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Authors: Fay Risner

Tags: #western adventure 1880, #western couple romance, #western oklahoma

Blue Bonnet (7 page)

BOOK: Blue Bonnet
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The hotel dining room was usually
a busy place at noon. Bat considered himself lucky to find a table
for them. They were waiting for their beef and noodle meals to come
when Billie walked in. She did a double take and came across the
room to their table. “Hello, you two. My word, this place is jam
packed today, isn't it? I don't see a place to sit. Not with anyone
I know anyway that wouldn't think I was being forward if I just sat
down with them.”

“Sure is crowded in here all
right,” Leta said. “Mr. Kayhill, get a chair if you can find one so
Billie can sit with us.”

“Oh, I don't want to intrude on
your meal. I just came over to say hello,” Billie
protested.

“No trouble at
all. Besides, ya better take Leta up on the invite since I'm
buying,” Bat joked.

“In that case, Leta, I'd be glad
to join you for dinner,” Billie returned. “What's the special
today?”

“Beef and noodles,” Leta told
her.

“Sounds good,” Billie
said.

“Be right back with a chair,” Bat
said. He headed across the room, walking fast toward an empty chair
he saw in the corner before someone else grabbed it.

After dinner, Bat walked Leta back
to the shop. He left her at the door. With his hands in his
pockets, he whistled all the way home. He had enjoyed his noon meal
with the seamstress. She had a good sense of humor and a sunny
chuckle.

She seemed to hit it off with his
sister, Billie, which helped make the time go more smoothly. He
wasn't sure he could have filled in with enough conversation to
keep things from getting awkward if Billie hadn't been there to
fill in the gaps. He wasn't used to talking to women except for
Billie and the girls. They didn't count since they were
kin.

He sure hoped he was able to find
a woman that was something like the owner of the Seamstress Shop.
One that the women in his family liked, and he could get along with
as easy as he did Leta.

 

Chapter Seven

 

A couple days later, Bat just
happened to be walking by Leta's Seamstress Shop at closing time.
She was twisting the key in the lock. She looked up and smiled at
him when she recognized him.

Bat tugged his hat brim and
greeted, “Evenin’, Miss Leta. How’s the bonnet comin’?”

“I’ve gotten it about half done,”
She said as she dropped the door key in her black receptacle and
pulled the draw strings tight. “I'm glad you came by. I've wanted
to ask you if there is any special trim you would like sewn on the
bonnet to dress it up?”

“I reckon I should just leave that
up to ya seein’ as how I’m not much to know those things,” Bat
said. “Well, I won’t keep ya. It’s supper time.”

“That it is,” Leta said. “Wait a
minute, Bat.” She tapped her lips. “Say, I have an idea. I feel as
if I owe you a meal. Why don’t you come home with me for supper? We
can discuss what I can do special to dress up your bonnet. I can
show you some choices of trim which might spark an idea about what
this special woman of yours would be partial to.”

“Don’t want to have ya go to any
trouble on my account,” Bat said bashfully. He winced inwardly at
the mention of a special woman in his life that didn't
exist.

“No trouble if you like scrambled
eggs and fried potatoes. That's as quick a meal as I can make since
I haven't been near a stove all day as you well know,” she said and
giggled.

“Some of my favorite food. Believe
I’ll take ya up on that,” Bat said, taking the arm she held out to
him.

After supper, Leta escorted Bat
into the parlor. “Sit for a spell and visit with me if you’re not
in any hurry to get somewhere else.”

Bat wondered if this was where he
was supposed to say he had to leave to visit his special friend.
“No hurry, but you've had a long day at the shop and must be
tired.”

“I am that, but I need to unwind
for a spell before I retire for the night. Sitting here does that
for me,” Leta explained as she eased onto the brown velvet
settee.

Bat surveyed the room as he sat
down in the rocker beside the settee. “Right nice home ya have,
Leta.”

“I like it,” She said proudly then
she frowned. “I just wish I had it paid for.”

“You’re a hard worker with a
successful business, so that’s gonna happen. I can just bet on
that,” Bat assured her.

“Well, thank you for your
confidence. Now about the bonnet. Do you think the lucky lady would
like some sort of trim on it to dress it up?”

“If ya say so, I’ll go along with
that,” Bat said. “I ain't much of a hand to know that sort of
thing.”

Leta rose and walked over to a
roll top desk. She picked up a small box and brought it back. She
lifted out several cards of trim. “I have all of these to choose
from. See one you like?”

Bat made the effort to study the
trims. “Nope, Leta. Reckon ya better pick for me.”

Leta set the box on the settee
beside her and rubbed a wrinkle out of her skirt. “Who did you say
the bonnet was for?”

“I didn’t say.” It tickled Bat
that she was curious enough to fish for a name. If he could tell
anyone his secret, it would be this nice lady. She was easy to talk
to and a good listener just like Hannah and Billie.

However, he didn’t want her to
think badly of him. He was pretty sure Leta would think he was
crazy if he told her he didn’t have a clue who he’d give the bonnet
to when she finished it.

So he changed the subject. “That
sure was nice of ya to fix supper for me, but it's like more work
to cook when you've been workin' at the shop all day. We'll have to
go back to the hotel soon. My treat this time, and someone else can
do the cookin' for us. That way ya can just sit and enjoy the
meal.”

“All right, I will. You're very
thoughtful,” Leta said, giving him that warm smile he'd began to
expect.

That Sunday on the walk to church,
Billie burst out with, “So you asked Leta out to lunch the other
day at the hotel? That was pretty daring. In front of a big crowd
of people that could gawk and talk about you eating lunch with the
town seamstress. What do you think of Leta?”

“She's nice enough. To be admired,
I suppose for being a successful business woman. Not many women can
stand on their own two feet and keep the bills paid without needing
a man to help them. Reckon she just ain't my type.” Bat stopped
walking and glanced at Billie. She was studying him as if she'd
just caught him in a lie. “Oh, now wait a minute. It ain't what ya
think. Me bein' with Miss Leta was only business.”

Billie lowered her parasol and put
her hands on her hips. “Business? Really? Can you explain away
Leta's next door neighbor, Mrs. Huntman, telling me and any other
woman that wants to listen, she saw you going into Leta's house one
evening this week. She said you stayed for all evening until
bedtime. That business, too?”

Bat felt his face grow hot. “Mrs.
Huntman should learn to mind her own business. As a matter of fact,
goin' to Leta's house was business, too.”

“Unhuh, Just so you know, Leta
said the same thing when I talked to her so you two are keeping
your stories straight. Well, now answer me one more question. Who
you giving the bonnet to that she's making for you?”

“Listen, you're goin' to make us
late for church if you don't stop talkin' and start walkin'. Hurry
up,” Bat said, walking faster.

Billie grabbed Bat's arm and
pulled him to a stop. “No, you are the one that will make us late
if you don't answer me. I'm not moving from this spot until you
do,” Billie said as she folded her arms over her chest and braced
her high top shoes in the grass.

“What was the question?” Bat said,
waving at Otis Campbell as the elderly man headed up the church
steps.

Billie's eyes narrowed. “Stop
stalling. After all this time of telling me none of the women in
town will do, apparently you have someone special in mind that you
failed to mention to me. Who is Leta making that
bonnet?”

“Why did Leta have to tell ya
about the bonnet? She told me she didn't talk about her customers
orders. And to think I believed her. Don't ya women ever keep a
secret from each other?” Bat complained.

“Very rarely.
Ordinarily, Leta would have kept this one. She's very conscientious
about not talking about her customers orders. If it hadn't been for
your being so secretive about who gets that bonnet she's making,
she wouldn't have said a thing to me.

Leta hoped I'd know who you meant
to give the bonnet to before she finishes it. She had some
questions about the style of the bonnet that you weren't
answering.

Leta has a lot of customers in
this town, and she didn't want the lady that gets that bonnet to be
unhappy with her work. That would be bad for her
business.

She said you weren't any help at
all when she asked you questions about the bonnet. I told her I
wasn't surprised. You didn't even know whether you had a mop and
broom at your house when I asked you.” Billie stopped talking to
catch her breath.

“Oh, Billie, you didn't say that,
did ya?” Bat asked, offended.

“Relax, I'm just pulling your leg.
I told Leta I didn't have a clue who the bonnet is for. You hadn't
mentioned ordering one from her. I knew it wasn't for my birthday
or your two daughters so I couldn't help her. I'm thinking there's
a woman you have in mind you failed to mention. Now I am dying of
curiosity. So who is the bonnet for?”

Bat shifted his weight from one
foot to the other and looked at his feet. “I can't tell
ya.”

“Why not? You haven't kept any
secrets from me up until now about the women you've been sizing up
for a wife. Which one is the bonnet for?” Billie
insisted.

Bat twisted, looking up and down
the street to see if anyone was watching them. This was taking way
too long, and the line was getting shorter at the church steps.
“Oh, come on, Billie. Do we have to go into this right now? We're
goin' to be late for church,” he pleaded.

“I told you that will be your
fault. Give me an answer,” Billie demanded.

Bat hissed, “I can't tell ya,
because I don't know. All right! Now are ya happy?”

Billie looked puzzled. “What do
you mean you don't know? You ordered a woman's bonnet. If you don't
know who does?”

“I don't know, because I don't
have a woman in mind yet to give the bonnet to,” he
mumbled.

“What sense does that make? Why
order a bonnet made if you don't have someone to give it to?”
Billie asked.

“I just wanted one to give her as
a gift for when I do find a woman that will marry me,” Bat said,
feeling as if he wasn't making sense.

Billie confirmed that when she
asked, “What woman in her right mind would want a gift of a bonnet
she didn't have a say in picking? Where did you get such a dumb
idea like that?”

“At the time, I didn't think it
was a dumb idea. Ya aren't going to tell Miss Leta this, are ya?”
Bat asked, feeling cornered.

Billie shrugged her shoulders.
“No, you got yourself in this predicament. I don't want her to hear
how dumb my brother is from me and make you look bad. I think she
kind of likes you, and I'm beginning to wonder why she would. I
don't want to be the one to change that. You're on your own getting
out of this mess the best way you can. Come along. You're making me
late for church.”

Bat threw his hands up in the air.
He couldn't win no matter what he did.

One day through the week, Bat
stopped to see Leta at the shop. Mrs. Huntman was just leaving. She
smiled at him conspiratorially like they shared a secret. Fact is,
it rankered him that Mrs. Huntman had already shared his secret
with every woman in town. Bat gave her a sour look and kept
walking.

Leta had her arms resting on the
counter as she watched him pass the elderly woman. “Nice to see you
again, Bat. You have a problem with Mrs. Huntman?”

“Not that I know of unless she
said something to ya about one,” Bat hedged. He hoped Leta hadn't
heard any of the rumors Mrs. Huntman had started about her and
him.

“As a matter of fact, your name
did come up,” Leta said, watching him for a reaction.

“Now why would that be?” Bat asked
irritably.

“Mrs. Huntman was wondering what
your business was that kept you coming into my shop so
often?”

“Awe, nah, what did ya tell that
nosy woman?” Bat asked, feeling like he had been put on the
spot.

Leta's lips twitched at the
corners. “I told her I never discussed my customers to
anyone.”

“I'm obliged to ya for that,” Bat
declared, feeling relieved. “Now why I came in this time was
because I wanted to know if ya would like to accompany me to church
this next Sunday?”

“Why that would be nice, but ….,”
Leta hesitated, seeming indecisive.

“What's wrong? Ya don't want to
pay any attention to what old busy body Huntman thinks,” Bat
said.

BOOK: Blue Bonnet
11.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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