Stage West - LindsayAnnie Pelle
STAGE WEST LINDSAY
Copyright 2013 by Annie Pelle
Lindsay Matthews was stuck and she didn’t like her personal life to be stuck. What was the problem? She was in love with the son of the ranch’s housekeeper and head wrangler. Only he didn’t feel the same and she was stuck. Actually she was suffering and miserable. The man who held Lindsay’s heart was Nick Cates and Lindsay had known him most of her life. They had grown up together on Stage West, the Matthews’ family ranch in central Arizona near the town of Peacock. But to make matter’s worse, Nick was her brother Dalton’s best friend and worked for and with her other brother David. Nick’s family ate dinner with her and her brothers and his parents. They socialized together, they all lived at the ranch. There was no part of Lindsay’s life that didn’t connect with Nick’s life. Shouldn’t that have been a good thing? It wasn’t in Lindsay’s opinion.
She had loved Nick for years but he thought of her as Dalton’s little sister. She had hoped to change his mind about her when she stood up at Dalton and her best friend Sarah’s wedding. The bridesmaid dresses were beautiful and not the least “kid” like. But he just looked right through her again and her heart had broken. She had wanted to dance with him but was too scared too after his dismissing look.
Lindsay had been going through the motions of living for those four weeks. Dinner time each night was painful and it was beginning to wear on her. I need a vacation. Lindsay thought to herself. Not a vacation from work but from home. I have to find some way to get over these feelings or I will lose it. I am going to skip dinner tonight, I can’t take it anymore. Lindsay pushed back from her desk in the ranch’s management office to go to the kitchen to tell Gabby, their housekeeper and adopted mother that she wouldn’t be at dinner. As she walked out the office door she heard “Hello everyone! We are home” coming from the front door. Dalton and his new bride Sarah came in. They had just returned from their month long honeymoon.
“Dalton! Sarah! Welcome home.” Lindsay exclaimed “We all missed you.” Lindsay said as she moved to hug them. “How was your trip?”
“Fabulous” Sarah stated with emphasis “We will tell everyone at dinner tonight.”
So much for skipping dinner Lindsay thought to herself. “Great!” she said to her best friend and now sister-in-law. “Have you been to see the house?”
“Yes, you did a wonderful job with everything. It looks perfect. Thank you!” Sarah commented gratefully
“You organized it, I just followed the instructions.” Lindsay said
“That’s my Sarah. Organized and fabulous!” Dalton beamed proudly while Sarah blushed.
Just then Gabby called everyone to eat. There were lots of hugs to welcome the newlywed’s home. Lindsay tried to participate in the dinner conversation but it was too hard. After dinner it was suggested that everyone move to the living room so they could hear more about Dalton and Sarah’s trip, but Lindsay apologized and excused herself saying she had some things to do.
She moved to the office so that she could pretend to have more work to do, but she needed the quiet to think. Lindsay paced the office until the walls closed in on her. She decided to go visit the horses in the barn until everyone went to bed.
Lindsay loved horses. They touched her heart and soothed her when she was restless. She needed them tonight. She would have preferred to ride but it wasn’t as safe after dark and all alone. The horses in the first barn were not part of the breeding program so they could be cosseted.
One of the ranch hands met Lindsay as she entered the barn, she wandered up and down the stalls talking and petting the horses as she went. She was on her way to see her horse Brandy when she looked up and saw Nick coming her way. No, not now. I can’t see him again tonight. Lindsay stopped and started to turn around hoping he hadn’t seen her but she was wrong.
“Hi” she said as friendly as she could as she was turning to leave.
“Are you busy?” Nick asked hoping the answer was no
“Just heading in, I think I will turn in early.” She said walking backwards towards the exit.
“Will you go for a walk with me?”
“Why not? Actually I want to talk to you.”
She paused her retreat and reluctantly agreed “What are we talking about?”
“Do you want to walk to the other barn to see some of the new arrivals?”
No Lindsay thought to herself but she closed off her expressions and answered aloud “I guess, sure.”
They walked along without speaking. This was his idea but he wasn’t saying anything and it was making her very nervous. Her nerves were already stretched thin; she couldn’t take much of this.
As they walked through the other barn, Nick pointed out some of the new arrivals and what David’s plan was for each of them. “Isn’t she a beauty?” he asked Lindsay as they came upon the mare in the last stall. “Someone mistreated her though; she is going to take some work. She is really nervous around raised voices.”
“Come here girl.” He said softly. “Meet my friend Lindsay.” The horse did not come to the door but watched them.
“Where did she come from?” Lindsay asked
“David rescued her from the BLM strays.”
Lindsay smiled gently as she spoke “She is beautiful, is he going to breed her?”
“Depends. He wants the vet to check her over and see if I can get her to be calm around people.”
“You always do” she answered softly. Nick was a genius with horses. He got them and they responded to him.
He chuckled “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
Realizing she had answered like a woman in love she reacted with embarrassment and her retort was sarcastic “Like you need my opinion.”
“Nothing important.” She said moving towards the exit.
“Are you leaving?” he asked a little irritated. She walks away from me whenever I try to talk to her.
“Yes, it has been a long day. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She said with a wave over her shoulder
“Hey, wait” Nick ran to catch up with her. “Why do you do that?”
“Do what?” Lindsay asked puzzled. He was making no sense.
“Every time lately I try to have a conversation with you, you walk away.”
Lindsay’s face showed extreme surprise then she hid it quickly. “What did you want to talk to me about?” she asked.
Nick walked over to the corral that was adjacent to the two barns and leaned against the rails. His back was too her and he was staring off at nothing.
“Nick, I…” Lindsay started to walk away again
“Are you seeing anyone?” He asked interrupting her
Lindsay was surprised “Why do you want to know that?”
“I just want to know if you are seeing anyone.”
“Not that it is any of your business but no, I am not.” She said turning to walk away
“Are you interested in anyone?”
She answered “Why do you care?” she asked him in return. He didn’t answer so she turned to leave again.
“Will you go to a movie with me?” he asked still staring at nothing across the corral
“A movie? As friends?” Lindsay asked puzzled and confused
“As friends, yes, but as a date.”
Lindsay’s first instinct was to walk away and later on she was going to regret that she hadn’
t followed through on that instinct. Instead she spoke a little harshly “For starters you aren’t even looking at me when you ask and two, you sound very bored even as you are asking. So no.”
“I’m sorry, I am nervous.”
“Asking you out.”
“Then why did you?”
Nick finally turned around to talk face to face. “Because I want to go on a date to the movies with you.”
“That isn’t really an answer, but at least I know it was me you were asking instead of the sky.”
“You are the only one here, who else would I be asking?”
“Forget it” she said dismissing his point “The answer is still no.”
“Why not? I was looking at you.”
“A mercy date is not necessary.” Lindsay turned to walk away.
Nick ran to get in front of her to stop her trying to leave again. He reached for her hand “I am not asking you on a mercy date. I really want to go to the movie with you.”
“On a date, with me?”
“Yes, you.” He squeezed her hand for emphasis
Lindsay paused and stared at the ground for a moment. Was there any way out of this? Don’t make it a big deal Lindsay said to herself. “Okay, I guess. If you are sure.”
Nick released the breath he had been holding and smiled “I’m very sure.”
Lindsay was not watching him so she missed the smile “Okay, then I guess it is a date.” Lindsay said.
“Good. Pick out a movie you want to see.”
“I’m picking the movie?”
“Yes, I don’t know anything about what is playing.”
“Then why did you want to go to the movie?”
“To go on a date with you.”
“A date doesn’t have to be a movie, you could pick something else. We could just go for a ride.”
“That isn’t a date; that is an everyday thing.” Very reluctantly she agreed to pick out the movie. They finished discussing the details of their date and went to their homes for the night.
Lindsay was unsure of what to think about this date. She loved him and wanted to go out with him but he hadn’t seemed sure of this plan. It is probably just a mercy date just like I thought in the first place.
Nick walked back to his home to relax after several tense minutes of trying to get her to go out with him. I don’t think I have ever been this nervous about a date.
The next night after dinner, Nick knocked on Lindsay’s bedroom door. “Are you ready?”
“Where are we going and what movie are we seeing?”
Lindsay told him the theatre to go to and gave him the choice of a couple of movies. He picked the action movie instead of the comedy which she had predicted.
Nick handed her into his truck and they left the ranch. They hadn’t progressed very far when Lindsay voiced her uncertainty “Can I asked you a question?”
“Is it something to do with why we are doing this?”
“Yes, how did you know that?”
Nick chuckled. He could read her easily. “Because, Lindsay, you are a bit stubborn and you didn’t like my answer yesterday so I figured it would come up again.” He said with a mischievous smile.
“So are you going to answer it?”
“No, we are just going to go on the date and have a good time. No analyzing it.”
“But I want to know why?”
“See how stubborn you are? We will talk about it after the second or third date.”
“What second or third date?”
“The ones we may go on after this one. Two usually comes after one and three usually comes after two.”
“May go on?”
“Yes, you never know the future.” He said evading her question again
Lindsay stopped talking and turned to watch the scenery. I knew this was a bad idea. Why didn’t I plead headache and stay home? Oh well, at least during the movie I won’t have to talk to him. I can pretend to be there with someone who wanted to be there with me. How far away from home can I move and when?
“Lindsay?” Nick asked after a few minutes of silence
“Yeah?” she said without turning from the window
“Can we just go and have a good time and not think about why tonight?”
“Sure. Good idea.” She answered. I love him and he is treating me like a little kid. Just pat her on the head and placate her.
“You can just do that without an explanation?” he asked uncertain if she was going to have a good time.
“Yes, forget I asked. So how was your day?” she asked trying to find a pleasant topic of conversation.
He let her abrupt change of topics go and answered her question. “It was good. I was working with that horse I showed you last night. She seems to be used to a saddle but does not like loud noises. I have some ideas on how to work with her on that.”
“You can do it. You have a gift with horses even at a young age.”
“I love working with horses. I don’t think I want to do anything else ever.”
“You shouldn’t. You will just get better over time. David values your work.”
“Thanks for telling me that.”
They passed the rest of the drive to the theatre with other ranch topics. Nick came around to her side of the truck and helped her out. At the ticket window the young girl had a hard time concentrating on the transaction because of Nick’s good looks. Lindsay felt sorry for the clerk; she herself was in the same position.
Nick and Lindsay found their seats with minutes to spare before the movie began. The movie was good the few parts that Lindsay concentrated on. She was really just putting on a good act to not give herself away. She wanted this to be her dream come true, he chance to date Nick and have him want to be with her. These were not the circumstances she had hoped for.
After the movie, they went to the ice cream shop and got a sundae. The topics of conversation were pleasant and soon they were driving up to the main house at the ranch. Nick once again helped Lindsay from the truck and walked with her into the house. Lindsay stopped in the living room and sat down. No one else was around so they could continue their conversation.
“Did you have a good enough time to go out with me again?” Nick asked when there was break in the conversation.
Lindsay tried to keep the shock from her face but apparently she didn’t succeed.
“Why are you surprised?” he asked cautiously
“I’ll tell you why I am surprised when you tell me why we went out on a date in the first place.” She told him.
“Forget it. I am not telling you yet. So will you go to dinner with me?”
“When did you want to go?”
“Is that a yes?”
“It is a maybe.”
Nick laughed “Friday night?” he asked
“Okay. I will go.” She replied but already planning a way to cancel the date.
“Good. I better get some sleep. I have an early day tomorrow. Thank you for going with me tonight. I had fun.”
“Me too.” She said although it wasn’t very true.
“See you tomorrow.” He said as he left the house.
Not if I can help it. Lindsay thought to herself. Mercy dates and pity were not her idea of a relationship.
The next day Lindsay successfully avoided Nick except at dinner. After dinner, the family gathered to play pool in the den but Lindsay made her excuses and left the room.
Lindsay went out for a walk to the south barn. She was looking at the new horse David had just got and that Nick was now working with.
“What are you doing down her lil’ sis?” Nick asked walking up the aisle.
Lindsay’s temper exploded “I am not your little sister.” She yelled as she turned to leave. Nick was shocked she had yelled at him. “Hey,
what’s wrong?” Nick asked grabbing her arm. She pulled his hand off her arm and ran for the door. Nick called to her “Lindsay wait!” But she ignored him and ran to the house.
Thankfully her room was in the back of the house so she could get to it without seeing anyone else. She rushed in and closed the door silently. She fell across the bed and let the tears run down her face. She heard a quiet knock on her door.
“Lindsay?” Nick called from outside the door but she ignored him and cried harder but silently. “Lindsay open the door, tell me what is wrong?” But she refused to even acknowledge that she was in there. Nick finally gave up and left. Lindsay prepared for bed and tried to sleep. She had to plan a way to go on a trip for a long while.
The next morning Lindsay went directly to the office and skipped breakfast. She couldn’t take the chance that Nick might be there or that he would ask her questions about last night. She was miserable enough without her family asking her questions.
Lindsay was working on tracking breeding programs statistics when her intercom sounded.
“Lindsay, it is David. Call an ambulance, Nick is hurt.”
Lindsay’s heart began to race “What? How bad?”
“At least a broken leg, maybe more. He is unconscious.”
“I’m calling. Where is he?”
“South barn. Direct them down here please.”
Lindsay called the local ambulance company and waited for them to arrive. She was sick to her stomach but couldn’t let anyone see it. She had the ambulance follow her as she rode in the golf cart.
When they reached the south barn, Nick was lying in the dirt still unconscious. She wanted to run to him but the paramedics were working on him. David was with them trying to help and explain what had happened. Nick had been working with the new horse that he had shown her two nights before and it threw him and stepped on him several times before it was drawn away.
Nick was loaded onto the stretcher and strapped down for safety. David came to her shoulder. “Can you ride with him? I need to look after the horse and the other hand that got cut up. Nathan and Gabby are in Phoenix. I’ll call them. But he needs someone to go with him.”
“Sure, I’ll go.” She said and left to follow the paramedics to the ambulance
“We are going to the emergency clinic in Peacock, but I have a feeling they will send him by air ambulance to Phoenix.” One of the paramedics told David as he climbed into the ambulance. “Lindsay, are you riding with us?” She nodded and climbed aboard too.