Heat on the Train
At some point Sarah fell asleep, waking to find her head placed on Sterling’s shoulder. She straightened quickly. “I’m sorry, I must have dozed off.”
“You dozed off for the night.”
Sarah looked out the window to see the sun had risen.
“Oh! How much longer do we have?” Sarah asked, turning to Mr. Evans. He was loud but he was friendly, unlike his son.
“We’ve got about six hours left.”
Sarah sighed and ran a hand through her hair to smooth it. “Well, anyone for breakfast?”
Mr. Evans laughed. “Son, escort your wife to the dining car. I’ve got something to do real quick.” He pulled out his briefcase from the shelf and began rummaging through it.
Sterling gave a huff and then they walked toward the dining car. “You don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to, I can go by myself.”
Sterling laughed, “Sure you can,” sarcasm dripping from his voice. “You’d probably get yourself lost and faint from the stress.”
“Excuse me?” Anger flashed through her eyes. “Who do you think you are? You don’t know me. You think we’re all just fragile, useless women?” She huffed and crossed her arms. “You know what, don’t join me.” And with that she walked off making her way to the dining car.
Sarah smiled at the server as she entered and he led her to a table, offering her a menu. “Thank you, may I have water and a pot of tea please?” She smiled and he walked away. She was looking over the menu when someone sat down across from her. She looked up to see Sterling looking slightly irritated.
“Are you finished with your little temper tantrum?” he asked, almost growling. Sarah met his eyes, “I have nothing to say to you.” She looked back down at her menu, deciding on an omelet and ignoring the brooding man in front of her.
Sarah heard Mr. Evan’s booming voice, “Ah! There you two are, have you ordered yet?”
Sarah gave Sterling a glare and then looked up to Mr. Evans with a smile, “No we haven’t ordered, do join us.”
Mr. Evans sat down just as the waiter returned. “Are you ready to order?”
Sarah replied, “Yes, thank you. I’ll-“
“I’ll have the hot cakes, she’ll have the eggs on toast. Pop, you want the ham steak?” Sterling interrupted.
Both Sarah and Mr. Evans stared at him in shock.
The waiter turned to leave. “Actually,” Sarah huffed, her voice filled with every ounce of Southern sass she possessed, “I’ll have the omelet with grits. And do you have any fruit?”
“Yes ma’am, it’s a bowl of assorted fruits, is that acceptable?”
“Yes, thank you.” She smiled up at him, handing him her menu. He gave a slight bow and walked away.
She turned to glare at Sterling, about to give him a piece of her mind when her new father-in-law spoke up. “What the hell has gotten into you boy?” He boomed, obviously just as displeased with Sterling’s display of male dominance. “Is that any way to treat your woman? I thought your momma and I raised you better than that!” With that he gave him a smack on the back of the head. “Apologize to that beautiful creature.”
Sarah knew she liked him.
“I apologize Miss Sarah. Excuse me.” Sterling stood up and walked out of the dining car.
Mr. Evans shook his head, “I’m sorry dear girl, I have no idea what came over him.”
She smiled at him and squeezed his hand, “I think this is an adjustment for both of us.” Sarah said, wondering why on earth she was defending that man. “We don’t know each other, it’ll be a bit of a battle.”
Their food came and as they were eating Sarah tried to make conversation, curious about her new life.
“So Mr. Evans..”
“Gosh, please call me Papa or Brick. You’re family now my girl.” Sarah smiled at him warmly, he was kind and she was glad at least she had a friend in him.
“Okay, Papa Brick, What is it that you do? Something in cattle, correct?” She asked and then took a bite of her grits. She made a face, they were horrible. Brick laughed at her disgust. Pushing them aside she began on her omelet.
“Yes, we raise cattle for butcher and have a small herd we sell for domestic use on homesteads and farms.”
“That’s wonderful, how many head do you have?”
“We currently have about 900 head of cattle.”
Sarah wasn’t sure what number she thought he would say, but it definitely wasn’t that. “My! That’s quite a lot. Do you enjoy ranching?”
“I’m a regular old cowboy. It’s in my blood.” Brick smiled.
Sarah finished her food and excused herself, taking Sterlings plate up to the counter. “Can you wrap this plate for me? One of my companions had to step away before his meal came.”
Sarah walked down the corridor, plate of hot cakes in hand. She entered their cabin and was met with a glare. “You left before you could eat. Here.” She handed him the plate and sat down, staring out the window before he could respond to her.
Brick entered the car a while later and upon seeing Sterling eating his food he boomed, “See! That girl is a gem, bringing you food even after you were an idiot.”
When they arrived at their stop they disembarked the train and stood on the platform. Sarah didn’t know what to say. Everything was flat and brown and dusty. Where have I been exiled? She thought to herself, her thoughts interrupted by a yell. “Evans!” They all turned to the man at the end of the platform.
“Howdy Garrett! Help Sterling grab all of our things and put them in the back of the wagon.” Brick hollered. Brick took Sarah’s arm, “It doesn’t look like much but you just wait. We have some of the most gorgeous acreage in all of Texas.”
Sarah smiled at him as he helped her into the front of the wagon. After loading all of their trunks and bags the two men climbed in the back of the wagon and Brick whipped the reins, the horses lurching the wagon forward.