.
“Aha. If I were you and wanted to keep that hand still attached to my arm I’d know to back the fuck off.”
She stunned him, and to his surprise she didn’t back away or stayed quiet for that matter. No one had ever talked to him that way, especially not a woman. Who was this person?
“Seriously, I’m so sorry. I can have Ian, the store clerk, vouche for my identity. I’m really only admiring your car, nothing else. I promise. I really do.”
“I’m sure Ian is a striking employee but unless you move away from this car, I’ll go apeshit on your ass, and I can promise you, you don’t want that.”
With a firm shove she moved him aside to make way for her hand to put the shiny key into the lock of the car door, balancing an apple pie in the other hand, while wearing high-heeled shoes and a skirt reaching just above her knees. Respectable enough for a woman in her early thirties.
“Oh, you like pie? That apple pie is really very good. Had it a few weekends ago at a friend’s place.”
“I’m sure you did.” She said, without looking back, and leaned over the consol in the front to place the pet in the passenger seat.
“You sure look fit though, doesn’t seem like a piece or two of pie would affect you at all.” As soon as the words had rolled off his tongue he regretting it. What did he just say to her? That she looked amazing or that that she looked chubby but that it suited her?
Slowly she moved her bent over body out from the car and stood straight as a statue on her tall blue heels, facing him. He didn’t know what to expect, but he knew he had crossed the line, way too far. Expecting a face slap or a complete curse fest from her mouth, she pulled her hands up to cup her breasts firmly, making his eyes zoom right in on her movement, and then she said.
“Carrots and salads didn’t make these boobs, pie did.”
And as simple as that she sat her bottom down on the driver’s seat before she swung her long legs in with the rest of her body, and shut the door hard with a bang, but before she drove off she rolled down the window. “Thanks for the advice on the pie flavor. I’m sure to enjoy it with my bottle of wine. Good bye.”
With not as much as a wave, he saw the car speed across the parking lot, and away down the highway, until he didn’t see anything else but shiny tail lights disappearing at the horizon.
“Who the hell was that?” He though. Stunned at her courageous move, and witty mouth. “Definitely not from this area, for sure.” He told himself, before he slowly turned around to walk into the store for what he came for. “Oh crap.” He cursed himself. “I totally forgot what I came here to pick up.” The way her hands had moved over her breasts had erased everything else from his mind. It was a blank canvas, except for two hands with fingernails ending with pink nail polished covering two very nice looking tits under a tight shirt. “Fuck, I’m so screwed.”
* * *
“Hello Jeff, how are you doin’? How’s your mom?” Truly, the main clerk at Harold’s Groceries started scanning each of his items rolling down the check stand belt in front of her, while eyeing the regular customer she’d known for years.
“Hi Truly. Oh, she’s doin’ just fine. Picking up some of this for her. She doesn’t have a chance to move around that much anymore, unless she has a good day and accepts me to put her in the car to go for a little spin around the old neighborhoods, you know.”
“Oh, that’s so sweet of you, love. We all think of her, you know. Especially now that your dad is gone… I’m sorry I brought it up. Don’t know why. Just wanted to let you know what a sweetheart you are.”
“Oh, that’s alright, Truly. Feels good to know there’s support around us if she would ever get any worse. At least she knew who I was this morning. Not so much in the afternoon though. It’s always something, I guess.” He glanced away and fumbled with the wallet in his back pocket, while looking out the store window.
“Hey, did you see that car standing outside earlier, man?!” Ian had made it up to their check stand and stood ready to bag the groceries coming down his way.
“Oh, yeah, and the woman was a beauty too. Such a stunner. Beautiful to the bones.” Truly interrupted, and kept on scanning the last few items.
“Oh, you met her?” Jeff barked in. Curious to know more about the stranger he’d found so sharp earlier.
“Oh yeah,” Truly responded cheerfully.”She didn’t say much though. Noticed she wasn’t from here when she didn’t have the rewards card for the store, and didn’t know which way the hardware store was.”
“And those legs…”
“Ian, cut it out! Be respectful to the lady, she might come back to visit us again.”
Jeff smiled slightly under his baseball cap, and took out a few bills from his wallet before grabbing the bags Ian had stuffed to the brim.
“Anyway, I think she bought McDormant’s house down in the valley. She mentioned something about a wood shop in a large garage, and a tractor she found interesting. Don’t know any other wood shops in the area worth mentioning. Am I right?” Truly said, returning the change.
“You sure are.” Jeff said, reassuring Truly’s guess was probably as correct as any, and walked out to his polished 69 Camaro, parked far away from everyone else to avoid the chance of getting bumped into.
Placing a few of the grocery bags on the ground he dove into his front pocket for the car key and placed in the door. “But with high heels, and a short skirt, what the hell was she doing out here in the middle of nowhere?” He thought.
If the real estate purchase was true, and the rumor was correct, why did someone who dressed so much like a city girl do out of touch with farm life chose to live in the Midwest; where three miles was seen as a short distance to your neighbor, and mud mixed with manure was the only thing those heels would ever step into? It sure as hell made him wonder. Who was she, where did she come from, and why the hell did she buy the McDormant’s rundown house and barn, fitted with both a workshop and tractor for the small land lot behind it?
His mind was running, cranking hard, making up some sort of plan to somehow bump into her again. A drive by at the road running by the house, stalk outside Harold’s until she came back for more groceries, or simply wait her old car out to see if she’d take it in for service. At least then, he knew for sure she was on his turf, being the only mechanic for miles around. A pretty damn good one too.
It all had to wait. Mom came first. And in her condition anything else had to wait. Fun had to wait, free time had to wait, and women had to wait. Without sufficient funds for a fulltime hospice nurse, he was her main caretaker.
It looked like time had stood still in this place. A smell of old dust and murk hiding in small spaces suffocated any fresh air trying to pass in through the wobbly windows of the room she was standing in.
“Oh great. Just fucking great. Fabulous indeed. Dust and grime, and a small baby. It all work so well together… not.” She mumbled walking through the kitchen, hands pressed hard on her hips. Where ever she turned her head in the room there were windows. Dusty, gloomy, one glass windows, in need of repair and cleaning. Brown moving boxes, labeled Home Depot, lined the free space along the walls of the room, and in the middle rested her pride and joy, baby Nova. Her little star, shining her way through the darkness.
She slowly sauntered over and quietly squatted down next to the small bassinet she had managed to stuff in the trunk of the car. One out of the few pieces of furniture she had brought with her when she moved and left their exclusive Manhattan apartment. Nova looked so peaceful sleeping on the soft fleece blanket underneath her small body. Her little chest moved restfully up and down in pace with her breathing, proving she was sound asleep after her meal of mashed green beans and banana.
“Oh, my love.” She whispered low in the quietness of the old house. “How are we going to do this, you and I? We’ll fix it, right? Better to not have a daddy than a bad one, sweetheart. I’ll try to explain that to you when you get older. For now, just know that I love you very much… very, very much.” Lightly she let her index fingers stroke her daughter’s soft skin without waking her up. Babies were skittish that way, one tiny wrong move, and it could mean you’d be up for the rest of night either feeding or rocking them back to sleep. Still, it seemed so hard not to touch her, even just a little bit. She stood back up, in a slow move, not to rattle the bassinet or make the floorboards creek underneath her feet.