What’s the point of falling in love if it doesn’t last?

The Latest Dancing Pony pickup line…

Ethan Grant's Slice of Life from the Dancing Pony

I call this one the alternate universe line, mostly because

I’ve rarely seen this pickup maneuver performed successfully, and it’s even rarer to see a woman employing it.

A couple of cowboys came into the Dancing Pony and sat at the bar during happy hour. The younger of the two seemed depressed and hell-bent on getting drunk. Whenever someone orders a boiler-maker (a draft beer with a shot of whiskey dropped into it) for their first drink, that’s usually a bad sign.

As the evening progressed,

the older cowboy didn’t seem to have much luck drawing him out of his depression. According to the bartender serving them, the young cowboy had just discovered that his parents, who he loved and admired very much, were getting divorced. He thought, as many of us do when we’re young, that his parents were the perfect couple. To find out they were human, with flaws of their own that they were unable to reconcile, had shaken his whole belief system. He was down on relationships in general, confused, and his older friend was doing his best to ease his mind.

Halfway through his boilermaker and unwilling to be cheered up, the young cowboy said,

“Man, what’s the point of falling in love if it doesn’t last?

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to settle down with someone now. I mean, if MY parents split up then there’s just no hope. Maybe I’ll join a monastery and be a monk.”

With a chuckle, the friend replied, “Yeah, right.

You wouldn’t last a week without beer and ESPN.

Just because your parent’s marriage failed doesn’t doom you to the same fate.”

Just then, a young woman who was sitting at a nearby table with a couple of friends, and had apparently overheard the conversation, walked over to the cowboy and smiled.

“Why don’t you put off that vow of purity for just a little while and dance with me, cowboy.”

The cowboy glanced at her and shook his head. “Thanks, pretty lady. No offense, but I’m just not in the mood to dance tonight.”

She just smiled and walked back to her seat. Looking like he wanted to slap the back of the young man’s head, the friend said, “What the hell is wrong with you? A pretty woman just asked you to dance. How many times does that happen to guys like us? And besides that,

It’s not the cowboy way to reject a lady like that.”

The young cowboy shrugged. “I just don’t want to deal with any relationship right now.”

His friend raised his eyes to the ceiling like he was praying for patience.

“She didn’t propose, dumbass. She just wanted to dance.”

A few songs later, the brave lady returned, laid a note on the bar in front of the young cowboy. As she went back to her seat, both cowboys read the note. “Changing one’s focus helps overcome depression, and

I have several focal points that might help.”

The young one leaned over to his friend and whispered, “You see? She probably tries this on every cowboy who comes in here.”

His friend’s eyes widened and then he DID slap the young cowboy on the back of the head, knocking his cowboy hat slightly askew. “Dumbass, you’ve been so busy feeling sorry for yourself that you haven’t noticed

She’s been asked to dance by half the cowboys in here and turned them all down.

I have no idea why, but she likes you and you seem intent on hurting her feelings. That ain’t like you. You’re supposed to be a big, strong cowboy aren’t you? I don’t think one dance will kill you. What’s the worst that could happen?”

Looking even more depressed, possibly for realizing he might’ve hurt the young woman’s feelings, the young cowboy just shook his head and ordered another boilermaker.

After a few minutes, the tenacious lady came back and laid her hand on his as he was about to lift the draft mug to his lips. Quietly, she said, “I can see you’re hurting. But I’m a glass-half-full kind of girl and I choose to focus on the positive.

One dance, and then I’ll leave you alone if that’s what you need.”

She squeezed his hand and then released it and walked away.

The cowboy’s friend said, “I’m gonna beat you like a stray dog if you don’t dance with her right now, dude.”

The young cowboy half-smiled and glanced over at where she stood near her table, chatting with her friends. “She is pretty persistent, isn’t she? I guess one dance couldn’t hurt.”

He walked over to her and waited until she looked up at him. He took off his cowboy hat and lowered his head as if in defeat. “I apologize for my attitude, ma’am. I’m in a bad way right now but I shouldn’t have rejected your offer. I think you’re beautiful, and I’d like to take you up on that offer to dan—”

He hadn’t even finished what he was saying before she took his hand

and led him to the dance floor as a slow, romantic song, Brad Paisley’s “Perfect Storm,” began to play. He still seemed a little uncertain but she smiled as she murmured something to him and then slid her arm up his back as she placed her hand in his. It was obvious the moment he gave in because he grinned and kissed the top of her head.

I didn’t hear any of the conversation from that point forward but they didn’t leave the dance floor for at least 5 songs.

To the bartender, the young cowboy’s friend said, “Thought I was gonna have to hurt him tonight. ‘Cause man, if her “focal points” don’t do it for him, he needs to see a doctor.”

His assessment was a little crass, and thankfully out of her hearing, but I had to agree with him. She was beautiful and that young cowboy was lucky that she persisted.

They spent the rest of the evening together and the young cowboy’s friend left him without a ride, probably on purpose,

But I don’t think he suffered much from it.

©Heather Rainier 2018



The Oldest Line in the Book

She’s got a temper to go along with that red hair of hers…

City slicker, what brings you to the sticks now?


You’re doing it all wrong…

The Dancing Pony pickup line of the week is…

Ethan Grant's Slice of Life from the Dancing Pony

Last weekend I had to help out a friend when a pipe burst and flooded their house, which precluded getting the pickup line posted. There’s a chance you might read about that event in the future.

A pretty woman was sitting at the bar alone.

She told the bartender she just wanted to have a couple of drinks and be left alone. Our bartender gave her a dubious look and said “I’m happy to help, ma’am, but a pretty lady like you, drinking alone in a place like the Dancing Pony… We’re going to be really busy with that second request.”

With a blush on her cheeks and a shake of her head, she replied, “You’re really sweet to say that. I hope I don’t cause you any trouble but I’m just not in the mood for company right now.”

“It shall be done, fair lady.”

She smiled and nodded her thanks.

Our bartenders are good at running interference for the ladies so we kept her from being bothered.

A little while later a tall cowboy came in and sat down a couple of seats from the woman and ordered a drink. He asked the bartender who she was and if he could buy her a drink.

The bartender said, “Well, friend, she’s with someone. In order to keep the peace, I’m gonna tell you that probably wouldn’t be a good idea.”

The cowboy nodded in understanding and the bartender went about his business.

After about 15 or 20 minutes the cowboy slid a note he’d scribbled on a cocktail napkin to the woman.

It read, “You’re doing it all wrong.”

The lady frowned at it it, gave the cowboy a disinterested look, and wadded up the note. A little while later he passed her another note. This one said,

“There’s an art to it.”

The lady glanced at it, gave the cowboy an annoyed look, and wadded up the note. A little while later he passed her a third note. This one said,

“I can coach you if you need help.”

Finally the lady turned and looked at the persistent cowboy and in a harried tone said, “WHAT? What is it that you think I need help with?”

The cowboy leaned close and quietly replied, “Well, it’s obvious to me that you’re not with anyone, as the bartender suggested. But it looks like you could use some help with the art of drinking alone. If you don’t want to talk, I’ll be happy to let you observe my technique for the rest of the evening.”

She answered, “How do you know I’m not waiting for someone. Maybe they’re just late.”

The cowboy shook his head. “Your body language isn’t showing any anticipation. It’s telling me you’re depressed. If you want me to,

I can sit with you and keep all these other guys away, you know, just until you figure out how to drink alone.

Once you have it down, you won’t need me anymore. But trust me when I say it’s going to take you a while to learn.”

Looking unsure of how to react, she said, “Oh really? You think I’m that slow?”

The cowboy shook his head. “No ma’am.

I think you’re that beautiful.

Developing the proper ‘back off’ attitude will probably take a long time for you, because you’re obviously attracting bees like pretty flowers, but I’m committed to it as long as you are.”

The lady smiled for the first time that evening. “Okay, Coach, what do I do first?”

The cowboy said, “Well, if it doesn’t make you to uncomfortable, I have to sit next to you. You know, just so you can observe up close. Plus, it will keep others away so you can concentrate.”

She gestured to the seat beside her. “Okay, now what?”

He sat next to her and then said, “Now you have to learn how to project a look of confidence. Adopt an attitude like you don’t need anyone else around in order to fit into your surroundings. You know, like you own the place or something.”

She put a comical, overconfident look on her face and said, “How’s this?”

The cowboy grinned and said, “Well, it’s okay…if you want to keep me or Foghorn Leghorn from hitting on you—but it wouldn’t work with all these other guys.”

She burst into laughter and then said, “That’s a relief, because I’ve always been a Bugs Bunny fan myself. Plus,

I wouldn’t want to repel you since you have been so helpful and all.”

She gave him a soft, thankful look, took his hand, and said, “I really did want to be left alone tonight, but it turns out a little laughter is just what I needed. Thank you for being so sweet.”

The cowboy squeezed her hand and said, “You’re welcome, pretty lady. You really did look like you could use some cheering up.”

She blushed again and said, “I know I’m not a beauty queen. You and the bartender are the first men to compliment me like that in years.”

He shook his head like he couldn’t believe that. “Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with the men you know, but the guys in here obviously agree with me or you wouldn’t have had any trouble being left alone”

“Thank you. I needed to hear that.” In a soft voice, she added, “Even if I don’t really buy it.”

Looking determined, the cowboy got up and offered her his hand. “Darlin’, if you’d dance with me, I could go into more detail on just how beautiful you really are—unless you still want to continue with the lessons.”

She paused for a beat, bit her lip as if making a decision, and let him help her from her chair. “No, I don’t think I want to be left alone anymore tonight.

At least not by you.”

He led her out to the dance floor and they danced off and on the rest of the evening, and walked out together at closing. I don’t know what happened after that but there was a VW Passat left in the parking lot overnight.

©Heather Rainier 2018



If you dance anything like you touch, you might have to carry me back to the bar…

My dying wish is to dance with the most beautiful woman in the world

I only see one beautiful woman in here because I can’t take my eyes off you





You seem like a woman out of her element…

The latest Dancing Pony pickup line…

Ethan Grant's Slice of Life from the Dancing Pony

I would say this one was more of a joint effort rather than a pickup line but anyway…

It all started with a young woman who came in the Dancing Pony looking a little low. Our bartenders are damned good at spotting ladies in distress and helping them feel comfortable. Matter of fact, it’s a quality I look for when interviewing new employees. It’s a part of the job some people never master and it’s next to impossible to train someone to do it. They’re either hard-wired to connect emotionally with people, or they’re not.

The Dancing Pony has two fairly new bartenders,

Landon and Ivan (not to be confused with Cassie’s Ivan, the gastronomical artiste),  who are particularly good judges of character, so this talent comes naturally to them. They’re not related but at first glance they could easily pass for brothers.

Landon and Ivan both walked over as the young woman took a seat at the bar, looking distinctly uncomfortable. She cast her gaze slowly around the bar as if she was searching the place for someone and gave a slight start when Landon said, “What can we get for you, ma’am?”

She glanced back and forth between the two of them, a pretty pink blush came into her cheeks, and then she looked down at her hands which were clutching the bar. “I don’t drink much…and I don’t care for beer. What do you recommend?”

Landon replied, “That depends on your tastes. What’s your favorite non-alcoholic drink?”

She looked down at her hands for a few seconds and then said, “A mocha latte. I really like those. Do you have something that tastes like that?”

The men both smiled and Ivan said, “Divine White Russian.”

Her eyebrows rose and the beginning of a smile bowed her lips. “Oh, that sounds nice. I’ll try one. But what if I don’t like it?”

Landon waved a dismissive hand and said, “Don’t worry about that. We have a 100% money back guarantee on everything we serve.” Winking at her, he added, “Besides that, we also have a policy at The Dancing Pony that

All gorgeous women who have never been here before get their first drink free.”

She turned five shades of red and put her hands to her cheeks as if embarrassed by the fact she was blushing. Surprisingly, her eyes grew a little glossy before she said, “That’s very sweet of you. How did you know I’ve never been in here before?”

I have to add here that Ivan is the sort of man who can’t stand to see women upset for any reason, especially one who was so obviously out of her element. He put an elbow on the bar and leaned toward her a little. “You said you don’t drink much. Most people who frequent nightclubs usually have a favorite drink.”

Landon, who is good at diffusing tense situations, smiled and leaned in from her other side and said, “Plus, we have a knack for knowing such things. You seem like a woman out of her element.

We’re here to make your stay enjoyable and take care of you however we can.

What brings you in tonight? Just move in to town or visiting?”

She glanced between them but didn’t seem bothered that they were leaned toward her. “Oh no. I’ve lived just outside of Divine most of my life. I just don’t…get out much. I have 3 kids and I’m a single mom. A friend of mine surprised me with a baby sitter tonight and told me to go out.” Casting another gaze around the nightclub, she quickly added,

“She said she’d meet me here but I haven’t seen her yet.”

A half-drunk cowboy wandered up to the bar and leaned into the young woman’s personal space. He squinted at her and grinned, and with a slurring voice said, “Hey there, sexy lady, how ‘bout a dansh? I’m dyin’ to know what ya feel like rubbin’ up against me.”

Clearly not used to fending off drunks, she looked at him with big eyes and said, “Thank you, sir, but I don’t—“

Just then Ivan leaned a little closer, stroked her forearm which was resting on the bar, and said, “So are we still on for next Friday night?” He shot a steely-eyed look at the cowboy as he spoke.

The cowboy peered at Ivan and said,

“Aw hell, maybe nexsh time.”

As he wandered off in search of more receptive pastures, she turned to Ivan and said, “Thank you so much for that. I was afraid I’d offend him.”

Smiling, Ivan shook his head. “No problem, ma’am.” Gesturing at himself and Landon, he added, “That’s what we do.”

Landon nodded. “If we can tell a female patron is uncomfortable with a man’s attentions we try to intervene, at least to check in with them. If we ever overstep our boundaries you let us know.”

As the evening went on, Landon and Ivan got better acquainted with the young woman and had to re-direct several other admirers from her presence. She stayed right where she was at the bar the entire time, chatting with Landon and Ivan as their duties allowed.

Right about last call, another cowboy approached and invited her to go get something to eat with him. She looked surprised at the out-of-the-blue nature of his invitation and clearly didn’t understand the underlying question the player was asking her: It was last call and did she want to get lucky?

Landon stepped in and politely ran interference, but it was becoming obvious that both bartenders were about done watching her get hit on. As Landon was walking away this time he stopped, turned back to the young lady, and said, “Would you care to accompany me and Ivan to the local rodeo next week? No funny business, I promise. Just rodeo and supper.”

Ivan nodded with enthusiasm.

“You’d be safe with us.

We could pick y’all up or you can meet us there, if you’d prefer.”

The young lady stuttered at first and looked around in confusion—I think—because no one was hitting on her, warranting the necessity of them “saving” her, as they asked her out this time. “Uh…I’m confused. Are-Are you actually asking me out on a date?”

Landon and Ivan both nodded and Landon said, “It’d be our honor to escort you to the rodeo.”

Her cheeks turned a pretty pink, but her wistful tone hinted at her disappointment. “I’d love to, guys, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to. I’m on a very tight budget and hiring a babysitter for three kids is expensive.”

Landon grinned at Ivan, who nodded, and then he said, “The invitation was for all four of you. We’d expect them to come, too. I’ll bet they’d love the rodeo.”

Ivan said, “There’ll be rides and plenty for them to do. And besides, Landon always wants someone to ride the rollercoaster. He’s still a kid at heart but I won’t get on those things with him. And

I promise you’d all be safe with us. What do you say?”

She blinked and sniffled, but a beaming smile crossed her face. “I’d—we’d be delighted.”

We closed down The Pony that night and the guys offered to escort her to her car. Before she left, Ivan asked, “Your friend never showed up, did she?”

She shook her head and then giggled. “I forgot all about her. I hope she’s okay.”

Landon glanced over at me when I chuckled and then he said,

“Your friend’s name wouldn’t happen to be Grace Warner, would it?”

Surprised, she looked at them both and said, “Now, how did you know her name?”

I shoulda known all along. That Gracie…

©Heather Rainier 2018



City slicker, what brings you to the sticks now?

My dad taught me to never waste anything, not even a bad beer.

I only see one beautiful woman in here because I can’t take my eyes off you

There’s Not Much You Can Do To This Chevy That I Can’t Fix

Ethan Grant's Slice of Life from the Dancing Pony

The Dancing Pony pickup line of the week is….

I call this one a Divine accident.

We had a lot of traffic coming into the nightclub from the oil fields this weekend. Early in the evening on Saturday, there was a ruckus out in the parking lot so the bouncers and I went out to investigate.

We discovered that a mild fender bender had happened

and the two parties involved, along with a host of onlookers, were gathered surveying the damage.

It appeared that a young lady driving a 4-door dually had made a turn too sharp and caught another truck’s bumper. The damage was not severe but any damage to a truck like that is costly.

The truck she hit was a ‘69 Chevy

that had been restored and was in show room condition. The bumper was a little bent on the old truck but it had taken off half the side panel on her truck.

The owner of the restored truck was looking at the damage and the young lady was standing there, crying and apologizing, when a smart ass from the growing crowd started bad-mouthing women drivers and heckling the poor girl.

The cowboy whose truck had been hit turned to this guy and said,

“Hey look, everybody has a bad day every once in a while. Cut her some slack. Besides, it ain’t your truck that’s been hit so why don’t you just mosie along.”

The smart ass replied, “She was probably putting on make-up while she was driving and hit you, and you’re gonna take up for that stupid bitch?”

The cowboy took exception to the verbal attack

on the poor girl, and the last word wasn’t completely out of the jackass’s mouth before he found himself kissing asphalt. The crowd snickered at him and a few people even heckled him for his bad manners.

I took one look at the bouncers, who looked ready to act, and said, “Let it go guys. If he gets up and picks a fight you can intervene.”

The young lady looked at the cowboy

and said, “I’m so sorry about all of this. You didn’t have to do that for me. After all, I did just wreck your nice truck.”

The cowboy said, “Well, pretty lady, I’ve had this truck since high school and it’s my pride and joy. I rebuilt it myself and

There’s not much you can do to this Chevy that I can’t fix.

Besides, if I was gonna get hit by someone I’m glad it was a pretty cowgirl like you and not some mouthy jackass like that guy. I can fix your truck, too, if you want.”

The young lady was crying, blushing, and smiling all at the same time when she said, “I don’t know what to say. You’ve been such a gentleman about all this. I couldn’t ask you to do anything like that. I have insurance and I’m sure it’ll take care of the damage on your truck and mine.”

The cowboy said, “I appreciate that but

I don’t let anybody work on this baby but me so don’t worry about it.”

Then the cowboy tilted his head up as if deep in thought and added, “But there is one thing you could do for me, if it’s not too much trouble.”

With great sincerity in her eyes, she nodded. “Of course, I’d be happy to…” Then smiling shyly, she added, “Uh, well, I guess I should ask what it is first.”

After laughing the cowboy replied,

“I’d be honored if you’d accompany me inside the Dancing Pony and dance with me tonight.”

Looking delighted, she said, “Oh my goodness, are you sure?”

“Never been more so, pretty lady.”

She said, “I’d be happy to.”

The crowd dispersed and everyone went back inside.

One of the bouncers turned to me and said,

“Hey boss, what do we do about this guy?”

He pointed at the heckler who was now sitting up in the parking lot nursing a bloody nose.

I said, “Call him a cab and come on back inside.”

So the bouncer looked at him and said,

“You’re a cab.”

Then he laughed and came back inside.

The Oldest Line in the Book

My dying wish is to dance with the most beautiful woman in the world

Chivalry is alive and well in Divine, Texas

Ethan Grant's Slice of Life from the Dancing Pony

The Dancing Pony pickup line of the week is….


Chivalry is alive and well in Divine, Texas. At least Saturday night it was.

A group of young ladies were in the nightclub celebrating. I wasn’t sure what the story was until later but it seemed to revolve around the dark-haired lady of the bunch. She was about five foot two inches, very pretty, and given her alcohol intake, obviously wanted to forget somebody or something that evening.

The ladies were having a good time, being a little loud

and drinking margaritas by the pitcher, when a couple of ranch hands came in from one of our neighboring ranches. They sat down at the bar, immediately noticed our party of ladies, and asked the bartender what was up with the boisterous group.

The bartender served their beers and said, “They’re celebrating a breakup the dark-haired gal had recently. I guess the relationship wasn’t a good one and now that it’s over they’re throwing her a party. One of her friends told me

She’s no longer looking for Mr. Right, just for Mr. Right Now.”

One of the ranch hands laughed and said, “Well, they came to the right place.”

The taller of the two ranchers said, “I think I know the dark-haired lady. That’s Jenna. And yeah, her ex was a nightmare. Real asshole. He got sent back to jail for violating his parole or something. She’s better off without him.”

His friend said, “Hey, didn’t you two go out a couple of times after high school?”

The taller hand nodded. “Yeah. I really liked her but she was always looking for the BBD.”

“The what?”

“You know. The Bigger Better Deal.”

His friend replied, “Oh, never satisfied, huh? Well maybe she’s gotten over that. You should go talk to her. Maybe she’ll appreciate a decent guy like you since her last relationship ended so badly.”

The taller one answered, “I don’t know. The bartender said she wasn’t looking for a relationship, just a good time.”

His friend gestured toward the dance floor.

“Well, then go show her a good time.”

Just then, a drunk walked up to Jenna, got right in her face, and spoke loudly enough that we could all hear him over at the bar. “Hey, babe. I can show you the best time you ever had.” As he said it he grabbed her roughly around her waist and pulled her to him. She was pretty drunk, too, at this point, but not enough to respond by throwing her drink in his face, for which I was grateful.

Why can’t people just slap each other? It doesn’t make a big mess.

Anyway…she made it clear that she was not interested in him at all as she tried vainly to get free from his grasp. Her friends started fussing at the drunk and it was obvious he was unwelcome in their midst.

I gave the signal to our bouncers but the tall ranch hand got there first. “Hey, pal, if you weren’t so damned drunk, you’d realize the lady isn’t interested. Back off.”

The drunk let go of her so fast that she nearly fell, rounded on him and yelled, “Oh yeah? Who the fuck are you, her body guard? Get lost, shit kicker.”

The drunk took a swing at our hero, who dodged it easily

since the guy was so inebriated, and he fell and hit his head on a chair and gave himself a bloody nose. One of the bouncers jumped in and threw the guy out while the ladies applauded.

Meanwhile, our hero tipped his hat to the ladies and said, “I hope you’re okay, Jenna.” Then he returned to the bar and sat back down. The ladies were all standing there kind of awe struck.

A few seconds later, Jenna walked over to the bar in tears and said, “That was really nice of you. I’ve never had a guy stand up for me like that before—at least not one that didn’t have an ulterior motive.”

“Maybe I’m old school, but you should be treated like a lady, no matter where you are.

That’s the way it ought to be, anyway. I don’t know if you remember me or not but we dated a couple of times after high school.”

Jenna turned pale and seemed to sober up very quickly at hearing this and said, “Oh my god. Will, I am so drunk I didn’t recognize you.” She gave him a long look and then started crying.

Will patted his pockets like he was looking for his handkerchief and then pulled a tissue from the Puffs box I offered.

(Hey, don’t judge. Puffs are soft, and I keep a box of them under the bar for just such an ‘emergency.’)

“I didn’t mean to make you cry. I was just trying to make you feel better.”

Jenna took the tissue with a smile and then burst into fresh tears. “No, it’s not you. Well, it is you, but you know what I mean.”

Looking confused, Will said, “Uh, no. I—”

Wiping away her tears, Jenna said, “I just had this sudden flash about what my life would’ve been like for the last ten years if I’d…Well, anyway, I’m sorry to be like this. Thank you for helping me back there.” Seeming a little embarrassed, she turned as if to walk away.

Just then, Will’s friend rose from his chair and offered it to her.

“Seems to me like y’all got some catchin’ up to do, so I’m gonna say good-night. See ya tomorrow, Will.”

At Will’s nod, she took the chair and they talked for a few minutes while I brewed a fresh pot of coffee for her. Jenna chuckled and said, “My friends seem to be having a great time. They probably haven’t even noticed that I’m over here. I think they’d understand if I left. Would you mind driving me home?”

Will said, “Sure, but only to make sure you get home safe. Maybe you’ll let me take you out sometime?”

Jenna laughed and then hiccupped. “You mean sometime when I’m not so drunk. You really are a great guy, you know that? I’d love to go out with you.”

They left together and I heard later that Will did exactly what he said he’d do. He made sure she got home safe, and left. I’m thinking we’ll see them together in here on a date very soon.

By the way it was about an hour before the other ladies noticed that the reason for the party had left.

Our margaritas are really good.

I only see one beautiful woman in here because I can’t take my eyes off you

Ethan Grant's Slice of Life from the Dancing Pony

The Dancing Pony pickup line of the week is….


If you think anything like I do, you may often wonder

why certain people who seem to have nothing in common are attracted to each other. Some say it’s because God has a sense of humor. I believe it’s because God knows what we need for growth.

A young lady came in the nightclub with a coworker and they sat at the bar talking. The coworker was telling the young lady, who was a curvaceous brunette, that she needed to diet and take better care of her appearance if she wanted to attract a guy. The young lady seemed introverted and wasn’t very receptive to the advice her coworker was giving her.

You can imagine how difficult it was  to keep my mouth shut about this “friend’s” advice.

I hate when women talk to each other like that.

After a while a couple of cowboys came in and sat across the bar from the two ladies. Vance, the taller of the cowboys, is a good guy, but he’s earned a reputation as a “player” with the women around here.

The cowboys were talking, and in an unusually sincere voice I overheard Vance say, “Wow, who’s that gal across the bar.

She’s really beautiful.”

Looking a little confused, his friend craned his head to look and then replied, “Who? Her? You’re kidding right? You figure on getting close to her so you can get in with the friend she’s talking to, or what?”

Vance shook his head and frowned. “I’m serious. There’s something about her. I’m asking her to dance.”

With that, Vance got up, walked over to the two ladies, and sounding uncharacteristically nervous, he said, “Hi, I’m Vance. Would you dance with me?”

The young lady’s coworker scowled at him and said,

“I know who you are. Go chubby-chase somewhere else, player.”

Without saying a word, the young lady gently grabbed her coworker by the arm as if to say it was okay and to let him talk. Still looking disgruntled, her friend backed off.

Vance hardly spared the defensive friend a glance and said, “No offense, ma’am, but I was asking your friend to dance, not you.”

The coworkers jaw dropped and her eyes popped wide.

He turned to the curvaceous brunette.

“I’d be honored if you’d dance with me.”

I’ve seen Vance put the charm on a girl before but I could see that he was completely sincere.

The young lady’s friend sounded off again. “Well, then the answer isn’t just ‘no’ but HELL no!”

Having evidently recovered from the shock of his invitation, the brunette grasped her coworker’s arm. “I said it’s okay. I’ll be fine.” Then she turned to Vance and shyly said, “Just so I’m clear, YOU actually want to dance with ME? I know who you are, too, Vance. Your reputation as a Casanova precedes you. There are plenty of beautiful women in here who would love to dance with you. Why me?”

With a more confident smile, Vance leaned toward her a bit and said, “I only see one beautiful woman in here because

I can’t take my eyes off you.”

The young lady blushed and her eyes went wide. “That’s the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me. I’d love to dance with you.”

While they were dancing, her coworker went over to Vance’s friend and poked his shoulder to get his attention. “Whatever Vance has in mind, he’d better not be chubby-chasing my friend for another notch on his damn bedpost.

If he pulls a ‘love ’em and leave ’em’ routine on her I’ll hunt him down with my shotgun.”

Vance’s friend said, “Lady, a player he may be but he’s not THAT bad. I think he really likes her.”

“Well, he better–or else.” With that, she returned to her seat.

Vance and his lady spent most of the evening on the dance floor. Closing time came around and according to his friend Vance escorted her to her car, gave her a goodnight kiss, got in his truck, and went home.

His friend said the zombie apocalypse must be coming

soon because that was the first time he’d ever seen Vance go home alone from the Pony, especially after dancing all night with the same person.

Personally, I think they’ll make a great couple because opposites not only attract. They can also complete each other. I’m sure we’ll see them together again soon.


A Super Bowl Shut Out

She’s got a temper to go along with that red hair of hers…

My dad taught me to never waste anything, not even a bad beer.

Slices of Life from the Dancing Pony

The Dancing Pony pickup line of the week is….

When I told Gracie about the subjects of the pickup line this time around, she suggested that I tell y’all to imagine Chance or Clayton Carlisle as you read this one. She said something about “sexy silver” ranchers gets y’all’s attention. Anyway…

There’s no doubt that sometimes the weirdest things attract people together.

One of our local ranchers came in with his ranch foreman and sat at the bar. He asked the bartender for the worst beer we had, something that just doesn’t sell at all. That’s an unusual request but not from this gentleman.

The bartender gave him a beer that we seldom ever sell. It’s not popular and even if you’re a beer drinker you’d probably agree that this one sucks. We only keep it in stock for one particular person who rarely comes in but he’s a good friend so we keep a couple on hand for him.

Anyway, this rancher picked up the bottle of bad beer and guzzled the entire thing in one gulp. Then he said,

“Okay, bartender, now give me your best.”

The bartender gave him a premium beer and he sipped it slowly. While he talked with his foreman, he pulled out a pack of Apple Jack chewing tobacco and stuffed some in his jaw.

While they were talking, a lady who had been sitting at the other end of the bar got up and walked over to the rancher. When he turned to her and smiled, she said, “Sir, can I ask you a question?”

The rancher smiled at her. “Yes ma’am. What would you like to know?”

“Is that Apple Jack chewing tobacco I smell?” she asked.

He nodded. “Yes ma’am it is.”

She smiled and said, “My granddad used to chew Apple Jack and the smell always reminds me of him. He was a sweet man and I miss him a lot.” Seeming touched, the rancher asked the lady if he could buy her a drink and she said, “That would be nice. Thank you.”

Sitting down next to the rancher and his foreman, she said, “I’m curious about something else. Why did you order the worst beer they have and then chug it down like that?”

“My dad taught me to never waste anything, not even a bad beer.”

With a grin, she said, “Yeah, but why buy something you already know you don’t like.”

He grabbed the empty bottle that had contained the bad beer, spit in it, and then smiled at her.

“So I don’t get ‘em mixed up.”

She had a full body shudder and all three of them laughed out loud. “Oh, Lord. Yeah, that’d be bad. I’m curious, did you start chewing tobacco as an alternative to smoking?”

He shook his head. “No, I started ‘cause of my ex-wife.”

She raised an eyebrow and asked, “Did she like it or something?”

“She hated it. But you know the old sayin’, ‘never slap a man who’s chewin’ tobacco.’

I needed all the help I could get with that cantankerous woman. No offense, ma’am.”

She laughed and said, “None taken. So you argued a lot, huh?”

The rancher said, “There are two theories in Texas about how to win an argument with a woman and neither one of them work.”

She laughed again and said, “Well, you seem pretty good-natured and easygoing to me.”

The foreman nudged his boss with his elbow, and motioned with his head to the dance floor. Looking encouraged, the rancher said, “Pretty lady, would you do me the honor of dancing with me? That is if you don’t mind bein’ seen with an old coot like me.”

She blushed and said, “You don’t look that much older than me. Besides, I’m not one to care about what people think anyway.

Come on, cowboy, let’s cut a rug.”

They danced several times that night and the rancher slipped his foreman his keys and told him he’d see him in the morning. When they left that night, they looked pretty wrapped up in each other.

My sweet matchmaker, Gracie, thinks this woman may be the next “Rancher’s Lady.” The scent of Apple Jack chewing tobacco is probably the last thing I would’ve expected to attract a lady but when love is the result, you can’t really argue with it.

©Heather Rainier 2017


Author’s Note: This pickup line was originally posted on Facebook in 2014. I’m considering re-publishing these short stories every so often on my blog, so they’re easier for readers to access, especially readers who are new to the series. I hope you enjoyed it. Love, Heather

My dying wish is to dance with the most beautiful woman in the world

Ethan Grant's Slice of Life from the Dancing Pony

The Dancing Pony pickup line of the week is….


There were a couple of ladies sitting at the bar

discussing their work week when three cowboys, who’d obviously been having a good time somewhere else, came into the Pony. They were laughing at something as they sat down near our ladies at the bar.

It turns out that one of the cowboys was telling jokes and some of them were actually funny. He asked the bartender if he would like to hear a New York echo.

The bartender played along and said sure, so the cowboy called out,

“Helllooooooo”……..Shut the fuck up!”

Everybody laughed. The ladies seemed mildly amused but didn’t say anything.

The comedic cowboy excused himself to go to the bathroom, stopped, walked over to one of the ladies and said, “Darlin, I’m a dying man and my doctor has only given me one week to live.

My dying wish is to dance with the most beautiful woman in the world.

I can’t believe my luck that you showed up here tonight. Would you do me the honor of dancing with me?”

The lady paused for a minute, her friend gave her a very cynical look, then she smiled and said, “Okay, cowboy. Since there’s no long-term commitment, I guess so.” With that she hopped up and went to the dance floor with him. They danced a couple of songs and she seemed to have a good time.

When she came back to her seat, her friend said, “What the hell was that? A pity dance?”

The lady said, “He made me laugh. And I don’t remember the last time someone called me beautiful.” She paused to laugh and then said,

“Besides, he is a dying man.”

Her friend looked disgusted and said, “Well, if he wasn’t drunk, and you put him in some decent clothes, he might be presentable.” The lady shrugged and seemed unperturbed by her friend’s obvious attitude.

After the couple had danced several more times, the cowboy came over to where the ladies sat, took off his hat, and said, “My lady, I’ll have to say goodnight to you. My party has informed me that they’re moving on with or without me and so I must leave. However, if I’m alive tomorrow–and sober–I’d very much like to call you. You see, I lied about one thing. I’m not dying. But I do think you’re the most beautiful woman in the world and would be honored if you’d take my call.”

The lady blushed and said, “Well, sugar, you didn’t have to lie. I think that’d be great. Here’s my number.” She wrote it on a napkin and he gently folded it and put it in his wallet. He thanked her and said goodnight.

Then the lady’s friend said “Okay, dances I can go along with because he did seem like a good dancer.

But you can’t be serious about going out with that guy.”

The lady said, “Okay, let’s look at the facts.” She held up her hand and began ticking off her fingers. “He makes me laugh. He’s a good dancer. He’s cute. He’s obviously not broke since he paid our tab for us. Plus, he was gentleman enough to not expect a one-nighter for paying said tab, and he asked for permission call me sometime.

I think your standards might be a little too high, girlfriend.”

The friend got that look on her face that people get when they know you’re right but don’t want to admit it, and then she finally gave a good-natured laugh, and said, “Oh….shut the fuck up!”

I’ve seen a lot of things happen in this bar, and probably heard most of the pickup lines out there. But regardless of who you are, what you look like, what you say or who you say it to, you must have confidence.


A Super Bowl Shut Out

If you dance anything like you touch, you might have to carry me back to the bar…

Ethan Grant's Slice of Life from the Dancing Pony

The Dancing Pony pickup line of the week is….


A young man named Rick came in the Dancing Pony this weekend with his companion, a seeing eye dog.

He always sits at the bar. And the dog, Ginger, is responsive to his needs and never barks or causes any problems.

The only challenge we have is keeping the ladies away from Ginger. She’s a beautiful golden lab and friendly but it’s not good to distract a working dog so we have to be careful and watch out for our friend.

Anyway Rick was sitting at the bar having a beer while talking to one of the bartenders. He seemed a little low for some reason and was explaining his woes to the bartender when a young lady came over and sat next to him.

She noticed Ginger and spoke in a sweet tone.

“Hey there, gorgeous.”

The bartender greeted the lady and said, “Please don’t play with Ginger, ma’am. She’s on duty and it’s not good to pet or distract her.”

The lady looked at Rick, nodded in understanding, and said, “Well, I hope that doesn’t apply to the owner because I’d rather distract him than the dog. I’d like to get to know you better before any petting or playing happens, though.”

Rick turned to her, a little embarrassed and said, “I’m sorry. These guys are always looking out for me.”

The bartender leaned in to Rick and said,

“I think your ‘woes’ are about to be ‘wows’, brother. She’s beautiful. I’m not exaggerating. I’ll leave you to it.”

Rick turned to her and said, “My name is Rick.”

“I’m Felicia. I just moved to Divine a couple of months ago from Crystal City. My employer needed me to relocate, so here I am. What about you? How long have you lived here?”

“I was born and raised in Divine, actually. I love this town, even though I’ve never seen it.”

Felicia giggled, and then hesitated. “Oh, gosh, I hope that was a joke.”

Rick laughed and said, “Yeah, my feeble attempt at humor. You’re one of the few people that has ever actually laughed, though. Maybe I should work on my delivery.”

Felicia studied his face for a moment and said, “I think your delivery was just fine. I hope you don’t mind me asking, but does that mean you were born blind or was it something that happened later?”

Rick said, “No, I was born this way. There were complications when I was born. I won’t bore you with details.”

The two talked for a while and then Felicia asked,

“Would you dance with me?”

Rick gulped the last of his beer and then rubbed his jaw. Finally he said, “I don’t know how. I’ve never danced with anyone, except my mom when I was really little and stood on her feet.”

Felicia slipped out of her chair, mindful of ginger’s presence, and took both of his hands in hers. “Good, then you will have to stay close so I can guide you.”

“O-O-Okay,” Rick stuttered, and then said, “But I want you to let me do something when we’re done, if I haven’t broken any of your toes.”

Felicia giggled and said, “What do you have in mind, big guy?”

“Will you allow me to look at you—with my hands, I mean? I know it makes some people uncomfor—”

Before he could finish explaining, Felicia lifted his hands and placed his palms on her cheeks. “I hope you’re not disappointed. I’m no Miss America.”

He ran his fingertips lightly over her face and down her throat, taking his time, and when she didn’t retreat he stroked up to her nape and slid his fingers upward into her hair. She smiled hesitantly, as if bracing for his reaction, but encouraged him by stroking his biceps.

“Wow,” Rick said as he slid his hands over her shoulders. He smiled broadly and shook his head as if he was gathering his wits. “You’re really beautiful. Thank you for allowing me to do that. Now I can see you in my mind’s eye.”

He grinned even wider, as if he liked what he was “seeing.”

Flushed and slightly out of breath, Felicia said, “Are you kidding? That was intense. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until I nearly fainted.”

Then Rick stood from his chair and slipped his hand into hers. “Think you can handle me on the dance floor while Ginger takes a break?”

Felicia looked down at their joined hands and said,

“Honey, if you dance anything like you touch, you might have to carry me back to the bar.”

They danced several times that night and Ginger didn’t seem to mind. I think that’s the first time in memory that I’ve called the cab company and cancelled a cab ride home.


She’s got a temper to go along with that red hair of hers…

All I Want For Christmas Is a Woobie Under My Tree by Heather Rainier

Chapter One

“You still haven’t told me what you want for Christmas,”

Jack murmured as he carefully squeezed Grace’s warm backside to his front-side. Few things felt better than making love to his wife. Giving her slow thrust, he reveled in her sweet and snug pussy, determined to take his time.

“Mmmm,” Grace purred as she rubbed her luxuriant, warm ass against him, tightening her grip on their entwined fingers. With a round and not very subtle undulation of her hips, she said, “Right now, I’d be thrilled if you would fuck me until I see stars. You have no idea how much I’d love to get this show on the road.”

Jack chuckled, but held his libido in check. There was nothing he’d like more than to give her exactly what she wanted. A good fucking. A hard orgasm. And maybe a kick-start to labor. Poor Grace wasn’t overdue but she was definitely ready to be done.

Grace reached back and caressed his ass. “You want to fuck me, don’t you? I know you do,” she purred. He could hear the smile in her voice as she urged him on.

He caressed the lower swell of her mounded abdomen

before reaching for the hot, slick haven between her thighs. “Darlin’, nothin’ would make me happier. Don’t worry, I’m gonna give you what you want, but you’re gonna let me be in charge.”

As he kissed the fragrant flesh beneath her ear he flexed his hips, thrusting slow and deep. Her moan and sigh were music to his ears and he smiled as he leaned forward enough to watch her face. Her eyelids slid closed and she caught her lip between her teeth as she arched back against him.

Breathing her in, he focused his stroking on the hot, slippery and swollen bundle of her clit, sliding his fingers back and forth, side to side, just the way she liked it, according to her answering moan. “Yes, like that.”

Keeping his thrusts even, he nibbled at her earlobe and said, “You make the sweetest sounds when I fuck you just right, Grace. I’ll never get enough of you. All of you.”

The tap of a small foot or elbow at his inner forearm

told him that their early morning play had awakened their unborn daughter, currently nestled beneath Grace’s heart.

Love, overwhelming in its strength and depth, brought an all over flush of heat to his body and he groaned with pleasure even as his vision misted momentarily. Making love to Grace was a spiritual event, even more so than in the past. He truly loved her more with each passing day. Every single thing about her turned him on, and made him even more determined to give her what she needed.

When he changed up the stroking pattern over her clit, she gasped and cried out, “Yes, oh yes! More, just like that. Fuck me, Jack. Please, oh please!” Her sensual moans were his undoing and he increased his thrusts as she arched back against him. Her hot, lush pussy was just too hard to resist and he gave in to her, fucking her until she dug her nails into his buttocks. “That’s it! Oh, I’m coming! I’m coming!”

“Yes,” he growled as he held her to him with a firm grip and pumped hard. Ecstasy created a haze of rapture he gave in to, falling over the brink of lust. Searing shards of pleasure blazed through his nerve endings and he gave a loud groan as he came, thrusting hard with each orgasmic surge.

When his senses returned, it was to find she was giggling.

Gently pulling out, he leaned over her so he could look into her beautiful flushed face. His extremities still tingled and she looked up at him with those bright blue eyes of hers. “Woman, you are spoiled. You know that?”

Giggling some more, she nodded. “Are you still going to get a tree for me?”

“I’m not sure I can feel my legs at the moment. Give me time to recover from servicing my demanding woman and I’ll consider it. In the meantime, you still haven’t told me what you want for Christmas.”

With slow, careful movements, she turned from one side to the other, a maneuver that took longer in her advanced state of pregnancy. When she was situated, he pulled the covers over her. Before she’d awoken, he’d gotten up to start a fire in the mistress suite fireplace to take away the early morning chill, but he didn’t want to risk her being cold anyway. So he was a little protective. Her smile as she snuggled closer to him told him she appreciated the effort.

Resting her golden head on his bicep,

she played his chest hair and then looked up at him. “All I want for Christmas is a woobie under my tree.”

With a chuckle, he replied, “Lucky for you, you’ve got three of them. If you count Grant-boy, you’ve got four.”

Grace chuckled. Their son Grant was proving to be just as protective of his mama and sister as Jack, Ethan, and Adam were, although he was thoroughly sick of being Rose Marie’s roping dummy. “I can hardly ask for more.”

“Yeah, you can, darlin’.” He admired her appreciation for what she already possessed but he wanted to do his Christmas shopping soon and he really needed to know what was on her secret wish list.

“Charity has a list, because she knew you would all be asking. There’s one item you’ll have to take her shopping for since she knows exactly what I want.”


Charity was a good sister-in-law and wouldn’t steer them wrong. “You’re really determined to put up a Christmas tree today?”

“Yes. I want to have it up early this year, so it’s already done for Thanksgiving, and so I can enjoy watching Rose Marie and Grant decorate it. Once I have my hands full with the baby, I’ll be more likely to miss things like that. I wanted to take pictures of the three of you helping them put the ornaments on.”

“Well, all right, then. Adam is supposed to come with me to the tree farm to pick out a good one.”

“A nice, tall one, please.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he murmured and then kissed her throat again. “Whatever you want.”


Chapter Two


“Rose Marie, hold the door for your daddy,”

Grace said as she caught Grant by the collar of his barn coat before he got trampled by Angel, Ash and Joaquin as they moved the sleeper loveseat to the other side of the living room. The thing weighed a ton, and just because the little squirt could move like a basset hound on steroids, quick and low to the ground, didn’t mean he wouldn’t get squished if he tripped them.

“Thanks, sugar,” Adam said as he, Ethan, and Jack wisely stamped their boots on the back porch mat before inching the huge and fragrant tree through the doors. No need to track dry leaves and dirt on her just cleaned floors.

“Watch the door frame. I don’t want to have to repaint,” she said, reaching out but then standing back as Jack caught her eye and nodded at her. They wouldn’t let the door frames get dinged. His patience with her neat freak tendencies, made worse by advanced pregnancy induced nesting instinct, warmed her heart.

“Okay, Gracie,” Ethan said, bringing up the rear, carrying the stump of the tree in gloved hands. The scent of fresh cut fir filled the crisp air drafting in through the door all around them. Her heightened sense of smell also picked up notes of clean, hard-working men,

and her inner sexpot purred contentedly.

Jack cleared his throat, gaining her attention, and she giggled when she caught him staring at her, recent carnal knowledge in his eyes. He probably knew exactly what she was thinking. “Darlin’, it’s getting heavy.”

“Oh! Sorry! Pregnancy brain! Over there.” She pointed across the room. “Try it over there first.”

Joaquin snorted softly at her word choice as he and the other two helpers stood by. They’d probably had to go through the same ritual with their women at home. Positioning the tree just right was important. It had to be visible through the back windows, not too close to the fireplace or the stairs, out of the flow of traffic, and far enough from the wall she could decorate the backside and be able to reach the switch for the tree lights, as well. Location, location, location!

“How’s that?” Adam said as he held it steady for her.

“Move it a foot to the left. It’ll snag everyone’s pant legs where it is right now.”

They moved it without a single grumble.

“How’s that?” Adam asked, switching hands on the tree and catching Grant as he ran forward and grabbed him about his long thigh.

She beckoned them to bring it forward. “I need to get the bumpers out for the bricks on the hearth. The last thing we want is Grant busting his head open if he trips.”

Grant frowned at her. “I not no baby, no more, mama.”

“You mean, ‘I’m not a baby anymore, mama.’ And it’s not up to you young man.”

“I ain’t a baby! I ain’t!”

Ethan growled softly and tapped his son

on the back of his head. “Don’t sass your mama, son.” To Grace, he said, “We gave the bumpers to Presley, Jared, and Kendry.”

“Oh. Oh, well, just be super careful, Grant. Bring it forward and away from the fireplace just to be on the safe side.”

“How’s that?” Adam asked with a soft sigh.

She backed up and took in the room as a whole. “You know what? I think I’d like it better over there next to the staircase.”

Jack nodded once, and they lifted the tree to heft it across the living room while Angel, Joaquin and Ash hurriedly moved the loveseat out of the way again.

“No, wait. I’m sorry. If it’s over there it won’t be as visible from the backyard.”

“Why does it—never mind,”

Ethan said and then grunted as he repositioned the stump in his gloved hands and nodded at Adam to proceed.

“Which way, baby?” Adam said, not budging even though Jack and Ethan had started to back to the original spot.

She pointed to the original spot with an apologetic smile. “Back where you had it. Okay, now turn it. Turn it. Just a little more—stop. She backed up and looked at the room as a whole. “Right where you have it is perfect. Don’t move it or turn it. Angel can you help him with the base?”

“Sure thing, Grace. You know the water is going to have to be filled every day, otherwise it’ll dry out before—

“Oh, I’ll keep up with filling it,” she said, smiling at the beautiful symmetry of the tree they’d chosen. It had to be nine feet tall.

“Uh, no, I’ll be filling it,”

Jack said, watching the bulge of her abdomen as it lurched.

Grace sighed at the corresponding pressure to her bladder and said, “I’ll be right back.”

She bit her lip, and paused, hand on the couch to steady her, as Calliope Elizabeth squirmed and did ‘the thing.’ Unable to speak, she breathed carefully as Callie stretched, pushing a tiny foot against her much abused lower ribs.

“She’s doing ‘the thing’?” Jack asked, coming near.

Grace gave a thumbs up, back still turned. Give the man a prize!

Peeing could wait as Callie ground her hard little Warner head against Grace’s tender nether parts.

“Grace, you okay?”

Adam said, sounding concerned when she didn’t speak.

Just as quickly as Callie started her yoga routine, she relented, curling back into a tiny tight ball, giving her mama enough room to draw a breath.

She turned and smiled. This had only happened umpteen times in the last few days. “No biggie. Callie’s just squirming around a lot. Must be that orange juice I drank. I’ll be right back.”

The trip the bathroom was all good, if one counted having to balance carefully to sit down on the toilet because her abdomen made bending a bit dicey. Getting up was actually easier. Then she looked down. “Well, fuck a duck. Nope. Not right when I’m getting my tree decorated. I’ll call Emma later.”


Jack watched Grace

when she returned from using the bathroom. He studied her expression, looking for signs of discomfort or worry. She was as serene as she could be, and then she smiled at him. “Did we get the tree in the base?”

“Yeah, Ethan’s filling a bucket right now. Is this how you wanted it?”

No other woman had ever made a pregnant waddle look sexier, he thought as she moved to the center of the room, gazed at the tree, moved to the back windows, gazed at the tree some more, and then waddled back to the stairs, eyeballed that tree once more, and then gave them the thumbs up.

Relief filled him, and he turned to Rose Marie. “Sugar, can you close the back doors? We don’t want Mama getting chilled, do we?”

Horror dawned on Rose Marie’s face. “Oh, no. I wasn’t thinking.” She ran back to the doors but Grace stopped her.

“No, sweetie, leave them open for me. The crisp breeze is nice.” Grace tilted her head and looked at the tree and he dutifully turned it one millimeter to the right when she asked him to.

Ethan came in from the kitchen carrying a mop bucket and said, “Who left the door open? Gracie’s going to get chill—” He turned to look at her and paused mid-step. “Gracie? You okay?”

“I’m fine,”

she assured him, her hand smoothed over her burgeoning middle as their daughter squirmed again, and what he thought had to be her little butt shifted visibly from Grace’s left side to her right side.

Angel chuckled and said, “There is another reason why the women have the babies, because we weak-spirited men would be wetting our pants if we had to experience that. The women are the stronger sex, no doubt.”

Joaquin nodded silently and fist bumped his brother.

“Is it time, Mama?” Rose Marie said as she and Grant bounced up and down beside the stacked boxes containing ornaments.

“Yes, it’s time. Once box at a time, and let your daddies help you with the box marked ‘fragile’. I’m going to get my phone so I can take pictures.”

Ethan watched her as she waddled into her office, and then looked at Jack and Adam, suspicion in his eyes. Angel and the others said their goodbyes and ventured out the back doors.

They watched her like a hawk,

while helping the kids open the boxes of ornaments. He set the box of fragile ones aside because he knew they were extra special to Grace, and he didn’t want to be responsible for any of them getting broken on his watch, especially the spun glass ones. She’d loved those when they’d given them to her their first Christmas together.

With the back door open, the sounds of the working ranch filtered into the house, and Rose Marie giggled when they heard one of the dogs barking. Barney looked a bit like a bloodhound but Jack swore up and down there was a little bit of mastiff in him. And he had a bark that pierced the thickest walls, and eardrums.

“Barney must be chasing a rabbit again,” Rose Marie chirped as she showed him the shiny red ball ornament. “Let’s hang all red ornaments on the tree, Daddy.”

“Nooo,” Grant groused in his grump-old-man voice. “Red and green, cuz it’s Christmas.”

“You mean, “Red and Green, because it’s Christmas,’” Grace said, shooting video of the kids and the three of them. “I wonder what Barney is after,” she said, keeping the phone trained on them while looking out the back doors. “He’s chasing a cat. Is that Jake? I haven’t seen him in ages.” She turned checked her phone screen’s position and then looked back out the doors. Barney and Jake had a love-hate relationship.

“Rowr-rowr-rowr-rowr! Barowwwwrrr-rowr-rowr!”

The sound came closer and closer, Jack looked over to see what the ruckus was, and suddenly Grace shouted, “Oh, no you don’t! Not my clean floors!”

In her advanced state of pregnancy she couldn’t move fast enough to reach the doors to shut them, and Jack wouldn’t risk knocking her over to get to them. He wouldn’t have been in time anyway.

Jake the barn cat was a huge, orange, fuzzy streak as he zipped through the back door with Barney hot on his tail, jowls flapping, drool flying everywhere as he dogged the cat right to the Christmas tree. Like a feline missile, Jake got vertical, sloshing the water in the tree base everywhere, before rocketing straight to the top of the pristine, perfectly positioned fir tree.

Rose Marie and Grant stood stock still, jaws hanging open. Then Jake snarled at Barney, who was barking so loudly it shook the rafters and vibrated in the center of Jack’s sternum.

With every hair on end

until he looked twice his normal above-average size, Jake fixed Barney with a green-eyed glower and yowled and hissed like a cobra.

The tree tilted slightly out of kilter because Ethan hadn’t had a chance to fix it more steadily into the base yet. Jake’s weight at the top of the tree made it shake as he tried to maintain his balance.

“Barowwwwrrr-rowr-rowr! Baroooooooooo!” Barney howled, having successfully treed his quarry.

Not relinquishing victory that easily, Jake hissed, spat and growled, struggling to maintain his high perch, unsuccessfully as it turned out, since the tree finally toppled to the floor.

Jake leaped at the dog, the dog shrieked in fear, and the cat chased the squealing dog around the living room twice, unseating Grace’s bric-a-brac and books from their shelves before racing at top speed right out the back door.

All eyes turned to Grace.

She was still holding the camera, and had caught at least part of the event on record. As if for added affect, the base containing the water for the tree, which had managed to stay on its edge that whole time, finally toppled over, spilling water all over the floor.

Grace blinked a couple of times, and then looked around the room at all their shocked faces.

“Heh-heh,” she snickered as she pointed at him, Ethan, and Adam, and the kids. They were all watching her as if she was a ticking time bomb. “Heh-Heh-heh,” she continued. “You should see your faces.”

She looked back at the tree, and then burst into great, belly-rolling laughter. Pointing at the door, she said, “The cat ran in the…and the dog…then Jake went ‘reeeewr! So Barney howled…and kaboom!” She mimicked the tree falling with a sweep of her arm, starting to sound a little hysterical. Her laughter was infectious and soon they were all laughing.

By the time she finished laughing

and let out a big sigh, they had the tree back in an upright position, and were holding it firmly as Ethan bolted the base to the stump. That done, he picked up the bucket and headed back to the kitchen.

It was Jack that noticed something was up when he glanced over at Grace. She had a towel and was trying to soak up the water on the floor, and he said, “Darlin’, don’t worry about that. We can mop up the floor after we’ve got the tree secured. Don’t worry, we’ll have it all picked up in…” He noticed she was mopping up a puddle that was nowhere near the one that surrounded the tree.

He caught her eye and she shrugged and grinned at him. “Guess we got that show on the road after all, baby.” She stood upright and then gasped as she braced one hand on the couch and held her abdomen with the other. “Well, that was fast.”

The baby is coming?

It was time for his baby girl to be born? Just like that? So suddenly?

Ethan grabbed Jack and shook him out of his idiotic stupor. “We’ve got this. Her labors go fast. Take her to the hospital. I’ll call Emma—

“She’s already on alert. I called her from my office. I lost the mucous plug last time I peed. She said to get my ass to the hospital at the first contraction.”

Ethan sighed, which sounded remarkably like a growl.

“What? I wanted to finish the tree first.”

“Woman,” Adam murmured.

“The baby and I fine. I’ll go now, since…kasploosh!” she mimicked a puddle splashing out around her and then winced at another contraction.

“I’m calling the hospital to let them know you’re on the way,” Adam said.

Ethan gave him a gentle push toward the door. “Take her now. We’ll get this tidied up. I’ll call Charity to come stay with the kids and we’ll bring Grace’s bag to her just as soon as Charity gets here.”

Damn it, it isn’t like I’ve never done this before. Why did he feel like he was having an out of body experience?

What finally galvanized him into action was the gentle grip of Grace’s hand on his forearm. “I’m ready, Jack.”

He turned to her. “Can you make it to my truck?” Thank goodness it was parked right out front. “I can carry you.”

Grace smiled and took his hand. “I think I can make it. Let’s go do this.”

“Mama?” Rose Marie said as she went to her mother and gentle patted her swollen abdomen. “I can’t wait to see my sissy.”

“Me, too, Mama!” Grant chirped, reaching out to be picked up, but Adam caught him up in his arms so Grace didn’t have to form a refusal. “I wanna see Sissy! Can I come, too?”

“You can come when she gets here, okay?” She took a breath and squeezed his hand hard. “We need to go.”

Jack guided her out to the truck and helped her into the cab. She buckled herself in while he ran around to the driver’s side.

On the wild tear down the driveway,

Grace giggled and pointed at one of the pastures, where Barney had Jake treed in an old oak, baying and jumping to get at him.

She took out her phone and began tapping on the screen.

“What are you doing?” he asked, keeping both eyes on the road as they turned onto the state highway.

“Texting Charity. I want her to take pictures of the kids putting the decorations on the tree. They’ll have a little sister the next time I see them. I wanted them to have that memory of when it was just the two of them in pictures.” She sniffled.

His sentimental sweetheart.

“Darlin, this time next year they’ll still be Mutt and Jeff, arguing over whether he should still be the roping dummy or not. It’s gonna be great. You doing okay?” he asked as she started blowing out in slow breaths.

She nodded, and when she could speak, she said, “Step on it, handsome, your little girl is in a hurry to meet you.”

Only the fact that he was behind the wheel, and the man in charge of getting her to the hospital in time, that kept him from totally losing it at her words.

This was his baby girl and the woman he loved more than breath.

Super-focused on getting them to the hospital safely, he said, “Well, I can’t wait to meet her, too. With you for her mama, she’s one lucky little girl.”

Grace tapped her phone and put it to her ear and said, “Hey, it’s me. Yes, they’re not even—” she paused what she was saying to blow out a long breath, over and over. “Yeah, that’s what I was trying to tell you. I’m blowing through them. I feel it. Be ready when we get there. Awesome. Bye.”

At the emergency entrance to the hospital, Jack spotted Eli Wolf waiting with Emma. Jack screeched to a halt and Eli opened the door and spoke calmly to Grace as he unbuckled her seatbelt and lifted her carefully from her seat. He glanced at Jack and grinned. “Hey, Jack. We got her safe. Park and come inside. Tracey will suit you up and show you where to go.”

Grace looked back at him and beamed as Eli placed her with utmost care on the gurney and they began rolling toward the automatic doors. Grace blew Jack a kiss and in between blowing breaths, she called out, “Hurry.”

Chapter Three


Jack couldn’t see Nurse Tracey’s mouth because she wore a mask, but her eyes were smiling as she held out a pair of surgical scissors to him. He fumbled them in his gloved hands and chuckled. “My hands are shaking so much I can hardly get my big ol’ fingers in the grips.”

Adam stood behind him at his left shoulder, sniffling. A little sob snuck out the big guy as Emma cleared the mucous and fluids from Calliope Elizabeth Warner’s mouth and nose and then lifted her so they could see her in her pink, chubby-cheeked glory, howling to beat the band.

“Meet your daughter, guys.

Jack? Care to do the honors?”

“Huh?” he asked dumbly as he gazed at Calliope’s cherubic face.

Grace chuckled softly and reached out. “Can I have her?”

Ethan gripped Jack’s shoulder and said, “Time to cut the cord.”

He looked down at the scissors in his hand and then understanding dawned. “Oh. Me. Okay. You know, I remember catching Rose Marie when she was born, but for some reason my legs hardly work.”

“It’s okay. Take your time, Jack. Mama and baby are just fine,” Emma murmured as she rose from the stool at the end of the birthing bed and gently placed Calliope on her mother’s bare chest. The infant squinted and squawked as she was rubbed gently with a cloth.

“What a pretty girl,”

Ethan said as he came around on Grace’s other side and stroked the babies tiny ear. “Look at all that dark hair, will you?”

Adam squatted down and Tracey shook her head at him and pushed another stool in his direction. He’d never live down nearly fainting at Grant’s birth. He chuckled and took it as he rolled to the head of the bed opposite from Ethan and caressed

Grace’s cheek. “Thank you, baby. You’re amazing. She’s beautiful.”

Grace kissed him and beamed. “She is pretty isn’t she?”

“Calliope is a mouthful for a tiny little baby,” Tracey said. “Is she going to have a nickname?”

“What do you think we ought to call her, Jack?” Grace asked as she stroked the baby’s little pink cheek.

Emma touched the top of his hand to galvanize him into action, as she held the clamped cord and showed him where to cut.

His hands still trembled

and Emma said, “Sometimes if I’m shaky it helps to take a slow breath and cut as you let it out. You’re golden, Jack. This is a huge moment, no matter how many times you have a baby.”

He nodded, unable to speak as he severed the cord and Emma gave him a thumbs up and took the scissors. Wow. She’s really here.

Grace gazed at him as he came close and laid his hand on Calliope’s back. “What should we call your daughter?”

“Callie Beth,” he whispered, the syllables crackling as his throat constricted. Her tiny little body was so warm, so vital. And then she squawked again as she started rooting in earnest.

“That’s a determined little girl, guys,” Emma said with a chuckle as she went about her work.

Tracey slid a little stocking cap on Callie’s head and said, “She looks like a little Callie Beth, doesn’t she? I love romantic names. She’s going to be a heart-breaker, I bet. I can snap some pictures for you real quick while Emma finishes up, before I take Callie to be weighed. You can come with me for that, Jack, if you want?”

He wasn’t sure if he could make his legs move

but he nodded and handed her his cellphone with the camera turned on. The guys got their phones out as well.

Exhausted from birth, Callie Beth fell asleep before finding success with the whole nursing thing, and that was okay. It was a big day. Tracey took the opportunity to wrap her in a receiving blanket and then popped her right into Jack’s arms, like he knew what he was doing.

Wait. I do know what I’m doin’. This isn’t my first rodeo. Get with the program, Jack!

Callie Beth mesmerized him. Her tiny hands were a carbon copy of Grace’s in miniature. She opened her eyes briefly and gazed up at him, so serious and still, inspecting her daddy for the first time.

Grace chuckled as he moved close to the head of the bed, the baby held securely in his arms. He leaned down to kiss Grace, and tears he didn’t know he was shedding dripped onto her hospital gown.

She was sniffling, too, as she reached up and stroked the moisture from his cheeks. Her lips were so warm under his and he lingered there before resting his forehead against hers.

“You done good, mama.”

“We all did. Congratulations, daddy. Daddies. I love you.”

They each responded in kind and even Tracey was sniffling as she moved around quietly snapping pictures. At times, Ethan and Adam caught his gaze and their happiness practically radiated from them.

All three of their kids belonged to all of them, by choice, but because of family resemblances, and timing, Grace was comfortably certain that Rose Marie was Adam’s daughter. She had the Davis green eyes and the family nose.

Ethan was most certainly Grant’s father, because of busy schedules and the fact that Grace had been charting her fertility. Grant also showed an amazing sense of intuition, like his father, when he wasn’t being a toot.

And this one…this little dark headed-angel.

Grace and the guys had done everything they could to make certain it was Jack who had fathered this baby, even giving their blessing for a Hawaiian getaway for just the two of them at a time when Grace was likely to be fertile. Callie Beth’s hair was the same color as his.

He lifted Grace’s hand into his and stroked her palm with his thumb. “Grace, you’re our every dream come to life. Thank you so much for this blessing.”


Chapter Four


The Christmas party at the Divine Creek Ranch

was a little more subdued that year, but not by much. Because of scheduling they were having it on Christmas day instead of Christmas Eve.

Jessica Bright’s wedding and binding ceremony with Tank Drummond and Troy Burns had happened the day before and everyone had stayed for the reception. Some faces were missing, because they had to travel to see their families, but Jack thought it was still a great turnout.

It was his protective side that hoped it didn’t go too late. Rose Marie and Grant were their usual energetic selves, and he’d been watching Grace for signs of fatigue. She’d given in to their badgering to rest because she hadn’t bounced back quite as quickly from the birth. She pushed herself so hard sometimes, thinking she needed to handle things for everybody else.

After the overwhelming success, and accompanying behind-the-scenes stressful drama, of the charity fundraiser, she’d finally given in and taken it easy, allowing them to do for her for a change.

With any other woman that might’ve meant being available at her beck and call. With Grace, it meant movie nights, long talks in bed, back rubs and brainstorming sessions for future stories she’d write in the coming years. Who knew he, Ethan, and Adam had such romantic creative sides? Jack honestly enjoyed being of help to her in a way he never had before.

He handed her to tall glass of ice water she’d asked him for and she thanked him with a kiss. Little Callie Beth was watching the goings on of the gathering from the security of the sling Grace was wearing, a gift from Presley Ann McCulloch, who had also given birth to a baby girl a month or so before Callie Beth had come into the world.

Callie Beth gazed out at the group

from the comfy security of her mother’s warmth, before burrowing close to her mama again. Warmth filled his chest and when he looked up it was to find Ethan and Adam watching her as well, twin sappy grins on their faces, probably matching the one on his.

Ethan brought him a beer and the three of them clinked bottles and Ethan said, “To Grace.”

“To Grace.”

“To Grace.”

Ash Peterson and his wife Juliana came in through the back door, looking a little flushed, and judging by the twinkle in Ash’s eyes, and the blush in Juliana’s cheeks, they were feeling a little more than just the crisp chill from the outdoors. Good thing for them, they lived nearby.

“What is all that racket?”

Juliana asked as she turned and peeked out the opened doors.

A commotion in the backyard got everyone’s attention. Ace and Kemp were on it immediately, coming from the kitchen where they’d been conversing with Duke and Gage, Dr. Emma’s husbands, reaching in to their sports coats by reflex, but showing no other sign they were armed.

After the security breach on the ranch the night of the charity dinner and double bachelor auction, they were all much more vigilant about disturbances, especially with little ones running around everywhere.

“Just the dog barkin’ somewhere nearby,” Ash said, nodding and smiling at Ethan when he lifted a beer bottle in inquiry. “I’d love one, thanks. Need to wet my whistle.”

Juliana snorted and nudged him with her elbow. “It’s important to stay hydrated, right?”

“You hush, woman,” he said, but his affectionate, gentle squeeze led Jack to believe he enjoyed it when she got feisty. Their relationship had been fireworks from the get go, as Jack recalled and maintaining that spark was good for a marriage.

They were just closing the French doors when Erin, Ethan’s baby sister snuck in, looking a little disheveled.

“Hey, Erin. I was wondering if you were going to make it or not,” Ethan said as he handed Ash his beer, and then squinted at her. “What’ve you been up to?”

“Nothin’. Mind your own beeswax, dude. I need a drink.”

“A good stiff one? Here,”

Charity quipped as she sauntered over and held out a shot of what looked like tequila. “Careful, there’s a song that talks about tequila making a girls clothes fall off.”

Erin growled at Charity but took the shot with a nod of thanks anyway. Ethan’s sister was a spirited woman, and it wasn’t his place to say so, but Ethan’s protectiveness was just making her even more determined to do as she pleased. She’d recently decided to move out of the ranch house, even though they had plenty of room. Jack could understand her wanting her independence.

Charity looked over at Teresa, who was standing nearby with Angel and Joaquin bracketing her like bookends. “Hey Teresa, where’s Luka and Matthias? I heard they were going to be here tonight?”

“They should be here already,” Teresa said, casting her husbands a questioning glance. Their brothers were always game for a party but didn’t always show up when they said they would. “I’m not sure where they are.”

Erin groused under her breath and headed for the kitchen as the sound of boot steps stamping on the porch signaled another arrival.

The brothers in question grinned and waved in greeting as they came in through the back door and slipped their coats off and put them on the tree with their hats. “Hey,” Luka called, shaking hands with Duke Rivers who had come into the living room. “How is everyone?”

“Barrrrrooowrrrr! Rowr-rowr-rowr-rowr!

Grace gasped and blinked as everyone turned at the commotion on the back porch. She opened her mouth to speak and turned imploring eyes to him. “Close the doors before they—”

A furry snarling orange rocket ran between Luka’s booted feet and shot into the house.

“Jake, out!” Grace called as he shot past her. “Someone catch him. Oh, not again!”

“What the—” Luka shouted as all one hundred and twenty pounds of Barney barreled into him from behind, knocking his legs out from under him, missing landing on the tile floor only because Matthias caught him from behind.

“Barrrrrooowrrrr! Rowr-rowr-rowr-rowr!

Reeeeewr! Hisss!

The cat dog combo looped the living room twice as the party-goers tried to catch them, the kids laughing and adults shooing them toward the door before any real damage could be done.

The cat went airborne over the couch,

while Grace watched in consternation. Like a safety-seeking missile, the feline made a beeline for the only vertical perch in reach. Straight up the fully decked out Christmas tree. The ornaments trembled and shook on the tree as he scaled the heights to the angel perched on the top, knocking it askew.

Ethan made a made a mad grab for Barney and got dragged across the living room for the effort, before the coffee table stopped his progress and he let go or risked hitting Grace with the furniture.

Jack felt like he was moving in slow motion. The spun glass ornaments swung wildly as the tree teetered with Jake’s attempts to gain some balance. Each step around the room took forever. Barney was headed straight for the tree. It was one thing to knock over the tree when it was bare. It was another mess of shit to do it when it was full of Grace’s precious glass ornaments.
Barney attacked the base of the tree, knocking it off kilter, and Jake leaped from the top, rebounded off Jack’s shoulder and flitted out the still open door. The tree was a lost cause as Barney attacked the red furry tree skirt, evidently thinking he’d caught his prey. But Jack could still save the decorations.

Nope. The tree fell on him.

And for his efforts, he got a face full of Barney’s dirty paws and slobber as he climbed over him and shot out the French doors. When he regained his breath, he looked up at the crowd of faces ringing him.

Grace rose from the couch and told someone that she needed a towel and for the men to lift the tree off of him carefully. A sparkle caught his eye and he lifted the spun glass ballerina from his chest and showed it to Grace.

“Well, darlin’, at least I saved one of your ornaments.”

Holding one hand to Callie Beth’s head to keep her settled in her sling, she got down on her knees and took the ornament from him, as well as another he spotted in the branches squished against his chest.

“Are you hurt?”

“Nope. I wanted to save your glass ornaments from being broken.”

Grace grimaced. “You could’ve been impaled on broken glass,” she said as they lifted the tree off him and the round ball ornaments made tinkling sounds as they bounced and rolled across the floor. The kids giggled as they chased after them.
Jack grinned, and then picked a dry tree bristle from his shirt front when it poked him. He nodded his thanks when the guys helped him up. In turn, he helped her to rise, and showed her that he was fine, except that the water from the tree base had soaked the back of his jeans.

“It’s all good. Lookie there, the other two of your special ornaments are still hanging on the branches, undamaged.”

“Jack, I was teasing when I said I wanted a woobie under my Christmas tree.”

When he stopped laughing, he caught Ethan’s attention and said, “Let’s make sure those doors are shut good this time.”

The tree was restored to something resembling its former dignity, with only a few ornaments damaged beyond repair. Barney and Jake streaked past the back door, playing their endless game of cat and dog.

The lights from the tree sparkled and reflected on the windows and Jack thought of Grace’s care in making sure the tree was positioned so the lights shined out.

Standing talking with her friends and their family and acquaintances, she caught his glance and smiled at him as she caressed his daughter’s dark head.

The house shone with a light that had nothing to do with artificial tree bulbs. The warmth he felt was the light that was reflected by of the woman he loved with all his heart.


The End

©Heather Rainier 2017 All rights reserved

This short story describes events that took place during the course of Operation Ginger Avenger. For the full story, visit the book page and you’ll find info and links to various retailers. Click here to purchase at Siren BookStrand Right now

If you enjoyed this Christmas-themed short story, check out The Woobie Spirit of Christmas Past 

and It’s a Very Woobie Christmas in Divine, Texas