Home > Waiting for Snow (Sparks in Texas)(9)

Waiting for Snow (Sparks in Texas)(9)
Author: Mari Carr

“Vodka. A lot of fucking vodka,” Adele said, laughing. It was pointless to pretend she had a leg to stand on when it came to that date. She’d actually gone out for happy hour with Macie—which had turned into a happy five hours—gotten three sheets to the wind, and donned a pair of drunk goggles that somehow made Doug, the swaggering, leather-clad, chain-smoking biker seem like someone she wouldn’t mind going out with.

“Well, I’m glad to see your taste in men has finally improved. Been worried about your choices ever since Keith left town. It’s about time you went out with a good guy,” Tyson said, and Adele realized Porter was the first man her overprotective older cousin had actually approved of since Keith moved to St. Louis. Which was strange considering Tyson was as aware of Porter’s permanent bachelor, one-night-stand reputation as the rest of Maris.

“Hey, Port, think you could give me a hand?” Belinda stepped up to their group, looking equal parts worried and pissed off.

“What’s going on?” Porter asked.

She pointed toward the bar. “Couple of your ranch hands are talking shit and I’m pretty sure it’s about to blow up.”

Porter growled. “Goddamn it. Every fucking weekend with these two.” He glanced at Adele. “I’ll just be a second, okay, darlin’?”

Adele nodded.

“Need a hand?” Caleb said, rising.

“Yeah. I wouldn’t mind. Eddie is a mean-ass drunk. Might take a couple of us to drag him out of here.”

Tyson, Caleb, and Porter excused themselves as Adele sat down with Harley.

“Just another Saturday night in Maris,” Harley joked.

“Yep. Bunch of liquored-up rednecks looking to blow off steam.”

“So,” Harley said. “You and Porter?”

Adele shrugged, hoping she was able to downplay her feelings enough. Every woman in town knew Porter was king of the one-night stands. Adele wasn’t about to make a jackass of herself, pretending there was a chance this could be more. “He asked me out. I said yes.”

“Y’all looked pretty chummy out there on the dance floor.”

Adele grinned and shook her head. “You and I both know this is a one-time deal.”

Harley frowned as she considered that. “I don’t know about that. He seems pretty into you.”

Adele dismissed her friend’s assertion, refusing to let those words sink in too deep. “He’s a charmer. Plain and simple.”

“You gonna let yourself be charmed?” Harley asked.

“Hell yeah. My mama didn’t raise a fool.”

Harley lifted her beer in a mock toast. “You go girl. Be good for you to indulge your wild side. I know you’ve been missing Keith.”

Adele nodded, though it suddenly felt like she hadn’t missed Keith in a long time. Not since…that barn dance last spring.

The two of them were laughing at some of the crazy moves a couple of drunk cowboys were making on the dance floor when Patty Winslow stopped by their table. “Hey, Adele, Harley.”

“Hi, Patty,” Adele said.

“Harley, I was hoping I could talk to you a minute about changing the time for Ronnie’s guitar lesson next week.”

Harley owned and operated her own music store on Main Street, just a few doors down from Sparks Barbeque. She also gave guitar and banjo lessons.

“I’m gonna head back to my table to wait for Porter,” Adele said, rising. “My beer’s getting warm.”

Harley waved goodbye as Adele headed back to her table. She wasn’t alone more than a few minutes before Porter rejoined her.

“Sorry about that. That Eddie is all hat and no cattle. Same thing…every weekend. Swaggering fool drinks too much, then picks a fight or picks up a woman.”

Adele lifted her beer and took a drink. “You cowboys are all alike. Always looking to blow off some steam on the weekends one way or the other.”

Porter’s eyes narrowed, not in anger but interest. “You gonna blow off some steam with me, Addie?”

She tilted her head, playing coy. “I haven’t decided yet.”

Liar liar, pants on fire.

Porter was undaunted. Of course. The man could read her like a book, and it wasn’t like she was doing a good job of hiding her interest.

“Why don’t you keep chewing that over while we talk?”

“What do you wanna talk about?” she asked.

“How come you’re not hitched yet? Thought you and that guy you dated last year—”

“Keith,” she added.

He nodded. “Thought you two were pretty serious. What happened?”

“I see we’ve entered the obligatory first date sharing of romantic histories phase of the evening,” she joked.

“That’s a requirement?”

Adele snorted. “I thought it was. What do you usually talk about when you’re out with a woman for the first time?”

“All the things I’m going to do to her in bed later.”

Adele laughed loudly, trying to remember when she’d ever had this much fun on a date before. “Cocky bastard. Although…that doesn’t sound like such a bad topic of conversation. I vote we talk about that.”

Porter chuckled. “Just answer my question, darlin’. You’re gorgeous, sexy as hell, funny, and smart. So what happened with Keith?”

“Life happened.”

“What’s that mean?”

“I loved Keith, and we were a good couple. We dated for four years and I could really see us building a life together. In my head, I’d picked out the wedding dress, named the kids, bought the rocking chairs for the front porch. The whole shebang.” Adele hadn’t meant to confess all of that. To a commitment-phobe like Porter, maybe realizing that was what she wanted from a man would scare him off, make him reconsider taking her home tonight.

“And then life happened?” Porter prodded when she stopped talking.

“He got transferred to St. Louis for work.”

“He didn’t ask you to go with him?”

Adele picked at the label on her beer bottle, as she considered the decision she’d made over a year earlier. She’d spent so many sleepless nights since then wondering if she had made the right decision.

“He asked. He begged actually. Offered marriage…the whole shebang,” she repeated. “And I considered it. Really considered it. But in the end, I knew I couldn’t leave Maris. I’d never be happy living in a big city. I’ve grown too fond of wide-open spaces, of living a stone’s throw from my family, of making Sparks Barbeque a success with Macie and my cousins.”

“The restaurant has put Maris on the map,” he said, and she smiled, feeling the same sense of pride she always did when she considered her beloved business.

“I realized that future I’d imagined for me and Keith all took place in Maris. I like living in a small town where everyone knows everything about everybody else.”

Porter nodded and she knew he got it…way deep down. She’d figured that out over dinner as they shared story after story about their hometown. From the way Porter talked about the people and the places, she’d felt a genuine connection to him in a way she never had with Keith who, even though he’d been born and raised in Maris, had never loved the place enough to want to raise his own family and grow old here.

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