Since I’m doing a series of posts on the best hero in the Nebraska Series (which also implies he’s the most romantic), I thought it would only be fair to show a more romantic side to Rick. Unfortunately, this romantic side is misdirected at the moment because he’s talking about Ethel Mae….or is he? I’ll leave you to decide which women (Ethel Mae or Sally) he’s actually taking an interest in during this scene.
This scene is from Sally’s point of view, and I haven’t proofread any of it.
Tomorrow I want to do the second competition for the Nebraska heroes, and this one will involve poetry. By the way, Dave is in the lead for the sexiest hero and Neil is coming in a close second. If Dave’s ego wasn’t inflated already, it sure it now! LOL At least he doesn’t show that side in the books. 😉
Now for the excerpt from Her Heart’s Desire….
The next afternoon, Sally turned to Rick who was sitting by her on the porch swing. “You met Samuel Dixon?” she asked, thinking for sure she didn’t hear right because Ethel Mae swore that she made Samuel up.
“Yes, and he’s even better than Vivian made him sound.” He leaned back in the swing on the porch of Sally’s house and shook his head. “I can’t compete with someone like that. He’s good looking, ambitious, nice.”
“Oh now, you’re good looking, ambitious and nice, too,” she quickly assured him.
“Not like he is. You should have heard him talk about his plans to own more than one hotel. I think Judge Townsend is right. Samuel’s going to be rich.”
“There’s more to a man than how much he makes.”
“He’s also nice and good looking.”
Sally giggled and nudged him in the arm. “And I told you that you are, too.”
“You haven’t seen him, have you?”
“No, but I don’t need to see him to know you’re better than him.” Seriously, she had no idea how any man could be better than Rick Johnson!
He turned so that he was facing her and brushed a wisp of hair away from her forehead. The touch was so light that she almost fainted from his gentleness. “You’re too kind.” With an apologetic smile, he added, “You’ll think it’s foolish, but I have a confession to make to you.”
If this confession had to do with him being glad Ethel Mae was interested in Samuel because he had fallen in love with her, then Sally wanted to hear it! She leaned forward so she could see his eyes when he revealed his feelings for her. “What is it, Rick?”
Chuckling, he said, “I thought you, Ethel Mae and Vivian were lying to me about Samuel.”
She blinked in surprise. That didn’t sound anything at all like a heartfelt confession of his undying love for her.
“That’s silly, I know, but if you were there when Vivian told me his last name, you’d understand why I came to that conclusion. It really seemed like she was making it up.”
“You thought Vivian made up his last name?” She dumbly stared at him, trying to figure out why he was looking at her with those romantic brown eyes and that heart-melting smile but not saying the right words.
“I’m sorry I doubted you and your friends. I promise I won’t doubt you again.”
“Uh…” Her mind was still trying to grasp what he was actually saying as opposed to what he was supposed to be saying.
He shrugged and put his hands on his thighs. “I don’t suppose you still want to help me where Ethel Mae is concerned, do you?”
It took her a moment to think of how she might use this new turn of events to her advantage. If Rick was going to see her in a more romantic light, then he needed to do romantic things with her. She scanned the fields and was assured her father and brothers were out there and then saw her mother and Jenny sitting by the clothesline after hanging them up. Everyone was far away enough so there was a sense of privacy without being out of sight. Good. She’d much rather have them think he was showing a genuine interest in her than someone else.
Offering him her most attractive smile, she said, “I’ll be happy to help. Are you sure you don’t want anything to drink or eat? You did come out here all this way.”
“No, thank you. I’ve already imposed enough.”
“It’s no imposition.”
“The lunch was more than generous. I forgot you said you have lunch so late in the day.”
“We do during planting and harvesting. In the winter, we settle into a routine where we have lunch earlier in the day.”
“Well, I appreciate the fact that you invited me to lunch.”
“It was my pleasure.” And really, it was. She only wished he was coming over every Saturday to eat with her. “Besides, we always make more than enough for everyone.” That was true, too, especially considering there seemed to be no end in sight to what Tom and David could eat, so her mother said they all needed to pretend they were cooking for an army.
Rick shifted in the swing, and her attention returned to him and his wonderfully romantic brown eyes. “You can probably tell I don’t know anything about women.”
Well, that was true because if he did, he might figure out how much she wanted to be with him. Clearing her throat, she laughed and shrugged. “It’s not like you are one, so how could you?”
“And it didn’t help that I spent most of my life reading up on the Constitution and laws of the land.”
“It’s what you were interested in, and it led you to your job. Of course, you’d study it.”
“Yes, and I still think it’s easier to deal with court hearings than try to figure out what women want. I was hoping you could help me with that. You know, what kind of things do women find attractive in men?”
“A good job is certainly attractive. A woman likes to know a man can provide for her and her children. You have that already.”
He nodded and waited for her to continue.
She thought for a moment and added, “Women also like to be complimented.”
“What would Ethel Mae like to be complimented on?”
“Oh, well… I suppose she likes to be complimented on the same things all women do.”
“Sure. I don’t think it’s any different from woman to woman. We like for men to think we’re beautiful, sweet, desirable… I suppose if there’s something unique about her, she wants to be appreciated for that. Ethel Mae is really good at cooking.”
“Me?” She laughed. “Not like her. I mean, I do alright in the kitchen, but I’m nowhere as good as she is.”
“Then what’s unique about you?”
“People say that I’ve got the gift of gab.”
Smiling, he teased, “So would you like to be told you can talk someone’s ear off?”
“I suppose it depends on how they said it.”
“Well, they might add it makes people comfortable around you. I don’t have trouble talking to you like I seem to with Ethel Mae. That’s part of my problem, you know. I don’t think I have anything interesting to say to her.”
“I find that hard to believe. Hearing about your court hearings is fascinating.” Actually, anything that had to do with him was fascinating.
“I don’t think she would agree with you. I’ve noticed her yawn.”
“Really? Did she do that when I was there?”
She tried to remember Ethel Mae yawning, but all she recalled from the day she was over at her friend’s house when Rick was there was Rick. “I don’t remember that at all. Maybe I’m not as observant as I thought.” She decided it wouldn’t be good to add that she was too busy watching him to care about anything her friend was doing or not doing.
“So, what else do women want?” he asked, interrupting her thoughts.
Blinking, she turned her attention back to him. “Well, a woman will never refuse a thoughtful gift. Ethel Mae is partial to cameo lockets.”
“Yes. She says they’re lovely to wear. She enjoys hats, too, but she’d rather have a cameo locket.”
“And what about you?”
Surprised he even cared to ask, she tried to figure out why he did when he came to talk about her friend. But then the answer quickly came to her, and when it did, she wondered why she even had to think about it. He was being polite. Deciding to answer his inquiry, she said, “I prefer flowers.”
“Any kind in particular?”
She shrugged. “Not really. They’re all lovely, no matter what color they are. I find they brighten the room and make it smell better. Believe me, with four brothers in fields all day, it’s nice to have the room smelling better.”
He laughed. “You don’t hold back what you think, do you?”
She wondered if he considered that to be a bad thing. “I can’t help it. Well, I suppose that isn’t true. I probably could. Tom and I made a bet one time where I was supposed to be absolutely quiet for an entire day. I won that one, so I can be quiet for a day.”
“I don’t imagine it was easy, though.”
“No, it wasn’t.” She thought to lie and say she talked because she chose to, but most of the time the words came rushing out so why hide it? “I admit that I tend to speak first and think later. Ethel Mae isn’t like that. She watches everything she says.” And maybe he preferred that sort of thing.
“I notice when you do speak, you don’t badmouth anyone.”
“I don’t know about that. I do talk about what my brothers do to annoy me.”
“But when you talk about them, it’s not as bad as you think. I know you’re just frustrated with them.”
Feeling better, she relaxed. Maybe he didn’t mind so much that she had a tendency to complain about her brothers then.
He stood from the porch swing. “I see a lot of flowers around here. Why don’t you tell me what you like about each kind?”
Surprised, she got up. “Wouldn’t you think such talk is boring?”
“No because you’re the one who’s doing the talking. I like the way you explain things. You can make anything sound interesting.”
“You’re the first person who’s told me that.”
“I’m sure others think the same as I do.”
Maybe. No one said either way, but she was happy he thought so, and that was all that mattered. She led him down the porch steps and walked around the property, pointing out the different flowers and what she liked about each kind.
My note: Next time Rick sees her, he brings out flowers. 😉