Old Wounds New Beginnings

Part 5

By Kim (KP) Pritekel

Disclaimers: These two lovely ladies may seem a bit familiar, but that's about it. You don't know 'em, honest.

Subtext: Yes, this story is of an alternative nature, what else would come from me? So, basically if you aren't old enough to buy me a beer, wouldn't buy me a beer, or live some place where they don't sell beer, go away. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and let me entertain you.

Violence: Well, folks. I'm going to be honest here. I'm not real sure how far I'll take this, but know that part of this takes place in a prison, and it's not a pretty world. There will be violence, including murder, and also some scenes dealing with rape. If this bothers you, then please move on, or cover your eyes during the scary stuff. I think it'll be more disturbing than graphic, though.

Language: Yup. Be warned.

Note: The depiction of the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) is accurate in this story, however some names and possibly some aspects have been changed to protect the innocent, and also my butt. Hey, I wanna keep my job, okay?

Note 2: I have changed LaGrange, Texas to fit into the story, so if it is not like the real thing, just pretend, and don't hurt me. : )

Thank you to Barbara. Your ideas and knowledge of the Gaelic language was beyond helpful. : ) Slan.

If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am, or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com

© Kim Pritekel 2001
diabhal (dee-of-all) Satan     baol (bay-oil) dangerous
saoire (see-re) freedom     aistriocht(ash-re-och) like no other
nos gui (nose) (gee) like the wind     capall (cop-all) horse

Tyg laid in bed, the warm night air blew her lace curtains gently, making quiet wisps of noise. She sighed and raised her arms, crossing her wrists over her head, stared up at the dark ceiling of her room, the bright moonlight painting blue shadows on the walls. She could feel her body responding to the night, her blood running hot through veins long forgotten about. Tyg brought a hand down and laid it on her tank-clad stomach, grazing soft fingertips over the flat, hard surface. Jamie's blue eyes flashed before her mind's eye, and she felt a new wave of heat run through her, headed south.

For the first time in a few years the small blonde let her thoughts wonder to Carol Chandler, the horse wrangler from Kansas. She had been incredible, especially to a young, naive, inexperienced nineteen year old. Carol had been her senior by twenty years, and was no fool.

Larry McClure had had his eye on a bunch of Mustangs that Carol had freshly broke, and ready to go. Tyg had been on spring break at Brown, so Larry had asked her to go with him to see how it was done. Larry already knew at that point that it would be his last year running the ranch, but didn't have the heart to break it to Tyg. He knew of her dreams and ambitions of becoming a successful business woman in some big city somewhere. The girl had one hell of a head for business on her shoulders.

Tyg and Larry had driven up in Larry's old Jimmy with the horse trailer hooked to the back. Long trip, but at least it had been a mild spring, and the heat hadn't been too bad for a road trip.

Tyg looked on in awe at the huge ranch. She had heard that Carol was a widow, and had taken over the place after her husband had been killed in a riding accident. The Chandler's were one of the best known breakers in the area. The large truck pulled up to the medium sized ranch-style house, and a woman met them in the dirt drive. Tyg had been stunned by the woman right off. Her short, sun-bleached hair, darkly tanned face with some lines around the deep brown eyes when she smiled. The average height, but muscled frame fit snugly in the wranglers, and orange t-shirt. Tyg had been struck dumb. Throughout her life, the little blonde had known that she'd been attracted to women, but had never acted on it, never giving in. At school she'd been asked out by many, many guys, but had declined. She had been interested in a few of the girls, but had deemed her studies more important. Carol Chandler blew every theory and decision she'd made concerning love right out the window.

Larry had decided to spend 8 days at the Chandler ranch so he could see just exactly what their horses, and practices were all about. Carol volunteered to take Tyg under her wing, show her all her techniques with breaking green horses, and wild, unteachables. The older woman had been kind, courteous, and utterly irresistible.

Tyg ran her fingers down her stomach until she reached the hem of her shirt, slipped beneath to the warm, smooth flesh. It had been awhile since she'd been touched, and even longer since she'd been touched by someone she cared about, or cared about her.

It had only taken Carol three days before she had the young blonde eating out of her hand, begging for more. The rancher had taught Tyg everything she knew about making love to a woman, and Tyg had been completely gone, not even realizing in a young, idealistic mind that Carol was a lover, not to be loved. Too late. Tyg had been crushed, devastated by Carol's rejection of her. Not long after, Larry had fallen to his first dangerous bout of emphysema, and Tyg had had to quit school and take over. That day she had decided that she had enough on her plate, and did not need anything else. Love could wait.

Tyg stopped the downward movement of her fingers, walking along her flesh as if they had a mind of their own. She laid her palm flat against the warm skin of her stomach, and sighed. Jamie came to mind again. What was it about the tall, stoic woman? Jamie had somehow managed to ignite a fire in the small blonde that she had thought doused forever. She still could not read the hand, but she felt the tender side of the brunette, saw it, even though Jamie had no clue she possessed it. Tyg was intrigued by her, a little more every day. Marty had been released from the hospital two days ago, and they had welcomed him back with a huge dinner loaded with all his favorites. The hands, Rosa, and even her granddaddy had gone to bring back their wounded. Tyg remembered looking for Jamie, spotting her off to the side, by herself. The dinner had been outside near the old barn. Jamie had camped out on a large bale of hay, her plate of food in her lap, tall glass of iced tea on the ground near her feet. Some of the boys had walked over to her and talked and laughed with the taller woman, but she had never joined them.

Tyg closed her eyes, sleep creeping up on her after such a long, stressful week. She had called in Buddy Caldwell to help her look over the baler. It had been fixed the week before Marty's accident, and Tyg's blood had been chilled when she realized that Cal had fixed it. He'd fixed it alright, fixed it so well that Marty lost a hand and part of an arm. She had been livid, and could not figure out why Cal had done something so vicious. Then she had thought of Hector, and would be willing to bet that the son of a bitch had told the hand to do it. Sabotage things so he could get his hands on the rest of the land. Tyg knew that her ranch sat on land that was worth a fortune. It she had a mind to sell, she'd be set for the rest of her life.

"Never." she growled before she felt sleep claim her.


The high pitched whinny of a horse filled the late afternoon. Jamie drew her brow and turned from her place near the back of the barn, pounding in new nails in the lose hinge of the door. The sound of the stressed animal was followed by hollering from what sounded like BJ or Briar.

"Come on, ya damn, stubborn horse!" another whinny was the answer. Jamie, suddenly feeling butterflies beating against her ribs, dropped her hammer, and ran over to the corral. Sure enough, BJ and his brother Briar were trying to take hold of the rope they'd somehow managed to get around the black mare's neck. "Come on, BJ! Grab it!"

"I'm tryin'!" the younger Adams' grunted as he ducked around the side of the animal that was up on her hind legs, front flailing through the air.

"What the hell are you doing!" Jamie yelled as she rounded the corner, taking in the scene. Both men whipped around, matching pale blue eyes filled with surprise, looking like they'd been caught with a hand in the cookie jar. Briar hopped up onto the fence, and climbed over, helping his younger brother do the same.

"Well, uh, well Tyg said whoever can git 'er broke can have 'er." Briar said, hitching his thumb back at the Arabian. Jamie glanced at the horse that was still obviously upset, the rope, pale against her midnight color, whipped the end around as she bucked, and ran around the small pen. Jamie walked toward the fence, her eyes riveted on the beast. The brothers watched on, curious to see what the tall woman would do. Jamie climbed up on the fence, leaning over, staring into the coal-black eyes of the animal. The mare snorted once, digging her front hoof into the dirt, a cloud of dust swirling around her.

"Shhhhh." Jamie said, then slowly climbed up over the top rail, jumping down the other side.

"Uhh, Jamie." BJ stammered, his eyes never leaving the mare.

"Quiet." Jamie hissed over her shoulder, keeping the eye contact. "Hey there, Aistriocht. Calm." she cooed, slowly taking a step forward. The animal stared, pounding the ground lightly with a hoof. "You act like diabhal himself. But you're not, you're not evil. But I gotta tell you. You've got these boys mighty scared of ya. They just don't understand you do they, girl." Jamie spotted the end of the rope lying just a few yards away. If she could get the animal to calm just a bit, she could grab it. "Come on, girl. Be a good capall, now." Jamie inched closer, slowly bending, never breaking eye contact, so she could reach for the end of the rope. A bit closer, closer. "Yes, steady, steady...."

Tyg saw the small crowd that had began to gather near the rowdy pen. She drew her brows, and headed over.

"What's going on?" she asked Wilbur. The worker put his hand up to stop her, then pointed to Jamie and the wild Arabian. Tyg followed his finger, and sucked in a breath. Is she insane? Jamie was within a coupe feet of the mare now, and to her immense surprise the horse seemed to almost be keeping an eye on the on-lookers, not Jamie. Was she trying to protect the hand? Nah. Crazy.

"Rosa!" Larry McClure called, unable to tear his eyes off of the scene at the corrals. The old man had been given the okay to use a walker to get around so he could go downstairs. Now he sat at one of the wrought iron tables on the wrap around porch, watching Jamie and the Arabian. The housekeeper stepped out of the side door, a dishtowel in hand.

"What do you want?" she grumbled. Larry pointed, and the older woman's eyes bulged. "Tyg hasn't been able to get near that crazy beast." she breathed. The old rancher nodded in agreement. They both watched breathless.

Jamie was within a foot now of the horse, and she raised her head when she noticed that the mare was looking toward the fence. Jamie glanced over her shoulder and chuckled when she saw the entire ranch standing around watching. What was the big deal? She shook her head, and leaned down to grab the rope. She jerked slightly when she felt something, a slight weight, against her shoulder.

Tyg felt her stomach clench when she saw the Arabian bend her head down, heading for Jamie's shoulder.

Jamie jerked again when she felt something wet, slightly rough graze the bare skin of her upper arm. She turned, staring up the long, black muzzle of the mare's snout.

"Stop that." she said, gently pushing the horse away. The horse snorted, and nudged the side of her head, running a huge tongue up the side, causing Jamie's hair to stick up. Laughter erupted around them, Jamie glared at the hands and Tyg, making them laugh that much harder.

"I'll be damned." Larry chuckled. "The grandson I never had."

Rosa looked down at the seated man, and whacked him in the shoulder with the back of her hand. The old man grabbed his stinging arm, glaring up at the older woman, then grinned. He could never stay mad at her long.

Tyg shook her head in disbelief, and walked toward the fence, nudging the hands out of her way as she got closer so she could meet Jamie as the tall woman climbed over the fence, after tying the mare to a rail.

"Well, looks like she belongs ta you, honey." the rancher smiled up at startled blue eyes.

"She doesn't belong to anyone." Jamie said simply, jumping down from the top rail with a cloud of dust.

"Well, she's yours ta do whatever ya want with, anyway." Jamie chuckled when she saw the Adams' brothers roll their eyes.

"Man," BJ mumbled.

"I have never seen anything like that in my entire life, honey." Tyg said in wonder, her arms crossed over her chest. "What are you, a horse whisperer?" Jamie chuckled and walked back toward the barn where she had been hammering. She shook her head.

"Nope. But the Druids would have called it driochtor." she said simply. Tyg drew her brows, walking along with the tall woman.

"Dry what?" Jamie laughed.

"Dry-hic-tore." Jamie sounded the word out. "Maker of magic." Jamie looked down and saw the confusion in the smaller woman's face. "The Celtic Druids."
Tyg smiled wide.

"Well, that you do seem to be."


Jamie knelt on one knee pounding what seemed to be an endless supply of nails in, trying to repair the old barn. She glanced over and saw Marty sitting on a water barrel, his chin resting in his palm, staring at the dirt at his feet. The tall hand sighed, sensing how isolated the boy felt. She put two fingers to her lips, and whistled. The boy turned to stare at her, she beckoned him to her.

"Yeah?" he asked, his voice tired, bored.

"Get down here." she ordered. Marty knelt next to her. "Hold that." she indicated the nail that was stuck into the old wood just enough to make a tiny dent. Marty scrunched his dark brows, and grabbed it between the thumb and index finger of his left hand. Jamie pounded the nail home. Marty grinned at her, catching on. He grabbed another nail out of the leather pouch on the ground, and put it in place for her to hammer it in.

"I saw what ya did with that crazy horse yesterday, Jamie." he said. Jamie quirked up the corner of her mouth, but said nothing. "That was amazin'!"

"Yeah, so they say." she muttered.

"No, really. The boys 'er callin' ya a horse whisperer."

"Been called worse."

The hand chuckled. "Yeah, well you seem to be the tamer of all sorts of things." he muttered. The tall woman glanced over at the boy, hammer in mid-swing. She turned back to her task.


"Well, meanin' that I ain't ever seen no one handle the boss lady like ya do."

"Tyg takes care of herself, Marty. I have nothing to do with that." she pounded the nail in a bit harder than she intended to, slightly grazing the boy's thumb with the edge of the hammer. He yanked his hand away. Jamie smiled sheepishly. "Sorry."

"I mean, she ain't never treated any of the boys like she does you. I mean, don't get me wrong 'er nothin'. We all really like ya, and you're real good at everythin', but Tyg ain't never givin' no hand a hat, an never gives no one a ride to the house in the monrin'."

Jamie stared at the boy, her brain processing what he was telling her, but not really understanding any of it. What was he saying? Marty glanced briefly at her, then looking back at the nail hanging precariously out of the wall.

"I guess I'm jus' sayin' I'm real glad she likes ya." he finished quietly.

"Yeah. Me, too." I think.

The day was hot, and Jamie was glad to finish with the barn. During the last big rain, the hay inside had taken a beating, and now the whole lot smelled rotten. She climbed down the ladder from the roof, her utility belt slung over her shoulder.

"Howdy." Jamie nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard the small blonde speak. Tyg chuckled. "Sorry. Didn't mean to take a year off yer life." Jamie hit the ground, and grabbed the latter, tucking its long, aluminum frame under her arm.

"Well, you just lost a year that I can work for you." the blonde smiled, then began to walk with the hand toward the old Ford.

"You headin' up ta the house for lunch now?" Jamie nodded. "Mind if I catch a ride with ya? My truck died." Jamie followed where Tyg pointed, the old green Chevy parked next to the fence in the south pasture.

"No problem." Jamie smiled. Tyg nodded, then was quiet for a moment.

"So, uh, you goin' to the carnival this weekend?" the blonde asked, her voice filled with hope. Jamie scrunched up her nose.

"I don't know. Not much for big social events."

"Oh, come on, Jamie. It'll be fun!" Tyg exclaimed, for some reason really, really wanting the tall woman to go. Jamie looked down into pleading green eyes.

"I'll think about it." Tyg nodded, but her hopes shattered. There was just too much finality to it. She knew she would not see the beautiful hand there.

The boys piled into the kitchen, and Tyg plopped down in her usual spot. She glanced over at the chair to her left, and felt a pang of anger at Cal's empty chair. Bastard. Her and Buddy Caldwell had not been able to find any proof of tampering with the baler, but Tyg just knew in her gut that Cal had been responsible for Marty's accident. Buddy had stayed around, and had taken the piece of equipment apart, repairing the wiring that had been made bad, ensuring Tyg that that would never happen again on account of the machine.

Jamie took her hat off, tossing it onto the back of the chair, and sat with a sigh. It felt so good to sit. Her back was killing her from being hunched over on that damn roof all day. She glanced at the boys to hear them talking excitedly about the upcoming carnival. She again saw the hope in Tyg's green eyes as the rancher had asked her to go. A part of her really wanted to, for Tyg's sake. But the thought of mingling with a whole town of people that she did not know, would not fit in with, was not an appealing one. She knew that she could go with the boys, but she couldn't hang out with them all night. She sighed again, and focused on the plate that was being put before her.

"Thanks, Ro-" she stopped herself when she met narrowed, dark eyes, and thick, dark brows. A wide smile spread across her lips.

"You laugh an yer dead." Marty growled. She settled for an approving chuckle, and turned to the chicken fried steak before her. She watched under too-long sable bangs as Marty quickly made his way around the table, getting silver ware, taking glasses to be filled, or wiping up messes. She looked back toward where Rosa stood by the counter, a pleased smile across her plump face. The older woman met Jamie's gaze, and smiled wider with a wink. Jamie smiled back, and dug in to her lunch.


Tyg ran a hand down the front of her dress, noting the way the material clung to her body. She stared at her reflection in the full-length mirror on the back of her bedroom door.

The light-weight summer dress was a pale green color with tiny, dark green flowers printed on it, bringing out the color of her eyes. The rounded neckline dipped just low enough to show a teasing bit of cleavage, spreading out across her collar bones, with a line of small, round buttons down the front the same color as the flowers. The skirt was long, lose and comfortable, stopping just above her ankles, her darkly tanned, muscular arms bare. She stared down at the sandals on her feet, and then glanced back up at her hair. She wore it back on the sides, the gathered hair pulled back to flow down her back with the rest of her golden mane. She had pulled some strands lose, creating a few ringlets to bounce around the side of her face. She lightly fingered the thin, gold chain that she wore, the gold almost stark against her tanned skin.

Tyg took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, then opened the door, stepping out into the hall. She knocked on her grandfather's door before opening it. The older rancher was sitting at the card table that Jamie had set up for him in the corner, playing solitaire.

"Hey, granddaddy." she said, hugging him from behind, her cheek pressed to his as she glanced at the three cards he held in his hand. "Put the five of hearts on the six." she said. The old man chuckled, and played the card. He patted the arms that still encircled his neck.

"Thanks, Tiger. Was jus' 'bout to throw the damn hand down." he took a deep breath. "Smell good, honey." he turned to look at the girl. Tyg stood and walked to the side of the table, swirling around, holding her dress out to the sides with a sweet smile upon her gloss-tinted lips. "Ya'll look beautiful, honey. Jus' beautiful." he smiled proudly.

"Why thank you, granddaddy." the blonde smiled. "I just wanted ta let ya know I'll be out tonight. Carnival's in town."

"Well, ya have a good time, littl'n."

"Will do." she kissed him on the cheek, and left.


The party was well under way as Tyg drove up to the old rodeo grounds. Cowboys were everywhere, some escorting beautiful ladies, others lost in a crowd of fellow hatted buddies. The blonde pulled the break on her Chevy that she had managed to get fixed the day before, and slammed the door shut as she made her way into the crowd. The warm night air was filled with the sounds of distant music, stomping feet, loud laughter, and food. Her mouth began to water as she smelled the barbecue, and corn on the cob. She could easily gain ten pounds in just one night at the weekend long carnival.

The darkness that had been the parking lot was dispelled by hundreds of lights strung on everything that would stand still. She waved to folks as she went, knowing most everyone in town, even stopping to talk to a few that were running booths. She spotted a couple of her boys, and headed toward them.

"Boss lady!" BJ exclaimed. She laughed as she saw the pupils in his pale blue eyes enlarged.

"Careful how much you drink, honey. The nights jus' begun." she laughed, slapping the boy on the shoulder, nearly making him stumble forward.

"Hell, I ain't drunk!" he shouted with a lop-sided grin.

"That's right, honey. Ya'll keep tellin' yourself that." the rancher grinned, and walked on. She scanned the crowed, but deep down she knew she wasn't going to find who she was looking for.

Jamie took a deep, shaky breath. Why am I doing this? Not having an answer, she walked out of the cabin, shutting the door soundly behind her, and headed toward the barn. The bike roared to life, scaring a long moo out of some distant cow, and headed toward the archway of the Triple M.

The carnival was in full swing, townsfolk and ranchers alike talking and laughing, most holding a huge plastic cup of beer. Jamie walked by a booth that was selling bottles of Bud, and decided to grab one. Help to ease her nerves. The man behind the table grinned, his sun-hardened skin crinkling around kind blue eyes.

"Howdy." he said, tipping his hat. Jamie smiled. "What kin I gitcha?"

"Light." Jamie said, and the man pulled a bottle out of a cooler below the table, setting it on the table with a thud.

"Two big un's." Jamie reached into her pocket, and handed him the money, taking the beer out into the busy crowd with her.

The tall woman felt completely out of her element there. She knew she looked good in tight fitting black jeans, a white button-up shirt with the two top buttons undone. The black boots Tyg had bought her were polished to a shine, the black hat on her head, hair flowing down her back.

She heard a heavy country beat off in the distance, and followed it to a huge, raised dance floor. The octagon shaped structure had rails all around it, with tall poles interspersed about every eight feet holding up the roof. Bare bulbs hung over the crowd of dancers, and illuminated the stairs. At the back of the thing was another raised stage with a band set up. A drummer in the back, a man sitting at a steel guitar, and two guys with electric guitars, one with an acoustic, and one with a base. A woman stood behind a keyboard. The woman standing at the mic was gorgeous with long, red hair flowing from under her tan cowboy hat. She wore tight, sexy leather pants with fringe down the sides of her legs, and a south-western patterned short blouse, the ends tied just below her breasts. Her legs were planted wide apart, one toe of her shiny black boots tapping along with the song as her rough voice belted out an old Reba MacIntyre song.

Jamie saw some space at an old tree away from the people who were standing all around watching the dancers, or taking a break from dancing. She headed for it, and sipped from her beer, leaning a shoulder against the massive trunk, staring into the crowd. She was actually enjoying the music, to her surprise. That woman could belt it out!

Tyg whooped with her dance partner as the cowboy swung her around, her dress swirling around her legs as they moved, under his arm, swing back, under again, then face to face. Pat's face was red from the exertion. Pat was a good ol' boy who she'd known her whole life. They'd been dancing for the past two hours. Finally Tanya brought the song down to an end, and Pat grabbed the blonde, hugging her into his overheated body.

"That was great, honey!" she smiled, hugging the big cowboy. They parted and clapped with their fellow dancers. The band waited until everyone quieted down, then Tanya took the mic in both hands, her eyes closed as the beginning strands of the next song started. A shiver passed through her body as her head gently bobbed with the music. She took a deep breath, then began to sing.

"Crazy. Crazy for feelin' so lonely. I'm crazy, crazy for feelin' so blue,"

Tyg smiled as the red head began to sing. Pat had gone off, needing to cool off, so Tyg walked off the dance floor through the slowly moving bodies. She wished she had someone to hold her tight and move with her to the slow, breathy music. She was glad to see the stairs loom up just ahead of her, the night air hitting her face, glad to get away from the body heat of the folks behind her. She saw the old oak out in the yard about twenty feet away, a small crowd standing in front of it. Then she felt the hairs on her arms tingle, her heart pounding just a bit faster. Everything slowed in her mind as the small group moved off, and she saw the figure leaning lazily against the trunk. Long, jean-clad legs, one black boot crossed over the ankle of the other, arms crossed over her chest, black hat dangling off a couple of fingers. Tyg looked into the face, and met two blue eyes that were filled with fire.

Jamie saw the small blonde, and her heart nearly stopped. She took in Tyg's dress that blew slightly in the night breeze, her golden hair slightly lifted from her shoulders with the same breath of wind. The light that blazed over the stairs from the naked bulb shone down on the small blonde, kissing her tanned skin, creating a halo of light around the slight body, as if blessing her. She looked like an angel. The tough, rugged rancher turned all woman.

Jamie watched Tyg who stood as if frozen, one hand resting on the rail, the other playing absently with the material of the dress at her side. Jamie stared up into green eyes that must reflect her own, surprise, quickly turning to fire, want, need, longing.

Jamie slowly pushed away from the tree, her eyes unable to leave Tyg's. The small blonde took a step, slowly lowering herself down onto the top stair, then beginning to take another when suddenly Jamie's view of the rancher was cut off by a large, rowdy crowd that was walking by. The spell was broken, and she had to catch her breath. She mentally shook herself, and realized that she had to get out of there, get away from Tyg before she made a huge mistake. She had come too far to screw it all up now.

Tyg felt her heart pounding in her chest, her breathing shallow as she watched Jamie watch her. She slowly took a step down, not sure what she'd do once she reached the tall hand.

She was thrown when Jamie was blocked by a crowd that suddenly swarmed the yard, and they slowly, ever so slowly passed. Tyg sucked in a breath when they cleared out, and Jamie was gone. She almost felt like crying as she hurried down the last two stairs, and ran over to the tree. She looked frantically around, but saw only talking, laughing, dancing, faceless strangers. In the distance she thought she heard the roar of a motorcycle.

Tyg swallowed back the rising emotion, and placed a hand on the rough bark of the tree where just moments before Jamie had leaned. She swore she could still feel the heat from the brunette's body.

Jamie pushed the bike as fast as she dared on those back roads made of dirt and littered with large rocks. Her heart was pounding, and she had begun to sweat. She gritted her teeth as her hands gripped the handlebars of the bike, squeezing, trying to let go of some of the nervous energy that flowed through her body.

Damn, damn, damn, She had known that going to that damn carnival would be a mistake. How could she have let it get so out of control? Let herself get so out of control.

Jamie took a deep breath, filling the warm night air fill her lungs as she slowed the bike, trying to calm her heart. Her mind. Her body.


Tyg sat in the cab of the truck parked out on the side of the main house. She stared through the windshield, not sure how she felt. Jamie owed her nothing, had promised her nothing, and in fact had not really shown any interest in her. So why the hell did she feel so damn betrayed? Rejected? The blonde slammed the heel of her hand against the steering wheel. She knew that she had not imagined what she had seen burning in those blue eyes. The smoldering look Jamie had let her see, whether through accident or intentional, had been utterly unmistakable. The tall hand had felt it, too.

"Damnit, Jamie!" she yelled, her voice sounded thick, sucked up in the moist night air. With a sigh she climbed out of the truck and headed into the house. What had she thought Jamie would do? Why had she expected that she'd do anything? Tyg had no answers to these questions as she made her way to the kitchen.

"Did ya have fun?" Rosa asked from her place at the stove, slowly stirring a sweet smelling sauce.

"What is that?" Tyg asked casually, hopping up on her stool. The older woman glanced at her over her shoulder, drawing her brows together.

"It's a caramel sauce. Don't change the subject." she could see it written all over the young girl's face. Something wasn't right.

"Oh. Smells wonderful. I'm not changing the subject, Rosa." Tyg said quietly, staring down at her fidgeting hands in her lap.

The old housekeeper set the wooden handle of the spoon against the side of the pan, and wiped her hands on her apron, walked over to the rancher. She grabbed a Corona out of the fridge as she went, and set it in front of the girl. Tyg smiled up at the woman in thanks. Rosa didn't say a word, just stared down at the girl waiting for her to talk. She knew that Tyg could never hold anything in for long, so she'd be there when the blonde decided she was ready to talk.

"Rosa?" came the small voice. Tyg didn't wait for an answer. "What do you think of me? Do you think I'm,...well..." the blonde sighed, feeling silly for even asking her next question, but too much doubt was swirling around her head. "Do you think that I'm pretty at all?" the older woman drew her brows in understanding. She placed a finger under the girl's chin, and raised it until watery green eyes were staring into her own.

"Little Tiger, if I were a tall, dark beauty I would be after you in a heartbeat." the blonde smiled, and chuckled lightly. "I don't think you being pretty or not pretty is the deal here, little one. Though you are beautiful." Rosa said with a smiled, running motherly fingers through Tyg's slightly breeze-blown hair. "Honey, you must see things through sky blue eyes. Eyes that have seen much ugliness in such a short time." Tyg took a deep breath, once again astonished at just how intuitive Rosa was. The older woman never failed to surprise and delight her. What would she ever do without her?

"I don't know how. Rosa, I don't know how to see through my own eyes." the older woman smiled gently.

"You will, Little Tiger. You will. Once Jamie gets past her fear, she will, too."

Jamie found her way to her hidden spot by that stream, surrounded by hills, now hidden by the dark. The moon above would be full in a couple of nights, but was only willing to give part of its brilliance now.

The tall hand made her way through the tall grasses, and sat near the water that rippled with the breeze, every now and then a small plunk from a fish coming up for bugs. Jamie rested her hands behind her head as she laid back, letting the night noises fill her, creating pictures in her head of the creatures making the noises. She sighed deeply.

Two days before Jamie had received a call from Carlos saying that Johnny had heard that Jamie had been released from prison, and wanted to get a hold of her. Jamie had given her friend strict instructions about keeping her whereabouts secret, and he was to go through her if anyone asked, or wanted to know where to find her.

"What you want me to tell him, chica?" he had asked, his voice sounded tired, as if Johnny had really been on him. Jamie had asked for Johnny's number. When she as ready, she'd get a hold of him. For some reason, the brunette wasn't sure if she wanted her brother to know where she was, or what she was doing there. She wanted to be able to protect Tyg and the ranch as much as possible if the need ever arose. Jamie had no idea what Johnny was into these days, but she had a gut feeling that she wasn't going to like it.

The tall woman's thoughts turned once again to the blonde. What was she supposed to say to her the next day? Jamie wasn't the type to run from things, or from people, though that was exactly what she had done at the carnival. She wasn't really running, per se. She was trying to stop a situation that could have potentially been damaging.

"Yeah." she sighed. "Keep telling yourself that, Jamie."

The hand clenched her jaw as just the thought of Tyg in that dress, looking so vulnerable, yet so sure of what she had wanted, made her body react all over again.


The sun was blazing, but the day was not as hot as it looked as things cooled somewhat for another up-coming, unexpected rain coming through the area, heading up through the state.

Jamie had been working with Aistriocht all day, trying to get the mare used to being around her, used to human contact so that eventually she could get her used to a rider. And that eventuality was to soon become a reality as the animal seemed to be taking all that the tall brunette had to dish out, and more.

"Okay, girl. I hope you're ready for this, 'cause quite frankly, you don't have a choice."

Jamie walked to the larger stable and barn and grabbed the gear that Tyg said Jamie could use with the black Arabian until she could have her own made. Tyg as well as the boys, had worked with Jamie on how to properly equip a horse until it had started to become second nature to the hand. She chuckled as she thought of that first day with Tyg and Hazelnut, and how frightened of the horses she had been. Thinking them so large, and nothing more than beasts. Now she realized that they were so much more.

Aistriocht was snorting at the brunette, shaking her head.

"Quit." Jamie said, running her hand down the mare's nose, and around her jaw. "You gonna cooperate? Huh?" the horse snorted again, whickering softly. Jamie chuckled, and moved around to grab the reins, and watched the mare to see if she'd hold or not. Aistriocht didn't move, but glanced back at her as if in question. Jamie lifted one leg, and put her booted foot into the stirrup, waiting to see what the animal's reaction would be. When she got none, she slowly hoisted herself up into the saddle, and stayed still, waiting, watching. Nothing. Jamie clicked her tongue, and nudged the mare's flank a bit with her heel. The animal took a few steps forward, and stopped, seeming to get a bit antsy. "Come on, capall, stay with me here." she said softly, the black ears of the horse flexing at the sound of her voice. Jamie nudged her again, slightly giving the reins a tug, and the horse began to move. Jamie smiled, large and brilliant. She felt the connection with the beast that she had felt since the beginning, grow even stronger as Aistriocht displayed her trust of the hand more and more. Jamie led the animal around the pen, trying out her skills at getting her to go where she wanted her to. So far so good. Feeling confident, Jamie stopped the mare, and hopped down, swinging the rail gate open, and then mounted up again.

"Here we go, girl." she whispered, and led the animal out into the yard.

Tyg sat on the bank of the stream on the property. The day was beautiful, so she had finished her thrashing early, and decided to take Hazelnut for a ride. She glanced over at the Palomino who munched contentedly on grass near the tree that she'd been tied to. Tyg stared back out into the water that was reflecting the sun that was starting to get lower, it's golden color frosting everything with its dying essence.

The blonde sighed and leaned back against the log behind her, her arm stretched out over its length, her legs stretched out, crossed at the ankle. She thought of Jamie. It had been four days since the carnival, and both had been avoiding the other, only speaking when the need arose. Tyg felt like a child avoiding the brunette like that; she had never run from anything in her life, but this felt different. She could not put her finger on why, but she could not make herself ask or confront the hand about it. What was to confront? So Jamie had left the carnival. That was her prerogative. That thought didn't help the heaviness in her heart any.

Tyg looked down the stream to her left when to her surprise she saw Jamie sitting atop the black Arabian, trotting at a leisurely gait her way. The blonde sat up, genuinely impressed with the way the hand was handling the mare. She was almost like a whole different horse.

Jamie slowed the horse when she spotted the woman ahead, and pulled Aistriocht up next to Hazelnut, and jumped down, tying the horse off. The taller woman took a deep breath, then walked over to the rancher, taking her hat in her hands as she did.

"Hey." Jamie said quietly, staring down at the once again reclining body of Tyg.

"Hey." Tyg said staring up at her, her hand shielding her eyes from the intense glare of the dying sun. "Have a seat. I'm goin' blind starin' up at ya." Jamie smiled, and lowered herself down to sit beside the blonde, plopping her hat on the ground next to her. She sighed and looked out onto the water. Both were silent, neither knowing what to say, and not wanting to be the first to say it. Finally Tyg spoke. "I can't get over what you done with that horse. She is not the same demonic creature that we found a month ago." both glanced back at the grazing animal.

"Yeah." Jamie said, looking out to the water again. Tyg glanced at the tall woman's profile, her chiseled features, strong jaw, long neck. She wanted to touch her, to feel how her sun-kissed skin felt. Was it as soft as it looked? She took in Jamie's light gray tank with slight sweat stains from the brutal afternoon sun. She noticed how strong the tall woman's arms had become, the bicep and tricep defined, beautiful. She narrowed in on the arm band the brunette had. She had noticed it when the hand had first arrived at the ranch, but had never asked about it. She couldn't resist the urge. She reached out a hand, and traced the intricate dark lines with a fingertip. She felt the taller woman start at the touch, but then relaxed.

"Does this have meanin'?" Tyg asked quietly, still concentrating on the design. Jamie stared down at the top of the blonde head as she answered, doing her best to not shiver at the blonde's touch. She thought of how to answer that.

"Well, it's the mark of the warrior to show my warrior spirit." she said simply, noticing how golden strands of Tyg's French braid had come lose, and were gently being blown by the early evening breeze.

"Oh." Tyg said. "A Celtic warrior?" the blonde asked, looking up into Jamie's eyes. The brunette nodded. "It's beautiful. Who did it for you?"

"I drew out the design, a friend did the actual tat work." Tyg took her finger away, and Jamie covered the tattoo with her hand, rubbing the skin that still tingled. The rancher sat up, positioning herself so she was almost laying on her side, her elbow on the log behind her, cheek resting in her palm. "The other day you used a Gaelic term. Do you speak it? Fluently, I mean." Jamie nodded.

"When I was a kid a friend of my father's taught me."

"Say something." Tyg grinned.

"Nah," Jamie grinned back, a slight blush at the rancher's undivided attention, rising up her neck.

"Please? Come on, Jamie."

"What would you like me to say?"

"I don't know. Repeat a grocery list. Just anythin'."

Jamie sighed, and stared out onto the water, trying to decide what she should say. She glanced over to see Tyg's expectant face, and it came to her. She cleared her throat and began to speak softly in the tongue of the Celts.

"San guna sin agus san solas sin go raibh angil thu ag teacht chun me A sabhail."

Tyg stared in wonder. "Wow." she breathed. "That was beautiful. What did you say?" she smiled the sweetest smile, and Jamie felt her heart melt. She cleared her throat again, thinking of the words that had passed her lips.. In that dress, under that light, you looked like an angel, come to save my soul. Jamie's mind briefly flew back to the night at the carnival, and how staring up at the blonde had taken her breath away. She looked at the woman now, and did not find breathing any easier.

"I said what you asked. A list." Tyg smiled and stared out at the stream where they sat, at the widest part.

"Wow, honey." she said, her voice barely a whisper carrying on the breeze. "Isn't it amazin' how the simplist thang can sound so beautiful in a different language?" the blonde turned to the taller woman, her eyes filled with wonder and curiosity. Jamie smiled and nodded, staring up at the moon that was slowly beginning to make its entrance for another night, its full, bright face a welcome sight. Jamie turned to the smaller woman.

"So why Tyg? Is it short for something?" she asked, not wanting the rancher to know that she knew that wasn't her name. She did not feel the need to tell Tyg that she'd been snooping around in her room, but did want to know where the nickname came from. The rancher grinned and looked down at the thick blade of grass that she twirled in her fingers.

"Well, it's sort of from a nickname my daddy gave me when I was jus' a kid. I was a curious, feisty little thing, not much has changed." she grinned up at Jamie who smiled in return. "And when I was little my hair was more on the red side. Now it's all sun-bleached. Anyway, daddy used to say I was just like a little tiger, and so most started ta call me just that, Little Tiger. Well, as the years went on, it got shortened to just Tyg." she split the grass in two, and tossed it to the ground. "My real name is Rachel." she glanced up at Jamie to see what her reaction would be.

"It's beautiful." the hand said quietly. Tyg smiled.

"Thank you. So are you, ya know." she whispered. Jamie stared at the woman, struck by her words. She felt her heart miss its next beat. "I don't think I've ever in all my years seen anythin' quite like you, Jamie." she continued, her gaze unwavering, nailing the taller woman to the spot. Jamie could not speak, so she said nothing. Tyg reached up a hand, and gently ran it through the hand's dark hair, tucking it behind an ear. She stared deep into Jamie's blue eyes that lightened and darkened with the swirling tempest of emotions. Tyg thought that Jamie almost looked like a starved animal who had a dish of food set in front of it, but just far enough to where it was out of reach. She looked lost. "Let me in." Tyg whispered, Jamie barely heard the soft words over the pounding of blood in her own ears. "Please, let me in, honey."

Part 6

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