I grew up on a cattle ranch in East Tennessee. My father was considered a cattle trader rather than a farmer. The biggest difference in our working farm was that the animals there only wandered the fields for a very short time. They were simply passing through without the luxury of an extended visit. The cowboys who stopped by our farm, typically never stayed around very long either which is why I was never permitted to “date” a cowboy.
By the time I was a teenager, one such cowboy caught my attention and he held it longer than a country minute. He used to visit our place once a month, twice if I was lucky. After drooling from a distance—and daydreaming about this ‘nice’ young man for more days than I recall, I finally realized that I was in ‘love’ with a cowboy. Eventually, I’d make a play for him and with any luck, he’d notice me.
The day I gained his undivided attention just so happened to be a hot summer afternoon when boredom consumed me. I was bound and determined to ride a horse that had stubbornly refused all riders for a good number of months. My father was the only one who ever stayed on her back but I decided I was going to ride the unruly beast too.
This particular June day, I felt confident I’d go unnoticed because the farm was buzzing with activity. After my father returned to the barn and began sorting cattle, I decided it was time to make a lasting impression on the mare no one in their right mind wanted to ride.
I took Misty into a large open field and with the help of a dilapidated fence; I stepped into the stirrup, threw a leg over her croup and planted my then-tiny backside into the saddle. I was, in fact, barely there when Misty decided to bolt through the pastures… and she headed straight for the river-bottoms.
The route Misty chose placed me at a great disadvantage. We didn’t go unnoticed as we galloped by the first barn and that’s when I saw—him. The cowboy of my dreams was just stepping out of his truck when we raced right by him. Since I was more than a little occupied, I don’t think I waved hello but through the cloud of dust we managed to stir, the amusement danced across his face. There was no doubt about it. He thought the ridiculous show was all for him and I was in for quite an embarrassing ride.
If you’ve ever been a passenger on a runaway train, then you can probably relate to my predicament. My arms flapped out to the side and I lost my balance almost immediately but I still managed to hang on for dear life.
After riding for what seemed like forever, Misty reached an abrupt decision and without a moment to spare, she halted right before she reached a slight embankment. Since I didn’t have the reins of control I desperately wanted to have, I landed at the edge of Holston River. While Misty didn’t want to splash mud on her pretty dapple-grey legs, she didn’t hold the same consideration for her rider.
By the time the ‘search party’ arrived to retrieve me, there were only two men I didn’t want to see and they were there to fetch me. After my dad threw a slight fit for show (he was more bark than bite), he rode the horse back to the barn. I was swiftly helped into the front seat of an old truck and to my dismay, the one behind the wheel was one handsome cowboy.
While it’s been a long time ago, I still remember his polite mannerism. He seemed to ignore the fact that I was covered in mud. However, after a few minutes of small talk, he decided to put to rest any notions of something so ridiculous in the future.
His parting words stayed with me for several years. He said, “If you’re going to get a man’s attention, choose a horse you can ride and sweetheart, if you want a cowboy who will teach you all about it—let me know when you turn eighteen.” I later discovered he was twenty and after I made the mistake of telling my brother of the experience, he never came back to our farm again.
After writing about enough cowboys in romance, today I understand why the young man never returned. I also realize why so many women love to open up a spicy western with these sexy denim-clad men on the pages inside. They are the ultra-bad alpha male and a true-to-life hero any woman can meet.
Cowboys say the right thing even when it’s the inappropriate one. They look at their women in a most suggestive way and they typically fill out a pair of Levis better than any man alive. With a devilish smile and a lingering gaze that tells a woman everything she needs to know, it’s no wonder so many authors find their inspiration in the spiciest of men.
I later ran into the hell-hot cowboy when I was seventeen. I was at a horse sale with some of my friends. When I spotted the handsome rogue with a body truly meant for sinning, his lips curled up with an instant smile. After he looked around the crowd, he must’ve decided it was safe to approach. Once he did, he asked the question that inevitably would either seal (or kill) any kind of future deal.
“Are you eighteen yet?” His raspy voice was laced with thick implications.
“No. Four more months.” I proudly informed.
His eyes drifted over me long enough to assure that the man in front of me was more cowboy than I could handle. “Have you learned how to ride a horse yet?”
“I always knew how to ride a horse, just not one with behavioral problems.” I quipped.
“How do you feel about cowboys with the same issues?” He asked with a cocksure smile.
I swallowed hard a few times and I realized I’d met my match. A player of players was staring back at me waiting for the most inviting of replies and…I didn’t have one.
With an easy grin and an unforgettable wink, he leaned over and whispered. “All right then. Look me up when you turn twenty-one.”
As an erotic romance author today, I think about that handsome rogue every now and then. He’s a voice inside my head when I’m looking for just the right lines and he’s also a gentle reminder of why so many women love a cowboy.
Most of the young men I met as a girl were exactly as the one I’ve just described. They were perfect gentlemen in public but when provoked, they knew how to quickly remind a woman interested in them that they knew all the right moves to keep any woman coming back for more. I hope my cowboys do the same for you! A Matter Among Men is available now from Siren and more westerns are headed your way soon.
Until next time,