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Fire in the Ice

By Katlyn Stewart


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She didn't pay much attention to the man standing at the front waiting for someone to seat him, but the moment Deedra's eyes met with this stranger's eyes, a shiver came over her entire spine. This was no ordinary man. Without even realizing it, she studied him for a moment.. "hadn't she seen him somewhere before"? "No.. No", she could not place him, his face.

He was rather tall, with extreme muscle definitions that oozed out from his tight black t-shirt and well worn jeans. Extremely tanned and well weathered face with deep brown, almost silky hair falling just below his shoulders.

Deedra's mind wondered for a few moments at how strikingly handsome he was. Surprised by the fact that her heart was beating wildly as if she was some young school girl that had just met a rock star.

Regaining her composure, hoping he had not noticed the stare, she walked toward this tower of a man.





       Josh McKenzie- Strong and very aggressive, he and his brother, Deacon owned the McKenzie Ranch, the prosperous company their Father had started when he was a young man.  Josh was always so confident and self-assured both in life and in business. To most in the outside world he was as hard as stone, until Deedra Marlin came into his world.

    Deedra could bring out the best and worst of him, yet soften him in ways even he could not comprehend. His love for her more powerful than any emotion he had ever known.


   Deedra Marlan- So hidden within herself that most people thought her to be shy. Her life revolved around her two young daughters since the death of her husband, Craig. Hardened and alone after his death, she was unwilling to allow her heart to open and love again. She was known lovingly by her small group of friends as the Ice princess. But, when Josh McKenzie entered into her silent world, he had the higher power to transform her heart, her soul into his.






            CHAPTER ONE


     When Craig died, Deedra wasn't sure what she was going to do, everything had happened so unexpectedly.

    One moment she had it all. A husband who loved her dearly, had taken such good care of her, made all of the major decisions in their marriage and had given her two beautiful daughters .


     But, that fateful night, two years ago, when the police knocked on her door, all that came to an end and her life shattered like glass to the floor.

   Craig Marlan was dead, killed in a car accident just outside of town. A drunk driver had ran through a stop sign, had hit Craig in his driver’s door and ended his life with in a split second of time.

   Deedra had desperately wished that the world had stopped turning at that very moment , so unsure of herself as to what to do or how to cope with all the changes that would come so quickly, the repercussions of her husband‘s existence ended.

  Craig had been the man of the marriage, he had dominated their world together, had made all the important decisions in their lives, even in the most minute details of their lives. Now he was no longer there to tell her what was best for her or her children…

    Without so much as a true grieving period,  She had thrust herself into Craig’s business, trying her best to learn what she could to continue the company and at the same time, cling to her daughter’s and focus all her attention on her daughter’s lives. As the stress surrounded her, all other desires in her life had slowly died with the pain of his untimely death.


    Craig’s business, The Fireside Inn,  would become her only pride. It had, after all been a part of her life from the time she was a young girl. Still in school and Seventeen, she started there as the part-time waitress.

   Two years and a graduation later the new owner, Craig Marlan had taken over and renamed the large restaurant Fireside Inn. He had arranged it to be a little different, a bit of an upper class style and yet kept the mainstay of the old place country style restaurant it had replaced, the smoked and deeply lathered with Barbeque, Ribs.

 The Fireside would bring the country charm of the place of yesterday into the mainstream of high class of today, adding to its menu the taste of red Salmon with it’s lemon pepper sauce and its Chicken breast with mozzarella cheese and bacon and second and third in line favorites…


    Craig had been much older, and more mature, falling hard for the sweet, innocent Deedra almost immediately. He saw in Deedra a child like beauty, small framed and baby blonde hair, with the most captivating green eyes he had ever seen. He knew she was young, but it didn’t seem to matter to him. Her face, her body, her movements was all he could focus on and he had to have this child/woman for his own.


   When they started dating the people at the Inn just couldn’t imagine what Deedra saw in this man...After all, he was Twenty years older and far more reserved in his tweed suits and ties that always matched perfectly to his shoes. He would look over his glasses to talk to someone, something that always wore away at Marcy’s nerves. But, she learned to endure him for her friend.

But to Deedra, he was a kind and tender man, he protected her, made good sound decisions for her and loved her with all of his heart.


    Even Marcy, Deedra's best friend for many years had been floored by their dating.. She had thought he was not at all like the fantasy man that her friend had spoken of so many times, during the moments when they shared their inner most secrets.

   That man, that fantasy, had been Passionate, Strong ,Determined and Powerful. He would whisk Deedra away on his White Horse and passionately take her body and make her his own..

  Nothing like tall, painfully thin balding Craig…


     But, for what ever her reasoning’s and against what Marcy had tried to argue the point with her about Craig...

Deedra and Craig were married.


Through the years in her marriage, Deedra had often thought about her life. It was so common in a lot of ways, even to the verge of being boring. The marriage never had the fiery passion she had once hoped for in her thoughts, it was never Craig’s style. He had been a cut and dry type of man, making appointments and calculations in his life to do something, nothing was ever done spontaneously.

 But, Craig  had other wonderful qualities to him that Deedra saw, he was loyal and generous of his love for her, provided her with all she could ever ask or want for and was a superb father to their two daughters, Jessica and Casey.


     Her daughters, each so unique, so different. She and Craig had been married less than three months when she found she was expecting.     Jessica, now 10, was so self assured and perfectly poised like her Father, but with a flair to be adventurous,  while little Casey at 7, was quieter and somewhat of a loner like her mother.


  Their Fathers death had been a hard blow on the two young girls, there had been nightmares and school problems and temper tantrums to deal with during the first few months after his death. Many times that Deedra wasn’t so sure she would be able to handle, nor survive through it. But thankfully with the help of Marcy, she did get through the difficult grieving period..

    And as time usually does, the healing began for the children, and with each day they all grew stronger in their abilities to deal with what had occurred.

    Deedra became stronger as a business woman, and learned to cope with the Accountants and the pressures that go along with owning a business, and having to deal with Money Markets, C.D.‘s and Bonds when she had never had any idea of the wealth her husband had. Then add to it the pressures of being a single parent.




                CHAPTER TWO


        Deedra wasn't satisfied with just being the owner of the Fireside, she needed to feel useful and fill the void left in her life.

    After her marriage to Craig, he had wanted her to quit working, to await the birth of their children and take care of the “wifely” duties of a home. She had done just as he had wished.


   But, after Craig’s death, she decided to go back and take over as the head manager and fill in as the hostess there part of the time.

   It made her feel useful, and in a  way she felt like one of the girls again, felt like she had when she had been young. She could also interact with people and keep her loneliness at bay.


     Marcy, also worked there as well, starting at the Fireside just days before her all those years ago.

   Since Craig’s death, Marcy had tried on many occasions to set Deedra up on "dates", but it had been to no avail. She hated watching as  Deedra put her whole life into her work and children. She saw that Deedra was slowly slipping away into a quiet and cold world of her own, and was so afraid that her dear friend would never allow love into her heart again.


     She wanted to see her have some enjoyment, excitement, or even just a few laughs out of her life. Go out, do something besides work and go home.. Maybe to have a drink now and again, get a little tipsy, laugh.

   She was still a young woman with so much life left to live, and hated to see how closed off Deedra had become..

Marcy had hoped that one day someone would be able to break through the ice that had formed around Deedra's heart...


   A lot of men had tried to be Deedra's suitor...her captivating eyes would mesmerize all the single male patrons, they would watch her as she walked. Her still youthful figure though hidden under clothing, still was left to imagine in great detail....but to their disappointment she had turned each of them down.


 She was affectionately, behind her back, being called the Ice Princess by the men that came and went through the restaurant....



   During the loll between lunch and dinner, She placed a call to Mrs. Baker, the children’s sitter to check up on the girls, all was well as she had expected. Mrs. Baker had been the children’s nanny of sorts for the last two years, a true God sent, and they thought of her as their substitute grandmother.


     Deedra checked in at the kitchen, she stopped to sample the ribs her restaurant was so famous for, just muddling around the Inn trying to find something to clean or take care of to pass the time. She wasn’t at all concerned about the loll in traffic over the last few weeks. Tourist season was at a halt, the spring was in full swing…and so it was just the regulars that stopped by during these times, and most of the traffic for that was on the week-ends..

   She stopped to share a joke with Mark the head cook and was still smiling to herself when she heard the chimes on the front door ring, alerting that a customer had come in. "back to work, finally" she thought to herself, and hurried toward the front door to greet her awaiting customer.


    She didn’t pay much attention to the man standing at the front waiting for someone to seat him, but the moment Deedra's eyes met with this stranger’s eyes, a shiver came over her entire spine.

    This was no ordinary man. Without even realizing it, she was studying him ..

"hadn't she seen him somewhere before"? “Ever met him“?.. "No.. No“, she could not place him, his face.


      He was rather tall, with extreme muscle definitions to his arms that seemed to  that ooze out from his tight black t-shirt and well worn jeans. Extremely tanned and a well weathered face with deepest Chestnut brown, almost silky  hair falling just below his shoulders.


   Deedra’s mind wondered for a few moments at how strikingly handsome he was. Surprised by the fact that her heart was beating wildly as if she was some young school girl that had just met a rock star.


    Regaining her composure, and hoping he had not noticed the stare, she  walked toward the tower of a man.


"Sir" can I get you a table" She asked him almost in a whisper, her mouth dry as though it had cotton in it., and wondered to herself as she spoke.. “what on earth is up with that”?

  His reply caught her off guard even more than she already was,

 "Oh yea you sure can.. and make it a table for two", he answered with a husky voice and deep southern drawl, a  wicked smile on his face.

  “Will someone else be joining you” she asked rather innocently, not realizing that he meant a table for two included her..

 ”No lil lady, just you”, he replied still smiling with that devilish grin.


   Now she was definitely nervous, being put on the spot, and decided to herself that she just wouldn’t answer his question, rather than to try to search for words that eluded her  at this moment..

  "Right this way, Sir" she began to walk in front of him and down the middle between  the cluster of tables at either side of her. She laid  the menu down on one of the booth‘s tabletop and started to tell him about his waitress, when he spoke...


    "Well honey ya never answered my question, ya gonna sit with me, or not?"…a sheepish grin across his face making her even more nervous than she already was, if that was at all possible.

  Deedra stopped for a moment, her face went red, she was looking down at the dark black boots on his feet, disregarding his question yet again, and trying to speak..

"can I bring you something to drink?" she watched his large frame sit down at the table and how he made the standard made table look small before him.

   Her mind telling herself over and over to get away as quickly as possible.

"Yea" he looked up to her an answered…. "bring me the biggest jug of tea you got, sweet, sweet tea", "and sweeten it with your fingers too darlin"....

Deedra just smile at him as nicely as she possibly could, didn’t really know what else to do.


 "Your waitress's name will be Marie and she will be with you shortly"..she stammered, realizing her nervousness was being watched by him

   Turning to walk away as quickly as possible and hoping she didn‘t have to speak with him anymore…she heard his voice loud and clear...

"Hey.. What’s your name lil lady"?


 "Deedra" she quickly answered and briskly walked away.


  The stranger sat there at his table, a grin planted across his face. Knowing…yes he knew…he saw that she had been impressed by what she had seen before her eyes when she was standing before him. He was just as equally impressed by what he saw, her in her cute waitress uniform.


   Going to the back near the kitchen she told Marie she had a customer. Deedra hadn’t been this nervous in her whole entire life, he somehow had gotten under her skin and made it hard for her to speak to him without a whisper of a voice coming through rather than her normal speaking voice.

    There had been so many men that had frequented the Fireside and none had ever made her feel as nervous or as shy as this guy  just did....and for the life of her she had no reason as to why.


    The inquisitive Marcy was standing in the back room taking her break when Deedra came through, and just had to know all about this fine looking man that had walked in and been seated by Deedra.

   Deedra tried to brush it all off as if she hadn’t really even noticed him and so could not give her the answers she was looking for.

  But, typical Marcy kept on with her questions anyway…with Deedra falling silent and not giving out any answers.. Finally, after listening to Marcy’s ramblings for longer than she wanted too, she stated rather coldly..

"he’s just another  arrogant man, nothing special at all"...nothing more than that".…she snipped.


   Now that certainly stirred Marcy’s curiosity up.  Especially since Deedra had never acted like this, and especially hadn’t over the last two years.


Marcy decided to herself, she would just have to check this guy out herself. Marcy snuck around the tables, pretending to clean them as she watched the movements of this man, looked at his rather handsome frame. She watched him as he ate and wondered to herself if he devoured a woman the way that he was devouring the Barbequed ribs. She heard him as he spoke to Marie, or as he asked for something…The southern drawl lured her in even more.

    Big eyes, a cocky smile and rough around the edges only added to the appeal of him. By the look to the deep tan to his arms and face she could tell he was an outdoors kind of a man.  She also wondered if this rogue man, a man of spirit, had made Deedra’s heart pound, and made the ice within her heart melt just a little when she had to greet him at the door.

    Deedra had kept herself at a  distance for so long, but her friend knew that this man sitting in the eatery now, was just the kind of man Deedra had fantasized about as a teen.

     Maybe, just Maybe…the princess’s  heart would start to melt.


        Deedra stayed in the kitchen awaiting Marcy to return from her investigation. She had one of the other waitress’s take over her post while the stranger was there. She didn’t want him to see how nervous he had made her…

Deedra’s thoughts were on this man, though she hated the thought that it was…and she just could not understand why she was acting like a damn fool and not wanting to be around him.

  Standing back in the foreground of the kitchen, hiding like a child from a monster.  Oh to be home, safe in her bed at this moment. Strange feelings in the pit of her stomach, totally unanswered to her own self….safety is what

she needed most.

Her thoughts went to Craig, “was he watching her“. Would he think her to be “childish, immature“,…

     Two years had went by with no reasons to look at another man, no feelings of sexuality…she had shut herself down, it hadn‘t been intentional, but now that she was this way, she was not going to put herself out there on the line with any man.

     Marcy walked in and took her away from the thoughts in her mind.

    She was absolutely full of excitement, bouncing along as she walked. “Your stranger

friend left a note with Marie”.. Marcy began. “I told her I would bring it to you,”..  extending her hand with the note in it.

“ Open it, open it…come on.. I’m dieing to know what it says”

    Deedra took the note from her friends hand and smiled shyly. On the outside of the folded napkin was the words “Miss Deedra”.. She slowly opened it up, her fingers not working as well as they should, she was shaking.

    Deedra didn’t like the feeling of no control of her surroundings.. She began reading the note out loud to Marcy..

” My name is Josh, You have beautiful eyes.. I didn’t see a ring so you must be single. Call me 555-1481, Anytime, Josh“.


    Silence fell on Deedra,  she stood there blank faced and handed the note to Marcy, who of course, read it again to herself.

Deedra just watched as her friend as she read it , her stomach doing flip flops, her heart pounding so loudly she could hear it in her ears.

    Marcy looked up at Deedra, and found her response to be interesting, even more interesting than the note. She could tell by the paleness to Deedra’s face that she wasn’t as happy as

she thought she should be.

    A man had paid attention to Deedra, she had hoped there would be a gleam in her eye, a smile to her face…

   “Dee, what’s wrong”…Marcy asked of her. “it’s a cute note, I mean.. he wants to meet you, see you“.. “but your like so what, it doesn’t matter“.. “doesn’t that flatter you at all that he wrote this”?.. trying desperately to search out her friends face and see a glimmer of something, anything in her eyes; her face.


“You don’t get it Marcy, O.K. it‘s nice“…“I just don’t want to be bothered, not by him”…her voice snippy and yet a bit broken almost emotional as she spoke….”didn’t you see him Marcy, all sure of himself”..” just assumes that this note will make me call him“…“who does he think he is anyway”?

   Marcy started to speak …hoping to understand why Deedra was acting like this.. and not at all impressed by the cute little note, but Deedra cut her off..

”I’m gonna go, I want to go home, I’ll see you tomorrow”…she said rather quickly, almost angrily… not waiting for Marcy to speak. She exited the kitchen in just a matter of seconds, not even telling her best friend good-bye. Marcy just stood there stunned.




                        CHAPTER THREE


            Josh hadn’t really been thinking about woman for some time. He was always so busy with the company, He and his brother had.


     The Company, raising and selling livestock, mostly cattle for beef, had been his daddy’s beginning. His Father had worked long and hard to give his son’s Deacon and Josh something for the future: and it had been Mac’s (as some people called him),pride and joy. He worked the boys into the business when they had been very

little., so it was like second nature to them all of their lives.

    When their Father passed away five years earlier, there wasn’t anything the  two boys couldn’t handle.

       There had been many times Joshed wished his Father was still there, not so much for the business, Josh knew that like the back of his hand, but for his personal life.

    His dad’s wisdom had gotten him over many a rough spot. Josh had always been overly confident about himself, and in his young life, he was known for his womanizing ways.. but there had been other areas he had been unsure of in life.

       Deacon had been one of his unsurities. They could run the business with no problems, but they were as different as night and day, and known to knock heads over the most unimportant issues, then shake hands and walk away from the fight as if it had never happened. 

   The other insecure part of his life came when he had gotten older and had some maturity under his belt.  Women.


   His confidence was low in that area. He felt more were users, only after money, and bent on tearing away at a man’s soul.  Josh’s one marriage in his thirty years of life had lasted a mere four years and had produced two sons; Dusty and Darrin. For the boys, he was grateful for the marriage to Lindsey Reed, he was not. It had left him with a bitter taste in his mouth.


     She had been a user, She wanted money, married Josh to get access to it, produced the children and then she used them as her ticket out of the country life and into the city where she had been raised. With the divorce she had gotten exactly what she wanted.

    Lindsey had ended up receiving fifteen percent of the companies earnings over

the four years of marriage, payable in one lump sum, alimony till she married again, and a hefty amount of child support…and since the Ranch house Josh had built could not be sold due to the fact it was part of the overall Ranch, The house had been appraised and Lindsey had gotten half of what the house itself was worth, also in one lump sum.

     Sometimes he hated Lindsey, hated all women. Other times he would reach out for a

woman to hold, find her, only to let go of her again.

   He knew he was hard, knew he came off to strong.. And that it was his personality that kept him from finding and keeping the right woman.


     The one woman in his life that had never let him down was his mother, Katy. A fiery bit of a woman whose home also sat on the nine thousand acre ranch. Momma, as he affectionately called her, kept trying to make Josh believe that there was a good woman out there somewhere.

   He always hugged her, made her believe that he believed her words would come true…but in the silence of the long nights, there were times, he wondered if it would could ever happen.

    A happy family, like he had growing up, and like Deacon had now.


   Tonight though, laying in his bed waiting for the sleep to take him, his mind went back to the restaurant, to the woman. He reasoned to himself that she was a real “knock-out”. Fresh looking with sexy eyes and a body to match. Her hair was as golden as the sun and her lips, so large and expressive.. her walk tall and proud. He wondered to himself about the note, would she ever read it, ever call…, “naw”.. he thought to

himself, “she won’t.. she wasn’t the least bit interested in him”..


    In his mind though, he decided to visit the Fireside as often as he could, get her attention…, although he didn’t know why.

    He lay there imagining to himself that she was a passionate creature, he could see it in her eyes. He could feel that  she was just waiting in silence for the creature within her to be released,,,, and Josh  McKenzie just might be the man to do it.









                       CHAPTER FOUR


     Deedra awoke the next morning ready to take on the world. She eased into the kitchen carefully so as not to wake the children. It was six o’clock and Jessica and Casey would be getting up in thirty minutes, in the mean time Deedra would bath in the silence of the morning with her coffee and collect her thoughts for the day. She

didn’t need to be at the Fireside until twelve, so until that time she had many things in

the home to keep her busy.


  Deedra didn’t spend many hours with the girls during the week, but when the week-ends came, she made those days  just for them. Sometimes she felt guilty for not being with the children more, she knew she really didn’t need to work. She had several employees at the Fireside that could be trusted.

  But.. she needed her days to be filled, needed to feel worthwhile. She hated time spent alone. It was during those lonely days when she would curse Craig for leaving her, leaving the children. Then she would hate herself for having those thoughts. The vicious cycle of blame. It had not been Craig’s fault…she knew that. But she needed someone to blame for the coldness and aching in her heart.

    If he hadn’t left…there would be no

loneliness and she would have her family all in one piece and happy.


  Deedra’s mind wonders to the note that this man Josh had sent to her. It made her feel warm inside to know he had done something like that, to get the attention she guessed. To have someone notice that she existed…

And, ok, yes if truth be known it did make her feel good…and yes, she had noticed him though every part of her being had tried not too. It was against her moral standing to think about any other man. She was a widow, she would remain a widow. It was stupid anyway, to think about a man she didn’t even know. Absolutely silly, to be remembering the note at all.


    She no sooner got through the door she was bombarded. Marcy was waiting impatiently for her. Inquisitive as to why Deedra had left in such a hurry, why she seemed so upset at the note.       Although the same age as Deedra, Marcy was more like a mother figure to Deedra then just a friend. She also knew that Deedra had never truly been happy in life, had lost her parents early in life and had latched on to Craig as a way of feeling some of the security she so desperately needed.  Marcy knew that her friend hid behind the death of her husband to feel safe and as strange as it sounded, lonely.

   Deedra never complained otherwise to Marcy, but she just knew.

   Deedra on the other hand had always been envious of Marcy. She had been married for years to her high school sweetheart, Brad Martin. Marcy was one of the most special people she had ever known. She loved her bubbly personality, and even though she was overweight, Deedra always thought she had the most flawless face, so attractive. Her pranks and jokes made her even more endearing, more priceless in Deedra’s eyes.            


       Marcy finally caught up to Deedra in the storage area, she couldn’t stand it any longer, her curiosity getting the best of her.

    “Dee.. what is going on with you” Marcy questioned. Deedra just looked at her as if she had no idea what Marcy was talking about. “What, what did I do now”? ..

”you know what I’m talking about Dee, why were you so upset yesterday”?

   Deedra just looked blankly at her friend for a moment, then realized what she was talking about.. “OH“.. ”Your making to much of it Marcy, I just wanted to go home, if that’s what your asking about”.. Deedra just seem to state matter of factly as she was walking away .

  “now just a minute”…Marcy’s voice rising in pitch, stopping her before she could leave the room

“what is up with you, I want to know?”

”Marcy just drop it, it’s nothing, really nothing…look, we’ll talk later ok?”…


    Marcy stood there for a moment watching yet again as Deedra avoided the questions and walked off. Marcy threw the napkins she had been holding up into the air and watched them fall to the floor. “damn it” she muttered to herself. “what is wrong with her“..

“I can’t even play with her about this man, I can’t get any information. And she damn sure can’t just be a woman and enjoy that someone notices her”…”damn it”…Marcy was thinking to herself and getting angrier as she did.

“what is she gonna do, be an old spinster“..


Still upset that Deedra didn’t at least notice the attention…her thoughts running wild within her head..“ Craig’s been gone two years, she’s still young and she just drifts further into herself…”        She knew Deedra  had loved Craig, but being in love…Marcy never thought so. She had never seen the passion, the fire in their marriage. It had just been safe. Craig had been more like a

Father and Deedra the little girl. Whatever they had felt for each other, Marcy was darn sure it was time to lay the past to rest, and move on. Marcy, would figure out a way to make sure of It. 




                 CHAPTER FIVE 


         The dinner shift was almost to a close, it had been a long afternoon for Deedra. She was tired and her feet ached. She decided to freshen up her make-up for the remaining nights shift.


   She paused as she looked into the mirror and remembered to herself that she had a meeting in the morning with John Sims, her accountant. Her husband had trusted John and his knowledge for years, so when Craig died there had never been any doubt in Deedra’s mind that she would remain with him and his firm.


    Deedra came back out to the front, some of the

waitresses were still on their break, she decided now was a good time to check the cash drawer and remove all the unnecessary bills from it and slip it in its envelope for the deposit in the morning prior to her meeting with John.


  She heard the chimes from the door being opened, but did not look up from her task at hand. When she did look, up she realized the “stranger” was standing only a few feet away. Automatically, the nervousness returned. She could feel the stare of his eyes burn into her skin, and she didn’t dare look up into his eyes. The man. The one behind the note.. sleek boots, tight faded jeans and a blue western shirt

fitting him snuggly around the rolled up sleeves of his arms, presenting the definitions of his large muscular frame.

   Shivering slightly for a moment until he broke the silence between them.

“why didn’t you call”?.. his voice deep and raspy”the air of his southern drawl still so deep. “I waited half the night and the whole next day to hear from you”…


 Deedra took sight of herself at that moment and thought to herself “How arrogant a man is he”’…

”Im not in the habit of calling strangers…Sir” Deedra stated while trying desperately to be polite…

”would you like a table, Sir..” she asked as if it were just another customer she was waiting on. “Drop the sir stuff, will ya.. I’m not an old man yet”.. Josh replied, with a bit of a laugh to his voice.

“you aren’t gonna lose your job or nothing if you had called me would ya?” He was looking directly at her, her nervousness returning again and she was positive that he would be able to tell.


    Deedra broke into the conversation, and tried her best to speak without him noticing he had her of guard..

 “Sir, I have other Customers, can I show you to a table” her voice sounding a bit edgy.


 “Show me a table, Show me a table!!!”…Josh’s voice was tense, and he moved his arm forward motioning to all the tables before them …

“Damn“, he thought to himself, “I’m just wastin my time here , this little lady isn’t gonna give an ounce of time”…

    He wasn’t use to that, most women loved to get to know him, be around him, most thought him to be very handsome….his problems were with

keeping them once they got to know his boisterous, strong and self assured self. Josh thought about trying one more time to break the ice, then thought against it. If his charm didn’t get her attention, it probably never would. Besides, Deedra had hurriedly taken him to his

table and turned on her heels as quickly and left.


   Her legs felt like Jell-o, but she’d be damned if she would let him see it. He did intrigue her though…but she couldn’t allow herself to speak to him for more than a moment.

   Besides she thought “he is so damned arrogant and self-centered…what on earth would she have in common with a man like him anyway”.


     Deedra went back to the register, but she knew without looking that he was watching her every movement. Every customer she talked to, laughed with…he was there. It made her feel so uneasy, but somehow it was giving her a thrill to know he was watching.

    A little sinful…maybe drive him a little crazy….but crazy is what she felt , why on earth would she be interested in a country bumpkin anyway…

After all it had taken years to correct her own southern drawl, the same drawl her parents and


relatives had. She had stopped dressing in jeans and boots like her family a long time ago…back when she was old enough to get her first job.  Craig had helped to mold her clothing habits from the time they met, he liked seeing her dressed in the finer clothing, matching all the way to her shoes. She didn’t act or look the part of a Country girl, no matter how she had really been raised.


   No Deedra Marlan was definitely not interested in this hillbilly cowboy….
















              CHAPTER SIX-


           It had been well over four months since Josh had first entered into the Fireside and had met Deedra…he had over the course of time, rubbed off a little on her…though she still would not accept anything but casual conversation. He still knew barely anything about her, In fact Marcy knew more about him in the conversations they had then Deedra did. Deedra wouldn’t ask what he and Marcy talked about, and Marcy didn’t tell. She figured that if Deedra was going to play this hard to get, then two could play the game.


  He had thought at first, months ago, that he would just let her be. But, she was a challenge. He liked challenges. So he decided he wouldn’t give up , he frequented the Fireside at least twice a week and knew Deedra’s schedule almost down to a science.

   She had become a little nicer to him though, and  would at least great him by his first name and he in turn, made her cringe a little every time he called her “Sunshine”, especially when he would do it in front of the customers.


    The month of May, he would never forget the day in that month that he met her. This was now August .. and the woman he was so sure he could charm wasn’t charmed at all.

    She was a thorn in his side, wasn’t really sure she was worth it. But there was just something about her he could not explain.  He seemed to like her hard edges; her strengths.

    But, Besides all of that, every time he looked into her eyes, a feeling he could not explain came over him, nothing like he had ever known.


   Deedra wasn’t as reserved as Josh thought she was. She couldn’t wait for him to come into the Fireside, but once he was there , she couldn’t wait for him to leave. He dominated her thoughts at night, even entered into her dreams. She would wake in the middle of the night in a cold sweat after having made love to Josh in her


   Her insides still on fire from the dream, she would hate the feeling , curse it.

Then love the feeling and smile from it.

Josh, The man was driving her crazy…she wanted to know more, yet didn’t want to know anything at all.


     The only person with any sense about her it seemed was Marcy, at least that is what she believed. She was no idiot, and darn sure wasn’t blind to the fact that at least she could see how the two acted around each other, could see the sparkle in Deedras eyes though her words

would speak of intolerance, self-centeredness, boisterous…

She knew that Deedra was the hold up to this…so she decided to take matters in her own hands. She would have to help things along and become the match maker in this scenario…


   Wednesday of the following week, and after having to talk her husband Brad into this little “date”, Marcy decided to have the two star crossed lovers over for dinner., without Deedra having any knowledge that Josh would be there.      That afternoon at the Fireside, Marcy put her plan into action.

    When Josh came in at his usual time, she walked over to his table and blatantly told him, not ask him of her plan and the invite for dinner….explaining that this little game being played had went on long enough and she would really like to see Deedra find some happiness, and since she wasn’t going to make the first move, and he didn’t seem like he was going to push it as hard as she thought he should, she would take matters into her own hands on this one.

  He just smiled as she spoke to him as if it were a do or die kind of dinner and totally agreed with the plan, he would be there ….six o’clock sharp the next night.



                  CHAPTER SEVEN


    It was nearing the appointed time of arrival, Marcy her usually calm self was becoming just a little nervous. Everything was prepared and ready to go, the kid’s were all over at their Grandmother’s house. The count down to the minute would begin in Marcy’s mind.


  Brad was just as nervous, though not exactly for the same reasons as Marcy. He was rather shy about meeting new people, didn’t make friends easily…and he wasn’t so sure that Marcy wasn’t making a huge mistake. “Time would tell soon enough”.. he thought to himself. He was just hoping that Dee would forgive Marcy for meddling in her business.


   Deedra checked her appearance in the mirror and gave the last minute instructions to Mrs. Baker before leaving. As usual Deedra had picked out one of her favorite dresses, a Burgundy Victorian Velour dress.  She loved the way that Velour and Velvet felt against her skin, so soft and warm and breathable. For a Thirty-Two year old Woman, her body was still young and slim. She was happy for that fact, although she never really did anything to keep it that way.


  Marcy answered the door to the tall gentleman standing in her doorway, and immediately introduced him to her husband. There was no way not to notice what a truly handsome man he was. No way not to notice his presence filled the room. She explained to him that Deedra had not yet arrived, and that in fact.. she had told Deedra to arrive 15 minutes after Josh’s arrival to ensure she would not figure anything out.


   Brad was surprised that he immediately liked this man, he had a natural comical side to him, his stories though true being told in such a way that you could not help to laugh.

“You should be a stand-up comic, ya know that”? Brad quipped. Marcy was smiling to herself that at least he and brad were getting along well. That was a very good sign to her that Josh was just the type of man Deedra needed. If Brad liked him, He had to be something special.


   Marcy was standing at the front door, even before Deedra had gotten out of the car..

“Whose truck is that”? she enquired, looking over toward the large Black Truck dominating the drive.

  “just a friend I invited over, hope you don’t mind”.. Marcy stated matter-of-factly to her as she started into the door. “Come on into the living room and see”.. a bit of glee to her voice..

   As Deedra stepped from the Foyer into the Living room, she could clearly see who Marcy’s friend was, her eyes went wide, a flush of red came over her face, anyone in the room could clearly see that she was not at all pleased by what her friend had done...


  “Well Hello there Sunshine”…Josh spoke as he eased himself off the couch to greet her…

“Josh“.. she nodded her head toward him. “how are you”? trying desperately to just exchange the pleasantry and say nothing more, when in fact she really didn’t care how he was.

 “What a coincidence it is that you and Marcy are such good friends, wouldn’t you say”? a bit of sarcasm in her tone yet,trying to keep her voice calm and not show the anger and embarrassment she was really feeling.

  Deedra walked through the living room rather quickly and into the kitchen…positioning herself against the counter and waited impatiently for Marcy to be on her heels behind her…

”Of all the tricks to pull” she thought to herself, staring at the floor.

   Deedra gave her friend absolutely no time to speak as she came into the room..

“what is going on here, what the hell are you pulling”? Deedra was truly angry at her friend. “Oops”.. Marcy thought…”Oh, now Deedra, don’t be like this…Please”?? Deedra just glared at her. “Look I just wanted you to have a little fun,”…”I thought this would be fun”…


   “I appreciate it Marcy.. I really do“…Deedra was gritting her teeth.. “ really I do, but what gives you the right to decide what I want or need”? desperately trying to keep her voice low and smooth so that Brad and Josh could not hear what she was saying. God she hated having to be angry at Marcy, but this was way out of line in her eyes….


  Marcy just stood there for a moment, trying to think of something funny or light to say to ease the tension…

“Come on Deedra“…What can it hurt“..“ just stay for dinner“..

Deedra cut her eyes over at her friend. “just dinner, then I leave”…


“ at least try to be nice to Josh o.k.”? Marcy was almost begging her friend. “just for tonight, please”?…

“Alright Marcy, but I swear soon as dinner’s over I’m out of here”…


    Deedra decided she would put forth the effort,

Even though she was still not pleased with what her friend had done.

 As the night wore on though, she was clearly surprised at this “Country Bumpkin”,  finding that Josh was more than she had originally imagined him to be.

   He was extremely intelligent, funny, and a great story teller. She caught herself several times actually laughing out loud at his jokes, then would realize what she was doing and stop only to be caught up again in his words.


  She couldn’t help but to notice the way his muscles tightened and relaxed in his arms and neck as he told a story. The movement of his mouth as he spoke. The huge eyes that spoke even when he wasn’t…

He seemed so self assured, almost as if he had been to visit many times before. So comfortable with himself and his surroundings.


  He spoke of his son’s, his love for them shining through in his eyes. She learned he wasn’t a drinker and was actually more of a homebody.

 He told them he worked on a Ranch outside of town and had lived in the country all of his life.  She was also quite surprised to find at how well read he was on many subjects, and  found him to be to easy to debate a topic with.


  Josh spent most of his time studying Deedra’s features. The way the Burgandy dress complimented her tassle of curls around her shoulders, and watched as she twirled her curls around her finger as she talked, the flicker of light that would sparkle in her beautiful doe shaped eyes, when she was relating something that happened in her life. He couldn’t help but to watch her full lips as they moved allowing her words to flow out and the sound, the pretty sound  of her voice as she spoke.


   She seemed shy and child like in so many ways, and yet, Josh didn’t see her as that way at all.  She was passionate and fiery looking, sexy without trying to be.

   He noticed how small her features were in comparison to her large eyes and lips. Her voice low and melodic.

But he also could not help to notice how really  Intelligent, warm and giving she actually was. When she laughed at a joke he told, her laugh was light and airy. There really wasn’t anything that he didn’t find attractive about this woman. Even though, he knew deep down that she wanted to be anywhere but in this living room with him.


   Marcy, the instigator, was keeping the conversations going and taunting Deedra to tell Josh things she didn’t really think was any of his business. But to keep from causing a scene with her friend,  she did tell him about her two young girls, and about Craig and his untimely death.  He could almost see the pain in her eyes as she talked openly about it.

  The biggest surprise for Josh was learning that she didn’t just work as a hostess at the Fireside, but that she was the owner.


   It was driving Deedra crazy from within that the more Josh spoke of himself, the easier Deedra felt around him and the more she felt like she wished she could withdraw and hide.


  He seemed so rough and worn looking, high-spirited and cocky.

  Handsome to a fault. She couldn’t help to notice the sheen from his long dark hair and how beautifully it laid against his back.


   Before any of them had realized it, it was well after Two a.m and it was well past time for them to leave. Deedra the first to say she really had to go.

    So many mixed emotions going on inside of her during this dinner party, most of which she didn’t understand. She was very relieved that she could finally get out of there.


   Josh was too busy wondering to himself.. “Did she like him, or didn’t she“…

it was so hard to tell, hard to tell if she ever even be much more than a distant friend to him. But, he was at least glad to have been given the chance to see her one on one and away from her work.

    When he told her he would walk her to her car, immediately there was a lump growing in her throat and the nervousness that had finally left earlier was now returning in full force.


   Josh wanted to bend down and kiss her, no…he wanted to kiss her hard.  He wanted to see the wide open look to her eyes when he did, but knew if he tried anything like that all he would get would be a slap to the face.

 He knew this was not the time. He would find the time…


  What he didn’t know was that Deedra was feeling the same type of emotion, mixed in with her feeling of flight. She had already touched him so many times in her dreams, she could almost taste his breath from where he was standing. She disliked everything about him, he was much to tall, much to big of a man for her liking. To forward, to sure of himself,. and yet she had to admit to herself, he was intriguing.


     Josh just stood there, wished her a good night and watched her drive away…..wishing he could have grabbed her up in his arms and made her want him, even just a little. Instead of being left, not knowing whether or not she had just endured him through this whole night….



               CHAPTER EIGHT


  As with all Sundays, this was Deedra’s day for sleeping in late, then lazing around the house. The children always amused themselves with their Cartoons and Video games. When their Mother had gotten her bearings together and dressed they would head over to the little Café downtown that served breakfast twenty-four hours a day. From there they would spend the remaining day together, doing whatever her girls had decided they wanted to do.


  Deedra rolled over and looked at the clock, it was eight-thirty and she was wide awake. It felt to warm and cozy to get out from under the covers just yet. Instead she lay there closing her eyes and hoping that perhaps she would drift back off to sleep.


  Her thoughts turned to the night before, to Josh, to the intensity of this man. “What made such a man as himself tick”?

 “What was it about him that he somehow seemed to touch her in some way…was she attracted to him, or perhaps it was just loneliness“?… What ever it was, she thought.. he had seemed to touch a part of her that had laid dormant for years, and in some odd way, he seemed to tap into emotions she wasn’t sure she had ever had.


  The knock on the front door, brought her back to reality. She lay there, listening, wondering who on earth would be there at this time of the morning., especially a Sunday morning…

 “People should know better” ..she mumbled to herself, thinking that it must be Marcy come to chat about the night before..

Curious to know, but not daring to walk out there and see, she didn’t want to go to the living room half dressed and her hair all tousled about her head. She heard little feet running toward her room, and sat up in the bed just as Jessica came barreling through the door.

 Jumping on to her Mother’s bed with one swift leap…”Mommy, some guy is here…he knows you”…

What’s his name“, Deedra asked her out of breath and excited daughter…

”Uhmmm“…she thought for a moment…“Josh.. I think he said”…“anyway, can we go horse back riding”? “Pleaseeeeee”?

“Are you kidding, you girls haven’t been on a horse in years”… Deedra answered quickly… starting to get herself out of the bed.

  Casey running in and begging over and over, “Pulllezeeeeeeee mommy pulllezeeeeeeee”…while pacing back and forth in front of the bed…

“Casey.. Please stop that”.. her Mother urged.

” He says he’s a friend of yours.. we can have pizza and everything”…”can we Mom…can we”? Jessica pleaded.

  Deedra was floored, she didn’t know what to say to them  or what to do…he had already gotten the children too excited..

It angered her that he had the nerve to come here and entice the children this way.

“let me speak to Mr. McKenzie first”….”tell him I will be right there”…


   Josh was standing in the living room of the massive home, he could hear the children pleading with their mother. He smiled to himself listening to them. He looked around his surroundings, wondering to himself how a waitress could afford to live in such a posh environment. Every detail of the rooms that he could see were color coordinated all the way down to the carpet on the flooring and the marble tile in the foyer that surrounded the front door. Finally, after looking over the interior, he was becoming impatient waiting for Deedra to come out of her room…he decided he would go help the kids along with their begging.


Before Deedra could get to the bathroom to straighten her hair and throw her robe on, Jessica was announcing that Mr. Josh was already in the room.

 “here he is Mom.. talk to him now”.. Jessica yelled out excitedly.

Deedra looked from out of the bathroom door to find that in fact he was standing in her room…


“Oh my gawd…the nerve”.. she thought to herself, trying to hide herself as best she could.

 “Good Morning Sunshine”.. ”I hope you don’t mind my askin the kids first”…

speaking to her as he visually was looking her up and down in her small blue nightgown that left nothing to the imagination.


  He could see from the look on her face she was not at all pleased by any of this…he chuckled in his mind, he caught her off guard..

“Oh well”… he thought if he hadn’t went through the children, she would have said no to his invitation.

  “I really don’t think you should be in here….I will  meet you in the living room Josh“, “if you don’t mind“…Deedra snipped.

Josh smiled sheepishly at the girls, winked over at them and without a word walked back down the hall to the living room, a smile still planted firmly to his face.

“Now she might be a strong one I tell ya what”…he thought to himself.


  Deedra hurriedly combed her hair, washed her face and quickly put on her robe. She was without a doubt becoming angrier the more she thought about what had just occurred.

No sooner did she step into the living room, the children were all over her again about going…

   She had a few things to say to Mr. McKenzie.. and was going to usher the children out of the room in order to say her piece, before she could Josh piped in and fed fuel to the fire…”look you will like it at my house, the kids will have a ball”…”they can ride horses, take walks, play with my sons”.. ”what harm can it do”?…

Deedra started to answer him “look, I appreciate“…

Josh cut her off…” Oh now don‘t turn me down, come on, the kids want to go…..


   He had the girls so excited by now that Deedra didn’t know how to say no to them without hurting their feelings.

So, while gritting her teeth and letting her body signal to Josh that she was not at all pleased by any of this, she gave in and told him she would bring them out as soon as she had fed the girl’s.


  Josh smiled to himself as he wrote the directions down on a small piece of paper that Jessica had handed him, then winked again at the two young girls as he excused himself and left. Leaving Deedra standing there with no options she could have thought of quick enough to back out of this visit. He had used the girls against her….that really made her livid at him for doing that…what an uncomfortable position he had put her in.

  She would have to spend the afternoon at his home, and try to make small talk long enough to satisfy her children so that she could get them to go home without listening to them beg to stay., the uncomfortable position was not over by far.




            CHAPTER NINE


   By the time Josh got back to the ranch, he was on pins and needles. The boys were down at Deacon’s house having breakfast with their cousins. He still couldn’t believe that he had just drove into town and talked  Deedra and her children to coming out. Well, ok he didn’t really talk Deedra into anything, He knew it was wrong to get the kids so excited, “but hey.. it worked”.. he thought.

  She was too contrary to have come out any other way. He had to push.. he had plans for the two of them. His sons would keep the girls busy at one end of the ranch and he would try to lure Deedra to the other end. Nine thousand acres was a darn good start at trying to be alone with her.


   He busied himself trying to clean up the house, straightening it as best he could. He was no housekeeper, he had a woman that took care of that three times a week, but the boys had been there and messed it up a little…”Miss Deedra, would just have to understand”…


  The drive out of town was so peaceful that her anger toward what Josh had done seemed to be subsiding. She had almost forgotten how beautiful this side of Florida really was. She wondered to herself who the owners were, and if they minded people just traipsing on their property, but figured it must be o.k. or Josh wouldn’t have asked them to come. Jessica broke the silence in Deedra’s thoughts.

“were did you meet him Mom”?…

“I met him at work” she cautiously said..

“Is he your boyfriend”? she questioned.

“No..No he’s not…just someone I know”…Deedra answered quickly

“well he acts like he is”…Jessica chimed in yet again

“Well, he’s not“…“look… Why don’t you two just sit back now and enjoy the ride”…“o.k.”?

Deedra didn’t want to have to answer any more questions from her girl’s, she was already nervous enough as it was.

   It had taken her nearly twenty minutes just to find something she could wear out to a ranch, she only had two pairs of jeans to her name, and she hadn’t worn them in so long that they were a bit snug around the waist, she searched for a T-Shirt of some sort to wear, but found that all she had were the ones she used to clean in, and they were stained to the max. She finally picked on a simple flowered silk shirt that had went to one of her skirts…it would have to do.


   Seemed like nearly 45 minutes they had been on the road that they finally arrived at the mouth of the next road they were suppose to take. Deedra was met with total surprise when she saw the large wooden sign to the left of their car, reading in big block letters “McKENZIE RANCH”, with a smaller “MR BAR” insignia below it.

In her wildest dreams she never would have imagined that Josh worked for his own families ranch, it had never dawned on her. When he said he worked on a ranch, she just figured “ranch hand”..


  The hard dirt road that she was on now seemed to take forever as well, so many bends and winding to the road.  A single wide dirt path cut around trees, ponds and a larger pond/lake.

   She passed another dirt road and a wood sign that read in big letters “MAC’S PLACE”, but could not tell where the road led off too.

  It seemed like another two miles, when she  saw yet another road leading off the main path, a sign on it that read “DEACON McKENZIE”.

  As she passed that road she could faintly make out a house in the background, a huge house, she thought that it must go with this driveway.

She was certain this road would go on forever.


  Finally after several more bends in the road, she came across yet another side road. They were finally there. The sign said “JOSH McKENZIE”. She turned the car on to this road, only to find that yet again it was another long and winding road. Finally she could see the house as she took the car through yet another bend in the road around a large pond that sat just feet in front of the house.


 “Man I can’t wait to tell everyone about this at school” Jessica screamed out as she departed the car..” this is way cool”…”look at this house“.. ”wow, Casey look at the horses“.

Casey yelled out to her sister to wait up…


  Deedra was in amazement at the size of this house they had stopped in front of..

The house was huge. A huge farm house looking two story ranch house with a wrap around porch. It looked as though the complete house was made from Cedar. 


   She still wasn’t sure about all of this, why on earth she was here. The worst of it all, the children had already met up with Josh’s boys, Darrin  and Dusty, and were running down to see the horses, leaving Deedra to stand there by herself, and increasingly become more nervous waiting on Josh to come out from where ever he was hiding.

  “Why didn’t you tell me about all of this”…Deedra asked as he was walking toward her..

“Would it have made much difference if I had”?     Deedra had no answer for that, just trying desperately to hold her composure, and not let him know how really odd she was feeling by being here. She wished she could turn and run right now, go home, back were she was safe. Behind the closed doors of her own home. But, she was here now, and needed to make the most of it and not let him know how anxious she was feeling.


    Josh played the perfect Host, showing her around the house. It was beautiful, though not perfectly tidy. There was a fireplace in the living room. One in the Family room and one in the Master bedroom. The Master bedroom, Josh’s room, was extremely large, with a four poster bed.  So manly looking, and yet decorated smartly, as though a woman had designed it.

It smelled of the scent of Josh.


  That scent, one of the things about him that bothered her most. It was a sweet musky smell, she had smelled it in a dream she had one night of him. There had been several times she had waken from one of those dreams, only to find the scent of him was in her room.


  The anger that she had felt toward him on the drive out was now all but gone, she was actually feeling more comfortable around him. She still didn’t like the idea that he used the children against her, but, she decided that at the appropriate time she would tell him never to do something like that again.

  She didn’t like the thought of being alone with him, either.. but so far, he had done nothing out of the ordinary to make her feel afraid of him.


  The more time he spent with her, the better he liked it. He took her down to the horse barn then to the calf barn. She laughed at his jokes, she talked to the calves in a little girls voice that was so endearing. He chuckled at himself at how cute she really was. It made him want her even more.

  He wanted so badly to touch her, grab her up in his arms and kiss her. It was all he could do not too….


   “Hey…lets go riding” Josh interrupting her thoughts.

“What”…“No“…“what about the kids”.. she stammered trying to find reasons why they shouldn’t go.

“Kids will be fine, My boys know this ranch like the back of their hands”…he answered

“I really don’t want to leave my girls alone, what if something happened”…her voice becoming nervous..

“Oh come on the kids will be fine,  we won’t be gone long”…”I want to show you the Ranch”…


  Before she even realized it she was watching Josh saddle up the horses for the ride. The larger horse was a black and white paint, beautifully designed features across the side of him, Josh told her his name was Tanker. He had been Josh’s favorite horse, a gelding, the only one he had rode for years. The horse that he was saddling up for her, josh said was Maggie. She  was a sweet young girl of 3, with red splashes of color mixed against her white hair.


  The Ranch was large and beautiful with it’s landscape of trees, fencing and ponds sprinkled through out its lush green environment. Beautiful large Oaks and Pines all around with scattered Palmetto Patches through out.

   Deedra was fully enjoying the ride, and she was feeling more comfortable around Josh as he explained every piece of land they covered and what it meant to him. His stories were full of wonderful memories that he had been fortunate to be apart of, stories that most people would never see let alone live.

  As they road past his Father’s homestead, Josh relayed yet another story of his Father and Mother meeting. Deedra imagined her as a young bride coming to live in her new home, and how magnificent of a home it must have been to her back in those days. She watched Josh as he spoke of his parents, especially of his mother, and could see in his eyes how much he truly admired and loved her.


   He was truly different in so many ways than what she would have ever thought him to be. He was still arrogant and domineering as far as she was concerned, too over-powering, way to sure of himself.. and yet he had a softer, almost boy like quality to him that she doubted many people ever saw. There was a charming boy with big bright flashing eyes that immerged when he spoke of his childhood and his family. It was truly an endearing quality.


  “Maybe he wasn’t as bad as she thought he was”…she thought to herself as they road steadily into the back drop of the Ranch…

“but, a relationship with such a man is unthinkable”…”I am not ready to even try”…She argued with herself. “I made a promise to Craig…I plan on keeping it”…


“what ya thinking about”…Josh breaking into her thoughts…

”Oh nothing…just enjoying the ride”…

she felt a little startled by his voice…

Josh nodded in agreement. Josh going right into yet another sweet story about his past.


  She came back from her thoughts when she heard Josh slow his horse to a stop. Deedra turned her horse back around to where Josh was standing to see what was wrong….

 “Let’s give em a break Sunshine”…..


 Deedra’s heart quickened, a lump coming to her throat. Wishing he would not call her that.

 “Stop here”?…she thought….”Out here”


  “Come on down Deedra”…his voice was low and husky, only making her even more apprehensive, something in his voice made her feel a shiver down her spine. She by no means wanted to get off this horse.

 Josh reached out his hand to help her, and she hesitantly took it and dismounted the horse. Every signal that could go off in Deedra’s brain was bleeping harder than they ever had, caution flags were raising up all around her. But, she dismounted anyway. Only to land just inches away from him.


    Without so much as a word from him he pulled her into him, his large arms holding her body tightly against him

She started to break free, then struggled a little when she couldn’t. Her heart up in her throat., suddenly very afraid. She couldn’t catch her breath. The scent of him filling the air around her. They were too close, she wanted to break free. She didn’t realize the struggling she thought she was doing to break free was only in her mind. In actuality she wasn’t trying to get loose at all…


     Josh brought his lips to hers, demanding her mouth. She tried to move her face away from him, to not allow this kiss to happen.

But, it was happening.

  She didn’t seem to have the power to control her own emotions and fight him off and away from her. She didn’t seem to have power over her own body.

The softness of his kiss became more urgent, harder, deeper…and Deedra found herself melting within his strong arms and allowing his lips and hers to meld together as one. Her mouth was now searching his as urgently as his was searching hers. She held tightly to him, thinking that she might faint, her heart was pounding so hard in her chest.

   It had been a very long time since she had been with a man, her animalistic side shining through and over powering her intelligence and what was or wasn’t right about this situation..


   Josh laid her down slowly in the tall blanket of grass, passionately he kissed her lips, her neck, her shoulder blades. Any part of her that was not covered by her shirt. Lightly he bit at the soft fabric against her breast. Just enough to feel through both the shirt and the bra.

  Deedra had not experienced such feelings welling up inside of her, she had never felt her body pound like it this, the sound, the thump of the beat of her heart was now throughout her body..

    She had no thoughts left, no reasons as to why this must stop, only a hot burning desire….the sensations he was giving to her…she was sure were going to destroy her….


   Josh touched her gently at first, like she was a small flower, oh but what he really wanted was to devour every inch of her as quickly as he could…yet he knew, he had to make her wait, had to make her want…had to make her his.


  Carefully as though she would break, he masterfully took each piece of clothing off and tenderly kisses and manipulated the areas, another nip here or there with his teeth to her skin…allowing his hair to touch and feel everything his hands and mouth were feeling.   She was so beautiful to him, soft and innocent and yet, so sensual. Her peach colored skin glowed where the sun shone on her body.

Every where he touched felt like fire to his fingers..

   He touched each breast, marveling at their shape, he let his tongue lick each one slowly, careful to cover everything but the nipple itself. Deedra grabbed for his head, for him to put his mouth on her breast, to take them and make them his….but he resisted her.  He needed her to feel the torture of the wait.

   He allowed the low soft  sounds coming from Deedra’s throat to tell him how much stimulation each area of her body needed.

 He teased and tortured….and made her want this more than anything she had ever wanted before. He wanted to hear her beg for him to do more…

    Josh began gently probing her body with his fingers. Carefully moving them in and out from between her legs. He didn’t want her to have a release just yet, but he wanted her to be as wet as she could ever have been in her life.

     He tasted her, she tried to push his head into her. He broke free, moving her hands and starting again, lightly licking upward, then circling, then down… When he was sure she was going to burst at any moment, he started back up to her mouth and slowly flickered his tongue to tickle her all the way back down to were he had just been.

  He knew that soon he would have what he wanted, her hips were moving, she was touching her own breast…he knew it wouldn’t be long before she would finally beg for what he knew she wanted.

  He worked his tongue harder against the sweet spot, allowing his tongue to encircle her flowering hood over and over, this time…he would wait until her hips started to thrust up before he would stop.

He smiled at himself as the sounds from her throat became more intense, He knew he had her right where he wanted her.

   He put his large hands on her breast, lightly pinching them as he devoured her., with soft motions from his tongue. Deedra’s legs were almost up to her chest, her body swaying with the overwhelming feeling…. He listened for her, patiently waiting….though the pulsating manhood between his legs was trying to desperately make him loose control of the situation and just take her.

 “Please…please…” he heard her voice say almost in a whisper….

“You want me baby”?? You sure?…He teased her …already knowing the answer…

“Oh God Josh“….the words were fumbled, but he heard them  “Please“…

   Josh brought her legs down from her chest and turned her over on her stomach then raised her hips, she didn’t argue or fight about it or get upset at the position she was in…nothing…not a word…all he heard was her moaning for him…

 He gave it to her, hard.. The moment he entered she exploded…and by the time he had released his own life blood within her, she had four more, leaving her silent and drained.




               CHAPTER TEN


  Deedra tried desperately to compose herself, remove the leaves and grass from her body and dress. She didn’t want the children to see her this way. Didn’t want them to ask questions, didn’t want anyone to ask questions. Josh was watching her dress, she was everything he had imagined her to be. He made a promise to himself that he would not let her go now. He would find a way to make her his for a lifetime. There was something about her, something from the moment he first saw her, he just had to have.


  Deedra’s only thoughts were of how smug he looked, so content with himself and what he had done. “Damn him”.. she thought to herself biting on her lower lip.. “How could she have let this happen”?  “Why did her own mind fail her”..


  He had loved her, spent her and made her feel things she had never before experienced in her life. Passion and desire like she could have only imagined in her dreams. Only imagined in the Romance Novels.

He had controlled her. She had let him…


She didn’t want any of this, these feelings, she was so confused by the feelings she had felt and was still feeling…they were threatening all that was safe to her.


   Back on their horses, they came across the children playing near one of the ponds, they were laughing and having a wonderful time trying to fish. Deedra tried to busy herself watching them have fun. She tried not to get to close to Josh, her mind a million miles away. She was careful about what she did, told herself that now was not the time to set things right with Josh and clear up what had happened earlier.

  She couldn’t allow him to think that a relationship between them could go any farther than what had happened earlier. It could never happen again. She had to make sure that it was clear and defined, that indeed this would never happen again. Josh had no future with her.


   Deedra headed back up to the house to use the bathroom. But, no sooner did the front screen door shut, she heard it open again and turned to see Josh coming through it.

 He reached to kiss her, but she moved her head away.

“I’m not ready for this”.. ”your assuming to much from me”…she told him, pushing away from his grasp.

Josh had a look of disbelief…”My God” he thought to himself.. ”they had made love just a few hours earlier and she was already running scared” “where was the woman he had made love to out in the pasture“…”were the hell did she go“?….


“Look Sunshine…I thought”…


“I know what you thought” Deedra cut him off mid sentence.  “This just isn’t the right time for me, I mean.. I’m sorry about today…I should have never”….

“Never what”…his voice raised…”Never what”??…

“It’s just not right Josh…that’s all”….


Josh grabbed her and kissed her hard on the mouth then released her as quickly as he had grabbed her…”Now.. Whats not right”?


“Damn it Josh…I’m serious here”…she said angrily…

“Yea well so am I Deedra”…”your sayin it ain’t right, and we haven’t even started yet”?…

Deedra started to open her mouth, Josh cutting her off and cutting her with his words…


I needed you, you needed me“…“I saw it in your eyes”… “I don’t play games…if I want it I go after it”….

“I’ve been pussy-footin around with your ass for months trying to get you to notice”…”and now, what”? “your saying It ain’t right”? “what the hell is that”? The more he spoke the angrier he felt..

“look You don’t understand”.. Deedra snapped.

“I shouldn’t have even come out here, I knew better”…”I’m not ready to be in a relationship Josh, not with you or anyone“…“I’m not ready”…


“You know what Deedra, your right, I don’t get it”…”out there”, Josh pointed his finger toward the back pasture…”You gave me everything you had”…”You came out of your damn shell you boxed yourself into”…”I know you wanted it, wanted me”….”Now your standin here actin like I’ve got the plaque or something”..


“I’m just not ready”…Deedra tried to reason with him, repeating herself... ”I’m not ready for a relationship”…

“I just shouldn’t have come”….


   Josh cut her off again, this time even more angrier than before “When the hell are ya gonna be ready”? “How many years ya want me to give ya Deedra“?…“dayum I been playin this game of chase for months“…“you wouldn’t even look at me”…

“I can’t believe I’ve fallin for a woman that still pinnin away for a dead man”….He said it more for himself than actually trying to say it to her, knowing immediately he shouldn’t have said it. He could tell with the burst of tears that he had cut Deedra, really hurt her. He didn’t mean too…he was just angry that she wouldn’t even try  to be with him.


    He tried to go and comfort her, she pushed him away.

“Look forget about Pizza tonight, I’ll explain to the kids…I’m going home”….

Deedra was drying her tears as she headed for the door. Josh didn’t try to stop her, way to angry to ask her to stay and talk about this.