So, Mom's been whining about no romance yet in the book. This isn't romance, but possibly the start of it...
The kids are sitting around the coffee table, working diligently on their homework, pretending not to watch Allie at the computer. I bend over her shoulder, “Alright, I’m here. Show me my virtual matches.”
“Trade me places, so you can see better. I’ve already got you logged in and brought up your hits. All you have to do is sort through them.” She gets up and grabs a chair to drag over so she can watch over my shoulder.
“What about your hits?” I ask, taking the desk chair.
“Oh. They were all losers, but don’t worry, there will be more tomorrow, I’m sure of it.” She’s treating this online dating as just another adventure in her life.
I start scrolling down my list of potential matches, or hits, as Allie calls them. I suppose the ten or so I see aren’t bad considering that my profile hasn’t even been up for twenty-four hours. I start at the top and work my way down. I’m really trying not to be too picky, but the hits who are blatantly looking for nothing more than a bed buddy get denied, along with the ones who can’t spell or punctuate. If that’s the best they can do while trying to impress someone, I can’t imagine how bad they would be when they quit trying to impress. In less than a half an hour, I decide that my hits, too, are losers and turn hopelessly to Allie. “C’mon, Al. Have we really been reduced to this? Are we really so horrible in person that we can’t find our own dates?”
“Hell, no, we’re not ‘so horrible that we can’t find our own dates’. The problem is, we never leave the ranch to meet anyone else. Everyone we come into contact with is business-related. Even the hot guests we get are off-limits. How the heck are we supposed to meet any decent guys this way?” She gestures around us. “Look, I love our life here, being a part of your family and helping raise the kids and run the ranch, but you know, occasionally, I’d really like to get lai…,” she catches herself, remembering that the kids are right behind us at the coffee table, “I mean, I’d really like to have some companionship.”
Luke snorts behind us and I know he caught Allie’s little slip of the tongue. I glare at him in warning to keep his knowledge to himself. He looks away, grinning.
“I know,” I say quietly, “We really appreciate everything you do for us, really. I’m sorry that being here with us is screwing up your life.” I feel guilty about depending on her so much, at the same time, the thought of her finding someone to start a family of her own with scares the hell out of me.
“Stop right there. I know what you’re thinking. Just stop.” She puts up a hand, “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be. And I love it, I really do, it’s just that sometimes…”
“I know. Me, too.” I turn back to the computer, “Show me this dynamite profile that you’ve created for me that’s attracting all of the losers.”
“Not all the losers, I got my share today, too.” She reaches across me and clicks over to my profile.
The picture she has posted for me takes my breath away. I usually hate pictures of myself and was wondering what she’d post. My profile picture was obviously taken this morning during my wild ride from the barn to the trail on Purina. I’m leaned up over Purina’s neck, practically glowing with the thrill of the ride. My long auburn hair is streaming back from under my cowboy hat at the same angle as her straw-colored tail; her mane is flowing back up over my hands, which seem to disappear into it. Allie and her camera with its ultra-fast shutter speed managed to capture Purina with all four hooves off the ground; we look like we’re flying through the air.
“Wow,” I finally breathe, “this picture is amazing.”
“I heard you two coming and got my camera out just in time. I got a lot more, but I think this is the best.”
“Heathi, come look at this picture Allie took. It’s amazing.” I can’t move my eyes from the monitor I’m so mesmerized by the picture, so I just wave to them to join us. Allie clicks on it, enlarging it to fill the whole screen.
“Mom, that’s you! And you look so happy!” Caitleigh squeals.
“Free,” Luke corrects, “You look free.”
“Mom, you’re the prettiest Mom in the whole world,” CJ tells me seriously, choking me up.
“Thank you guys, but Allie took this, isn’t it the most beautiful picture? Look, she even got Purina with all four hooves off the ground. Doesn’t it look like we’re flying?”
Cait climbs up onto Allie’s lap and squeezes her neck in a tight hug, “Thank you for making Mom look so good. Now she’ll be sure to find a boyfriend!”