I jumped off Pepper and ran inside the house where Mama K was serving up a supper of beans and corn bread to all the girls. Slamming the door and holding it shut as if the devil himself was fixing to come knocking, I rested my hands on my knees and caught my breath.

“Well goodnight Kalamity!” Mama K exclaimed and threw the spoon in the pot. “What in the world is wrong with you?”

“We got company comin’.” I said.

All the girls looked alarmed and were waiting for me to spit it out.

“I better tell you before he gets here. I may have been doing a little bit of some eavesdroppin’.”

“He?” Belle Starr asked.

Little Britches bursted out in laughter. “I bet a silver dollar I know who HE is.”

All of the girls turned to stare at Little Britches and then back at me waiting.

“Well you can bet Texas on it.” I said. “It’s that damn Tyler West.”

Ashley Oakley looked like she was sucking on a lemon. “What’s he coming here for?”

“Let me start at the beginning. I was coming back from town and I decided to take the scenic route and check on how the creek was flowing. Well I heard someone down by the bank so I snuck off of Pepper and creeped over to find Tyler West and his brother taking a bath in the creek.”

“KALAMITY JANE!” Mama gasped. “You did not stand there and watch them bathing.”

“No Mama… Well it wasn’t like I could see anything. They were in the deep end.”

Little Britches busted out with laughter again along with Belle Starr.

“Would ya hush?” I asked. “I ain’t done. I heard them talking about the upcoming barn dance and if they were going to go and so on and Tyler asked Perry who he was gonna take and Perry said he was gonna go stag.”

I noticed Ashley Oakley’s face light up and then fall.

”Then Perry turned around and asked Tyler who he was gonna ask…”

I had them all hook, line and sinker.

“He’s askin’ me!” I shouted in disbelief.

“You two are like water and oil.” Mama said.

“More like gasoline and fire.” Little Britches laughed again and Belle Starr was smiling that I know something smile.

I gave them a look. I hadn’t told anyone else that he had been quite the help at the barn raising. Maybe a little too much help. It was easy to explain how the hay had got in my hair but not how it came to reside in my pockets. Damn that man!

Mama was staring at between Little Britches and Belle Starr. There was no fooling Mama K. Her eyes finally landed back on me. I had my poker face on. I was excited to be asked to the dance. I ain’t never been to one. It was true that Tyler and I didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things but I learned at the barn raisin’ that all I needed to do was find a good ladder and this whole eye to eye thing got to be a bit more level. Besides it was just a dance, it ain’t like I’m planning to say I do and have little West babies running around. I was gonna have to work in that Perry should ask Ashley to the dance. She wouldn’t admit it but she liked him.

“Well what are you all waitin’ around for?” Mama K asked. “We got company coming and you all look like a bunch of heathens.”