Under the Cowboy's Control

By: Lynda Chance

"Tomorrow night, you eat with me."

Selena blushed again, nodded, and turned away to finish cleaning the kitchen.



****

After Selena had retired to her room for the night, Travis sat down at his computer to work on the ranch's accounts. Her Bible and papers were in a neat pile on the desk. He thought about it for a few seconds, and then hit a couple of strokes to bring up the history on the computer. He refused to feel guilty. Hell, it was his house, his computer.

It didn't take long to figure out what she was up to. She was searching for her grandparents in Texas.

He made a few mental notes, and then turned his attention to the accounts.



****

The next evening, Selena sat quietly across the table from him and took small bites from the single hamburger patty in front of her. He had instructed her to never make stew, chili, or pot roast, but said anything other than that was fine.

There was a lot of ground beef in the freezer. There were sacks of potatoes. So, tonight, Selena had made hamburgers and French fries. Her mother had always cooked both Mexican and American foods, to please her father. And she had taught Selena how to do the same.

Travis made his way steadily through the plate of food in front of him. How the hell she had managed to make this from what they had on the ranch, he didn't know.

Granted, there were no hamburger buns, but she had used white bread, and it was lightly buttered and toasted a golden brown. The French fries were real potatoes, cut thick in wedges and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Again, he was a happy man. He looked across at the large plate of chocolate chip cookies ready for him.

Yeah, he was going to keep her.

Although the thought was just a joke in his head, his mind quickly supplied him with a visual of all the meals his future would hold if she stayed. The image of having to start eating Slim's cooking again made him feel nauseated. Maybe it was time he hired a housekeeper. Somebody to cook just for him. And wash his clothes. He hated washing his damn clothes.

The back door slammed. Clinton and Jim stood in the doorway.

"What do ya'll need?" His words were short, impatient.

"We just wanted to let you know that we finished moving the small herd to the east pasture. The fence near the well house was down, but we got it fixed." Jim recited this as his eyes darted back and forth between Travis and Selena.

Clinton just stared at Selena, like a lost puppy dog looking for its owner.



Travis scowled. What the hell kind of lame excuse was that for coming into the house? Shit, that was their job, and they never told him the insignificant minutiae that happened on a daily basis. But, he was in a good mood and decided to humor them.

"Thanks for the update. Good work." As he spoke, he noticed Selena stand and walk to the kitchen counter.

Jim shuffled his feet and Clinton's eyes continued to follow Selena. She turned back to them, a large chocolate cake in her hands. She strolled over to them, her movements relaxed and unconsciously sensual, and she handed the cake over to Jim.

The two men broke into grins, thanked her profusely, and turned and left the house.

Travis saw the spell she had cast over his men. The femininity that radiated from her young body was addictive. And not just to them. "You're going to spoil them.

They're going to start expecting something from you every day."

She shrugged, unconcerned, and resumed eating her meal. He watched delicate little bites go between her small white teeth, her hand pick up the glass of iced tea and take a sip. She set the drink back down and paused while she wiped the condensation from her glass. Her hand stroked up and down.

His guts clenched in need and he looked away from her and quickly finished the meal that had started out so enjoyable, but had suddenly turned on him to make him feel like a man stretched out on a rack.



****

The next night, Travis sat in his chair at the dinner table, steadily making his way through a second helping of something that tasted like spaghetti, but wasn't. There were no spaghetti noodles in the house, so Selena had substituted macaroni. It tasted the same. Delicious. They didn't have any French bread, but what he was eating could have passed for it. Toasted white bread dripping in butter and garlic.

What that girl could do with a loaf of store bought bread.

While he was thinking about the culinary possibilities if they were to make a run to Laredo for more supplies, his gaze swept over her. Something was different about her tonight. His eyes narrowed as he tried to figure out what it was.

It didn't take long. It was the shirt she was wearing. He knew she only owned two shirts, and she rotated them every day. She was wearing a different top. It was a tan t-shirt, and he had no idea where it came from. He chewed his meal and pondered the mystery.



All at once it dawned on him, and he choked slightly, and took a large gulp of iced tea. He cleared his throat and demanded, "Is that the shirt I threw away?" The idea of her wearing trash pissed him off, but there was no denying that it didn't resemble the shirt he had chunked a few days before.

Selena recognized the irritation in his voice and carefully answered him. "Yes. It is okay?"

"Yes, it's okay that you took it, but damn it, Selena, I don't want you to wear trash."