Billion Dollar Cowboy(10)

By: Carolyn Brown

“We work on Sunday afternoon,” she said.

“Not this week. We’re going to church and you are going to do laundry and then maybe catch up on some rest. Pick you up at ten thirty. Church starts at eleven. Oh, and Maudie says to ask you to eat with the family from now on,” Andy said.

The skin on the back of Laura’s neck prickled, kind of like when Janet looked at her with a deer-in-the-headlights stare that said she was in trouble again. She tried to think of an excuse not to go to church but nothing, not one thing, came to mind. Yet, that little voice in the back of her mind kept screaming that Andy had something hiding behind that teddy bear facade. She told herself that she was seeing demons in the shadows because of what she’d heard that evening. Hell, nothing could happen at church. All those righteous people, the preacher, and even God would be there.

“I’ll be ready,” she said and immediately wished she could cram the words back into her mouth. But truth was, she owed Andy big-time and if he wanted her to go to church, then she’d go.

“That’s great. Preacher Roger delivers a good sermon and you’ll love the singing. See you in the morning, then.”

She stood in the open door and watched him all the way across the yard and into the back door of the house. Was he going to try to fix her up with a preacher? Well, he could just wake up and smell the coffee. She didn’t have time for romance. And even if she was looking for a relationship, it wouldn’t be with a preacher.

Chapter 2

She slept poorly, dreaming about Janet and waking in a cold sweat. If only she could pick up the phone and call her sister, she’d feel a lot better. But she wouldn’t go against Andy’s conditions. She knew Janet wouldn’t either. Janet had been so afraid of what would happen to her.

Laura wished she hadn’t said that she’d go to church, but she told herself again that whatever they were cooking up to protect Colton from the gold diggers in the big bad world had nothing to do with Sunday morning services. Nobody in their right mind would piss off God intentionally, and that’s exactly what would happen if they used Him for their own agenda.

She finally slung the covers back at nine thirty and made a cup of instant coffee. It wasn’t good but it woke her up enough to whine about having to get dressed up. Thankfully, it was only an hour. Maybe after the laundry was done, she’d treat herself to a long hike around the ranch. A loud clap of thunder made her jump and she spilled coffee over her robe and nightshirt.

“Well, shit!” she said loudly. “So much for a nice hike.”

Another rumble brought the first big drops of rain and in ten minutes it was pouring. She threw her robe and nightshirt in the direction of the clothes hamper and opened the closet doors. Standing there in nothing but bikini panties, she flipped through the hangers, finally settling on a cute little pink and white checked sundress with a short-sleeved bolero sweater over it.

Her cell phone rang at ten o’clock and she answered. “Good mornin’, Andy. Are we still going to church?”

“Just making sure you are awake. I’ll park right at the end of the steps and bring an umbrella up to fetch you,” Andy said.

“Who all is going?” she asked.

“All of us. Colton is feeling human again this morning. He’s of the opinion that a snow cone will fix anything. And Rusty, Maudie, and Roxie. We sit together every Sunday morning,” he said cheerfully. “I’ll be there in half an hour. Hope the rain lets up by then.”

Those two words, sit together, kept running through her mind. She’d been uncomfortable sitting around the dinner table with the whole bunch and now she had to line up with them on a church pew. She sighed as she laid the dress on the bed and went to the bathroom to put on makeup and do something with her shoulder-length blond hair. She was still buckling the strap on her sandal when she heard the sound of Andy Joe’s boots coming up the stairs. She hoped the umbrella was big enough to keep the rain from her hair. She’d twisted it up into a loose twist held with a big clamp and used lots of hair spray to keep it there. If it got wet, it would look like yellow strands of yarn plastered together with superglue.