by J.D. Faver
If my title brings to mind a Willie Nelson song, then you might be a redneck, a country girl or a cowboy. I was raised on a farm in southwestern
Oklahoma and moved to as a teen. When I say a farm, I'm talking four sections of land on which my family farmed and ran beef cattle. For those not in the know, a section of land is 640 acres, so this was a sizable farm. In Texas however, the preferred term is "ranch", even if it's just a few acres. Texas
Of course, as a writer I call on every mega-byte of early memory to write about ranches, horses, and farming. The smell of horses, hay and fresh turned dirt is unforgettable. The taste of home-made biscuits with clover honey is not the same as those that come in a tube and have something out of a plastic bear squirted on them. Not the same. Likewise, the guys who go to the western wear store to get duded up for rodeo once a year are as close to real cowboys as the little plastic bear.
Yep, I'm quite fond of cowboys. They don't gush out flowery speeches. They play the cards close to their vests, but the real cowboy is a rare breed and definitely worth cultivating. Who do you picture in your mind when you think of a cowboy? John Wayne? Clint Eastwood? Tough guys with a tiny little soft core and a set of staunch values they would rather die than sacrifice. And if you're lucky enough to be the wife or sweetheart of one of those cowboys, you have yourself a real prize.
One of my favorite movies is Legends of the Fall, with Brad Pitt as Tristan, the younger brother who crossed the line and paid for it by banishing himself to a life of loneliness, living out in the wilderness. What a waste!
One of my first novels to be released was BADLANDS, which is set in the
Texas panhandle not too far across the state line from my roots. I like lots of conflict in my novels, and one of my favorite themes is opposites attract. My heroine, Cameron Carmichael, is a doctor from Oklahoma with a new license who inherits her great-aunt's humongous cattle ranch. The hero, Breckenridge T. Ryan, is a neighboring rancher who happens to also be the small town lawyer. So he's handling the estate and has the task of telling the heroine that she has to live on the ranch for a year to inherit. The following is a short excerpt in which Breck converses with his father after he has finagled an invitation to supper at the heroine's home. Houston
Breck was grinning when he got back to his ranch that afternoon.
His father was leaning back in his recliner, his usual position. “What’s going on, son? How come you’re smiling from ear to ear?”
“I’ve got a date, Dad.”
“A date?” Zachery Ryan drew back in mock amazement. “Who’d of thought? Is this someone I know?”
“I don’t think so. I’m going to dinner at Silky Carmichael’s house and I’m taking her great-niece to the Eagle’s hall for a little opportunity to polish my belt buckle.”
The elder Ryan raised his brows. “I think I met her one summer when she was a teenager. Pretty little thing, but shy. She wouldn’t say a word.” He pushed his glasses up on top of his head. “As I remember she was a mite skinny.”
Breck considered. “She may have filled out a bit since then, Dad. She’s slim, but she’s got some nice curves going for her now...How come I didn’t meet Silky’s niece before?”
Zachery frowned in recollection. “I think that was your freshman year at The University of Texas. You were doing two-a-days at that time.”
Breck ran his fingers through his hair. “I wouldn’t have noticed a teen-age girl back then anyway. My head was into football and making the grades.”
Zachery shook his head. “I think even you might have noticed this little one. She had the prettiest blue eyes, but she always looked so sad and lonely. Quiet as a mouse. Kind of tugged at my heart. Silky told me the girl’s parents had been killed in a car wreck and that she was seeing to the girl. I remember thinking, ‘What does a wild woman like Silky Carmichael know about raising a young girl?’”
Breck felt a pang of sympathy for Cami. Silky was a dear friend, an astute rancher and a local charmer, but he didn’t think her character was filled with warmth and compassion. She’d probably have done better fostering a boy. He figured the shy, sensitive girl left in her care hadn’t experienced much in the way of motherly love.
He headed for the shower, thinking that his imposed invitation to dinner hadn’t been exactly the smoothest thing he’d ever wrangled, but the important thing was that he’d have a good reason to be holding the enigmatic Cami Carmichael in his arms all night long.
And here's a little peek at the couple after dinner when Breck is driving her in his pick up through the small town to the Eagle's Hall where a live band will be performing.
Cami stared out the windshield, admiring the million stars flung across the black velvet sky. She realized how rare it was to see stars in
where the city lights outshone any display the heavens might offer. Houston
The town of
had closed up for the night. Only a convenience store, the Mexican restaurant and a steak house stayed open until ten. Otherwise, the businesses were darkened. Langston
The Eagle’s Hall was located on the far edge of town. When they pulled up, Cami saw that the unpaved parking area was filled with row after row of pickup trucks.
“I’ll let you out in front.” Breck idled by the wooden double doors at the entrance.
He leaned over her to swing her door open and she felt a surge of desire as his muscular torso pressed momentarily against her thighs. A rush of cold air gave her a much needed reality check. “Go on inside where it's warm,” he said.
Watching the truck drive away, she felt bereft. Suddenly shy, she was loath to walk inside by herself. They weren’t dating. They weren’t a couple. She shouldn’t have any attachment to Breckinridge T. Ryan at all.
“Hey, Miss Cami.”
She spun around to find Frank trudging toward her across the gravel parking lot.
“Frank! I didn’t know you’d be here.”
He flashed his dimpled grin. “I told you this was the place to be. Can I walk you inside?” He held out his arm to her.
She glanced around, but didn’t see Breck and decided not to brave the elements any longer. Taking Frank’s arm, she felt steely muscles under his jacket. She realized the brown-eyed boy escorting her was a full grown man of approximately her same age.
Entering the hall, she encountered a blast of heated air by the front door. She hurried inside and looked around. The lights were low and the band hadn’t yet mounted the raised stage. She was aware of a room full of people. Most were sitting at long tables ringing the dance floor. Others milled about visiting from group to group.
A small table was set up close to the entrance and Delta Ruth Peabody sat behind it with a roll of tickets in her hand. “Come right on in here, Doctor Carmichael,” she said. “Frank, are you dancing with your boss tonight?”
The door opened again with a rush of cold air and Breck appeared by her side.
“This one is mine.” He slapped some cash on the table and received two tickets in return.
Cami raised her eyebrows, meeting Frank’s amused expression with one of her own. She wasn’t sure if this was the time to remind Breck that she was most definitely not his.
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Bad Girls Need Love Too....