Continued from last week's story...
I made my way into the rodeo grandstands, my Ariat boots thumping against the wooden planks of the walkway. As I scanned the bleachers, my heart beat kicked up a notch at the sight of all those pretty women who for just one night a year become full fledged cowgirls with their boots and hats and tight fitting jeans. There were wives and moms, school teachers and bank tellers, Sunday School teachers and beer drinkers scattered throughout the stands. Somewhere amongst the crowd, I was sure there would be a few single women keeping a sharp eye out for a cowboy or two. I strolled the length of the stands, my eyes continuing to scan the crowd as the rodeo announcer's voice boomed through the air.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the seventy-fifth annual rodeo! Let's all stand as our riders present the colors!"
I paused and placed my hat on my chest as what seemed like hundreds of horses and riders entered the arena. Old Glory and the Texas flag took center stage of the dusty arena as the Star Spangled Banner played. A prayer followed and with an 'amen' the announcer boomed,
The grandstand roared as the first gate opened and a bucking bronc lurched into the arena, a helpless cowboy clinging to a rope across the horse's back. I shook my head as the poor boy hit the dirt. I spun on my heel as I felt a pinch against my ribs.
"Jacy! You made it!"
"Yes!" her blue eyes flashing a smile, "This is my Dad."
"Oh, I've seen you down at the co-op," I smiled as I shook the old man's hand, "I never knew you were Jacy's dad!"
The three of us talked through the bareback competition and the calf roping, me finally excusing myself with,
"I hate to think of wading into those restrooms, but..." I tipped my hat to the two and turned toward a very long line at the far end of the stands.
Jacy grinned and hollered, "Look us up later!"
As I stepped out of the men's' room after a ten-minute wait, I felt a tap on my shoulder.
"See, I made it. Do I look cowgirl enough for a rodeo?" Her blue eyes glistening in the fading sunlight.
I allowed my eyes to wander the length of her and replied, "Oh yeah, you look like a bona fide cowgirl to me!"
We got caught up in conversation through the barrel races and I even missed the Mutton Busting competition. Vickie finally excused herself with,
"Well, I really, really need to pee! Look me up later!"
I paused at the concession stand, my parched mouth yearning for a bottled water. My mind pondered the prospects of dating Jacy Morrow or even Vickie the waitress as I stood patiently in the long line. Both were promising, I admitted to myself. Lost in my thoughts, I inadvertently brushed against the woman standing in front of me. She turned around and smiled. My eyes widened. The woman from the courthouse! The ravishing, blue-eyed blonde who had read my mind this morning now stood face to face with me. And...well, to make a long story short, I missed the bull riding.
I climbed into my truck and started her up, sitting patiently while the mass of other pickups and horse trailers began fighting for a place in a long line of headlights and dust. A text came:
'Where are you?"
"Waiting for you in my truck."
"There are hundreds of trucks out here!"
'Mine's the only one with the left blinker flashing."
Moments later, the passenger door opened and I smiled as those blue eyes flashed in the darkness.
"Okay, I found you finally! What now Cowboy?"
A full moon illuminated the glimmering water of the pond as we sat on the tailgate of my truck.
"You ever been skinny dipping?" I smiled slyly as I glanced at those blue eyes next to me.
'Not since I was eighteen," she giggled, "What are you suggesting?"
"Well, it is a beautiful night for a swim."
"Ew, in this water with fish and ducks and snakes? No, thanks!"
I laughed, "Can't be scared all your life!"
"I'm more of a hot tub and wine girl these days."
My common sense told me not to say it...don't say it!
"Well, I have a hot tub and there's a bottle of wine in the fridge."
An uncomfortable moment of silence passed as I mentally kicked myself for saying it.
Her blue eyes lit up as a grin flashed across her face.
"You can't be scared all your life, Cowboy!"
As the truck pulled onto the highway, a text came in.
"My goodness, look at all these texts you have on your phone! Popular guy, huh?"
"Aw, it's the cowboy image. Every woman thinks they want a cowboy until they get one!"
I felt her hand slide into mine and a warm, fuzzy feeling flowed through my body. I glanced over at her and smiled.
"You sure have pretty blue eyes. I really like blue-eyed cowgirls!"
As we cruised down the highway beneath the light of the moon, another text came in...and another...and another...