Gapfiller for – Blind Love “I was supposed to meet Lou.”

Buck watched Jimmy with unveiled curiosity. The usually somber rider was nearly humming as he buttoned his shirt.

“You’re in a good mood.”

Jimmy paused, turning his face over his shoulder. “Got a problem with that?”

Holding up his hands in mock surrender, Buck tried not to laugh. “No… no… not me. I was just…”

“Buttin’ yer nose in?”

That got Ike’s attention. The younger man looked up from his journal and listened in. He caught Buck’s eye and smiled.

“Noooo… I was just curious. That’s your nice shirt, ain’t it?”

Jimmy looked down and shrugged. “Got plenty of nice shirts. Emma fixes ‘em as fast as I can put rips in ‘em so why not wear a different one every now an’ then?”

Buck looked past Jimmy and a moment later he grinned, nodding.

Turning around Jimmy narrowed his gaze at Ike. “What do you have to say?”

Thankfully Buck translated for Jimmy. “Said, ‘You usually don’t care what you look like’. You meeting someone… special?”

Jimmy shrugged. “What if I am? What’s it to you fellas?”

“Just different, that’s all.”

The answering scowl from Jimmy was enough for Buck. With a nod toward the door he and Ike walked out of the bunkhouse leaving Jimmy alone in the room. Jimmy reached for his jacket and stopped. Turning around to the empty room he looked over at Lou’s bunk remembering how she’d acted that morning.

He’d caught her looking at him several times when she thought he wasn’t looking. He’d nearly had to knock Cody to the floor to take the seat next to her at the table. “What?”

“What… what?” Was her response. Then that smile. The one that said she had a secret locked up in that pretty little head... Jimmy shook himself and continued on with the memory.

“You’ve got somethin’ planned and I can’t help but wonder if it’s gonna be fun or painful.”

Louise reached for the biscuit tin and put one Jimmy’s plate and then another on hers. “Who says I got anythin’ planned.”

Jimmy had picked up his napkin and shrugged as he dropped the square cloth in his lap. “I know that look. I got sisters.”

That got her. She’d leaned so far back away from him she’d nearly fallen off the bench. “Really? You got sisters?”

Now it was his turn to be smug. Picking up the napkin covered plate with one hand he speared a few sausages and scraped them off on her plate before serving himself. “Two.” He snuck a look at her and almost laughed as he popped a piece of his biscuit in his mouth. “What… you thought my parents had me and that was it?”

She looked at him for another moment before turning back to the table, picking up the pitcher of milk and pouring a couple of cups full. “I guess that’s why.”

“Why what?” Cody peered over the coffee pot and swallowed whatever was in his mouth.

Lou shook her head dismissively. “I was just sayin’ that Jimmy havin’ sisters makes sense.”

“Huh,” Cody scooped up some oatmeal, “why?”

Shrugging, Lou pushed her sausage around the bottom of the plate, nearly scraping the tines on the base. “He knows how to listen… knows when to let a woman talk… it’s nice…” she noticed the sudden quiet of the bunkhouse and hurried to continue, “but understandable… ‘cause he’s got sisters.”

“Hell,” Cody scoffed, scooping another spoonful of oatmeal into his mouth, “I got sisters, and I never cared to listen to them yammer.” He turned to laugh and Ike looked down at his plate laughter shaking his shoulders.

Jimmy dipped a piece of sausage in Emma’s thick syrup and paused with the morsel a few inches from his mouth. “Now what?”

Lou shook her head. “Nothing.”

He pulled the sausage piece from the fork with his lips and froze when she said. “I guess it’s just who you are.”

He nearly swallowed the piece whole. “Who’s that?”

The corners of her mouth turned up and her glasses slid down her nose a fraction of an inch so he could see the light in her eyes. “Someone special.” She looked at him for another moment before continuing. “I want you to be happy, Jimmy.”

Lifting his napkin, Jimmy wiped at his mouth before he dropped it on his plate. “That’s real nice, Lou, but-”

A yip and a holler from the yard outside announced the arrival of an Express rider and the bunkhouse was suddenly in a frenzy of movement. There in the middle of the chaos Louise touched his hand and he froze again, the warmth of her fingers bleeding into his skin. Lou gave him a sheepish grin. “Meet me at Bryer’s Lake today… noon.” She gave his hand a squeeze and Jimmy could feel heat climbing up from his neck into his cheeks. “Just be there… and you won’t be sorry.”

*** ***

Jimmy looked at the old clock sitting on Emma’s table at one end of the bunkhouse. It was eleven ten. Rubbing his hand over his face he took in a deep breath. “Noon.” He smiled suddenly, anticipation flooding though his chest like warm water. “Let’s see what you have in mind, Lou.”

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