Doyle tapped the brim of his hat to put the music on pause and looked up. About three meters away stood a real-life Annie Oakley. Her dark hair glinted red where the sun hit it, twisted up behind her with chunks flying out around her shoulders. Her shirt was filthy and sweat pulled it tight around her chest, revealing all the curves underneath. Her feet were planted firmly hip width apart, faded brown boots peeking out from beneath the bottoms of what looked like part dress, part pants with two rows of buttons that drew his eyes to her tiny waist and full hips. She pointed the business end of a double barrel shotgun directly at him, and it was obvious she knew how to use it.
Doyle froze obediently, mortified that his jeans probably wouldn’t hide how turned on he was by this dirty, dangerous, and oh so delicious sight before him.
He raised his hands in surrender.
“Stop moving you idiot,” the woman hissed at him.
Doyle complied, but cleared his throat to talk. He couldn’t let her see the TCR or do anything that might alter the timeline. He also couldn’t let her shoot him.
“Shh,” she stopped him before he started.
“Look here,” Doyle began, annoyed that she wouldn’t even let him talk. “I’m not a bad guy.”
The blast of the shotgun exploded around him, making his head buzz and ears ring. Doyle dropped to the ground, sure he’d been hit, but too shocked to feel anything yet. He watched, heart beating awfully heavy for one who was likely losing blood at an alarming rate.
The woman lowered the gun, yet kept a good grip on it as she cautiously approached him. But when she reached him, she stepped right over him.
Doyle tugged at his ears, willing them to clear and rolled over to his other side.
He nearly peed himself when he saw the mountain lion lying on its side in a pool of blood inches behind him.
The woman finally looked up from the beast she’d been examining and scowled at him.
“You are not from around here, are you?” she asked, hand on hip.
“Uh,” Doyle scrambled into a standing position, brushed himself off and stood to face her, only to find the long barrel of the gun in his face. “Please don’t hurt me.”
The woman laughed, and her shoulders shook. Her smile and the way her hazel eyes crinkled in the corners made him relax.
Sure enough, she lifted the gun and slung it over her shoulder. A clear message that he would respect—armed and dangerous, but trusting him for now.
“My name is Doyle,” he said.
“Doyle?” She made a face. “That your first name?”
“My uh, my first name is Walter,” he said, realizing it might be more familiar in this time.
“That’s a nice strong name, Wally. I’m Sadie. Sadie Rogers. This here is my ranch. You’re lucky my husband wasn’t the one to catch you prowling around.”
She was married. For some reason Doyle’s heart sunk, which was ridiculous considering how dangerous it would be for the timeline if he somehow magically seduced this amazing woman. Yeah, she took out a mountain lion that was about to kill me like it happened every Tuesday. Talk about out of his league anyway. She probably had some buff cowboy with rippling muscles and sun-kissed skin, not a tech-head nerd like him, gym or no gym.
“I guess I am lucky. Thank you for saving me.”
Sadie scowled in the direction of the cat. “Damn shame. I hate killing animals. They’re just out here trying to survive like the rest of us.”
Doyle nodded. “I agree for what it’s worth. But I’m still grateful you chose my life over his.”