Summary: A sweet interlude from life’s troubles can help refresh a weary soul or two.
Author’s Note: This is #7 in the Sweetwater Romance Series, following Sweet Sorrow. This story falls just before the beginning of Jesse, Season 3, Episode 2.
The sun peeked up over the edge of the eastern horizon, spilling all the colors of the rainbow across the prairie landscape. Letting the door of the necessary slam shut behind her, Lou opened her mouth in a large yawn, stretching her arms up over her head, enjoying the pull of her muscles and the freedom from her bindings as she welcomed a new day.
She liked this town they’d just moved to. Maybe it was the combination of the new direction her relationship with Kid was taking at the same time, or maybe it was just because they were actually a part of the town at this station, but despite the shadow of a looming war constantly hanging over them, she felt settled, happy, at home for the first time in months, really for the first time since Emma’d left them.
Shaking her entire body to get the blood flowing, she turned toward the bunkhouse, intent on grabbing her clothes for the day and getting dressed before the rest of the boys were up.
“Lou. Hey, Lou!”
Turning at the sound of her name being hissed from the direction of the barn, she saw Kid poking his head out the barn door, waving her urgently over. She trotted over, a smile spreading across her features to match his mischievous grin.
“What are you up to so early?”
Grabbing her hand in his, Kid pulled her into the barn after him, shutting the door behind her and plunging them into near darkness. Continuing to move toward the stalls where Katy and Lightning were stabled, he said, “I thought we could go for a ride.”
“Kid, we ride all the time. It’s our job, remember?” she laughed.
Kid stopped and turned to face her, his face taking on a more serious mien. “I meant the two of us, together. Just for fun. When’s the last time you went for a ride just for the heck of it?”
“Well, I cain’t rightly remember,” she finally admitted after a long pause.
“’Sides, we haven’t had any time alone since y’all got here,” he added, turning back toward the stalls where he’d already pulled their saddles and other tack. Ducking his head, he said, “I.. I just wanted ta spend some time with ya’s all. Without the others around.”
Lou reached out and placed her hand on his shoulder.
“Sounds nice,” she said quietly.
They worked together in quiet unison, each content simply to be near the other for the moment. Soon, they were swinging up onto the backs of their horses and ducking out the barn doors.
Once clear of the station and the town, Lou spurred Lightning into a trot, glancing over her shoulder at Kid.
“Catch me if you can!” she challenged laughingly and the race was on.
“Lou, this way,” Kid finally called, turning Katy toward a stand of trees in the near distance.
“Where we goin’?” she asked.
What she saw was the mischievous glint back in his eyes. He had something up his sleeve. She urged Lightining closer to Katy in an attempt to figure things out.
“Hey!” she gasped, as Kid reached out and grabbed her arm, pulling her onto Katy in front of him. Wrapping her arms around his neck to secure her position, she asked, “What do you think yer doin’?”
He pulled out a bandanna and carefully wrapped it around her head, hiding her eyes and effectively blinding her. When she began to protest he said simply, “Don’t. You’ll ruin the surprise.”
So, she settled back against him, enjoying the feel of his arms wrapped around her, the rocking motion of the horse moving under her, the prairie wind in her face. The morning sun warmed her bare head, her hat having fallen off when Kid jerked her off her horse. Resting her head on his shoulder she murmured, “I hope this ain’t gonna be a long ride or I’ll fall asleep.”
His answer came in soft breaths right next to her ear. “We’re almost there.”
And he was right. Moments later, Katy slowed to a stop and Kid urged her to an upright position. Reaching up with one hand he pulled off the blindfold and announced with quiet intensity, “Surprise.”
Lou opened her eyes and gasped. The early morning sun filtered through the leaves of the trees that surrounded what would be an incredible swimming hole once the spring rains and the snow melt filled the pond. Already the trees and grass were a bright spring green. A light morning fog gave everything a hazy, slightly otherworldly look.
“It’s beautiful, Kid,” she breathed barely audibly, afraid to break the spell.
“I know it ain’t our old swimmin’ hole,” Kid said, “but I thought it might be a good place fer us ta get some time alone tagether. ‘Specially since we’re tryin’ ta keep things to ourselves this time ‘round.”
Lou slipped off Katy’s back, Kid dismounting behind her to wrap his arms around her waist. “You’re right. It’s perfect.”
When he pulled away from her, she looked back to see him rummaging through his saddlebags. “Come on,” he said, “Let’s find a place ta sit and enjoy the view while we eat some breakfast.”
Lou took the blanket he handed her and began walking along the edge of the spring, looking for just the right place to settle in.
“Sure can’t wait ta take a dip in there,” Kid said teasingly, reaching out with one hand for Lou’s ticklish ribs.
Squealing in mock anger, she turned on him and growled, “Looks deep enough ta me!”
Pushing back, she toppled him over the edge of the spring into the knee deep water. He splashed down landing on his back, the towel with their breakfast flying out of his hand to land in the water next to him.
Lou let out a belly laugh, leaning back against a nearby tree.
“Ya oughter see yerself, Kid,” she gasped.
He just glared up at her and began to climb out of the pond. Stalking toward her, he growled, “That deserves a punishment, don’t ya think?”
“Stay away from me,” she laughed. “Don’t you dare get me all wet. I ain’t got nothin’ ta change into!”
“Didn’t stop you from soakin’ me,” he responded, giving chase. Dropping the blanket in her arms, Lou ran for her life, laughing the entire time.
“I don’t wanna go back,” Lou sighed contentedly, lying on the blanket next to Kid, letting the early morning sun dry out their soaked, slightly dirty clothes. “Ever.”
Kid opened his mouth to respond, but his stomach beat him to it, growling loudly enough for both of them to hear. Changing his mind about what he was going to say, Kid chuckled. “Well, we gotta go back sooner or later. And since ya ruined our breakfast, it’s probably gonna have ta be sooner.”
“I know,” she sighed completely unrepentant. “But I’d do it again just ta see the look on yer face.”
For awhile the two of them lay there, staring up at the bits and pieces of the bright blue sky they could see through the tree branches and leaves overhead. Lou allowed her eyes to close as she relaxed, enjoying the warm spring sun on her face and the cool breeze of the trees. The feel of Kid’s hand reaching out and encompassing hers startled her eyes open for a moment. But then she smiled and closed them again.
Kid glanced over at the annoyed mutterings coming from Lou as she tugged at the edges of her vest for the dozenth time. Finally giving up, she reached out and grabbed Lightning’s reins. Kid walked over and grabbed her hands in his, looking down into her face.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Don’t lie to me, Lou. I know ya better’n that.”
“I just…” she stopped, blushing a bit.
“I ain’t smotherin’ ya, am I?” he asked, worried.
Lou shook her head. Without looking up at him, she spoke to her toes. “I wasn’t fully ‘dressed’ yet, ya know… and then we got all wet….”
Kid grinned in fond remembrance. “I know,” he whispered. “And I ain’t complainin’.”
“But… all’s I got ta cover up is this stupid vest,” she muttered. “And it don’t cover so well’s it used ta.”
“I know that, too,” Kid whispered, leaning down to press a kiss to her cheek. “Why don’t you take the trail back round by Doc Woodson’s place. You’ll be able ta avoid town that way.”
“But that’s the long way ‘round. It’ll take me more’n twice as long ta get back and…. and we won’t be able ta ride home tagether.”
Kid nodded. “That ain’t such a bad thing, anyways, if we’re wantin’ ta keep things quiet ‘bout us.”
“Guess yer right,” she muttered, mounting up. Pulling at Lightning’s reins, she started to turn him toward the trail home, but paused at the feel of Kid’s hand on her thigh.
“Lou, I had a good time this mornin’,” he said quietly. “Wouldn’t’ve wanted ta share it with no one else.”
She leaned down to look into his eyes under the brim of his hat and smiled at him. “Guess it was an almost perfect day. And Kid,” she paused to be sure he was listening, “ya picked a real sweet spot fer us.”
Without another word she rode away.
Author’s Note: Thanks to Flame for suggesting the title and to Miss Raye for introducing me to Lady Antebellum. Without those two this story would never have been.
Perfect Day, Lady Antebellum
Met up with some friends outside of town
we were headed towards the lake
I hopped into the back of a jacked up jeep and felt the wind upon my face
We got to the spot and the sun was hot, everybody was feelin fine.
So we jumped on in for a midday swim and then we lost all track of time.
We were sittin in the sand as he grabbed my hand
And then leaned in for a kiss
I couldn't help but think with the stars above it don't get much better than this
It was the perfect day
What I'd give if I could find a way to stay
Lost in this moment now
Ain't worried about tomorrow
When you're busy livin in a perfect day.