"Montgomery Phillip Anderson, that had better be the last time your daddy has to come down to that jail and bail you out do you hear me?" Carol Anderson scolded her youngest son while pointing a dough covered finger in his face. Montgomery, or Ace, as he preferred to be called, smiled his devilishly charming smile and saw his mother's anger fading away almost instantly.
"I'll try to be good mama." he lied. Carol knew he was lying but he was just too cute when he smiled like that for her to stay mad at him. She had always had a weak spot for her youngest and wildest son.
"Go sit down and I'll get you a plate of eggs." she said and Ace gladly sat down at the big kitchen table and rubbed his aching head. Carol saw him rubbing his temples as she sat his plate down with a loud thud on the oak tabletop.
"Maybe you'll think about the pain you're in now the next time you think about going to that saloon." she said. Ace shook his head as he started scooping big spoonfulls of eggs into his mouth.
"Probably not." he muttered and he winced when his mothers hand fell sharply on the back of his head.
"You had better." she scolded before taking a seat across from him at the table. Just then Ace's younger, and only, sister Tiffany came into the kitchen and flopped down at the table beside him.
"Tiffany, how many times do I have to tell you that it's not ladylike to flop?" Carol asked with exasperation. Tiffany smoothed out the legs of her trousers and shrugged.
"I don't have time to worry about being a lady. Not when I have to do Aces job around here cuz he's too busy out getting drunk and ending up in jail." Tiffany replied. Ace glared over at his sister.
"I do my share around here." he argued.
"Luke says you're a waste of good air." Tiffany replied stealing a bite of his eggs with her dirty fingers.
"Luke wouldn't know how to have a good time if you shoved one up his…."
"Don't even finish that sentence, Montgomery!" Carol scolded and Ace grinned sheepishly and finished off his eggs.
"So what did you end up in jail for this time anyway?" Tiffany asked Ace as she followed him out into the Texas sunshine. Ace squinted and cursed the light as it made his pounding head take up a faster rhythm.
"I was defending the honor of a lady and was forced to knock a few of Billy Henkley's teeth down his throat." Ace replied pulling his hat down lower to keep the sun out of his eyes.
"Ha!" Tiffany laughed harshly. "More like you got drunk in the saloon and got in a fight with Billy over some painted faced whore." Ace looked over at her his eyes widening with shock.
"Tiffany Anderson! Pa would beat you with his whip if he heard you talking that way! You've been spending too much time with the ranch hands. You keep talking that way and you'll never find a man that wants to marry you."
"Who says I want to get married?" Tiffany asked.
"You're nineteen little sister. You're plenty old enough. You gotta get married and start popping out them babies." Ace teased knowing that this would get his sisters temper flying. He laughed when she glared up at him and he saw the anger flash in her brown eyes.
"Yeah well you're twenty-four so why ain't you married and giving mamma and daddy some grandkids?" Ace shivered at the thought.
"Because, little sister, I'm way too much man for just one woman." he replied.
"Cut the shit, Ace." Their older brother Luke said walking over from the barn. "You're such a damn pain in the ass there ain't no woman in her right mind that would stick herself with the likes of you forever."
"Just cuz you settled down, big brother, doesn't mean the rest of us are that stupid." Ace replied. Truthfully Ace was fond of his sister-in-law Patricia. She was sweet and cultured and a proper lady in every way… Of course she had to be completely insane to saddle herself with the likes of Luke. Luke was all business all the time. All he thought about was the ranch and how to keep it thriving. As far as Ace was concerned the ranch ran good enough without much help from him so he just focused most of his energies on raising as much hell as he possibly could before he got too old to raise anymore.
"Well since you have decided to grace the ranch with your presence today why don't you help me go out and check on the herd in the south pasture? There's been talk in town about some cattle going missing."