Other Characters by this Player
There's nothing here yet
Brendan nodded, resting his arms on his horse's back so she could see his hands. The way this girl talked, it was bound to be a long story. It wasn't as long as he thought she would make it, but the words she used! Ruffian, desire, compromise, and hooligan. Honestly, she sounded she was trying to play schoolteacher, which annoyed him a little, but he tried to focus on the humor of the story. And it wasn't hard.
And there was the mention of swimming. His eyes lit up a little, but he didn't interrupt her since she still had her gun in hand. As the story unfolded, he grinned, then chuckled. At first he propped his chin on his hand and dug his fingers into his cheek, trying not to laugh. But when Clara got to the part where Billy and Greer had ridden off with her clothes, he couldn't help it anymore.
He burst out laughing, even though she was obviously still upset about the incident. "I would'a loved to have seen that!"
He stopped laughing abruptly as he realized she might take his words the wrong way. "Them ridin' off with your clothes, I mean, ma'am. Miss." He wasn't sure what to call her. Her height and size made her a miss, but the way she talked made her a ma'am.
"Yeah, I believed him," Brendan said shortly, peering at Clara over his horse's saddle. It seemed like maybe he had been wrong to believe Billy, though. But he couldn't think about that right now. He had to focus on not getting shot.
He felt his jaw drop as Clara stoutly defended her family's right to the farm. It almost made his head hurt. Who was he supposed to believe? Billy, who had showed every sign of being friendly but had let him come down here by himself? Or Clara, who was supposed to be friendly but was certainly not?
But she did offer to tell him the story from her point of view. Brendan didn't want to hear a sob story from a girl - he was sure it was a sob story - but she was the one with the gun.
"Eh...sure, why not? Go ahead an' tell your side. Just maybe...put the gun away?" He rose up on his toes so she could see all of his face over his horse's back, revealing a charming, pleading smile.
"Don't know what you mean by dirty work. He told me you were right friendly, so I wanted to come down here an' meet you," Brendan said, trying to seem calm. He moved his hand a few inches to the right until his fingers touched his horse's bridle, then he pulled his horse in front of himself. The girl wouldn't shoot a horse.
"And I don't know what you mean by trespassin'! I'm sure Mr. Steelgrave wouldn't like it if he knew you squatters were gettin' so uppity."
He scowled a little, upset that this had gone so differently from how he had imagined it would go...and from how Billy had hinted that it would go. But it still didn't click in his mind that Billy might have stretched the truth...or completely turned it on its head.
Brendan had tossed his reins over his horse's head and had been about to offer Clara an invitation to go swimming sometime when she...pointed a gun at him? And cocked it?!
"You come any closer and I will shoot you!"
It was almost laughable, those words coming from a girl, but Brendan was looking down the barrel of the Colt and he wasn't laughing anymore. Well, something about what he'd just done had pissed her off. Since she corrected him on how he had addressed her, he assumed that was it.
"Miss Redmond, then," he said, eying the gun and keeping his hands level with his horse's back, palms outstretched. "But there ain't no call to go gettin' so hel...uh...heckfire touchy 'bout that. I might'a been too forward. But I didn't think you'd mind, seein' as how Billy said..."
He trailed off, suddenly realizing that everything Billy had told him about Clara didn't match up with the girl who was holding a gun on him.
"Owner?" Brendan burst out laughing, throwing his head back and letting a flash of sunlight stab his eyes. This gal was too funny. First of all, she thought her father owned this farm. Second, the way she talked made her seem like she was older than she really was. This gal was too big for her britches. Not that that was hard to do, seeing how skinny she was.
And she wasn't scary at all. There were some women who could put a scare on a man with their eyes, but Clara was not one of them. Not yet, anyway.
"Listen, Clara," he said, still chuckling, "I think you've been out in the sun too long. Let me hold that there laundry basket for you while you hang the rest a' those clothes out."
Still not able to wipe his grin off his face, he swung his leg over his horse's back and started to dismount. Girls liked it when men helped them out with chores, and Clara needed his help badly. This sun was addling her brains.
The girl didn't look all that friendly as Brendan rode up. She sure wasn't flinging herself at him like Billy said she had done. Maybe she thought he was Greer from far off. The thought made him chuckle to himself as he neared the girl hanging out the washing.
But her next words stopped his laughter in his throat. He was trespassing? That was an odd thing for a squatter to say. And the fact that such a little bitty gal could speak so confidently to him was an odd thing, too. Because she was little bitty. Why, her hair was still in braids instead of up on top of her head!
"Eh...I think you're confused, missy." Confused or ornery? Brendan scratched his chin and leaned over in the saddle. "But I'll overlook that. I just come to inter-duce myself. I'm a new hand over at the Evergreen spread. Brendan Conolly's my name."
Brendan perked up as Billy mentioned a gal. He squinted at the figure. She looked kind of skinny and short from this distance, but maybe she would look better closer up.
"Really? Looks like you did a good job of escaping her," he said lightly, leaning on his saddle horn. Not that Billy would have wanted to escape a girl that threw herself at him.
And the girl liked swimming? That was kinda odd, but to each his own. Or her own, in this case. Anyway, it would give him something to entice her with. An invitation to go swimming with a cowhand from Evergreen ranch? He was sure a girl as "friendly" as Billy made her out to be would accept.
"Swimming? Maybe I c'n get her to go swimming with me sometime. Sometime at night." He grinned and nudged his horse forward, glancing back at Billy and Greer. He did find it a bit strange that Billy wouldn't want to come along with him, but maybe he was just being nice to the new hand. It was downright neighborly of him.
He pushed his hat back on his head further as he rode down the rise, leaving Billy and Greer behind. As he approached the farmhouse, he watched the girl's shape become clearer. She wasn't getting any more curvaceous. Maybe it was the sun in his eyes?
Brendan shrugged, letting Greer's irritation roll off him like water droplets off a duck's back. The man was clearly in a permanent bad mood. Only he seemed to perk up a little when Billy mentioned going to visit the farm that "belonged" to the squatters Mr. Steelgrave was letting live on Evergreen.
Brendan was intrigued, his natural curiosity aroused by the idea of squatters. He squinted ahead to try to see the farm, then looked back at Billy. "Letting squatters live on your property don't seem like good business. But what do I know? Sure, let's ride over there."
He yawned and rolled his shoulders. In the heat, it was easy to get drowsy. But the prospect of meeting these squatters would be enough to keep him awake, he thought. That and the knowledge that he needed to keep his eyes open so he could start learning the terrain.
"How long've they been livin' here?" He asked, referring to the squatters.
"Uh-huh..." Brendan nodded slowly, thinking about whether he fit with the reputation of the Evergreen ranch. He'd met more of the hands than the actual Steelgraves themselves so far, but the hands definitely had a reputation. He wasn't sure that he liked it, but he would stick around and see if things looked up.
Brendan smiled at the back and forth between Greer and Billy. Even though they were talking about a human being, it was humorous. Suddenly he was glad he was here. Maybe someday he'd have a good enough relationship with one of the hands that they could go back and forth like that.
He inserted himself into the argument, pushing his hat back on his head a little and raking his fingers through his forelock to banish a few drops of sweat from his forehead. Billy had been right: it was going to be a scorcher.
"Well, if ya didn't see 'im go down and ya didn't track him, ya can't really say you kilt him, can you? Winged 'im, maybe."
Acknowledging that Greer probably hit the guy was a good step in his mind, but like Billy, Brendan doubted the trespasser had actually died. It might not help Greer's opinion of him, but that couldn't be helped.
Brendan chuckled, even though the idea of taking orders from Greer and Billy was not an appealing one. Billy because he was younger, and Greer because...well...something about Greer just got his hackles up.
"Sure, you know the ropes," he agreed lightly, winking at Billy.
He was fine to go along with the two cowboys for now, as long as they didn't make him do something stupid or humiliating. They wouldn't be the first two hands to try that on a new hand. But he thought he was experienced enough to sniff out any trouble before they got him into it.
He inspected the ranch as they rode, trying to spot places were strays might like to hide. Evergreen was a fair-sized property, from what he could tell. It would be important to know the property lines so he didn't end up trespassing on someone else's land.
"You mentioned trespassers?" he asked after a bit. "You get a lot of those 'round here?"