A few mornings later, Missy waits until Tommy parks his pickup and disappears into the stable, and then she walks down the path. In addition to being lonely and tired of being alone in the house, she’s crazy longing to see him again.
She even Googled him the previous night. She found his last name in a box of Matt’s financial paperwork for the ranch. Good thing there aren’t too many Tommy Zysk’s in Kansas…or anywhere, really.
Woah, Nellie! Was that him—that studly roadie for some country band fifteen years ago? But even more than studying his tight T-shirt over that buff body, she studied his easy smile, his easy way of being…so much easier than most humans seem to be.
He has that easy smile flashing this morning. Plus it doesn’t hurt that he looks even better now than he did back then. In between feeding the horses, he scratches their ears and runs his hand over their muzzles and manes.
“Hey, handsome,” he says to Mystery. “That tastes good, huh?”
Tommy is an amalgam of so many clichés that Missy’s discovered—in amongst discovering words like cliché. The rugged individualist. The Lone Ranger—not the TV character so much, but definitely some kind of mild-mannered superhero in disguise. Oh, wait, that’s Superman. The Marlboro Man, too, except he doesn’t smoke.
He notices her standing in the doorway. “Mornin’, Miss.”
They laugh. He has a piece of straw in his mouth. Missy breaks off a piece and sticks it in her mouth.
He chuckles again. “Looks good on you.” He notices a book under her arm. “Watcha readin’?”
“A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.”
“That’s a good one.”
“You read this?”
“Tommy, you don’t talk a whole lot.”
“But you sure know a whole lot.”
“Yep. I don’t say much. Most folks think I’m simple. I just let ’em go ahead and think that. In fact, the rest of the country thinks those of us in these parts are plain and simple if not outright stupid. But we might surprise a few folks. We’re right in the heart of America. No one’s more centered than we are.”
She smiles at him. “Hmmmmmm.” Actually, many beings in the Universe think that about this whole planet, but how wrong they are.
“Where’re you gonna read, anyway?”
“With Diamond Girl.” She doesn’t tell him that she far prefers reading in the stable in Diamond Girl’s company to the starkness of her house.
She wanders over to the stable doors. “Oh, it’s such a pretty day.”
“Yer a pretty day.” Tommy quickly stops himself. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.” He starts to leave.
“Tommy, you got a woman in your life?”
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