Summary: Jewels can be found many places; one just has to learn to appreciate them.
Rated: K+ Word count: 535
“I wish I was more like. . .” he mumbled. Hoss Cartwright shrugged his shoulders and let the words hang in the air while the rest of his thought remained unspoken. “No matter. Wishing ain’t gonna change nothing. Better just make the best of being good old Hoss.” He picked up his beer, stared at the foam, sighed, and then lifted the glass to his lips.
Sitting across the table, Opal leaned forward and rested her chin on her hand. She studied his eyes as he swigged half of his beer down in one swallow and then spoke softly. “There are plenty of men around here that would be glad to be Hoss Cartwright.” She watched for the effect of her statement on the man across from her.
“Guess there’s folks who’d be glad to be any Cartwright.” He gave her a weak smile that never touched his eyes.
“I said Hoss Cartwright, and I should have said proud not glad.” She sipped her own watered whiskey and waited for his response.
Hoss sighed. “Maybe, but there’s a sight more who’d pick being Adam or Little Joe.” His gaze challenged her to deny it.
Instead she cocked her head to the side, gave him an appraising look, and asked, “Are you one of them?”
Am I ? Hoss stared into his remaining beer. After a few seconds, he answered himself more than Opal, “Sometimes.”
“Only sometimes?” She laid the challenge on the table with her empty glass.
Hoss pondered the question for perhaps a minute and then grinned, “Yep! Sometimes I’m glad I’m not either one of them brothers of mine.” Opal smiled. “Ya know, Opal, there’s good reason you don’t never spend much time in here alone. Ya want another drink?”
“Sam hears me turning one down, and I won’t be working here much longer. Do you want another beer?” Hoss nodded. “I’ll go get them,” she said rising to walk across the crowded saloon.
I do wish I was as smart as Adam and had Joe’s way with folks, ‘specially female folk, and being as good-looking as either one of them instead of, well, looking like some big ox without the horns would sure be something, but. . . Opal’s return interrupted his reverie as she stood behind him and set the drinks on the table. Then she rested her hands on Hoss’s shoulders and leaned down to speak softly in his ear.
“You might want to take notice of your little brother before your big brother does.”
Hoss’s head swiveled, and his gaze found both his brothers at the same time. Three seconds was all it took for him to recognize the trouble brewing. He rose and downed his entire beer in one swig. “Right ya are, gal! Excuse me, please.”
She nodded and smiled. Her eyes followed the big cowboy as he strode toward his brothers.
There’s a few folks can see the pearl in the ugliest oyster! Isn’t that what you use to say, Mama? She sighed, sat down, and sipped her whiskey as she remembered that she had always preferred pearls to diamonds or emeralds.
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