under the starlit sky, enjoying the evening and casually observing the
festivities from afar.
three young men approached, playfully pushing one another in their eagerness to
join the fun. I was too far away to hear their words, but every so often
laughter would float over on the evening breeze.
walked towards the large barn doors. The music from inside had finally become an
irresistible pull. Even I couldn’t help tapping my toe to the lively tunes.
the men came closer, I watched them intently. They were too caught up in their
teasing and playful banter to notice me, or so I thought. The youngest, at least
I think he was the youngest or maybe I should say the shortest, stood between
the two taller men. I must have caught his eye because as he passed he tipped
his hat to me. I bowed my head in greeting. He stopped just past me, and I could
sense what he was thinking; a woman always knows when a lothario is on the
prowl. He turned on his heel, leaving his companions moving ahead by themselves.
The green-eyed youth said to me.
I answered back, a smirk threatening to spread across my face.
must be new to these parts. “ A Cheshire cat smile grew on his lips. “My
name is Joseph Cartwright.” He held out his hand towards me.
to make your acquaintance Mr. Cartwright.
I’m just passing through your fair town.” I let him take my hand,
blushing some as he placed a gentle kiss just above my wrist.
young man looked around “You’re traveling unescorted?”
Well, I’m unconventional that way. I had planned on spending an evening in my
hotel room but the town was abuzz about this barn dance and I just had to come
and see for myself.”
here dance is a yearly thing; darn near every soul in the area comes.” The
largest of the three had come up behind Joseph, placing a rather forceful hand
square on his back, forcing the air from my would-be Romeo’s lungs, killing
the air of sleek sophistications he was attempting to project.
laughed. It was obvious these two were close, maybe best friends?
The hulking man removed the largest ten gallon hat I had ever seen in my life to
reveal wisps of soft blonde baby fine hair. His cornflower blue eyes and gentle
manner touched me; in my travels I have often found that the larger and more
imposing the man looked the kinder he was. A loving heart inside the body of a
bear, as my grandmother would say. It was evident this sentiment was very true
for this man.
name is Hoss. Hoss
so they were brothers, not much of a resemblance…hmmm,” I thought. “Nice
to meet you, Hoss.”
smiled once again and flushed slightly as he too took my hand and kissed it
sweetly, not with the same practiced grace as Joseph, but in earnest.
invited the two to sit down beside me. I adjusted my skirts, making room for
me, ma’am. Are these two ruffians bothering you?” A soft baritone voice
stopped me in my school girl foolishness.
up, I saw man that had been with them. Tall, handsome with raven hair, dressed
in black save for his white shirt in stark contrast to the rest.
I bit my lip to keep my jaw from dropping as the man grinned at me. A
hint of devilishness sparked in his hazel eyes.
no sir,” was all I could stammer out. Any sly or witty comment I could have
said had skittered from my thoughts as my heart started to pound. The man
standing before me nodded his head in greeting. I quickly looked at the ground.
How foolish, a grown woman letting myself be flustered by a simple glance from
the tall dark figure standing before me.
gave me a gentle nudge, stirring me from my reverie. “Miss, this here is our
older brother Adam,” he said.
Our OLDER brother Adam.” I glanced at Joe, his tone sounded much more contrite
than needed; my look wasn’t lost on the young man. He ducked his head
to meet you Sir, I’m Eliza,” I said he took my hand and with a natural grace
and style he too kissed my hand..
felt a stir of butterflies in my stomach. I stole another glance at Adam
standing before me, his eyebrows raised and his teeth on full display with a
sardonic grin aimed right at Joe.
I’m not sure but I thought I saw defeat in Joe’s eyes. If I had it
was only momentarily. In a flash his eyes lit.
how come you aren’t inside sweeping the men of Virginia City off their
trio waited for my answer.
I may be unconventional for traveling by myself, but I am not about to
open myself up to disapproving looks from the “finer” people of this town,
stranger or no. Anyway, in some places it is downright illegal for a woman to
attend a social gathering without an escort. I guess I was just contented to
enjoy the goings on from out here.
woman alone at such a function is not considered to be in good taste,” I said
with a hint of sarcasm
I reckon we’ve taken care of your problem in triple,” Hoss said as he stood
offering me his arm.
stood at the same instant and he too offered his arm. Adam stepped back and
bowed, letting the three of us walk by. I glanced back to see him following
close. He winked casually at me, and at that moment I was happy I had two strong
men to hold on to as I felt my knees grow weak. I turned and faced forward. How
could a man of so few words cause my heart to do flips with the simple opening
and closing of his eyelid?
we entered the barn, a lively tune was being played on the fiddle. I was
surprised at the mix of people. Some twirled with partners on the dance floor
while others stood sipping punch talking amongst friends and neighbors.
There were fancy ball gowns worn by the most stunning of women, right
next to equally pretty girls dressed more simply. Men in silver brocade stood
next to men in their best Sunday dungarees. Hoss was right; everyone in
territory was in attendance.
had seen a few of the girls that were dressed to the nines earlier when they
walked past me with their noses in the air as I sat on my bench alone. It
didn’t bother me; I was a stranger to them, but now, for some reason, as we
crossed the threshold a satisfaction came over me. Those very same girls stood
in astonishment as I walked arm in arm with two of the three most eligible men
in the town. I heard a chuckle behind me; Adam saw the girls and seemed to enjoy
the look of envy showing plainly on their faces.
and Hoss led me to the punch bowl and Adam offered me a cup. I thanked him
kindly. It was wonderful - the music, the people and, most of all, the company.
Our conversation was light and jovial; the three kept me laughing as they played
off of one another. Mostly it was Joe and Hoss, but Adam would interject some
wry comment or scathing remark, almost making me choke on my punch.
lovely looking woman sashayed her way to where we were standing. Politely, Joe
nodded. “Evening, Miss Kimberly,” he said to her.
was beautiful - her hair done up, a few soft curls hung loose around her face.
She glanced at me and for the first time I was aware of my appearance. I had
quickly done up my hair, mostly to get it off my neck and face, tying it in a
nice but plain ribbon. My dress was full but calico, not satin and lace like
hers. The icy stare she gave me caused my spine to tingle with a sudden chill.
spoke up. “Miss Kimberly, I’d like you to meet Miss Eliza.”
gave me a withering look. Miss Kimberly was obviously not pleased I was
monopolizing the attention of these very popular men. A quick look around the
room revealed that she had been elected from a group to come and find out about
haven’t seen you in town. Are you new here?”” Kimberly had cut right to
the chase. She had no time for pleasantries, she had to get her information and
return to where her cohorts waited.
Eliza is just visiting; she’s our guest while she is here.” Adam spoke, and
his voice had an edge of irritation to it.
saw from his demeanor that he had little patience for this type of woman…..I
smiled inwardly. The music slowed to a waltz and Adam took my hand. “Shall we
dance?” he asked.
let him lead me to the dance floor, leaving the fuming woman in our wake.
He put his arm around my waist and waltzed me around with almost no
effort at all, his timing and rhythm impeccable.
“Thank you,” I said, wanting to thank him also for saving me from
you for what?” he asked. “It is me that should be thanking you for keeping
from having to spend my evening with the likes of Miss Kimberly. Your company is
more enjoyable by far.”
could feel my face once again grow crimson. There was no doubt about it; this
man had swept me off my feet.
I was floating on air dancing with him. I looked into his eyes as he
gazed in mine. We didn’t need to speak; words weren’t important, not at that
moment. It was if he was reading me like an open book, absorbing my thoughts as
he turned me around the dance floor. When the song ended I felt sure he knew
everything about me without ever asking a question.
never had time to recover. Next the band struck up a lively high stepping tune
and Joe took me up.
Off we went, prancing in time with the music, laughing as we struggled to
keep our pace for the entire song. We almost collided with several people
in our fits of laughter.
The song came to an end and Joe escorted me from the dance floor.
was waiting as another reel started. I held my hand and Hoss handed his hat to
Adam. Off we went, thankfully at a slower pace then with Joe. For a big man Hoss
was remarkably light on his feet. He held me as if he was afraid he was going to
break me. Once again I was traveling the dance floor with a Cartwright and it
was the best time of my life.
the song ended, Hoss bowed to me. I smile and curtseyed. We walked back toward
his. It was obvious they were having as good as time as I was.
I dabbed my forehead. Suddenly, the room felt a bit warm and stuffy. A
black broadcloth clad arm was held out to me.
you like to step out and get some air, ma’am?” Adam asked, his voice music
to my ears.
sounds just lovely,” I said as I took his arm.
donned his hat and touched the brim. “Gentlemen,” he said to his brothers.
Hoss and Joe look crestfallen; they knew the meaning of their brothers
words….find a new partner to dance with.
I smiled sweetly to both of them and let Adam lead me out.
click of the barn door surprised me as we step outside. I am greeted by a sudden
gust of cool air as Adam guided me to the bench where I first met these
wonderful men. He placed his suit jacket over my shoulders and I appreciated its
breeze picked up quickly didn’t it?” I asked in a lame attempt at small
it did,” he said, leaning a little closer to me.
suddenly had an overwhelming urge to kiss a man I had only just met. Even though
it was someone I barely knew, it somehow seemed like I had known him since I was
a child. I felt as if I had known them all since before I could remember. I
looked at Adam, trying to place why he was so very familiar to me. He smiled and
moved his face closer to mine. Propriety be damned! I was going to kiss him; it
WAS the right thing to do. I closed my eyes waiting for the electric contact of
his lips; I felt his warm breath on me.
heard him take a breath, as if he was about to say something.
sweetie. I’ll see you later.”
words struck me as odd. His soft baritone voice had been replaced with a very
casual tenor. I opened one eye to steal a peek. There before me was my husband,
his travel mug in one hand and his backpack in the other. He bent over and gave
me a kiss goodbye. My favorite chenille bedspread was up around my shoulders to
keep the fan from blowing on my sleeveless arms.
a pleasant dream?” He asked.
nodded my head, a small smile played across my lips; he winked at me and turned
let out a small sleepy sigh, “Goodbye, have a good day at work. I love you.”
As he left the bedroom I quickly snuggled back down, hoping for one last glimpse of the men I had danced the night away with
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