Hi dear Reader,
Welcome back for Chapter 4. You can read Chapter 1 Here!
By the time I’d changed into a pair of slacks and an unwrinkled blouse, I was running late. My car swung into the parking lot of the chapel. Several other cars were already there. Silhouettes of people flitted by the windows as I made my way inside. I slowly opened the door, silently praying not to be noticed.
“Finally, Katie is here.” Annie marched toward me and dragged me into the room.
All the eyes turned on me as heat flushed my face. I gave a small wave to the crowd. Luckily, everyone was busy getting ready for the ceremony run through.
“We are going to do a brief run-through. I want you to take some candid shots, but nothing too overboard and then we are going to Cowboy’s for dinner. You don’t have to come to that.” She said without taking a breath.
“Cowboy’s, the bar?” Really, a rehearsal dinner at the only bar in town? My eyebrow raised at her.
“It’s the only place in Sunnydale that serves food and my mom didn’t want to host people at our house.”
I nodded in understanding. “They do have some good food.”
“Alright, folks.” My daddy called from the front of the chapel, clapping his hands together. “Let’s get this show on the road. I’m sure you’re all hungry.”
Everyone cheered. Annie herded and directed people where she wanted them to go. Someone hit play on a stereo and an organ chord floated on the air. Annie stood in front like an orchestra director, waving at people. She cupped her hands over her mouth and shouted.
“Levi, bring Mom and Granny down the aisle."
All eyes turned to the back of the church where he stood with a woman on each arm. My throat tightened when his eyes searched for mine. He looked dashing in dark washed Wranglers, polished cowboy boots, and his hair was combed down. He led them down the aisle in a slow march. Granny was pushing ninety and shuffled very slowly. Her thick gray hair was tied into a bun at the base of her head and an ivory shawl covered her shoulders. Their mother was on his other arm. She stood a head shorter than Levi. She was wearing a silver dress that highlighted the silver highlights in her black waist-length hair she was beaming at Annie and Levi in turn. Annie and Levi had been raised by a single mom. Even though things were hard at times, they loved each other and it showed. My heart filled with love watching the exchange of the small family.
Once everyone was seated, the bridal party marched to the front of the chapel. After that, the rehearsal of the service went by quickly with Daddy saying a few words and Annie and Bobby responding in turn. Everyone clapped at the end just like at the real wedding. Bobby and Annie stared into each other’s eyes for a long moment but did not kiss. I snapped a few photos here and there but overall, I lost myself in the enjoyment of the occasion.
“Thank you so much.” Annie wrapped me into a hug. “It means so much to me to have everything documented. I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you.” She stepped back from me and gave me a once over. “You look beat. Why don’t you go home and spend some time with your family?”
I caught Levi watching me from over in the corner. His eyes burned with an intensity I hadn’t seen before. Suddenly, I was tired and needed some space.
“You’re right. I’m exhausted.” I faked a yawn and slipped out of the room before he made his way over to me.
I helped Mom and Granny into my truck to go to Cowboy's Bar. The cab was cozy with three people in the front seat, but it was nice. The women chatted about everything that still needed to be done and all of the plans for tomorrow. I was able to zone out and think about the woman with curly blond hair and curves in all the right places. The one that didn’t realize how special and talented she was.
“What are you smiling at?” Mom broke into my thoughts.
Granny tisked. “He’s daydreaming of the little Kisment girl. Any fool can see that.”
I rubbed my hand up the back of my neck as my ears burned. Leave it to Granny to see things as they were.
“She’s a cutie. And Annie is always raving about how good her photography is.” Mom checked her make-up in the mirror.
“We’re here.” I turned my truck into the gravel lot and pulled up to the door of the bar. A sigh left me as Mom and Granny climbed out.
“She’s a special one. Don’t break her heart.” Granny whispered before being led inside the bar.
Man, I couldn’t catch a break. I swung my truck around and found an empty spot in the back.
The bar was expecting us. Lindsay, the waitress, ushered us to a large room at the back of the bar away from the patron. We sat down at a long table and water glasses were placed in front of us. Lindsay came back a few minutes later to take our orders. She started at the head of the table where Annie and Bobby sat and went around. Mom, Granny, and I were last to place our orders. Today, she wore a black leather mini skirt, red tank top, and high-heeled boots that went up to her knees. Her blond hair twisted into a French braid that went down her back.
“Hi handsome, what would you like to eat today?” She placed her hand onto my shoulder and gently rubbed circles on my back.
I knew Lindsay for a long time. She just wasn't my type. She liked to flirt and wanted attention from any man. Every time I frequented at Cowboy's Bar, she tried and tried and tried to get me to interact with her. But the only blonde girl that I was interested in, was the one that was off-limits. The one that starred in my dreams at night and during the day. It didn’t matter what I was doing, I could be checking fence at the ranch and my thoughts would stray to Katie. I shrugged off her hand nonchalantly.
“A bacon burger and fries would be just fine, thank you.”
“Will do.” she winked at me before heading to the kitchen with her orders. I groaned inwardly, I wish she would take a hint.
Dinner went by fast with lots of laughing, lots of talking, and excitement about the wedding coming up. I hadn't spent a lot of time with Bobby's family. We both worked at the ranch together but his family flew in from California. They told stories about Bobby riding his horse in the mountains, crashing his first car, and skinny dipping at the school’s pool. They were great people and would be a welcome addition to our little family. It was just Annie, Mom, and me. Our dad disappeared several years ago when we were both little, leaving Mom to raise twins by herself. So little that we don't remember him, and Mom never mentioned why he left. She spent all of her time being a single mom working full-time and trying to make us happy. She sat with a big smile plastered on her face as she listened to Bobby's parents joke and laugh. But I knew, she was hurting inside that she didn’t have that. My heart broke for her.
As dinner came to a close, the sound of a steel guitar and drums floated through the open door. Annie and Bobby moved around the table thanking people and saying their goodnights. My boots tapped along with the tune the band played.
“Granny and I are heading out. Why don't you stay and have some fun with your sister and your new brother-in-law to be? Bobby’s parents are going to take us home.” Mom patted my hand and then got up to help Granny out of her chair. I placed a kiss on both of their cheeks.
“I’ll see you tomorrow. I love you.”
Mom squeezed my hand, a small smile spread across her lips. “I love you too.”
The band played country songs with a couple of guitars, a drum, and a fiddle. The crowd was on their feet stomping, swaying, and turning to the old country tunes. A line dance formed with hoots and hollers on the small sawdust-covered floor. I slid onto an empty barstool at the bar. Lindsay came up and set a full glass of beer in front of me.
“I get off in five. Will you still be here?” She batted her eyelashes at me.
“Planning on it.” I took a swig from my beer. The coldness shocked my mouth but felt good sliding down my throat, taking the distaste out of my mouth.
Lindsay moved on to the next customer to take their order. On the dance floor, Annie and Bobby were two-stepping around. He held her close and she beamed as they made their way around the line dance. They looked good together. Will I ever find someone that I’d feel that way about? Could Katie be the one for me? I took another pull of my beer. Bar stools on either side of me screeched as they were pulled out. My friends, Pete and Damien, sat on each side of me. Pete was an engineer at the factory in town. He’d just moved back to work his grandfather's ranch. Damien worked security for a big firm in San Antonio. He’d spent years in the military and he looked like it.
“Are you tired of working for the Kisments, yet?” Pete nodded to the bartender for a beer.
A laugh started deep in my belly and spilled out of my mouth. It was an ongoing joke between us.
“I could offer you a real good deal.” Pete sipped his beer.
“Really? What kind of deal can you offer me today?”
Pete scratched his head, looking like he was thinking hard. “I could pay you about a penny an hour. That's probably twice what you're making over at the ranch.”
A snort erupted from my throat. “Oh yeah, that's like three times what I'm making at the ranch.”
We both laughed. Every time I met Pete, he offered me a job but he had no money to pay me. It would still be several years before he got his ranch off of the ground. And, maybe just maybe, then he could afford to pay me to be his ranch manager. Damien shook his head at our exchange before drinking his beer.
A few minutes later, Lindsay approached. She nodded to Pete and Damien before turning to me. Pete and Lindsay have an on-again/off-again relationship. Obviously, they must be on the off tonight. She leaned in toward me.
“Cowboy, I'm done with my shift. About time you swung me around on that dance floor.”
I didn't feel like dancing, but when a pretty girl asks you to dance my mama taught me to tell them yes. I nodded to Damien and Pete before leading Lindsay out into the boot stopping crowd. The band switched to a fast country song. I swung her around and grasped her waist with one hand and led her into a quick two-step as we circled the dance floor. Lindsay was a pretty girl with her long hair and tight clothes but I found my mind wandering. What it would feel like to have Katie in my arms instead of her? We spun around and around for a couple more songs. As the crowd clapped when the band finished for their break, I stepped back from Lindsay's embrace.
“I’d better be going.” I faked a yawn and looked at my watch. “The sun comes up early on the ranch.” I tipped my hat to her. “Thank you for the dance.” I turned on my heel and headed toward the door. She grabbed my hand as I reached for the doorknob.
“I'll be more than happy to go with you,” she purred, “to keep your bed warm for you tonight.” She fluttered her big green eyes at me. “Come on, cowboy. I want to know if the rumors are true.”
“What rumors?” I narrowed my gaze at her.
“Oh, you know,” she winked.
Bile rose in my throat as my stomach clenched. A coldness crept into my voice as I flung her hand off of mine. “Those aren't true.”
I stalked to my truck, leaving her in the doorway of the bar. The cool night air slapped my cheeks and drove all thought of tonight from my mind. I climbed into my truck, heading back to the ranch, all the while thinking about the one blond girl that I didn't dance with tonight.
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Copyright © 2020 by Allie Bock
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