May 2011 Volley Challenges:






Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother. ~Oprah Winfrey

"Bleed Red" sung by Ronnie Dunn

Dreams by: Karen
First Impressions by: Karen
What Makes a Mother? by: Karen
Just Like Ma by: Dee
Bleed Red by: Karen
A Quick Right by: Miss Raye
by: Karen

He watched the horses as they ran down stream, the water splashing as they thundered past. He stood on the water's edge and let the spray from their hoofs rain down on him. "Someday," he thought, "I'll have a herd just like that." The spell was broken when he felt a hand on his shoulder. "Time to go, Son; your mom is calling us to supper."

First Impressions
by: Karen

At first, he appeared to be all talk - full of himself and way too cocky to be believed. The rest of them weren't sure what to make of all his *bluster*. It didn't take long for them to learn that he really was almost as good as he thought, and that he most definitely could be counted on to have their backs.

What Makes a Mother?
by: Karen

Emma Shannon stood on the porch of the home she had hoped to share with her husband, Evan, and their child. They were both long gone - one to illness; the other to despair. She smiled to herself as she watched her new family go about the task of building a fence to give them a place to work the newly acquired horses. They were so different from each other, yet so much the same.

As she gathered the pitcher and cups to take them some lemonade it occurred to her that her dream of being a mother was finally coming true. She had five strong young men and one girl in hiding that she could treat as her own. After all, she thought as she made her way across the yard to where they were working, biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.

Bleed Red
by: Karen

As the riders made their way back to the station, Rachel noticed that two of them seemed particularly bothered by what had just occurred. She hadn't seen what started the fracas, but as she watched the young men walking in front of her react to its aftermath, she had a sneaking suspicion that it had to do with the prejudicial views of some of the town's folk.

"You boys go ahead and get cleaned up, and then finish up your chores," she said. "I have something important I need to take care of here in town."

The riders nodded and continued on their way. None of them seemed particularly happy with the events of the day, and they wanted nothing more than to get away from the eyes of the people in town. They wanted a chance to process what had just happened, and what they should do to set things right.

Rachel turned and made her way back to the marshal's office where she found Teaspoon talking to the mayor and some of the other members of the town council.

"I assure you," Teaspoon was saying, "I'll look into the matter." He glanced around the room and let his eyes come to rest on the hotel owner. "But I'll not punish my riders if I find out they didn't start anything. Now, unless any of you were actually present for the incident, and care to give a statement, I need to go do my job." The crowd dispersed, and Rachel made her way to Teaspoon's side.

"What happened?" she asked.

Teaspoon shrugged. "I'm not exactly sure," he replied, "but I think the new hotel owner, Mr. Burke, and Bill Tompkins said some things that caused some of the local young men to try and hurt Noah and Buck." He sighed. "Which means that Kid, Cody, Ike, and Jimmy had to get involved. Anyway, the mayor's son and Mr. Burke's nephew both ended up with bloody noses, and a few of the other boys are definitely the worse for wear."

Rachel's eyes flashed with anger. "So naturally the good leaders of Rock Creek are here demanding…" she hesitated before asking, "what exactly?"

"That Buck and Noah be punished for this," said Teaspoon. "I'm on my way to question the boys over at Doc's before going to the station to talk to our crew."

"I'm coming with you," said Rachel. "I have something to say to them before you start with your questions. Hopefully it will make them see that we all say words we regret, we all cry tears, we all bleed red. Sometimes we're strong, sometimes we're weak, sometimes we're hurt and it cuts deep. We live this life, breath to breath, we're all the same; we all bleed red."

A Quick Right
by: Miss Raye

Set during "Daisy"

You and I, we all bleed red, we all taste rain, all fall down, lose our way
We all say words, we regret, well cry tears, we all bleed red
Sometimes we're strong, sometimes we're weak, sometimes we're hurt and it cuts deep

"I'm a fool." It wasn't just the winds that cut deep as he washed off the open scrape on his cheek. He looked over at the bunkhouse and saw Jimmy bent over a bowl of water. His friend had a cloth pressed against the corner of his mouth.

Painful flashes of exploding light flickered in his eyes and Kid looked away.

When he'd discovered that the ring was missing there was really only one thought in his head. Jimmy.

Jimmy was always getting in the way. Jimmy was the one Lou turned to when they were having trouble. Jimmy was the one that knew what to say to Lou. Jimmy was the one who just wouldn't leave things well enough alone.

And so it was Jimmy's face he saw in his head when Daisy had told him someone was going through his things. Jimmy's gloved hands taking the ring. Jimmy's smug expression telling him he didn't have time for games.

Yeah, it was that face that he knocked down with a quick right. It was satisfying to say the least. Watching Jimmy struggle to his feet, seeing Jimmy laid out in the dust sucking in each breath, he enjoyed every minute.

If the truth be told he'd also enjoyed each blow he'd taken, knowing that he was in the right, defending what was his.

He'd enjoyed it until Daisy had dangled that little red bag over his head and uttered the words he didn't want to hear. Words that told him he'd jumped to conclusions… again.

It was a hard realization. One that didn't go down easily. One that stuck in his craw like a piece of pork gristle. One that hurt at the very heart of him.

But for all the ways it made him uncomfortable, it didn't make it any less true.

"I'm a fool."

He wasn't quite sure when it had happened - when he'd gone from man in love to man desperate to keep it.

To keep her.

But happen it had. And for the last few months he'd become increasing worried that if things weren't 'just right' then it was all wrong and he'd taken steps to fix them.

He'd narrowed his vision, focusing on Lou… on what they had together… on what he wanted for them.

He'd focused on how to make what they had the most important thing in their lives.

And he'd lost sight of the other people in their lives and what it was doing to them… what he was doing to them.

It had been words exchanged, long-suffering looks, tense silences and aggravation.

It had been subdued suppers, long rides and muttered words.

And now it had come down to blood.

He couldn't say that he was shocked at this final turn. No, this was something that had to happen. It was inevitable. All because he had let it get this far.

The tack room door slammed open against the wall and Teaspoon stood with his hand over his eyes staring into the sun. "All right," he snapped, looking around the yard, "who's up?"

Kid turned to look and his britches pulled tight over the jewelry pouch. He felt the sigh of his breath pass over his lips, his expression tense. He had made plans for tonight… ready to take the next step with Lou, but now… he had to think.

He had to figure out what he was going to do about the angry man that he'd become. He had to figure out where he was going from here, because before he could move forward he had to figure out how to make it right.

Kid raised his hand and started off toward the barn. "I'll take it."

Teaspoon looked over at Jimmy, half-way to the barn himself, a dark expression on his injured face. Turning back to Kid he saw pain and uncertainty in the young man's face and the faint traces of blood told him all he needed to know.

"It's gonna be a long one, Kid… you sure you want to take the ride?"

Kid stopped just a few feet from Teaspoon, his hand jammed into his pocket to close around the little velvet bag. "Yeah… I need some time to myself."

Nodding, Teaspoon folded his arms. "Sometimes you need to take time and think… and you'll get plenty of it on this ride."

Listening to Teaspoon's instructions Kid couldn't help but think he was back on the right track.

Just Like Ma
by: Dee

Jimmy stood staring at the horse that had kicked Ike. He had left the bunkhouse intending –no matter what Ike said—to put it down. It was always waiting for you turn your back on him so he could take a shot at whoever was nearby. Hell, just this morning he’d had to pull Lou out of the way before the devil could kick Lou. He’d just barely been in time. Lou had been so scared he couldn’t speak.

He stared out at the horse just standing there looking out at the other horses in the pasture. Jimmy’s hand went to his gun as he considered putting the animal down before it could hurt another one of them. He unlatched the corral gate but didn’t open it. Of course he’d have to turn his back on the devil horse and chance getting kicked his self. But that might not be so bad, not if Emma tended him like she had Ike.

Jimmy stood staring at the horse as a he thought about the way Emma had tended Ike. His ma had taken care of him like that when she was still alive. She’d clean up his cuts and scrapes, then hold him until it stopped hurting. Jimmy thought about the times she’d even given him cookies or some other treat to help the hurt or his injured pride. It always seemed to hurt less after Ma had tended to him.

‘Just like Emma had done for Ike,’ Jimmy thought. He jumped as a hand landed on his shoulder.

“He sure is a wild one, ain’t he?” Emma said from beside him. She was staring at the horse with a smile on her face.

Jimmy stood straighter as he replied, “He’s dangerous. Someone should put him down before someone gets killed.”

Emma laughed softly. “He’s just young and full of spirit.”

“He almost killed Ike, Emma,” he replied crossing his arms.

She shook her head, “Nah, he was just trying to get attention. Most of the times I’ve seen him go after one of you boys is when you pat him on the head and then move on to another of the horses. He’s just jealous.”

“He almost kicked Lou this morning. I had to pull him out of the way,” Jimmy argued.

Emma’s eyes grew wide and she paled a bit. “He did?”

“Yeah, Lou was cleaning his stall and talking to him. He turned to talk to me and that devil came after him. Would have knocked Lou clear across the barn if I hadn’t pulled him out of the way.”

Emma smiled and started to say something but stopped. Reaching out she reached the gate to the corral, then turned back to him. “James, that animal was just trying to get her…um…Lou’s attention. I bet he doesn’t know he could have hurt Lou.” Emma held her breath for a moment hoping Jimmy hadn’t caught her slip. When he didn’t say anything she continued, “It’s like when a pretty lady is paying attention to a man and she stops talking to him to speak to another man. The first man will do just about anything to have her attention back on him. Even nudging her a bit to get her attention.”

Jimmy shook his head not understanding what Emma was trying to say.

At his frown, Emma laughed and hugged him, patting him on the back as she did. “Ah, James, someday you’ll understand.” She let him go saying, “There’s apple pie in bunkhouse for dessert and you best hurry before Cody eats it all.”

Jimmy shook his head as she turned and headed back up to her house. As he watched her he was surprised at the comfort he had found in that simple hugs. It was just like what his ma use to do when he didn’t understand something. It hit him then. Emma was just like his ma.

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