Charlie found the envelope in her mailbox the next day. The one that stood on the curb in front of the house…too early for the mailman she thought. But it had been addressed to her in nice script, she saw. She opened it up and saw that it was a simple sheet of paper.
"I've seen you around…just to know I think you're one hot number that I want to get to know better."
Just that and nothing more, as the other side was blank. No one had left a signature either. Definitely mysterious….until she thought it must be Colton. Yes, after all they'd just gotten each other off in the tree house. They were supposed to meet last night but Colton had an emergency on his ranch with one of the horses. His daddy relied on his help but he'd make it up to her.
She took the envelope back with her in the house and left it on the dresser of her room. She had to get dressed to go into town with Lois. They'd both done their chores on the ranch and Lois' daddy said that she could go. Her father, Duke and Brad the other hand would be heading off to pick up some loads of feed at the plant.
The truck warmed up right away and she went to go pick up her friend. The days had been getting cooler as autumn would soon turn to winter. But today, the sky shone blue and the sun warmed up the valley. Lois was waiting by her house when she stopped by.
"Hey you ready?"
Lois nodded and got into the truck as they drove to town.
"You think they'll be any dresses left at the shop?"
"I hope…I want to get something on sale for the Snowflake Festival."
"You mean the dance," she said, "Yeah I was going to go with Tim but now that I've set my sights on Brad…"
Charlie gave her friend a warning look.
"Your dad would kill you, then he'd get sent to prison and my aunt would be out her top hand."
"But he's so fucking gorgeous," she said, "All muscle in the right places but mysterious…"
Yeah Charlie had wondered about his past when he'd first applied for the job. His working history had been scattered, with him moving from one ranch to the next. Maybe he'd been a seasonal worker but maybe it was more than that. My aunt assured me that she had been impressed enough by his work ethic to hire him. Duke had been impressed with his new hand too but then he still thought Lois was his little girl.
"You get him into hot water, my aunt will be mad at me for knowing you."
"I'll be careful," she said, "I'm very discreet. It won't be like with Tim."
Charlie hoped not. The two had a couple of rip roaring fights in public when she found out he'd cheated on her on top of everything else. But then she knew what that was like, no doubt Jake had been two-timing her while telling her they needed to see other people. Now that she had Colton to keep her warm in the tree house…
Speaking of which….
"He sent me a note."
"It didn't say but it must be Colton."
"That seems romantic, what did it say?"
Charlie turned onto the main business street.
"Oh just that I was a hot number."
"Sure he addressed it to the right person?"
That irritated her.
"Hey I can be hot…"
"I'll believe it when I see it," Lois said, "Face it Charlie, you've always been more…what do they call it? Goody goody?"
"I have not…"
She didn't finish because if only Lois had seen Colton and she licking body paints off of each other, she'd say differently. But some things weren't to be revealed even to good friends. Especially those with loose lips like Lois. Some details to keep her happy but not all of them.
"Okay but when you've got Colton wrapped around your finger, get back to me."
"It's not like that…we're mostly friends but neither of us is with anyone else."
"So I get it, friends with benefits that'll work."
"Whatever…we're there," she said, "Hopefully there's some stuff left on the rack."
"There should be," Lois said, "She's got more stock in back."
Charlie parked the truck on the street and they both got out to head to the boutique. She intended to leave with her dress in hand. Hopefully it wouldn't take all day to find it.
Colton rode his horse on the line between his family's property and that belonging to Charlie's aunt. He knew that Duke and Brad had gone to get feed and that they'd finish the fencing that kept falling down. He saw a stretch of aged wood that tilted. He got off his horse to take a closer look.
Suddenly he heard more hoof beats and looked up to see the two men heading towards him. They stopped when they saw them on their side of the line.
"We put in for the wood for new fencing," Duke said, "Price went up but we found a place that offered a discount for bulk."
Colton nodded, knowing times were getting tough for the ranchers.
"No rush. My daddy's going out of town," he said, "I'll put in some time this weekend if you're available."
Duke looked at Brad.
"That'll work," he said, "Lois and Charlie can give us a hand. They were splitting wood the other day."
Colton knew about that.
"How is the horse doing?"
"It's colic for sure," he said, "Last time I checked, he seemed better but you never know for the first day or so."
"Yeah bad break…hope it works out."
"He was one of the top roping horses we had," he said, "I'm hoping it's not that new grain that did it."
"You think so," Duke said, "We just bought a couple loads."
"I guess we'll have to wait and see."
Brad nodded towards the fencing.
"We can get that done in one day if the girls help us."
"I'll make sure that my daughter's out here," he said, "and Charlie's always been good at pitching in."
Brad rubbed the back of his neck.
"Her aunt's been ailing. But she's supposed to be up and around in a day or so."
Colton had known that Charlie's aunt had experienced health problems with her heart for a while now. But she had been able to keep her hands on the reins of the ranch.
"I'm sure she'll be fine…she's a strong woman."
"Well we'd better head on back," he said, "See you later Colton…and tell your daddy hi."
He watched as the two men rode away. Then he headed back to the barn. He had to do some more work and then get ready to meet with Charlie later. He had missed not seeing her last night but intended to make up for it.
Charlie liked the blue dress, with the sequins. She displayed it in front of her for Lois.
"That's pretty hot," Lois said, "You sure you're up to wearing it?"
The cut was low on top and the hem…well it was definitely a party dress but it'd be good for the dance. Give the older crowd something to talk about…if nothing else.
"Try it on…"
So Charlie did and she loved the way it hugged her body. She ran her hands over it and felt sexy…the way she wanted to be. She couldn't wait to see Colton tonight at the tree house.
"He'll like it…"
"Oh you mean Colton…"
Lois rolled her eyes.
"I still am surprised he actually sent you a note."
Charlie arched her brows.
"Why…he's just being romantic."
"I just never thought of him as a writer," she said, "A man of action maybe but not exactly words."
"He's smart Lois," Charlie said, "He's always been smarter than most guys."
"That's not what I meant," she said, "Are you sure it's him?"
"Who else would it be," Charlie said, "Else it'd be Jake and since we broke up, he's been into different girls."
"Yeah he's definitely a man whore."
Charlie didn't want to think about that or him.
"Anyway, I think it's almost sweet," she said, "And I can come up with more ways for him to realize I'm hot."
"That'll work I guess if someone like me can help you."
Charlie felt exasperation.
"I don't need any help," she said, "We're enjoying each other and that's what matters."
Not what everyone else thinks, Charlie wanted to add but she didn't want to get into it with her friend.
"Well as long as you're happy…but I still don't think he wrote the note…"
Charlie wished she hadn't told Lois about the note. But she put that out of her head, intent on focusing on tonight when she'd see Colton.
That's all that mattered to her as her heart began to race in anticipation.