Love Like a Hurricane

In the far horizon, Edward saw her sitting astride that blamed dappled horse Alameda she was so in love with. Well he'd known it was meant for her soon as he saw it, a colt walking shy beside the mare, standing in the cottonwoods. And he drove it home and raised it, well she did, spoiled it rotten, and came time he broke it to saddle and she rode it, only without the saddle most the time, that girl, there was no telling for all her ladylike ways. She was wild on that proud horse.

Her hair blew out, her dress was white and in the bright sun…her boots were brown and showing, sometimes a slice of leg over their tops, but still, these with him, he'd seen them in Abilene, randy, rowdy bunch. She was waving and he knew she stood in the stirrups, well she was that eager to see him and his horse moved in a trot cause this animal read him that way. Yes he had missed her.

She was slender…and womanly now. Not a baby anymore, or so she told him. And told him. She had it in mind to marry. She'd grown up thinking she could marry him, well why not, they weren't blood, she said, and he seemed to be her hero. That always made him laugh. Truth was he pretty much basked in her worship. She was the most joyful thing, the light of the ranch, that's for sure, the light of his mother's eye. Of his, and him a man of twenty-six knew other women. There in Abilene he'd had two. Well, a man didn't say. But came to Bella Marie, he had no peace she'd grown. She had a right to marry…someday. He wasn't a fool.

Last he saw her, four months ago now since he'd left on the drive, she had it in mind to let that left-footed Paul, the son of their neighbor, come courting would Edward give his permission.

Now Paul came from the best people, salt of the earth. Paul's father, Jenks Cope, was Edward and Jasper's partner. He had a wife, Connie, and a girl, Alice, besides. She fancied Jasper most often, or anything in pants and chaps that would give her the eye. Well Jasper didn't. He strung her along, ignored her like she was a skittish horse that followed and neighed and would keep on if he pretended no-mind. That was Alice before they left Texas to ride the Chisholm. She could be married by now. Wouldn't surprise him. But that suitor would have to get past Jenks' six-shooter. So wasn't likely.

So both families had combined their herds and he and Jasper and some eighteen hands had driven them to Kansas. Their money-belts were fat, finally, after three years of hard work, well more than that. Jenks had come on with Edward's Pa back in the day and since Edward was a lad they had been fighting the Kiowa, Comanche, Shoshone, and branding mavericks and breeding cattle.

Now his little sis Bella reckoned sixteen years was high time and she was ripe for the picking, she said. Well he told her not to say such to him, but she said it all the more until he had to be stern, and then all big eyes and hurt feelings, she was.

He was man of the place a long time now since their pa fell from a brave's spear. Pa had ridden with the army to clear those stinking Indians out of this part of the country once and for all. Jasper like to lost his mind when they brought Pa's remains…mutilated. That's what Jasper wouldn't forget. For a time, he'd left the ranch and ended up going east to fight for the gray. Edward didn't think he'd see him again, but when it was over, here Jasper came, just rode up and them not knowing he was dead or alive.

So they'd worked on taking their cattle to Abilene, the railroad there, and they'd ridden them hard and Jasper had shot at two Indians on the way, maybe killed them, but other than that they'd barely had trouble.

And now Bella was galloping closer, and he could see that white smile on the prettiest face, the prettiest girl so sweet his heart kicked out, she was more grown than when he'd left, more…woman, God help him. They'd come from all around now. He'd have to fight them off.

"Bella Marie," he called out and he was way in front, too, the others behind. She was close and she circled round him a couple of times, her hair dark and her skin brown from the sun, and her face so lovely, form so lovely, then she got beside him and reached over like she had done since she was a baby and climbed on behind him. Well she was in a dress and all, a hair bow too, it never stopped her, never had, and these cowboys would look if they could and he was scrambling to pull her dress over her knees, and she was right up on him, the warmth of her, the feel of her and he laughed too, and her hands were around his waist and her head pressed against his back and breasts now, but this was his sis, he said stern to himself, and she was telling him he better never leave for so long again, and he had one hand on her arms folded there. Her hair whipped against the side of his face and caught on his stubble. Well he loved her, he did, his sister. His beautiful sis. And a part of him…well he didn't want to leave her. Them two in Abilene…or the few before those times…that was the difference, there it was. This here was his sis. But he loved her. And he'd do right and soon. Maybe talk to Jenks. He'd see. That Paul…he'd see.