Word Count 528
** Thanks to Debbie Lenart for checking things for me.
As the dark gave way to the soft, rosy glow of a new morning, Johnny Madrid Lancer sighed. He shifted in his bed, rolled onto his back, and crossed his hands behind his head. ‘No use in trying to get back to sleep,’ he mused, ‘the tune-caller will be bellowing that breakfast was ready before you know it.’ No matter, it wasn’t exactly a hardship to lie here. There had been many times in the past that a nice, clean, comfortable bed had only been a dream. He still knew others that would never have that luxury.
Johnny thought about the coming day’s work. A bridge needed repair after a recent rain had washed debris against a pillar and loosened it. He hated that kind of work. It was much more satisfying to ride the range on Barranca and get off a good run or two. There was just something about riding hell-bent for leather that satisfied a wildness in his soul; standing knee-deep in water and mud just wasn’t the same. On the other hand, it was an honest day’s work. He would be working with his brother and men that he knew and liked. And when they finished the job, there would be something useful left standing that he helped to create.
A grin made its way across the young man’s face. All that water; all that mud; his brother, Scott; the possibilities were endless on what might happen! The best part was that after a minute or two of surprise, Scott would join in or get him back. They hadn’t known each other that long but their bond was already strong. They might not always agree, but when push came to shove, there was no man he’d trust more than Scott.
The smell of fresh coffee wafted up the stairs to his room. His mouth started watering, and his stomach rumbled as he thought of the banquet Maria was now preparing for their breakfast. She wouldn’t consider it a banquet, but he sure did. There had been too many times his breakfast had consisted of jerky and hardtack…if he’d been lucky!
He nibbled his lip, and his brow furrowed. He needed to tell her thank-you more. Maria worked hard making sure he was comfortable and well-fed. It wasn’t just a job for her; she cared for the whole family. The comforts she worked hard to provide hadn’t always come his way too often. He appreciated it and ought to tell her so.
When he thought about it, he had no right to complain about a thing. He was safe, healthy, warm, fed well, had a job, had a family and had friends. What more could any man ask for?
The person next to him began to stir. He turned on his right side, laid his arm across her waist, and pulled her against him. As they spooned, he gave her tiny kisses on her neck and cheek. She brought her left arm up to caress his head. “I’m a lucky man, Antonia Lancer,” he whispered into her ear.
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