by DiVoran Lites
Chapter Forty Two
Aldon leaned back supporting himself with a hand on the warm rock. Because Ellie was already peeved with him, he didn’t interrupt her to point out the beaver swimming toward its lodge with a stick in its mouth. He had a hunch something was going to happen soon that would either make his life better or ruin it forever, and it all depended on Ellie.
“It’s warm in California in winter and I figure I could get a job.” Ellie wasn’t looking at him which showed that she knew he was hurting, but he certainly wasn’t going to show it in any way. He’d be as polite as a stranger and then they’d go back down to camp and he’d begin preparing to lose her forever.
“Can’t blame you for that. My brother, Bill, loves it out there.” He forced his words past the lock in his throat.
“Why don’t you go too?” Now she looked quickly at him and away again as if she’d said something unseemly.
“Somebody has to stay here and look after the ranch. Aunt Gertrude’s got a gentleman friend now. New man in town, lawyer, widower. She’s going to get married, and Nancy doesn’t want to be in their way, so she’s coming back to the ranch. But she and Molly can’t run the ranch by themselves. If we didn’t have the Solanos, we wouldn’t be able to pay off the loans we’ve been forced to get…” Aldon paused. When he resumed, his voice was low and gravelly. “Maybe you’ll run into Bill out there. He’s right there in Hollywoodland. Is that close to where you want to be?”
“I think so,” she answered. “I did some reading. Los Angeles has a good climate. There seems to be plenty of jobs.”
“What would you work at then, doin’ hair?” he asked.
“Probably, something like that.” Her blues eyes looked into his and he clenched his teeth to keep his feelings at bay.
“Maybe Bill could help you get a job in the movies. They need people to do hair, don’t they?” He forced himself to smile.
“Yes, and they might need more wranglers and stunt men. Is there any chance Bill would want to come home any time soon?” Now, Ellie’s eyes held pleading that threw him as if he’d been bucked off a mean stallion and was going to get stomped. He decided to speak reasonably, rationally, as if her questions didn’t affect him in the least. It was like trying not to scare a frightened filly away.
“I don’t know. I suppose he might. He could run the ranch, for sure. He’s got a girlfriend now. But I can’t ask him to do it. He’s been sending money right along.” Aldon heard the faint sounds of the cow bell and knew it was time for supper.
“I guess we might as well head back.” Ellie said.
“Yep,” Aldon wiped the back of his hand under his cheek bone and started back down the trail. Ellie followed, meek and quiet.