Prologue


“So, how’d you pull that one off, I was sure I had you beat?”         

“You can never be too sure about me; I’ve got lots of tricks up my sleeve.”

            “Sure you do.”

            “You doubt me? That’s never a good idea Jackson. We girls can be dangerous”!

            “Ha. Most girls are. You, I have all figured out.”

How wrong he was. He knew her tomboy side; he knew nothing of her romantic, frolicking on the beach one.  He swam to the shore, climbed out, and laid down in the grass to dry off. She sat down next to him.

            “So what made you decide to leave Texas,” she asked?

            “I don’t know, I wanted a change and California seemed like a good place. Plus the colleges are great, UCLA will definitely push me in the right direction. Why, you gonna miss me or something?” He pushed her gently.

            “A pain in the butt like you? Not one bit.” Her mouth said one thing but her heart was screaming “yes, please don’t go, stay here and be with me.” She felt stupid even thinking like that.

            “C’mon,” he said, “lets head back, I have packing left to do.”

            They climbed back on the horses and headed back to the stables. They unsaddled the mares and began to groom them before putting them away.

            “I’ll keep in touch and let you know how California is” Jackson told her as they finished the task at hand. He gave her a big hug and she prayed that he wouldn’t let go. But, of course, he had to and as he walked back to her house a small tear dripped down her cheek. She wiped it away quickly and chided herself for being so emotional. After all she was just a “little sister” to him.

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She hated that Jackson thought of her as a little sister. For once, she wished he would just see her as a young woman, someone he would want to date. Alexis was pretty. Nothing superb, but she was young. At 5’4″ and a mere 110 pounds with long brown hair and green eyes, she was a simple beauty who just hadn’t matured. With a quick wave goodbye to her parents and a yell upstairs to Brandon, she headed to the corral. She expected to be the first there, to have some time to herself to get the horses ready to ride, but to her surprise, Jackson was already there.

            “Hey kid, how’s it going”

            “Hey J, I’m good, but what are you doing here.” The ‘you’ came out a little harsher than she had intended.

            “Ouch, I’m sorry, would you prefer I left?”

            “No! Um, I mean, um, of course not. I was actually going to invite you to race down to the lake.”

            Oh, I see, looking to beat me once more before I leave, huh?” he finished saddling up the horses as she laughed and replied, “Well, don’t I always?”

He jumped on Stone’s back and began to head out of the stables before she could even get on. Stone was already out of the gates and almost into a full gallop before she was out of the pen with Luc. She screamed ‘cheater’ as she raced after him. He glanced back just to see her disappear into the trees to his right. Little did he know, she had found a shortcut through the thick branches and was hell bent on her continuing tradition of beating him to the lake. When he came into the clearing ten minutes later, she was already off Luc and had him at the edge drinking in the cool water. She grinned at him as he walked up next to her. The smile was brief as he grabbed her and threw her into the water. She sputtered to the surface just as he dove in after her, just in his boxers. Suddenly, she wasn’t so mad anymore. He swam up next to her; she could feel the heat radiating from his wet body.

Hey darlin’,” Scott drawled, “taking the horse out today? You ought to ask Jackson to go, he’s leaving in two days and he’ll want to say goodbye to Stone.”

His last comment was followed by a little wink. Her father knew about the crush she had on Jackson. At 6’1″, dark unruly hair, shinning blue eyes and a cowboy’s build, he was definitely the heartthrob type. Her mom and dad knew she had a romantic side under that tomboy exterior; she was just damn good at making sure others didn’t.  Being a tomboy had kept her from acting like a fool around the guys like most of her girlfriends did.

            “Yeah dad, I planned on it, thanks.”

She plopped down at the table and downed the glass of OJ in front of her.

            “Sweetie, you might want to take it easy on him racing today”

            “And why is that, mom?”

            “You know how much he hates to lose baby, and it is his last couple days in town.”

            “Well then, tell him to stop treating me like a little sister and I might give in,” Alexis chided back.

She got out of her plush bed and stepped down onto cold hardwood.

            “For it being summer and hot already, you would think the floor might be warm,” she griped to her empty room.

She walked into her closet; she had always had a shopping fetish, especially for a tomboy. She threw on a pair of jeans, cowboy boots and a lightweight fitted t-shirt. Green. It brought out the hint of it in her eyes. As she walked downstairs to join her parents for breakfast, she could hear the pounding of punk rock music coming from Brandon’s room, he was a pain, but she loved him. At only 11, she couldn’t blame her brother for being a pain; he was just at “that age” as her parents said. Katherine, her mom, and Scott Venn had been great parents, a tad protective, but with Alexis’ wild streak and her brothers age, who wouldn’t be?

The harsh sunlight bursting through the wood slated blinds awoke Alexis from her deep sleep. She groaned as she opened her eyes, annoyed that she couldn’t finish the dream she’d been having. She and Jackson had been out riding Luc and Stone. She had named her horse Lucifer when she first bought him because of his devilish nature when she would ride, but as he aged, he mellowed and she shortened his name to Luc. At just 15, she had fallen victim to a crush on her neighbor Jackson, whom at 18, was leaving the small town of Rakesford, Texas to attend college out in California. Her dreams, like usual, were of the two of them riding together, ending up by the lake, or the ocean, or anywhere alone for that matter. Tonight, they had been riding in the surf along the beach in Barbados, a country she had dreamed of visiting, but didn’t think she’d ever get to. They had dismounted the horses and began to stroll along the beach, reins in hand. They reached a small outcropping of rocks and tied the horses up to a tree near by. They sat down and removed their shoes and their socks. The cool breeze felt good on her hot feet after the long ride. She rolled up her pant legs and wandered down to the ocean, she could hear Jackson following her, and then the footsteps stopped. All of a sudden she was scooped out of the surf into his muscular arms. She wrapped her arms around his neck and looked into his baby blues. He leaned towards her; she could almost feel his lips on hers. And that is where she awoke, as she always seemed to do, just before she got that kiss she so deeply desired.