The pen dug slightly into her scalp as she shoved it into the bun she had managed to wrangle her waist length, red locks into. Keeping the mass of waves off her neck in the heat was a necessity for the scorching day with it's still, humid air. Her short denim shorts and the white, Clara's Cookout tank that was tight, white and thin cut above her naval like all the other girls, allowed her to be cooler but not much, she wished she could be submerged somewhere in a cold body of water.

Unfortunately work was work and that meant today, they were busy, and with the game on, it was only going to stay busy, as ribs, wings, burgers, rings, fries and copious amounts of beer were ordered. Clara's Cookout was one of the biggest steakhouses in the area and as such, a huge hit with many university students and the locals.

The large interior was classic old Wild West saloon style, complete with wagon wheel chandeliers and old saddlery decor. Right down to waitresses who wore cowgirl boots, studded belts and Stetson hats when they felt the urge. While it wasn't the most modest of jobs, Sam had taken it as the owner was an old friend of her dads, promising to look out for her and ensure that nothing untoward happened to her, and it paid well. That was a bonus, in one night she could make almost four hundred in tips if she smiled pretty enough.

It was all in the smile and tonight her smile held the enthusiasm of tiredness, it had been her fault.

Getting on a role with her equine breeding paper had ended up with a late night, an early start and no caffeine to kick it off, followed by a three hour lecture and a broken bike chain turning to a hurried sweaty jog to work. Luckily showers were in the back and she was a pro now at good makeup and had a spare uniform. Never bring your mood to work, she always told herself and so far it was working. She had two hundred in tips and that was always a good sign of what the next four hours would bring.

"Hey Sam!" She looked over, blue eyes resting on her friend and another waitress. White blonde hair in a teased messy side braid and brown eyes large and wide, lined by thick black lashes. Jen grinned, "another table, twelve, can you grab their order off of Mickey?"

Sam lazily waved a hand in reply, and wound her way to the kitchen window, collecting empty plates and throwing smiles as she went. Unloading the empty plates and reloading herself with the orders, she balanced the trays born from heaps of brilliant balance due to long practice and coordination of a horse rider.

Winding her way between the tables she smiled artlessly at a few of the regulars calling out to her and cut a path to her destination table. A group of guys who looked to be at least seniors, some were wearing her university's hoody and all had beers and smiles as they joked back and forth. She recognized a few as regulars from her quick sweep. "Hey guys," she smiled, "I've got an order of ribs, two baskets of buffalo wings, three lots of onion rings and more on its way."

"Just stick it in the middle Sammy baby," Sam knew that voice and rolled her eyes.

"Darrell," she rolled her eyes at the guys she knew from her business course as a TA, lazy brown eyes, short brown hair covered by a backward baseball cap, sharp strong jaw with a days worth if stubble and a light tan.

The redhead set down the baskets in the middle of the table, "you're gonna get fat if you keep ordering ribs," she teased as she set her now empty trays against her side to focus on him.

"Nah beautiful, I work out to much for that," he grinned and flexed one well muscled arm.

Sam rolled her eyes at him as she turned away to get the rest of his order 'accidentally' whapping an explorative hand away from her ass with a tray, "don't hurt yourself."

She ignored the guys laughter, Darrell was well used to her demeanor and laughed at the surprised face of the groping guy, Henry, who pouted in annoyance after the gorgeous redhead. Holding his hand he sure knew how trays could be used as a weapons now Darrell smirked though as he saw the last of their party arrived, finally, after weeks of begging, Jake had peeled himself away from his books long enough to come and watch the game.

Then he saw the redhead returning with the last of their order and like a predator on prey, the Shoshone man zeroed in on the slender waitress.

Sam weaved her way back to the table to deliver the last of the food, placing it in the middle, turning to leave, she just avoided running smack into a broad chest. Her gaze darted up and she flushed.


She was saved! This left her the opportunity to smile up at the person before darting around him, "Sorry!"

Five minutes later, she was still flushed. Jake Ely was a man that always had her confused. He was one of the TAs in the stables of the university and was also a star wide receiver of the university football team.

She'd been told that originally he had gotten a scholarship for track and then the head coach had headhunted him for his speed to play football. He was a legend in the college games, he could dart, weave and run like the wind. He was quiet too, what most people used a paragraph to say he elucidated in a sentence or less. He didn't waste words and he had girls falling over him due to his brooding cowboy persona. Dark hair tied back in a low ponytail, dark eyes, tan skin, with a straight strong jaw, his shoulders were broad and his arms rippled with well developed and defined muscle. Tall at six three he exuded tall, dark and handsome.

The cheerleaders on her team often sighed over him, as the youngest member she didn't have much to do with the team as she was more focused on practicing with her new base Adam then the football team.

Sam never knew what to make of him. He watched, he picked, he was quiet. The first day he'd met her at her stallions stall he'd seen her rubbing his nose, her forehead laid to his and snorted, rolling his eyes.

She'd poked her tongue out at him, "my horse, my way," before turning her back and ignoring him. Since then he only stared.

Six months of staring got to a girl after awhile.

Peeking beneath her lashes afforded her the ability to see those eyes focused in on her.

Darrell saw his friend watching the redhead out of the corner of his eye as she weaved out of tables like the pro she was, the redhead cheerleader had caught his eye since she'd told him in so many words to get lost, when she was with her horse. Right now she chatted with patrons, filled orders, took money, laughed and smiled like the perfect waitress.

Darrell knew she'd be walking out with a decent amount of tips tonight, like she did every other night. Jake's focus though was only noted by him, the rest were talking girls, beer and ball. In all the years they'd been friends, it was the first that Darrell had seen him act like that around a girl.

"Not a bad idea to come out now?" Darrell grinned.

This earned him a slight narrow eyed gaze to be thrown his way from beneath black bangs. He raised his beer to take a drink before he looked at him, "how long?"

Idly taking a sip of his own beer, Darrell scratched his chin in though, "beginning of semester," he shrugged, he could see that the gaze got harder.

Bastard, he snorted without malice, typical Jake, everyone had to elaborate more than him. Double standards. "Clara's known her since she was little, her and Sammy babes mum and dad go way back," he settled on, ignoring the other mans radiated annoyance at his nickname for her.

The mans gaze refocused on her as she chatted to some sophomore jocks in the lull, she laughed before moving on to collect more baskets and disappear into the kitchen again.

"You could actually talk to her you know," he muttered. Brown eyes glared at him, "just a suggestion," he muttered, rolling his eyes.

Jake quite happily ignored his best friend and focused instead on the slender redhead that had filled his thoughts since he'd met her.

At first it had been fleeting, that first meeting where he supposed he'd been slightly condescending and she'd very eloquently told him to back off. Then he'd seen her practicing with the cheerleaders, some brunette putting his hands all over her skin, bared to the world in her small nike pros and crop top, in the stables, advanced equine science and in Sunday morning service. She was everywhere and soon whenever he saw that titan red hair he found his gaze drawn to her. The sassy attitude, the calm confidence with horses, the small, muscled body and pretty, subtle beauty just drew him in further and the next thing he knew was he was crushing in the freshman that was Samantha Forester. He watched and he learnt, he was assessing her like he did horses, patient, waiting to figure her out.

Even now he watched as sparkling blue eyes beneath thick lashes cut in his direction and he didn't even hide the way he stared, she flushed and looked away. Idly a thought unfolded, what would happen when he did talk to her?

A lazy Tom cat smirk crossed his lips, he leaned back in his seat after grabbing a handful of fries. Relaxed, he had a plan.

He'd have to find out.

So I'm not completely gone, I have other parts to this, I may or may not finish, it just depends, sorry if it's a bit rough, mostly I write scientific university reports more than I do for fun.

happy easter guys xxx