RAWHIDE LOVE • by Mickey J. Corrigan

Dust rose in stampedes, blocking her view of the oncoming car. She had a visitor. Wiping the sweat from her brow, she leaned on the rough wood fencing, one dirty boot up on the rail. Nobody had been out to the ranch in weeks.

She hadn’t gone down to the creek to wash up either, not for days. Sniffing her pits, she decided to remain at a distance. No use getting a reputation as a smelly bitch. Not that they would give her a chance. The town was run like a pack of wolves and, no matter what she did, she’d always look like a baby calf to them.

The dust settled down around a red Corvette. Late model slinky, fresh off the factory line. She could almost smell the leather interior, feel the smooth cool against her hot skin. The windows were tinted so she couldn’t see inside. She put a hand on her narrow hip, cocked it as if to say I’m armed and dangerous, cowboy.

The driver’s side window eased down like a pair of silk panties. His eyes were dark wells and she fell in head first. Neither spoke. The tension between them hummed like a tuning fork. His beauty was frightening. His poise indicated he was well aware of this.

Finally, she broke the silence with a growl. “Can I help you, buddy?”

“Oh yes, ma’am,” he said with a leer. “You can help me get rid of this ache in my heart.”

She snorted. “I don’t have time for mind games, mister. I’m running this ranch on my own and there’s a shitpile of work to do.”

His smile licked at her lips when he said, “You mind if I come up to the house for a spell? Have a glass of ice water? I been on the road for days now.”

He turned off the purring engine and opened the car door. She watched as he unfolded himself from the front seat. Six five, all tight denim and thin tee, long lean legs and alligator boots. He had the kind of thick muscles made from hard work, not gyms. His skin was brown and dry like the dirt, but clean. He looked at her, a knowing tilt to his head.

She led the way to the front porch and pointed to the rattan couch. As she pushed through the screen door, however, he followed her in. She turned around, saying, “Hey.” And his black eyes were on her, the undertow swallowing her up.

“I missed you,” he said when they were done and lying in a heap on the raw wood floor.

She laughed. “Now that you’re home, can you fix the shower head? And I thought you said you were buying another F-150?”

His turn to laugh. “Let me take you for a spin, baby. It runs like a dream.”

She rolled on top of him, kissed his damp mouth. “You run like a dream, cowboy,” she said.

Mickey J. Corrigan writes pulp fiction and psychological thrillers. Recent books include the literary suspense novel The Ghostwriters from The Wild Rose Press and the sassy satire Mojito from Shoe Music Press. Salt Publishing (UK) will release Project XX, a neo-noir crime novel, in 2017.

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