BYRON McAlaister was bored. He regretted agreeing to come here. He didn’t like making small talk. He’d rather be out riding or cleaning out the stables. But it was hard to say no to Jess when she’d made up her mind to attend the annual BBQ party at the Double Creek Ranch.
“Byron, if you keep frowning like that you will scare away all the girls.” Jess McAlaister whispered to her son. Sometimes she thought her son did it purposely just to annoy her.
“Mother, we’re here because you forced me into coming. So don’t try to start match-making.” Byron hissed back. He always called her Mother when he was annoyed with her.
“Well, you can at least try to pretend. If you continue looking like a bear with a sore head, people might think you’re bad mannered.”
“Let them. I. I…” Byron’s breath caught in his throat the moment she stepped into his line of sight. He watched as she talked and laughed, her shoulders rigid straight. Her hands couldn’t keep still; it kept twirling the stem of the wine glass she held. She was nervous.
Jess followed the direction her son’s eyes were focused on; smiling when she realized it was Tamara he was looking at. Hiding her smile while clearing her throat she mischievously said, “Why are you looking at old Mrs Clark like that?”
“Huh! What’d you say Mum?” Byron mumbled not taking his eyes away from the vision before him.
Jess nearly exploded in laughter. Seeing her son tangled in knots was something she didn’t see often. He was always in control of his emotion; even as a kid he hid his emotion behind a mask. Now here was he all tangled in knots, looking real cute.
Pretending to sigh and at the same time trying not to smile, Jess asked her son, “Am I missing something here, Byron? What’s so interesting with Mrs Clark?”
Byron stammered hoping his mother wouldn’t look closely and know that it wasn’t Mrs Clark that he was staring at. “Nothing Mum. I wasn’t staring at Mrs Clark. I was just lost in thought.”
“So, are you going to just stand here all night or mingle with the other guest?” Jess knew he wanted to go over to where Tamara was. “Tamara looks lovely and all grown up, doesn’t she? Want to go and say hi to her?”
“No, Mum. I see Jack over there. Think I’ll go talk to him. There are some things I need to discuss with him.” With that Byron made a beeline towards Jack, stealing quick glances in Tamara direction.
Jess stood there for a moment looking at the retreating back of her son. Then smiling like the cat caught the canary, she walked towards Tamara.
Go to Chapter 3