Chapter  7 

“Kevin what are you thinking about man?”  A. J. idly asked at they drove along the highway. 

“That stupid baling contest she had to have,” he laughed and stomped his feet into the floorboards of the van, slightly giddy over the memory.  “Typical of Cass to think she could win it!”

Howie laughed, “That’s right Kev, beat a woman to the ground you should be proud.”

Kevin’s happy mood left quickly.  Defending himself to his friends, “Hey I tried to make it fair, she was laughin’ at me when you guys came out.  Like she thought I was some kind of wus or somethin’.”

Brian’s laughter reverberated off the windows of the van.  “Something funny Bri?”  Kevin turned in his seat and lowered the sunglasses off his nose.

“You always, always, revert to the good ole boy when someone threatens you.  I just figured it out.  You stomped Cass into the ground that day because she attacked that male ego of yours.”

“So what,” Kevin grumbled as he turned back around.

“What was that entire little game for anyway?”  A.J. continued as he watched the traffic.

“It started out whether we were staying or not.  Then I turned it around so that she had to be nice to us.”  Kevin inhaled sharply and then sighed.  “Then she whipped my butt the next day, that sucked.”

They all began to laugh and bust on him.  Cass had humiliated him like no other woman had ever done.  Big strapping, handsome, Kevin Richardson trussed up like a chicken in the middle of a corral.  He actually began laughing as his mind spun back rapidly to that time and place. 

He was listening to Abe tell them the rules.  By now the guys were on to them and so they insisted they could watch.  They didn’t know the reason but they knew that a fierce competition had begun between the two.  Cass had beaten him hands down, she walked up to him and smiled, “Draw, you stay and I’ll try, TRY, to be nice.”

“Deal,” Kevin grinned as they shook on it.

It was after that that all hell broke loose.  Cass and Gary mounted up to take off for the day.  Cass’s horse became uneasy and pawed at the dirt.  Not really paying attention, she gently stroked the steed’s neck in order to settle him.  The sound of wood splintering and cracking rang through the air.  Cass began screaming for the guys to get off the corral fence.  Kevin saw her face and it registered a controlled fear, not for her but for them.  The fellas jumped off and Kevin stayed planted on the top rail.

“Gary I thought I told you to lock that animal up!”  Cass was screeching as her mount danced around the corral frantic. 

“I did!”  Gary’s horse circled the animal trying to contain it from the side of the corral where the boys were.

Kevin was fixated on the beast.  He had never really seen a bull up close let alone one that angry.  He did see a large cat once in Africa but that was nothing compared to the animal standing a few feet away. 

“Kevin get off the rail!”  Abe began yelling since the young man hadn’t moved.

Cass’s horse whipped around and she flew into the barn.  She had lost her seat in the saddle and was now on the ground on her feet.  Abe ran into the corral still yelling at Kevin to get off the rail.  The bull was heading in his direction.  Cass saw it and started running around the corral.  Her boots slipping in the loose dirt and stones.  “Gary if he doesn’t move go knock him off it!” 

She danced around the bull tormenting it to chase her.  Swinging her body between Kevin and the bull she smacked the animal in the face as she went by.  The bull turned and charged.  Cass ran out of the corral to a small, reinforced enclosure by the barn.  She ran with everything she had into the pen. 

The guys stood on the other side of the fence with their mouths hanging open.  They couldn’t believe what they had just seen.  Cass had ran into the pen and then scurried up the sides of it to get out.  When she hit the top rail the bull charged the side and knocked her off the rail.  She landed on her side outside of the pen. 

“Cassandra Jo!”  Abe walked to her yelling at her.  “That was the dumbest stunt you have ever done in your entire life!”

Dusting herself off, smacking the dirt from her body, she snagged her hat off the ground.  “No!  That was the dumbest stunt I have ever seen.”  She pointed to Kevin as she grabbed the rope from Abe’s hand.  She stalked over to Kevin and spat at him.  “The next time I tell you to get off the rails you better do it!”

Kevin shrugged as he placed his hands on his hips.  Tucking the toe of one boot under the rail to keep his balance.  “I’m fine.”

Cass was incensed.  “Damn you’re stupid,” she yelled as she lifted the rope and swung it in a wide circle.

The next thing that Kevin registered was that he had been roped.  Dragged to the ground, while he kicked and screamed.  Cass was nothing but a ball of fury.  Kevin was lying on the ground of the paddock on his back.  His one hand and two legs tied together, sticking straight up in the air.  Cass grinning widely at him, “If you die, I’ll be responsible for breaking all those teeny tiny hearts, not to mention your wife.  You do what I say, or go.”

“CASS UNTIE ME RIGHT NOW!”  Kevin was rolling from side to side on the ground of the corral.  What really pissed him off was when Nick said, “Look now we know what happens when a turtle is stuck on his back!”

“SON OF A BITCH!”  He was wiggling around like he was on fire.  Cass was laughing hysterically.  Abe felt that Kevin had been humiliated enough.  He went to Kevin and told him to calm down.  With the rope sliced clean Kevin jumped up and ran after her.

A.J. stepped between them, “Back off!  You should’ve done what she asked you to do.”

Kevin’s face was stone cold, “You back off, and we’re here to work.”

“Then let’s work.”  A.J. turned and as he did, he grabbed Cass’s hand squeezing it.  She smiled and walked the other way into the barn.

“Thank you Alex, I’ll see you at dinner.”  Cass called as she walked away.  Both men turned to watch and then looked at each other.  The remaining three sat off to the side watching. 

“I don’t like this,” Brian uttered as he followed them into the house.

In the van, the guys were quiet as A.J. and Kevin glanced to each other.  “I owe you an apology Bone, I’m sorry.”

“Fine I’ll let it go, but Kevin don’t walk in there and rip her up.  It ain’t right.  She hasn’t said anything to you about this.  It’s obvious she doesn’t want you there or to know.”  A.J. became silent waiting for Kevin to reply.

“I don’t care Bone it’s not right.  It’s not fair to the kid or me.  If she is my kid.” 

“Hey Kev, Cass knew you were married maybe she just didn’t want to interfere,” Howie’s sensible side coming out.  “Kevin she could have done so much damage to you and your career, ours too, you better think about that.”

“I don’t know what to say to her?  Should I just come right out and ask her?”  Kevin pondered the thought even more.

“Well in an hour you’ll find out.”  Brian added to the conversation.

The hour flew by as they all caught up on what they had been doing.  Kevin went back to his mental checklist that he had been working on.  He was assuming so much, including a warm welcome.  Closing his eyes, he leaned back in the seat.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

A.J.’s elbowing woke him out of his slumber.  “We’re almost there.”

Rubbing the sleep from his eyes Kevin yawned at they pulled onto the dirt road.  “Do we even know if she still lives here?”

“Of course,” A.J. replied.

“Bone if you have all the answers why didn’t you just call and ask her yourself.”  Kevin’s voice was full of sarcasm.

A.J. chuckled while the others were silent, “Because I didn’t sleep with the woman and possibly create something, you did.  You haven’t explained anything to us yet but you being here confirms one thing.  You slept with Cass when you told us not too.”

Kevin cleared his throat at the stinging commentary, “Only once.”

Brian interjected into the conversation, “That’s all it takes Kevin, obviously you forgot to wear your raincoat.”

“I’m not that stupid Brian I did use a condom!  I don’t know what the hell happened.”

Nick sat in the backseat idly munching away.  “Well let’s all chill and see if it’s your kid first, then we can go from there.”

Four heads turned and looked at him with an incredible glare.  “Hey you don’t know for sure.”

A.J. applied the brake halting the van when the ranch house came in to view.  “Ya ready?” he asked as he turned to Kevin.

“I guess so,” Kevin sat a little taller in the seat. 

Lifting his foot off the brake they headed towards the house. 

Gary was sitting on the porch watching the horses play in the corral.  Spying the van coming down the road, he yelled into the house.  “Cass are you expecting company?”

“No,” echoed from some where in the house.

Cass came to the wooden screen door and opened it.  “I wonder who that is,” she glanced at her brother. 

They both waited for the van to get closer.  Gary was the first to see that there was more than one passenger in the vehicle.

Cass came down the creaky porch steps and leaned on the post.  The van stopped in front of her in the dust.  She saw him and took two steps back up the porch steps. 

Kevin watched her reaction.  Her eyes locked on him and he could see the hatred in them.  “Cass I came here to ask you something.”

“I have nothing to say to you,” Cass glanced to the van seeing the rest of them get out of it.

“Cass I need to know if the little girl is mine?”  Kevin spoke with clear intent and tried to calm his own heart as he waited for answer.  He had the feeling if she said yes his heart would burst out of his chest.  It was thumping wildly.

“What are you talking about?” she replied calmly.  Maintaining her control with everything she had.  Somehow, he had found out but she wasn’t going to confirm anything to the likes of him.

Kevin turned back to the truck, reaching in he grabbed the tape.  Facing Cass but keeping his distance, he shook the tape in the air at her.  “The little girl on this tape.”

Cass could feel the acid from her stomach crawl up her throat and burn.  “I don’t know Kevin I’ve never seen the tape.”

Kevin closed and then opened his eyes.  This was difficult enough for him to do this and she wasn’t helping.  “Cass, don’t deny it.  Abe sent me this tape a couple of days ago!”

That answers one question she said to herself.  “Abe died about a month ago.  I don’t think he made it to the post office.”

“Cass he didn’t, I did,” Gary whispered from the chair.  He didn’t have the faintest idea what was on the tape.  Abe just asked him to mail it for him but wait awhile.

“Shut up now, I’ll handle it,” she whispered under her breath.

“So you have a tape, no big deal to me.”  Cass smiled politely.

Kevin glared at her through narrowed eyes.  He knew the sweet side of this woman and he knew the bitch side.  Right now he was facing the bitch side with a smirk on her face.  “I want to see her, she’s mine.”

Cass stood there for a few moments mulling the words that he had once told her through her head.  They used to cut like a knife, now they just sadden her.  Then she thought about her daughter and how sweet, gentle, and beautiful she was, nothing like the man standing in front of her.  “Well Kevin you can think all you want but you can’t prove she belongs to you.  I suggest you leave now.”

Kevin had his answer, the child belonged to him.  “Cass we can work something out.”

“No, she doesn’t belong to you.  I just told you that.”  Cass was beginning to feel threatened.  She back stepped closer to the screen door.  She was going let her brother have it once she got rid of Kevin and his friends.

Taking a step towards her Kevin raised his eyebrows at her,  “Look I’m trying to deal with the fact that I put a human being on this earth and I didn’t even know about it.  You cut her off from her father and then you have the nerve to tell me to prove it.”

Cass’s anger exploded as she flung open the screen door and ran inside.  In the blink of an eye she was back.  Her hands securely wrapped around a double barrel shot gun. 

Kevin’s eyes were showing fear as his mouth opened to speak.  A.J. appeared next to Kevin.  “Cass don’t do this,” he pleaded.  “Put it down and tell him the truth.”

Cass leveled the gun but didn’t point it directly at either one of them.  Her eyes slid slightly to the left and then to right.  None of the boys had moved they were frozen in their spots.  “A.J. you are a wonderful guy and I know he is your best friend.  I understand that you are standing up for him, that is what friends do.  But A.J. I don’t want him near my child.  I don’t want him to call her a MISTAKE like he called me.”

A.J. looked at Kevin in disgust, “Get in the van asshole.”

“I didn’t mean it like that Cass, you know I didn’t.”  Kevin was yelling when Nick, Howie, and Brian assisted Kevin back to the van.  “Stop it!” he yelled and continued to yell when the guys trapped him the truck.

Tears ran down her face and she looked at A.J., “Please leave, she’ll be home soon.”

“We’ll leave Cass but you know he won’t give up,” A.J. sighed.  He could see the pain in her face as she watched Kevin pound on the dashboard of the van.

Setting the gun down and leaning it on the porch, “Neither will I.  I made a mistake, of which my daughter is a product.  I’ll never be that stupid again.”

A.J. turned and walked towards the van.  “We’ll be staying in town I’m sure.  You know how to reach me.”

“How about a heads up, a little advance warning?” she called to him.

A.J. shook his head no, “I can’t do that to him Cass, you understand.”

Nodding her ascent, she watched him climb in the van and drive away.

“Oh Cass, I’m sorry.  I didn’t know what was on the tape.  Abe just asked me to send it to Brian.”  Gary wrapped her in a hug and listened to her sob.

Hugging him back, she watched the vehicles pass each other on the road.  The van slowed slightly as they neared each other and then sped off.  “Come on, she’s home.  You know how she gets if one of us are upset.”





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