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.By the time they made it to the bar, she must have sung the praises of the inn to sixty people.Sam said, “Maybe you ought to consider taking the marketing position.”Sky laughed.“Not a chance.I’m finally getting comfortable with the dessert station.No need to throw a wrench in the works.”“You did turn out to be a godsend, darlin’.”“Says your stomach.”“Damn right.” He winked.She didn’t have the chance to come up with another sassy retort because Jess and George Mills descended upon them.Liza was at the bar too.Jack cracked the tap on an amber beer and slid mugs their way.“These are on me,” he said.“Welcome home, darlin’.”They all clinked glasses.The dance floor was full and Sky sipped while watching the couples two-step and country swing.At the end of the song the band performed, the singer—her very own cousin, Gus Travis—tipped his hat her way and announced to the saloon, “We have a celebrity in our midst.”Sky shook her head in honest modesty as the crowd cheered.But the enthusiastic reception warmed her heart.Especially as several shouted out for her to sing something.Beside her, the hunky cowboy said, “A true testament of a woman’s moral fiber is what her friends, family—and yeah, horses—think of her.”“No fair throwing my own words in my face.”“Just sayin’.” He quoted Reese this time.Sky grinned.Gus said, “Honey, why don’t you come on up here and sing us a song.”The crowd went crazy again.Jack told her, “You know you’d hurt my feelings if you said no.This is my joint, after all.”“Now why on Earth would I want to hurt your feelings? I hear you’ve got a spunky wife.She just might kick me in the shin if I refuse.”Liza swooped in and gave her a hug.“Not a chance.I liked you the moment I met you.But if you’ll sing, I’ll make Jack throw in a couple shots of tequila.That’s how we ended up together, don’t you know?”“Well, hell,” Sky said.“I’m sold.”Everyone gathered around the bar clapped enthusiastically.To Sam, she asked, “What’s your favorite song, cowboy?”“A Storm’s Rollin’ In,” he said with another flirty wink.“By one very alluring Sky Travis.”“Cute.You’re just full of it tonight.” She kissed him.Then she made her way to the stage.Gus handed over his acoustic twelve-string guitar.“You’re gonna need this.”“Thanks.”“They know your songs,” he said of his band members.“So take your pick.And do as many as you want.I’m having a beer.”“Make it quick.I’m just doin’ the one,” she said.“This isn’t my gig.”“Oh hell, honey.These people listen to me all the damn time.You’re a fresh breeze blowing through this place.”Gus left the stage and Sky gave her selection to the band.Then she stepped up to the microphone.She strummed a few chords to get used to Gus’ guitar before she addressed the patrons of Wade’s Saloon.“Evening, folks.”“Sky!” came a collective call.Her throat tightened.She slid a glance toward the bar and Sam raised his beer mug.She smiled at him.Damn, he made her all warm and fuzzy inside.Returning her attention to the crowd, she said, “This one’s for the sexy cowboy at the bar who saves horses and knows how to kiss a girl ’til her toes curl in her boots.”Sam grinned and tipped his hat at her.Several people whistled.Then she got serious.Sky strummed again, the song starting off slow and haunting.When she reached the chorus, her audience sang softly with her in a low, measured, staccato beat.“A storm’s rollin’ in.I can feel it in my heart.I can hear it on the wind.There’s a storm rollin’ in.”They left her to the next verse.When she picked up the tempo and reached the chorus again, she sang it an octave higher.So did they.Sky got caught up in the steadily increasing rhythm and pitch, the song showcasing her full register.By the time she reached the final chorus, those who weren’t on the dance floor were tapping their toes as they sat in their seats, slapping their hands against their thighs, cheering wildly.She strummed faster and the band kept up with her.The song worked its way to a frenzied finish and the entire bar erupted with applause, everyone jumping to their feet.Emotion and excitement welled in Sky’s throat.She’d forgotten how much she’d enjoyed eliciting such an overwhelming response from fans when she’d toured with Waylon.Gus’ bandmates clasped her on the shoulder and praised her.She bounced down the stairs of the stage and handed over the guitar to her cousin.His voice was filled with awe as he said, “Hell, girl, you’re crazy for not recording another CD.”Sky shook her head.“I’m a one-hit wonder, Gus.As in, it’s a wonder I even had one hit.”“You had more than that, honey.” He kissed her on the cheek, then returned to the stage.He clapped her up again, and Sky blushed.Sam gazed at her with admiration in his bright-green eyes.“You are something else, darlin’.”She sipped her beer, then said, “Just having fun.How about we dance now?”He led her out onto the floor and they tore it up with the two-step.Sky lost track of how many songs passed as they danced.Eventually, she asked, “You know a few country swing moves?”He smirked.A sexy look that did her in.“I’m a Texan by blood, darlin’.”He twirled her around the floor.Sky couldn’t remember the last time she’d enjoyed dancing so much.When she was breathless and feeling as though she’d met her match on the dance floor, she hollered up at Gus, “How about a slow one for us older folk?”Her cousin laughed.“Girl, if you’d take a break every now and then, you could catch your breath.”Sky gestured toward Sam.“Look at what I have to compete with.”Gus chuckled.“Might want to do some P90X, or something.”She stuck her tongue out at her cousin.He did her a favor, though, and slowed it down, covering Mickey Gilley’s Stand By Me.Sky and Sam were in the middle of the floor and he pulled her in nice and tight to him.He twined their fingers and rested them against his chest.Her other hand curled the nape of his neck, her fingers brushing his skin under the thick strands of his hair.She asked, “Is there anything you’re not good at?”His jaw set.“Plenty.”She sighed.“I meant aside from saving the planet and finding the solution to world peace.”He brushed his lips along her temple.“Sometimes, a man wants to be a hero for a woman like you.”“Mission accomplished.”Stand By Me morphed into Willie Nelson’s Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.“I like the classics,” Sam said.“Me too.The ’70s country music reminds me of my mama and daddy.They used to sing and dance all night long on Friday and Saturday nights.They were a lot of fun.”“Were?”“Well, Daddy’s still alive.He lives in San Antone.Has a new girlfriend, after so many years of being alone.I don’t know her yet.I think he’s afraid to do a meet ’n greet because he believes my sisters and I will take offense.We won’t, and we’ve told him as much.”“And what about your mom?”She gazed up at him.“Died of liver disease when I was thirteen.My two sisters, Macy and Morgan, are twins.They were six when Mama passed.” Sky couldn’t help the ritual moment of silence [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]