Picnic in Someday Valley (Honey Creek #2) - Jodi Thomas
Someday Valley, Texas
Marcie Latimer sat on a tall, wobbly stool in the corner of Bandit’s Bar. Her right leg, wrapped in a black leather boot, was anchored on the stage. Her left heel hooked on the first rung of the stool so her knee could brace her guitar. With her prairie skirt and low-cut lacy blouse, she was the picture of a country singer. Long midnight hair and sad hazel eyes completed the look.
She played to an almost empty room, but it didn’t matter. She sang every word as if it had to pass through her soul first. All her heartbreak drifted over the smoky room, whispering of a sorrow so deep it would never heal.
When she finished her last song, her fingers still strummed out the beat slowly, as if dying.
One couple, over by the pool table, clapped. The bartender, Wayne, brought Marcie a wineglass of ice water and said the same thing he did every night. “Great show, kid.”
She wasn’t a kid. She was almost thirty, feeling like she was running toward fifty. Six months ago her future was looking up. She had a rich boyfriend. A maybe future with Boone Buchanan, a lawyer, who promised to take her out of this dirt-road town. He’d said they’d travel the world and go to fancy parties at the capital.
Then, the boyfriend tried to burn down the city hall in a town thirty miles away and toast the mayor of Honey Creek, who he claimed was his ex-girlfriend. But that turned out to be a lie too. It seemed her smart, good-looking someday husband was playing Russian roulette and the gun went off, not only on his life but hers as well.
He’d written her twice from prison. She hadn’t answered.
She’d tossed the letters away without opening them. Because of him she couldn’t find any job but this one, and no man would get near enough to ask her out. She was poison, a small-town curiosity.
Marcie hadn’t known anything about Boone Buchanan’s plot to make the front page of every paper in the state, but most folks still looked at her as if she should have been locked away with him. She was living with the guy; she must have known what he was planning.
She shook off hopelessness like dust and walked across the empty dance floor. Her set was over, time to go home.
A cowboy sat near the door in the shadows. He wore his hat low. She couldn’t see his eyes, but she knew who he was. Long lean legs, wide shoulders, and hands rough and scarred from working hard. At six feet four, he was one of the few people in town she had to look up to.
“Evening, Marcie,” he said, so low it seemed more a thought than a greeting.
She usually didn’t talk to him, but tonight she thought she’d be civil. “Did you come to see me play?”
“Nope. I’m here for the beer.”
She laughed. One beer wasn’t worth the twenty-mile drive to Someday Valley. He’d had to pass two other bars to get to this run-down place.
“You ever think of buying a six-pack and staying home for a month?”
Marcie couldn’t decide if she disliked Brandon Rodgers or just found him dead boring. If they spoke, they had pretty much the same conversation every week. He was a Clydesdale of a man, bigger than most, but easy moving. She had no doubt he talked to his horses far more than he ever did people.
It wasn’t like she didn’t know him. He was about three years older than her, owned a place north of here. Ran a few cattle and bred some kind of horses, she’d heard. Folks always commented that the Rodgers clan kept to themselves, but lately he was the only Rodgers around. His mother died and his sister married and moved off. He’d never dated anyone that she knew about. In his twenties he had gone off to the Marines for six years.
“You want to sit down?” He dipped his worn Stetson toward the chair to his left.
She almost jumped in surprise. He’d never asked her to join him. But Marcie didn’t want to make a scene. He never talked to anyone, and no one talked to her, so they could sit at the same table in silence together.
In a strange way they were made for each other, she thought. “Sure.”
“You want a drink?” His words were so low they seemed faded by the time they reached her.
“No.” Marcie folded her arms and stared