Ridden Hard(BWWM Westerns Book 1)

By: Kendra Queen

A BWWM Cowboy Romance


Somewhere in Texas

June, 1848.

In that first week of June, I wished I had never come to Texas.

We traveled by wagon. The bumping didn’t bother me none, and I didn’t mind the close air, since I could usually get Mary to roll back the cover a little when her husband fell asleep. Then we could play cards and have sips of whiskey, or take her tin box out and look at the old coins. Sometimes she even read aloud from a peeling stash of magazines, and that wasn’t so bad at all. We even made up stories for each other, like little girls, and got so worked up with laughter we cried. Mary was alright, too.

What really got me, I mean what really made me wish I had stayed my behind in Boston, was her husband all by himself.

There comes a point in a woman’s life when she realizes most men aren’t worth the juice it took to make them. For some women that’s an early lesson. Others find it out much later, and by then they’ve gone and got themselves yoked to a real piss-head. That was Mary Harmin’s husband. The biggest piss-head that ever lived.

Mrs. Harmin was a beauty- long nose, dark hair and the nicest eyes I’d ever seen. David was the bare opposite. Balding, built like a brick shithouse. A nose like a bull. He dressed fine, maybe too fine, if you ask me. Sure he had some lovely manners- when other folks were around. He even had some money or claimed he did. But what sent him to the top of the list? He was “nice” to Mary. For her, that quality made any man seem like the second coming.

But I guess the truth of David’s nature hit her right before they left off from Boston, because suddenly she was begging me to go with her. She didn’t want to be alone with him.

I mean, I sure as hell couldn’t blame her.

It didn’t all go to shit until a few days after our flight from San Antonio. I marked that day in my head as the sixteenth of June. We woke up to the usual bumping of the wagon. Outside David was making talk with the driver. I poked my head out. A warm, red light, full of purples and blues, crept over the line of red mountains and valleys on the horizon. With it came a slow breeze, touched with the scent of mesquite and oxen dung. The dry air crinkled my lips. I licked them and tasted salt.

Mary still slept- that woman could always sleep the day away. But I wanted some water.

She got up as I took a drink, and sat there staring at me with her puppy-dog eyes. I offered her the gourd; she refused.

“You know, Ada,” she sniffed, “I wonder if we’re ever gonna reach California.”

“This only the fifth day, Miss.”

“It feels like the fiftieth. I wonder what David is doing?”

“He’s on Petey again.”

“Won’t he leave that horse alone? He ought to sit inside here more. She’s not used to all that weight.”

“Oh no,” I said in a hurry, not wanting David’s presence to ruin the morning. “I believe he’s just fine where he’s at.”

Mary wiped her eyes. Every day they got red as a snake’s- she said it was the dust. “He ought to sit inside more,” she repeated.

I poked my head out the back again and peeped out at the dust we’d left behind. On that horizon little brown clouds rose up from the earth. Hard to believe anyone lived in this part of the country. I tried to listen over the bumps of the wagon and David’s yammering. I didn’t know what I was listening for. But then it came, very faintly. The distant calls of the cowboys.

A team of drivers had showed up behind us a few days ago. The leader rode ahead to talk to David. They were following the same route we were, to Baxter Springs. This morning, like us, they’d got an early start.

“They’re at it again,” Mary observed.

“You hearin’ that too?”

“With your eyes and my ears, we’d make a fine sailor between us,” she laughed, feeling about for her needlework. A clumsy bit of colored fibers she’d been picking at for ages.

I said, “I’d rather be here than at sea. Never much cared for the water.”

“You think we’ll run into them cowboys?” said Mary.