bPenname/b: averysubtlegift

bOriginal or Derivative (fanfiction)/b: DERIVATIVE

bRating/Warning(s)/Note(s)/b: T

bDisclaimer/b: All copyrights, trademarked items, or recognizable characters, plots, etc. mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without their express written authorization.

bPrompt/b: Cowboy

AN: I've never actually written much of anything about Rose or Emmett before. This was kind of fun. Written for the fictionista January 2010 WitFit daily writing challenge.

Cowboys and whiskey were my only weaknesses. Scratch that, not the whiskey part, that was the truth - it was the cowboys part that needed some tinkering. It was the s at the end of the word that was the problem. Cowboys in general weren't something I wasted my time on. They tended to be too dirty, too pushy and too "friendly" for my taste. But there was one cowboy, just one, who made my garters itch like no one else.

Rosalie Hale was my given name and I was the barmaid at a little saloon in the tiny, nowhere town of Cedar Gulch. The fact that the town's existence was a scarcely known fact made it the perfect place for me. A girl that was wanted in three states, a girl that could handle any gun, a girl that loved a game of poker and a glass of whiskey - a girl that was more beautiful than a desert sunset and harder to hold than a wild colt.

It was all true. I had killed some men. I didn't feel bad about it then and I still don't now. I kept a gun strapped to my thigh, just in case. And yes, I was a beauty. It wasn't vanity. The Hale's were always known for their beauty. I could have done without it, but it was my fate, and I chose to bear it with as much dignity as possible. There's dignity in drinking and gambling and gun-slinging, right?

I'd seen enough of the world to know the way things work. I knew the only person I could trust was myself. I'd grown tired of running and Cedar Gulch had been as good a resting place as any of the other anonymous towns dotting the sparsely settled stretch of western frontier. I kept myself out of trouble for the most part. Oh, I knew when to flash a little leg or how to dazzle with a smile if I had to. I used my wiles to keep the drinks flowing at the bar, but I didn't fall for any of the lonely men of Cedar Gulch. I knew better.

At least I did, until he rolled into town. Emmett McCarty. Foot after foot of tan muscle and brawn. Thick dark curls peeking out from under his hat and dimples so deep you could fall in them. A smile that held boyish mischief and mansized devilry all at the same time. Eyes that sparkled with amusement, so deep and beautiful it was impossible not to get lost in them. All of that would have been enough to make me swoon, but Mr. McCarty wasn't done yet - not by a long shot.

You see, the McCarty family ran a large ranch a days ride north. Emmett passed through town every few months, usually staying a night or two. You always knew when they were coming, because all the ladies in town would get to twittering about the McCarty men. There were a bunch of brothers, each one as handsome and strapping as the next. I could understand the excitement on the part of the ladies, for if there were ever a bunch of more eligible bachelors, I'd not seen them. Yet for me, it always came down to Emmett.

It was the way he would always buy a bag of penny candies and pass them out to every kid he passed on the street. It was his fierce protectiveness of his horse. I would get lost watching him cradle a glass of whiskey in his large hands, and wonder what else those large hands could do with such grace and finesse. He had a way of saying my name that started a fire under my skin. Whenever he was in town, he had a way of watching out for me, and I felt protected in a way I'd never known before. It was the way his laughter filled a room, instantly endearing him as a friend to all.

As I watched him from across the bar his eyes met mine and an easy smile spread across his lips. I took another sip of my whiskey and shook my head.

My weaknesses; whiskey and a cowboy. A cowboy named Emmett - the only man I'd rather kiss than kill.