Beta-less for the remaider of this story, so please forgive the grammar errors. As always I appreciate hearing from you.

And if you thought small town life was empty of intrigue think again...

Chapter 9 – Excuse me…

Timeframe – Memorial Day Community Dance – Elks Club

The town it seemed had all turned out. Bodies crowded the Elks Club, the music was loud but as Brennan observed it appeared all the dancers were having a good time. Dressed as differently as a finger print was to a person and as such expressed an individualism she could appreciate.

John guided her towards a number of tables pressed against the far wall. The light pressure of his hand on the small of her back felt sadly familiar, she no longer brushed his hand away as she once had. Forcing the thought away, she spotted what had attracted John's attention. Jack & Mary Ann their neighbors were seated at a table, heads huddled together. Mary Ann was laughing over something Jack had just said. John it seemed had immediately liked what he saw in the couple and they'd hit it off right away. Jack was in his mid-forties as was his wife.

Upon meeting them, she quickly determined what made them attractive, they reminded her of Christine and Max, her parents. There had always been laughter in the Brennan household when she was a child, she smiled over the long forgotten memory. It felt like a piece of her past had fallen back into its rightful place.

John put his hand on one of the empty chairs and he leaned forward and pitched his voice to be heard over the music, "Jack, is anyone sitting here?"

"Yeah, that would be you. Take a load off and I'll buy you a beer," Jack's loud voice boomed.

As John pulled out a chair for Hope to take a seat, Jack asked, "Hope, what would you like to drink?"

Mary Ann playfully slapped his arm, "What about me?" Arching a brow she added, "John, you're pathetic. You see a pregnant woman and you go all soft on me," she added with a playful wink at Hope.

"You, I already know. Tennessee Tea," smirking he asked, "how'd I do?"

She laughed; a smile reflected in her dark chocolate-brown eyes and replied, "I guess I'll just have to keep you around after all."

"You do that. I kinda like having you around, low maintenance women are a rare breed," Jack said with a wink.

Hope having watched the exchange raised her eyes, John was still standing looked down into her own. They reflected her confusion when she asked quietly, "I don't know what that means?"

Resting a hand on her shoulder he stooped over and whispered, "I'll explain later, just go with the flow."

Rather than see the confusion clear, if anything it extended to the tiny lines between her brows. Having already noticed when confused or concentrating they'd become more prominent, added quickly, "Let them take the lead in the conversation and you'll be fine."

She nodded, "I'll observe. Perhaps I can write a paper on this experience at some point."

John's lips curled at the thought, Leave it to Brennan she'd make the entire assignment an anthropological study.

"Why don't I give you a hand with those drinks? After all it's the least I can do," John suggested with a laugh.

"Okay then, no sense keeping ya'll thirsty," Jack smirked as they made their way straight for the bar across the dance floor.

Brennan's eyes followed them as they made their way to the bar, noting not for the first time how several women followed John's progress with their eyes. She couldn't deny it; John was a handsome man in his own right. Tall, sandy blonde wavy hair, excellent bones and the proportions of his height, breath of his shoulders and the narrowness of his hips caused many a woman to stare. She smirked, poor John stuck with her when so many women would be happy to warm his bed.

Mary Ann tapped her arm, she turned and noted the impish smile that curled her lips, "That's a fine-looking man you snagged there Hope. Beefcake like that just doesn't wander into our township that often, you'll have to forgive the locals here for staring," she added with a laugh.

"Beefcake? I assure you, John is as human as you or I," Hope asked confused.

Seeing Hope's genuine confusion she laughed, "My, it's fun having you around. You're as naïve as a new-born colt."

Though Hope was equally confused by Mary Ann's response, she masked it, "Naïve? I seriously doubt that! I've done numerous studies on cultures that are significantly more daring than what Millis Pond could hope to offer."

Leaning forward Mary Ann was curious and asked, "Like what?"

Realizing her mistake she misdirected, "Where's Billy tonight?" Knowing if she brought the conversation around to Mary Ann's teenage son, she'd be distracted.

Mary Ann pointed at the dance floor. Brennan immediately spotted the handsome young man performing the two-step with a pretty young blonde she recognized from one of her classes. She asked, "Is it serious?"

"Nah, that boy has more girls buzzing around him than bees to honey," she winked, "He hasn't been struck dumb and blind yet though, thank God."

She added with a quick nod, "Which is just fine by me, that boy needs to get into college. God blessed him with a better than average intelligence," then she added concerned, "I don't want him side tracked but then again I want him to experience it all," she added wistfully, "you're only 17 once."

Continuing the line of discussion she nodded in the young couple's direction, "That's Sara Miller, nice girl. Came from a broken home, the Reynolds took her in."

"Principal Reynolds took her in?" Hope appreciated that such an honest and upstanding man had taken in what could be termed an orphan.

"Yeah, fine couple the Reynolds. They couldn't have children of their own, so they'd took her in I'm thinking 5 or 6 years ago." Mary Ann replied then added, "She sure was a handful at first, but time and consistency has tempered her wild streak a bit."

She turned a gleam of curiosity lighting her eyes. Brennan had little trouble deciphering it though; small town curiosity had a firm hold of her friend. Mary Ann leaned forward and whispered in a hush tone, "So Hope," she paused then asked with a grin in her voice, "Does John keep you satisfied?"

Hope laughed apparently this was Angela's older sister, no need for interpretation she knew exactly what Mary Ann was asking. In answering she thought of Booth and replied with a smirk, "Better."

Mary Ann prodded, "Better, that's it… come on girl lay it on me. I live vicariously though others, not much else to do in a town this size."

Hope shook her head, "I don't think so B… John wouldn't appreciate it. He is quite prudish at times." She laughed and added from her times with Booth, "I can't even say the word breasts without him becoming uncomfortable."

Mary Ann eyed her and smirked, "Bet he doesn't have a problem with them though, does he?"

Hope laughed, she thought of Booth again and answered, "He's quite attentive."

Eying her belly she laughed, "I bet."

Rising Mary Ann asked, "Well dear, I have to visit the lady's room, do you need to?"

"Apparently this is a gesture of friendship," Hope answered seeing the confusion she added, "Yes I'm feeling in need myself. I find I have the bladder the size of a pea." She'd been studying the local colloquialisms carefully and tried to drop one in from time to time.

Mary Ann chuckled as they made their way to the lady's room, all the while regaling Hope on the trials of pregnancy.

As they waited for the bartender to get to them, Jack greeted a fellow cattle rancher after he'd ordered their drinks. John tried to pay attention, but he'd already decided raising horses would be the way to go. Especially since Brennan was a devout vegetarian he knew raising animals for slaughter would never work, so instead he studied the room. He couldn't afford to let his guard down though it would have been easy in a town like Millis Pond. After scanning the room he relaxed, just a friendly town gathering with a few yokel's kicking up a fuss having had too much beer already. He watched a cluster of young men for a few minutes making sure they were harmless enough.

Just then he spotted Hope and Mary Ann as they passed through the group of rowdy young men he'd just been watching. Fortunately for them they ignored the woman as they moved unmolested to what he determined was the lady's room. As he waited he leaned against the bar and watched for her return, it always set his teeth on edge when she was out of sight especially in large gatherings. But then sighed realizing she'd be fine. Still he waited vigilantly by the bar, his eyes never straying off the group gathered by the lady's room.

Lifting the drink Jack had placed at his elbow, he felt a decidedly feminine finger running lightly around the waist band of his jeans. Surprised, he turned to see who his new companion was, his lips tightened with recognition. Ginger Honeywell the town vamp, he'd have to watch his step.

As he watched, she lifted thickly lashed eyes to his, revealing smoky blue eyes. She mentally undressed him, he nearly laughed. She was as predatory as any man, accessing his asset, making a decision if she wanted a ride. A smirk curled his lips; she'd have to go shopping elsewhere.

John returned the favor, after all he wasn't dead. A short knit crop top that scooped low over her breasts, emphasizing one of those decidedly feminine assets. The woman obviously wanted to score, no one in their right mind would wear a top like that, the material hung loose and she'd obviously gone without a bra, her invitation was clear. To complete the outfit blue-jeans encased her long legs, he rationalized she must have sprayed them on. Then to make sure her intentions were clear she'd added bright red accessories. Combined the outfit screamed available and shopping for a man.

As their eyes met he noted the feline and predatory gleam in them. One false move and that woman would take a bit out of him. Definitely not his type but like porn on late night television; it would catch your attention. Then the emptiness of it would have you turn away, Ginger had that effect on him apparently nothing but unfulfilled promises. He'd bet his boots that they had a higher IQ than she did.

Clearing his throat he asked with a smirk he couldn't help. After all it did his ego a bit of good considering what Hope was doing to him, "Like what you see?"

She took that as an invitation and leaned into him, giving him a completely unobstructed view of her breasts as her top gapped away. Focusing instead on her face he grinned and held up his hand, the hand that held a shiny platinum band, "Ah Ginger, you do know I'm a happily married man right?"

"Honey, that's what they all say. Something tells me your little mama isn't keepin' you as satisfied as you'd like," she flashed her baby blues knowingly.

He nearly laughed, satisfied wasn't even the tip of that iceberg but replied firmly, "Ginger, why don't you go down the end of the bar. There are a few unattached men down there just eying you as though you were their last meal."

She pressed against him now and purred, "Why have hamburger Honey, when you can have prime rib?" Realizing this feline was slick John pulled her hand firmly off his buttocks that she manage to slip there and pushed her away gently. "Ginger, enough. Go find someone willin' I'm not that someone," he answered firmly.

She leaned forward and whispered into his ear, her voice a husky invitation, "You know you want to?"

Suddenly Ginger fell back, John could only watch as she took a stumble and caught herself. Surprised, he looked into Hope's eyes, what he saw there made him gulp. "Hope, where you looking for me?"

"Yes John," she purred then she turned towards Ginger and said, "Apparently a wedding ring has no effect on your libido Ms. Honeywell." Turning back to John she leaned forward and wrapped her hands around his neck pulling his close, she pressed her lips to his hard, giving him no choice in the matter. The moment her lips touched his own, his hands slipped around her waist as he involuntarily pulled her closer, drawing her in. His mind stuttered, the noise of the dance hall had begun to fade and only the taste of Hope on his lips remained. Shifting to press her body closer to his, he felt her stiffen in response and then pull away quickly, as though she'd been burnt.

Stunned he looked into her eyes, unbridled anger and he thought maybe something more. He blew out a breath and raked his hand through his hair, then muttered sheepishly, "Hope, it's not what you think."

Hope placed a possessive hand around John's waist and faced the feline, "Ms. Honeywell if you'll excuse us, my husband promised me this dance."

With that, she pulled John unceremoniously to the dance floor leaving Ginger gaping in surprise. Jack who had watched Hope's approach smirked and said, "Ginger take the hint, that man's taken."

Ginger pushed her chocolate locks away from her face and smiled, "Yeah, don't mess with the wife. Message received." With that, she winked and made her way to the throng of men at the end of the bar, knowing her bruised ego would get the appropriate attention.

Brennan pulled John to the dance floor and into her arms. Her hands automatically rested on his shoulders though he felt them tighten rather than relax, his rested gently on her hips. He felt the tension radiate from her as they'd begun to sway to the music, he said quietly in to her ear, "Hope, seriously she's harmless."

Brennan remembered how her emotions had gotten completely out of control when she spotted that she cat circling John, without thinking she'd marched straight over. The whispers had followed her progress to the bar; she observed several pleased expressions from the woman as she passed. Assuming they preferred her as an Alpha-Female and not a doormat.

They'd watched from afar as she marched up to her man, laid a possessive kiss on his lips and yanked him to the dance floor. The women applauded silently while the men smirked, Ginger had struck again another man was in the dog house tonight.

Returning to the present she fumed, "Oh, she just made me so angry! I might not have believed in entering marriage myself before Booth, but I always respected what it meant to those who did." She then flashed her icy blue eyes at him and added, "and then you had to encourage her."

He leaned forward to whisper into her ear, "Hope keep your voice down or you'll really get the neighbors talking."

Forcing herself to relax, she looked around superstitiously and agreed she was making a spectacle of herself. She replied quietly, "I apologize, I don't know what happened. I just saw that woman with her hands all over you and I acted in typical Alpha-Female fashion."

Her eyes downcast now, confused by her reaction to Ms. Honeywell and the kiss. No longer angry she'd began to process both experiences, until that moment she hadn't registered what she'd said or done, it was so unlike her. What did it all mean?

John pulled her close, the baby bump pressed against his midsection. The physical reminder, acted like bucket of ice water dumped on him, mindful he murmured against her hair, "Hope don't worry about it you played your part perfectly. Let's just enjoy the dance, huh?"

Pushing the confusing emotions aside she replied, "Yes, lets."

Reviews are always appreciated! I haven't written the ending of this story yet. So I appreciate any encouragement you can give to motivate me.