If you need to catch up go HERE to find all the previous parts listed.
“Do they know each other?” Jesse asked Dee. “I have no idea.” Dee replied with a puzzled look on her face. “Looks like they do thou, and it’s pretty clear they are having an argument about something.”
The band kicked in about then and people were bustling around the food tables when Jesse saw her family come in. The boys were decked out in their good boots and Neddy had on a brown Stetson that looked a little too big. He was grinning from ear to ear. Thomas must have handed it down as he was sporting a brand new black Stetson. Mom waved as she spotted Jesse Lee.
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They came across the floor and sat her moms famous apple pies on the table. And then, almost like magic they all seemed to disappear in different directions. Dad would make his way over to the far end where several area ranchers were seated at a table. She knew they would spend most of the night there, just talking cattle and ranching. Mom was already mingling with the other ladies and her brothers? Well, she had no idea where they were off to.
Jesse and Dee finished uncovering a few dishes and got out of the way as folks were filling their plates. “Sounds like some good music.” Jesse motioned towards the band. “I should hope so.” Dee replied. “I got to choose the band this year. With the folks approval of course.” Just then, Jason sidled up behind her and spun her around. “Come on Dee, lets get this party started.” Jesse laughed as the two of them moved across the floor doing a little two step.
Jesse couldn’t help but giggle as she saw her little brother Neddy on the dance floor with a little red headed girl from school. Well look at him go, she thought to herself. She suspected Thomas had given him a few lessons and was happy to see him having fun.
She turned to a tap on her shoulder. “Hey there good looking. It’s been awhile.” Micky jested. “Sure has. Dee told me you were home. Your looking good.” Jesse replied. “They caught up a little but it was clear that Micky did not want to talk much about his time away.” Dee was right. He seemed distant. The conversation was small talk. How is the family and such. Then he asked her for a dance.
Micky had matured a lot since he had been gone. Jesse could not deny that he was a handsome young man. His hair as blond as Dee’s, was cropped short. His eyes as blue as the sky, but with a sadness shadowed within. He was in good shape and his hand felt strong as he took hers.
The band had switched down to a slow one and she and Micky moved out on the crowded floor. From the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of Avon in the food line. He caught a glimpse of her about the same time. Jesse looked away a bit un-nerved again. She was hesitant but she had to ask Micky if he knew Avon. So she did. He seemed a bit agitated by her question but told her they had served together, for awhile, in the service and that Avon had finished his time about 3 months earlier. She pressed. “Saw you two over by the door earlier. Were you arguing?” Micky stood back for a moment and looked her in the eye. “Nothing of concern Jesse. What’s your interest?”
Now Jesse was taken aback. “Oh.. umm. Nothing really. He is new around here. Just curious.” The song ended and Micky led her off the floor. “I see.” her replied curtly. “Well, you will do best to pay him no mind Jesse. Thanks for the dance. Catch you later.” And with that, Micky crossed the barn and disappeared outside.
“What did you think?” Dee spoke as she came along side. “Does he seem pre-occupied to you?” Jesse Lee motioned Dee to follow her and they stepped out the back door of the barn.
“Yes and so serious.” Jesse answered. “I asked him about Avon.” Dee’s eyes widened. “Well?” Jesse proceeded to fill her in on what Micky had said to her. “What the heck is going on? First Peter and now Micky warning you to stay away from Avon. What are we missing?” Dee finished as she began twirling her hair again. “I don’t know Dee, but I am going to find out, although I am not sure how – since both of them are so closed mouthed.” Jesse frowned. “I will try to pry something out of Micky. I am his sister so maybe he will tell me something more.” Dee replied. They talked for a few more minutes then decided to get back inside.
Just as Jesse came thru the door she ran right into Avon who just happened to be walking by. “Sorry, I, … um, excuse me.” she began. Dang it. Once again she was flustered. “Get a grip girl.” she told herself. Dee let out a giggle and quickly left her on her own. “I am glad we ran into each other.” He grinned. “I want to apologize for the other day.” “No, I am the one who needs to apologize.” Jesse answered. “I did not introduce myself.” They said in tandem. Now they both laughed. Avon put his had out. “Hi, I am Avon.” “Jesse Lee.” she said as she shook his hand.
He did not let go of her hand – she could feel the warmth and strength. “Would you care for a dance?” he finally spoke. Jesse nodded and he guided her out on the dance floor. The music was slow and she could feel the heat from his body against hers. They seemed to move effortlessly as thou they had danced together many times before. Jesse relaxed and enjoyed the moment.
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She spotted her Mom and Dad dancing a few feet away. Her mother glared at her. It was that un-approving look she had seen a few times over the years when she had done something to disappoint her. But what? What had she done now? The music stopped and Avon led Jesse off the floor.
They chatted for a moment and Jesse knew she had to dig a little. “So, you and Dee’s brother Micky served together?” she asked. Avon was guarded with his reply as he repeated what Micky had already said. “Seemed you two had a bit of a heated conversation earlier.” she pressed. His reply, once again, much the same as Micky’s – that it was nothing really. He thanked her for the dance and asked if he may have another later. “Yes, I would like that.” Jesse answered.
She popped back outside. She had to compose herself. That dance had been too perfect. She could still feel the heat from his body and his breath on her hair. But what had her Mom upset? She could not think of anything she had done. She did not get to stand there in thought for long as Dee bounced thru the door with a big grin on her face.
Jesse Lee filled her in on the conversation she had with Avon and on the “look” she had got from her Mom. “I don’t get it Dee. I can’t think of anything I might have done to upset Mom. And why are those guys pretending it was no big deal when we could clearly see they were having a heated discussion earlier?” “Just guys I guess.” Dee said, twisting her hair.
Jesse could tell that Dee had more to say and she told her to spit it out. “Oh, just Louann and Becky running their mouths again. They didn’t know I was standing nearby.” “Ok, what?” Jesse asked. “While you were dancing with Avon. Just… well it was just the two of them doing their usual thing. They saw your Mom give you a look and Louann said — her mama don’t like her dancing with him. Becky answered her with — can you blame her? Then Louann said, the shit is all going to hit the fan pretty soon and they both started laughing.” Dee finished with, “Both of them just jealous Jesse. You dancing with the two best looking guys here and they get Buster Johnson.” Dee let out a big laugh as she tried to keep it light.
Jesse made up her mind she was not going to let any of it ruin the rest of her evening and the girls went back inside.
They next couple of hours seemed to fly by. Avon had asked her to dance several times and she enjoyed every second she spent with him. They talked about ranching and horses. He invited her to go riding sometime and she made mention she had to go up and check cows in the summer pasture on Tuesday if he wanted to ride along. They made a date.
Jesse fell into bed that night feeling better than she had in weeks. She could hardly wait until Tuesday.
She awoke the next morning feeling refreshed. She had slept well for the first time in awhile. As she got dressed and started down for breakfast she remembered her mothers un-approving look and knew she would soon find out what that was all about.
Soon enough breakfast was done and everyone was up and moving to get started with the chores. At first Jesse thought she might escape her Mother but she never made it to the door.
“Jesse Lee, a word before you go.” Jesse turned to see Mom taking a seat at the table and motioning her to sit as well. She did. Her Mom took a drink from her cup of coffee and set it back down. The seconds seemed forever to Jesse. Why was she hesitating? It was not like her.
Finally Jesse started. “Mom, I know I have done something to upset you. But, for the life of me I can’t figure out what it could be.” Her mother paused another few seconds before speaking. “I thought that you and Micky might pick up since his return.” she started. “Your father and I were both a little disappointed to see you dancing with someone else.” She finished. Jesse could tell that she had chosen her words carefully and she decided she should do the same. “Micky made it clear when he was home on leave last that he wanted to severe our connection. We did visit briefly at the dance and he seemed very distant and there was not a suggestion of interest. He seems very pre-occupied and Dee has seen it too.” She stopped there.
Mom was quiet again, as if thinking about what she would say next. “Sorry to hear that. He is a fine young man, from a fine family”…. she paused and continued. “I think he needs some time to re-adjust. This other young man is a stranger. No one seems to know anything about him. I hope this doesn’t go any further than a few dances.” Jesse was taken aback and a bit surprised at the firmness in her Mothers words. Before thinking – she shot back .. “His name is Avon. He works for the Star Fire Ranch and I enjoy his company.” Then she stopped cold. She could see some shock on her mothers face and she was a bit shocked herself – at her own defiance.
She saw her mothers eyes harden a little. “Your a grown woman now Jesse and I suppose you will make your own decisions. But let me make this clear. Your father and I agree that you should stay away from this Avon. Give it some thought. Now go ahead and get to your chores.” And with that, her mother got up and left the room.
Jesse jumped up and slammed the door behind her as she headed for the barn. Why was everyone warning her to stay away from Avon – yet – not a single reason? She was getting pretty tired of it and she set about her chores with a fire burning within.
What did Louann mean about the shit hitting the fan soon? And why were Micky and her parents dead set against her seeing Avon?
Leave your guess in the comments..