Endless Trails(7)

By: Bonnie R. Paulson

She turned her gaze to his worried expression and studied him and the situation carefully. Nervous wasn’t a reason to be rude. She wasn’t even nervous as much as she probably should have been. There was something soothing about him and his presence.

Two beds.

He chuckled as he backed into the room. “Plus, these walls look like they’re thin as butterfly wings. You could call out for help at any time and any number of cowboys would run to your rescue.” He winked as he went into the bathroom and flipped on the light. “Oh, look at that, there’s a full shower and a bath, too.”

A bath. Buck didn’t let her use the bath. She would love a bath. As long as her son was safe, she could do anything she needed to. There wasn’t really any chance that Buck would find her in a hotel clear up in the middle of Godfrey. She could take Cody with her to the bathroom and lock the door.

She carried Cody inside the room.

As far as Amy knew, Buck had never been north of I90. Buck might’ve made it to Missoula at one point, but it wasn’t for anything other than a rodeo and a dancing ladies’ nightclub.

“Do you know if there are any stores around here?” She hadn’t seen any on the drive into town, at least which were open which wasn’t surprising. Usually after nine-o-clock, most small towns shut down for the night.

“I didn’t see anything open. Do you need something?” Ryland turned back to the door.

“Cody is running low on formula. I think I have enough to get me through the night, but I’ll need to go to a store in the morning.” She chewed her inner lip and pulled her son tighter in her arms. She wasn’t proud of the fact that she hadn’t been able to continue breastfeeding her child. He’d been allergic to something in her milk and had lost weight the first week. The doctors had put him on formula and he’d started to grow and thrive.

She cast her gaze to the ground, shame mounting as she realized what kind of a mother she had to seem like. “I’m sorry to be a bother. I’m really not your responsibility. None of this is your problem.” How did she tell him how grateful she was that he was helping her? How did she tell him that he had surely saved her life?

He had certainly saved her sons.

Ryland ducked his head, the brim of his cowboy hat covering his face in shadow. “You’re a pleasure to have around. I’ll go get our things. Do you need all of your bags or just a couple?” He waved his hand in the air like batting off his comment. “Never mind, my mama always told me never ask a woman what she needs, just give her everything.” He grinned and stepped out the door.

His mother sounded like a smart woman.

Amy took in the hotel room, which was clean enough, but had definite signs of wear and tear. The comforter had pilling and the pillows looked flattened. With a solid door and a private bathroom, Amy didn’t have to be afraid Buck was going to run in the room and do something atrocious.

There was even a TV. She and Ryland could probably watch programs without getting in a fight. The possibilities were endless.

Ryland returned, all of the bags in his hands were hers.

Cocking her head to the side, Amy gently rested Cody on the clean blanket on the bed. She approached Ryland. “I could’ve grabbed my stuff. Do you need to go back for yours?” She furrowed her brow and watched him carefully stack her items by the small table set up by the bed.

“No, I usually travel light. I’ve got a little pack and it has a toothbrush and soap and stuff in it. My dad taught me long ago pack light and you’ll never have to worry about leaving stuff behind. I’m actually not on this trip permanently. I have a place back in Taylor Falls on the reservation where I’ve been staying with my brother. This is just a mission my family gave me.” He chuckled. “They’re pretty bossy.”

“That sounds interesting.” Amy rounded the bed and nodded her thanks as she took the diaper bag he held out to her. She pulled out Cody’s bottle and with fresh water from the tap made him a new batch of formula.

She moved over and sat on the bed furthest from the door. “There’s a TV. Did you want to find something?” She was nervous he would turn her down, but at the same time she was nervous he would get the wrong idea about what she was offering.

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