Did You Say Baby?!
At the jiggle of metal and scrape of footsteps on gravel, Rebecca turned from the screened door, stained brown with years of weather and dust, to peer at the source of the sounds. She hugged the baby closer to her and her jaw dropped as she took in the image walking across the gravel drive toward her.
An honest-to-goodness cowboy was swaggering toward her with the slightly bow-legged strut of a veteran horseman wearing toe-pinching boots. He looked much as she'd imagined--tall, lean, and like he owned the world. Which he probably did. Or at least the part of it she was standing on, Rebecca thought ruefully. It was easy to conclude that this was Rosalie's brother. He had the look of her--leashed energy but still a bit untamed. The sun formed a glow around him, making it difficult to see his face under the Stetson. But his body stood out from the landscape behind him like sculpture carved on an ancient temple. To Rebecca he looked like one of the classical Olympic athletes--strength, agility, and grace--but wearing a few more clothes, to her unexpected disappointment. Her eyes widened as she studied his faded blue denim shirt, tucked into equally faded and well-worn jeans, covered by a pair of acorn-colored leather chaps riding low to emphasize his lean hips. He stopped with one foot on the first step, a hand resting on his cocked knee, and looked at her. Removing his hat, he grinned. The sun struck gold off the numerous blond streaks running through his tobacco brown hair.
"Howdy, ma'am. Are you lost or is there something I can do for you?"
Rebecca held back a chuckle at his greeting. In her line of work she was more used to a salute that ran along the lines of - "hey mama, how's it goin'." She met his curious gaze, his eyes light and brilliantly alive. Then the cowboy smiled to reveal perfect teeth, dazzling, achingly white against his tanned skin. It knocked her completely off balance. All she could do was gulp, hoping she'd make sense. No such luck.
"You must...I mean..." She extended the bundle in her arms. "Well--here's your baby."
"My baby?" JD took a step backwards and gaped at her. "I've never seen you before in my life. Have I?" He closed his mouth with a snap and stroked his chin as his eyes narrowed. "You look something like that woman dancer at Harley's bachelor party. But, after he dared me to chug his boiler-makers, I passed out halfway through the party."
"Do I look like the type of woman who'd dance for a drunk cowboy?"
"Nope." He adjusted his hat, tilting it to a more rakish angle. "But you sure look like the type of woman a sober cowboy would like to get to know a little better."
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