Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

Part 2

by J.W. Heart

Chapter 8

The day was great. JT was my constant companion , she was still a little insecure so I made sure she was included in everything. I didn't mind.......ok so I really do relate to small children. The only time she left me was when Syd convinced her to go help get real food. She really took to Syd must have been that femme thing. She still had doubts about Dawg though.

Syd might just be my hero. Of course anyone who could operate a stove was high on my list. I didn't know that frozen chicken was that different than fresh but is. Hey, we know my cooking skills end with how much time does it take to nuke a Swansons. After dinner she sent us all outside muttering something about pink towels and damage control. Oh well.

I heard the phone ring and I knew I should probably get off my ass and go explain this newest development to Shannon. But I was full and drinking a much deserved cup of coffee. So I let Syd deal with it. I know....I was going to owe Syd big time. I just hope she didn't want something like a kidney.

JT knew who was on the phone as well as I did so she took off. Oh to have that kind of energy. I leaned back and listened to the conversation coming through the screen door.

JT's little voice reached my ears and I had to laugh.......

" And she looked like a bear Momma. But Trace said it was just Dawg".

Little kids tell the greatest stories.

" Then Syd taked me to the store to get real food. Momma did you know that pizza isn't real food?".

" I like Syd Momma, she's really pretty". The little flirt was really scoring points with Syd now. Kid's going to be a heartbreaker.

Now when JT told me Shannon wanted to talk to me I was still laughing about the flirting thing. If I had known I was about to face the inquisition of a raging maniac, I would have been better prepared.

" Hey"

" Trace who the hell do you have in my house? If you brought some slut out there to take care of my child I'm going to kill you. If you wanted that kind of you should have let her stay with Maggie. I don't want her exposed to that sort of thing. And I don't want it in my house .....period!".

I was stunned. She really was on a roll , flying off the handle about nothing and to say the least it pissed me off. How dare she! There aren't many things that will make me all that angry anymore but an attack on my character and an attack on of all people Syd , well that put me over the top. All the anger I had kept inside.......well..

" Exposed to what Shannon? Love? People who care about me?" It was a low shot but I was angry.

" I don't want your whore around my child!"

I went off the deep end.....I'll freely admit that.

" Listen to me you self righteous, heartless, cold, stuck up wench! Before you go off half cocked as usual let me tell you a few things. First , you gave up any rights to who I sleep with a long time ago. And Shannon....none of them has ever been a whore...well.....". I know that was mean........sue me. " Second, and this is just so you know what a huge mistake you made here. But Syd and Dawg, Syd's wife of the last 2 years , are my very best friends and they came all the way from Australia to help me with JT. I didn't ask they just came. So shove your attitude up your ass. You know what really pisses me off? I'll tell you.......never once in all the time I was here with you did I ever lie. That was your department. I gave you all I was. I would think you should know me well enough to know I would never .......never Shannon .......bring anyone home as a casual fuck, with JT in the same house." I know I blew up.....I didn't care.

" Trace I....".

" No Shannon....I've been hurt by you enough for one lifetime. I loved you so much I ached with it. You broke my heart Shannon, shattered me and left me in pieces. Now here I am again but this time wont be so easy. I'm here because JT needs me, not you". I slammed the phone down. Damn woman.

I will be eternally grateful to Syd for having the foresight to take JT for a walk while I was on the phone. I didn't want the kid to hear that. I looked over at Dawg who was leaning against the wall.

" Feel better now?"

" No". I really didn't . you know sometimes you think ' if I could only tell them off , let out all the anger and pain , I would be fine'. That's not the case. I felt like shit.

" You know Trace, seems to me that maybe she was angry about another woman being here. But I think it might have had less to do with JT and more to do with you".

" What's that supposed to mean?". Damn I have a headache coming on and Dawg was getting logical.

" Well, I know if Syd had another woman staying at the house and I wasn't there, I might get a little bit .....upset". That would be an understatement, Dawg would have kittens.......little white ones.

" That's different Dawg. You love Syd it would be normal for you to be jealous of another woman in your house".

" Yup". She got that Gods be damned smirk on her face and walked out. I hate that.

My headache was full blown now. What the fuck was that supposed to mean? You have to have feelings for someone to be jealous.......right? Of course you do. Shannon didn't have feelings for me therefore she couldn't be jealous. Alright so she cried when she heard my voice that first night. And she did say she missed me. And maybe she did say she was looking forward to seeing me when she got home. So what if Maggie says she asked about me all the time. And there are a million reasons she named the kid after me.........right? Oh hell.......she is jealous.

For some reason that thought made me happy. I'm not well ...we all know this.

Chapter 9

The next couple of days were agony. The evening phone calls still came but she only talked to JT. Ok so I was avoiding them myself. And if that weren't bad enough I started thinking about her .......again. You know .....really thinking about her. Four years is a long time to hurt. And I was beginning to wonder if I spent all those years away for nothing. Things weren't adding up. Between Maggie's cryptic description of the past four years and Dawg's inference that she might still a more than friendly way. Well I was a mess.

Syd and Dawg took JT into town , something about clothes. I don't do shopping. So it was fine by me. But it left me alone in the house. Being in there had been tough at first. Everywhere I looked I saw her. Us. But I got over it. a point. I had never gone into her bedroom. That idea just seemed like it would hurt to damn much. Today , however, I was feeling a need to be closer to her. So that's where I went.

I stood in the doorway for a long time . The memories washing over me. If I closed my eyes I could see us in that bed. I could almost reach out and touch her. Gods the room even smelled like her. I wandered around the room , a book on the nightstand still open to the last page she read. Pictures of JT as a baby. The kid was damn cute. A photo album on the shelf caught my eye. I wondered if there were any pictures of Shannon in there. I missed her face.

I sat down on the bed with the book in lap. Flipping open the cover I glanced down at the page. To say I was shocked wouldn't even come close to covering what I felt. Staring back at me off that page........was me. Each page of that book held another image of me during that summer. She had written under each one .....Trace fixing the fence . Trace on the porch. I never saw her take these pictures. Not once did I see a camera. But there they were.......from the very first day she had photographed our entire time together. There were even a few pictures from my childhood that could only have come from Maggie.

Yes I know.....I'm not stupid. She really did love me. No one keeps stuff like this if they don't care. When I left here that day I ran because of my pain and my anger. I never once gave a thought to her. I never thought about what was going on with her. The Shannon I knew, the one my heart knew, would never have ripped me apart like that. Not without reason. And not once in all this time have I given her the chance to explain. Ok now I really feel like a heel.

I laid back on the bed , my heart was in my throat. Gods what have I done. I was pulled from my misery by the phone.

" Hello" I managed to choke out.

" Trace?...Are you ok? JT alright?" I must have sounded really bad she was panicked.

" I ....we're ok". I paused. " I found the pictures". I whispered.


" Shannon?.....Why?" It was all I could get out. I know its lame but you try talking when you're swallowing your heart.

" Damn Trace which why do you want answered? Why do I have all those pictures? I love you .......that's why". She sighed. " The rest is a long story".

" I have time.....I....I'm ready to listen". Ok the 'I love you thing' did not escape my notice. I just wasn't sure how I felt about it yet.

For the next hour I listened. I heard the story of a fifteen year old girl with no mother and an over bearing father, struggling to belong. Discovering her sexuality. She told me about being caught with her girlfriend in her bedroom . And how her father had beaten her senseless. Daddy couldn't have a queer daughter it just didn't look right for the General. His political career meant more than his own child's happiness.

She told me about being forced to go out with men her father thought were " appropriate". About the abuse suffered at the hands of both her father and sister. Seems sis was following in Daddy's political footsteps. She told me about Tom. How her father demanded she marry him. He was his personal secretary and her father wanted his loyalty.

In my mind I could see Shannon , the frightened teen cowering before her Father. Taking the beatings........losing her sense of self. Being told she was nothing, worthless. I could see her walking down the aisle entering into a loveless marriage. Being used to only further other peoples dreams and goals. If the man had been alive I would have killed him myself.

I listened to her tell me about Tom and his .......problems. He was a useless little shit when I knew him and it seems he hadn't gotten any better. He spent their money on whatever he wanted....gambling mostly. And when that wasn't enough he had taken money from her father's campaign fund. That was Shannon's way out. She had found out about his dealings. And when she confronted him with it, scared witless he would kill her, but still needing to take a stand. He caved. Pleaded with her made a deal with her. Giving her the ranch for her silence. With the paper's signed she had every intention of moving and divorcing him. But her father's death had stalled all that.

She went on to tell me about coming out here finally. Taking the little bit of money her father had left and making her dream happen. And it did. She just hadn't counted on me. She told me about her fear. The fear of letting herself be close to me. But still feeling the connection. She fought so hard against her want.......need. She struggled with her growing attraction. She told me about the nights she would lay awake restless.....aching. I had to laugh. I had many of those nights myself.

Her voice grew husky as she recalled our first night together. Finally able to fulfill her need to touch , taste.....experience the love she felt for me. That night for me was everything , I've relived it a thousand times. To hear her voice filled with passion and struck me. She poured her love into me that night. What she couldn't say with words she showed me in her touch.

When I came home that day. Finding Tom there..........well we all know what happened. If I had stayed I could have prevented the rest.

Tom showed up all full of himself. Her bitch of a sister was going to run for office and paid him to bring Shannon back. Seems she wanted a united family image. I left her there with that man. I let her go through month's of him threatening her and the ranch ,alone. I left and she had to defend her dreams and suffer her own broken heart. I left and the bastard, forced himself on her. Raped her , the whole time telling her it was her fault. That she deserved it. The night it happened he left her crying and battered, took off drunk . She found out later that night he wrapped the truck around a tree. Three months later.....she discovered she was pregnant.

I understood now why Maggie hated that man. I did too. I hate myself more though. To selfish to even think about her . To involved in my own pain to see hers. We were both crying. I ached to reach through the phone and hold her. I wanted to make the whole thing go away. But I couldn't.

" You should hate me Shannon........for leaving you alone like that". I told her.

" I could never hate you Trace.....I loved you then....and I love you now. There was nothing you could have done". Her voice was soft.

" I could have...."

"No!....its over. I got JT out of the whole mess and I would do it all over again for just that reason. I just want to move forward. I want........."

" What do you want Shannon?"

"You more chance with you".

" Ok".

Chapter 9

Did I give in to easily? I still had doubts and questions but I'm a sucker for that woman and I probably always will be. And for the first time in four years I could breath again. The crippling ache had eased. I felt....whole. So...Bite Me.

My renewed view of life did not go unnoticed by my friends. Was probably the dumb ass grin I couldn't keep off my face. I knew Dawg would have something to say but lucky for me , Syd holds her leash. I was let off the hook with a simple.

" Just be happy Trace".

I was happy. Life on the ranch was sweet. Long summer days filled with laughter, joy and ....hope. That's not to say I didn't have my fears. There are some things that just don't go away over night. I also found that some things never go lust. Oh we kept it all really cool when she called to talk to JT but late at night that phone would ring again. More often than not forcing me into a cold shower before I could relax enough to find any sleep. And she laughed. I did not find it at all amusing.

Oh we hadn't started out trying to make each other insane. But the comfort and passion slowly crept back in and from there it was just a short jump to the....."Let's make Trace implode" game. I'm not easy , not's her fault. Stop is.

" You know Trace, I miss your hands." Uh oh .........she had that seductive purr thing going on.

" My hands huh?" I swallowed hard.

" Uh huh. I miss the way they feel against my skin. Hot and soft.....brushing over me like a whisper". The woman should have been a poet. Or a phone sex operator....I would have gladly handed over my paycheck.

" I love the feel over your large hands covering my breasts, feeling my nipples harden against your palms". Her voice was husky, filled with passion.

I groaned. The woman was going to kill me. We had spent a week playing this game I needed relief soon.

" If you keep this up I'm going to have to take matters into those hands you miss so much". I knew that image would get to her. Ha .....two can play this game.

She chuckled. " Well baby my hands aren't as good as yours but they've been working very well for me lately".

Oh God.....she was good. The evil little witch. I think I'm jealous.

" Of course , I would much rather be the one to touch you. Run my hands down your body. Feeling you move under me. Tasting you....mmmmm.....". She's mean........see.

" Ok're going to kill me". I was begging for the torture to end.

" Ok ok .....I'll be nice". She laughed. Laughed....that's just cruel.

" Thank you....I think". Hell who could think. All the blood in my body had rushed southward.

I'm not saying all over our conversations revolved around sex. They just ended that way. We spent a lot of time talking about our lives. Relating stories. Hers about JT and the ranch. Mine about all the places I had been and about Dawg and Syd. Yes she settled down about Syd being there. In fact she was anxious to meet them.

With my days filled with the ranch and JT and my nights filled with Shannon you could say I was flying pretty high. Of course my nights of suffering were taking a toll. I wasn't getting much sleep which as we know makes Trace cranky. I knew it was getting bad but I couldn't help it. I just didn't realize how bad till...

I was laying on the bed in my room...having been sent there by Syd who told me she didn't want to see me the rest of the day. JT came in carrying a book and her favorite blanket.

" Whatcha doin little bit." I watched as she climbed up on the bed. Settling the blanket over me she snuggled up to my side.

" I'm gonna read you a story Trace".

" Ok..umm..why?"

" You needs a nap". Ok ...that's bad. When a three year old tells you to take a nap you know somethings got to give.

I needed a lot of things but I didn't think a nap was going to help. But I let her read to me anyway. Ok so the kids a bit young to read but hey she makes up good stories. Much to my surprise I woke up a couple hours later. JT's little blonde head resting on my shoulder.

I laid there for the longest time. Just feeling that little body snuggled against my side. So trusting and innocent. I realized two things. One....I would never ever let anyone hurt this child. It would be over my cold, dead body if they did. And Two...I had fallen hopelessly in love with another small blonde. I'm telling you I have a thing for them.

The nap had helped my disposition but this was getting ridicules. People were starting to avoid me. I think to preserve sanity ,namely my own and to ensure that JT didn't decide to move out , it was time Shannon came home. I couldn't understand why she was there in the first place. Some bullshit about family and mending fences. Ha.....she wanted to mend fences we lived on a ranch....hello. Alright I'm being unreasonable ...sue me. I'm tired and frustrated.

That night I vowed to get this settled.

Chapter 10

" It won't be much longer Trace I promise".

" Shan it's been long enough. Never mind that I have a three year old sending me off for naps......... Shannon its not that funny". She really has an odd sense of humor.

" I'm sorry". She chuckled.

" Uh huh....look you said yourself the bi....I mean that your sister's better. Come home ....we need you ". I knew it was hitting below the belt to pout like that. But damn.........did I mention the frustration thing.

" We do huh? And who is we Trace?"

" You remember "we" don't ya? Little blonde, looks a whole lot like you. Even has your appetite."

"Hey!" She also did get indignant when you razzed her about her appetite.

" What? It's true the kid eats more then you do. And Shan ....that's an accomplishment." Ok I'm mean.

" She's healthy".

"She's got a tape worm. But that's niether here nor there the important thing is we need you to come home. Please, please, please......I'll make it worth your while.". When all else fails ..........whine, and promise sexual favors.

"Trace........" The rest of her words were lost. Mother nature picked that very moment to unleash hell. A huge clap of thunder followed by an even louder screamed effectively ended our conversation.

I jumped out of the bed and ran down the hall. Passing a very dishevled Syd as I hauled ass to JT's door. I tossed the phone to her and headed into the room. Syd right on my heels, followed up by a half naked Dawg.

JT launched herself at me , holding on with a death grip. Syd came around the other side of the bed , shoving the phone at Dawg. Who looked at like it like she had never seen one before. Slowly raising to her ear.

" Hello?"

" Oh hi Shannon".

" Umm.....well....big thunder ...small child screaming.....three adults killing themselves to see what was wrong".

Obviously she was explaining the commotion to Shannon.....Dawg style.

" No ? You don't say? We would never have guessed she didn't like thunder storms". Dawg said rolling her eyes. Which earned her an evil look from her wife.

" Well.....JT has a death grip on Trace. I'm kind of concerned actually.....I've never seen Trace that shade of blue before". My friend deadpanned.

" That's probably not funny Shannon".

" Ok ...I'll tell them. Uh huh..bye". She hung up the phone.

" She said she would call later".

I looked at my friend and for the first time noticed she only had on a pair of boxers. I would have laughed but JT really did have a death grip on me. Syd noticed however and sent her to their room.

I couldn't blame the kid about the storm thing. I remember being afraid when I was young. But my father had fixed that. I wondered if that trick might work here. I told Syd I would handle it and set her after Dawg. Not all of us needed to suffer here.

" Hey kid? Do you trust me?".

She nodded her little head which was still buried against my chest.

" Ok you've been to the fireworks right?" Trust me I had a point.

Again she nodded.

I gathered her up and pulled the blanket off the bed. Wrapping it around us I took us downstairs. I was just about to the door when she raised her head.

" No Trace we cant...the storm will get us". She panicked.

" I wont let it get us little bit". I stepped out onto the porch and settled us both into the large wicker chair beside the door.

" Ok now you have to think of thunder storms like fireworks".

She looked at me. I could see in her eyes she was contemplating my sanity.

" You know.......first there's a big flash of light and then ........BOOM!. Just like the fireworks. Only these are special fireworks".

" Why?" You gotta love kids and the why thing.

" Because Mother Nature made these ones". I pulled her back against me with the blanket wrapped firmly around us. And waited.

First came the flash and I felt her stiffen in my arms.

" One, two, three......."

" Why you counting Trace?"

Then came the loud, crashing thunder. She jumped.

" To see how far away the storm is". Hey its an old trick but it works.


We waited and with the next flash, she counted with me. We sat together watching the storm play out. Until I felt her little body go limp in my arms. Lulled to sleep by the sounds of the passing storm. Thanks Dad.

Chapter 11

I had tried to talk to Shannon again about coming home, but we never really had the time. Or rather she didn't. Tonight was just a quick call to JT and that was it. So there I was, laying in bed trying to settle my mind. I closed my eyes; the image of her sweet face and flashing green eyes comforting me.

The images grew more focused, more intense. I felt her hands brush over me.. Blazing a trail over sensitive flesh. I could feel her soft lips, warm and moist against my neck. I've had this dream for four years. Vivid flashes, hot, wild, erotic. I would look up into her eyes darkened by desire. Feel her hands caress my breasts.....teasing me. Watch her strong body as she moved over me. Straddling my hips, rocking against me . In my dream she would slowly slide down my body. I could feel her wet center as she would glide over my thigh. I would raise my knee allowing her the contact she sought. She would moan....low.......soft .....seductive, the sound tickling my ears , heightening my arousal. I could feel the evidence of her passion coat my thigh.

Sometimes the fantasy would get so real that I could hear the pounding of her heart. I could smell vanilla and a heady spice that I knew was her scent , unique to her passion. I would get breathless when , in my dream , she would lean down , taking my nipple into her mouth. I could feel myself arch into her. She would suck me between demanding lips, graze me with her teeth. All the while her fingers sliding up and down through my moist curls. Sliding deeper through slick , sensitive folds...seeking, caressing. I felt her finger tip run over my swollen clit. I would moan louder as she stroked me. Soft , gentle, taking her time. In my dreams she always knew when my need had reached its height. Her touch become more demanding, harder. She would lean down pressing her hot mouth against me ear. Whispering to me as she brought me closer , took me higher. I could feel the soft tickle of her hair against me cheek........ eyes flew open. The tickle thing never happened, not in that dream. In the shadows I could see her , moving . Shocked but to far gone to stop I moved against her , willing her to take me. She felt me respond and answered my needs . Filling me...her fingers driving into my core. I cried out....I know it was loud but I couldn't help myself. I chanted her name as she pushed deeper inside me. I felt my body tighten, the flood of my climax coating her hand. White hot sparks shooting behind my eyes as I crashed over the edge. I heard her whisper..." I love you".

When my brain and body united I looked up into her face. If there was ever a more beautiful sight in this world I hadn't seen it. The past four years had only made her more beautiful and I felt my heart skip. She looked down at me with such love and such devotion it was all I could do not to cry. She brushed the hair back from my face and kissed me. Soft, sweet, tender.

" Hi honey, I'm home". Ok so she's a smart ass.

Have you ever had one of those moments. Where past and present meet in an all encompassing, life defining moment. Where for one second you have absolute clarity.? As I lay there beneath her looking into her amazing eyes, I had that moment. It all became clear. I figured out that I........was an idiot.

When I had first laid eyes on this woman I knew that she was the one. I knew without a doubt that this woman would be mine. She would be my heart and soul. But instead of trusting myself or her for that matter, at the first sign of trouble, I ran. Gods ....sometimes I am a complete asshole. Hey..I didn't say it was a good defining moment.

Well all that was going to change. Starting right now. I wrapped my arms around the woman of my dreams and the mother of my child, yes my child. And for the rest of the night I poured myself into her. I showed her with my touch and my words what she meant to me. How I felt about her. I left no part of her body unloved. When morning came.....she was mine. We belonged to each other.

Ok so we didn't just belong to each other, which became very apparent at about 6:30am. When a little blonde tornado came flying into the bedroom and leapt on my chest.

" Morning Trace". The child is far to cheerful for it not even being daylight.

"Shhhh..." I didn't want her to wake her Mother. I looked over at my sleeping lover and saw one green eyes peeking up at us. Too late.

" Momma!". She lunged for her mother. Have to give Shannon credit, she caught all forty pounds of flying three year old deftly in her arms. It's got to be a Mom thing.

I leaned back against the headboard and watched the two great loves of my life get reacquainted. The matching blonde heads huddled together as they talked and giggled. They say happiness doesn't find you, you have to look for it. Well.....I wasn't looking but it found me anyway. I was lost in this glow and didn't notice that the giggles had stopped until I looked up and saw two pairs of green eyes staring at me expectantly.

" What?"

" We're hungry". Well that's a surprise. I wasn't kidding about the matching appetites. And well ....Shannon should be starved after our evening.

JT was the first one off the bed. She took off out the door and I heard her little feet pounding down the steps. Shannon turned to me, I was still in awe of the love I saw in her eyes. She leaned up and kissed me. " I love you".

" I love you too". I had told her that over and over again in the night but here in the morning light made it seem more real. I pulled her back against me. My mouth finding hers. Lips parted tongues dancing. My heart was thundering in my chest and other parts had started to throb. I rolled her under me and was well on my way to renewing our passion when she drew back from me.

" Trace". She whispered breathlessly.

" Yes baby". I said while attacking the tender flesh across her throat.

" I'm really hungry". I was hungry too and I continued my assult on her beautiful body.

" For food Trace". For the record ..... I do not pout. No matter what she says. She slide out of bed , naked. Which did not help my already over charged libido.

" Come on baby. I'll make it up to you later" . She leaned over and kissed me again. I watched her get dressed and walk out of the room. She still had a great ass.

When I got to the kitchen the scene before me brought me to a stop. Syd was already there leaning against the counter. Shannon had something cooking on the stove. Not sure what it was but it smelled wonderful. JT was sitting up on the counter between both of them. They were all laughing . Looks like Shannon and Syd were going to do just fine. I knew that they would.

I just stood there, watching my girls with my friend. My family , I thought. The family thing brought back that dumb ass cheesy grin. Dawg picked that moment to nudge me.

I looked over to see my buddy smiling at me.

" What made you change your mind Trace?"

" About Shannon?". So much had changed lately the question did need definition.

She shrugged her broad shoulders. " About Shannon , about love?".

I threw my arm around her ." Well a good friend of mine once said. " Sometimes you need to take a risk to get the big pay off". Yea I finally figured out what that meant......

The End?

Sept. 2002

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