The Cowboy Way(6)

By: Anna Alexander

Or else he was horrible when it came to finances and they were deep in the hole. Please let him be a ranching genius.

He couldn’t resist walking up to the silver monster and brushing some of the dust off of the emblem with his shirttail.

“That man and his truck.” Greta laughed.

Mark chuckled with her. “Hey, I’m going to make a call into the hands. Do you need anything?”

Trey might have been enthralled with his truck, but he caught the meaningful look Mark leveled at Greta.

“No. I think we’re okay. You will be by for dinner, right?” There was a quiver in her voice.

“Sure, sure. I’ll be by in a few.” He held his hand out to Trey. After they shook, Mark pulled him in for a two-slap pat on his uninjured shoulder. “Good to have you back, Hoss.”

“Good to be back.”

The statement was true. It was good. He was back on his land with his best friend and a beautiful woman by his side. What more did he need?

Oh right, his memory.

“Ready to go inside, or should I give you two some time to get reacquainted?” She looked from him to the truck with a questioning quirk of her brow.

He liked her sense of humor. “I think she’ll survive without me for a little bit.”

Trey followed Greta through the garage and into the cool interior of the house. The ground floor was laid out to flow in a circular pattern. He knew that if he turned to his right, the hallway led to the living room. A left in there led down the hall past his office, then onto the dining room, the kitchen, and finally back to the garage. All right. One more memory down. He was on a roll.

“Feel familiar?” Greta asked when they reached the foyer.

“Yeah, it does.” And again, it didn’t.

The white walls and dark wood trim were the same from his childhood, but the furniture was much more modern with leather couches and a flat screen TV. While the room was beautiful, it felt more like a showroom. Cold, informal, and quiet. Museum quiet.

“I don’t see how we manage to keep the living room looking so nice when it must get destroyed when the hands come over for Monday Night Football.”

“Ah, yeah. Well, they haven’t done that in a long while. Come on, I’ll show you what we’ve done upstairs since we’ve been married.”

What? No Monday Night Football? When he was a kid, Monday had been his favorite night of the week, sitting by his dad’s chair, brushing potato chips out of his hair and screaming at the television when those SOB Broncos stopped the Hawks. It had been on a Super Bowl Sunday that he and Mark had their first beer. Boy had his mom been pissed when she found out his dad had been the one to give the eighteen year-olds a bottle to share.

He frowned at Greta’s back as he followed her up the stairs. Maybe she wasn’t a sports fan and the weekly revelry had moved to one of the bunkhouses. That was the only logical explanation.

“This is where I work,” Greta said as she ushered him into one of the bedrooms.

Two long tables with racks of small trays underneath met in the far corner. Beads in various colors and sizes lay scattered across the surface besides pliers and spools of fine wire. Along the opposite wall was a day bed heaped with pillows.

“I make jewelry.” She gestured with quiet pride to a necklace sitting on display that appeared to be in mid-production. The blue and silver beads sparkled in the sunlight spilling in through the window.

“That’s beautiful,” he marveled. “Where did you get all of the beads?” He picked up an earring made with blood red teardrops. He imagined Greta wearing the jewelry and nothing else. The image of the bright color lying against her delicate neck made him clear his throat.

“I make them.” She stood near the door with her hands tucked into her back pockets. She shifted from one foot to the other.

“Really? Wow. That’s amazing.” The intricate knot work in the wire and the shapes of the pieces of glass showed off her talent. “I’ve never met anyone who’s artistic before. Well, except you, of course.”

“I know.” Her chuckle seemed to suggest she was laughing at a private joke. “Come on.” She jerked her head toward the door. She led him to the room at the end of the hall. “And here is the bedroom.”

He noticed that she hadn’t said “our room,” but he kept his mouth shut.

A big bed took up the middle of the white-walled room. The worn quilt and the fluffy pillows looked inviting. He was half tempted to ask Greta to take a nap with him, but took another glance around.

Strong lines, tidy, nothing fancy. The room even smelled familiar. Musky with a hint of the spicy aftershave he’d been wearing since he was in high school.

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