The wind sighed by the two laying in the tall grasses, gentle lengths of green tickled along their arms and wiggling her toes in the luxurious feel, Lou couldn’t help but shudder with delight. Their first day off in over a week had warranted sleeping in, but Kid’s insistent whispers had coaxed her out of her warm bed and into the saddle.
If she’d noticed the suspicious bulges in Kid’s saddle bags she hadn’t commented, instead keeping her eyes on the ground as he led her off the familiar Express trail.
Lightning seemed happy enough to trail after the paint mare before her and Lou, twisting her back one way and then the other to get the aches out of her muscles, had called her favorite mount, “Traitor,” beneath her breath. To Lightning’s credit the mare had flicked her ears backward to hear the muttered comment and then tossed her head as if in agreement.
It wasn’t until they’d reached the crest of a rocky area that Lou understood where they were going. Stretched out beneath them was a shallow valley of lush grasses and a small creek bubbling water over red rocks. Leaning forward in her saddle to get a better look she found herself looking down into Kid’s expectant face.
“Well?” He’d nearly danced from one foot to the other in nervous excitement.
Try as she could, Lou couldn’t escape the last vestiges of ‘grumpy’ from the early morning rousting and she parroted back. “Well?”
Kid’s expression went a little sheepish and he held out a hand. “You gonna get down… or should we head back to the station?”
All the bluster fell right out of her when she saw the sack in his other hand. “What’s that?”
Grinning, he lifted it like a trophy won in competition. “Some of Rachel’s chicken, a couple of apples and some of those biscuits you like from the restaurant in town.”
His smile and the hopeful look in his eyes were infectious and Lou found herself sliding down from her saddle and taking his hand. They walked a few feet away where the grasses brushed their legs just beneath their knees and Kid pulled her down into the waving mass.
Now, lying down beside Kid in the grass, their food long gone, she felt the gentle brush of wind against her cheek. “This is wonderful.”
“I’ve been plannin’ this for awhile, Lou.”
Reaching up a hand she shielded her eyes from the sun as it peeked out from behind a band of clouds. “It’s nice to be out here… it’s so quiet compared to town.”
“I figured it was someplace we didn’t have to worry ‘bout folks finding out… you know.”
Their meal settled hard in her stomach as she turned her attention to the shifting white shapes in the sky. “ Buffalo .”
Kid turned on his side and blinked at her. “What? Where?”
Lou lifted her hand and pointed at a white floating mass. “There. That’s a buffalo.”
“Oh,” he rolled onto his back and looked up, “I thought… we don’t have buffalo around here.”
Laughing she pointed in the opposite direction. “That one looks like a hawk.”
Squinting up at the sky Kid struggled to see it. “Looks more like a fish to me.”
“That would be hard,” Lou’s voice was filled with mirth, “he’d be out of water.”
Kid groaned at the joke and clapped his hand over his face. “Forget I said anything.”
Reaching over, Lou took Kid’s hand away from his eyes, holding it in her own. “Then let’s just lie here and enjoy the quiet.”
Grinning at her, Kid squeezed her hand. “Sounds good to me.”
He opened his mouth to reply and then closed it resolutely, giving Lou a nod.
She was already lost in the shifting sea of clouds overhead… and the sound of the wind.