“My name’s Tanner. Tanner Michaels.” He swept off his cowboy hat and held it over his heart, as if paying her homage. “What’s yours?”
A gentleman removes his hat when greeting a lady. It shows respect.
Not Hunter or Trapper, but Tanner. Close. Similar. Oh, I do hope this is the right guy.
“Mia Young,” she said, glad to be distracted from the image of him flying off a wild bronc. She was relieved to note his ears – which she could see clearly now with his hat removed – were larger than average. “Nice to meet you.” She smiled shyly and stuck out her hand.
In quick, fluid motions he dropped his hat back on his head, and grasped her hand as though to shake it. But instead of pumping it in greeting he brought the back of it up to his lips.
When meeting for the first time, a gentleman always kisses a lady’s hand.
His lips were moist, warm, and firmly masculine. A tiny, electrical charge started at the spot his lips touched and tingled up to her elbow. She’d seen men kiss women’s hands in the old movies she used to watch with Papa Pete. But she’d never had her hand kissed before. Not like this. It made her feel silly yet mature all at once.
Tanner’s golden-brown eyes met hers straight on, peering steadily at her as his face hovered over her hand.
Trust only a man who looks you square in the eye.
Mia silently thanked Papa Pete – more father than grandfather. Although he was gone, his “wisdoms” would always live within her and guide her.
Mia met Tanner’s frank gaze before quickly casting her eyes to her rose-colored boots. She’d bought the boots special for rodeo weekend. Special for this precise moment – to give this cowboy a good first impression. (She was still holding onto hope that this was the correct cowboy. And that hope was growing stronger by the minute).
“Nice to meet you, Mia.” The low, rumbling way he said her name – the same way he’d uttered “uh-huh” earlier – made her suck in a quick breath. Her eyes darted back to his. Her heart beat quickened. Heat flooded her face.
The sound of throat clearing and giggling whipped Mia and Tanner’s heads around to check who was behind them.
Her friends Justin and Skye stood there, holding hands, big grins on their faces. They joined Tanner and Mia at the rails of the horse corral.
When Mia realized Tanner was still holding her hand she felt like a child caught with her fingers in the candy dish. Embarrassed, she started to yank free. But Tanner tightened his grip, just enough to let her know she was welcome to keep her hand right where it was. As soon as she relaxed her fingers, he reciprocated, cupping his big hand sweetly, protectively around her much smaller one.
Danita Cahill is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer. She’s written and published over 2,100 newspaper articles and columns for 11 different Northwest newspapers, and dozens of magazine stories and photo layouts for six different magazines. She has five stories and a photo in two of HCI’s anthologies and has self-published five books – two non-fiction and three fiction titles. Danita lives in the Pacific NW on a small Oregon farm with her family and animals, including a herd of 10 alpacas. Besides running children to and fro and caring for her gardens, critters and family, Danita stays busy working on magazine assignments and her next book projects.
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