There was something to be said for Gus’s kindness. The hotel he took me to was just like the town it resided in, quaint and adorable. Now that I had a room for the next few nights, I turned to look at Gus, who followed me into the hotel. He mentioned previously that if I wanted to take pictures, he would show me a few local places that would look pretty in a photo. It was approaching sunset and I knew, from experience that some places looked extremely beautiful at that time of day. If I wanted to take some awesome pictures, now would be a good time to ask about it.
“Hey, Gus? You mentioned knowing of some pretty places nearby,” I started, with a smile watching his green eyes for a reaction. “Could you take me now or do you have to get back to work?”
“My last goal of the day was getting the old man to check out my truck for me.” He replied smiling back. “There are a few good places on my ranch to start with. Let’s head that way now that you have your room key.”
For a moment, part of me questioned if I could trust Gus this much. We just met, after all, so I should probably be a bit more suspicious, but I truly did not feel anything bad about him. A little while later, we arrived at a large house surrounded by fields upon fields of what appeared, from a distance, to be vegetables. A short distance from the beautifully built ranch house, there was a big red barn with white trim that looked slightly worn out. Grabbing my camera bag, I was already focused on the barn through the viewfinder.
I was so focused on what was in front of me that I barely noticed Gus come to stand next to me. I snapped a few pictures before walking closer, my eyes zeroed in on an angle that would really accentuate the barn, and the shutter of my camera could be heard. Behind the barn there were trees and their green color caught my attention. Turning my camera, I snapped a few more pictures before looking next to me and startling slightly. Gus was still standing next to me, his eyes watching me, arms crossed, and a smug smile on his lips.
“You really are into photography.” He said, turning to look at the barn. “As soon as you saw that barn, you stopped hearing me and started snapping pictures. Is it really that pretty?”
“Yeah, let me show you,” I replied shyly, pulling up the display screen so I could show him. “See? Landscape photos are my favorite to take. Old barns, trees, rivers, lakes, I love seeing those sights and snapping pictures of them. Sorry I didn’t pay attention when you were talking.”
“That really does look different. I’ve heard it said that pictures capture the photographer’s thoughts on the subject.” Gus continued, his gaze moving from the display up to my eyes. “Maybe this beauty is how you see it. And no worries. I lost track of what I was saying anyway. You’re cute when you’re focused like you were.”
“A-anyways, I’m sure you didn’t bring me here just to look at your barn, though it is definitely pretty.” I countered, slightly flustered by his compliment again. “What were some of these spots you wanted to show me?”
Gus just chuckled before he whistled slightly. To my surprise, a horse came trotting straight up to him, neighing slightly before nudging his back. I tilting my head curiously at the sight, extremely surprised as he pulled a carrot from a nearby patch. The horse gobbled it right up before snorting causing me to jump slightly. Feeling inspired, I lifted my camera to take a couple of pictures of the pair before lowering it again, only to loop it around my neck. Part of me wondered if we were going to ride the horse out, which made me feel nervous because I have never ridden one before.
“Come on, I’ll help you with riding her,” Gus said, lifting his gaze back up to me. “No worries, she doesn’t bite people. Tasha here is my gentle giant.”
Timidly, I approached the horse, who watched me before trotting closer and shoving her large snout into my hand. One look into her eyes and I could feel the gentleness Gus mentioned. I could not help but smile until I felt warm hands grip my waist and lift me up into the saddle. I shook my head to try and rid myself of the nerves I felt at being so high up when I felt Gus climb in behind me. Within moments, I felt the line of his body against my back and the hard muscles under his clothes. I froze up, unused to being THIS close to a complete stranger, before startling when he snapped the reins and the horse started trotting forward at a slow pace.
“Sorry, I could tell you were wary about riding a horse, so I thought it best to ride with you.” He replied, his voice almost in my ear as he talked. “I didn’t mean to startle you. She’s a gentle one, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s best to ride double like this.”
“I-I see. No problem…” I countered, swallowing as the shifting of the horse caused me to startle again. “You’re right. I’ve never been on a horse before. It’s…different.”
“Well, I’d think so, Little Miss Heiress.” Gus chuckled as the horse waded through some water. “I don’t suppose you’d want to ruin your designer clothes or get saddle sores. Good thing you’re at least wearing jeans. I don’t plan on keeping you on her long or you will get those sores.”
“Ah…I see.” I swallowed again, still feeling the way his body shifted with the horse. “I really can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you’re doing for me.”
“Haha, I haven’t done much. Just what any good man would do if he found a lady in trouble.” He replied chuckling. “My dad would have done the same thing. Mom would have busted my tail if I left you hanging like that.”
“Still, I am really grateful. My parents only raised me to be a lady, the heiress, so I’m not used to people helping me unless it’s to get to my parent’s money.” I shifted forward slightly, his strong arms around my waist holding the reins making me nervous. “Your parents must be very proud of how you’ve turned out, then, if you’re always a gentleman like this.”
Gus went quiet and I was too nervous to turn to try and read his face. My attention was on attempting to relax while literally trying to stay on the horse at the same time with his arms around me in what felt like an embrace. I knew it was so I could stay up here without falling off, but it felt overly intimate for someone I had just met today. Eventually, we came to a creek, the sound of the water trickling through the rocks in it, drawing my eyes. Gus remained quiet as he helped me off the horse before looking out at the setting sun, his eyes looking quite sad.
“My mom and dad…they passed away this last year in a bad car accident on their way to visit some relatives in Idaho.” He seemed really lonely as he continued to speak, his gaze finding my face. “Mom ran a clothing boutique in town while dad worked the ranch. In a way, I was kind of an heir to my family like you’re the heiress. Only thing is, I love ranching.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that. I didn’t mean…” I started but he held up his hand.
“Nah, I brought them up. You were just curious.” Gus countered, eyes looking down at the dirt under our feet. “Truthfully, I sometimes feel a little lost when it comes to running this ranch. Seeing you take those photos back at the barn reminded me of the passion I had for running my own ranch.”
“Oh…” I did not know what to say. “Well…”
“You managed to come over eight hundred miles chasing after your inspiration despite your parent's wishes.” He continued looking back up to me. “It’s respectable. If I can be honest for a second, I had two reasons to approach you. I truly wanted to help you, promise, but I thought you were really attractive too.”
To be honest, I kind of already knew that. Gus could be quite frank at times and since we met, he had used those exact words quite often. Well not attractive, but he did call me cute several times. I tilted my head before looking through my viewfinder just to cover the blush I knew was staining my cheeks. I knew that I found him attractive with his pretty green eyes and black hair with slight scruff on his face. I did not find it annoying that he wanted to talk to me like this, but it did feel a little odd that he was mentioning this now.
“Anyway, this was one of the places I wanted to show you. I’ll probably take you to the others tomorrow after work.” Gus said and I nodded slightly, still hiding behind my camera lens. “It’ll be dark soon and a gentleman doesn’t keep a lady out too late in the evening.”
Doing my best to refocus on my reason for being here, I started snapping pictures again, camera aiming at the sunset from the creek, the rocks as the water passed by them, and the trees in the distance where the creek was flowing from. It truly was beautiful here and I knew I could spend hours in a place like this and never get tired of taking pictures here. Part of me just wanted to stay here forever. As soon as that thought occurred to me, I could feel something clicking into place. My reason for leaving home was to find my muse, but I think this state is it.
Now that I had that in mind, I needed to really consider my options logically. If I wanted to live here, odds are, my family would insist on paying for my place, but I did not want to depend on them. Maybe I could use my spare savings and find a small job to afford an apartment here. Then again, this was not the kind of decision one made in a single day. The best course of action was to consider it over the next week while I hung around here, mind focused on getting my car fixed. If nothing else, I could grow bored here, in the next week, so I should be careful of a spur of the moment decision.
Part three will be coming soon! Keep an eye out for it.
Part One is here:
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