Authors: Lynn Shurr
Tags: #Western, #Women's Fiction
The Convent Rose
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
The Convent Rose
COPYRIGHT © 2014 by Lynn Shurr
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com
First Yellow Rose Edition, 2014
Print ISBN 978-1-62830-089-5
Digital ISBN 978-1-62830-090-1
Published in the United States of America
Other Books by Lynn Shurr
GOALS FOR A SINNER
WISH FOR A SINNER
LOVE LETTER FOR A SINNER
A TRASHY AFFAIR
For Elaine Grant,
who writes an excellent cowboy story herself.
But people like us don’t deserve true love
Renee Niles to Bodey Landrum,
Always Yellow Roses
by Lynn Shurr
Rainbow, Louisiana, 1982
Two teenaged boys with cowboy hats pulled low over their eyes sat slouched in their saddles at the edge of the live oak alley. The parade would begin anytime now. And here came the girls. Ranging in age from six to eighteen, all wore proper attire for English riding: tan jodhpurs, white blouse, tight knee-high boots, and a black velvet hard hat. Each small, feminine hand entwined with a rein. From delicate wrists, riding crops dangled. The young women rode fat ponies and placid geldings or nervous thoroughbreds in accordance with their skill and experience. They sat ramrod straight on tiny English saddles.
“Trot,” ordered the chunky nun wearing a practical short veil over her salt and pepper hair as she pressed her heels against the heaving sides of the black mare at the head of the column.
“Here we go, Bodey,” Russell Niles whispered lasciviously to his cooler companion. He tilted his old, gray Stetson back to take in a better view.
At the front of the column where the smallest students rode, some of the little girls’ bottoms met their saddles with a thwack as their ponies broke spontaneously into a trot without warning. The older riders out on their daily jaunt from Mt. Carmel Academy segued seamlessly into posting position, their thighs pumping, their sweet, young rear ends straining against the stretchy material of their riding pants.
Bodey Landrum grinned. One of the bolder girls, a redhead, turned and smiled as she passed.
“Hey, hey. That’s my cousin, Renee. You watch someone else’s backside, Bodey, and I do mean it.”
“Look at that one on the very end, Rusty. Her ass is like a perfect upside down valentine heart and that long braid down her back is an arrow pointing right at her crack.”
“Didn’t know you were a poet, Bodey.” Rusty took off his hat, exposing rumpled reddish-brown hair, and placed it over his heart. His ear to ear smile seemed to push all the freckles scattered across his cheeks into a line.
“Go on and mock me. I’m cuttin’ that one out of the herd. Just watch me.”
Bodey set his heels to his paint horse and cantered into a break in the line just in front of his intended quarry. Her small, dappled mare turned aside to avoid a collision, but the young woman soon had her mount straightened out and pointed back toward the line of horses disappearing over the crest of a small hill. The paint blocked the way again and turned the mare so closely Bodey was able to catch the bridle and stop horse and rider in their tracks.
“Let go!” She was going for her crop, no doubt about that.
“Simply wanted to make your acquaintance, miss. I’m Bodey Landrum.”
Bodey loosened his grip on the bridle and leaned back in the saddle so his Junior All-Around Rodeo Cowboy prize buckle caught the sunlight. He tipped his hat and gave Miss Fancy Pants a friendly smile. He stared deeply into her pale gray eyes and noted the blush rising along high cheekbones covered with soft, perfect skin.
Instead of admiring his own fine attributes, the young lady looked down her long, straight, patrician nose at the worn circle the snuff can made in his jeans. He didn’t dip. His mother said it was filthy habit. All the guys kept a can in their hip pocket for show, he told his mama. This girl glared at him like he had a lot of filthy habits.
“Sister Inez will be angry. I’m supposed to bring up the rear of the line in case any of the younger girls have trouble with their mounts. It’s a position of trust. Please let me pass!”
“In Texas, we call that eatin’ dust, honey. Worst job you can have on the trail. I wouldn’t be in any hurry to chase after someone who gave me a job like that. Besides, you haven’t told me your name.”
“There is no dust. It’s a perfectly beautiful spring day, and you are ruining it for me, you—you cowboy!”
If it were possible, the girl pulled herself even straighter in the saddle and tried to maneuver her mare around Bodey’s cutting horse. The paint headed her off again, this time pushing the dappled horse into the new spring grass lining the bridle path.
“It is a mighty pretty day,” Bodey said agreeably.
He removed his black hat with its silver concha band and dusted off the yellow oak pollen filtering from the trees and turning the air around them golden. Bodey ran a hand through his black hair, making sure he didn’t have hat head. He tried looking deeply into his chosen’s eyes again. His mama said his daddy could seduce a woman just by looking at her with his sparkling blue Irish eyes. She often said he had his daddy’s eyes. Putting two and two together, Miss Fancy Pants should be weak in the knees by now.
Her mare stretched a neck toward the lush grass. The rider pulled up the horse’s head. Seemed no one was going to have a good time today.
“If you tell me your name, I’ll let you pass,” he offered.
“Eve Burns. If you are a gentleman, you will let me go.”
Well, since she put it that way, he turned his horse aside and reined him in. Sweeping his hat across his chest, Bodey bowed in the saddle. “You’re free, Eve Burns, unharmed and untouched by manly hands.” He could sling words when he wanted.
The dappled mare took off as if spooked by a rattlesnake. No stately posting now, but Bodey still admired how the thick white-blonde French braid bounced against Eve’s backside, the little black bow on its tail flicking up and down like a whip. He walked his mount back to where Rusty waited for a report.
“What did she say? Do you have date?”
“Nope.” Bodey formed his free hand into the shape of a gun and pulled the trigger with his thumb. “She shot me down. I did get her name though, Eve Burns.”
“That’s good. I can call Cousin Renee and get the low down and dirty anytime you want. Right now, I’d like to get back to the party. Those rich dudes your stepfather invites over will tip me for bringing a drink or parking their car. I could use the cash.”
One reason why Bodey considered Russell Niles to be his best friend was that though Russ stood taller and favored big, red quarter horses he never made a man feel small—even after a humiliating failure like the non-seduction of Eve Burns.
The boys turned their mounts toward the two-lane blacktop running in front of the gates to Mount Carmel Academy. Riding away from the exclusive girls’ school, they prudently used the underpass beneath the interstate highway a couple of miles away and rode along the access on the other side passing the new subdivision built on Rusty’s uncle’s land and named Red Horse Acres by a canny realtor. Two iron horse heads, antiqued a rusty red and mounted on brick pillars, guarded the entrance to what were described in the promotional pamphlets as genteel country estates.
Farther down the road, the boys turned in at the open gates of the Three B’s Ranch with its glittering gilded insects attached to the wrought iron arch to signify someone grand like Napoleon resided there. At the stable, Rusty’s father took their horses and offered to do the rubdown. Ted Niles wasn’t much of one for parties and would avoid an appearance at the barbecue as long as he possibly could.
The boys, smelling of horse and male hormones, continued on to the big house sitting on top of one of the small rolling hills making up most of the acreage of the Three B’s. The mansion had the requisite white columns across the front, a swimming pool out back, and an artificial pond with gazebo at the bottom of the hill for fishing. Miles of white plank fencing separated the brood mares from the yearlings, the yearlings from the two studs in their private paddocks, and all of the livestock from the grand lawn surrounding the house.
Out by the pool, the party had gotten an early Friday start. The whole, headless pig, split and spread over the coals, still cooked. The porker’s head with an apple in its mouth and green grapes replacing the eyes sat collared in fancy purple cabbage leaves as the centerpiece on a nearby table. When the meat was ready, the table would groan under the weight of sides—slaw and beans, garlic bread, and foil-wrapped baked potatoes with a slew of toppings from sour cream to bacon bits.
Sitting on its own table, the long rectangular slab of the birthday cake frosted in white bore the airbrushed design of a cowboy on a bucking bull. Bodey’s mother had stuck two thick wax candles formed into a one and an eight in a corner so as not to mar the design. Beneath the deep icing, the cake was sure to be chocolate, her son’s favorite.
The boys slumped into a pair of canvas deck chairs close to a chip-and-dip set shaped like the state of Texas. The bowl of eye-watering hot salsa marked the location of Austin. Bodey and Rusty dug into the tortilla chips and barely got a mouthful down before Betsy Barnam caught them. “Go shower and put on something nice, son,” she ordered, kissing the top of Bodey’s head.
“Aw, Mom, it’s my birthday. Let me enjoy it!” Bodey protested, but he got up and moved toward the house.
Rusty Niles stayed seated. Bets wasn’t his mother and couldn’t order him around. Sometimes though, he missed his own mama so badly he wanted to cry, even so close to turning eighteen himself. Cancer was a terrible way to die, and his daddy had never gotten over watching helplessly as his wife wasted away. He’d lost her just as he’d lost the ranch.
Some emotion must have shown on his face because Bets turned toward her son’s friend, ruffled his hair, and said, “You go clean up, too, Rusty, and make yourself useful.”
Trying to look like he didn’t need mothering, Rusty stroked down the hair she’d mussed and rose slowly before he couldn’t help himself and gave Miss Bets a happy smile. “Sure thing, ma’am.”
As Rusty sauntered off, Betsy Barnum returned to the bar where Big Ben Barnum worked an industrial strength blender. When the noise of its motor lowered to a hum, Big Ben poured another round of potent margaritas into heavy, thick-stemmed green glasses blown in Mexico. His third wife picked up a drink with an unsalted rim. She loved his margaritas but couldn’t abide the salt. Her silver and turquoise jewelry clanked against her black silk shirt as she raised the glass.
“Everything set for the big surprise?” she asked Ben.
“The truck is hidden in the barn. Russ will bring it around. Then, we cut the cake. Nice work getting him to take Bodey over to the Academy to ogle Catholic schoolgirls while we snuck it in.”
“Wasn’t hard. It’s their regular Friday afternoon activity. The boys are ever hopeful of landing a date with those high class ladies.”
“Hasn’t happened yet.”
“Don’t think it will.”
“Well, I had to learn the hard way myself. I had me two high class wives and a heap of misery until you came along, Bets. There you were right under my nose all the time slinging hash at the diner.”