“… Tell Grey I’ll call him later. Give that cute little girl of yours a hug and a kiss from me. I’m going to ride Shadow into town for something different. Talk soon Connie.”
“Bye Gwen.” Gwen hung up her phone before shoving her akubra hat on her head. Outside the black Stock horse mare was already saddled ready to go. Gwen studied Shadow; the mare had always been filled out looking muscular and fit, but due to Gwen’s hectic life and a little over feeding to keep her in good nick through the dry times, was borderline fat with the little work she got. Checking the girth to make sure she wouldn’t come off, Gwen tilted Shadow’s nose slightly towards her. She stuck her foot in the stirrup iron, bounced slightly before lifting herself to be seated in the saddle. Shadow swished her tail as Gwen tapped her with the spurs to move forward. After going months with no proper work the mare carried on and played up until they got halfway to town. A mixture of walking, trotting and cantering had the unfit Shadow covered in sweat by the time they reached the café. Coming to a halt in a free parking space in front of the café, Gwen dismounted dropping her split reins to the ground having taught the mare to stand still by tapping the mare’s left ear and having the reins on the ground. Gwen wasn’t worried about the traffic spooking her as Shadow didn’t even bat an eye at it. Some women loved to hear the click of heels on hard surfaces, Gwen loved the jingle her spurs made. The aroma of the coffee hit her as she walked through the door into the café. When Logan saw her walk in, he smiled before giving her a mocking glare.
“How many times have I told you, you can’t park your horse out front?”
“Never, this is the first time. I’m just here for breakfast, plus she needed it. Do you know how many times I have nearly come off this morning? Too many if you ask me, she likes to keep you on your toes. It won’t happen again.” Gwen responded with a shrug, she was starting to ache from trying to hold on when Shadow threw in some half-hearted bucks. Logan handed her a bucket of water. She took it out for Shadow before returning to get her coffee, sitting at a window table so she could keep an eye on her horse. Sipping on her coffee she couldn’t help but think about the night before. There was something about the man she met she couldn’t figure out. Her breakfast arrived and Gwen hurried to eat it before the day got too hot to ride in. Paying she hurried to get out of the café, when she arrived it was already warming up. With her mind preoccupied, she didn’t realise she had run into someone until she felt scorching hot coffee seep through her shirt hitting her skin. Gasping she pinched the front of her shirt holding it away from her.
“I’m sorry Gwen.” The deep voice said at the same time she apologised for not looking where she was going. Glancing up past the brim of her hat she saw Beau’s apologetic face and what he wore matched what she wore. Akubra hat, wrangler jeans and a button up long sleeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a pair of boots.
“I’ll buy you a new coffee since I’m now wearing yours.” She cringed adjusting her glasses; she cursed herself for not paying more attention while she was in public. She was having some rotten luck, after last night’s revelations, she tried to ring her brother who was out buying groceries and had forgotten his phone, and she got hot coffee down her front. Gwen peered around Beau just in time to see Shadow get spooked by a plastic bag, taking off down the street. Groaning she ran out of Remes’ café, stopping in the middle of the street whistling, her mare came to a halt before trotting back to Gwen. That was the last thing she needed, a runaway horse.
“That’s a well-trained horse you have there.” Beau commented, a smile graced her face, she was proud of Shadow’s training. Gwen swung herself into the saddle; she pulled five dollars out of her pocket handing it to Beau.
“I have to go, but here is five dollars, for a new coffee.” She said as Shadow nudged him with her nose. It was surprising since Shadow generally hated the male population. “She likes you, it’s odd, and she doesn’t usually like men.”
“I’m a very likable guy.” He smirked; Gwen raised an eyebrow at him. He handed her back her money. Although she agreed with him silently he was likable, she still didn’t know him well enough to admit it out loud.
“Don’t flatter yourself cowboy. Now I would like it if you took the money or I will have no choice but to shove it down your shirt and make a quick getaway.” She said as Shadow began to fidget, a light tug on the reins had the mare standing still. Patience was wearing thin as the sun seared her exposed skin. She needed to get home.
“How about we have dinner instead?” Gwen was about to decline his offer when her horse started moving her head up and down in a nodding motion. She knew Beau wasn’t going to take no for an answer but it was the only one that she had for him.
“Clearly my horse would like too. I can’t, I’m meeting up with a friend later.”
“Don’t make him beg little Goanna, I’ll go visit little C and give you a full report.” Gwen didn’t even see Drake standing there. She wasn’t in the mood to go out, she wanted to curl up with Clara and watch Disney movies. Sighing, she also had to call her brother; the conversation to be had wasn’t on the pleasant side. Glancing at Beau, she could see in his eyes that he knew what she did, that alone unsettled her. He smiled at her and she hoped he couldn’t see it in her eyes her inner turmoil. No matter how much she wanted to spend more time with Beau at the moment it wasn’t an option. Straightening Gwen knew her final answer.
“I can’t, I’m sorry. I like daylight too much.” Gwen said quietly, Drake’s face held confusion while Beau looked upset. Not being able to stay any longer, she spurred Shadow into a canter heading in the direction of home. When she arrived she unsaddled Shadow, hosing her off before going inside for a shower. Dressing in football shorts and a baggy singlet top Gwen towel dried her hair. Remembering the story her brother Grey told her when she was little struck a chord. Gwen didn’t know how she knew, but she knew in her head and heart that Beau was the one who was made to love her. He was her destined other half, how she knew that information was out of her control, she just knew. It meant that the story wasn’t just a story. The princess with the scar on her cheek who found her true love after her twentieth birthday? She had an unsettling feeling it was her. If Beau was meant to be her prince, that meant the curse was real too. Gwen tried to remember how the story went. Prince and princess meet, unaware of the curse, three months later it struck, the prince was connected to the sun, while the princess was connected to the moon, never meeting again unless it was in the act of an eclipse. Frowning, Gwen never knew if this broke the curse or not. Dialling Grey’s number, she was greeted with the answering machine.
“It’s Greyson, leave a message at the beep, if you’re Gwen, sis, if it’s urgent; come over.” The beep blared in her ear; her brother always had that message.
“Hey Bro, just wondering if the curse was real or not, talk soon, love ya.” Hanging up the phone, she made her way outside to do some gardening.
Hours later she was covered in sweat, although she mowed the lawn and de-weeded the garden. It had been months since she had been able to get out into the yard to tidy up. Storing the push mower into the shed, Gwen dished out Shadow and Dixie’s feed. Sliding the tuff tub under the railing, she checked the trough for water before watering the close to dead flowers. Her blue heeler dog was running amok chasing grasshoppers and other flying bugs. Dixie had been with Gwen since she was a six week old pup. She was as loyal and faithful as a dog should be, the thing that Gwen loved about Dixie was her protectiveness, not letting strangers near the place. A nasty bark followed a growl, spinning on heel to see what her dog was barking at she spotted Beau strolling towards her. He looked over dressed to be visiting her, dark blue jeans with an ironed button up shirt. Gwen glanced down at her growling animal whose hackles were up.
“Dixie, behind,” Gwen called with a whistle; reluctantly she trotted behind Gwen and sat at her heel. Beau halted not coming within ten metres of her. She couldn’t believe either Drake or Logan told him where she lived, she wanted to be alone.
“Friendly dog you have there.” He commented earning a growl from Dixie, Gwen couldn’t help the giggle that bubbled out of her, quickly covering it with a cough. The sun was going down and she had things to do before she had work tomorrow.
“What are you doing here Beau?” Gwen asked getting straight to the point, not wanting to beat around the bush. Obviously she didn’t make it clear enough to him that she liked seeing the sun, unless he didn’t know about the curse. Her day was getting worse by the minute; it didn’t help her most trusted companion was growling non-stop. “Dixie, enough, go sit down.”
“I’m here to take you on that date.”
“I thought I told you I can’t. I still stand by what I said earlier Beau. I’m not going and you should leave. I’m begging you to leave, so please.” Gwen pleaded; they had already spent too much time together. Turning the tap off, she folded her arms over her chest. When he made no move to leave, she sighed, knowing it was agreeing to a date that would get him to leave. Something she fought herself on and knew it wasn’t a good idea. From what she could see, Drake was setting her up so she wouldn’t be alone. It didn’t matter if the curse set in, she would be alone.
“We don’t have to go out, I have all the ingredients to make a home cooked meal.” She heard him respond as she walked up the small flight of stairs to her front deck.
“No, that’s what my answer is. Just leave Beau, just leave.” She told him not facing him, instead going inside, and leaving him standing outside. She wasn’t angry at him, just exhausted from trying to get him to leave her alone. He wasn’t a stalker, she knew that, she just wish he knew that he would get that they were cursed and after three months they could never see each other again. After her shower, she put on her pyjamas that consisted of black shorts and a singlet top. Letting her hair hang loose over her shoulders, Gwen left her glasses on her bed side table. Knowing her home like the back of her hand she made her way to the kitchen, before she got there she could hear clanking and could smell mixed spices drifting through the house. Shuffling in the direction of the kitchen she hoped it was Beau not listening to her and not some robber. She could smell roasting vegetables and something else she couldn’t put her finger on. She could tell it was Beau when she got up close, she could faintly see the colour of his shirt, although she had to stand close to him to even get that. She scolded herself for not wearing her glasses, now she was probably going to make a fool of herself in front of him.
“What are you doing?” he asked. She could feel him staring down at her. Feeling her cheeks heat up, Gwen backed away slowly so as not to crash into anything.
“Making sure, it’s you and not a robber. I can’t see. I thought I told you to leave?”
“How do you like your steak?” He asked ignoring her question, she heard the sizzling the steak made when it hit the frying pan.
“Dead, but not chewy dead, tender dead.” She replied with a shrug, she could feel his confusion rolling off him and she could imagine him with a confused look on his face. “No pink spots, if it still bleeds it should still be on the animal it came from.” Gwen added sarcastically, she couldn’t handle watching cooking shows where they ate their meat rare, it made her ill. The story about the curse haunted her mind, being close to Beau made it worse. Without confirmation from Grey, she couldn’t be a hundred percent sure; her intuition told her it was real. She didn’t want to be confined to the night; she would have to sell Shadow because she wouldn’t get work.
“I know the curse is real Gwen, but can’t we just enjoy one night?” She heard him ask his voice sounded desperate. The thing that struck a chord was the indirect confirmation that the curse was real. What did it matter? No matter what in three months they would never see each other again.
“Then one night will turn into more, I’m sure. Since we are cursed I guess it can’t hurt. Let me get my glasses.” After fetching her glasses, they sat down at the table and ate the meal Beau had cooked. The conversation flowed easily and there was no talk about the curse or anything to do with the situation they found themselves in. He asked her about how she trained her animals to obey her every order. Gwen forgot what it was like to have a conversation about random topics; most of her conversations were with Clara or about her and how Gwen was going to cope when the drought forced her to sell up. She felt herself relax; it was something she hadn’t felt in a long time. They finished dinner and Gwen washed up while Beau cleaned up his mess. Soon she was pushing him out the door; she had to get some sleep before she had to get up for work. In all her life she had never met someone who she could spend all night talking and laughing with, until Beau she had always talked to her friends but they were never ones to stay up late. Late night conversations were her favourite, talking about serious topics quietly with a coffee in hand, she had a feeling if her and Beau weren’t cursed they could talk the night away about any topic.
“Relaxed looks good on you Gwen, not so tense and stressed out. I must say you look utterly beautiful at home. I like this girl, she is pretty amazing.” She smiled at his comment and felt her cheeks heat up. She never considered herself beautiful, but in the few times she had been with him, she felt it. He also needed to leave otherwise they would be sitting on the steps talking all night; Gwen needed her job to pay the bills that weren’t going to pay themselves.
“Good night Beau, don’t tempt me into talking to you until the cows come home, even though I like talking to you. I have a job to get to in the morning.” Gwen said placing her hand on his chest trying to push him out her opened door. Instead he grabbed her wrist pulling her into him. Her chest was pressed against his and she felt his free arm wrap around her waist holding her in place. Her breath hitched as her heart beat wildly threatening to jump out of her chest. She knew where it was heading, it’s how it happened in books and movies, Beau was going to kiss her, and he had that look in his eyes. Gwen didn’t know what to think, her first kiss was with her gay best friend, she didn’t feel the intensity with Drake as she did with the man in front of her. The impending kiss scared the hell out of her, she barely knew Beau from a bar of soap and yet here he was about to kiss her. Somewhere deep down she trusted him; not knowing why she brushed it aside thinking it was the fact Logan had known him for six years that calmed her nerves. In a single swooping motion, he leaned down capturing her lips with his in a scorching kiss. With her palms flat against his chest she pushed him away when the phone rang breaking the trance she was in. She wriggled out of his iron grip mumbling goodnight before locking the door separating them.