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It was the liquor. At least that was what he blamed it on. He’d had a few nips and by late afternoon he was feeling a little loose. He saw Marcie bringing in her horse and went to help her unsaddle it. The afternoon sun flashed in her hair and it sparked something in him. He walked up next to her and when she turned she was staring him in the eye. He put a hand to the back of her waist, and leaned in for a kiss. He got a good taste of her sweetness, and she shoved him away from her. He chuckled and grabbed her arm.

“You better get your hands off me, Tyree Allison.”

“You smell sweet as honey. I just had me a little taste and I gotta say your lips are …”

“Remove your hand from me, now.” Fire came up in her eyes and Tyree smiled broadly. Then Marcie’s knee slid up the inside of his thigh, and slammed into his huevos.

“Oof.” Was all he said as he went to his knees. He was still there on the ground groaning when Mark came in. Marcie was long gone. Tyree got to his feet, and hunched carefully toward the nail keg where he sat himself down.

“What the hell happen to you?”

“I got kicked by a horse, I think,” Tyree groaned.

“I just saw Marcie going to the house. How did… oh wait a minute. It wasn’t Marcie, was it?”

“Might a been. It happened so fast it was hard to tell.”

“I don’t know what you did Tyree, but if it was my sister, I am betting you won’t do it again.”

“Nope. I won’t,” he groaned, still bent over against the pain in his balls.

The next time he saw Marcie, he was raking old hay out of the big barn next door to the stables. She came in to get a fork full of alfalfa hay to toss in the pasture.

“I’ll get that for you,” he volunteered.

“I’m quite capable of doing it myself, mister Allison.”

He walked over and held his hand out for the pitch fork. “I apologize, Ms. Marcie. I promise I won’t do nothing like that again.”

“I should hope you weren’t that stupid. I know you been around Katherine McClain. I assure you we are nothing alike.”

His mouth dropped open. “Katherine McClain?”

“You know who I mean. People talk Mister Allison. It’s a very small area. You go to Mudtown, you spend time flitting around such as Katherine, everybody knows everything.”

“Such as Katherine? What’s that mean?”

She turned, and gave him a scathing look. “Don’t pretend you don’t know. Hell, even Mark knows Katherine.”

His face flashed hot, and his heart tripped at the same time. The fire in this girl thrilled him right down to his boots, and scared the shit out of him.

“I beg your pardon. I was a little drunk last time I spoke to you. I deserved what you did. I admit it. I ain’t gonna speak harsh of Ms. Katherine though. I’d as soon you didn’t either.”

She let go of the pitchfork, and gave him a smoldering look. “I accept your apology then, mister…”

“Please call me Tyree. I swear I won’t never do nothing like that again.”

“Thank you, Tyree.”

She followed him out, and waited till he piled enough hay over the pasture fence for her horses, and stood watching him as the sun slid down the sky.

“Just for future consideration. It would be best to spend some time with a girl, get to know her a bit. Then, when the time is right, ask politely for a kiss. Don’t just try to take it.”

The green in her eyes fought the gold flecks, sparking and flashing under her red lashes. She let a little smile visit those honeyed lips for just a whisper of time. His pulse quickened at the thought of asking her for a kiss. How would he know if the time was right?

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