Cally Coe frowned sternly at her variegated geraniums. The garden scissors quivered. Yes? No? Yes! The dead heading was complete. Any more would fall into the category of live heading. And as any gardener worth her salt knows – that ain’t good.
The frown relaxed leaving her velvety brow as smooth and unwrinkled as…
Cally draped her slender, yet delightfully curvy…
[I heard that! Any more heckling will be punished with immediate cessation of chocolate ration.]
She draped herself over her lounger, tipped her sunhat over her face and sighed happily.
Birds twittered. Squirrels chirruped. Leaves rustled.
Was it perhaps too quiet?
Despite the fact that an excess of tranquillity would have been handy, given the title of the current month’s challenge – the hum of the world cup from every telly in the street, and the agonised groans emanating from the incumbent of her very own sofa beyond the folding doors, meant it was not TOO quiet.
But it was bliss.
Suddenly she started upright. Was that the sound of hooves? And – a whicker?
With one soil encrusted finger Cally pushed up her brim.
Two familiar horses were tethered to the recycling bin. Not surprisingly two even more familiar ex-outlaws were regarding her with affectionate – and in one case, dimpled – smiles.
Well, I say ‘not surprisingly’. It was a surprise. It was just less of a surprise given the double equine clue currently tugging a stray tendril off her jasmine.
“Hello, Cally,” grinned Heyes, letting his eyes rove appreciatively over the areas she was currently exposing to the evening sunshine. “You’re lookin’ good.”
[Well, Heyes IS a genius.]
“What are you doing here? Not that I’m complaining…” she purred.
“Maz sent us,” said Curry. “She asked me to give you a quickie…”
Feminine eyebrows twitched. It was unlike Maz to be so generous with the blond’s attentions. And Cally usually stayed on the dark side. Still, variety is the spice of life…
“I guess I could be persua…”
“Here it is.”
Cally’s voice tailed off as she eyed what Kid Curry has pulled from his saddle-bags.
Sorry looking vegetables wilted, despondent, amongst a sunken egg filling and a casing that had not survived the ride unscathed.
“It’s pronounced – quiche.” She tried to keep the disappointment out of her voice. She failed.
“I can see that.” Pause. Two inches of pastry wall gave up the ghost and flopped, damply, to the paving slabs beneath. “How – generous – of Maz.”
“No need to sound so ungrateful,” huffed Heyes. “She did send us both on a visit.”
“I guess so,” admitted Cally. She pondered on Maz’s usual attitude to letting Kid Curry out of her firm grip, let alone out of her sight. “Why?”
“Just to check on how you are. See if you had any news? Any plans? Maybe…” Endearing smile. Heyes bent close to whisper in her ear. “…Travel plans.”
“Travel plans?” Cally mused. “Hmmm – let me think.”
“Don’t stall,” Heyes let his warm breath stir the fine down on her cheek… “You can tell me.” His lips moved down. His fingers twined amidst…
“Heyes, please take your fingers off my bush!”
“Aw, but it feels so silky.”
“You’ll break the stems.”
Reluctantly, Heyes removed his hands off the luxuriant fennel whose leaves brushed the garden lounger.
“We need to know what you and the rest of the Appreciation Society are planning in ‘Frisco,” said Heyes.
“Call it friendly int’rest,” grunted Kid.
“I suppose you think we spend all our time talking about you…”
“Well…” Heyes hesitated. For once, honesty got the better of him. “Yes.”
“Hey!” protested Kid. “Most of ‘em talk about me!”
“Most?” Heyes’ eyebrow lifted quizzically.
“At least half like me best!”
The other eyebrow rose. A gentle – disbelieving – smile.
“Keep telling yourself that, Kid.”
Curry scowled. “This ain’t what we came for. We came to find out about the guns.”
“Guns?” Cally peered down her neckline. Apart from being a touch closer to ground level than twenty years back, what was wrong with her…?
“Not your… Real guns,” said Heyes.
“These are real.”
“Pistols!” snapped his partner.
“Kid!” protested Cally. “That’s not a nice word for a lady’s…”
“Are you and the rest of the gals learning how to shoot?” cut in Heyes.
“Oh that. Yup. After all,” she shrugged, “how hard can it be?”
“How hard…?” Kid Curry audibly inhaled patience.
“Why do you even want to learn?” Heyes’ brows drew together. “What are you all plotting?”
“You’re not thinkin’ of holdin’ us hostage like Crazy Lorraine, are ya?” asked Kid.
“Perish the thought.” Two suspicious ex-outlaws gazed at the picture of innocence on the sun-lounger. They were not convinced. “You can trust us. You know what the ladies of the Appreciation Society are like.” Cally oozed integrity like a – like a crumpet oozes butter. “Would we ever hurt you?”
A glance was exchanged. And a shudder.
“That settles it,” sighed Curry.
“Yup,” agreed Heyes. “We’ll hafta go to ‘Frisco too, keep an eye on them.”
Cally Coe retilted her sun hat to hide the smug smirk of self-satisfaction.