Curly walked through the meadow feeling the rows of corn brush his shoulders. The sun streamed down and he sang to himself about the beauty all around him. He was proud of himself for managing to hire a surrey for this evening dance. Today was the day he would finally ask Laurie to go with him. His hat felt leathery and worn as he pulled it low over his brow.

Aunt Eller was churning butter outside the farm house as he approached. The skinny old woman looked at the handsome man as he approached. He was still singing at the top of his lungs when he reached her.

"Oh what a beautiful mornin, Oh what a beautiful day. I gotta beautiful feelin, everythin's goin my way!"

She sat back and crossed her arms with a warm grin, "What are you doin?"

His brown curly hair was swept from his strong face as he gave her that charming grin and took of his hat. Bending low the cowboy looked at her and teased in his thick southern drawl, "Well, I come a singin to ya!"

She listened with a large grin until he finished and finally saying, "If I wasn't an old woman, and you weren't so young and smart-alecky, I'd marry you." As she continued to churn in her chair a sad grin came across her features as she remembered her husband, "I'd get you to sit around at night and sing to me…"

For a moment curly watched the strongest woman he'd ever known in a rare show of weakness. Teasing he replied, "Oh no you wouldn't because I wouldn't marry you," His sly grin made a dimple in his cheek as he knelt in front of her and said, "Nor none of your kin folk!"

Aunt Eller scoffed, "None of my kin folks huh?"

Curl started to reply when the front door opened and out walked her niece. Laurie's hair was pulled back and her white t-shirt stuck to her in the early morning heat. The jeans hung loose off her hips and were tied on with a belt. A grin broke across her features, before they playfully faltered and she said, "Oh, I thought you were somebody."

Tongue in cheek Curly replied, "You knew it was me, you heard my voice."

Smugly she replied, "I heard somebody singing like a bullfrog in the pond. Is this all that's come a callin this mornin?"

That same flirtatious smile was on both their faces as Curly replied, "You knew it was mean so you sat inside thinkin up somethin mean to say. Now I have a good mind not to ask you to the dance tonight."

Her heart flip-flopped at his words, but she insisted anyways, "If you did ask me I wouldn't go with ya. How would be even get there?"

Standing he walked closer to her and said, "If I was to ask you, there'd be a way to take you Ms. Laurie." She didn't reply, but looked up expectantly as she hung the laundry. "I hired a surrey for tonight over at Clairmores."

"You went ahead and got it thinkin I'd go with ya, huh?" As Laurie opened her mouth to tease him further a shadow fell across her face. The humor seeped out of her eyes and she backed away. Without answering him she sprinted inside.

Completely confused, Curly turned to find the farmhand, Jud, walking up behind him with a pile of wood loaded in his arms.

"Hey… Jud." He said simply.

"Hey yourself." The grungy sweaty man growled as he walked by. His features were dark and he always seemed to be angry about something.

As he stalked off Curly walked back of to Aunt Eller and asked suspiciously, "Now I gotta know, who's the filthy sneak Laurie's got her cap set for?"

Raising an eyebrow in amusement she said, "You."

Groaning he said, "Never mind that. What about him?" He nodded after Jud, "Laurie wouldn't take up with a man like that?"

Aunt Eller scolded him, "Now don't go say nothin against Jud! He's the best hired hand I ever had. He practically runs this farm by himself. Two women couldn't do it alone, you aught a know that." A worried expression flittered over her face for a moment and then disappeared, making Curly wonder for a moment if he's seen it at all, "Though he does seem to have her on his mind right much. So much he don't seem to know a plow from a thrashin machine."

Disturbed by the thought he argued, "But Eller he lives here!"

Defensive she snapped, "Inthe smokehouse." He wanted to argue further but she replied, "Come on, I gotta head over to Clairmore. Will Parkers back in town, you know."

Shaking his head, Curly walked off and went to help her hitch up the wagon.

Laurie watched Curly go with tear falling down her cheek. Shaking herself she pulled out a brush and ran it through her pony tail. Lowering her head to the table her shoulders shook as she cried quietly. The hair on her neck stood and she turned, feeling eyes on her.

Shivering she locked eyes with Jud outside her window. His eyes were hard as he asked, "Whatcha cryin for?"

Clearing her throat she replied, "Nothin."

Holding her breath, she prayed he would leave. Instead he leaned onto the sill and said, "It ain't that Curly feller is it?"

There was no mistaking the heat in his voice. Shaking she said the first lie she could think of, "No, I just don't have a date for the party."

As soon as the words had left her mouth Laurie regretted them. Perking up Jud ordered, "Well you can go with me then." It wasn't a question. Looking over her shoulder at him, his face was challenging. It was as though he was daring her to say no. Saying nothing, Laurie held her head high, lower lip quivering.

"Alright then," He growled, shoving off the house and storming away. It wasn't until he was out of sight that she sprinted to her window and slammed it shut. Even in the warm temperatures, nothing could make her keep that window open again. Thoughts of Curly brought fresh tears to her eyes, and she flung herself on to her bed, knowing she could never have the man she wanted.