Under the Cowboy's Control

By: Lynda Chance

When she was finished bathing, she wrapped herself in a fluffy towel and combed her hair out, and then washed out the four dirty garments she had been wearing.

Rinsing them in the sink one by one, she wrung them out and laid them over the tub to dry. Then, she slipped her extra set of clothes on. She reapplied the antibiotic ointment, and she found an unscented lotion and applied it to the rest of her face. Her bruised eye was startling, and she brushed her hair loosely, to cover part of her eye and the side of her face. On the good side of her face, she tucked her hair behind her ear and let it flow down her back.

She was as ready as she could be. She wasn't going to stay in this room for two or three days and let the man Travis wait on her. It was bad enough being a charity case, but she refused to be a lazy one at that. Quietly, she opened the door and walked out of the room.

When she came to an open bedroom door, she stopped and peeked inside and saw a large body, sprawled on the bed, asleep. Her breath caught at the naked chest, and she hurried away to explore and find the kitchen.

The house wasn't big, even though it was called the big house. It contained three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, dining area, and mudroom with laundry. It was masculine, with large sturdy furniture, and was made from wood and brick, as was the American way. Everything was on one story, and there were no stairs to climb. Half of the living room was obviously used as his study, with a large desk and leather chair. A state of the art computer system sat on top.

Selena ran her hand over the smooth top of the desk and looked at the desktop computer. It didn't take her long to identify the Internet Explorer button among the many icons on the screen. Thank God. She could still be connected to the world, if she cared to be. In fact, it had been days since she checked her email.

She slipped around the desk and quietly pulled out the big chair, telling herself she wasn't doing anything wrong. Just using his computer for a minute. She logged on with a few strokes of her fingers and within seconds was reading an email that was two days old. Her eyes filled with tears, as her friend Maria recited the new deaths from her old neighborhood.

A light switched on and Travis stood in the doorway. "What are you doing?"

Selena was totally horrified by the surge of feelings running through her. She was near tears, trying to assimilate the deaths of her childhood friends, and watching him looking at her accusingly from the doorway. He stood there half naked, with his bronzed, muscular chest exposed. A small trail of dark hair weaved its way down to his jeans, which was all he wore, and were zipped, but not buttoned.

The English words that she tried to answer him with got clogged in her throat. Her mind went blank and all she could do was point to the screen as the tears began to silently spill from her eyes.

Travis saw the tears and confusion on her face and felt like a total bastard. He walked over to her and looked at the screen. The words were in Spanish, but it was obviously her email account, and whatever she was reading there had upset her again.

He reached out and wiped a tear from her cheek, trying to offer some measure of consolation. It wasn't something he was used to doing. "Okay, Angel. You take your time here. I'll go make some coffee."

She wiped the tears off her cheeks, and tried to smile at him. It was a shaky attempt at best, and he took it as confirmation that she understood.

He turned and went to the kitchen, leaving her alone with her pain. Going through the motions of making coffee, he sat in a kitchen chair waiting for it to perk. He closed his eyes and put his head in his hands, but the vision of her staring at his naked chest began to arouse him. He stood up and went to the mudroom and grabbed a shirt off a peg. He shrugged his shoulders in it, and went and got two cups from the cabinet. One he filled with creamer and lots of sugar, and the other he left empty, ready for black coffee.

A few minutes later, he was just beginning to pour the coffee when he felt her behind him. She stood in the doorway. The tears were in check, but ragged emotion still churned on her face. This was the first time he had seen her standing and was taken aback at how slight she appeared. Only a few inches over five feet, she was amazingly slender, with a tiny waist, softly curving hips, and small, delicate breasts.

It totally floored him that she had made it on her own all the way from Laredo, and God knew how far before that, still in one piece. This was rough country, with drug runners, desperate illegals, and the border patrol everywhere. Not to mention the rattlesnakes and coyotes. He thanked God she had escaped serious harm and had fallen into his hands.

A disturbing feeling of possessiveness ran through his system. He tried to shake it off. She reminded him of that little bird again. Something he badly wanted to touch, but knew he couldn't.

"You okay, Angel?" His voice was deep, rusty from sleep and the sight before him.

She hesitated on the threshold. " Si, y-yes."

Was she telling him the truth?

He watched her standing there, and she stared back at him for a moment.

Seemingly satisfied with what he saw, Travis filled the coffee cups and put them on the table. He sat back down and motioned for her to do the same.