Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A summer afternoon

As summer winds its way to a close I always find myself panicking. Where did it go? Why didn't I do everything I was supposed to do this summer? Trips, exercise, household projects...

But then I realize I don't want to waste the last two weeks of summer being upset. Now that I'm into the getting-ready-for-school time crunch, what bits of summer I do have left become all the more valuable.

So for just a few minutes, sit back, relax, and enjoy a lazy summer moment with me.

This is from All the Way Back, a Wayback, Texas story out now from The Wild Rose Press.
(Click on the cover for more information)
The party went easier than Drew had had any right to expect. Most of that was due to Annie running interference for him. She’d barely left his side all afternoon, and she kept up a quiet stream of information, catching him up on who was who. The only problem he had was trying to keep his hands off her. What had she been thinking to wear that microscopic bathing suit? The emerald green bikini matched her eyes and hugged her like a second skin. The purple and green butterfly on her stomach taunted him all day long. The scrap of green and purple batik material she had tied around her hips did nothing to hide her full, lush curves. Every time she moved he caught a glimpse of her long, creamy thigh.

While Annie had taken some time to play with her niece and nephew in the pool, he’d spent a good bit of time talking to his neighbors, Logan and Riley. Both appeared to be sound men, ex-rodeo cowboys who were serious about ranching and crazy about their wives. They’d be good neighbors, he decided. And Hawk, at least, seemed as uncomfortable in a crowd as Drew was. It was kind of nice to be around someone else who’d clearly learned about life the hard way. Made Drew feel less like the only pit bull at a poodle convention.
He even managed to smile when the former mayor, Luc Fremont, who’d just moved to Austin, announced his engagement to pretty little hairdresser, Lili Marlene. The couple had come back for the party and to share their happy news. “And another one bites the dust,” Rafe whispered with a laugh. “Seems like there’s something in the air around Wayback these days.”
About four in the afternoon, the party began to break up. Everyone, it seemed, planned to head out to the rodeo arena for the evening.
“Can you give me a lift?” Annie asked as she stood and stretched. “My folks are leaving on their anniversary trip, so they’re going to skip the competition tonight. Henry and Maria are going back to the restaurant. Never mind that they’ve got a great staff; it about killed Dad and Henry to both take off the same Saturday afternoon. There’s no way those two control-monsters could both miss the Saturday dinner rush.”
“Rodeo?” he asked, in about the same tone he’d have probably said “dentist,” or even, “proctologist.”
Annie laughed. “Yeah, rodeo. It’s what we do in this town, so you might as well get used to it. Come on along. It’s fun.”
His brain was still stuck on the fact that her parents were leaving town for a few days. “Okay,” he agreed. “I can give you a ride, no problem.” He winced at the unintentional double-entendre, but fortunately, she didn’t seem to notice it.
“Great. I’m going to go in and get changed, then we can take off, if that’s okay.”
She untied the scarf that had been holding her hair at the nape of her neck and shook the heavy mass out. Drew wanted nothing more than to bury his hands in it.
“Buddy, you are toast,” muttered Rafe from beside him at the picnic table as Annie walked away. “Told you, there’s something in the air.”
“Look who’s talking,” Drew returned. He gestured toward the pool where Rita Mae, her more than generous cleavage hidden by a modest black swimsuit, was playing with Rafe’s little girls.
“Uh-huh,” Rafe agreed with a broad, happy grin. “I sure as hell hope so.”
Jesus, I’m surrounded by happy couples. Drew admired that, even envied it, but he knew it wasn’t in the cards for him. He’d seen too much, done too much, to ever be whole enough for a relationship like the ones he’d seen today. Annie’s parents were the shining example of that. They’d sat together on a porch swing holding hands all day long. The love they had for one another still shone like the sun, even after forty years.

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