August 2011 Volley Challenges:






Every minute is like an hour... and every hour is like a minute.

It Was Almost Like a Song sung by Ronnie Milsap

End of the Day by: Mollie
Digging in Your Heels by: Malpal
Waiting by: Miss Raye
Cleave Unto Her by: Miss Raye
Digging in Your Heels
by: Malpal

Author's Note: This scene popped into my head when reviewing Volley Challenge prompts, it will continue in Save Me From The Dark.

After removing her footwear and rolling up her pant legs, Skye sat on the edge of the swimming hole, dipping her toes in the water. It was the first hot day this season but the water was still too cold for her. She always had a hard time getting in to swim, she did not like the 'take away your breath' shock she would get when jumping right in. She was more of a wader not a swimmer. Buck on the other hand was different; he had stripped down to just his long john bottoms and dove right in. Skye watched Buck surface to the top, the water came up a little past his shoulders and he was pushing his wet hair back with his hands. Water droplets ran down his shoulders and along his muscular dark arms. Skye tried shaking her head to gain control of her wandering mind, since becoming lovers just the sight of Buck would send her off into a daydream.

"You should come in, the water's wonderful." Buck called to her.

"I'm ok, the water isn't warm enough for me and I didn't come dressed for swimming."

Slowly swimming closer to the edge where Skye sat Buck gave her a sly smile knowing his next comment would make Skye's cheeks color a pretty pink which he found endearing. "It wouldn't be the first time I've seen you in less than your underpinnings."

Skye quickly lowered her eyes, feeling her cheeks burning; when she looked up, she noticed Buck had moved closer to where she sat. The mischievous grin he wore, warned Skye he was up to something. Lifting her feet out of the water, she scooted her bottom back from the edge just a bit.

Looking back at Buck Skye thought he resembled a mountain cat stalking its prey. "Mr. Cross, what are you planning?"

Sneaking closer, Buck tried to put on his best innocent face. "I am not planning anything." He waited until Skye distracted herself by trying to inch farther back from the edge; he stood up quickly and snatched her arms. "Come here, my little pretty."

Skye laughed, "You sound like an evil character from a child's fairy tale."

Buck responded with his best evil sounding chuckle, as he continued pulling Skye closer to him and the water. Tempted by the closeness of Buck's warm skin, Skye thought about just giving in and let him pull her into his embrace. Yet she knew she just could not let the hunter get his prey so easy. Skye tried digging her heels into the ground to stop the momentum of sliding forward, but the grass was too slick. She knew it was inevitable Buck was going to pull her in. Taking a deep breath, she waited for the shock of cold water to hit her.

Author's Note: Thanks Miss Raye for your comments suggestions and tips.

by: Miss Raye
The door was fairly shaking in its frame. The heavy blows from an anxious hand were finally answered when the door was thrown open with an oath. The narrowed glare of Rosa's mother Dolores pierced him through. "Yes?"

Buck dropped his hand to his side, his face flushed with a riot of emotions. "How much longer?"

Delores' harsh reply was interrupted by Polly's sweet voice. "Sweetheart, it's only been a few minutes since the last time you asked," she sat back on the bed and further into his line of sight, "and it's not gonna make it happen any faster if you-"

"Oh! Dios Mio-"

"Rosa?" Buck tried to shoulder in through the doorway and met with the unwavering wall of Delores' opposition.

"There's no room for you here." Her tone brooked no argument, but alas Buck wasn't listening to anything but Rosa's gasping sighs.

"I should be there with her..." He looked down into the fire of a mother's reproach and waded right into it, "it's my baby."

Delores spat out her reaction to that announcement. "Si, you've done quite enough!"

"Son?" Teaspoon's hand clamped down onto his shoulder and scraped him back away from the door. "Perhaps you'd better come back in here with the boys."

Buck stepped back once and then another step, but his eyes were on the foot of the bed, as far as he could see into the room. His whole body showed the strain of his indecision. He wanted to be with his wife, but he could tell he wasn't wanted. He wasn't sure what to do.

Delores ended the conflict by shutting the door with a resounding THUD.

Jimmy smiled at Buck, shrugging a little as he shifted on the bench. "Looks like you're on her bad side."

Cody chuckled and looked up from his whittling. "Don't think your Mama-in-law 'has' a good side, Buck."

Teaspoon's stern look silenced that corner of the room. He turned back to Buck and gave him a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, son. They'll let us know when we're needed."

"Needed?" Cody scrapped away at the round back of the bear he was carving. "You won't hear nothin' 'bout them needin' you until Delores decides to come after you with a gun." He shook his head. "Nope, my mama always said men weren't good for anythin' in a birthin' room 'cept for bein' underfoot and in over their heads."

Jimmy caught Teaspoon's eye. "Besides... I'm surprised you're this calm, Teaspoon."

"And why is that?" His arced look fell on the gunfighter, but Jimmy missed the warning in his expression.

Cody, too. "Then again," he leaned back in his chair, the front two legs lifting a good couple of inches off the floor, "Buck did marry Rosa, just in time."

"Cody," Noah's tone was unnaturally light, "maybe you should stop-"

"Aw, come on, Noah," Cody set his whittling on the table and gave them all a bright smile, "I'm just funnin' with Buck." He turned his entreaty toward his friend. "You get it, right?"

Buck stood there in the middle of the room, Teaspoon's hand weighing heavily on his shoulder, his heart thundering deep within his chest and his words failed him. There was too much to say, too little understanding on his part to make his thoughts clear even to himself.

Every breath, every moment that stretched out behind him and the unknown length of time ahead did nothing to calm his fears or allay the nameless worries that caught at him. He knew his friends were struggling to find their own way through this. They were trying to help him and yet they knew even less than he did. Time crawled even as his thoughts raced through his mind.

Then, there it was. A cry, different from the rest; both weaker and stronger at the same time. A soft sudden cry as if the emotions it was feeling were as new and sudden as its voice.

The wait was over.

And yet, within Buck's soul a whole new world of fear and breathless waiting began.

Cleave Unto Her
by: Miss Raye

You were in my arms
Right where you belong
And we were so in love
It was almost like a song

In her sleep she murmured something, a word or two. She spoke and yet he couldn't understand what she had said, her face turned against his shoulder, her eyes closed in sleep.

He held her that way, unwilling to wake her and disturb her sleep. Instead he listened. He waited in case she spoke again, his ears attuned to the soft brush of her breath against his skin and the soft sigh of her smile. He listened to the soft creak of the bed as he shifted to hold her closer and the whisper of the quilt keeping them warm.

Outside the crickets sang in the grass that he'd meant to cut back and a frog flopped in a puddle left by rain. Around them the house settled onto its foundation with an echo that rose to the rafters and groaned at the joists. Her voice drew him back, turned his eyes down to her face and the froth of red-gold curls that crowned her head. "Sam?"

"Hmm?" He brushed a kiss on her forehead and laid his cheek against her hair. "Somethin' wrong, darlin'?"

"You came home late."

"Yeah," he pulled her a little closer, "it was a long meeting." He'd been disappointed by what he'd heard and the men he'd now have to deal with just to get a new jail built, one large enough to house the men without overcrowding. It wasn't easy for him to admit that he was beginning to gain a little skill at this 'negotiating' thing. "Just when I thought it was almost over, there was somethin' else that needed discussing. I was tempted to shoot my way out of there and come home."

She laughed, a soft chuckle of sound against his shoulder. The sensations it provoked were subtle brought a smile to his lips. "I'm glad you didn't."

He shifted away just a few inches, looking down into her drowsy eyes. "Really? You liked supper goin' cold on the table and me comin' in near bedtime?"

She shook her head and cuddled closer to his side. "No, but I wouldn't want you to end up in your own jail." Her hand smoothed his nightshirt in soft maddening strokes. "I don't think you'd have a lot of friends behind bars."

Sam's laughter joined hers and he turned slightly toward her, his breath bending the loose strands of her hair back from her forehead. "True... but I missed bein' away from you, Emma."

The rough scratch of his voice surprised them both, falling into a silence between them that only the clock interrupted. It ticked away for nearly a score of seconds before she leaned her head to rest against his shoulder, her toes brushing against his ankles. "I love you, Sam Cain."

He swallowed and answered back. "I love you, Emma Cain."

She wrapped her arm around his middle and held him tight. She fell asleep a few moments later, exhausted from her own day. He could have moved back, given them both a little room in a bed that always seemed a little narrow for the both of them, but instead he closed his eyes and waited for sleep to claim him.

And while he waited... Sam felt the warm puffs of her breath through his nightshirt and the subtle bite of her nails along his back. He felt the tremors of deep sleep as she relaxed against him in the silence of their room and he never thought to roll away. No, he clung right back.

End of the Day
by: Mollie

Lou wrapped her shawl a little tighter around her shoulders. Up in the mountains the wind was cold even in August and she could still see patches of snow on the peaks surrounding her. The silence of the place disturbed her. She'd asked Jed to read a story to his sister and they both had fallen asleep, tuckered out from a day of hard play. At first she'd been thankful, knowing that they both would soon be cranky with fatigue, but without their happy voices ringing through the yard, there was nothing to listen to but the low, steady whisper of the wind. She gazed steadily out towards the claim, hidden from her by a ridge and roughly half a mile away. It was almost time for Kid to come home for the night and she would see him appear on the trail, leading Katie loaded down with equipment and what gold he'd managed to gather today. Once she saw him she could begin dinner, distract herself with work until he was actually there with her and they'd be one day closer to leaving this place.

It wasn't gold they were looking for when they came here, just peace. Kid couldn't fight for slavery and he wouldn't fight against Virginia, and there were precious few places where a man was allowed to stay out of the war. Raids on the house in Rock Creek from either side had become more frequent and more terrifying and when Lou became pregnant, intolerable. The war was over now and though Lou waited patiently for the day Kid said they would return, secretly she was restless for it. During the long days at home with the children her thoughts were constantly turning to fantasies of their return to Sweetwater, happy reunions with family, a meal eaten in a restaurant, clothes bought from a store. Lately she'd had to wonder if they were ever going back at all. She felt their isolation keenly, but Kid, she admitted, had thrived in it. He had relaxed into someone more playful, happier, someone who did not wake up with a start at the slightest noise; he no longer held onto her so tightly.

She kept her eyes on the horizon and ran her hand thoughtfully over her stomach. There was not much there, but she felt certain that in a few months their leaving would have to be postponed another year as it became obvious to Kid that he would be a father for the third time. He would not risk traveling with her expecting nor with a new baby. Lou did not relish the risk either but to endure another evening like this! So alone in a vast silence, the beautiful landscape that surrounded her looking harsh and unforgiving, the constant wind warning of the storms that swept in from nowhere and piled snow up to the windowsills even in May, the freezing winters when Kid came home with icicles hanging from his hair, the rough day's journey it took to get to a doctor should anyone be sick or injured.

At last she saw him appear on the trail. Even from that far off he waved towards the house, knowing she would be watching for him. Once he was home with her the loneliness would leave, the chill in her heart would warm, and she would be content in the home he'd built her so many years ago. It was only while he was gone and the children quiet that she let the place get to her, when it seemed as though it might drive her mad. She walked back into the house briskly, pushing her melancholy thoughts from her mind. Another year or another five, she was tough and she would not be beaten by the land they'd chosen, just so long as he came home to her at the close of the day.

Writers Ranch Main Page