Okay, This one has been burning in my brain for weeks. Fair warning, it’s going to take a little bit to get to the hot and steamy bits. I had originally thought it would be fast paced, but the Muse has other thoughts. So, bear with me!
Cat watched through the window. He stood there, felt cowboy hat angled to shade his face from the sun. His teeshirt was form fitted to his chest from the heat. His black jeans alternatively clung and creased to his legs, each fold highlighted with dust. She tried not to drool as he turned and she saw how the muscles rippled all the way down his back to his ass.
He scratched his beard and sat down next to his bags trying to take advantage of what little shade there was outside the diner. Cat wondered why he hadn’t come inside to keep cool. The bus wasn’t due for awhile.
“Whatcha looking at Cat?” asked Marty behind the counter.
“Nnothing,” Cat said startled.
“Nothing? Not even some fine hunk of man sitting out there in the heat cause he’s too proud?” Marty asked with a smile crossing her face.
“Huh?” asked Cat.
“He come in here an hour ago. Didn’t have money for anything more than a cup a coffee. When he finished it, I done told him he coulda stayed in the cool, but he didn’t want to take up space he said,” Marty finished.
“Oh. Who is he?” asked Cat.
“Curiosity like that is gonna kill you one day,” Marty teased.
“Oh shush! That was old when I was twelve. At forty-five it’s just daft,” said Cat. Her name was Catherine, but the only one who ever used that was her grandma who’d been dead for twenty years. Everyone else called her Cat.
“If’n I shush, you’ll haveta go out in the heat and ask him yerself,” said Marty.
“Okay, Fine. Tell me all you got out of him,” said Cat. Marty would have made the Inquisition proud of the way she got information out of just about anyone.
“His name is Nick, and he’s traveling because there isn’t any work. He’d been riding fence on a ranch and then that job went and after that, he’s done construction, road work and just about anything to put money in his pocket,” said Marty. “Oh, and he’s about your age.”
“Oh. Well, that kinda work explains the muscles,” said Cat.
“Explains that fine lookin’ ass, you mean,” teased Marty.
“Just shut up!” said Cat. There were times that Marty just plain exasperated her. Marty was twenty-five or thirty years older than she was, but acted like she was younger when it suited her.
Marty laughed. “You know, you could always hire the man, and seduce him,” Marty teased.
“Marty!” Cat said exasperated.
“You tell me without lying that you wouldn’t want that in your bed. It’s gotta be at least five years since whatshisface left town,” said Marty.
“What’s his faces name was Dennis. We divorced,” said Cat. It was still a touch subject with her. Dennis had cheated on her with every bitch in heat. She’d divorced him when he tried to kick her off her own property. He’d forgotten that little piece of paper she had him sign before the wedding. Prenuptial agreements are for more than just rich people.
“Fine. Get off your high horse and go hire the man. You need the help, he needs the job. And don’t even tell me you prefer a Battery Operated Boyfriend to a real man,” said Marty. She flicked the counter top with her bleach rag and headed for the kitchen.
Cat sighed. Marty was right. She needed the help. She could even pay for it. Bigger question though was could she jump over her own shadow long enough to ask him. Probably not. Granted, since he was waiting for the bus, she could out wait him and then he’d be gone. Problem solved. Cat went back to her chair by the window. Facing the cowboy of course.
Nick was hot. The coffee had evaporated from his body, but he couldn’t unbend enough to go in and sit in the cool of the diner and sip water while he waited for the bus. If it ever came. He’d been called thief and liar and while neither was true, he went out of his way to be honest. The woman in the diner had teased him about pride, and it was damn close to the truth. He prided himself on being honest and hardworking. Today that got him a place out on a dusty street corner waiting for a bus that might show up.
He felt like someone was watching him, and he slowly lowered his head so that he could turn his eyes back towards the diner. Maybe is was that woman from the diner. Slowly with his peripheral vision, he caught sight of a woman sitting at a table. Not the one from behind the counter, but someone new. She was watching him, or at least it looked that way. Didn’t seem to be bad looking, just tired. Nick checked his watch. 11:35am. The bus was due fairly soon. He’d called the bus company and they’d told him noon. He sat.
The phone rang and Marty picked it up. “Okay, thanks for letting me know,” was all she said and then hung up. She walked back out to the front of the diner and stood in front of Cat until Cat noticed her.
“What now Marty?” she asked.
“That was the bus company. No bus until next week. Some idjet blew an engine on the pass. Now why don’t you go out there and offer that man a job. He’ll need to eat and that ticket won’t buy him a glass of air,” Marty said.
“You go do it. I’m sure you have a kitchen that could use cleaning,” said Cat.
“Catherine Ann Pike! Don’t you ever tell me my kitchen is dirty,” Marty said.
“Sorry Martha, I wasn’t trying to insinuate that your kitchen was dirty. I was just thinking that you could use some help too,” said Cat quickly trying to make up for her screwup.
“Fine. I accept your apology. I’ll go back to calling you Cat and you can go back to calling me Marty. Now go out there and hire that poor man before he melts,” she said and headed back to her kitchen.
“Damnit!” said Cat. She knew she had lost that battle.
“Get out there!” Marty hollered from the kitchen.
Nick heard the door of the diner open and swore he could feel the cool air on his skin. He looked up to see the woman from the window walking towards him. “Now what?” he thought. She was short, sort of plump, and had the most captivating blue eyes he’d ever seen.
“Um… Hi. Marty said to tell you that the bus isn’t coming. It blew an engine on the pass, and there won’t be another one for about a week,” said the woman.
“Oh. Thanks,” he said. He stood up, shouldered his bag and started walking down the street. He got about ten yards down the road when he heard the woman holler.
“Hey! Wait a minute!” she called.
Nick turned and waited for her to catch up. “Yes?” he asked.
“I know you don’t have two pennies to rub together, because you left Marty a ten cent tip on the coffee. You don’t have a place to stay and there is nothing in town. However, because Marty is a pain in the ass when she’s right, I have need of a ranch hand if you’re willing. Room, board and wages to be negotiated,” she said all in a rush.
Nick smiled. “That woman is a force to be reckoned with,” he said stating the obvious. The woman in front of him might be as well.
“Yes, she is. She also thinks she’s my mother and yours, but I wouldn’t tell her that to her face,” said the woman. “My name is Cat. Catherine Pike,” she said holding out her hand. “Do you want a job, or do you like going hungry?”
“Ms. Pike, my name is Nick Davis, and I think I’d like to take you up on that offer,” he said. “Don’t know what in the hell I’m getting into, but…” he thought.
“Fine. Let’s go back to the diner. I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry,” said Cat. “What in the hell am I doing???” she thought.
“Ms. Pike, I’d love to have lunch, but as you mentioned before, I’m broke,” Nick admitted.
“I’ll pay for the lunch. Just think of it as one more meal of my cooking you don’t have to eat,” she said. “Oh, and call me Cat. Ms. Pike is for legal papers and lawyers.”
“Okay, Cat,” he said and followed her back to the diner.
Marty smiled as she saw them walk back towards the diner. She went and got two specials from the kitchen and had them on the counter by the time they walked in. Marty put tall glasses of iced tea down in front of them as they sat down.
“Geeze, no choices today?” Cat teased Marty.
“Not for the likes of you,” Marty teased back.
Nick just looked from one woman to the other. He wasn’t a picky eater, and chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and white gravy was just as good as anything else. There were even green beans lurking under the gravy.
“You’ll have to pardon us Nick. Cat here has been having this for lunch on Tuesdays for as long as I can remember,” said Marty.
“She did mention something about not being a good cook. Is this self preservation or that she just likes your cooking?” asked Nick.
“If’n she’d stay in the kitchen for five minutes, she’da learned to cook ages ago,” said Marty. “Instead, she’d rather be outside. Probably safer for all of us if she just stayed that way.”
“Okay, if I want this kind of abuse, I can always go find Whatshisname,” said Cat around a bite of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Marty laughed, having gotten the result she wanted and headed back to the kitchen.
Nick looked at Cat who was eating methodically. “You two always like this?” he asked out of curiosity.
“Yeah. Ever since I blacked her Bobby’s eye when we were three. Mom raised Bobby and Marty raised me. It worked,” said Cat. “Mom wanted a girl and Marty wanted a boy. Each got what they wanted.”
Nick thought about this for a minute. “And who’s Whatshisname?” he asked.
“My not nearly departed enough ex,” said Cat.
“Oh. Okay,” said Nick. “So, Cat’s a handful, Bobby is gay and no one likes the ex husband. Fun…” he thought.
They finished their lunch in relative quiet and Cat carried the plates back to the kitchen when they were done.
“Bye Marty!” she called towards the store room where thumps and clangs were to be heard.
“Bye!” Marty hollered back.
They walked out into the hot afternoon sun. Nick had his bag over his shoulder and Cat pulled a set of keys out of her pocket. She passed three or four pickups and then turned a corner. Nick was beginning to think that they were walking to this ranch of hers. Then he saw her truck. It was an old 1940′s Ford half ton pickup with the slat extensions coming out of the bed.
“Throw your bag in the back and climb in,” Cat said.
Nick did as she asked.
Cat started the engine, which was a little rough, but not bad. The interior was dusty and the glass pitted, but otherwise it was a thing of beauty. Cat smiled at him as she pulled out onto the street and headed out of town.
“Like my truck eh?” she asked.
“Yes. This is a beaut,” Nick said. “I love old machinery that works.”
“Well then you’ll like most things on the ranch. Grandpa and Dad never threw anything away. Good too, as I use most of it, like this truck,” she said.
Nick nodded and watched the scenery go by and trying to keep track of where they were going. Last thing he wanted was to be lost up in the mountains.