River and the Highway

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River and the Highway

Post by Maggie on Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:48 am

I swore up and down to myself that I wouldn't start anything new but I've crumbled since the original muse came back. (it seems the Viggo Mortensen fic will have to wait a nice long while) I've got notes here jotted down and I'm still in the editing process but it's coming along nicely. I've already cried three times over this and I'm almost a right mess. Forgive me! *drops to knees*  The muse thought it would be cute to give the female leads a bit of a change up. I hope Lottie doesn't mind being a redhead named Gillian in this one! Very Happy 
P.S. I'm so so sorry for the crappy summary and character intros.





Attire:
http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/collection?id=2882515

Theme(s)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBblfPi8Xis  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-j_U3fA22E

Summary -

 Some lives are filled with true happiness and others, like Sally Braxton's fall into a grey area, filled with both profound happiness and then utter despair. Everywhere around her people are building stable lives while hers has been shaken to it's core and rearranged without her consent. She's stumbling around in the dark trying to find her way out into the world when in steps a person that she thought she knew well in the past. Will they cling together or drift further apart?

Cast of Characters:

Gillian "Gilly" Claire Kemper - Younger sister to Sally and the free spirit of the Kemper family. Has set out to see the world and is now back in town trying to help her sister pick up the shambles of her life. An artist by trade has seemingly lost her muse and finds one in a mutual friend of her brother-in-law.

Sarah "Sally" June Braxton - Older sister to Gilly and the grounded one. Always was a serious a one until she met Hank. Her world's been torn apart and flipped around like a house sent through a cyclone. Runs her own small business from home and now has to juggle Braxton Bulls on her own.

Carlos "Carl" Olivera - A close friend and business adviser to the Braxton's. A quiet man that has an intense strength about him. Finds the youngest Kemper quite an interesting girl indeed. Dare he ask her out for a cup of coffee? Maybe once things quiet down.

Samson "Sonny" Gilstrap - An old flame of Sally's from way back in high school. Knows what Sally's going through and it breaks his heart. Will do anything to see her through and help put things right.

Playlist -

What Lack of Love Has Done - Nick Lowe
I Can Still Feel You - Collin Raye
Tell Me I Was Dreaming - Travis Tritt
Small Town Saturday Night - Hal Ketchum
Everywhere - Tim McGraw
That Kind of Love - Allison Krauss
Cowboy Take Me Away - Dixie Chicks (Gilly's song to Carl)
Smoke Rings in the Dark - Gary Allan
The Rock of Your Love - Vince Gill (Sally's song to Sonny)
Straight Tequila Night - John Anderson
If I Had Only Known - Reba McEntire (used for both Sally and Sonny during their respective memories)
I Can Love You - Gary Allan (Sonny's song to Sally)
Just Around The Eyes - Faith Hill
Stay - Allison Krauss (Carl's song to Gilly)


Last edited by Maggie on Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:20 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: River and the Highway

Post by Wolfy on Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:34 am

Shocked 

I am in love with everything about this, especially your muses and playlist! Your summary and character info's are perfect so please don't worry so much. Lottie doesn't mind the change one bit, she is very happy with the switch-up! Both themes are beautiful, as are the ladies sense in fashion, including Sally's home. I can't wait for this one to begin Very Happy

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Re: River and the Highway

Post by Maggie on Sun Sep 01, 2013 5:06 pm

Aww! Thank
you! I'm so glad you like the muses and the playlist. I was so nervous over that summary though. I'm in love with Sally's house if I say so myself, haha. I wish I had her style sadly I don't. (short legs and boot cut jeans don't miss, haha.) Without further ado here's the first update! jocolor 

P.S. You might need a tissue...I bawled writing out this one. Sad 

*disclaimer* I own nothing! Nothing at all, this is just a work of pure fiction and a muse that loves me...and coffee...lots and lots of coffee. I make nothing from these works and write them for pure enjoyment. If you would like to post my work elsewhere just ask! I don't bite, I promise. :)Enjoy!


*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*

May New Hope Texas

It was like any other night, rain that was much needed pattered down on the roof all but filling the house with a cacophony of sound, a music all it's own. The herd had been brought in, with the exception of a straggler which was Hank's favorite, a steer by the name of Ferdinand was most likely out in the back forty grazing without a care in the world as the rain came down. I, on the other hand was left in the house getting dinner together and putting the finishing touches on a care package for my younger sister, Gilly who was all the way out in San Francisco living the bohemian life. Not that I blamed her, having been born and raised in the tiny town of New Hope certainly leaves people with artistic temperaments searching for something more. I myself had the chance to leave the summer I turned twenty but I was too unsure of myself to actually go and experience the world.  It's funny how things work out though, a year to the day I chickened out on leaving New Hope I met Hank at a barbeque hosted by a few of the bull riders on the circuit and a seven months later we were married. I felt like I'd known him my entire life and nothing ever felt rushed. We were happy, we had a home and some of the prime land in the county not to mention not one but two steadily growing businesses to our name. Life was great, or so I'd thought.

 The front steps creaked as I heard Hank come up and then end up slamming the front door and kick off his boots and then stomp into the kitchen, soaked socks squelching in the process. I bit back a laugh as I looked at him standing there in the kitchen totally soaked through to the bone and covered in mud shivering, the only thing visible were his sky blue eyes. His beloved cowboy hat drooped and bent splattered with mud. A scowl came over his features as he plopped down at the kitchen table and started to peel off his socks heaving them away from himself in utter disgust.

"What the hell happened? Don't tell you got the quad stuck again, there's no way I help you get it out now."

 A grumble was heard as Hank huffed his way into the laundry room and grabbed a clean set of towels and left his soaked and splattered clothes in the hamper by the washer.

"No, it's not the quad although I never thought I'd be home again tonight. Zapata's acting up again. Damn near got myself gored out in the back pasture, I thought he had me pinned against the fence. I'm calling Eli and telling him to get that beast out of my barn and far the hell away from me. I just thought it would take him time to adjust but this is crazy. Someone's going to get hurt with that bull and it sure as hell ain't gonna be me."

 My face fell and a shiver went up my spine as I dropped a jar of homemade preserves onto the kitchen floor with a shatter. In our six years of being together  never had I seen Hank shaken by the likes of a bull. Of course, Zapata was no ordinary bull, he was a Brahma with a downright nasty disposition, something wild and untamed about him almost otherworldly, a true hell beast if there ever was one. Hank's brother, Eli had won him in a card game and pawned him off on us to look after while he set up his own ranch a county over in Watsonville. What unnerved me the most was the fact that I could look into Hank's face and know in my heart that he was truly scared. Zapata had shaken the unshakeable Hank Braxton to the core.  Hank came from a bull riding family, hearty stock that Braxton clan. He'd grown up going to see his own father compete and then went on to follow in his footsteps until a shoulder injury left him unable to compete. So, my ever resilient husband turned to bullfighting, taking the heat for the riders when they got bucked or thrown and entertaining the crowds. His thirty-third birthday had passed and he noticed he was having more and more trouble moving around the ring so he was in the process of hanging up his oversized overalls and putting a lid on the greasepaint to work behind the scenes in breeding stock bulls for competition as well as dairy cows, something that had always been a dream of his father's.

 Later that night after he'd had a shower and dinner his spirits were lifted a bit.

"Why don't you just have him put down? I'm sure Doctor Wallis will do it, he's seen what Zapata can do it."

 I moved closer to Hank and settled my head on his shoulder as I always did, eliciting a happy rumble in the back of his throat and his arm to drape itself around me.

"No, I'll let Eli take care of that. Zapata's his responsibility and if he wants to knock off the hell beast he can. I can give him a call tomorrow to talk things over but I doubt he'll want to do what's best for everyone. You know how he is, just as stubborn as that damn bull. What's wrong? You're shaking, Sal."

 I sighed and gave him a kiss on the cheek. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I'd gotten that chill again. I had a niggling feeling that something wasn't right, almost like I was rounding corners and something gruesome lurked just beyond my point of view.

"Not a thing, just cold I guess. Love you with all my heart."

"You can't get sick on me now, you're a horrible patient, Sal. Nope, love you more with all my heart. I win because a man's heart is naturally bigger so there."

If I had only known
I'd never hear your voice again
I'd memorize each thing you ever said
And on those lonely nights
I could think of them once more
Keep your words alive inside my head
If I had only known
I'd never hear your voice again

 I gave him one more kiss and told him I loved him than all the night stars in the sky and headed up to bed all the  while trying to shake that feeling of impending doom.  Little did we know that six months later out in Amarillo Hank would enter the ring one last time, a parting goodbye to the front lines of rodeo world if you will, this time out of his costume and dressed rather conservatively in a button down and jeans. Gilly had just come back for a visit and had decided to stay with us until she was able to find something local.

"The west coast just isn't like home I guess. I don't want to impose you.."

She'd said as we helped get her settled in the guest bedroom three doors down from our bedroom.

"Impose on us?! You're never an imposition to us, Gilly Bean. You're an honorary Braxton so our home is your home."

 Hank had joked on the ride into Amarillo, it was last thing he'd ever say to her.

 Everything was going along fine until one of the new riders got bucked by Zipata. Eli still hadn't had enough brains to see that damn beast was nothing trouble and he entered him anyway. The rider's hand had gotten caught in the bull rope and he was being thrashed like a rag doll. Hank, being well, Hank stepped into action and cut the rider free and ended up getting chased by the raging bull, kicking up dust as he rounded a curve trying to throw the bull off, ultimately making it back to the chute without a problem. Until his boot slipped and he ended up smacking his head off the last bar with a thud.

You were the treasure in my hand
You were the one who always stood beside me
So unaware I foolishly believed
That you would always be there
But then there came a day
And I turned my head and you slipped away

 Zapata came back around the ring like a bat out of hell dodging the ropes thrown to corral him, hooves thundering and his eyes set on his target that lay prone out on the dirt of the arena. Emergency staff rushing to get to Hank and ultimately being scared off by the raging bull running full force toward them. I let out a scream as I looked on in horror as Hank's body was tossed against the bars again, blood gurgled up and coated the arena floor. I was off like a shot toward the chute shrieking for someone to get that damn bull and then shouting for people to let me through. The arena was silent, filled only with my shrieks and sobs and stomping of Zapata's hooves until he was finally caught. I was able to push through and hold his hand as he was put onto a gurney and wheeled into an awaiting ambulance. All the while I was telling him to hang on and that I loved him with all of my heart. His last words to me were "Love you more, Sal." as his eyes fluttered closed.  Four agonizing days later Hank passed away in his sleep, never having regained consciousness. I only left his side to shower and get coffee, there was no sleep to be had for me, unless I nodded off and that was few and far between. I would never see his sparkling eyes, hear his voice, or his laugh or his footsteps ever again.  I would never get to raise the family we had talked about or take all those trips we'd planned.

If I had only known
It was my last night by your side
I'd pray a miracle would stop the dawn
And when you'd smile at me
I would look into your eyes
And make sure you know my love
For you goes on and on
If I had only known
If I had only known
The love I would've shown
If I had only known

My world was shattered and it was all thanks to a miserable beast named Zapata. I left the hospital sleep  deprived and broken and still wearing the dirt and blood stained clothes I'd worn the night my world was changed. Gilly hadn't left my side since she'd arrived, trailing the ambulance over in the truck. She'd offered to drive back but I refused, not wanting her to know what I was planning on doing. Zapata had been taken home and deemed unfit for further competition, which meant he'd be back at Eli's place. The five hour drive was excruciating but I managed to make it with one thing in mind, a stop over to Watsonville to slay the beast that flipped my world on it's head, I never made it that far as Gilly took over at the three hour mark and Zapata's life was spared for another day. I showed up at Eli's place a little before six the next morning rifle and box of shells in hand. I stalked toward the pen where Zapata was kept.

"What the hell do you think you're doing, Sally?!"

Eli bellowed as he stalked across the yard totally unaware of his brother's passing.

"What the hell does it look like, Eli? Now, tie that god damn beast up or I'll do it myself. Don't even try to take this rifle from me because I have no qualms about shooting you too."

I sobbed as I took aim as Zapata, half expecting his fate just stood before me, his eyes still wild but his body unflinching.

"What are you talking about?"

I lowered the gun and turned to look at a shell shocked Eli.

"Hank's dead because of your beast, Eli. The beast you should have never kept, he should have been put down the day you got him. He's a miserable beast from hell that only takes."

"That doesn't give you the right to shoot him, Sally."

"It fucking does! I lost everything because of him and it's no thanks to you! I'd much rather it be you that got gored! You weren't even there to see Hank off when he went into the ring that night! You have nothing to say about this. I'll gladly give you the pick of Hank's stock when this is over but right now just stay the hell away from me while I do you a favor."

 I raised the gun again taking aim right between Zapata's eyes and fired three shots in quick close succession as     the sun rose above misty woodland that surrounded Eli's property and the winter birds took flight into the gray   October sky. I left not twenty minutes later after handing Eli breeding stock papers to a replacement bull and headed to the place I called home. It was an empty dark place that no longer felt as it once did. Each room I walked into reminded me of Hank and the life I'd lived with him, all of it too much for me to bare and I ended up a screaming sobbing ball of anger in the middle of the living room before Gilly came down to try and calm me. I couldn't be calmed because the only person that could ever do that had left me here, alone. My soul missing it's other half. That was the day I learned what it was to truly be all alone in the world.


Last edited by Maggie on Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:55 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: River and the Highway

Post by Wolfy on Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:24 pm

Oh my..

I actually went to grab a box of tissues after reading your advice and I certainly needed them. I feel so, so sorry for Sally right now and I have no idea how she is going to cope without him Sad kudos to her for putting an end to that nasty bull's life, I'd have done the same thing without thinking twice about it. I do hope there is happiness to come, though. That was a wonderful first update, despite the heartache Crying or Very sad 

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Re: River and the Highway

Post by Maggie on Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:51 pm

I'm so so sorry! Sad Honestly at this moment I'm not sure how she's going to cope without him either. I've got admit though, writing this drained me completely. I'm very very glad you enjoyed it though and I apologize for all the heartache though. This is a little uncharted for me and I feel so bad subjecting you to it. The muse is playing with ideas for updates on some of my older Kiefer inspired pieces too so look for upcoming updates soon. Smile David just might come out to play when the weather turns a bit chilly. (We're also working on a very special surprise for you for your birthday. Wink )

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Re: River and the Highway

Post by Wolfy on Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:38 am

I have only ever had that happen once when writing and I hope it never happens again. I understand how you must have been feeling whilst writing that first update and I am hoping you're feeling a whole lot better now. Writing such awful life changing events is the hardest thing in the world and with a very vivid imagination, it's made ten times worse, so I'm sending you lots and lots of hugs right now! I am very much looking forward to the next update though and can only pray it's a little more cheerful Wink I'm sure it will be perfect no matter what, though. You did a wonderful job with that first one.

And oh my! I hadn't even been thinking about my birthday recently, I'm all giddy waiting for Halloween to come around, heh. Now that you mention birthdays though, as yours is literally just around the corner, I am currently toying around in Photoshop for something to pass on to you! I know it isn't much, but it's as far as my creativity will allow unfortunately. I do wish I could send you a gift though :O

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Re: River and the Highway

Post by Maggie on Fri Sep 06, 2013 4:19 am

I can't thank you enough my dear, those hugs really helped. There's something about this story that just gets me, it's almost like I have to write it no matter how much it wrecks me emotionally and you're right, when you've got a vivid imagination it can ten times worse. I'm wild about my gift and still can't thank you enough! I've got a few things up my sleeve for your special day so don't worry! <33


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Re: River and the Highway

Post by Maggie on Fri Sep 06, 2013 4:29 am

*Hanky alert!* Sorry, I've done it again to myself. :(But it's looking up, I promise!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7FRbeaXjvk (Hank's song)


May (Six Months Later)

It had been one hundred-eighty three days, 4383 hours, 262974 minutes since my life changed. It's funny, time never really seemed to matter all that much when you had someone to share life with, but once you're alone you counts those ticks of the clock and days crossed off on a calender. I moved around the house in a daze most days. The day of Hank's funeral dawned bright and beautiful, the leaves had finally changed into a full fall bloom and I almost couldn't bring myself to get out of bed without Gilly's help. Thanksgiving came and went and I welcomed Rose and Eli into the house like I always did but when the table was set and everyone was sitting down I had to excuse myself for the rest of the night. Seeing Hank's empty place at the table was all too much. Christmas was worse because each ornament Gilly and I unpacked stirred up a memory that I couldn't face. I ended up a sobbing mess on the couch the rest of the night, ultimately leaving the decorating up to poor Gilly. New Years came and then what would have been Hank's thirty-fourth birthday. I found myself unable to move that day. I could have sworn I felt him laying there beside me as I wished him a happy birthday.

Fall turned to winter and winter into spring and my heart was still beating and Hank was still gone.  A quiet din had settled over the house and I had yet to clean out the closet or even step foot into Hank's office down the hall from the bedroom. The bills weren't exactly piling up but they would be soon and I knew that this year's breeding stock of Brahma could be farmed out for stud so that would take some of the pressure off but there were other aspects to the business that I had no clue about. Which ranches got what stock, how many times the stock rotation table went into effect, the average pricing for each ranch because each was different. This was where a dear friend by the name of Carlos Olivera came in, he was silent adviser and Hank's right hand man when it came to keeping Braxton Bulls running like a finely tuned and oiled machine. I hadn't seen Carl in almost seven months,his work took him around the country sourcing out stock lines for each ranch he worked with but he always called to check on me. I found it both endearing and heartbreaking all at the same time.  During my time of seclusion I had handed the reins to my own business over Gilly temporarily and had yet to ask how it was going.

"Sal...you in there? Carl just called he wants to go over some paperwork with you about this year's breeding stock. He should be over in about an hour."

Gilly asked as she popped her head into the master bedroom where she found me lost in my own thoughts.

"He'll probably want to make copies of the files and go over stud fees. I don't think I can go into that office, Gilly."

My voice sounded odd to my own ears, like I was dazed or in a half trance. To be completely honest it scared the hell out of me, I could only imagine how it made poor Gilly feel. I had been in a haze spending most of my time either in the bedroom attempting to compose myself or out walking along the property checking the fences before summer settled in upon us. There was work to do no doubt about it and Gilly was going to get a crash course in fence mending, just like I had when Hank and I bought the property. No matter where I went I was surrounded by memories of a life that to me at this very moment seemed like some sort of wonderful dream. A dream I had been violently awoken from, I was becoming bitter and I hated it. There were days where I felt this rage bubbling up and those were the days I went out as far from the house that I could and screamed and shouted myself hoarse. Other days I wept what surely was an ocean and begged God to just take me so I wouldn't have to go through this world alone then I remembered Gilly and immediately felt guilty. Friends and neighbors stopped by in the beginning offering words of kindness and a plethora of food but after a thank you was said and the last casserole dish washed and returned the phone calls and visits stopped which ended up making me feel even more alone. I'd talked to the Aunts that had raised Gilly and I when our parents died and to Hank's mother, Rose and they were all beside themselves trying to figure out how to put my world right. Rose suggested stopping in to visit her for a while but being in Hank's childhood home would just make things that much more painful. Aunt Franny suggested taking one of those trips that Hank and I had planned, that was quickly shot down by Aunt Cal telling her that you don't send a new widow to a place filled with newly weds. "Just throw a dart and where it lands buy a ticket to." Aunt Cal had suggested, which I did and it ended up landing on Joshua Tree California, the place where Hank and I went to for our honeymoon.  That had sent me over the edge and in bed for about a week and prompted Gilly to call the Aunts back to tell them what Aunt Cal's advice had done to me.

"Well, there's only one cure for that."

"What?"

"Take her out and get her good and drunk. She needs something to jump start the life back into her. Hank loved her and loved life. He'd want her out there living for the both of them."

So, Gilly and I planned to do just that after Carl had stopped by and went over whatever it was he wanted to with me and left me in peace. Gilly had settled in on the bed next to me watching me like I was a stranger. I attempted to put her at ease and gave her a small weak smile.

"You haven't met Carl have you?"

"No, I don't think he was at Hank's..."

"No, no. He was out in Tulsa looking at more breeding stock options. He's a really really sweet guy. Doesn't say too much, big brown eyes, fluent in at least three languages, and he can string up a calf in seven seconds flat. Just your type Gilly Bean."

Gilly chuckled and gave me a slight nudge off of the bed and denied she'd ever settle for such a man.

"Oh trust me, once you meet him you'll see what I'm talking about. Hank always used to say that he could never compete with Carl and one of these days he'd find me gone with a note saying I'd run off with him."

Just saying Hank's name made a lump rise in my throat and my eyes sting. My stomach knotted as the tears welled up in my eyes.

"Oh..Sal..it's okay. It's gonna be okay."

Gilly wrapped an arm around me and pulled me in for a hug with both arms as I sobbed. I never quite believed that a person could miss someone so much it hurt but the psychical pain I woke up with each morning was bone deep.

"Look at me I can't even say his damn name without breaking. Gilly, what am I gonna do without him? All I've got is this house and the bulls and every day I wake up something reminds me of him and it hurts. It hurts so much I can hardly breathe half the time. I feel him and I know he's here and I would give anything to just talk to him or hug him again. Do you know how many nights I've woken up and reached out for him and woke up crying because I remembered I can't hold him ever again? That was my worst fear, Gilly and it came true. I think I loved him too much. That was my problem, I loved him with everything I had and now I've got nothing, just memories and that's what hurts the most."

Another torrent of sobs came over me as Gilly wiped away her own tears and tried to hug me again.

"You've got me and you've got your memories of those happy times with Hank. He loved you just as much, Sal. I know that and you know that. You and Hank were made for one another,there was something pure about the two of you, like you shared a soul. You connected on some otherworldly level. You know he'd want you to remember all the happy times, he wouldn't want you here locked up in the house brooding. He'd want you to live, live for yourself, live for him, Sal. He loved life and he loved you with all of his heart and then some. He'd want you to remember that there's a whole world out there, go and be a part of it again. Remember that love is infinite, it's like the stars in the sky it just keeps going and going until it comes back to you ten fold. You might have lost him but he's always with you no matter where you are. You've got yourself an angel, babe and trust me there isn't anybody else I'd want watching over you but him."

A soft rain pattered down on the roof and a sense of calm came over me. In that moment I felt a sense of calm wash over me, a calm I hadn't felt since before Hank's funeral. I could have sworn he was there in the room and knowing him he was stretched out on the end of king sized bed with a smirk on his face nodding along to everything Gilly was saying. I pulled her in for a hug and found the weight on my shoulders lifting a little.

"You're right, Gilly...absolutely right."

I went to stroke her long red hair and touched something sticky. At first panic went through me as I realized that the sticky substance was dark red. I grimaced and pulled back a bit and for the first time I noticed that she had smudges of raspberry filling on her face with a dusting of flour to go along with it.

"What were you doing before you came up, Gilly? Good lord you're covered in jam and flour!"

Gilly gave me a sheepish look and then a slight grin.

"I, dear sister have been creating. Come on down and see what I've added to your seasonal pie menu."

I raised an eyebrow as I followed Gilly down the stairs and into the kitchen. My poor kitchen look like a bomb had gone off in it. Flour and sugar were everywhere, egg shells and yolk were splattered onto the counter and various home canned pie fillings dotted the floor like Jackson Pollack himself had stopped by and redecorated the kitchen.

"Oh my...lord. What...My...kitchen."

"I know I know, it's a mess but I promise I'll clean everything up, Sal. Just taste this!"

Gilly handed me her newest creation and grinned as I bit into it, giving me a serious look as I chewed.

"Gil...this...this is really really good.  It's hot as hell but it's wonderful. What is it?"

Gilly gave me a sunny grin that made her green eyes sparkle.

"Yes! Individual pie cups. I call them Pielettes. Because, what if you're just one person or you can't choose which pie you want from your catalog? Or if you're on a diet and the temptation of having an entire pie in the fridge is just too much. A single serving complete with a honey cinnamon crust just like the regular ones. Annnd, look what else I've made."

Gilly all but danced over to the fridge and pulled out a tray and held it out to me, gesturing for me to take one.

"Custard Pielettes and Cheesecakelettes!"

An array of brightly colored custard pies lined one side of the tray and mini cheesecakes lined the other, each topped with a different filling. I had to admit that these were a genius idea that I had never even considered before. I polished off my third cakelette and pielette and pulled her in for a hug.

"Gilly, you're a genius and you've put me to shame. I think I've found my feature for the next catalog."

Gilly's smile faltered for a moment as my words sank in and she let out a yelp of joy before pulling me into another hug and all but dancing me around the kitchen.

"Well, in that case I've got to get cracking on photos and flavor descriptions."

Gilly was off like a shot up the stairs to get her camera and start prepping for promo photos.

I heard a familiar honk as Carl pulled up into the side yard ultimately getting caught out in the rain and making a run for the front porch carrying his usual attache case of paperwork along with him. Just as he was about to knock I unlocked the front door and let him in. We stood there for a moment totally of unsure of what to say to one another. We just looked at one another until we both broke down and pulled each other in for a hug.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there, Sally. I...got back into town today and I stopped by the cemetery and...I realized I don't even know where he is. He was my best friend and I don't even know where his head stone is."

Carl's dark brown eyes, that were once so full of merriment and wit looked clouded with guilt and pain.

I backed up for a moment and looked him in the eye giving him a reassuring nod.

"Carl, It's okay. He's in good company, right between his Dad and Grandfather, his stone's still being being engraved, they told me it should be ready to be installed sometime next week. Probably the twenty-first. What an anniversary gift, right?"

Carl and I both laughed that pained dark laugh that only someone would having gone through what we both went through.

"Well, are you just going to stand there or are you coming in, Olivera? You said you wanted to discuss a few things with me."

Carl came in and all but towered over me dressed in his usual jeans and worn old button down that had seen far better days.

"Should I take off the boots?"

I rolled my eyes and chuckled in spite of myself. We settled into the living room as the floor upstairs creaked as Gilly moved around probably attempting to find her various rolls of film and lenses.

"Nope, they're fine. Now, uh..you wanted to talk over stock right?"

"Well, actually I brought you a few offers for two of your choice bulls. Here are the offers for War Whisper and Cheyenne Fortune."

I looked at those figures and sighed. I knew in my heart of hearts that these prices weren't up to snuff and I shook my head. Those two bulls were the corner stones in Braxton Bulls and I wouldn't be selling them any time soon. War Whisper had been my wedding gift to Hank after we got the barn redone and Cheyenne Fortune was his gift to me the following year. Memories of Hank trying to get Whisp, as we called him, into the chute for inoculations was always something. That bull knew exactly how to push his buttons and was relentless until I came along and cooed at him and he calmed. Or the time we got stuck out on the back forty trying to find Fortune in the middle of one of the worst storm's New Hope had seen in about one hundred years. We ended up getting the pickup stuck and tramping through the mud back home only to find Fortune waiting ever so patiently at the barn gate swishing his tail almost annoyed at the two of us being late to let him back into the barn.

"Please let them know that those two aren't for sale. Offer them Aftershock and Zanzibar, they're from the same stock and just as good if not better, Carl."

"But this guy doesn't want any other bulls, Sal."

"Well, you tell him he can take his money and shove it. Those two aren't for sale, end of discussion."

"But...we're talking fifty thousand each..."

"No, they're not for sale. I'll call him if I can have to and explain to him myself. Those two are not up for sale. Now, moving on."

"You're a hard woman, Sal. But I can see your point."

There was a creak upstairs as Gilly came halfway down the stairs and let out a yelp as the lights flickered out and she stumbled down the stairs a tumbling mess of hair and limbs.

"Again?! Knock it off, Hank!"

The lights flickered again and Carl looked at me his eyes wide. Gilly and I had become used to the lights flickering and momentary power blips. We'd also become accustomed to papers and pens moving around on the kitchen table or the salt shakers moving around or being spilled out. More than once the radio had come on in the middle of the night or when I was feeling particularly down. The song never changed from one of Hank's favorite songs no matter which station it was changed to.

"You okay, Gilly?"

I asked without really turning around knowing well enough that Gilly was just fine.

"Yup, just fine. Stumbled is all. Oh, hello, you must be Carl. Sal's told me a lot about you. It's nice to finally put a face to the name."

Gilly came in and settled in on the couch next to me flashing a genuine grin Carl's way and all but getting him flustered. If Hank had been there he would have chided Carl about the slight pink tinge his cheeks had taken.

"Oh, yes. But the pleasure is all mine, Miss Kemper."

"Please, call me Gillian or Gilly if you'd rather."

I could certainly tell that there would be sparks between these two and I excused myself into the kitchen despite their protests.

"I've got a kitchen to clean up you two entertain yourselves."

"But what about the bulls?"

"Tell him any other two he can have. Whisp and Fortune aren't for sale, Carl."

"But."

"End of discussion. Gilly, tell him once I make up my mind it's a done deal."

"It's true, once she's decided something there's nothing you can do to change her thoughts about it."

I came into the kitchen to find something new in terms of messages from Hank.  Spelled out in magnetic letters on the front of the fridge was a simple message.

" 'Atta girl, Sal."

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Re: River and the Highway

Post by Wolfy on Fri Sep 06, 2013 7:05 am

I squeaked at the end of that update! I think I'm in love.. with this story.. I hope you don't mind. I wasn't expecting anything like that to happen at all so it was a wonderful surprise. I realise some people would be out of the house like a bullet if anything like that went on, but it's such a beautiful thing. I'm so very happy that Hank is still around, even if he's tormenting poor Sally! but that last bit, where he'd left her a little message, I really started sobbing Crying or Very sad 

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Re: River and the Highway

Post by Maggie on Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:14 pm

I'm so so sorry I made you cry! *hugs* I'm so glad you enjoyed this installment though! I'm still working on another for you and I can promise that it's not going to be a sad one. I thought tying in Hank as a sort of "invisible" character would be something different. I'm sure another invisible character'll pop up soon enough, right along with Sonny. Wink But honestly, if it were me that was going through all that I'm not sure what I'd do. My Gran on my mom's side went through that sort of thing after my granddad passed away and every now and then things get moved around, kind of like he's keeping her on her toes.

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Re: River and the Highway

Post by Maggie on Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:14 am

May 21

"Are you sure you wanna do this alone, Sal? We can always wait until tomorrow. The flowers will keep until then I'm sure.."

Gilly asked as she leaned against the doorjamb as I sat at my vanity trying to finish brushing out my hair. I had finally been able to sleep the previous night without the help of sleeping tablets and felt a little more like my old self. I found myself heaving a sigh before looking at Gilly and nodding.

"Yes...and no, Gil. I know Hank wouldn't want me dragging my feet over this but part of me doesn't want to do it. Hey, uh...could you give me a minute? I'll meet you and Carl downstairs, okay?"

Gilly gave me a reassuring smile and nodded before heading downstairs to join Carl down in the kitchen. I sighed as I brushed a few stray tears away and sniffled to myself. I gently picked up the simple frame on the vanity that held our wedding photo. It was one of those candid shots that Gilly got of Hank and I as we stepped out the church back lit by the morning sun and making newlywed moon eyes at one another totally enamored with one another. There were a few more scattered around the house of various shots from that day featuring us making that same face at one another. I look back on it now and maybe the two of us knew that we weren't going to have a lifetime together.

"Happy Anniversary, Hank."

I whispered as I set the frame down and wiped my eyes again. For an second I got a whiff of his old cologne and could have sworn someone had stooped over me and hugged me from behind. A very Hank like thing to do indeed. I smiled and was able to compose myself enough to finish getting changed and head on downstairs to find Gilly and Carl in a heated debate over where we were going to meet up for dinner after I paid my respects to Hank.

"How about Lucia's over in Willis? I hear they're having an all you can eat buffet tonight."

Carl offered as Gilly shook her head.

"It should be something fun, what about the Crooked Still? They've got an all you can eat wing night and five dollar margaritas tonight. It was where they had their first official date."

I rolled my eyes and smiled at the memory of the night we'd had, each of us seemingly elbow deep in chicken wings and the bottomless margarita glasses. The games of darts we'd bet against each other on and the bet that been wagered out on the pool table. If I won he had to take me on a tour of the ranch he called home when he lived with his mother and stay for dinner if he won I had to take him on a trail ride complete with a furnished picnic basket and then take him home to meet Gilly and The Aunts. Needless to say I won and ended up becoming a regular face to the ranch hands and becoming close to the Braxton clan. I also remembered the night when Hank proposed out in the parking lot. He'd wagered a game of pool, our usual and I asked him what he wanted if he won. "If I win will you marry me?" I thought he'd lost his mind and asked him what we would end up doing if I won the game. "If you win you'll be the wife of a very successful rodeo bullfighter. That way neither of us can lose, it's a win win situation, Sal." Needless to say I let him win and never looked back.

"Why don't you two go out? I think I might just like a quiet evening at home. I've got laundry to catch up on and I'm just not up for going out. I'm still working the courage to drink whiskey again after last week's outing with you guys. You go and have a good time and have a drink for Hank and I."

Carl and Gilly protested until I urged them to. Telling them that they needed a night without me, I might just get some baking done or something.

"Oh come on Sal! We can try that Cherry Creek Dance Hall for a change. You haven't been there since...like forever. You can go out and get your two step on while Carl and I gorge ourselves on enchiladas or something. Please? Hank would want you to go out again. He'd say it's just what you need."

Carl looked a bit confused and Gilly grinned as she took the liberty of filling him in on my past.

"Sally here used to run with a Bronc rider by the name of Sonny Gilstrap, they used to close down the place every nearly every weekend unless they were out of town. He taught this one how to two step with the best of them and he even taught her how to ride a horse one summer. We thought for sure they'd end up together...but it didn't work out, he went out to Santa Fe to start his own ranch. God, I wonder what he's up to these days. Don't you, Sal?"

For a moment I was caught off guard and had no idea how to answer. I hadn't thought of Sonny for some time even though we parted friends. Now that he was mentioned I had to wonder what would have happened if I'd gone with him. I wouldn't have met Hank and I immediately felt guilty thinking of what life would have been like without him.

"I...uh...I suppose. Honestly I haven't given it much thought, Gilly."

Carl smiled as he looked at me for a moment and then shook his head.

"Maybe you'll find out one of these days? So,are you up for revisiting your old stomping ground or what?"

I thought for a second and pulled a face.

"Oh I don't know you guys...I've got a lot to do here... I mean there's laundry and these dishes aren't going to do themselves. Maybe you guys can go without me? I don't think I'll be much fun.."


On cue Gilly and Carl both dropped to their knees in front of me and gave me their best puppy dog eyes complete with hands clasped together under their chins and all. A small shove in the small of my back prompted me to let out a sigh and agree to go out afterward.

"Alright, fine! Fine! I'll go, but I'm the designated driver tonight. I'll call you when I leave the cemetery and I'll meet you at the Cherry Creek, okay?"

Carl and Gilly let out whoops and got up from the floor before high-fiving each other and pulling me in for a hug. I told them to go on out to the car while I went upstairs to get my purse and when I went to grab my keys from the hook in the kitchen I noticed a note on the fridge from Hank.

Happy 7th. Have some fun. Meet someone?

"Happy seventh Hank and I will. For you, and no, I will not under any circumstances be meeting anyone. It's too damn soon."

As I grabbed my keys I could have sworn I heard Hank's laugh from somewhere in the house. I turned toward the counter to grab my purse and cellphone only to find the letters rearranged. Old Hank was getting pretty damn good at manipulating those letters of his.

It's never too soon for happiness. You need someone, I want you happy. Bronc Rider? Remember you only go around once.

I realize that if I have been anyone else and I'd heard that I would have left the house screaming but I just shook my head as I walked out into the bright spring sunshine.

"Great, way to go Hank, you're already trying to play match maker. A world of no to that,hun."

I wrestled with the door to my car and then joined Gilly and Carl in the trek toward town. Evidently there had been a squabble over who was driving and it was settled that Carl was the responsible one today. They turned left on Wiltshire Hollow road and I went right. Thirty minutes later I pulled up to the entrance and ended up walking all the way up where Hank was laid to rest. The spring mud hadn't quite dried up yet and I was sure Hank was having a chuckle at my expense trying to make the trek to him and ending up out of breath. I finally made it up the hill and there he was, nestled beneath the shade of two large willows and in between his Father and Grandfather lay our Hank.  Fresh tears welled up in my eyes. Somehow now it seemed real, there was something so final about seeing a headstone that it left me rattled.

Henry Bartholomew Braxton

Beloved Husband Brother and Son

December 18, 1966 - October 28, 1999

You only get one go around and it's best to make it a happy one.
Live and love every day like it's your last.


I knelt down and gently touched the gravestone as I cried, finally purging the tears I couldn't cry over these six months. These were those tears that had built up over that time along with all those bitter feelings, not toward Hank, I could never ever be bitter toward him; but toward the cruel fate he'd been dealt in life. I wept for him and all the things he would never get to do or see in his life. As soon as those tears stopped I was able to feel like one of those weights I'd been carrying around had lifted and I was able to tell Hank that I loved him and that everything was going to be okay, I was going to make it. If I had to fight tooth and nail I was going to make it. I gently dug down in the soft earth and planted two marigold seedlings, one of his favorite flowers and sighed before I was able to get back up and take a breath finally feeling like my world wasn't so titled off it's axis anymore.

I was finally able to see the world in color again and my God it was a beautiful. As I got back into the car I took a deep breath and wiped my eyes before I headed off toward town to meet up with the daring duo known as Gilly and Carl. Over the course of checking in on me Carl had struck up quite the long distance friendship with my dear sister, something that truly put a smile on my face. They would do each other good and maybe they'd end up together? Who knew but as long as they had that basis of friendship there was no telling where it would go. I rounded the left turn on Hatcher trail and went down a ways past the pastures that were part of the property I called home and realized that these were the same trails Hank and I used to ride when we owned a few quarter horses. It was then that a thought struck me, it had been nearly four years since I'd been out on a horse and on those trails and I had the urge to ride again. After we got the bull business going there just wasn't time for the horses so we ended up selling them off.

"Then what's stopping you? There's an auction next Monday, why don't you go? There's room in the stable out past the barn, go on and do it."

I heard Hank's voice whisper in my head as I turned right on the main road into town and grinned. The radio station changed for a second and I heard a song I hadn't listened to fully in years, it was one of those songs that made my weekend before I met Hank. This wasn't the first time I'd heard snippets of it these past few days. Leave it to Hank to play with me like that.

Yeah, howl at the moon, shoot out the light
Yeah, it's a small town Saturday night
It's a small town Saturday night
It's a small town Saturday night


"Knock it off, Hank. I'm not ready to have you try to play matchmaker just yet."


I found The Cherry Creek without a problem and pulled right next to what I thought was Carl's pickup and made my way in and order myself a drink before I set out to find Carl and Gilly. This was my old stomping ground when I was still dating an up and coming bronc rider ages ago, it must have been at least eight years since I'd stopped in and the place hadn't changed a bit. Right down to the beer signs hanging on the wall and the photos of "the old regulars" on the back wall.

"Hey there, Sal. Haven't see you around here in a dog's age. What'll it be? If memory serves me right it was a Rolling Rock and a shot of Tequila."

"Hey there Tom, it's nice seeing you again. No, no, I'm the designated driver tonight so just a coke. Hey, you haven't seen my sister around here have you? She was with a tall dark haired guy goes by the name of Carl?"

Tom thought for a second as he poured me my coke and popped the straw into the glass.

"Oh! Yeah, yeah, they're over by the pool table. Here you go."

I thanked Tom and turned to go but was stopped by a plink sound as my engagement ring slipped off and hit the floor.

"Damn it!"

I bent down to pick up my ring but it had all but vanished. I couldn't help but think Hank was up to something with that little move but shook the thought away. Maybe I'd spent too much time cooped up at home or something.

"Hey Tom, can you do me a big favor and keep your eyes peeled for my engagement ring? It just slipped off and I don't have a clue where the hell it went."

Tom looked at me for a moment and nodded.

"Sure thing. What's it look like?"

"Small half carat diamond sent in a sterling silver setting, sort of a vine motif."

"Alrighty, I'll let you know if I find anything, Sal."

I was half way across the bar when I tripped over one of the loose boards and stumbled into someone. A very solid someone might I add and ended up spilling my coke all over them.

"Oh god, I'm so sorry!"

I stammered as I looked up into a familiar face as he looked down at me sharing the same shocked expression.

"Sonny?"

"Sally?"

"I...oh god I've ruined your boots...we haven't seen each other in what? Nine years and here I am ruining your favorite pair of boots...and your shirt."

I rummaged through my purse and pulled out the extra napkins I always carried and all but thrust them at him, my face turning as red as a beet and slowly rising toward the roots of my hair.

"It's okay, really. I've been meaning to replace the boots for years..and the shirt needed to go too. You haven't changed since I last saw you, Sal."

Oh yes I have, Sonny. I barely recognize myself some days.

I thought to myself as we moved over toward a small table next to the jukebox for a second trying to dodge other patrons who were slowly starting to filter in.

"Oh..uh..thanks. Neither have you. What have you been up to? I didn't think you'd ever come on back to New Hope. Just passing through?"

Sonny took a swig of his...Ginger ale? Since when the hell didn't he have a beer? Color me surprised indeed.  He looked road worn, a little rough around the edges but still deep down he was same old Sonny I remembered.

"My wife...uh...she passed away a year ago this April and it was just time for me to move on. Needed a change of scenery, Santa Fe had too many memories for me so I thought I'd come on home and make a go of it here. Thinking of starting a dairy farm up on the old Gilstrap homestead since Mom and Dad are gone now.  Hey, how about you? I heard you got married a while back? I'd like to meet the lucky guy sometime, maybe buy him a drink and congratulate him."

I looked down for a second and realized that I'd actually be telling someone else that I was widowed. Maybe the stars had aligned and I was meant to tell Sonny in particular? Surly he of all people would know how I felt since he had gone through the same thing. Maybe not, didn't they say men grieved differently then women did? Oh God. It's too late to run now isn't it?

"I...He...Hank, passed away seven months ago."

"Oh Sal, I'm sorry. Really, I am. I know you're probably sick of hearing that by now but I mean it. If there's anything I can do just let me know, everybody says that but I've been in your shoes. You can be in a room filled with people and still feel like you're all alone."

Finally! Somebody got it! I shifted a bit and sighed as I set my now half full coke bottle down and nodded.

"Finally someone gets it. I'm starting to feel a little like my old self but...uh it's still hard. Today was our anniversary and...I actually just came from the cemetery, Hank's headstone went up today. This is going to sound weird but it didn't feel real until I was actually standing there looking down at his new marker."

Sonny nodded as he looked at me carefully.

"I know what you're saying, it's like you're in a haze for the first three months totally unsure of yourself because before that you were part of a duo. At least you've got a marker to go to. Celia's last wishes were that she be cremated and spread out off a cliff in Truth Or Consequences where she was from."

Celia...Celia...where the hell had I heard that nickname before? Celia...Truth Or Consequences.

"Oh yeah, Celia Barrett's a barrel racer out of Truth Or Consequences New Mexico. Nice girl, kinda reminds me of you, Sal."

I could remember Hank saying one night as we settled into our tiny motel room just outside of Flagstaff after a night of celebrating with a few of Hank's friends who's placed in the international tournament.

Holy crap, Hank knew her! This was downright freaky that our spouses had known one another. I felt goosebumps spring up on my arms and the hair on the back of my neck stood up, I attempted to downplay it as much as possible.

"A haze is exactly right, I still can't go into his office yet. Oh my, she sounded like a free spirit. Wait...Celia...as in Cecelia Barrett? Wasn't she a barrel racer? Hank knew her, he used to set up barrels for her in between rider spots on the county fair circuit."

Sonny nodded and then stopped for a moment as if Hank's name had dawned on him.

"You were married to Hank Braxton the bull fighter? Celia always had the best stories about him. Oh god, he was gored wasn't he? I remember hearing about it from Pepper when I got to Tuscon."

I nodded and then shuffled through my wallet for a photo of Hank. I had what seemed like an endless supply of wallet size photos of him and settled on one of him after our honeymoon posed on the tailgate of his truck rubbing off greasepaint.

"Here he is. Yeah..it was his brother's bull that did it, Zapata. Sad thing was that was going to be his last night in the ring, he was retiring and turning his attention over to the bulls we were breeding for the circuit. What about Celia? Please tell me she wasn't hurt in the ring."

I knew some of those barrel racers ended up getting crushed when they took turns too quick no matter how surefooted their horses were.

Sonny held my wallet for a moment and smiled then shook his head. He pulled his own out, the same wallet he'd had when we were dating, and passed me a photo of a very pretty blonde woman with big blue eyes and a sweet smile.

"No, no. Celia had kidney disease. We didn't even know it until it was too late, it spread to both kidneys and she didn't respond to treatment and the waiting list for a transplant was too long. She would have been thirty-three today."

Sonny looked down a minute and then sighed.

"You're the first person I've told that to and I feel better.."

I smiled and nodded knowing how he felt. If someone had told me a year ago I'd be sitting in an old Dance Hall across town with my ex talking about dead spouses I would have told them they needed their head examined.

I raised my bottle and gave Sonny a reassuring pat on the back of the hand.

"To Celia may she have the happiest of birthdays."

Sonny raised his own glass with a small smile.

"To Hank, may he have the happiest anniversary."

We clinked bottles and chuckled in spite of ourselves as the song on the jukebox changed from some sad old ballad  to a very familiar song that brought back many memories of the Friday nights I'd spent here with Sonny in the past.

"I've been hearing this song in snippets for the past three days and it's driving me nuts."

I muttered as Sonny finished off his soda and sighed.

"I know, it seems every stations I change it over it ends up playing it. It's like I'm being sent some sort of a sign."

"Maybe you are, I know for a fact that I get messages left to me on the fridge with those magnetic letters."

"Really? Maybe I should give it a go? I'm afraid what Celia has to say about my house keeping lately."

"Oh it can't be that bad."

"Oh it is, I haven't even bothered to unpack yet and I've been back two months. She'd have a fit and I know it. The other morning I noticed a stack of plates still wrapped in their newspaper and bubble wrap sitting out in the kitchen counter as if she'd taken them out and left them there for me to see."

I found myself laughing at this and couldn't help but remember a week after Hank had died getting up in the middle of night and hearing the shower in the adjoining bathroom turn on and off by itself as if telling me that I needed to do something to get myself out of bed and back into the world of the living again, taking a shower would be a fine place to start.

Just as the song ended it started up again without anyone playing the replay button or putting more change in. The lights flickered overhead as Gilly and Carl headed over to us and all but shoved us out onto the dance floor not taking our protests into consideration.

"It's a sign if there ever was one now get out there. We'll watch the table, go out and you two have a good time."

Gilly said as she pulled Sonny and out away from the table but not before introducing Sonny to Carl.

"Carl Olivera, Sonny Gilstrap, Sal's old bronco riding flame. Sonny Gilstrap, Carl Olivera, Bull stock adviser and handy man extraordinaire. Now, get out there and dance!"

Before Sonny and I could object we were sent out to the dance floor with stern looks as they assured us they'd be there when we got back. they settled themselves into our seats and put orders in for another pitcher of margaritas and another basket of chicken fingers to split. Gilly had become downright giggly and Carl was laughing his head off. For a moment it was like nothing else in the world mattered to them they were out on their little cloud. I couldn't help but smile and shake my head.

"If they keep this us they'll end up hungover for the next two days."

I sighed as I watched Gilly and Carl wave to us from the table. We stepped in time to the music out on the all but deserted dance floor. It wasn't quite seven thirty yet and the other regulars hadn't shown up yet.

"Oh let'em have some fun. We used to do the same thing,remember?"

Sonny said as we rounded the dance floor in an in time two step.

Memories of many Friday and Saturday nights drinking long necks and all but stuffing ourselves full of buffalo wings and then going out onto the dance floor to dance the night away.

"Oh my definitely, we just never had the courage to try Tom's pitcher margaritas. Oh god, I think I'm getting a memory of the hangovers I nursed when we used to do that."

Sonny laughed as he gave me a twirl.

"Almost all of our nights ended in the back of my truck with both of us nodding off to that old Emmylou Harris tape that got stuck in the tape deck."

I laughed at the memory of us clambering up into the back bed of Sonny's beat up old Chevy and howling along to the tracks before we passed out in each others arms and waking up the next morning trying to block the sun from our collective vision and heading home to sleep it off.

"Oh God, don't remind me!"


We stayed out on the floor for a few more familiar song that took us both down a collective memory lane and then retired back to the table to see how our seat holders were holding up.

"Hey Sal, look! Carl's a walrus!"

Gilly yelped as she and Carl finished off their second pitcher. Carl grinned over at us before sticking two french fries under his upper lip and made an odd noise sending Gilly into a fit of fresh giggles. They were both thoroughly enjoying themselves as Sonny and I sat back down almost worn out and wondering how we used to do this until two in the morning.

"How the hell did we find the energy to do this?"

I asked as the live band warmed up and Gilly pulled Carl out onto the dance floor.

"I have no idea but it was nice. Made me feel young again."

I looked at Sonny and laughed until I almost snorted.

"You're only what...thirty-six? You're not old!"

"It's old when you ride bucking horses for a living. Well, I retired but still."

I just shook my head and sighed.

"You'll always be that twenty-three year old kid I met in line for cotton candy in my book."

"You always had a way of saying things to make me feel better, Sal. Thanks."

I smiled for the umpteenth time that night and found my face ached, totally unfamiliar with the action.

"You're welcome."

The bell signaling last call sounded and I hadn't realized that all that time had passed.

"Where did Bonnie and Clyde get off to I wonder?"

I looked over at the bar to find Gilly and Carl all but gone. I looked over where Gilly's purse should have been to find it gone.

"I haven't got a clue..."

We did a quick sweep through the dance hall and found no trace of them. When we got out to the parking lot Carl's truck was gone and I was trying each of their cell phones only to get their voice mails.

"Don't worry, they'll be back by morning. It was nice seeing you again, Sal.

Sonny said before pulling me in for a light hug and headed off to his own truck and attempting to start it to no avail.

"Need a jump or something?"

I asked as Sonny groaned and looked over sheepishly at me.

"I haven't got cables, have you?"

"No...uh need a lift then?"

"Would you mind?"

"Nope, hop on in. I hope you don't mind but I'm going through town, they could have stopped over at Carl's place."

Sure enough we spotted Carl's truck parked off in front of the well kept three bedroom craftsman bungalow on Owens Lane that he called home.

"Well, at least now I know they're safe."

I sighed as I turned down the old dirt road that lead up through another back road to Sonny's parents place.

"God, I haven't been this since...I don't know how long."

Sonny said as I slowed down just in case a deer decided to dart out, I'd learned my lesson years ago that deer don't care and are experts at kamikaze missions if they have to be.

"It was always easier to go this way if I have to head off the herd. I'm going to have to apologize, since we're virtually neighbors here, Sonny. My Jerseys sometimes get out and go out into your paddock."

"You raise milk cows in addition to bulls?"

I nodded as we pulled up in front of Sonny's place.

"Yup, you're looking at the owner of Braxton Bulls and Dairy."

Sonny chuckled and then turned to me smiling that same shy smile he had when we first met.

"What would the owner of Braxton Bulls and Dairy say to having dinner with an up and coming dairy farmer tomorrow night? Nothing special, just dinner at Luann’s Diner since he's not much of a cook."

I smiled and nodded and then a thought struck me.

"She'd have to say yes but on one condition, you come over for dinner at her place instead and you give her pointers on all things equine. She's looking to buy a horse or two and doesn't know where to start. In return she'll let you pick and choose a few cows to start your own herd."

Sonny held out his hand for a shake to close the deal.

"Sounds like a plan. Thanks for the lift and the talk, it really helped, Sal. Call me if you need anything. Tell Hank the bronc rider says happy anniversary."

"Alright then, how about seven? Don't bring anything just yourself. You're welcome and it helped me too, more than you'll ever know. I will but only if you tell Celia that the bullfighter's wife sends her the happiest of birthday wishes."

A final goodbye was exchanged and I waited until Sonny was safely in the house before I headed on home. I unlocked the front door and found the house quiet enough to hear a pin drop. I kicked off my boots, throwing down my purse in the process I nearly laughed as I spied a new message from Hank on the fridge.

Bullfighter likes dairy farmer/bronc rider and thinks he's very much a match. Celia says thank you for saving him and for the birthday wishes.

"You do do you? Well, it's not like we're going to move in together so don't worry. He's just a friend and Celia, you're welcome...for everything. Just keep Hank company will you?"

The lights flickered once as I went upstairs and took a quick shower before settling into bed.

"Please tell me you know how much I love you, Hank. No one could ever replace you, they broke the mold when they made you. Happy Anniversary you brave crazy bullfighter."

I turned out the light and settled in under the blankets and felt something brush against my cheek as I drifted off into a contented sleep for the second time in months.


Last edited by Maggie on Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:11 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: River and the Highway

Post by Wolfy on Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:58 pm

Words are null and void for this update, but by god did I adore it. I bounced out of my chair when I spotted there was an update and you have yet again done a wonderful job. I'm so very happy that Gilly, Carl and Hank managed to get Sally out and about! and even happier that she has connected with an old flame again. I'm dying to find out what Gilly and Carl are upto.. but I can probably take a wild guess on that one Wink I think it's lovely that Hank has found a friend in Celia and pleased that Sally is a lot more content with him being around her!

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Re: River and the Highway

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