Under the Cowboy's Control

By: Lynda Chance

He took one step closer and she shut her eyes tight. He stopped.

What the fuck was he doing? He couldn't touch her. He could not fucking touch her. He closed his eyes briefly and shook his head, trying to get a grip.

When he opened them, she was quietly watching him, her arms wrapped around herself, as in protection. He took a deep breath. "Just stay away from Clinton. I don't need all the men fighting over you. I don't want them chasing you around like a bitch in heat."

She gasped. Her eyes welled with tears.

"Fuck. Just stay the fuck away from Clinton." He turned and slammed back out of the house. Frustration clawed through him. He spent the rest of the morning fighting himself. He took his rage out on anyone that came within a hundred yards of him.

At one o'clock on the dot, he walked back into the house. There were three large grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and a bowl of soup at the table. A jug of iced tea and the plate of brownies sat beside them.

Selena was absent from the kitchen.

He sat down, drank a whole glass of iced tea, and then polished off all the sandwiches and the soup. He picked up a large brownie, swallowed it whole, and walked out of the kitchen.

She wasn't in the living room.

He went down the hall to the bedrooms. She wasn't in her room. She wasn't in her bathroom.

" Goddammmit."

He came back into the living room and looked around. The front door was unlocked, so he walked over and opened it. She sat on the porch swing, her face turned away from the house, looking off into the distance.

She continued to look away from him when he walked over and stood in front of her.

Travis cleared his throat. He had managed to get his anger and frustration in control. He knew he had been rough on her. "Lunch was good. Thank you."

She didn't turn to face him, but she nodded her head in acknowledgement.

Travis tried again. "Selena. I'm sorry."

At that, she turned and looked at him. "Y-you hate me."

"No, no Angel, I don't. I don't hate you at all." His words were apologetic.

"You are m-mean." Her voice shook.

Travis hung his head. "Yes. I'm mean. I've been an ass. I'm sorry. You're a sweet girl, and I've been mean to you."


He looked closely at her. "Why do you think?"

Her eyes were troubled. "I am Mexican."

He laughed softly at that and shook his head in denial. "Nope. That's not it." He savored the same naiveté that made it impossible for him to have her.

"Why?" She searched his face for an answer.

Travis sighed and sat on the swing beside her. He put one arm on the wooden back behind her. He turned his body to face her. "Selena, do you know anything about men?"

Selena thought about the question. "A little while."

Travis smiled and reached his hand over and tugged a lock of her hair. "A little bit?

You know a little bit about men?"

Selena felt his hand on her hair and forgot to speak English. " Si."

Travis got tangled in her gaze and felt his hand wrap around her long hair. He lowered his voice and whispered, "How much do you know about men?"

Selena felt lightning spear through her from his touch and his whispered words. He was so good looking. He was so big, so handsome. Her breath caught and she couldn't form an answer.

Travis put his mouth to her ear and breathed in her scent. She trembled in his arms. He whispered in her ear, "Did you know that when a man wants something really badly, if he doesn't get it, he can act spoiled and mean?"

She hung still in his arms, shaking all over.

He lifted his face from her shimmering hair and stared deeply in her eyes. "Did you know that, Selena?"

She looked at him, watching her so closely and whispered, "No."

He slowly let go of her hair, gently leaned over and placed a chaste kiss to her forehead. "That's what I was afraid of."

He gave her one last, all encompassing look, then stood up, walked back in the house, and left her in the swing.

That evening, at six o'clock, Selena pulled the enchiladas out of the oven. Tonight, she wasn't going to hide from him like she had at lunchtime.

The things he said had enthralled her. The way he acted. The way he smelled.

She wanted to know if he would be nice to her again.

She ran to her room and brushed her hair and brushed her teeth. She put a touch of moisturizer on her face and then went back to wait for him. It was all she could do without any makeup at all. She didn't even have a lipstick.

Selena didn't know when he would be back, so she decided to try to research her paternal grandparents on the internet. She didn't have much to go by, but she took the old Bible and her papers to the computer and spread them out. She made a few quick Google searches and scanned the screen.

She didn't get any further than that before she heard him slam through the back door.

She jumped up to meet him.

She ran in the kitchen, but came to a standstill when she saw the men gathered there. All six men looked at her, and then one by one, they took their hats off.

Selena noted the mark of respect and made a slight inclination of her head.

" Buenas tardes."

Clinton smiled and said, "Told ya'll."

Juan stepped forward and replied, " Buenas tardes, Senorita."