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Shade Thornton

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Shade Thornton -
Clara Redmond -

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Posted (edited)
Scene Rating: PG-16
Setting: Kalispell Fairgrounds, Kalispell, MT
Location: Dance Floor

The dance was in full swing and going well. The floor was not overly crowded thanks to Ezra Hale's superb planning in laying it all. He had learned from years past that the dance was a very popular event. A standard-sized dance floor would not nearly accommodate everyone, so he had made this one half-again as large as its predecessors. This year, refreshments were served at the edge of the food tent instead of setting the table up on the floor, leaving more space for dancing. Picnic tables and benches for seating were scattered on the ground around the perimeter of the dais so those taking a break could relax and watch the dancing. After only three years, the Kalispell Founder's Day Celebration was becoming the talk of the region and the event of the summer season.

Shade finished the lively square dance with a flourish and returned the lovely Annie Boone to her husband, thanking Gabe for allowing him to dance with his wife. He sauntered off the dance floor and toward the long punch table, surreptitiously surveying the on-hand choices for the next dance. Unlike many men that protested they could neither dance or enjoyed dancing, Shade was both a good dancer and liked it. His mother had made sure both of her sons could acquit themselves well on the dance floor.  After many years of living life on the drift, Shade had looked forward to the weekly socials and town gatherings for companionship and a bit of fun. This was his first opportunity to really meet the majority of Kalispell's residents, and he had enjoyed it so far.

Without hesitation, Shade headed toward the young lady that he hoped would agree to the next dance. He also hoped that dancing would soften her up for an offer he wanted to make to her. Of course, he thought wryly, softening Clara Redmond up with a simple dance was highly unlikely. He would need to be on his toes, not hers, figuratively and literally.

Clara looked pretty in a dress of a reddish-brown color that Shade knew was technically called maroon. It offset the rich dark brown of her hair. Clara Redmond was going to grow into a beautiful young woman, he thought. Shade reached out to gently tug one of the dark plaits hanging over her shoulders, "Miss Clara, would you like to dance?" They had agreed to call one another by their first names earlier but chose to be more formal, so that she understood he was taking the request seriously and not presuming anything.


Big crowd, good food, bunch of folks dancing away with each tune but for Clara, no luck thus far. One boy who might have been her age had been staring at her for awhile but when he might have been ready to head her way, another friend of his tugged him away and they both headed outside, no doubt for some sort of juvenile boy mischief Clara sourly noted. She would have turned him down anyhow...or so she told herself now.


Just then a slight tug on one of her pigtails, having its desired effect, she spun about convinced it was her little brother playing that same old trick which never failed to amuse him. Probably because it always drew her angry reaction which is what her father had been trying to tell her. Ignore him was his bright idea. Parents..............


But it was Shade and her glare vanished even as she stopped before even launching any of her angry invective at what was now obviously NOT her brother.


"Shade. Is that how you sneak up on a lady where you come from?" she inquired but it had sunk by then he was asking her for of all things.......a dance! She had seen him out there, dancing away with various women, both he and his varied partners seemingly enjoying themselves and really he was quite the dancer....well for a man of course.


"Me?" she swallowed, momentarily at a loss for words, not something that happened to her much.


"Well.....yes, I suppose.....I do not know how to square dance though I should warn you. It all looks rather complicated," she admitted truthfully.


Shade smiled at the girl, his eyes warm and friendly, "Truthfully, I prefer the country waltzes to the square dancing. We can have a glass of punch and wait for one of those if you like." The band had played several square dances and Ezra, who was doing the calling, had taken a break. It was likely they would perform some different style of dance music when they restarted.


That brought a smile to the girl's pert features, "Oh me too. My mother taught me the waltz, I can do those."


The two of them sidled over to the punch bowl, Clara hoping everyone was looking at them so they could see she had a man at her side, paying attention to her. Pausing at the bowl, she decided it would be proper for the gentleman to provide the drinks and waited, heart pounding.


Shade picked up the ladle and one of the punch glasses. He deftly filled it and offered it to Clara before filling another one for himself. Once they had their drinks, he gestured toward a couple of chairs where they could sit and wait for their dance. Once settled, he gave the girl a once-over with his deep blue eyes, "I hope you did not take any hurt from the scuffle in the drinks tent?"


"Thank you kind sir," Clara took the glass offered to her then and followed him over to the chairs on the side of the dance floor, the current dance was another square dance so they had agreed to wait for something more suitable....that is something she could do.


"That? I am fine. Few bruises," she gave it a shrug then continued, "You worry about me too much. I will have you know I was shot in the chest by an Indian arrow. Close range. The doctor thought I was going to die, said as much to my father. But father replied that I was too stubborn to die...pretty much the right of it."


"However you took a few shots I see.  You should be blocking those with your fists or arms not your face," she smiled.


Shade blinked at Clara and then laughed quietly. The girl definitely had moxie! "You're right, ma'am, I should have made a better job of it." He winked at her, "You sure you want to be seen on the dance floor with such a disreputable varmint because it sounds like they are playing our dance?" The band had finished the square dance and had struck up a slow, lilting country waltz.


Clara sipped her punch, honestly she wasn't even paying any attention to how it tasted, her full focus was on Shade.


"I thought those days were behind you. And besides you promised me a dance and you will not get out of it that easily," Clara replied.


Sure enough the music had changed, glancing from Shade for a second, she could see various couples now commencing steps like her mother had taught her. Of course that had been in their own home and there hadn't been any actual music.  She suddenly stood and placed her glass down upon the chair then held out her hand for him to take and lead her on out there. Try as she might to actual all calm and reserved, her heart was racing. She was going to dance with a man!


"Those days are never completely behind you," Shade said solemnly as he stood up. He took both of their glasses to the table and then returned, offering his arm to Clara. "Dance with me." He smiled at her.


"My pleasure," she beamed.


The floor was not horribly crowded as most of the dancers had gone to sit down or get refreshments after the enthusiastic square dances. Shade twirled Clara into the country waltz, stepping close but not overly so. Despite a life on the drift, he had been raised well and taught to be a gentleman. For the moment, the rough cowboy took a back seat to the gentleman rancher.


Edited by Shade Thornton (see edit history)

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Clara did know how to dance this sort of thing and, as was her perfectionist nature, she did not make any blunders though maybe she was a bit mechanical in her movements as she thought on each one. Still after a few moments, it all just came naturally enough as they danced as if they had done this many times before. Clara was lost in her own little world, she could never have even imagined this glorious evening a month ago or even a week ago. She was still a realist and knew this was not anything romantic and they were not going to get married or any such foolishness. But she was - despite all her logic - very fond of him and though she probably would not admit it the fact she had a girl's crush on him.


For now, she just wanted to enjoy this magical moment. Tomorrow it could go back to reality.


Shade found himself enjoying the dance. Clara was surprisingly good and he was no slouch himself. He wanted to make sure that Clara had a good time and that the Redmonds realized not everyone in the region were like the Steelgraves and their ilk. He needed to talk to her about the job at the ranch too. However, right now, it was about making sure she enjoyed herself.


He needn't worry about that, the girl was smiling and enjoying every moment. And to think her father had to convince her to actually show up tonight. Knowing what she knew now, she would not have missed it for the world!


The band played two more waltzes and a lively country dance. When they started forming up for another square dance, Shade led Clara off the floor and to a table set a little way away from the others. "I'll get us something to drink."


"Very well," Clara nodded, content to sit and just enjoy the whole atmosphere.


He headed to the water barrel, found a couple of clean glasses and carried them back full of clear, clean icy cold water.


Clara took the glass offered her, "Thank you, kind sir."


Taking a sip she then offered, "I would have much preferred the punch. I can have water every day of the week but..."


She ended with a shrug then another sip of water.


He sat down in the chair opposite Clara and smiled, "You're a very accomplished dancer. Your mother teach you?"


"Yes, she was a splendid dancer. Father has two left feet and no ear for music. Hearing him sing at church can be a pain," she smiled.


The smile faded though quickly as she went on, "My mother taught me so much. She was an excellent mother and I dearly miss her. I am only here now because she shielded me when that......Indian fired a second arrow to finish me off...."


Clara stared for a moment at the floor, "She should have kept running. After I got hit I mean. Then Wyatt would still have a mother and Father....well, I know he misses her every single day. He is just not much of a talker."


Shade's voice was kind when he spoke, "I cannot imagine how hard that's been on your family, Clara, especially you little'uns. I wasn't able to get home and see my mother before she died, so maybe I understand a little." Reaching out, he gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "You are doing a great job with Wyatt and the homestead. So much so, in fact, that we would like to offer you a job at the ranch. I've talked to your father and he is okay with me offering you the job."




Edited by Shade Thornton (see edit history)

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She liked what he said, well except for that nonsense about 'little'uns', she firmly believed she was much an adult as many folk quite older. Even her father admitted he didn't know how he could manage their homestead without her hard work and varied skills. It came as no surprise to her that he too missed his mother, seemed the natural way of things. But all those thoughts evaporated when he made a sudden job offer.


"A job? At the ranch? Surely you do not wish me to be one of your cowpokes?  I am but fifteen years old and a gi...lady," she was confused.


@Shade Thornton



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About Sagas

Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.

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