“I thought you needed a bath earlier.” Perry roared with laughter. “I was wrong! You need one for sure now.”
Standing up, I began to wipe some of the gunk off of me, but it didn’t work. I just seemed to be spreading it further. At least I was able to get the calf out without any further complications. Perry had just stood there and watched the whole time. He wasn’t much for getting his hands dirty. He was the smart one. I was the hard-working one.
He started roaring with laughter again and made the mistake of turning around to his horse. I hustled over before he could look and leaned over to get to his rag hanging on the saddle. He stepped back in surprise and ended up wearing some of the slime on his shirt.
“Dang it, Tyler.” Perry puffed up like Mama K’s little fancy dog. “You better be glad this ain’t my favorite shirt. Now I gotta take a bath.”
I wiped my face with his rag. “I think you deserved that over that silly bet you talked me into.”
“I don’t know why. You won it!” He smiled again. “I think you liked it!”
And that was the problem. Perry and his stupid bets had finally gotten out of hand. Usually it was over stupid stuff like jumping off the highest branch into the pond or eating a bug, but this time he bet I couldn’t kiss a Shotgun Girl. They were a little different from the girls in town. They weren’t always so prim and proper. Unlike most girls who would turn their nose up to hard work and getting dirty, they seemed to enjoy it. Even though that Kalamity was always rubbing me the wrong way, I thought she was attractive so I decided it would be her that I would steal a kiss from. I backed out a dozen times, but I wasn’t one for losing bets. Dammit if I didn’t enjoy it. Now she’s all I’m thinking about. That was three days ago.
“Race you to the creek.” Perry hopped up in the saddle.
I grabbed the horn to haul myself up and threw the rag at him and hollered. “You’re on!”
After coming back from town with supplies, I decided I would stop and see if I could find some snake root to take home to Mama K. We like to keep it around for all sorts of ailments. The blooms were downright pretty. Walking towards the creek, I spotted a crop up ahead along with some tickseed. It would make a nice bouquet for the table.
Pepper came up behind me and stuck his nose in my hair. “You ornery horse. There’ll be no apples for you if you keep it up.” If a horse could think, I’m pretty sure he would call my bluff. I loved spoiling that Appie. I was still in shock over the kindness of Tyler West bringing him hay. Not to mention, that kiss. I’m still puzzled by it.
I dug out the little trowel I had in my saddlebag and dug some of the snakeroot up. After placing the flowers in my saddlebag where they would ride without getting all bent and scattered, I decided I would go check out the creek when all of a sudden there was a loud howling and then a great splash. I ducked behind a large bush and tied Pepper to a limb. Whoever it was must not have seen me, so I grabbed my shotgun and creeped to where I could see what was going on.
Much to my surprise, it was the West brothers in all of their glory. I turned my head because I knew this was the most unlady like thing I could do, but then I thought oh what the hell. They were up to their elbows in the water taking a bath. Perry splashed at his brother and was laughing at him. They were having a good time. Tyler was saying something but I couldn’t make it out and before I realized what I was doing I had snuck down to a big boulder to get a better listen.
“So who are you going to take? Maybe Beth from town?” Perry started working up a lather with his rag. I was turning greener than the weeds around my feet. Just where was he taking this Beth and why did I care?
“Nah. Beth has two left feet. I think I will mosey on over to the Shotgun Girl ranch and ask Kalamity.”
“I don’t believe you will ask her.” Perry said.
“We’ll go over there after were done then.” He ducked under the water and started scrubbing his dark locks. He looked like he needed a haircut. I would love to run my hands through that hair. Woah, where did that come from?
“Who are you going to ask?”
Perry started shaking his head. “I don’t think I’m going to take anyone.”
Tyler laughed. “I’ll think of someone. It’s only fair unless you’re scared.”
Tyler swam to the deeper end causing me to get a view of his wonderful looking backside. What in the world could he be talking about?
“I tell you what!” Tyler hollered over to Perry. “You don’t have to ask anyone to the dance, but you have to dance with whoever I choose for you.”
Perry looked at his brother with something of dread. “How many times?”
“Well they say third times a charm so three.”
I snuck back up to Pepper faster than a rabbit looking for a hole before they figured out I was there. Looks like those flowers might not stay intact because I needed to get ready for company.
Tucking in my shirt, I couldn’t believe what I had just done. I must be a fool. Another bet with Perry and this time I got to choose who I would take and I chose her. I must be her fool. I wonder if she will say no. I thought she hated me but by the way she kissed me back, I would have to say no. I shouldn’t like her. This is Perry’s fault that I’m in this mess. Dad would be disgusted with me if he were here. Those Shotgun Girls are trouble he would say. Kalamity is starting to look like the fun kind of trouble though. Now I’ve got a double down bet to win. I’m gonna muddy up that favorite shirt of Perry’s if’n I find it.
“Are you about ready to pay up?” Perry asked.
“Speaking of paying up. You didn’t have any kind of pot going with Little Britches and Belle Starr? Did you?”
“Nah. You know them Shotgun Girls. They are always pickin’ at one another. What makes you think I would even talk to them, let alone get them in on the bet?”
My brother seemed like he was telling the truth. We were all for fun but we were always honest with each other. I gave him a pat on the back. “First time for everything little brother.”
As were walking over to our horses, my foot landed on something hard. It was weird shaped thing but everyone around here called them rose rocks. I come across them all the time but this one looks just like a wild rose. I’ve got a pretty good idea who I want to give it to. Maybe it will help me get her to say yes to the dance.