He wondered who had the redder face, him in his anger or her in her embarrassment. But soon she turned pale, white even except for a small smoldering pink circle of blush left on each cheek. Before he knew it, the chit stood up nose to nose with him as he bent over glaring at her, and slapped him but good before saying, "That was talking about the younger widows who had begun to wax wanton, and you better not be calling me a wanton woman if you know what's good for you, Tom Fender!" Then she turned and swiftly walked away with her back stiff as a board and her head held high.
display of pure stupidity in front of the whole town tonight."
"I doubt it. I think he's more prideful than that and will never back down. I'd bet you ten dollars, if I had it, that he won't even apologize--not that she wants to hear his voice ever again no matter if he crawled the whole length of Main Street on his knees pleading to high heaven with her to forgive him. Nope. It ain't going to happen."
"It's a real shame too. He was her brother's best friend for a lot of years until Thomas started hanging out with the wrong crowd. Tom had even let it slip tonight that he thought Adelia had grown up into a right purty gal, and he was thinking about asking her for a dance tonight."
"Truth be told," Jolene stepped closer until Jacob could smell the sarsaparilla on her breath which made him wonder how sweet her lips would taste. But he chewed his lip instead as Jolene continued whispering, "rumor has it that Adelia's been sweet on Tom since she was knee high to a cow's belly. Howsomever, I think that sweet went rancid tonight however."
"Worse than clabbored milk on a hot day in June," Jacob said.
"Worse than lemonade without sugar and ten days old fermented enough to get a mule drunk," Jolene continued while watching Jacob's lips draw closer.
"Sweeter than sarsaparilla..." and he kissed her just brushing her lips to get the taste of her. They both jumped back.
"Jacob Hendrick, you should be ashamed of yourself kissing me here in front of God and everybody!" she hissed.
"God doesn't mind, does He?" and he kissed her again.
This time she didn't jump back, that is until Adelia called, "Jolene, are you still here?"
"Coming," she called while smoothing down his shirt where she had twisted it with her fist when he kissed her.
Jacob just beamed her a smile as wide as the state of Texas, tipped his hat and strode off looking as puffed up as a bow-legged rooster. Jolene however waited a minute more for the heat to cool on her cheeks trying to wipe the smile off her own face before going back in to offer comfort and succor to her best friend.
"Who was that?" Adelia said as her sobs ran down and only shuddered ever so often.
"It was Jacob. He was real sorry that Tom had acted like that."
"Don't even say that name," she looked at Jolene like she had said the worst cuss word in any cowboy's vocabulary.
"Sorry, but near as we can figure, Jacob and I, is that he thought you were talking about him instead of your brother Thomas."
"Well, maybe he shouldn't stick his neck in where it doesn't belong. It might get it chopped off next time," she grimaced.
"I don't think it will happen again. You sure taught him a lesson he won't be forgetting for a long while."
"Nah, it meant nothing to him. He probably growls at anybody who tips his angry cup until he spills it all over himself and every bystander now and again."
"Maybe so, but I bet your hand is still smarting from that slap. He'll wear that handprint on his cheek for a few days, I wager. I'm sure it could be heard clear across the dance floor even over the fiddles." They quit playing and all the couples stopped swinging, except old Mr. Hemming and his wife Lucretia. They are so deaf that they'd dance through Gabriel's trumpet and miss the second coming."
"I'm done thinking about it and talking about him. I have bigger problems than that. What I was about to tell you is that rumor has it my brother's really and truly lost the ranch. I have no way to support myself! Maybe if old Mrs. Wilkes retires, I can apply to teach school. Until then, I'll ask around town if anyone is hiring. If not, I'll take in laundry if I have to in order to survive. Before they sell the ranch out from under me, I'll bring my chickens in and maybe sneak the milk cow in as well."
"I can help you," Jolene offered.
"Some pal you are," he growled.
"It was a dirty job, but somebody had to knock some sense in you," Jacob retorted.
"If you cannot conduct yourself like a gentleman, I'll have to reinstate my hard feelings, sir."