In the previous episode, Tala attempted to pawn the Goodnight’s silverware when she was unexpectedly stopped. Readers voted that she was stopped by Zane himself.
“You following me?” Zane joked standing next to his pick up. Tala was flustered, but she recovered, smiled and replied:
“I’m hoofing it, I’m afraid.” She said, walking slowly toward him, trying to prevent the silverware from clanking. “I had to give the car back.”
“That wasn’t yours?” he asked.
“No,” she said. “Just a loner.” Just then she heard the door of the pawn shop open, and the Sheriff exit. “Maybe you could give me a ride back.”
“I’d like to get some stuff done before I pick up Max,” she said.
“Sure,” Zane said with a smile. As she ambled slowly past, Zane couldn’t help but catch a whiff of her sweet perfume. As he continued to watch her snake toward the pick-up, an uncomfortable feeling within stirred. At 19, he was well aware that Tala was half his age. Even so, she was a grown woman. Beautiful and sexy. Attractive women have always caused him this emotional stir. It never ends, Zane thought.
* * *
Tala was sneaking side glances at Zane as they drove out of town. His shoulders were broad, his arms muscular, his hands masculine, but clean. The attraction was mutual. She was glad to be heading back to the ranch, but it occurred to her that, without a car, she won’t be much good as Max’s driver, one of her main responsibilities.
“You wouldn’t happen to have another car, would you?” she asked. “It’ll be some time before I can afford one.”
“Your boss must be a tight wad,” he joked as they exited the city limits.
The tension left Tala’s body as they drove onto the ranch. They hopped out of the pick up, and Zane opened up the garage door.
“What do you think?” Cody stepped over next to a deep blue, Ford minivan, covered in dust.
“Haven’t driven it in a while,” she said, smiling. Then she realized; “Oh. Was this… did this belong to your wife?”
Zane doesn’t do well with emotions. Not with feeling them, and certainly not expressing them. This is why he really hates talking about his wife. It is simply an unresolved issue and, like any injury, he prefers to ignore it until it passes.
But this question was bound to come up so he had already braced for it, and had come up with a simple, terse response.
“It was. I’m saving it for Max.”
When Tala noticed the relative ease with which Zane replied, she thought it was okay to ask:
“What happened to her?”
Zane was NOT ready for that. Nor was he interested in discussing the topic with this beautiful, way-too-young woman he was attracted to.
“Well, she was um… she had a bad heart and so… it was that,” he fumbled.
Tala felt sad. Two years, and he still can’t talk about it. Big strong cowboy, but with tender, fragile heart. She quickly turned the conversation back to the car, asking questions about how it handles, and the like. Zane chatted with her, told her the keys were in the ignition, and to let him know if she needed a jump. He then escaped into the house.
Tala was sorry she’d upset him. But it did give her a chance to slip her clanking backpack inside, and replace the silverware. Once everything was back, she looked around at what she had. A nice home with a nice family, and a car. And nobody really knows her.
Perfect, she thought.
* * *
The minivan didn’t need a jump. Turns out Max starts it once a week just for the heck of it. Teen boys who can’t drive, long for the day they finally can. Especially a boy with some place to go. Max couldn’t wait to learn to drive, graduate, and get OUT of cowboy country. Starting the van once a week was his way of keeping himself sane.
Tala pulled the van out, took the garden hose, and washed it. She then went inside to make Zane lunch, but he was gone. Once he saw the van running, he headed back to town to meet with some men friends. He was uneasy being alone with Tala, so he thought it best to just leave.
Tala did try to polish the silverware, but didn’t know how, or what tools she needed, so she just blew it off figuring that even if Max asked what happened, she’d say she never got around to it.
At 3:30 Tala hopped into the minivan and headed back to the school to pick up Max. When she got there, she was furious at what she saw. Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.
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