New story in the works (Yes, thank you, I am insane) Trying to make a December 1st deadline on this one for a Cowboy Anthology.
I grew up in Calgary, I should be able to write a Cowboy story, right?
And, yes, I do know how to ride a horse.
Copyright 2008 Viv Arend
Excerpt from Chapter One
(note- Jaxi currently 18, Travis 19, Blake 25)
Calgary Stampede, July
“Damn, are you sure you can’t last a little longer, Jaxi?” Travis looked away quickly but she’d spotted the disappointment in his eyes. The annoyance as well.
She leaned her head against the door of the stall, the familiar scent of the horses nearby doing nothing to ease the pain rippling through her head and gut. She felt like the bottom of the horse stall and there was no way she could just fake her way through anymore of the evening. “Travis, I’m sorry, but I have to go home.”
“But we’ve bought tickets for the grandstand show tonight, and—”
“Why are you two still here? I thought you were headed back out onto the fairgrounds. The showings are already done for all our stock.” Blake’s deep voice cut into her head, stilling part of the pounding. She opened her eyes and peered through the pain to see the concern in his eyes.
“Ahhh, Jaxi’s being a wuss and wants to cut out early.”
“Jaxi? A wuss? Get real, Travis.” Blake tugged on her arm and pulled her closer to him. There were other people walking past them, checking the animals on display in the livestock Pavilion of the Stampede Grounds. A low murmur of voices and the content sounds of the animals filled the oversized building. Blake’s hand rose to cover her forehead and she caught her breath.
In spite of feeling like a mule had kicked her, his touch had its usual effect on her. She dropped her eyes from his and bit her lip. He wasn’t supposed to be able to make her feel this way. She was going out with Travis and big brother Blake was firmly off limits.
“Damn, she’s burning up. Jaxi, why didn’t you say you weren’t feeling well? You guys could have come down another day. Stampede lasts until Sunday.” Blake’s face folded into a frown.
“Travis wanted to come today. And so did the others. I was fine until after lunch. I guess I should have just stayed home.” Jaxi said, wrapping her arms around herself to hold in the shivers that were threatening to surface. Pulling herself further from his body and the temptation to just lean into him and let him hold her close.
“Travis can take you home in my truck and I’ll stay and drive—”
“But I want to stay for the show. The whole gang is here and I don’t want to leave…” Travis’ voice trailed off. Blake had given him the head nod that meant he wanted to talk privately.
Jaxi sat down dizzily on a nearby bale, holding herself as still as possible in the hopes she’d be able to keep her stomach intact. Their voices quieted but she could still hear them clearly, even as Blake dragged Travis away from her down the length of the main barn of the Exhibition Grounds.
“She’s your girlfriend and she’s sick. I’d think that you’d want to take her home, not take off and hang with your friends. Come on, Travis, do the right thing for a change.”
“Hell, Blake, it’s just that… it’s the first time in a long time that all the rest of my friends have made it out for the Stampede, since a lot of them have been going to school and getting jobs here in Calgary. Plus things haven’t been so hot with Jaxi lately and… I was planning breaking up with her soon anyway… and it just seems like a pain in the butt for me to have to leave when everyone else is sticking around and having a good time and I have to go home and then not even get any…”
Jaxi bit her lip. So that was the other shoe dropping. Travis had enough of her not ‘putting out’ for him. Her stomach rolled.
Oh hell, she really was going to be sick. She stumbled over to the nearest empty stall, forced open the door and threw up on the dirty straw stacked in the back corner. If she was going to make a mess she’d be polite enough to do it where no one else would have extra work to do.
“Ah shit, she got sick,” Travis whined.
A solid thumping sound was followed by more complaining. “What the hell was that for, Blake?”
The contempt in Blake’s voice was thick enough to cut. “I pushed you because if I slugged you Ma would give me heck. At least until I explained why and I don’t want to have that conversation with her. Damn it, Travis, Jaxi’s sick and you’re whining about not getting any? You’re an ass.
“I’ll take her home, I have to drive some of the stock home anyway. You can drive the old pickup home after the show, there’s room for all your crew that come up with us to town. But, Travis, I’m warning you. You’re now designated driver. You drink more than one beer between now and getting home I’ll take you apart for more than being a shit to Jaxi.”
The soft sound of footsteps approached. The door of the stall swung open and Jaxi swayed slightly as she tried to wipe her mouth and stand up without falling back down. Blake was staring down at her from his six foot plus height, anger tingeing his face, but she knew she wasn’t the one that put it there.
He’d take care of her. Just like always.
“Ah, Jaxi. You’re always the one being strong, aren’t you? And it’s always Travis giving you shit. Come on, Slick, let’s get you home.”
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