Wild Cowboy Ways(5)

By: Carolyn Brown

She paused on the bottom step, made sure that Granny was arguing with the characters of Golden Girls on the television in the living room, before she toted the bucket of cleaning supplies up the stairs. Allie had put in the new railing the previous spring and still liked to run her hand over the new wood, taking a moment to admire the intricate spindles she’d turned on her lathe. Her father had given her the tools, the knowledge, and the love for carpentry. Some days she missed him even more than others, like when she opened the bathroom door and there was the lovely vanity they’d worked on together the year before he died.

She was about to return downstairs, when her phone buzzed in the side pocket of her cargo pants. She pulled it out and without even checking the caller ID she answered, “Hello.”

“Alora Raine Logan,” her mother said.

“Why are you double-naming me? I couldn’t possibly get into trouble while cleaning the house!”

“You let your grandmother get away from you.” Katy’s voice was so shrill it hurt Allie’s ears.

“Impossible, Mama. The doors are locked with those new baby guards that she can’t open. Besides, not fifteen minutes ago, I checked on her. She was sitting on the sofa watching Golden Girls.”

Granny had shaken her fist at the television with a string of cuss words. Even in her moments of confusion, she never lost her spirit.

“Well, she’s at the Lucky Penny now,” Katy said.

A gust of cold wind hit her in the face when Allie reached the foyer. The door was thrown wide open, and Lizzy’s yellow boots were gone from the lineup beside the hall tree.

“You’re right. She’s gone! But why the Lucky Penny?” Allie was already cramming her feet down into a pair of boots.

“She must’ve heard us talking about a new cowboy buying that place. I can’t leave the store so you’ll have to go get her,” Katy said. “It’s going to rain so take a vehicle. I hope she at least put on a jacket or else she’ll catch pneumonia, frail as she is.”

“Lizzy’s rubber boots are missing from the foyer and I dressed her in jeans and a sweatshirt this morning.” Allie stuck her free arm into a stained mustard-colored work coat.

“Thank goodness she’s at least got something on her feet. Last time she went over there, she was wearing nothing but a nightgown when I went to get her. There she sat on the porch flirting with someone in her head because the only living thing on the whole ranch was an old gray tom cat,” Katy said.

Allie picked up her van keys from the foyer table and headed out the door. “I’m on the way, Mama. She’s probably sitting on the porch like last time. I don’t think anyone has moved in yet.”

“Lizzy said that Herman Hudson came in for a load of feed this morning and that at least one cowboy moved in on Saturday,” Katy said.

“How’d you find out where she is?” Allie asked.

“The crazy cowboy who bought the place called the feed store. The number was on the bottom of one of those calendars we used to give out at Christmas. Lizzy answered and then called me.”

“I’ll call you when I’ve got her back in the house.” Allie jogged out to her work van and hopped inside. She shivered as she shoved the key into the ignition. They’d had a mild winter up until now, but January was going to make up for it for sure if this was a taste of what was to come. She didn’t give the engine time to warm up but shoved the truck into gear, hit the gas, and headed down the lane toward the road where she made a right-hand turn. The steering wheel was as cold as icicles, but in her hurry she’d left her gloves on the foyer table. Half a mile farther she made another right and whipped into the winding lane at the Lucky Penny.

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