Bonner is just a regular cowboy, working his new job and trying to keep himself out of trouble. The family he works for treats him well, and he likes his job, so he figures a man shouldn't make waves. Buck is something else, again, a man like no one Bonner has ever met, from his strange colored eyes to his odd mix of swagger and humility. The two of them come together like a storm over Texas, finding ways to be together in a time when they could find themselves in deep trouble for it. Can these two rough and tumble cowboys find a way to get to forever?
“So you were a cowboy? A real one? Spurs and chaps and all?”
Bonner nodded. “I was, long, long time ago. Rode all over west Texas, pushing ‘horns for a good man that owned a huge spread north of San Antone.”
“Well, I’ll be. I don’t think I’ve talked to anyone who could even ride a horse in a dog’s age.” Bonner looked over, making sure he wasn’t being joshed with. He didn’t hold with bullshit, just ‘cause he was older than God. Guy didn’t look like a bullshitter, though. Looked right enough.
“It’s been a long time. Before my momma died, even. I’d gone out soon as I could, as soon as I had a way and a plan. Lord, you’d’a thought the world was ending, the way folks went on, but I had my teeth set to it and, sure enough, one bright cold February morning there I was, teeth chattering and fingers damn near locked with it, helping twenty other men put out hay from these rickety wood-sided trucks. Lord…”
He’d thought his fingers would just fall off, those first few days. The way the baling wire cut into them, the knuckles red and raw from the hay and the cold and that damned wind that never seemed to stop calling and laughing at them as it hollered across the grey grass. He spent the first week with them curled into fists and held tight against his chest, trying his damnedest to ignore the dull throbbing and just sleep.
“It’ll get better, boy. You gotta trust in that.” A dull thunk startled him as a round tin landed in the blanket beside him, the lid so worn that he couldn’t read whether it was chaw or what. “That and you best buy you some good gloves with your first draw. You hear me? Good leather gloves and a can of that there salve to replace the one I just give you.”
The drover’s eyes were odd – one dark and the other light, just like a glass-eyed horse – but friendly enough from where they looked down on him in a leathered face.
“This something I can get up to the co-op?” He worked the lid off, biting the inside of his lip good and hard so he wouldn’t wince. Lordamighty, that stuff smelled like the inside of a whorehouse or his Aunt Bertha’s valise. Either way it was vile.
“You can get it from the little old Mexican sitting outside, yessir. He charges a nickel and it’s worth it. You rub that in every morning and every night and you’ll sleep.” He got a grin, quick and wicked as a sharp pair of scissors. “Then maybe you’ll stay still and the rest of us will too. Name’s Buck, by the by. Buck Wills.”
“Bonner Davis. Pleased.” His cheeks were burning – right along with his fingers and his nose hairs, all for different reasons. “Thank you kindly.”
"We got to keep care of ourselves out here, boy. You ain't local, but you ain't no foreigner, either…"
He got himself a fingerful of the gray goop, started rubbing it right in, the burn like to kill him afore the numb set in deep. Good Injun magic, there, praise God. "No, sir. My people's from up near Abilene. Daddy got himself a little spread, got two sisters still there."
"No, sir. My brother went down in the big one. I'm the baby."
Buck nodded, that mixture of sorry and proud on his face familiar as anything. Weren't none of them that didn't know one that was lost or broken over the sea, weren't none of them that weren't proud of their boys, even as the women set to crying over it. "I didn't go. Flat feet. Tried though."
"That's what counts."