Without You(2)

By: Kelly Elliott

I felt the heat move through my cheeks as Will smiled at my father, and then he turned to me and smiled bigger.

Will and I had been working together and training my horse for the last few weeks. Today, he had me standing on a stool, grooming Banjo.

“Lean over his back, Lex. Then, let him turn to the right and reach for the carrot.”

I did as he’d said. “What is this teaching him—with the carrot?”

“Teaches him to stay well positioned for mounting.”

“Oh,” I said as I smiled.

Will had been the one leaning over Banjo the last three days. My baby had bucked a few times, but Will would just slide off and land on his feet.

I loved this horse more than anything. He was proving to be a gentle giant. To bond us even closer, I’d been coming down and sitting in his stall with him at night. I’d fallen asleep in the stall a few times, and Will had carried me back up to the house four times already. Last night, Daddy had told Will that if I kept up at it, that would be all the exercise Will would need. I didn’t want to admit it, but the last two times, I had done it on purpose just so Will would carry me in his arms.


“Mmm?” I said as I daydreamed of being in Will’s arms.

Will snapped his fingers in my face. “Earth to Lex.”

“Sorry. I was lost in thought.”

He let out a chuckle. “I’ll say. Hop down, babe, and let me put on the bareback pad.”

My cheeks instantly felt hot, and the lower pit of my stomach clenched. I slowly slid down and looked at Will as he walked around. I couldn’t pull my eyes from him. I stepped off the stool, moved a bit forward, and leaned against my big guy. Banjo didn’t even budge.

Will stopped in front of me and went to turn to put the pad on, but he stopped mid-movement. When our eyes met, I was pretty sure I felt the earth rumble. He smiled slightly, and I licked my lips in preparation for what I prayed would be our first kiss.

His eyes darted down to my lips before he quickly looked back into my eyes. “Lex?”


“I don’t want to ruin our friendship, but…”

I smiled slightly and willed him to move closer to me. Kiss me. Please, Will, just kiss me already.

When he dropped the pad onto the floor, my heart began racing. He stepped closer and placed one hand on Banjo and the other hand on the side of my face. His thumb gently moved across my skin as he closed his eyes.

Oh God.

His touch did things to my body that made me want to get on my knees and beg him to satisfy me.

He opened his eyes and gently bit down on his lower lip.


He leaned down and barely touched his lips to mine. “Lex, you don’t know how long I’ve wanted to kiss you.”

I ran my hand up his chest and around to his neck. When my hand pushed into his soft, wavy hair, I let out a moan. He smiled against my lips, and then he kissed me.

Everything from this point on would change.


“Will, if my father catches us in here, he is going to be really upset.” I nervously looked back at the barn door.

“Lex, we’re both leaving for college in a few months. Don’t you think you need to let your dad know what school you picked?” Will said as he reached for my hand.

My father had it all planned out. He wanted me to go to the University of Texas like he had and get my degree in marketing, but I had other dreams. Will was going to Texas A&M to get his degree in agribusiness so that he could help Jeff, Colt, and my father run the ranch. I’d been accepted into both schools, and my parents were just waiting on me to say yes to the University of Texas.

It was Luke, Colt, and Will’s dream to take over the ranch someday. I had no doubt in my mind that they would all make great partners—if only Luke and Will would stop fighting…about me. Luke hated that Will and I had been sneaking around and seeing each other, and he’d threatened to tell my father on more than one occasion. The fights between Luke and Will would drive me insane. Each time, one or the other would end up with a black eye, and they would blame it on football.

It wasn’t like my father didn’t like Will. He loved Will…like a son.

Daddy had dreams for me though, and those dreams didn’t include a boy who would be working on a ranch. His dreams were of me moving to the city and getting to experience all that city-living would offer. Then, if I wanted to, I could decide to come back to Mason.

I wanted what my mother had. I wanted to live on the ranch, wake up and work in the garden every day, and see my husband off to work with a kiss every single morning. I wanted the life my parents had. They were both so happy, and I couldn’t figure out why my father didn’t want me to have that life.

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