I’m writing this as I go. A real discipline on my part as I rarely finish the way I started. We’ll see. Oh–and there’s no chance this will ever be published because I forfeit that right by posting it here chapter by chapter. Just don’t leave me stranded!! 🙂
Trey used the strength of his shoulders to give a mighty heave and roll away from his assailant. As long as he could keep the guy on the ground maybe he’d have a chance. Arm pulled back for his next blow, he leaned to confront his attacker and came face to face with the stranger who’d bloodied his nose and left teeth marks on his wrist. Blue eyes loaded with anger met his in defiance, and a splatter of freckles adorned a nose much to pretty to punch.
This couldn’t be happening. Could it? “A girl? You mean I got knocked down by a girl?” Lord, please tell me Ben didn’t see this.
“No, mister. You ran over a lady. Kindly leave.”
“I question the lady part, ma’am.” He stuck his wrist in her face. “You bit me. Wildcats bite, dogs bite, ladies do not.”
She squared her shoulders. “You were on top of me, and I couldn’t breathe. I did what I had to do. Now, please go away. You’ve managed to draw a crowd.”
He wiped the blood off his face with the back of his hand and smeared it on the seat of his britches. This was downright humiliating. He spun on his heel to leave.
“Wait. You’re not going to let me just sit here are you?” She had her hands on her hips, and a multitude of packages were strewn about.
“You just told me to leave.” He wiped his nose again. Just like a woman not to know her own mind. She was a feisty thing, for sure. There she sat in the dirt with her skirt above her knees. Something white and lacy fluttered like a flag of surrender, but her expression signaled this was a good spot for a battle.
“A real gentleman would never have to be told what to do. Either you help me up or I’ll scream.”
“You scream all you want, ma’am.” He helped her to her feet. “ Just so you know, I didn’t try to knock you down. You weren’t lookin’ where you were goin’.”
“And how would you know where I was looking? You had your hands jammed in your pockets, kicking a rock like a schoolboy. You looked real grownup, I must say.” She gave her skirts a flip and planted her fists on her hips. “A gentleman would never blame a lady for such a predicament. And he would help her retrieve what she dropped because of his clumsiness.”
“Yeah, well I already told you I question the lady part.” He stooped to get the biggest package. “Hold out your arms so I can stack all this stuff again. You goin’ on a trip or plannin’ on being the fanciest lady in these parts? Never saw so many bundles of goods without a wagon to load ‘em in.” He dared a look at Ben and vowed it’d be the last ‘til he could give him a good punch.
Her shoulders heaved with a sigh. “Could you please not stack them so willy-nilly. If you’d start with the largest one they wouldn’t topple.”
He frowned, but wished he hadn’t. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw eyes so blue. Except maybe Chloe’s. But that was a long time ago. Besides that, these blue eyes were leakin’ all down her cheeks, and she wasn’t makin’ a noise. The least she could do was sniff or hiccup or something to let a fella know. “Guess it ain’t none of my business about all these packages. Didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, ma’am.”
She smiled through her tears, and his chest tightened. He finished stacking her purchases without further conversation. If only he could keep his mind on pilin’ on boxes instead of…of…
“Thank you. And just so you know—my feelings were hurt long before we bumped into one another. I do hope the rest of your day will be less uneventful.” She turned away.
Trey removed his hat. “Wait. Please don’t leave. I don’t even know your name.”
“SuAnna,” she called over her shoulder but didn’t slow her step and was soon lost among the crowd that began to disperse.
Ben ambled toward him, his grin as wide as his steps. “Well, my good friend. You sure have a way with women. Knock ‘em right off their feet.”
“And you had to see it, didn’t you?” He brushed his hand through his hair and put on his hat. “You have any luck finding a housekeeper?”
“Not yet. Was on my way to Lorna’s. Figured she know someone.” He laughed. “Don’t want to talk about her, do you?”
“Ain’t nothin’ to talk about.” But he’d sure be thinkin’ on her. Next to Chloe, he’d never had a girl who could make him all hot and cold at the same time.
SueAnna. Maybe Lorna would know her.