After showering, more coffee and making sure we had everything we needed for winter I had time to do some scouting around the property and maybe go fishing. I put on my favorite black hiking boots, black leather trench coat, and slid my gun into the back waist of my jeans. I’m not overly fond of guns but I know how to shoot and can hit whatever I need to. On the way out the door I picked up my fishing supplies and my camera.
“Come on Killer, we’re going out.” He yawned big and gave me his “you’re crazy” look before ambling out the door.
Rose’s jeep sat in her driveway when we passed her house. Since I didn’t feel up to talking to her anymore we went straight to the barn and surprised Pumpkin. The poor cat didn’t have a chance to take two steps before Killer pounced, putting one huge paw on her. She rolled onto her back, attempting to play dead, while he sniffed her everywhere before starting to give her a bath. I laughed and watched them for a minute. I was pretty sure the cat wanted to die out of humiliation and the “please help me” glare on her face was priceless.
I left Pumpkin to fend for herself and wandered to the stalls, wondering briefly when I would meet Max and Chase. I rubbed Aces nose. I love Lightning, but she’s a poke like Killer. Ace’s stance showed the power he carried in the muscles of his legs. I’d bet he could run fast, and I might need a fast horse while I scouted the woods. I weighted the consequences of borrowing Ace before deciding I’d take my chances with Lightning.
With Lightning saddled up I called Killer. He took his paw off Pumpkin and left her drenched in his dog slobber.
“At least you didn’t get swallowed whole.” I told her, laughing again. The cat gave me the evil eye and bounded up to her shelf.
We spent two hours making a loop around my property, looking for any kind of evidence a lunatic resided on my land and came up empty handed. I hadn’t been spooked since last night, so we decided to stop at the stream and go fishing. While we were kicking it, waiting for the fish to bite, I secretly hoped they wouldn’t, because Yuk, I hated gutting fish, I thought about the property next to mine. We’d passed the bridge to my neighbor’s a short ways back and I decided I wanted to cross the river and scout that area in the morning.
Either I was losing my mind or something planted itself on my land. I was rooting for the later.
My eye lids drifted closed. The warmth of the sun beat down on my face and I began to relax. Within a few short minutes the awareness of eyes on me pin-pricked my senses. I glanced around with my lids still at half mast, slowly I put down my pole, took a deep breath and concentrated on which direction the vigilant energy was coming from. I jumped up and turned in the direction of the bridge in one fluid movement with my gun drawn.
A drop dead gorgeous guy sat on top of Ace grinning at me. My blood began to boil with just the thought of him spying on me. I stepped forward, ready to march right up to him and give him a piece of my mind when I caught something in my peripheral vision flashing through the bushes. My heart stopped beating for a second, tingling assaulted my skin, causing every strand of hair on my arms to rise. I spun around and slowly turned in a circle with my gun drawn. There was nothing there. I returned my attention to the horse and rider, most likely Max. He had disappeared too. Dropping my arms I heaved a sigh. Something was definitely haunting me, I just needed to figure out what.
I packed up and hopped onto Lightning’s back. I placed my gun in my pocket for easier excess and trotted Lightning back to my place, keeping my eyes open for anything and everything that moved around me.
When we reached the barn I unloaded Lightning’s saddle and harness, brushed her down, fed her and hiked up to Rose’s house. I left Killer at the stairs, he still wasn’t brave enough to pass through all of the do-dads on her deck. I banged on her door. The door swung open as Rose stepped out.
“Hi,” Rose said, a little bit surprised I stood on her front porch, “let’s sit in the chairs around back. It’s gonna be cold real soon, so we might as well enjoy these last few days of warmth.”
We sat down, enjoying the view for a few minutes. This was another reason I moved up here. The sun sat low in the sky creating an incredible sunset of pastel pinks and lavender colors. Soon the stars would be out and up here in mountains the universe seemed close enough to touch.
I took a second to scan the landscape for anything out of the ordinary.
“What’s up?” asked Rose. “You’re starting to creep me out.”
Great! I’m starting to creep Rose out and there’s something out there more threatening. Go figure.
“I need more information on Max. What does he look like? What does he do?”
Rose laughed. “Did you finally meet him?”
“Maybe,” in a roundabout way, I thought to myself.
“Well he’s a handsome young man, probably a few years older than you and he’s very nice.”
“Describe him for me please.”
Rose sighed, “Max is tall, dark and handsome. He’s got black hair and intense gray eyes.”
She blushed, “I wasn’t really checking him out you know. I kinda got a man.”
I smiled. “I thought you might have something with Bear. What does Max do?”
“Yeah,” Rose said all dreamy eyed, “I really like Bear.” She glanced at me. “Max said he worked for the government, but that’s all. Anymore questions I have a date tonight.”
“One more then I’ll let you go. Have you noticed anything strange happening around here?”
“No, everything’s fine. Are you all right?”
I smiled, glad Rose wasn’t bothered by the weirdness that was throwing me off kilter.
“Yeah, probably just culture shock. Do me a favor Rose and be careful if you’re coming in at night. There are bears, coyotes, mountain lions, and all kinds of wild animals up here.”
“Don’t worry about me,” she laughed, “and don’t forget about Max’s wolves. His wolves might be what’s making you nervous.”
I’d forgotten about the wolves, besides my gut told me animals weren’t the problem. And I didn’t think Max was the watcher I felt either. I exhaled a deep breath. I would figure out who was watching me. I had to be patient.
“Have fun tonight.” I said standing up.
Rose blushed again. “I will.” She hurried back inside.
I went home, started a fire, and rummaged in the cabinet for some Oreo cookies.
“I’m getting in the bath,” I told Killer as I checked my doors to make sure they stayed secure. I carried my gun, cookies and some water, I don’t like milk much, up to the bathroom and settled into relax mode. I left the tub looking like a prune, put my robe on, and found some warm fluffy socks. Time to get down to business, I grabbed my laptop and went back downstairs. I hoped to find some geographical maps of my property and my neighbor’s.
I didn’t get far. As a matter of fact, I stretched out on the couch, turned on the TV, and lights out Montana.
When I woke up stiff again I started thinking about bringing my bed downstairs, I mean what’s the use of having a one if I didn’t even sleep in it. I stretched, worked out some of the kinks in my muscles and smelled coffee. At once I opened my eyes and reached for my gun, which, of course, sat on the counter in the bathroom. Probably a good thing I thought, I’m sure it’s just Rose, after all she’s the only one with the extra key to my house. But I didn’t sense Rose. I threw my legs over the couch and limped toward the kitchen. That’s when I wished I had my gun.
This is ridiculous, I thought as I glared at Killer and poured myself some coffee. Max sat comfortably at my table, smiling at me, looking hot, and drinking my coffee. If I’d had my gun on me I’m sure the threat of seeing it would have forced him out of my house quicker.
“I was going to make you breakfast, but I didn’t find any eggs or bacon in your refrigerator, only protein drinks.”
“You must be Max. How did you get in?”
“Trade secret,” he held out his hand for me to shake, “and you must be Montana.”
I glanced at his hand, glared at Killer again, and sat down across from him.
Killer wagged his tail and grinned as if to say “everything’s good.”
“What do you want?” I said, trying to glare at Mr. tall, dark and handsome.
I’m not sure the glare had the effect I wanted it to have. My blood rushed to my ears and my heart tried to leap out of my chest. My reaction to his sexiness set me on edge and to top it off I sat at the table in only my robe and my socks.
Max was one of those guys you admire from a distance. The hot boy next door, the one who’s friendly, but already taken. I’ve known a few in my lifetime.
His shoulder length black hair lit up with a blue tint when the rays of sun peeked through the window. I wanted to brush my fingers through his hair.
I chuckled under my breath, I needed to brush my fingers through my own hair and wash my face. I didn’t want to imagine what I looked like this morning, after sleeping on the couch.
I watched as his lean muscles flex under his clothes with the slightest of movements. My stomach tightened a notch. I gazed into his steel gray eyes and became entranced with the blue specks in them. He’s taller than me, at least 5’9 or more, I couldn’t tell, because we were sitting down, and he’s a couple years older than me. I sat back in my chair as far as I could. I’d have to keep at least a ten foot distance from him, if not more.
“I wanted to introduce myself over breakfast.”
“I don’t eat breakfast. Are you married?” I couldn’t believe that just came out of my mouth.
“Do you have a girlfriend?” Damn, I did it again.
Max’s smile grew “No.”
I stood up pointing to the door. “Get out.”
Max stood up, still smiling, and raised an eyebrow. “I’ll go, but I’m coming back in a few hours. We’ll meet for lunch. That will give you enough time to wake up and get dressed.”
I gazed up at him. Max was taller than I originally thought, somewhere around 6’1 or 6’2. He towered over me.
Max gave Killer a scratch behind the ears, squatted down face to face with him and told him he was a good boy.
“What’s your dog’s name?”
He laughed, “I love it.”
I locked the door behind him, went upstairs, put on some sweats, and grabbed my gun. A good workout was in order, guys like him; especially single made me nervous. They knew they were hot and used it to their advantage. I found a DVD with a lot of punching and kicking, and proceeded to get rid of some of my anger. No way was I going to meet him for lunch or anything else. I pictured a moth being drawn to a flame, saw me as the moth, and started punching harder.
I finished with my workout exhausted and sore. I wanted a nap, but had to shower and leave before Max returned. Maybe he would get the hint and stay away if I wasn’t home.
I threw on my clothes and make-up in no time. I never got the chance to get my map, so I would have to wing the scouting trip. I lit a cigarette and peeked in my fridge. Hmm… protein drinks, I took out two along with a bottle of water before searching my cabinets for food, trail mix, granola bars, and Oreos. I ate an Oreo while stuffing more in a bag with some trail mix, and a couple of granola bars. I needed to go shopping
“Come on Fluffy,” I said to Killer, he whimpered. I still held on to some anger at him for letting Max in. “If I didn’t love you I’d consider trading you in for a real guard dog.” I glanced at him again and laughed. “Stop pouting, it’s not going to work.”
I marched down to the barn with Killer still sulking beside me.
“You stay here Killer, I’ll be right out, besides I’m sure Pumpkin has a big enough complex from yesterday.”
Ace’s stall stood empty, so I quickly saddled Lightning, led her out of the barn, and ran right into Max. I cursed under my breath. He sat tall on Ace and they both looked magnificent. Ace with his sleek white hair glistening in the sun and Max with his black hair, sunglasses, and black leather jacket contrasted perfectly. Max’s blue jeans hugged his legs just enough to show his well defined muscles. I quickly mounted Lightning. Once I obtained a better eye level with Max I tried to figure out what to do.
“Nice day for a ride.” he said grinning.
“I figured I’d have enough time to exercise Lightning before lunch.” Liar. I hated lying, but I also felt the need to be nice to Max.
“You weren’t planning on meeting me for lunch, so what are you plans?”
“You can’t prove that. I think we should cancel anyway, I’d like to check out my property and enjoy the weather before it snows.”
“I’ll join you.”
He was enjoying this way too much, he was smiling way too much, and I was starting to get crankier. I suddenly felt like I was a magnet for strays.
“I’m sure you have better things to do then follow me around.”
“Nope, nothing I can think of.” His Cheshire cat grin showed his perfect white teeth.