hidebound – Word of the Day

hidebound 

[hahyd-bound]

adjective

1.   narrow and rigid in opinion; inflexible:

2.   oriented toward or confined to the past; extremely conservative

3.   (of a horse, cow, etc.) having the back and ribs bound tightly by the hide.

Trent sat straight up on his horse intent on leaving her behind as fast as he could. Tess had no right to demand that he stay to care for his child. He knew men liked her and paid her attention. He knew she liked the attention from them. That’s what those men had thought too. He felt ashamed. What he couldn’t bring himself to believe was that the boy was really his his. As soon as he checked into his hotel room, the clerk, Trudy, told him Tess had a baby.

His gut told him he needed to come back to North Ranch as quick as possible; no one asked him to. When he saw her that first night, she wouldn’t even look at him. Three days later, after being completely avoided by Tess, he decided to gather his things and head out of town with Sandy. He planned to ride her to the corral out of town where she would be sent, along with his other horse, Buck, back to his farm in Kentucky. He had had to leave Sandy behind the last time he left and he wasn’t about to do it this time.

Tess ran out of the bakery as soon as she saw him walking Sandy along the road. Her bakery was just on the outskirts of town and it was at the edge of town where riders could actually ride their horse on the horse trail along the road.

“YOU  HIDEBOUND ASS!” she had yelled, running out to him. “Trent, you are the father to my son. Jackson is your son. Get it through your thick skull. I have not been with any other men. It’s always been you,” her eyes had pleaded with him.

Trent’s nostrils flared. “I didn’t even know you had a baby until I checked into my hotel room and the clerk told me. One of the reasons I hate small towns. Why did you wait until now, when I came back and am leaving, to tell me? If he was truly mine, you would have told me that night and you would have never let me leave a year ago. I told you I loved you and wanted to marry you. Then you spent the night with me and in the morning, you were gone.”

“I know,” Tess said, her eyes cast down.

“Well, what the hell? I drove out here to the bakery figuring you just came in to work on your day off and you had a sign up in the window saying ‘Bakery to reopen May 1’. That was two months away. No sign of you at your house either. The windows had been closed tight. No word from you at all. I waited the two months for you to come back and when you did, you ignored all my calls and wouldn’t even see me. So, I took a job in Kentucky and set up home there where the horses were welcome. I sent you letters. Nothing. So you tell me how you know that innocent little boy is mine.” Trent huffed out the last word.

Tess looked up at him. Tears had pooled in her eyes. “I just know and you need to trust me.”

“Fine, then I want a DNA test.” he said.

“I won’t do that,” Tess sighed.

“Then I know you’re lying to me. Who’s the hidebound ass now?” he spewed.

Trent swung himself up onto his horse. Tess walked away, shoulders back, back straight, determined.

He watched her walk into her bakery, waited a few minutes until she walked back out carrying her son, Jackson. The boy looked to be almost a year old. He looked just like Trent, ice blue eyes, dimple in his chin, same cowlick in the front right side of his hair and a bow shaped mouth.

“I don’t understand. He looks just like me but he’s too old to be mine since that night.”

Tess took a deep breath. “I was already four months pregnant that night.”

“You didn’t look pregnant to me and you never said anything about it.” Trent retorted.

“I had just found out that day and I didn’t know how to process it. Then we met for dinner and went back to your place for movie night and things got out of hand. I figured, what the hell, I was already pregnant. Then you told me you loved me and wanted to marry me and I figured you must have known somehow and that’s why you wanted to marry me. I thought you were just in the moment. It was our first time that got me pregnant when we were trying so hard to wait until we were more serious.” she explained.

“Makes no sense why you didn’t tell me until just now.” he said.

Defeated, Tess confessed. “I didn’t tell you because  a few weeks before you and I did it the first time, two men accosted me in the parking lot outside of the grocery store. The store was closing and I had gone in for a few items that were on back order for the bakery. The lights went off in the parking lot as I got into my car. They grabbed me, covered my mouth and had their way with me even though I fought hard. When they finished, they threatened me saying that everyone in town knew I was huge flirt and no one would believe me. I was so ashamed. I didn’t tell anyone.”

Trent’s eyes closed to slits. Jackson wriggled in his momma’s arms.

“So he could actually be one of theirs?” he asked.

“No,” she said defiant.

Trent asked the obvious, “How do you know?”

“Because the night I left you at your home, I went to my sister’s house in Ann Arbor and stayed with her until Jackson was born. I called Trudy, and she told me you had left town, taking most things with you except for Sandy. I came back to town, reported the rape and the two bastards are locked up in county still. Lucky for me, the surveillance tapes caught what happened even though it was dark. I had them tested for a DNA match and neither were so I knew then Jackson was definitely yours.”

Trent got down off his horse and asked to hold the boy. Jackson reached his arms out for Trent to pick him up. Holding Jackson, Trent studied the boy’s face some more. So innocent. he was glad the boy had come into the world for a good reason and not from violence, but he was still pissed Tess hadn’t told him.

Jackson started fussing so Tess took him back, soothing him. “I know it’s a lot to process Trent. He needs to eat now and then go down for a nap. just, please, don’t go. Meet me back here tonight for dinner at 6 and we can talk then.”

Tess carried Jackson back inside the bakery. She watched him out the window, expecting to see him turn Sandy back toward town.

Trent did no such thing. He tightened up his packs on Sandy’s back, then swung himself up on her back.

Tess watched from inside, a volcano about to erupt. She strapped her baby boy into his carrier seat, keeping an eye on Trent outside. To her utter horror and shock, he started off slowly out of town. She was ready to blow. Swiftly, she Jackson and his carrier seat on the floor then flew out the bakery door.

“TRENT MICHAELS, GET YOUR ASS BACK HERE NOW. YOU OWE IT YOUR SON TO STAY AND WORK THIS OUT!”

He looked back at Tess then took off on Sandy in a cantor.

Two miles out he stopped and turned Sandy around. He realized he was old fashioned and this was not back in the cowboy days, but he had his pride. He had other things too now, didn’t he?

Trent sat straight up on his horse intent on leaving her behind as fast as he could. Tess had no right to demand that he stay to care for his child. He knew men liked her and paid her attention. He knew she liked the attention from them. That’s what those men had thought too. He felt ashamed. What he couldn’t bring himself to believe was that the boy was really his his. As soon as he checked into his hotel room, the clerk, Trudy, told him Tess had a baby.

He wasn’t even sure he loved her anymore did he? He didn’t know what to think anymore and he had to take care of things in Kentucky anyways. He could sort out his feelings there. Tess had waited this long, she could wait a while longer.

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