Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy Contest
"Break out the denim, boots and cowboy hats, turn up the country music cause we're goin' country y'all!"
Rating – not needed, if you're not of age to buy porn, then you shouldn't be reading it no less writing it.
This one-shot is being posted in participation with the above mentioned contest hosted by bemylullaby,ImWithTheVampires08 , mischief-maker1 , miztrezboo, Nostalgicmiss, TwilightMom and our admin assistant Mimi here at the FournikationFoundation. Please see any of the aforementioned author's profiles for complete contest information, or see the C2 community 'Fournication Station Contests'.
One Last Ride
Bella stood with her back to me at the kitchen sink. She hadn't spoken to me since I told her I was going to be riding in the finals. I knew she would be pissed when I made my intentions clear. There was no confusion with her feelings about me returning to the circuit, but I just wasn't ready to hang it up yet. Damn! I'm only 30 years old. I'm too young to be retiring, I still have a few good years in me. But I understood her concerns. This last injury had scared her, she didn't think I was going to make it this time. The memories of that day flashed through my mind.
"Alright Edward, this bull is a son of bitch. He'll turn to the left out of the gate for two turns and then he'll whip back to the right in mid-air. So find your center and stay there, son, cause when you hit the ground he's gonna come after your ass. Try to land on your feet when you dismount and get to the fence as fast as possible. Edward, this bastard is mean and he won't care to put a horn in you." Jasper gave me the run down of things I needed to know about my draw for this round. We had been over all of it before I climbed into the shoot but Jasper always made sure to go over all of it again just before I would give the signal to open the gate. I tightened my grip,tapping my gloved hand wound tightly in the rope. Pushing my hat further on my head, I nodded to the gate holder. "Let 'im go boys."
True to Jaspers word, Hornet hit the arena wide ass open spinning to the left and in mid air he whipped his head around, his rolling body following the momentum. I had tried to center myself and spur with my outside leg, hoping to gain points. At that moment Hornet made an unexpected move, something he had never done in all the rides I had witnessed or watched on video. He rolled his head to the left then the right in quick succession, buried his nose in the ground, throwing his hind quarters into the air, which pitched me forward. As soon as he felt my body shift, he jumped straight up, catching me square in the face with his head. Everything went black.
I shook my head trying to clear the images of that day. When I woke up in the hospital several days later Bella was at my bedside, her tear stained face was the first thing I saw through my blurry gaze. Even with red and swollen eyes she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Bella explained that Hornet had not only broken the majority of the bones on the left side of my face, but when I hit the ground out cold he proceeded to wallow me, pushing me deeper into the dirt. Though I wore the protective vest required now, he was still able to hook me in the right kidney and also my left thigh. She told me they had to remove the kidney and the plastic surgeon was able to repair the damage to my face. I would have a small scar under my eye but all in all I had nothing to complain about. The doctors had informed me how lucky I was that there wasn't any brain damage from the impact of the bulls head and also the fall when I was completely unconscious. Bella had been adamant from that day on that I retire. She was terrified that the next time I would not come out of it alive. I understood her fears, but rodeo was in my blood. I was from a long line of bull riding champions, except my father who didn't follow along the path of his father and grandfather as I had. I couldn't just walk away now. Not when I had the opportunity to add another championship to my repertoire before I hung it up for good.
"Baby please.....I know you're upset, but I'm leaving tomorrow. Can we have one more day together without fighting? Bella, I don't want to get on that plane tomorrow with you still not talking to me." She had turned the water off in the sink but her body posture was stiff. I watched as her shoulders began to shake slightly. I realized she was crying. A split second later I was on my feet and across the room to her. Grasping her shoulders I turned her around to face me, wrapping my arms around her tiny body.
"Baby, please don't......shhhhh.......please don't do this Bella. I'm not going to get hurt. I need this one last ride, baby." I pleaded with her to understand my reasoning. I only needed to place in the first round to be able to clench the championship. Even with my injury I had moved so far out in front of the other competitors that all I needed was to have a completed ride to sew up my place at the top. This year I would walk away with over a million dollar purse and the championship.
"I don't understand, Edward. I can't. Why can't you let it go? It's not like we need the money. The ranch is doing really well. Your winnings over your career are more than enough to keep us comfortable for years to come," her words muffled as she didn't look up at me, speaking into my chest where she had buried her head. "I just don't understand.....why would you want to leave me? Do I mean that little to you?"
I was shocked. I had no idea that she felt this way. How could she think that I didn't love her? That she wasn't everything to me? I needed this for me. It had nothing to do with my love for her, but my heart broke that she felt this way.
I slid my hands up her back, taking her face between my palms. Caressing her cheeks with the pads of my thumbs. I looked deep into those dark chocolate pools. Even after all our years together, I never tired of looking into this womans eyes.
"Baby, there is nothing in this world more important to me than you. I am so sorry that I haven't done the job I should have in making you know that......Bella, my going back has nothing to do with how much I love you." I bent to press my lips to hers.
"Edward, please don't do this," she begged. "I can't live without you. What am I going to do if you don't come back to me?"
My heart was breaking for the fear and pain I was causing her. I knew this life was hard for her. Bella's father had been a champion bull rider and had won best all around cowboy three years in a row. I understood many of Bella's fears were rooted in the circumstances surrounding her father's death. Charlie Swan had wanted to do one last rodeo before he 'got too old' and had come out of retirement to compete one last time. Bella was ten years old and she thought the sun rose and set on her father. She was there the day he died in the arena. Watching when the bull hooked him in the chest, puncturing his lung. Bella watched the life leave her father and she never fully recovered. How could she? No child should witness their parent dying like that.
Even with that knowledge, she had married me, knowing that she would continue to live the rodeo life. Bella's love for me was more than I could ever fully comprehend and I thanked God every day for that fact. Knowing that, even though she could have been a widow after this last accident, she stood by my side. I said a silent prayer then and there that I had been blessed with the chance to stay by hers. I knew the decision to go back one last time was breaking her heart, and it was the most selfish thing I had ever done. I needed to go out on top and not with an injury. It was prideful and just down right wrong to ask her to trust me one more time, but I did it all the same. I had to ensure that she knew I would not leave her alone, that I would always come back to her.
"Bella, I will always come back to you. I swear to you I am not going anywhere. I love you darlin'." I placed a soft kiss to her forehead, each cheek, over both of her closed eyelids, finally making my way to her full lips. A whimper escaped from her as I sucked her bottom lip into my mouth. Sweeping my tongue into her mouth I tasted the sweetness of my Bella, my wife, my life. Her arms came up to snake around my neck, her hands immediately running through my hair in just the way she knew I liked. She pulled slightly at the ends. I ghosted my hands down her neck to her shoulders, over her back, and down to cup her ass. She squeaked as I lifted her off the ground and wrapped her legs around my waist. I groaned as she pressed herself into my rock hard cock as it was straining against my jeans, begging to come out and play. Her hands ran down my chest, ripping open my shirt, the buttons tinkled as they hit the river rock floor. I hissed as her nails raked across my chest. She knew that drove me crazy and I couldn't stop myself from backing her into the wall. I pushed her tank top up over her head taking her sports bra along with it, dipping my head to take an exposed nipple into my mouth. Bella gasped as I bit down on the pebbled flesh. One hand around her waist held her tightly to me as I suckled her, with my free hand I made my way to the waist of her jeans. Easily opening the button and then the zipper giving me access to the promised land.
"Oh...god Bella, you're so wet for me...."
My dick twitched as I circled her clit with my thumb, slipping a finger inside her warmth. I felt her body tighten around me, her walls beginning to clench as I curled my finger finding the spot I knew would have her screaming my name.
"Oh....Edward...." I couldn't stop the cocky grin from springing to my face, I was well aware of how to play her body. I returned my attentions to her full breasts as I added another finger and pumped into her slowly, driving her insane with desire for more.
Placing open mouthed kisses to the center of her chest. I licked and nibbled a trail to her collarbone sucking lightly at the hollow of her throat, Bella threw her head back and moaned my name. I removed my finger's and Bella whimpered at the loss of contact.
"Bella.....I have to have you right here, right now......I can't wait any longer." Bella's hands were already on their way back down my chest, I sucked in a breath as her fingertips skimmed over the indentations of my abdomen. Jerking the button fly of my jeans open she wrapped her hand around my cock and I groaned at the overwhelming sensation that brought. I shifted my hips into her hand as she moved her hand up my shaft.
"Mmmmm.....Edward, you're so hard.....I need you inside me, baby.....I need to feel you," she whispered as she bit down on the lobe of my ear.
"Ahhhhh......Bella.......Fuck....I want you so much." I wasn't going to last long if she continued with her ministrations. I needed to be inside her, now!
Bella unwrapped herself from around my body and I pushed her jeans further down her legs. Using her feet, she removed them entirely. I never released the arm which held her firmly to my chest and off the ground. Bella reached over to the waist of my jeans, shoving them to my knees along with my boxers.
"Now, Edward......I need you NOW!" The urgency in Bella's plea made my body quake with my own desire and want for her body. She wrapped her legs around me again and positioned me at just the right place, pushing herself down onto my cock before I could make another move. My eyes rolled back at the feeling of her hot, wet sex wrapped so tightly around me.
"Bella.....ahhh...so tight, baby.....god you feel so good."
I pulled out slightly and pushed back hard, burying my full length in her. Bella moaned my name over and over as I continued to pump faster into her sex.
"More Edward.....oh, god....more"
I could feel the coil building in the pit of my abdomen, ready to explode as I pushed harder and Bella met my thrusts with her own. She swiveled her hips to build more and more delicious friction. I knew I wasn't being gentle with her but at the moment I couldn't stop and think about that while enjoying the feeling of her wrapped around me.
"Oh......Bella, come for me baby....let go baby," I ground out between my thrusts. I knew I would not last much longer as my balls began to tighten and I knew I was close to exploding, but I wanted to take care of her first. With every swivel of her hips the coil tightened.
"OH! Edward...." I felt her walls tightening around my cock and knew that with a few more thrusts she would fall over the edge. I pumped harder, faster, grasping her hips with both my hands, giving me more leverage. Bella's arms were wrapped around my shoulders, holding herself to me as she gasped into my neck. "Oh god....so.....close...yes, yes"
And it was then that I felt her body quiver and her walls closed down around me, milking me as she ground herself into my pelvis. Her head thrown back, mouth forming a perfect O with her silent scream as she tumbled into her bliss.
I thrust into her hot wet folds only twice more before I exploded, long and hard. I placed a kiss to her neck as I came down from my high, whispering my love to her. Kicking my jeans off the rest of the way, I stepped away from the wall but held tight to my beautiful wife, finding her lips and kissing her gently. Sweeping my tongue along her bottom lip she eagerly opened to me, allowing the kiss to deepen. I put every bit of passion and love I felt for her into that kiss. Hoping to show her just how much I truly loved her, wanting to reassure her that I would always come home to her. I knew her fears were well warranted, but there was no way I could ever not come back to her. I never broke from her lips as I carried her down the hall to our room.
Laying her on the bed where we had spent hours loving one another, I stretched my body out to hover over hers. I shifted my hips and groaned at the friction created by our position. Bella's legs were still wrapped around my waist. She held me tightly to her in this position, staring into my eyes when she broke our kiss. I dipped my head to place open mouthed kisses down her jaw, to her neck, finding her pulse point and sucking lightly. I licked my way back up to her ear.
"I'm going to worship you tonight Bella," I whispered caressing every inch of milky white skin. Running my hand across her abdomen, up the center of her chest between her breasts and back down, up to her knee which was still hooked over my right hip. I felt myself growing hard again at the sensations of Bella wrapped around me and lying in this position, her body singing a siren song for mine. As I entered her again a soft moan left her perfect lips.
"I love you so much, Edward," I watched as a single tear slid from the corner of her eye. I placed a gentle kiss to the salty trail left in its wake.
"Baby, I swear to you I will come home to you in one piece," I knew that I was promising her something that I could not truly guarantee, but for tonight Bella needed reassurances, not necessarily the truth. She was painfully aware of what the truth was. Tonight was for me to make her understand how much my love for her would always bring me back to her.
I rolled over the next morning reaching my arm across the bed to the place I knew Bella would be. My hand met nothing but the cold sheet and an empty bed. I sat straight up looking around the room to see if I could locate her. I listened closely hoping she was only in the bathroom and she would return to me shortly, but I heard nothing coming from the en suite. It was then that I caught the strong aroma of coffee brewing and the faint sounds of pots and pans being moved around coming from the kitchen. I smiled knowing that my Bella was making me breakfast before we had to leave for the airport. I threw the covers off my body and stood, stretching. My muscles were tight and slightly sore from the all activities of worshiping my beautiful wife. I smiled to myself at the memories of our love making from the previous night.
Walking to the shower, I flipped the nozzle to the hottest setting. While the water warmed I walked back into our room, collecting a pair of boxer briefs, my jeans and one of my more comfortable button downs. The flight to Las Vegas was only a couple of hours but I liked to travel in comfort; fashion sense was not really high on my list.
I hissed as I stepped into the shower and the scalding water washed over my body. I turned to let the penetrating warmth soothe and relax the muscles in my back. I continued to have some issues with muscle stiffness since my injury and surgery that the physical therapy was remedying, but early morning was the worst part of the day. It was important to get that worked out before I got on my first bull tomorrow night. I needed to be as limber as possible. There could not be another accident like that one. For many reasons I didn't want a repeat performance of that incident, but the highest on the list would be that I would have broken my promise to Bella by getting injured again. I knew that it was highly possible every time I climbed on a bull, the likelihood that I would not walk out of the arena hung in the air. I shook those thoughts from my mind as I stepped out of the shower. Dressing as quickly as possible, I padded into the kitchen hoping that Bella was still speaking to me this morning. I really did not want to get on that plane this afternoon with her still so unsure, so upset with this decision.
I found her flipping eggs out onto a plate. I took in the table arrangement in the breakfast area of our kitchen.
"Baby....how long have you been up?" I quirked an eyebrow at her. Judging by the amount of food she prepared she was up for hours. Wrapping my arms around her and pulling her into me gently, I moved the hair that lay across her shoulders before placing a kiss to the crook of her neck. She moaned softly in response, leaning further into me. While waving a hand in the air dismissively.
"Oh, I don't know really. I couldn't sleep, so....I cook, you know." I did know; when Bella is upset she has trouble sleeping and so as a way to relax she cooks, non-stop. I woke many nights after my accident to find her up in the middle of the night, baking away. I knew her fears about my returning to rodeo and getting injured again were the reasons for her making the absolutely most delicious waffle I had ever put in my mouth.
"Oh god....Bella this is amazing. Baby, thank you so much...." I stuffed my mouth full of the delicacy. "Darlin' really...one day you need to open your own restaurant. You're an amazing cook." I leaned over to place a kiss on her cheek as she had joined me with her own plate. She smiled weakly, pushing her food around her plate.
"Bella, you feeling alright? You're not eating any of this feast you laid out for me?" I was only half joking. Bella had not been eating properly recently. Especially in the earlier parts of the day.
"I'm fine, Edward. Just a little stomach bug I guess." She tried to smile at me but I could see the worry there in her eyes. I wanted to make it all go away, and knowing that I put that look in her eyes made my chest ache.
Before I had time to process everything we talked about last night and again this morning, we were pulling up where she would drop me off at the airport. Bella would not be able to stay with me until my flight. With security as tight as it was now a days we would have to part ways at the curb. Once my one suitcase and the duffel containing my equipment were out of the trunk I took her in my arms.
I could feel the trembling of her body and I held her tighter. Looking at her standing there before me trying to be so brave almost had me calling the promoter and telling him to forget it,I had changed my mind. But then Bella opened her mouth and said words that I will never forget.
"Edward......" she looked up at me through her long dark lashes, my breathing sped up and my dick responded happily at the sexy look she was casting me. "I understand that you need to do this ride before you finish, before you can retire and be home with me forever. I just.....I wanted to make sure I told you I do understand why you're doing this. I know I told you I didn't, but I do...." her voice had begun to falter. "Daddy was the same way. I know how much it calls to you. I understand it. I don't like it, but I understand it." She placed a kiss on my chest just over my heart, which was thundering against my ribs. It had swelled to twice its' size with her confession. My wife, so strong; I was a lucky man to have this woman in my life.
There were no words for how much I loved this woman. She was so brave, though she had expressed her unhappiness about my decision to return (to the rodeo), she wanted to make sure I knew she understood my need to do this.
"Bella, listen to me....I swear to you I will do my damndest to come home in one piece, sugar. I'm not going anywhere for a long time, okay?" I whispered in her ear. I knew that my words were not of much comfort, but it was all I had for her now.
"Edward...." her voice cracking as she tried so hard to rein in her tears. "Just promise me that if you draw 'hornet' you won't ride him. Please...." she could do no more than whisper her request to me.
Running my hands up her back and cupping her face between my palms, I placed a chaste kiss to her lips.
"Baby, I swear to you, I am not going to ride that bull ever again. I'll turn him out if that's my draw, I swear it to you, Bella."
I had made that decision when I woke up from the drug induced coma. I would never climb on that animal again. I had pushed my luck with him long enough.
Hornet carried a challenge purse. Any cowboy that could ride him on three different draws would win one hundred thousand dollars and the bragging rights of having pulled that miracle off. The purse had grown over the last couple of years because there had been no one able to do it. Jasper and I were the only ones to ever come close, both having ridden him for the full eight seconds twice. I had drawn him for my third time at the Cheyenne Rodeo, and would have taken home the purse that night if I could have held on and rode him for a full ride. But that was not an option for me any longer. Even though I would be wearing a protective helmet, I would not take the chance of climbing on that bull again.
"Thank you...." she sighed into my lips. I rested my forehead against hers and breathed her in. I didn't want to leave her. Since my accident we had spent pretty much every waking hour wrapped up in one another, as well as many that we should have been using for sleep.
"I've gotta go baby....." I spoke softly and that was too harsh a sound in our close proximity to one another.
"I know, but I don't want to let you go yet," she whispered back, her breath and words washing over me. Soothing me and igniting the fire in my body simultaniously.
"Oh darlin', I don't want you to let me go, but....," my voice trailed off as I placed a kiss on her forehead. "Bella, I'll be back in a few days. And when I get back.....there won't be anymore rodeos, okay? I'm done, I swear to you." I looked deep into her eyes, hoping that she would see that I was serious, praying that she could find the truth there.
A small smile played at her lips as a single tear slid down her cheek. I wiped it away with the pad of my thumb as I held her face in my hands. I tilted her head to bring my lips to meet her full ones. She wrapped her arms around my neck, scratching my scalp with her fingertips, eliciting a moan from deep in my chest when she swiped her moist tongue along my bottom lip, begging to deepen our kiss. I could deny her nothing, especially this. Opening up allowing her entrance, meeting her with a need that burned white hot throughout my body. She whimpered when I sucked her lip into my mouth and bit down gently. Our lips never losing contact, my hands ran down her back and I pulled her tighter into my body, lifting her feet off the ground. She wrapped her arms in a vice like grip around my neck and I held her level with me.
"Mmmmm......baby, I'm gonna miss my plane. And as much as I really don't want to stop this...." I broke our kiss to whisper against her lips. Placing another quick, chaste kiss on her swollen lips, I said "I really have to go."
She didn't speak,only nodding her head in acceptance. I set her feet back on the ground but did not release her from my embrace.
"I'll see you in few days..." I kissed her one more time before dropping my arms from around her body; instantly I ached with the loss.
I shouldered my duffel and grabbed the handle of the rolling suitcase, looking back at my beautiful wife one more time. I cupped her cheek in my rough hand, staring into the eyes that I would happily lose myself in for the rest of my life. She covered my hand with her own, pressing her face firmly into my palm. She turned, placing a gentle kiss to the center, before letting go and smiling at me through the tears I could see in her eyes.
"I love you, Edward Cullen. You come back to me, you hear....you come back and don't you ever leave me again, okay?" Though I could hear the emotion, her voice was strong and did not break under the strain of this day.
I boarded the plane, placing my duffel in the overhead compartment I settled in for the flight. I hated flying but it was much easier than driving. I just could not sit in a truck that long anymore. Adjusting my hat to cover my eyes, I leaned back in my seat thinking I could catch up on the sleep that I lost from the night before. Not that I was complaining, far from it. A smile spread across my face as I remembered Bella beneath me as she allowed me to worship her body. That was probably not the best of ideas because with those visions playing through my mind I felt the growing erection become increasingly uncomfortable. At some point I dozed off with thoughts of Bella on my mind.
I woke as the pilot came on the intercom and the light warning us to fasten our seat belts began flashing overhead. The plane taxied up to the terminal. I pulled my duffel out of the compartment and made my way down the aisle. Jasper and Emmett were meeting me at the airport; they had driven up a few days before with Emmett's truck and trailer. Emmett would be competing in the steer wrestling and team roping events in the finals.
His roping partner was an ass but they had won last year with a wide margin, so I guess being an ass had nothing to do with his roping skills. I did not know why, but there was something about James Hawkens that set my blood boiling. Emmett had professed to not caring for him much either, but they made a good team and that was really all that concerned Em. If putting up with James' bullshit got him in the finals and a win, then he was willing to do it.
As I entered the terminal, I caught sight of Emmett's hulking frame towering above most of the other travelers surrounding us. He waved me over to where he and Jasper stood near the bank of windows watching as the airplanes took off and landed in a never ending cycle. Las Vegas was truly the city that never slept. And all I could think was that I really wanted to climb back on one of those planes and go home to my Bella. At the same time I knew that I wouldn't; I had to finish this. I refused to allow my career to end being carried out of the arena on a stretcher. That was not what I wanted to be remembered by, regardless of the fact that there was talk of my name being nominated for the Bull Riders Hall of Fame. If I went out like that, all the other things I accomplished in my career would be overshadowed by the memory of me being carried out with a career ending injury, unconscious. That was not the way I wanted my name to go down in the annals with people like Adreano Moreles or Tuff Hedeman. Those guys had injuries but returned and went out on top. That was what I needed for my career, for my pride. I needed to not go out feeling as though I couldn't conquer the fear of climbing back on and riding, just one more time.
"Hey man, d'ya have a good flight?" Jasper greeted me, extending a hand.
"Yeah, it was fine. I caught a few z's. It's all good. What time did ya'll make it in?" I questioned as we made our way out of the airport and to Emmett's truck.
"Aw hell, we got into some really bad traffic just outside of town. But we got in around ten o'clock last night. Luckily the office was still open at the arena. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get a stall for Sam, but it all worked out." Emmett informed meas he merged onto the highway.
The ride to the hotel was blessedly short and once I checked in I left the guys so I could settle into my room, needing desperately to place a phone call to my wife. I had tried her when I landed, but her cell went to voice mail. I wasn't too concerned. I figured she was tied up and unable to get to the phone. As soon as I was inside my room, I dropped my bags and immediately pulled out my phone.
"Hello," her voice was like a caress and I instantly felt my body relax just at the sound.
"Hello, love of my life." I smiled into the phone. I heard her sigh a breathy sound, as though she were just as relieved as I was to hear her voice.
"Edward...." she breathed my name like a prayer. The spark that ignited and ran up my spine was bursting in my chest and had me catching my breath at the sound of the longing in her voice. I had only been gone a few hours, but I missed her more than words could describe.
"I called a little bit ago, everything okay baby? It went to your voice mail."
"Oh....uh, yeah everything's fine. I don't know what....I didn't hear the phone. I'm sorry." There was something off in her voice in that instant. She never stammered when talking to me.
"Bella? Are you sure you're okay? You sound upset or something...." I trailed off, suddenly very concerned about this conversation. What happened in the few hours I had been gone?
"No honey. I'm fine. There's nothing wrong, okay? I'm just....I'm fine. How was your flight? Is the hotel room nice?" Bella was diverting my attention to other topics and I let the issue drop for now. Maybe I was reading more between the lines than necessary.
"Uh...yeah it's all really nice. The flight was good. Em and Jasper picked me up and I just got into my room. Bella, are you sure you're okay?" I could not shake the feeling that something was off. And after the converstations we had over the last few days, I would be lying if I said it didn't make me a bit nervous.
Even after we ended our conversation, the lingering feeling that something was just not right stayed with me. But deciding there was nothing I could do about it until I got back home, I pushed the nagging feeling to the back of my mind and concentrated on what lay ahead of me the following day.
"Holy Hell! Edward! Avalanche for your first draw? Damn son, somebody upstairs really doesn't like you. What the hell did you do to piss off the big guy?" Jasper laughed as he clapped my back. He was teasing but the look on his face belied the joke he was making about my draw for the first round.
Avalanche was a bull who had a one hundred percent buck-off rate last year and only one person had ridden him this year. And that person just happened to be the one giving me shit about having to climb on the monster.
Since ours was the last event of the evening, we had to report just before noon for our draw order and instructions on when to report to the arena. So we had plenty of time to kill before we needed to be back to prepare our equipment. I had spoken to Bella again after getting up this morning, and though she sounded like herself, that nagging feeling was still there under the surface. I felt like there was something she was not telling me, I could not imagine what it would be.
Emmett would have to stay at the arena; he and James would be competing in the preliminary rounds before being able to advance to the final day of competition. I had all confidence that they would be taking home the belt buckles and the prize money this year.
Three hours and three hundred dollars later, Jasper and I arrived back at the arena. There was a reason Bella warned me about playing blackjack. I shook my head and laughed at myself, because I was already dreading that conversation when I had to tell her I lost three hundred dollars in twenty minutes sitting at the blackjack table. She was going to be pissed. I laughed to myself, shaking my head, 'cause I really couldn't think of any way around telling her how I lost the money, and I knew she wasn't going to believe any of the stupid reasons that were popping in my head at the moment. Jasper picked up on it immediately and of course he wasn't going to let something like that go.
"Son, Bella is going to kick your ass when you get home," he laughed as I saw Emmett making his way over to where we stood behind the shoots.
"Why's Bella going to kick Eddie's ass?" Emmett had a huge shit eating grin plastered on his face. I'm almost positive he already knew what I had done and he was enjoying it much more than he should have.
"Em, this dumb ass lost three hundred bucks sitting at the blackjack table in under twenty minutes." Emmett's eyes doubled in size as he turned to look at me.
"Holy hell, Edward! Bella's gonna kill you. Did you forget the bitchin' out you caught the last time we all came to Vegas together?" Emmett asked, laughing at the situation I had gotten myself into.
I shook my head and continued to rub the rosin on my rope, preparing my equipment for when I would climb on Avalanche. I would be lying if I didn't admit to being nervous. I had returned to training a couple of months after my injury, when the doctors released me. The hang up in returning had been the surgery to remove my kidney. I wore a protective wrap around my waist as well as the vest that we were all required to wear now. It was a precaution only; not necessary, but the doctor had advised me it would be a good idea. Seeing that one of my doctors was also my father, there really wasn't any arguing the point.
Carlisle Cullen was a renowned orthopedic and sports medicine surgeon. He worked with the PBR as an on call physician. My father was the physician on duty the day of my injury and the first to my side when Hornet had been cleared out. He would have been there sooner if Emmett had not restrained him from coming to me before the bull was out of the arena.
My parents were pretty much on the same page as Bella regarding my return for the finals. But, also like Bella, they understood the pull the rodeo held for me and gave their support with resignation. I knew I was a blessed man to have a family such as mine, who even though they did not always agree with my decisions, they supported me and loved me regardless.
I was pulled out of my musings by the announcer on the loud speaker letting the crowd know that the bull riding would begin in fifteen minutes. Bree, one of the assistant's to the promoter, came through the shoot area where we were all congregated and informed us they would be loading our shoots in ten minutes and we could begin making our way to our assigned shoot and complete our preparations.
Since Emmett was finished for the day he would be assisting both me and Jasper on our rides. Jasper's draw called for him to ride out just before I did so we would not be doing our usual run down before coming out of the shoot as we had done in the past. He shot me a look and I knew he was thinking the same thing, but I also saw the concern in his face, knowing this was my first trip around the sun.
"Edward. You....man, nobody would think less of you if you didn't ride. You know that, right?" Jasper's voice was devoid of all the humor it had held just a short time ago.
I turned to look at him and Emmett. They wore equal looks of concern.
"Listen, I appreciate what you're trying to say." I paused, taking a deep breath and removing my hat to run my hand through my hair. "I know what I'm doing. I have to do this. For me. I have to know that I didn't let that son of bitch beat me." I held up a hand because I could see the two of them begin to formulate an argument against my thinking.
"No, stop right there. I know what you're going to say, and I know. But for me, I needed this. I am not ever going to ride Hornet again but I need to know that I could still climb on and ride. I can't go out like that, I won't hang it up and let my last ride end with me on a stretcher.I know that's prideful, and....I have to do this."
Neither one said anything. They stood looking at me for a long moment, then both nodded in understanding. Because truth be told, they would be doing the same thing.
I tightened the chaps around my legs, adjusted my belt, and bent down to strap on my spurs. Straightening and zipping my vest I said a silent prayer for protection and asked for forgiveness I did not deserve for putting my wife and my parents through this once again. I prayed that I would make it through the next eight seconds and keep my promise to Bella to come home in one piece, uninjured.
"You ready for this?" Emmett asked as I made my way along the narrow catwalk to the shoot which held the devil I would be dancing with in a few short minutes.
Jasper made an amazing ride, scoring an eighty seven. He was sitting at the top of the leader board as there were only three other cowboys to cover their ride, receiving a qualified score.
I just nodded my head. My voice seemed to have left me and my throat was so dry. I could not have answered if the good lord himself were asking me that question. It was at that moment I felt a hand on my shoulder, turning to look into the crystal blue eyes of my father.
"I thought you might need an extra set of hands since Jasper wasn't able to help ya this time." I couldn't stop the wash of emotion that spread throughout my body.
My father, who was never a fan of my career choice though he wasn't surprised by it, was here now to not only support me in my decision but also to assist me. I had to clear my throat of the lump there before I could speak.
"I can't think of anyone I'd rather have helping me dad. Thank you," he patted my shoulder and turned to Emmett.
"Alright boys, let's get the show on the road." I could not have loved my father more in that moment. I hoped that one day I would be as good a father as he had always been. He gave me one last look before following Emmett to the shoot; the shoot which held Avalanche and my chance of proving to myself that I could still do this.
Taking a deep, calming breath I stepped up. I climbed over the top of the shoot, positioning myself with a foot on either side of the beast that was going to do his very best to get me off his back. And god help me when I hit the dirt because he would be hell bent on pushing me just as far as he could get me into ground.
"You ready, man? Ropes in place. Carlisle is going to pull the bucking strap. He figured that I needed to place your rope for ya." Emmett's voice was thick with his concern for what I was about to do. I looked at my friend and thanked him. I was thankful to Emmett and Jasper for many more things than I could ever really tell them. They were there when I needed them, they were there for my Bella when I couldn't be. The conversation from the night before with Jasper flashed before me as I settled down on Avalanche's back and slipped my hand through the loop in my rope.
"Edward, man I really don't feel comfortable talking about this. Not tonight son, right before you're climbing back in that shoot and doing your thing." Jasper shook his head before taking a long pull of his long neck bottle.
"Jasper, listen. I am going to do everything within my power to make sure I come out of this......But you know as well as anybody that there is no way I can control what that bull is going to do if he gets a hold of me.
"I need to know that.....if something happens tomorrow…. Jasper, I don't know what I'll draw tomorrow and I need to know that if something happens and I don't make it out that Bella will be taken care of." The errant thought of not returning to my Bella had my heart pounding against my ribs and my breath catching in my throat.
"Jasper, really. I'm planning on walking out of that arena and straight back home to Bella, but....I just need you to promise me that, just in case that doesn't happen, you'll make sure she's taken care of."
I returned Jasper's intense stare, knowing that he would only see the truth in my eyes for what I was asking. I needed to make sure, even though I knew I was walking away from that arena under my own power, that Bella would be taken care of regardless.
Jasper gave me an almost imperceptible nod, saying "Shit. Edward you know there is no way if something happened to you that I wouldn't make sure Bella was cared for. All of us would, you know that."
"Alright Edward," Emmett's voice brought me back to the task at hand. "I'm not as good at this as Jasper. Man, you know what you need to do. Just ride the hell out of this son of a bitch." I looked up at Emmett who leaned further into the shoot, grasping the rope and pulling it tight around the massive body of the bull. Taking the rope from Em, I wrapped it tightly around my gloved hand. One, two, three times, then through my fingers and back across the palm. I had done this so many times it was muscle memory, I no longer even thought of the procedure. I just did it.
I could hear the announcer's voice over the loudspeaker calling out my name, reminding the crowd where I was in the standings this year and about this being my first ride back since my injury.
"Alright folks and down in Dodge Truck shoot we have Edward Cullen." I heard the crowd explode in applause and the flashbulbs were almost blinding in the indoor arena. I had forgotten how crazy the rodeo fans really could be at times. I loved it and hated it all at the same time.
"Ya'll will remember that Edward is coming back from a pretty nasty injury he got back around the beginning of this year. So folks, ya'll need to show him some love, let him know that we're all glad he was able to make such a speedy return to us. This cowboy's gonna be riding out on Avalanche. Ya'll might know this bull. Avalanche comes to the PBR out of the Diamond S bucking bulls and Gary Long stock. He's a mean one, that one. Avalanche has only had one covered ride this year folks, and that was by the cowboy that we just saw ride. Mr. Jasper Whitlock was able to stick with this monster for the full eight seconds earlier this year. Ya'll probably know that Jasper is the only one that could give Edward a run for his money this year in the standings. And if Edward can't hold on to this one, Jasper will take the prize this year. But if by some miracle this cowboy is able to hang on, he'll walk away with it all, folks. Let's show him that we're rootin' for him will ya."
I looked over my shoulder at my father's face as the crowd exploded again in their excitement and support. He wore the same determined look I had seen on his face a million times when he was working on one of the hundred's of cowboys he treated at these events. Holding the bucking strap with both hands, he looked me in the eye and said, "You can do it, son. You ride this bastard and you go home to Bella, you hear me." I stared at my father for a moment longer and thanked God again for the blessings in my life.
Pushing my hat down on my head tighter, I settled my full weight on the back of the beast and felt the adrenaline begin to rush through my veins. I took a deep breath, sat up straighter, and wrapping my legs around the barrel of the bull underneath me, I nodded my head giving the signal for the gate to be opened.
I felt the sharp movement of the body beneath me as the gate swung open and Avalanche reared, lunging high into the air as he leaped out of the shoot. I faintly heard my father's voice as I readjusted my seat and gripped my legs, awaiting the turn I knew was coming. And as sure as I was that it would happen, Avalanche twisted his body to the left, throwing his legs out to increase his momentum. He threw his head down, legs high in the air, doing his best to get me and the ropes off his back. As he turned back to the right, I adjusted again and began spurring into the turn with my outside foot, hand held high over my head to counterbalance my weight. Another turn to the left and I adjusted with every minute movement of his body, keeping my legs as tightly wrapped around him as I could. Avalanche went in to a dead spin to the left, and had Jasper not warned me that he was known to do this at times I would not have been watching for the clue that he was heading into it until it was too late and I was on the ground. But I was expecting it and when I saw Avalanche tuck his head into his left shoulder and whip his hind quarters around, I knew what I needed to do to ride it out and hang on for the next three seconds of this ride. I knew I was in the right position to ride this out and I couldn't hold the grin that started to spread across my face.
As I heard the buzz of the timer and the crowd go wild that I had covered the ride, that I was only the second person to stay on Avalanche this year, I released the rope securing my hand to the animal and made my dismount. Throwing my hat just as far as I could and hauling ass to the nearest section of fence, I looked over to where I knew my father and best friends would be standing. I couldn't hold in the emotions that swept through me as I realized that I had done it. I defeated the beast inside that wanted me to quit, that wanted me to hang it up when I knew I could never live with myself if I went out without knowing for sure that I could still ride for a full eight seconds. I knew I had hurt my Bella over this; I had caused her so much worry just to satisfy my pride and I hoped that she would be able to forgive me. I asked too much of her most of the time, but for whatever reason or blessing she loved me, and for that I was thankful.
I stepped down and made my way out of the arena. I waved at the crowd, taking my rope and my hat from Garrett. He had been in the arena the day of my accident. Garrett was a bullfighter and had saved my ass on more than one occasion.
"You did good, Edward. I'm glad for ya man, you deserve it," he smiled and clapped me on the shoulder as he turned to get in position for the next cowboy to come out of the shoots.
As I stepped through the gate into the walk way that would lead me back to the dressing area, my eye caught a sight that shook me to my core.
"Bella?" I whispered. I blinked rapidly trying to clear my vision, because surely I was hallucinating. Bella couldn't be standing here, she was at home. She was in Texas, not here, not....
"Bella...." a strangled sound escaping me as I watched the slow smile grow on her face, lighting up her beautiful features. I dropped my rope where I stood and rushed to take her in my arms, pulling her feet off the ground and twirling her around in the small space of the walkway.
She squealed and laughed as she wrapped her arms around my neck, crashing her lips to mine. Her tongue plunged into my mouth and I groaned with the sensations that sent through me. Bella slid down the front of my body and I pulled her closer to me. I couldn't get close enough in that moment. I ripped at the vest that I wore that was impeding contact with her body even more than our clothes. I wrapped my arms around her again and ran my hands over the tight muscles in her back. Devouring with my hands as much of her body as I could touch, staring into her eyes and falling even more in love with her.
"My god, sugar, what are you doing here? I..." I couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that she was here, my Bella was here in my arms and I had just made the final ride of mycareer. She was here for me, even though she didn't agree with my decision. She was here. My heart swelled at the sacrifices this woman made for me, for us.
"Edward, I'm sorry I acted the way I did about you going back to rodeo," her eyes downcast as she leaned her head into my chest.
"Hey," I called as I framed her face with my hands, tilting her face up to me. "Don't you ever be sorry for that. I have put you through more in the last year, hell longer than that." I pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Don't you ever be sorry for telling me how you feel about something. I'm the one who should be telling you I'm sorry for doing this to you again. I love you, Bella." I bent to press my lips to hers and smiled against her lips at the tiny moan that escaped her as I deepened the kiss. We broke apart, both gasping for air.
"I love you too, Edward. I always will." Bella looked deep in my eyes and I hoped she saw my feelings for her reflected back there.
She looked up at me through her long dark lashes, smiling at me with that same smile that lit up my world the first time I laid eyes on her. "Take me home cowboy."
Thank you to Jessica1971 for working her beta magic on this puppy.
Please review and let me know what you think of this little ditty. The story will be posted on the Fornication Station C2 as well.
so go check the other stories out as well.....