In my WIP, a cowboy romance, I’ve written a scene that I don’t know if it works. Is the heroine being unrealistic and a real butt? He owns the ranch where she works. They made love one night. The next, a tall blonde from his past shows up and Trish thinks, well, we all know what she thinks. She and an expensive horse have been caught out in a bad thunderstorm, so Help, please: Is she being unrealistic, stupid, or a butt?
“It’s a gutter washer, as your buddy Charlie called it. He’s very worried about you, Trish. He rode south.”
“How about you? Are you worried about me?”
“I wouldn’t be standing here in this balmy little sprinkle if I weren’t.”
‘God, I’m starved. I don’t suppose you have servants back there in the darkness with a four-course meal or something.”
He fished in his pocket. “How about some fine cheese crackers as a starter, ma’am?”
“You are a lifesaver, Ash McGowan.” She took the crackers and tiptoed to brush a kiss to his cheek, tore open the package, and stuffed half of one in her mouth.
“I don’t want to interrupt your gourmet meal, but let’s get going.” He stroked her sodden hair. “We’re not going to get any drier out here. Anyway, your crackers will get wet.”
“We’re not going to get any wetter either.” She stuffed the packet into her pocket.
“Oh, yes, your crackers will stay dry in your pocket,” he joked.
“Wise ass.” She grabbed the strap of his riding hat, pulling him down into a searing kiss. When she took her mouth off his, he was aroused and stunned by the intensity of his feelings. She nuzzled her face against the crook of his shoulder, her lips brushing his neck.
They stood lost in each other, with the water sluicing off them, until lightning struck a sapling by the creek. The horses jumped, started, and hit the end of their tethers. Suddenly, the lovers were in a battle to keep from walking home. When they’d calmed their mounts with whispers and soft touches, Ash captured Trish’s gaze.
“Ride with me. Pomegranate is steady as a rock. We’ll lead the young fellow,” he said.
She bristled immediately. “I can control him.”
“I’ve never questioned that fact, but one misstep and you could both go down.” He stroked her cheek. “I wouldn’t want you hurt.”
“I wouldn’t want me hurt either.” She puckered her lips and squeezed her eyes shut, looking like a little girl waiting for a peck of a kiss.
He obliged but not as a man would kiss a child, and she responded by locking her arms around his neck and kissing him until he was hard and throbbing.
She bounced back, slid the halter over Dusty’s head, and waited for Ash to mount.
He shook his head, spraying water into his eyes. “You drive. If Dusty bolts, I’m a bit stronger to hold on to him. No offense meant.”
She laughed as she strung Pomegranate’s reins over his head. “No offense taken.” Placing her foot in the stirrup, she seemed to gracefully appear in the saddle, offering him her hand.
“Hold on.” He went to the rear and lightly vaulted onto the horse’s rump—a stocky Quarter horse, sliding an arm around her waist for balance—and in the likely event Dusty was spooked.
“Happy trails to you,” she sang the old Roy Rogers’ theme song. “Until we meet again. Happy trails to you. Keep smiling on ‘til then.”
“We’re not saying goodbye to anyone, are we?” He gave her a quick, one-armed squeeze.
“I don’t know. Are we?”
“What do you mean?”
“If your blonde girlfriend is staying, you’ll only see me in the barn as usual. Be damned if the snooty, stupid bitch will run me away from my job.”
“Trish, you’ve got this all wrong.” He kissed the back of her head.
“Do tell, Ash McGowan, the English cowboy.” She laughed, the sound swallowed by a volley of rain and thunder. “That’s what people are calling you, you know?”
When had she done a lightning switch from grateful kisses to sarcastic attacks?
“I suppose I am. As to Dorothy staying, she’s informed me she’s staying a month. I’d appreciate it if you’d be around to help me fend her off.”
“Poor Ash. Women just fall all over him.” A long silence dragged, filled only by the storm, which seemed to abate as the tension between them escalated.
“I can see this is going nowhere.” He blew out a frustrated sigh. “Trish, be reasonable. I didn’t invite the woman. She just showed up on my doorstep, but I can’t be rude to a guest in my home.”
“Happy trails to you until we meet again,” she sang but there was something different about her voice this time.
Maybe she sang around the lump in his throat. He hadn’t cried since he was twelve. He wasn’t about to start now. Trish was being unreasonable. Or was she? How would he feel if the tables were turned? Pretty bloody well used.
“You shouldn’t have done it, Ash,” she said, her voice scarcely discernible above the storm. “You just shouldn’t have done it.”