This is a long story, written as one piece, so I'm choosing to post it in one submission. There are actually only two sex scenes within a short period of time, but that means, of course, that the remainder of the story is not filled with that kind of content. Read as you like. The story reads better as one piece, rather than chapters.
A very heartfelt Thank You to ErikThread for his fabulous editing. His skills make your reading pleasure better. If you find errors, it's because I messed with the story after he worked on it.
"What the hell kind of name is Shalane?"
"It's just a name, Angus. Who the fuck cares what it means? Shalane, that's what Prissy said. All I care is that she's a redhead."
Although he was generally a silent man, Angus responded to Billy, "Okay man, okay. Don't get pissed at me 'cause your girl wants you to wear a suit. Look at me. I haven't had on a tie this tight since the last time I went to a funeral."
"Don't give me that shit, big man. I know what goes in your suitcase when you go out of town."
Angus growled, a fairly good imitation of the bear to which his personality was frequently compared. His few words reminded his friend, "You keep your trap shut, Billy."
"Yes, sir, 'Doctor' McCall, indeed I will."
The additional warning was clear in the tone of voice Angus used, "Billy."
Angus kept his non-ranch activities very private. That he was educated, no one doubted, although most people would have expected his education to be in a subject that benefited him as the owner of a large, very productive ranch. That his education was extensive enough to earn him a doctorate was something he kept rather quiet. His absences from the ranch were given little attention, even by those who lived there and worked for him. He was a private man. The ranch was enough distance from the city that he and the permanent employees who lived there did not feel they were residents of the city.
Billy's eyes may have twinkled when he did it, but he used his thumb and forefinger to pull the tab of an imaginary zipper across his lips. He likely did not understand Angus's absences had anything to do with insomnia. Billy had no problems with his sleep, nor would he have cared that anyone else had a problem. However, that did not prevent Billy from asking, "And tell me, why the hell are we going to this Valentine's Dance in a truck?"
Angus looked around the inside of his truck. The rubber mats on the floor were clean -- at least, mostly clean. The long bench seat wasn't ripped and the windows weren't too dirty to see through. "What's wrong with my truck?"
"Nothing Angus, absolutely nothing is wrong with it," Billy sneered and added, "Nothing that a new one wouldn't cure."
"I got a new car at home and I like this truck," Angus added, defending his choice of vehicles. "Get off my case or I'll leave you at Prissy's house and go back home."
"You wouldn't dare."
"Try me, asshole. This wasn't my idea."
Billy did not comment on the threat Angus issued; instead he easily changed the subject. "And don't forget to have Jose pick me up tomorrow when he takes Maria to church."
The two men continued their conversation, although if a stranger had heard them, he would not have thought the men were friends, much less very good friends who were employer and employee and had known each other their entire lives. Billy's comments often took some time and required his listener to have patience while other subjects were mentioned. From Angus, comments or responses were often one or two well-chosen words, spoken in the deep rumble of his bass voice. Part of their conversation concerned the weather and the occasional flash of lightning in the western sky toward which they were travelling. Several of their comments and questions involved the animals on the farm and what to do if the storm came nearer.
After one particularly brilliant flash, still a long way off, Billy asked, "Is that thing gonna soak us?"
"We could use some," Angus muttered. "Last I heard though, it's gonna stay well to the west."
Meanwhile, at their destination two women were frantically rushing through their final moments dressing for the event. Prissy had spent months planning, scheduling, and making telephone calls. The last few days involved executing those plans. Early today was devoted to last-minute decorations she added to their meeting facility, turning it from a hollow-sounding display hall to a softly lit, attractive nightclub. Perhaps as many as one hundred couples would spend that Saturday evening eating finger foods, drinking adult beverages, chatting with friends, and dancing.
Prissy was almost 40 years old and still very attractive, but she had to work hard to keep herself that way. She was short, had a very full figure and only her hairdresser knew she wasn't a natural blonde, at least that's what she thought. She was so obsessed with appearing to be blonde she had some very expensive and painful electrolysis treatments to remove any trace of her pubic hair. Billy had made a number of comments about her bald pussy, only some of which were complimentary.
For mid-February dances of previous years, no one had gone to the trouble to do much more than set a date, hire a band, and call a caterer. This year was going to be different. Priscilla Roundtree, affectionately known as Prissy, was the current chairperson of the Annual Valentine's Day Sweetheart Dance. She intended to use the success of the evening's festivities to launch her campaign for presidency of the Young Women In Business Association. While women fought to join primarily male organizations, there did not seem to be any male members, or even any applications from males, wanting to join YWIB.
One club member was married to a moderately successful talent agent. At her instigation, he had prevailed upon three of his clients to bring their newest adult comedy routines for a tryout before this discerning crowd.
The other woman rushing to be dressed in her finery before the men arrived was not similar to the wannabe club president. Almost ten years younger, in her own right and in her own sphere she was just as strong, as personable, and as organized, yet to many she was a mystery. As the few people who knew her would express it, "Oh well, that's Shalane." Whatever the "that" meant, it was appropriate for any situation when the speaker was unable to place a label on such an enigmatic woman.
"Shalane, help me" Prissy called from her bedroom where she stood in front of a full length mirror. "Look at this dress. Something is wrong with the front here."
Shalane stood at the doorway and suggested, "Take off your bra."
"WHAT! I cain't go without ma bra." Only because she was so startled did Prissy's voice sound like the natural heavy southern accent of her birth. Prissy would normally have used her more polished and practiced business tone.
"Why not?" Shalane questioned. "The only one who will know is Billy when he holds you and I assure you he will enjoy it. Besides, from what you've said, he already knows what those boobs feel like."
Prissy's next few words displayed her cultured professional tone, "Are you doing it?"
"Am I what?"
"Are you going braless?"
Shalane turned her back to Prissy, showing the rear of the deep blue dress that shimmered with green highlights. "Now, where do you suppose I could hide the hooks in this dress?"
Prissy nodded as she looked at the wide vee formed by the back of the dress, extending from the nape of Shalane's neck, showing her shoulder blades, to a mere inch above her waist. Prissy remarked that the woman was right, but for herself it was not a comfortable option.
"Well, that dress screams you're braless, but I can't stand at that microphone and welcome everyone with my tits bouncing."
"Suit yourself, Prissy. It was just a suggestion. So, tell me about this man Billy is bringing."
"Oh, Angus is Angus."
Shalane chuckled a moment at the way Prissy flipped her hand as if the original build-up she had given about the man was now inconsequential. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"Well-l-l," Prissy's voice was muffled as she bent over to buckle the straps of her high heel sandals. "I think him, Billy, and me are about the same age. He's local, has a big place east of town. He and Billy do some male things together. He's not a loner, but I don't see him much. He's a big guy, not one of those overweight lugs, just big. I guess my grandma would have called him barrel-chested. He's sort of quiet, but in an intense way, looks at you, like he can see right inside you. It's hard to explain. You'll like him. He's fun, too."
"Oh, I hear car doors. Do you want me to..."
"No, I'm ready, I'll do it. You get your jacket or whatever. That hall's gonna be cold at first." It hadn't been much of a debate. Keep the meeting hall as cool as possible, because after everyone arrived and the dancing began, the room would grow progressively warmer. They had arrived the previous morning to begin decorating and needed to wear light jackets for the first few hours.
After a greeting at the front door, where both men were allowed to kiss Prissy's cheeks while she giggled at them trying to do it at the same time, she was singing Happy Birthday to Billy. Everyone turned to the corner of the room when Shalane closed the door to the upstairs guest bedroom and started walking down the stairs.
Someone should have had a camera to take a photograph of Angus when he saw her. He watched in anticipation. He was fascinated as the woman was revealed, from the dark red polish showing on each toenail of her bare toes in her high heel sandals, all the way up her long legs. The one nearest him was exposed well past her knee as the side slit in her dress parted when she took the next step down the stairs. Angus licked his lips as the clinging fabric moved across her flat stomach, yet he was unaware her short bolo jacket hid the fullness of her breasts. He imagined her slender torso, saw her elegant neck and the startling mass of brilliant fiery red hair piled in haphazard curls on top of her head.
However, the photographer would have needed to turn his attention immediately to the stairway to catch the moment's hesitation in her next step, when Shalane saw Angus. For a heartbeat, or perhaps two, the strangers looked at each other and Billy smiled. Billy would have performed one of his ancestral war dances of victory, or high fived everyone in the county, had it not been such a fleeting moment.
"Angus McCall, this is my friend, Shalane." To Angus, Prissy's casual statement did not convey the importance of such a monumental event. It did not seem unusual for Angus to walk forward and take Shalane's hand as she took the last step to the floor below. Angus did not know whether he intended to take her hand in a formal handshake or to be less formal and hold her hand when he nodded his head in greeting. He simply understood he had to touch her. Shalane did not realize she allowed him to hold her hand for longer than necessary for a traditional greeting. She simply knew she felt something from the warmth of his hand she had not known before.
Although Angus was not what would traditionally be considered a handsome man, he was impressive. Everything about him was oversized. He was tall at six foot three inches and the breadth of his shoulders told of his sturdy body. It was his dark auburn hair that attracted most people to take a better look at him. That is until they saw his eyes. His eyes were not green, nor were they blue, or even brown, but somewhere in the range of all three colors. However, people looked away from his eyes; they backed down from the intensity of his gaze. As Prissy had said, he "looks at you like he can see right inside you."
After a short discussion, concerning the size of Prissy's compact car and the large flower arrangement occupying much of the back seat, Prissy and Billy left for the meeting hall in her car. The arrangement would cover the base of the microphone she planned to use when she made her mildly veiled remarks. She planned to say she was responsible for the success of the evening and had high expectations for a repeat of that success during the next year, under her leadership of YWIB.
Angus followed Shalane to his truck to open the passenger door for her. She stopped for a moment, looking at the running board, estimating how high she would have to step to get into the cab of his truck. As she reached down to pull the lower part of her dress up so she could take the step, Angus moved behind her.
"Let me help," Angus muttered as he put his hands around her waist, easily lifting her up to stand on the running board but noticing how stiffly she held herself. His hands remained around her until she turned to lift her hip and sit down. After closing her door, he walked around the front of his truck. Angus suspected, after following her to the truck and seeing the glimpse of skin below the bottom of her short bolero jacket, Shalane was probably absolutely naked under the thin fabric of her dress. Her dress slid across her skin when she had turned to sit down.
After only a few minutes in her presence, Angus knew that he would be fighting a raging erection for most of the night. It was already beginning. His cock hung down his leg, he could feel the fullness and the tightening of his scrotum. His body heat was building. He slung one leg up into the truck and sat down. The urge to adjust himself beneath the tight fitting pants of his suit was so strong he took a deep breath before he turned the key to start the engine.
During the ride to the meeting hall, Angus and Shalane exchanged a few comments, discovering a little about each other. For the most part he gave her simple answers of few words in response to her questions, explaining that he farmed and worked cattle and occasionally spent part of a day on a horse, but he also had men he employed who did much of that work. His answers were not a reluctance to provide information. He was just a man of few words.
Shalane sat stiffly on the far end of the truck's bench seat as she told him she was a self-employed accountant with a small staff and a limited number of clients. More and more of her work was done without requiring face-to-face meetings with her clients. The internet, email, and document scanners were becoming more prevalent in her profession. The size of her business allowed her a great deal of flexibility with her office. She was considering purchasing a larger home and using one or two rooms for her business rather than maintaining a separate office space.
Although Shalane did not live in the immediate area, the company for which Prissy managed a branch office was one of her clients. Shalane tried to visit her clients at least once a year, and for the first time had agreed to stay with Prissy instead of going to a local hotel. Her visits were usually one or two nights, which gave her an opportunity to see a little of the communities where her clients lived and to take them out for a nice dinner to get to know them on a personal basis.
Prissy already had her table selected in a quiet corner of the large low-ceilinged room where she could watch everything and everyone. She directed Angus and Billy to that corner and told Billy what she wanted to drink. By the time the band was playing the second or third piece of music, a few couples were beginning to test the dance floor.
Angus spoke quietly, not caring to draw attention to himself or his partner, "Do you often have the opportunity to go dancing?"
"Not often," Shalane answered. "And never with someone who can dance as well as you."
"I thank you, ma'am," Angus responded, "and my mother would also thank you, if she were here to do so."
Shalane had relaxed some of her stiff posture from the earlier ride to the dance.
"So, your mother taught you to dance?"
"Yes ... and probably half the other people in this room. She gave a small class at the junior high school every Wednesday after school."
"Oh, that's neat."
Within half an hour, Shalane was removing her jacket and other women around the room were doing the same. A few of the more energetic male dancers removed their coats to allow for easier movement during the faster dance pieces. Some of the men stopped to speak to a friend across the room and traded dance partners for a turn around the floor. Small pockets of attendees seemed to be more interested in visiting and imbibing in the cash bar than dancing. After several more dances, they heard the rain beginning to fall on the roof of the building. Angus commented that he wasn't surprised. He never did have much faith in the people who forecast the weather.
Twice during the night, Angus mentioned to Billy that maybe the smaller man should slow down with his drinking, but Billy had always been a heavy drinker. He claimed his Cherokee genes just made the drink go to his head faster than Angus's Scottish genes. It was one of the reasons Angus always made sure he was in his own vehicle when he went anywhere with Billy. Although, Billy could no longer drive legally, his lack of a driver's license did not always stop him from leaving the ranch in one of the many vehicles used for various chores.
After one particularly pointed remark, Billy responded, "Get off my case, you ol' fart. Hell Angus, it's my birthday and Prissy promised me an all night fuck. I'm just getting' lubed up to enjoy it."
Without telling the man to clean up his language, Angus left him at the bar when he ordered another double and a beer chaser. Billy was back at the table they shared a few minutes later, asking Shalane to dance with him.
Halfway through Billy's dance with Shalane, Angus looked at the couple on the dance floor. For no reason, other than the look on Shalane's face, Angus threaded his way through other couples and tapped Billy on the shoulder, telling him, "I'd like to reclaim my date."
Shalane's relief was obvious. She rested her head on Angus's shoulder and relaxed in his arms until the band paused before they began the next song. For the remainder of the evening, she held herself less rigidly and enjoyed herself, occasionally commenting that everyone was having fun despite the weather.
As the evening grew late, Prissy began to make the rounds of the tables, gently reminding people how much longer the bar would be open and what time the band would play the last waltz to end the dance. She stopped by the table where Angus and Shalane were listening to Billy telling some old Indian tales, his voice getting more slurred as he continued to drink. Despite his affected state, he was so entertaining they were willing to listen to him relate some of his family's stories. Prissy offered Shalane the key to her front door, but Shalane said she didn't feel comfortable going into Prissy's house without her there.
Finally, with just a few couples who looked like they were picking up their belongings and making their last few remarks to friends, everyone was making their way to the door.
Prissy turned and put her arm around Shalane's waist, "Don't forget darlin', we're having fun when we get home."
Before Shalane could respond, Prissy looked at Angus, "Hey, big man, you don't need to drive Shalane to my house. She can ride with Billy and me."
Prissy took a few steps away, put her arm around Billy, kissed him on the cheek, and then turned back to smile at Shalane. She held up her hand with her palm toward Shalane then lowered her index finger putting the tip of her thumb across the fingernail to hold it down. Angus wasn't sure if she was leaving the other three fingers upright to indicate the number three, or if the circle of her forefinger and thumb indicated a zero, or perhaps the signal meant the same thing as saying okay However, Angus did not like the way Shalane's face paled before she shook her head.
Shalane's grasp on Angus's arm tightened and her voice shook when she called to the other woman, "Prissy, I told you I wasn't interested."
Angus looked down at Shalane, meeting her eyes looking up at him. He wasn't sure what was going on, but he spoke to Prissy telling her he didn't mind the drive. The back seat of Prissy's car was really too small for a passenger.
As the two couples separated to go to their vehicles, Prissy turned her head to call back to Shalane. "I'll see you at home. You'll enjoy it, Shalane. You just have to loosen up a little."
Although it had stopped raining, the parking lot was almost a lake. Even if most of the water was only an inch or two deep, there was no way anyone could walk through it without getting their shoes wet and most of the women were holding their long dresses up to their knees to make sure they didn't get them wet.
There was probably no need this time to help Shalane up to the running board of his truck, but Angus enjoyed touching her. He had been so careful during the dance to keep his distance. He was almost startled at how badly she was now shaking.
As soon as he was seated behind the wheel and had the engine running so he could add a little heat inside the pickup, Angus asked, "You want to tell me what that was all about?"
Shalane did not turn her head toward him to answer, "Not really," she answered softly. Then she did turn her head to him. "Angus, without asking a lot of questions, will you just take me to a hotel so I can get a room for the night?"
"I could," he answered and was quiet for a moment. "Or, I could offer you the use of my guest room for the night."
"You don't need to..."
"Shalane, you have no luggage. Dressed like that, the hotel isn't going to ... Well, taking you home with me is just better."
Awakened in the very early hours of the morning by an unfamiliar sound, Angus silently rose and pulled on his sweatpants. He was in the upper hallway looking over the banister to the large room below before he recalled he had a guest in his house. Outlined by a distant flash of lightning outside the floor-to-ceiling windows of the large room below was the tall slender shape of a woman. Wearing nothing more than one of his t-shirts, she had her arms wrapped around herself, looking out the windows.
Angus made no effort to be silent as he moved down the stairs, but only when he was standing behind her did she seem to realize someone else was in the room. Her body jerked but she did not turn away from the window.
In a trembling voice, Shalane whispered, "Weather is a very powerful force, isn't it?"
Angus's deep rumbling voice sounded loud even to his own ears, although he did not speak loudly, "Yes, it is. Are you frightened of lightning?"
Shalane nodded, but also shrugged shoulders, "A little, yes. When I was small I hid in the closet." Her voice was even quieter when she said, "My parents locked their door at night."
Angus moved nearer and gently put one hand on her shoulder. Feeling a tremor in her body, he acknowledged to himself that it was dangerous to be this close to the woman. His erection had subsided as he slept, but it was returning, slowly building. The pressure and the heat against the inside of his thigh was something he could ignore for a short while, yet he knew there was something about Shalane that was stronger than he could resist.
"If it bothers you, then why do you stand here?"
Shalane laughed quietly, but it was not a happy laugh. "I'm facing my fears."
Angus moved his other hand to her shoulder, squeezing lightly, giving her support, just letting her know someone else was with her. He moved a step closer to her, applying a little pressure as if to turn her around, but she resisted.
"Come on, Shalane, you should be in bed."
She did not turn her head to speak to him. Instead, she nodded her head at the lightning outside the windows. Her voice broke when she said, "I can't, not with that out there."
Angus removed his hands from her shoulders and walked around in front of her. She let him take her arms, wrap them around his neck, and he stood there with his hands on her hips, letting her hold him. After a few moments, she was holding him tighter with her head resting on him, occasionally shifting her weight, inching closer to him, yet he knew she was still watching over his shoulder. Moving slowly he lifted his hand from her waist, putting his arm around her back and then did the same with his other arm.
Over the next few minutes, her trembling ceased and she began to breathe deeply, resting more and more of her weight on him, not seeming to mind that his erection was pressed against her. Shalane seemed almost asleep. Concerned that if he remained standing he might grow so relaxed he would allow her to fall from his arms, he chose to lean over and put his arm under her knees and take her upstairs. Without letting go of her, he settled back in his bed and pulled her tighter into the curl of his body, spread the thin feather duvet over them, and went back to sleep.
The audible gasp of a woman's indignant voice startled Angus fully awake.
In his sleep-roughened voice, Angus commanded, "Shalane, don't move."
Despite her rapid breathing, and her prior movements against his hand, the command in her voice was unmistakable. "Get your hands..."
"Hush," he muttered and continued with his movements. His upper arm was across her hip, his hand between her legs with two fingers slowly circling her clit, moving his fingers down, slipping into her, and then dragging them back up, covered with her juices, as he continued with the stimulation. Her head was on his other shoulder and his other arm was beneath Shalane, under the thin t-shirt with one lush breast in the palm of his hand as he opened and closed his fingers around her softness. Her pointed nipple slipped in and out from between his index and middle fingers.
She started to move away, until he tightened his arms and commanded, "Be still, dammit."
Only then did she realize his hard cock was slowly moving against the small of her back. Shalane felt the cushion of hair covering the hard muscles of his upper chest at her back as his body moved against her. Only the front of his sweatpants prevented her from feeling the hair on the lower part of his body.
"Angus..." Shalane whimpered her hips twisting, "Please, please ... don't..."
"Don't what? Don't stop? You're almost there, let it go, honey. Take a deep breath, and let go," and she did.
Shalane inhaled, arched her back, and held it as her whole body shook with the intensity of her orgasm. It was followed only moments later as warmth spread across the small of her back when Angus growled against the back of her neck as he held himself rigid. The palm of his hands still cupped her, pressing her against him. The musty smell of their climaxes seeped from under the top edge of the duvet that held their body heat in the crisp coolness of the early morning.
He held her, feeling the waning tremors going through her, waiting for her breathing, and his own, to return to normal before he removed his arms from around her. Only when she began to move did he let her go, telling her, "Go take your shower. Be quick about it or I'll be in there with you."
As Angus half sat up in bed, Shalane scampered into the bathroom, giving him nothing more to look at than the white t-shirt covering her back and a glimpse at the fullness of her round bottom above her long tapered legs. He fell back onto his pillow, stifling a groan, calling himself every kind of a fool. He could not excuse himself for turning to a warm soft woman he found in his bed, even if he did so when he was not yet really awake.
Minutes later, when Shalane opened the door of the bathroom Angus was standing in the middle of his bedroom, as if he had stood there the whole time waiting for her. He looked at her, from her feet all the way up her legs. A towel barely covered her, leaving uncovered her bare shoulders, graceful neck, and long slender legs. She stared straight at him. Her red hair, darkened from being washed, was hanging down to the top of the towel wrapped around her and wet ringlets hung all the way down across her shoulders and upper arms. He wanted to touch her more than he wanted to breathe.
He jerked his head toward the half-open closet door behind him, "Find something in there to wear."
He allowed her to take a few steps into the room before he walked around her and closed the bathroom door behind himself. He took several deep breaths and half turned back to the door. He wasn't sure if he could stop himself from opening the door to go back into his bedroom, rip the towel off her, and throw her back on the bed to finish what he'd started while he was still half asleep.
When he walked out of the bathroom, he was still drying himself off. Bunched in his hands, was the thick towel he was using to dry his chest hair and down the center of his body, with the remainder of the towel hanging down barely covering his cock and scrotum. When he heard Shalane gasp, Angus looked up.
"Damn," he muttered, and closed his hands into fists.
He had assumed she would find something to wear and take it back to the guest room, or that she had already gone downstairs.
His second comment was more forceful, "My God."
Shalane was wearing one of his long sleeve shirts, in the process of rolling the cuff of one sleeve up her forearm. She had not yet buttoned the front of the shirt, which allowed him to see the deep cleavage between her breast, her belly button, and a glimpse of the hair of her pubic mound, which he already knew was soft. However, it was also red, a darker red than the hair on her head, but she was definitely a natural redhead.
As if it were something he did everyday, Angus walked to his dresser, which allowed him to turn his back to her so he could drop the towel. He opened a drawer and removed clean underwear that he stepped into and pulled up before turning around.
Shalane was calmly buttoning the front of the shirt she had selected. He recognized the shirt. He had last worn it in Chicago when he had participated in a symposium. After one particularly heated discussion between himself and a rather obnoxious feminist, there had been a short break. A man who had been in the audience had commented that it took a brave man, one who had no doubt of his masculinity, to wear a pink shirt in front of almost a thousand people, more than three-fourths of whom were women. Most of the women within hearing of the man's remark had applauded.
There is something undeniably sexy about a woman wearing a man's shirt. A woman with red hair, wearing a pink shirt was even more startling. Angus did not know if Shalane was aware of the effect she was having on him. The tingle in his groin was certainly responding to the picture she made standing in the middle of his bedroom wearing his shirt. On her, the oversized shirt hung half way down her thighs. At her side, the shirttail hem rose to within a few inches of her hip.
Angus could not ignore her as he felt the weight of blood slowly filling his genitals while he moved about his room getting dressed. He quickly found a clean pair of jeans and pulled a shirt out of the closet then snapped the front sides together as he opened the bedroom door and held it for Shalane to walk ahead of him as he stuffed his shirttail into his pants. Both of them could smell the coffee and frying bacon.
He was startled to see two place settings on the kitchen table. Then he recalled he had left Shalane's jacket on the back of the couch when she had kicked off her wet shoes and placed her small handbag on the table behind the sitting area. Maria would have seen the jacket, shoes, and handbag and known he had a woman in the house.
"Good morning, Maria," Angus greeted his cook and housekeeper as he held a chair for Shalane. "This is Shalane Fraser."
Maria did little more than nod at Shalane, but she gave Angus a hard look, which he chose to ignore for the moment.
When he was seated, he asked Maria, "Is Jose in the barn? I need him to run an errand for me when he takes you to church."
"Si, Senor. Tell me how you want the eggs. You eat and I bring Jose to you."
Angus looked at Shalane, waited for her to order her eggs, and then told Maria how he would like his own breakfast done. As soon as Maria placed their plates in front of them, she left to get her husband.
"I'll send Jose to Prissy's for your things. I guess that means a suitcase?" Shalane nodded and Angus asked, "Is there anything else you need from there?"
"No, I suppose my car is still at the service station. Maybe it was towed to the dealership. I need to get an estimate on the repairs."
"If they need to order parts, do you need me to take you home this afternoon?"
"No, I was going to take part of this week off. Prissy said she would..."
He did not try to keep the disgust from his voice, "Shalane."
"Drop it ... you'll stay here. Next subject."
However, there was no time for another discussion as Maria, followed by Jose, walked into the kitchen. Angus tried to avoid giving Shalane all of his attention, but he also wanted to watch the various reactions on her face when he told Jose what he wanted done.
"Jose, when you take Maria to church, Miss Fraser's suitcase needs to be picked up at Priscilla Roundtree's house. Billy's there, too. I don't care if you have to dump him in the back of the truck naked, drunk or sober bring him home. If he's not there, find him."
Angus stopped addressing Jose to turn to Shalane, "Would you like me to call Prissy and tell her to pack your bag, or would you prefer to do that yourself?"
Shalane lifted her eyes from her hands clasped in her lap and looked at Angus. "Either one, I need to get the rest of my things from my car, too. I guess I need to get a rental."
"I have a car you can drive while you're here. Let's wait until you know about repairs before you decide that."
"Okay, then I'll need just my suitcase, please."
Angus turned his attention back to Jose. "Before noon, go by that mail service for my office mail. Look through everything to see if there's a notice of something too large for the mailbox. I have some large envelopes and flat boxes that should be arriving in the next few days."
After finishing his breakfast, Angus stood and started to put his hand on Shalane's shoulder but she had stiffened her back again, sitting rigidly in her chair. Angus dropped his arm to his side. He wanted to touch her or brush her hair away from her face so he could look at her. Oh hell, he wanted to do a lot more than that. Instead he simply said he was going to his study to make the telephone calls.
While waiting to talk to someone at the auto dealership about the repairs to Shalane's car, he watched out the window as the ranch truck rumbled across the cattle guard. He swiveled around in his chair and saw Shalane standing in the doorway of his office. He motioned her to come in then had to return his attention to the telephone call. He quickly grew frustrated that the only people at the dealership on a Sunday were an operator, one mechanic, and new car salespeople.
He watched Shalane walk around the study, looking at various photos on the walls and books and knick knacks on the shelves as she listened to him speaking about the engine problems with her car.
After completing his call, Angus stood and moved to stand near Shalane. Then he backed up a step when she began to move away from him. "They won't be back until near noon. Is there anything you'd like to do?"
She shook her head, and turned away from him, "No." Her answer was tinged with a little humor as she pinched the fabric of his shirt at the top of her chest, lifting it away from her body. "I'm not exactly dressed for..." The remainder of her comment died for lack of words to describe how naked she felt.
"Shalane, I'm sorry about this morning." He really didn't know what else to say. He'd been waking up from an erotic dream involving Shalane's description of what Prissy had planned for Billy's birthday. Her voice had been shaking with anger as she told of Prissy's attempt to include Shalane in an all night threesome fulfilling Billy's request that the other female be a redhead.
"It was ... I was just surprised."
"I know. I went to sleep angry about why Prissy asked you to spend a few days with her. When I woke up, all I knew was that I had a luscious woman in my bed. I won't deny I wanted you. Nor will I deny that I still do."
"Its okay, Angus, really. It's alright."
"No it isn't. I'm not ... I don't bring women here, to the ranch. I guess you understood that Maria wasn't very pleasant this morning. Like most of the people on this ranch, she's lived here her entire life." His short bark of laughter was more embarrassment than humor. "She changed my diapers and bandaged my skinned knees. She won't say anything. She's sort of protective of me. But I also need to get Billy back here to the ranch to keep him from running off at the mouth."
"I didn't thank you for taking care of me during the storm. You don't need to keep taking care of me, Angus."
"Yes I do. Or at least, I want to." Angus would have touched Shalane, but she seemed to back away and turn to take a small step when he was within arm's reach.
Rather than invade what she needed for her personal space, Angus described the relationship between Billy and himself. "Five generations of McCall's have kept the members of Billy's family out of jail for one reason or another. Every White Feather man has been a cowboy on this ranch and more than half of them were drunks when given the opportunity. Billy's just a little worse than most of the others have been."
"You don't think he would..."
Angus tried to make his voice gentle, "No, he's not dangerous." He was so familiar with Billy's alcoholism he knew what the man would do when he woke up for the first time if someone wasn't around to control or subdue him. "But if Prissy won't give him any whiskey this morning when he wakes up, he'll find some place to buy a drink, even if it's under the counter. He's well known. Someone will sell to him just to get rid of him. He'll keep at it until he passes out. You already know how he talks when he gets drunk."
Shalane didn't try to hold back her laughter. She had encouraged Billy to talk the previous evening. She had laughed at least as loud as anyone else at the table, over what he said was family history, most of it obviously well-laced with exaggerations.
"Well, I don't have a reputation to ruin. There aren't many people around here who would know who he's talking about."
Angus cringed, considered remaining silent, and then decided he could tell Shalane enough that she would understand. "They'll know, because of your hair."