“I don’t know about you but I’ve had it up to here with the lot of them stubborn men.” I whispered to Little Britches as we walked back to where the men were putting the door onto the newly raised barn.

“I’m right there with you, Sister.” She said.

We showed up at first light to help with the barn raising. It was all hands on deck. Well, all male hands on deck. Evidently, the women had stayed home to prepare the lunches and we didn’t get the telegram. That may be because the only one at the ranch that was a man was Pops and he didn’t get to town too often. All 5 of us women had shown up in our britches ready to grab a hammer to find that we were grabbing buckets and ladles for water. Not that we didn’t mind fetching water, but that isn’t something that takes all day.

I think the men knew we wanted to help so in the morning, they gave their best to show how much they appreciated the water with a wink and a smile. All hollering one after another like a bunch of calves looking for milk. It was cute at first but now it was getting on my nerves. It helped a little that some weren’t bad to look at.

Little Britches asked. “Did you see who Ash was keeping hydrated?”

“Yea, I noticed. I wonder if that boy is wearing diapers or somethin’ cause I ain’t seen him take a break since he started.” I said.

I noticed alright. Ashley Oakley kept close to the crew Perry West was in. Those West brothers were a pleasant site for sore eyes, but they were so rude. Maybe I needed to have a little talk with her about that. The irony wasn’t lost on me on the fact that I had been fighting with their Dad for years over cutting off our water in the closest creek. Now we have to travel further out for water for our herd while they get to lap up all they want. Their Dad had passed away the year before but Tyler West made it clear he wasn’t going to do anything to help me out. The only time that the creek runs near the house is when it comes a toad strangler. It just ain’t right. What do they need with all that water?

Belle Starr and Mama K had volunteered to round up the women in the wagon around lunch time while us three stayed on and fetched water. We managed to sneak around and get a makeshift table setup for food. By the time they got back, we were all starving. We all rushed to help get all the women out of the wagon. I was nice and even helped Mrs. West down. It was her sons that were rude not her plus she made the best cobblers around.

We all sat down and dug in. Great food and good conversation sounded like a whirlwind. I was catching this and that bit of gossip in between talking to Little Britches about her latest project.

Belle Starr was talking low to the girl next to her and my ear soon turned to listen.

“I’m surprised to see Mrs. West out here.” Said the girl.

“Why’s that?” Belle Starr said.

“I heard she’s not been getting around so good. It takes all she can to get up out of bed in the morning.”

“Well I had no idea….” Belle continued on talking to the girl while I turned to check on Mrs. West. She did look a little more worn than her usual self. Tyler was sitting next to her with his arm around her shoulder. She gave him a tired smile. It must be hard not having that old man of hers around anymore.

“Kalamity?” Little Britches was nudging me.

With a scowl on my face, I looked at her. “WHAT?”

“Dang woman. Are you done with that?”

“Oh sorry. Yea, I’m done.”

“You okay?”

“Yea I just need to get some air before we start up again.”

I decided to go check on Pepper and see how he was doing hanging out in the pen. He hates pens. He really doesn’t need to be in one. He doesn’t stray too far away from me but since everyone else’s was in there so was he. I decided to fetch them some more water and maybe I’ll get him some hay while I’m at it.

The sun was shining bright so I kept my head down while I was heading to get some water when I hit a brick wall and ended up with my ass meeting the ground.

I started to laugh but when I turned to see who the wall was, my smile died and a scowl formed.

“Why don’t you watch where your going?” I said.

“Me?” Tyler said.

“Yea, you!” I said.

“You walked into me!”

I did the most unlady like stomp with my foot. “UNBELIEVABLE!” I said and stormed to fetch the water.  I rubbed my ass when I thought I was out of his sight. I fetched the water and headed back to the pen. I gave Pepper a good pat on the neck and went to fetch some hay from the old barn. I made it to the second wrung when I heard the door creak open.

“What do you think you are doing?” He said.

At the sound of his voice, my jaw set hard and I turned and looked at him.

“I’m getting some hay for my horses. Last time I checked everyone was free to their fair share.” It was a jab but I figured it effective and proceeded to climb.

“Would you hold on a second?” Tyler came rushing over while I kept climbing. “I said wait!” He hollered but it was lost when my foot slipped and I ended up falling backwards. I let out a yip but he caught me before I hit the ground.

“Blast it, woman. I told you to wait and you won’t listen. You just think you can do anything. Don’t you?” He asked. I don’t think he realized he was holding me. He was too busy lecturing me. I, on the other hand, was very aware of his strong arms around me. This shirt was starting to feel a little too thin because I swear I could feel all his muscles flexing.

“Are you gonna answer me?” He asked.

“I’m fine.” I said. “If you will unhand me, I will get my hay and get out of your way.”

“You’re not in my way, Kalamity.” He uprighted me. “Are you sure you are alright?”

He almost looked concerned. That’s odd. I didn’t think he could have feelings. As if he would care for me. Now that was funny. Ha!

“I was fine till you showed up and made me fall.” I said and started back up the ladder. I made it to the second rung when a hand whirled me around.


“No, I am not! You stubborn, stubborn woman!!! I’ve already put out hay to the horses, including that ornery animal you call Pepper. Not only that but I threw down some more that I was coming back to get if you would open your eyes!”

I looked around and spotted the pile waiting to be taken to the horses and then back at him. Again, I find myself in such close proximity to him. I finally look him in the eye and say, “Oh.”

“Oh?” He tilts his head and his lips turn into a smile. My heart betrays me and does a flip flop. He looks adorable like that.

“Um, thanks.” I say and we both step off the ladder.

He runs his hands through his hair and says, “I think you aim to frustrate me.”

I laugh. “If you think I spend my whole day thinking about you, you have another thing coming.”

“You wound me.” He says and makes like he’s been shot. He scoops up most of the hay but I notice he makes sure and leaves me a small pile so I can carry something.

“You think you have me fooled by leaving me this pile.” I poke out my jaw and shoot him a matter of fact look from his pile to mine.

He stops right by the door and tilts his head again. My heart flip flops and I hope it isn’t written all over my face how handsome I am finding him right now.

“Dammit Kalamity.” He says  and throws the hay on the ground.

Before I know whats happened, he’s kissing me and I’m KISSING HIM BACK!!! I pull back for a minute and look at him. I’m pissed but damn, he can kiss. I pull him back to me a little too hard to find my ass on the ground again but this time he rolls me over where we are on our sides. Those lips never left mine and they were so sweet. I couldn’t stop myself.

Well, I guess I could stop myself… I heard a giggle and then someone cleared their throat. Somehow we managed to make it to our feet and put distance between us but it was too late. There was no mistaking the hay in my hair and I think he was missing a button off his shirt.

Belle Starr stood in the door blushing at us while Little Britches just stared at me with a smirk.

Little Britches held her hand palm up towards Belle Starr and said “Pay up.”

If you enjoyed reading this, you can find the next part of this tale by clicking HERE. I have decided to write more on this and do so for entertainment purposes. I am in no way a professional writer so critiquing and encouragement are welcome.