The Best Town on Earth
Humans are probably their biggest fans. Just consider the vast number of monster-themed movies and TV shows folks enjoy. Still, most will swear on a woodpecker’s pecker that monsters don’t actually exist—save for everyday monsters, like Chihuahuas. So then, why? Why have monsters been at the forefront of our collective minds for millennia? Might they indeed exist, hiding in the shadows of foggy woods, bat-infested caves, and our childhood closets? Truth is, monsters can emerge from even the most unexpected place. Like, the best town on earth.
The best town on earth ain’t in the Italian countryside. It’s not some charming beach town, or in the heart of Colorado. No, the best town on earth is Madisonville, Kentucky. They laid claim to the title decades ago, said, “No take-backs,” then licked it for good measure.
And Madisonville, Kentucky is a pretty great town. The grass grows lush and green. Woods wind through the community like nature’s warm hug. It has the perfect amount of residents at around 20,000. Madisonville is family-friendly, horse-friendly, smoking-friendly, gun-friendly, farm-friendly, and just plain friendly-friendly.
Well, mostly friendly. There are these two asshats who can’t stand each other. Their families have lived in Madisonville, Kentucky for generations and are well known. And like the Shakespearean cliche, their families have feuded for decades, and none can agree on how the feud even began.
So, carrying the torch of their fathers’ squabble, Rogan Crawley and Jax Winrow despise each other with every fiber of their beings. And it sure does bring a lot of grief to the best town on earth.
Just after 5 a.m. on a dark, crisp morning in October, Rogan Crawley was making his way back up to Madisonville. He zoomed along Pennyrile Parkway in his pickup truck, with bits of hay flying out of his just-emptied truck bed and trailer.
Rogan fumed over the lousy deal he just got on his fall harvest down in Hopkinsville. But the kicker was—no one in his hometown would buy the alfalfa. That was the first time a Crawley had to sell outside Madisonville, and it broke his heart.
Rogan flipped on the radio and sang along to the country tune. He got one word wrong and clenched his jaw.
“Damn it! Sonsabitches! This is horseshit!”
Rogan took a few deep breaths. He acknowledged that he might be more upset than he realized.
He turned off the radio and sulked the rest of the way home.
Just after 5 a.m. on the same dark, crisp morning in October, Jax Winrow slept back to back with Tiff, his petite redhead wife. Their home was in a charming old Madisonville neighborhood. Both in their mid-30s, you’d think the second bedroom would contain a kid or two. But it wasn’t so. Jax wanted to hold off on having kids until things were just right: Money in the bank and time to play catch. A goal that was outrunning him as of late.
But, the second bedroom wasn’t empty. Snoring very loudly was Mamaw, Jax’s grandma. Mamaw had dementia, and smoked two packs a day, and forgot daily that she’s not allowed to smoke in the house, because she has dementia.
And she snores, oh so loudly. But the buzzsaw in her throat didn’t drown-out the clanking sound coming from the shed in the backyard. It startled her awake, and Mamaw sat straight up in bed.
Cuddles was Mamaw's small terrier, who died 20 years ago. Mamaw hadn’t mentioned Cuddles in nearly as much time. But for some reason, when Mamaw woke from the clattering, she forgot Cuddles was cremated and scattered in the Tradewater River, and she just knew in her heart of hearts that her precious pup was in trouble in the backyard.
Mamaw went into Jax’s room and stood over him.
“Jax!” she said.
He rolled over and groaned at the shape of Mamaw with her messy silver hair highlighted by the light from the hall.
He looked at his phone. “It’s five in the morning. Go back to sleep.”
Mamaw huffed and left their room.
Tiff made sure to add, “Smoke on the porch, not in my house.”
Mamaw shuffled down the hall, pulled a cigarette from a pack in her robe pocket, and lit it.
“I’m coming, Cuddles,” she said, smoke billowing from her mouth.
The backyard grass was cold and damp on Mamaw’s bare feet. She moved toward the shed, flashlight in one hand, cigarette in the other. Strange noises of tinkering and chittering emanated from inside the metal tool shed.
Wham! Something slammed against the wall inside the shed. Mamaw about jumped out of her robe at the great bang. Her heart was pounding, and at her age, that came with a bit of pain. She dropped her cigarette and clutched her chest. Cautiously, she continued on to the shed door, which was open slightly.
Mamaw wrapped her frail fingers around the edge of the door and slowly pulled it back. The sounds of tinkering and chittering stopped.
Mamaw timidly pointed the flashlight into the shed.
Tiff was finally falling back asleep when she heard Mamaw screaming in the yard.
“Jax. Your Mamaw is screaming in the yard.”
Without opening his eyes, Jax asked, “Ain't that where you told her to smoke?”
“Yes. But usually, smoking makes her happy.”
“Jeez, Tiff. Let Mamaw smoke how she wants.”
Jax and Tiff fell handily asleep to Mamaw’s screams.
Mamaw rushed back into the house with a vigor she hadn’t mustered in a few decades. She dropped the flashlight then locked the sliding door. She placed her hands cautiously on the glass and leered, horrified, out at the shed.
Mamaw went to the hall, shut herself in the coat closet and lit a cigarette.
Within the safety of the coats, and with a shaky voice, Mamaw asked, “Where are you, Cuddles? What did those things do to you?”
City of Madisonville, Kentucky. Public Group
Councilman Charlie Gordon
The Madisonville Monster Hootenanny is only a week away! We’re expecting hundreds of visitors to join us for the music, games, contests, and BBQ!
Rogan Crawley | Farmer
Havin a beer this morning. Celebrating I just sold my fall cut of alfalfa! Feed shop down in Hopkinsville. Cheapest hay in all Kentucky!
Rogan Crawley | Farmer
Switchd to Kentucky Bourbon. God I love Kentucky! But I hate that @#&hole Jax Winrow. Dont fed ur horses hay from his shop. He imports his alfalfa from Louisville. Shop local! Down in Hopkinsville.
#drunkpost #alfalfa #kentucky4life
Rogan Crawley | Farmer
Want drive town for brkfst at eileens. Ma took my keys. Anybody want com get me? I’ll bye u eggs. But nt u Jax.
Rogan Crawley | Farmer
Nvm. my bro neddy gonna driv me.
Rogan Crawley | Farmer
FOD SO GOOD! Go by ur horss alfalfa in hopknsvul. They wnt good food 2
Jax Winrow | Madisonville Feed & Coffee
Our feed shop provides the highest quality hay anyone can buy in Kentucky. The same crops feed the horses in the Kentucky Derby. And we all know Rogan’s alfalfa ain’t right. Makes horses walk backward.
Rogan Crawley | Farmer
Jax Winrow | Madisonville Feed & Coffee
Councilman Charlie Gordon
Reminder to keep the content posted in this group friendly. Don’t make me block you boys.
Rogan Crawley | Farmer
Jax Winrow | Madisonville Feed & Coffee
Anyone offended by Rogan this morning can stop by for a free bag of Creepy Caramel Popcorn!
Rogan Crawley | Farmer
Downtown Madisonville is beautiful, filled with lovely old brick buildings. On Main Street, you’ll find all sorts of shops and services, and all decorated for Halloween and autumn. Among them is Madisonville Feed & Coffee. It’s a charming old store with a fair-sized warehouse behind it, filled with any and all supplies local folks and farmers could need.
A few people walked Main Street that morning, passing by light posts adorned with Fall decor of colorful leaves and signs touting the upcoming Madisonville Monster Hootenanny festival. Madisonville Feed & Coffee had one customer. Becca Winrow stood behind the counter and rang up a free caramel popcorn.
“Thanks, hun,” Becca said through a smile, handing over the free goods.
The customer left the shop, and Becca returned to her work on a scarecrow display. Fit and strong, Becca stood 5’ 10” with shoulder-length dark brown hair. She wore stylish form-fitting bluejeans, a company t-shirt, and a chip on her shoulder for her brother Jax Winrow.
Jax was haphazardly restocking chicken feed while simultaneously checking his social media feed on his phone. He stood an even 6’ and also wore bluejeans and a store shirt. His stupid clean-cut salesman hair was the same color as Becca’s.
She was only a couple years younger than him at 34, but that little sister bullshit still haunted her like a ponytail-pulling poltergeist.
Becca huffed. “We’re the only shop around here with no fall decorations. I thought you were hanging the new signs in the window this morning.”
“I’ll get to it. How’s that scarecrow coming?”
Becca squinted at Jax. “It’d be coming along faster if I wasn’t so busy giving away all our caramel popcorn.”
Jax chuckled. “Yeah, well. Gotta jump on opportunities like this. If Rogan’s making an ass out of himself, might as well profit off it.”
Becca put a lovely handkerchief around the scarecrow’s neck. “Ain’t nobody bought anything extra, Jax. They’re just showing up for free popcorn.”
“They’ll remember. We’ll get some future sales out of this.”
Becca rolled her eyes and straightened the scarecrow’s arms. To the scarecrow, she said, “This’ll have to do.”
Becca dragged the scarecrow by its apple basket base. She positioned it in the middle of the store, surrounded by aisles of pet food, animal feed, cowboy boots, and various home and farm supplies. The scarecrow made a lovely centerpiece.
Jax walked up and looked over the scarecrow. “Nice work! But, one thing.” He then had the nerve to drag Becca’s scarecrow over to the big storefront window. “Now they’ll see it on the street. This looks much better than signs, am I right?”
Becca placed her hands on her hips and tried to stay calm. “We paid money for those signs. We have a decoration plan.”
Jax grinned. “But inspiration struck! We can hang the signs next year.”
Before Becca could shove her foot right up her brother’s ass, the bell rang over the entrance. Becca and Jax turned and were face to face with farmboys Rogan Crawley and his younger brother Neddy. At thirty-two years old, Neddy was three years younger than Rogan. Both sported dirty jeans, work boots, and plaid button-ups under blue jean jackets. Becca wondered if either of them owned a comb.
Neddy offered an apologetic smile and said, “Sorry about him. The coffee ain’t quite kicked in yet.”
Rogan drunkenly declared, “We’re here for the free popcorn.”
Becca looked Rogan up and down and curled her lip, disapprovingly. She shrugged and headed to the counter for the popcorn. “Sure, just—”
“Hold up there, Becca,” Jax interrupted. “These fools don’t get any Creepy Caramel Popcorn. You boys are eighty-sixed.”
Becca ignored him and continued on to the popcorn.
Rogan said, “That ain’t a thing.”
Neddy leaned in to his brother and explained, “It kinda is.”
Jax goaded, “My daddy eighty-sixed your whole family almost two decades ago. Now get the hell out before I call the police.”
Rogan stepped forward in defiance just as Becca smacked bags of popcorn on his and Neddy’s chests.
Becca said through a smile, “Here you are, boys. Have a nice day.”
“Are you kidding me?” Jax bit.
“He’s drunk, Jax. Let it go.” Becca headed back to the counter.
Grinning, Rogan opened his bag of popcorn, spilling some on the floor. He shoved a big handful in his mouth. “Not bad.”
“Let’s go,” Neddy said to Rogan, grabbing him by the arm.
But Rogan wouldn’t budge. “Just a minute, Neddy. I haven’t expressed my gratitude yet.”
Rogan stepped right up to Jax—they locked eyes. Jax wasn’t backing down, though Rogan was a good three inches taller than him. And both men were fit, but Rogan was farmboy-swol.
Rogan crammed some more popcorn in his mouth. “Thank you, Jax,” he said, spitting kernel bits in Jax’s face. “Get over here.”
Rogan wrapped his arms around Jax for a hug, which Jax assumed was some wrestling move, so he pulled back and tried to push Rogan off him. But Rogan was so drunk, Jax might well have spun the whole store around. Rogan tangled-up with the scarecrow—and tangoed right through the storefront window.
The glass exploded onto the sidewalk and street, and Rogan fell to the concrete, hugging his scarecrow dance partner.
Tiff stepped from her bathroom fresh from the shower, a towel around her hair, another wrapped under her arms. On her way to the closet, she heard some banging and clanking in the backyard.
With each clank, flashes of Mamaw popped in her head. Mamaw smoking on the couch. Mamaw smoking at the kitchen table. Mamaw smoking in her bed, burning a hole in her comforter. Tiff grew more and more furious at each image.
She said to herself, “What the hell is she banging? She better not be denting my patio furniture.”
Tiff stormed down the hall and smelled the most rage-inducing fragrance known to man: Cigarette smoke.
Tiff entered the kitchen, slid the back door open, and stepped outside. The chilly morning air turned her wet towels into ice packs. She shivered.
Mamaw wasn’t out there. The clanking had stopped, and the furniture seemed fine.
Tiff went back inside. “Where the hell are you, Mamaw?”
She decided to follow the smell of smoke. And it was strongest in the hall.
Tiff threw open the coat closet door. Cigarette smoke washed over her. She coughed and tried to wave it away from her face. Mamaw sat on the closet floor, puffing a cigarette.
Tiff was altogether enraged and confused. “Mamaw?”
Mamaw explained, “They tried to get me. I had to hide.”
“Who tried to get you?”
“I think they took Cuddles,” Mamaw whimpered.
“Who’s Cuddles?” Tiff coughed again. “Give me that cigarette. You can’t smoke in my house!”
Mamaw passed her the cigarette.
Tiff helped her up and sniffed. “Did you piss yourself?”
Ashamed, Mamaw said, “I was too scared to go to the bathroom.”
“Rogan!” Neddy jumped through the broken window to attend his brother.
Jax’s face turned red. “You broke my window, you sonofabitch!”
Becca ran up to see what happened. “Jax! Did you push him?”
“No! His drunk ass dove out!”
Neddy sat Rogan up.
Rogan said, “No way! I was trying to give Jax a hug. Then he threw me out the window!”
Becca pointed, “Rogan, you’re bleeding.”
Rogan looked down at his bloody hand. “Oh, yeah.”
Becca ran off for the medkit, and Jax stepped outside, glass crunching under his boots. “You’re paying for this window.”
Neddy stood between him and Rogan. “He’s just having a bad morning.”
Mr. Floyd, a 74-year-old Madisonville native, was out for his morning walk and stepped up to Jax. “Morning, Jax. Yer window’s broke.”
Jax sighed, “I know, Mr. Floyd. Watch your step.”
“I saw the whole thing,” Mr. Floyd continued. He pointed at Rogan. “This feller flew out yer window and broke it in a thousand pieces.”
Rogan grabbed onto his brother’s sleeve and pulled himself to his feet. “No. No! You saw wrong. I was minding my own business, getting some free popcorn, giving out free hugs, when I was accosted!”
Mr. Floyd ignored Rogan and added, “And he was wrestlin’ that scarecrow!”
Rogan pointed at Jax. “And now I get to sue you for putting dangerous scarecrows by dangerous windows.”
Becca ran up and started cleaning the wound on his hand.
“Ow, Becca! Damn,” Rogan protested.
Becca gave Rogan a sharp look. “Shut your mouth! You’re lucky,” she said, putting on a bandage. “You could’ve been seriously injured. Better head to the clinic and make sure you don’t need a stitch or two.”
“Now, Rogan! Get going,” Becca said, hands on hips.
Rogan and Neddy scurried off, and Becca smiled at Mr. Floyd. “Morning, Mr. Floyd. You want some free caramel popcorn today?”
“Popcorn? No thanks, sweetheart. It would muss-up my dentures.”
“Well, okay then. We’ve gotta get this mess cleaned up, so have a good day and watch your step.”
Mr. Floyd shuffled off with the broken glass crunching and scratching under his shoes.
Becca scowled at Jax. “You’re still as bad-tempered as Dad was. When you gonna learn to let shit go?”
Jax huffed and stormed inside. “Don’t even start! That horse’s ass is paying for the window.”
Becca followed and said, “You’d have better luck milking a rock. He just sold his crop down in Hopkinsville? They need more hay like I need another asshole.”
“Gross,” Jax said, swiping at his phone.
“You stay off your phone and listen!”
“I’m trying! Tiff keeps calling. I swear that woman can’t get along for one morning.” He stuffed his phone in his back pocket.
Becca walked calmly up to Jax, looked him square in the eye, and said, “Buy me out.”
Jax’s eyes widened, then he smiled. “Haha, little sis.”
“Don’t ‘sis’ me right now. I’m serious. Get this place appraised. Get a loan. Buy me out, ‘cause I’m done.”
“Becca, calm down.”
“No, Jax! I am miserable running this store with you! We’re co-owners, but you treat me like some employee!” Becca crossed her arms, shaking from the difficulty of the long-overdue conversation.
Jax rubbed his face with both hands. He said, “What about the coffee? That was your idea. A good one, too.”
Becca looked over at the tables and chairs she set up to sell fancy coffee. It helped business some, but not enough.
She said, “You were only okay with it because you didn’t have a better idea on bringing up our income.” Becca took a breath. “And here’s the hard truth, Jax. You’re the reason our sales are down.”
“Me?” Jax objected. “Nah. It’s ‘cause of coronavirus. Or the great recession. Or either Bush, Obama, Trump, secret lizard people, or deep state, depending on who you ask.” Jax smiled, thinking he was clever.
“You’re not funny,” Becca said flatly. “And I’m not sinking on this ship with you. I can’t watch you destroy our store that’s been in our family for generations.”
Jax deflated. Always one with a quick retort, he had no words.
Becca’s phone rang. She looked at it and answered, “Hey. Yeah, he’s right here.” She handed her phone to Jax, “It’s Tiff,” then headed toward the back door.
Jax hollered to his sister, “Where you going?”
“Warehouse to get some wood. Gotta board up that window.” Becca walked out the door.
Jax put the phone to his ear. “Hey.”
Tiff yelled through the phone, “I’m done with your crazy grandma! If you don’t come deal with her right now, I’m flying out to my sister’s tonight!”
She hung up before he could respond.
Jax calmly set Becca’s phone on the counter, then tilted his head toward the heavens and howled, “What the hell is happening in Madisonville this morning!”
Jax went out the back door, walked across the back space where he and Becca parked their vehicles, and entered the warehouse. It was full of bulk items on tall racks, like hay, bags of feed, seed and such. Becca wore work gloves and was putting plywood on the forklift.
He said, “I gotta head home for an hour or so. Something with Mamaw.”
Becca continued her work and said, “Take the day. We probably need some time, don’t ya think?”
Jax sighed and said, “Sure, whatever.”
He began to leave and Becca added, “Don’t forget, Maddy’s taking my shift tomorrow. Been planning this me-day for weeks, and I’m not coming in for anything. So square Mamaw away good, yeah?”
Jax shook his head and left.
Jax drove down his cozy street. He waved at his neighbor Tim who was pushing a mower across his lawn. The guy still refused to hire a mowing service, or even hire Rud, the eleven-year-old twerp who lived on the corner. Rud would do nearly anything for some cash, and it was best to give him some kind of work, or things start to go missing around the neighborhood.
Jax pulled his old truck into his driveway next to Tiff’s car. Tiff must’ve been airing out the house because the garage of his little one-story home was open, as was the door that led to the kitchen. Jax got out of his truck and could smell the cigarette smoke already.
As he was passing Tiff’s car, he noticed the hood wasn’t closed all the way. He reached to push it shut, then thought better and lifted it open.
Alternator gone. Battery gone.
Jax blinked at odd theft. Windows unbroken. Doors locked. And they didn’t touch the tires.
“What in the hell?”
A strange metallic tapping sounded from the engine area. It wasn’t mechanical, more like if a kid was hiding under the car trying to scare him with noises.
Jax looked under the car. Nothing. He stood over the engine and tried to find the sound.
Tap. Tap. Tap tap tap. With each tap, images of Rogan flashed in his head: Rogan with a mouth full of popcorn. Rogan in a pile of glass with a mangled scarecrow. Rogan up in his face, staring him down.
Jax’s anger grew. He tried to blink away the images and focus on the problem at hand. He drew closer to the engine and listened.
He jumped back at the sound of his name, nearly hitting his head on the hood.
His neighbor, Mrs. Nash, stood next to the car. The tapping sound stopped.
Mrs. Nash had been friends with his mother, and since Jax’s parents’ death, she began mothering him more and more. The town was full of annoying nice people.
“Didn’t mean to startle you, honey. Just wanted to stop by and say I heard your dear wife yelling and carrying-on this morning.”
Jax shone his best salesman smile and said, “Yeah, that’s why I’m here. Problems with Mamaw.”
“Oh, Mamaw. You think her memory will ever get better?”
“Well, she has dementia. So, no.”
“Shame. Well, Tiff does seem very agitated lately, and I just wanted to ask, is she having enough orgasms?”
Jax’s eyes widened. “Mrs. Nash?”
“Oh, stop blushing at me. We both know what sex is. I’ve realized over my years that some men don’t know that women need regular orgasms too. A lack of orgasms could cause a heap of marriage problems.”
Jax mustered a response, “Well, she hasn’t complained.”
“Best to ask her, dear. Women don’t always complain the same way men do. Too much salt on your chicken could mean you left the toilet seat up.”
“Just figured she’d let me know about bedroom problems. Or she’d take care of herself, if you know what I mean.”
Mrs. Nash nodded and said, “Now that’s a good idea if you’re not able to satisfy her. Maybe surprise her with a vibrator. That’s a good way to show how much you care about her orgasms.”
Jax couldn’t tolerate the conversation any longer. “I’ll be sure to get to the bottom of this orgasm mystery. Thank you, Mrs. Nash.”
She began walking down the drive, and added, “Any time, honey. My door’s always open if you need to talk.”
Now Jax was gonna have to see Mrs. Nash in church on Sunday and try not to think of dildos. His eyes bugged at the absurdity of the day and he slammed the hood shut.
Jax stepped into his kitchen through the garage.
“Tiff? Someone stole your—”
Jax entered the living room and stopped when he saw Tiff’s laser death glare. Her long red curly hair always seemed to burn brighter when she was pissed. Tiff was a good five inches shorter than Jax and as petite as a hummingbird, but no one in this world could give Jax more hell than her.
Jax often pondered the enigma of marriage: you love someone so much that you want to share your life with them, but then you give up pieces of yourself, bit by bit, until you wonder who you are anymore. Maybe he was doing it wrong. Or maybe he never knew who he was in the first place. They did marry in their mid-20s. But no time to ponder the conundrum of love. Tiff was holding a sweater—and she was mad about it.
She put it up to Jax’s nose. He winced at the strong cigarette smell.
“Dry clean only,” Tiff said. “All our coats and sweaters smell like this. Mamaw shut herself in the closet and smoked a pack.” Tiff tossed the sweater onto the couch and walked by him into the kitchen to pour herself some more coffee. Jax followed.
He wasn’t sure he heard her right. “She was—wait, the closet?”
“She’s lost it! Yelling about devils and goblins! And she pissed herself. Took me a half hour to get her to take a shower.”
Jax was confused. “Goblins? I don’t understand. Will you just tell me what the hell happened from the beginning?”
Tiff gave up on coffee’s ability to help her mood and carelessly dropped her mug in the sink. “No! She’s in the backyard. Ask her yourself. I’m going to the store.”
Tiff went to fetch her purse from the end table by the front door.
Jax said, “You can’t. I was trying to tell you. Someone stole your battery and alternator.”
Tiff turned to Jax. “What.”
“I know. It’s weird as hell. I’ll have it towed to Rick’s garage in the morning.”
Tiff breathed harder. “Then, I’m going for a walk.” She grabbed her purse and stormed out the front door.
Jax let out his breath, relieved the tense conversation was over.
He slid the back door open and stepped outside. Mamaw wasn’t at her usual spot next to her ashtray at the patio table. She stood at the oak tree, her back to him, looking up at its branches.
He walked up behind her. A breeze hit him, bringing the cold smell of autumn. He’d been so busy lately that he hadn’t taken the time to enjoy the changing seasons. Jax breathed it in and tried to figure out what Mamaw was doing.
He gently said, “Mamaw?”
Mamaw screeched, killing the peaceful moment. And Jax realized she was holding a rake—when she swung it at him.
He ducked just in time and put his hands up. “Careful!”
When Mamaw realized who it was, she dropped the rake and hugged him. “Jax. Thank God you’re here.”
Jax embraced his frail grandma and could feel her tremble. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
Mamaw pulled back and looked him in the eye. “They’re back. Those terrible little goblins. And I think they took Cuddles.”
Cuddles? Sounded familiar. Jax searched his memories and recalled a Christmas when he was still in high school. Everyone sitting around the tree and Mamaw laughing as her little terrier played with its new squeaky toy platypus. Her voice, “Haha, do you like it, Cuddles?” echoed in his mind.
In the backyard, Mamaw said, “I’ve been looking for Cuddles all morning.”
Jax blinked at her. “In the tree?”
She nodded in all seriousness. “Yes. Those devils can climb, you know. Cuddles could be anywhere.”
Jax’s heart broke for his grandma. Her damn brain just keeps finding new ways to torment her. Devils stole her dog that died decades ago? Good lord. Jax wondered how he could talk her down from this one.
“Don’t Mamaw me. I know what I saw.”
Jax squinted and decided on a different approach. “You know, I’ve got the day off. How about we go grab some lunch?”
Mamaw scowled at his idea, then came around. “Yes! We can ask if anyone’s seen Cuddles. I want tacos.”
Jax smiled. “Great idea. Get your shoes on.”
Becca had a pleasant day running the shop without Jax. She swept the glass, boarded up the window, called the glass company, chatted with some of her favorite customers, and had a decent amount of sales by the end of the day.
The next morning was the start of her me-day. Or actually, her we-day. It began stupidly, with Becca sneaking onto her man’s property and stepping in horse shit. She needed to get inside before the cock crowed and woke his ma. There wasn’t any sunlight yet at that hour, so avoiding wayward horse dung was a challenge.
She wasn’t worried, though. When she got to the trellis under his second-story bedroom window, she kicked off her shoes and hid them behind a bush. Becca scaled the wooden trellis to his cracked window and quietly lifted it open. She swung her leg over the window sill and slid into her man’s room. She slowly closed the window, watching him sleep.
She felt like a sexy-ass ninja.
And a bit like a creepy stalker.
No matter. She walked to his bed, and as she did, her jeans hit the floor, her jacket and shirt hit the nightstand, her bra flung onto the door handle, and her underwear hit his face. Her cozy socks stayed on her feet because it was heckin’ cold.
Her man began to stir. He grabbed the undies from his face, trying to figure out what they were. The figurative light bulb lit up brightly over his head. He smiled, trying to focus his tired eyes on Becca’s shape standing in front of his bed.
Before he could get a good look at her, Becca grabbed his cowboy hat from the hook by his door and placed it over his face.
“You’re in trouble,” Becca declared. “You don’t get to look at any of this.”
“Oh, really,” her man tried to protest, but she slid her hand under the hat and covered his mouth.
“Bad boys don’t get to talk,” Becca explained. “So, keep your damn mouth shut.”
She felt him smile under her fingers, but Becca smiled bigger because while he was thinking this moment was all about him, she was making it all about her.
She pulled back his comforter to get a good look at him. Shirtless and PJ pants. She crawled onto his bed and ran her hands over his abs and chest.
She bit her lip and thought, “Goddam! My man’s a snack.”
But out loud, she said, “Maybe lay off the pies, yeah?” She stifled a chuckle.
From behind his hat, he said, “I’ll start runnin’ three miles a day for you—”
“Shut your pie hole,” Becca demanded. And he did.
She grabbed his PJ pants and peeled them off his body. He laid there, naked and vulnerable, with his face covered, and not daring to disobey her. It had been nearly three weeks since they last had sex, and she’d been thinking about it ever since. Her body tensed with anticipation as she forced herself to look, but not touch, for just a few moments more.
Becca couldn’t take it any longer. She swung her leg over him.
When Becca was a girl, her dad taught her to ride a horse. When she was older, her mom taught her the ins and outs of sex. And when she was 20, her college friend Jenny taught her how to ride a cowboy.
“It’s about the sensations,” Jenny had told Becca as they sat on the edge of her dorm room bed. “Take your time, experiment, and feel every moment. Figure out what you like and tell him to stay out of it. A cowboy puts a lady first, after all.”
It was the best sex advice she ever got, and she rode her cowboy as often as she could, trying different things each time, figuring out what she likes and making the experiences about enjoying herself.
And that morning, she was enjoying herself. Moving slowly, teasing herself, playing off the build-up of weeks of anticipation.
He was enjoying himself too. Maybe a little too much.
Becca warned, “You better not finish. You wait until I’ve had my fun, yeah? Hold it in.”
He managed to grunt out, “I’m trying.”
He grabbed onto the brim of his hat and pulled it tightly over his face, struggling to hold back.
Becca rode her cowboy all the way to climax mountain. And it was an especially satisfying bout.
Her man made his way to the pinnacle in short order and enjoyed the ride just as much.
She took off the hat and leaned in close. “Good job, cowboy.”
“I aim to please, ma’am.”
They kissed and embraced. She charmed, “Not a bad way to kick off our two-year anniversary.”
He held her tight and said, “I love you, Becca Winrow.”
In turn, she replied, “I love you, Rogan Crawley.”