Author's Note: This is my first "Dukes" fanfic, but I was a Hazzardite during the show's first run. Shows my age. Oh well. This takes place after the reunion show in 1997, when Luke was a smoke jumper, probably about 2003. His age doesn't exactly correspond to Tom Wopat's age, but hey, this is fan FICTION, after all. LOL. Reviews are more than welcome.
I do not own or operate "The Dukes of Hazzard," in spite of the time I invested in the show between 1979 and 1982 or so. :)
Luke's been alone a long time. Will he find love after looking in a lot of wrong places?
Chapter One: Wheels Down
"Hi there, Rose?"
"Hey, Daisy! What's going on?" Rose Turney recognized Daisy Strate's voice immediately.
"Well, Luke's coming home today. Enos is with the young'uns, but you know how I hate driving in Atlanta, and you've been to that airport a million times. Would you go with me? We can take my car if you'll drive!"
"Sure, I'll come with you!"
"Are you positive you're not busy working on a story or something?"
"It's Saturday. I'm finished for the week. I'd love to come with you. It's been ages since I've seen Luke, anyway," she answered."
"Oh, that would be wonderful! You're such a lifesaver!" Even after marriage and three children, Daisy still gushed. Rose grinned.
"You're more than welcome. What time are you leaving?"
"How about in twenty minutes?"
The women were on their way to the Atlanta airport in Daisy's van. You know she was in love if she gave up that Jeep for a mommy van. Didn't mean she didn't drive the Jeep now and then, but family trips required the van or Enos' SUV. Daisy was still a striking woman and three children hadn't ruined her figure. She still wore her hair in loose curls, refusing a more practical "mommy 'do."
"Luke's coming home for good," Daisy said.
Rose glanced at her, incredulously. "Seriously?"
"Seriously. And as far as I know, he's not seeing anyone."
"I didn't ask," Rose answered, a little testily.
Daisy snickered. "No, but you'd have gotten around to it. You've carried a torch for that cousin of mine all these years, haven't you?"
Rose sighed. "Well, yes I have. But do you think he's finally going to notice I'm a grown woman and not a little girl in pigtails anymore?"
Daisy laughed even harder. "I guarantee he will. But why didn't you hogtie Bo when you had the chance? I was hoping it would work out when you two were dating. Bo needs a sweet, stable woman in his life."
"Bo Duke and me? No way. I love him to pieces but there's no way I could live with him. He needs a woman with a lot of patience and who doesn't care about that roving eye of his. I swear, he'll be chasing skirts when he's 80!"
Daisy Duke Strate howled with laughter. "You are so right! He just needs to marry a woman who's willing to take a rolling pin upside his head when he does it."
"Yeah, someone who can keep his attention. Unless he's working on a car, or driving one, Bo is the ADD poster child."
Daisy shook her head. "That's it. We just didn't know about ADD when Bo was in first grade. Mrs. Holley just had to use a switch to keep him in line. Always worked pretty well, though."
"Especially when Uncle Jesse backed it up with a belt when he got home," Rose replied.
"I know it. The only thing that's ever worked with Bo is busting his tail for his sins. Maybe we need to call one of those Hollywood women. Domina-what you call 'ems?"
"Dominatrix?" Rose said. "Hmm. Now there's a thought. Can't you imagine some woman in high heels having Bo trussed like a turkey and calling her 'mistress'? Boggles the imagination. Funny as all get-out, though."
"It sure is," Daisy agreed.
"Daisy, you owe me lunch for this," Rose said as they finally found a parking space on the top level of the deck at the airport.
"I know, sugar. I'm buying lunch for you and Luke when he gets in. He's always hungry as a bear when he gets off the plane. I think he'll be real pleased to see you, though." Daisy shot Rose a knowing grin.
"I hope so. That's a nice thought." Rose double-clicked the key fob to set the alarm. Daisy jumped as the horn honked. "Just turning on the alarm. We're not in Hazzard, remember."
"Don't I know it?" Daisy answered. "Atlanta has changed a lot the last 20 years. I just don't feel safe here, anymore."
"Me, either, and I've walked Lower Broadway in Nashville on a Saturday night."
"Yeah, but don't you have a black belt in karate or something?" Daisy asked.
Rose laughed. "A blue belt in jujitsu. Not a black belt, by any means. But did Bo ever fully explain that strained back he got while we were dating?"
"Not really. Unfortunately, I just assumed the obvious…" Daisy's voice trailed off.
"I understand," Rose said with a grin. "But that wasn't it at all. In fact, we never slept together. Not for lack of him wanting to, I assure you, but I just never could. He tried. I have to give that boy credit. He tried everything his little female-obsessed brain could think of, but it was just no good. Every time I looked into his eyes, I wanted to see another man. And he finally figured it out."
"So tell me about that strained back. I think I want to hear this," Daisy said.
"You do. All right. We were at his place, watching a movie, sitting on the floor, snuggling. Bo is pretty good at snuggling, I have to say. Anyway, he starts kissing me and rolls me over on the rug. No doubt what's on his mind. I told him to stop, let me up, all that, but he's just sure if he goes just a little longer, I'm going to be helpless in the face of his famous charm, to say nothing of his physical expertise, if you know what I mean. He just kept on though, and I started to get mad. So, I pinned his hands to my chest, leg-locked him around the neck and flipped him off of me. Standard grappling move in jujitsu."
They were riding the shuttle to the terminal and Daisy exploded in laughter, ignoring the looks from other passengers. "You flipped him? And he's what, head and shoulders taller than you? Oh, that's so funny! I knew he was being awful cagey about what had happened, but I never thought it would be that. Rose, you know what? You're the first woman who hasn't fallen into bed with Bo Duke since he was 15! But I'm glad. It's good for his ego."
Rose chuckled. "I think so, but really, he has grown up so much since that last woman left him. What was her name, Frosti? Frosti. Lord, help. Why would you name a child that? No wonder she grew up acting like a hooker. With a name like that, what else was she supposed to think?"
Daisy shook her head. "For real, and I argued with Bo till I was blue in the face that she was no good, and just looking for a meal ticket, but he wouldn't pay me any mind."
"I know. But Frosti was a 32C and the only brain that was operating was the one in his pants. I swear, that boy's libido has gotten him in more trouble. Wonder if having him fixed would help?"
"Rose, that's why I love you," Daisy said, giggling. "It's so tough to fool you. You see right through that cousin of mine, and call it like it is."
"Now that Uncle Jesse's gone, someone besides you has to. Maybe since Luke's coming home, that will help. But really, you know I love Bo with all my heart. I'm just not in love with him. He's so generous and sweet. He'll give you the shirt off his back and the last crumb of food in the kitchen. He loves those cats and dogs like they're his kids, and there's no telling how much he's given to children's services for the kids. They know anytime they need anything, to call Bo and a check will be on the way. He's made a lot of money driving stock cars, and it's so good that he's giving back to the community. How many families in Hazzard got Christmas presents and Christmas dinner last year when the sock mill closed?"
"I know. Bo is such a dear. Too bad he's not more wise where women are concerned. Is this our stop?" Daisy said.
"Yeah." Unaccountably, Rose's heart started to beat faster. She knew Luke was getting off a plane in just a little while, and she would see him again. Would he notice she had lost weight? Would he even really notice her at all?
"Do planes ever land on time anymore?" Daisy groused as they sat, waiting on the flight.
"Not if the airlines have anything to say about it," Rose answered. She looked at her watch, then checked the arrivals board. "The board says the plane has arrived. Surely, he'll be along in a little while."
"I hope so. I hate these crowds. They make me nervous," Daisy said.
"I know what you mean. But he should see us here."
"We ought to be able to still wait at the gate," Daisy replied.
"Well yeah, but in a huge airport like this one, the gates are already so crowded you can't stir 'em with a stick."
Daisy nodded agreement. "Is that him? Yeah! There he is!" Like the country girl she was, Daisy stood on the chair and waved. "Luke! Here I am!"
The crowd parted a bit and Rose could see Luke coming through the sea of people. He spotted Daisy and his face lit up. Rose's heart turned over when she saw that smile. She also saw women glance admiringly at him as he walked. There was a lot to admire. He wore a dark red shirt, chamois, probably, since Luke couldn't stand anything remotely "itchy." His black jeans hugged his hips to perfection. The red of the shirt set off his tanned skin and those cornflower-blue eyes were just as beautiful as they always were. He still walked with a slight limp from that broken ankle that ended his career as a smoke jumper, but he was just as graceful as he ever was.
Daisy hopped off the chair. "Luke! I'm so glad to see you! Did you have a good trip?"
"Pretty good," he said, then spotted Rose. His eyes warmed with a little something more than just "glad-to-see-you," Rose thought.
"Daisy and Rose! My favorite bouquet!" he exclaimed, getting them both in a hug. He kissed the top of Daisy's head. "Sugar, will you ever grow up? I can't believe you stood on that chair and hollered at me! I'd have seen you eventually."
"I didn't want you to miss us, and no, I'm not going to grow up much. I'm too glad to see you." And she hugged her cousin fiercely.
"I'm glad to see you, too. It's good to be back. And Rose," he said, looking down into her brown eyes, "You look fantastic! Thank you so much for coming with Daisy to meet me. I know how she hates driving in city traffic."
"I was glad to do it, Luke. It's been too long since I've seen you."
"It has been a while," he agreed.
"I guess we need to get your bags," Rose said.
"Nah. This backpack is it. I've already shipped everything home. I wanted to travel light."
"Luke!" Daisy said. "I never thought I'd see the day when you wore sneakers! Where are your boots?"
He chuckled and Rose's heart did a double flip. "Hon, cowboy boots are a pain when you're flying. You have to take your shoes off to clear security. Sneakers are a lot easier to deal with."
"Oh. I didn't think about that. It just looks weird to see you in tennis shoes."
"I'm used to them now. They're easier on my ankle, too."
"How is that ankle, by the way?" Rose asked. She knew it had been a bad break, requiring surgery and months of physical therapy.
"Coming right along. I do my therapy every day and that helps so much. I can still tell you what the weather's going to be, though. Might come in right handy in the spring. I'll know where the tornado is long before the weather man does." He grinned. Thump! Went Rose's heart again.
"Oh hush that kind of talk," Daisy said. "Gives me the creeps." Her mountain roots ran deep and the thread of superstition and speaking evil into existence was still with her.
"How's the newspaper business, Rose?" Luke asked. Rose was a reporter with the Tri-County Herald, covering Hazzard, Sweetwater and Choctaw counties.
"Pretty good, all things considered. We're making it," she answered.
"Glad to hear it. Can we catch this shuttle?"
"Yeah," Rose said. "It goes to the parking deck.
The shuttle was crammed with people, and Luke, Daisy and Rose all had to squeeze into a seat made for two. Daisy helpfully made sure Rose was next to Luke. "You know I'm claustrophobic and can't stand to be next to the side or in the middle," she said.
Rose took her seat next to the window and Luke sat in the middle. It wasn't comfortable, but Rose really didn't mind almost being in Luke's lap the whole way to the car.
The flight from Dallas wasn't too long and Luke was anxious to get home to see his family. It wouldn't be quite the same without Uncle Jesse, but he knew where his uncle was, and hoped the Lord had a souped-up, night running car ready for the old ridge runner, and plenty of hills to drive it on.
Could the Atlanta airport be any more crowded? It was enough to make you crazy, Luke thought. He wondered where Daisy would be, and how in the world he would find her. That's when he heard someone screaming, "Luke! Over here! Here I am!" and saw his cousin, mother of three, standing on a chair, of all things, yelling like a crazy woman. He rushed to her and stopped a little short when he saw the woman with her. It took him a moment to recognize her. Rose! Rose Turney! When in the world had she grown up? It seemed like only yesterday she was a chubby teenager, begging for "just one turn around the square" in the General Lee.
She wasn't chubby anymore, though. Now, she carried curves that should have warning signs on them. She would never be model slender, but Luke's tastes had never run to skinny girls, anyway. He liked to know he was holding a woman in his arms. Now where had that thought come from, he wondered. So, he enveloped both women in a hug, and something inside assured him Rose was most definitely a woman, as she slipped an arm around his waist and returned the hug. He didn't think about the warm twinkle in his eyes she saw when he released her, but her eyes let him know right then something had changed, and she knew it. This was going to be an interesting homecoming.
Luke had stretched his arms across the back of the shuttle bus seat, to at least create the illusion of a little more room. Rose didn't even care. Being this close to him was delicious. That something inside Luke was reminding him yet again that Rose Turney had grown up for sure, and he was becoming more interested in finding out what there was to know about the woman. It was too loud inside the bus for much chatter, and all three were relieved when the bus stopped on their level of the parking deck.
"I'm surprised we didn't all go flying out of there like the air let out of a balloon when they opened the doors," Rose said. "It's got to be illegal to cram that many people into one of those buses."
Luke laughed. "Yeah, like it ought to be illegal to cram people into an airplane the way they do. I swear, I didn't get to stretch my legs for three hours. It was awful."
"You poor thing," Daisy said. "Well, you sit in the back, then, so you can prop that ankle up. What do you want for lunch?"
"I don't care. Food," Luke answered.
"Let's wait until we get north of town," Rose said. "Not as crowded."
"I second that," Luke replied.
"Me too," said Daisy.
The women stopped in the ladies room when they got to the café. "Rose, I think you definitely have Luke's attention," Daisy said.
"You think so, huh? Why is that?" Rose answered.
"Because he couldn't keep his eyes off you," Daisy replied. "He was checking you out the minute he saw you, and I've seen that twinkle in his eyes before. He's real interested."
"I hope you're right."
"I know I am. Bet me he either asks for your phone number or asks you out by the time you leave the house." Daisy was sure of her ground, here.
"Dream come true," Rose sighed.
"I know, sugar, and I'm gonna do all I can to make sure it does. But I don't think I'll have to do much. He's two-thirds of the way there, already. He's just planning out when to do it."
"I hope so."
"Trust me on this one. But let's not keep him waiting. Luke gets tetchy when he's hungry. Remember that."
Rose just chuckled.
Throughout the meal, Daisy saw she was right. Luke couldn't keep his eyes off Rose. When she looked out the window once, he stared at her with such heat, Daisy had to elbow him to remind him to behave. He started and looked at his cousin, who knit her eyebrows at him and mouthed, "Behave."
He nodded and looked down at his plate. He ate, but didn't really know what it was. Rose ate and talked and was at her wittiest, most charming. Daisy nearly choked with laughter watching those two. Luke was so smart, and in the past, had trouble finding a woman who could keep up with him intellectually. Rose did it with ease. As the country folks would say, looking at them, you could tell they were "eat up with it." In other words, they were smitten with each other. Daisy couldn't have been more pleased.
"Now you'll come on in the house for supper, won't you?" Daisy said, as they came into downtown Hazzard.
"I couldn't, Daisy. You all will want some family time," Rose answered.
"Now, Rose, I'm not taking no for an answer," Daisy put in. "Enos and the kids will be there, and I have enough food for Lee's army. Somebody is going to have to help us eat it all!"
"Please come, Rose. I'd really like to have you there," Luke added. "We have a lot of catching up to do."
Rose didn't miss Daisy's broad wink that said, "I told you so" plain as day. "Well, all right. I'll stay for a little while."
"That's fine!" Daisy said. "I've got some pictures I want you to take with you that were made by the Herald. Can you take them and look on the microfilm and see who all is in them? They have dates."
"Sure, I'll be glad to," Rose answered.
"That would be great. Some of them have Uncle Jesse in them, and we don't know who else. You'd be doing us a huge favor. Doesn't take near as long to get to the house now that the road's been paved all the way out, does it?" Daisy said as they pulled up to the old home.