Margaret Amelia Hawk hurried up the steps from the mailbox. She held the opened letter postmarked Wyoming clutched tightly in her hand. Almost everyone called her Maggie, but she always became quite irritated when people shorten her name, so I'll refer to her as Margaret.
"Sit down and catch your breath, Margaret," Nikki said. "What on earth has you in such a tizzy?”
"You simply won't believe this," Margaret said. "Trey Williams is arriving today. I haven't seen him since he was a baby."
"Who's Trey Williams?” Nikki asked. "I don't recall you ever mentioning him."
"He's just the best rodeo cowboy to ever ride a bull," Margaret said. "I wish you had known my husband Johnny. He and Trey's father were the best bull riders of their time."
The doorbell rang twice before Nikki could answer it. She opened the door to find a tall lanky, red haired freckled face young man on the porch. His clear blue eyes seem to stare right through her.
"Howdy, Ma'am," Trey said. "I reckon Miss. Maggie told you I was coming."
"I reckon she did," Nikki mimicked. "I'm sure Margaret will want to see you before I show you to your room."
"Trey Williams," Margaret said. "I would know you anywhere. You look just like your father."
"I reckon I do, Miss Maggie," Trey said. "At least that's what most folks tell me."
There was something about Trey that bothered Nikki, she couldn't decide if he was overly polite or if he was going overboard trying to impress Margaret.
"You don't like me very much, do you?” Trey said when Nikki showed him to his room.
Nikki didn't answer his question. She told him dinner would be ready shortly, changed the linens on the bed then left the room.
"There's something about Trey that gives me the shivers, Margaret," Nikki said, going into the living room. "I wonder if he always uses that phrase, I reckon."
"You're always skeptical of people you don't know," Margaret said. "I'm sure he's a fine young man."
"I don't believe that for a minute," Nikki muttered under her breath. "I always recognize a scoundrel when I see one."
Trey ambled into the dining room, turned the chair backward and threw one leg across it. He emptied his plate in a matter of minutes and asked for second helpings.
"That sure was a delicious meal, Nikki," Trey said, leaning against the back of his chair. "You're a mighty fine cook."
Nikki cleared the table then went to the kitchen. She filled the sink with hot soapy water. She could hear Margaret giggling like a school girl on her first date when Trey told her about his bull riding experiences.
"I think I'll go to my room and read awhile before going to bed if you don't need anything else, Margaret," Nikki said entering the dining room.
"You go right ahead," Margaret said. "I want to listen to Trey's stories about the rodeo awhile longer before I retire."
"I think I'll turn in early tonight," Trey said. "I'm tuckered out from the trip."
"Goodnight, Trey," Margaret said. "Breakfast will be ready at seven sharp."
"I'm sure he won't miss breakfast," Nikki muttered. "I bet he has handed out a lot more bull than he's ever rode."
"What, Nikki?” Margaret said. "I'm sorry, but I didn't understand you."
"It was nothing," Nikki answered. "I've picked up the bad habit of talking to myself."
"Oh," Margaret said. "Well, I'll see you in the morning."
Trey was sitting at the table before seven. He gobbled down four eggs, six strips of bacon, and three biscuits and gulped down two cups of black coffee before he spoke a word.
Nikki watched Trey from the corner of her eye while she washed the dishes. He sauntered into the living room, admiring several antiques on the mantel. He walked across the room out of Nikki's sight, picked up the fourteen carat gold letter opener from the desk then quickly put it in his pocket.
"I think I'll go next door and talked to that pretty little brunette I met this morning when I went out to get the paper," Trey said, poking his head around the kitchen door.
"You're a real Romeo, aren't you, Trey?” Nikki grumbled. "It sure didn't take you long to find yourself a woman."
Trey was gone most of the evening, but he showed up right on time for supper with a silly grin on his face. He plopped down in his chair looking like the cat that had just swallowed the canary.
"I've got some good news to tell you, Miss. Maggie," Trey said, talking with his mouth full. "I asked Cindy to marry me and she said yes."
"What a delightful surprise," Margaret said. "When is the wedding day?”
"We decided not to make it a big occasion," Trey said. "We're getting our blood test in the morning, so we should be able to get married sometime next week. Cindy's putting my name on her checking and savings accounts while we're out. We want to start out right by sharing everything we both have."
"Cindy has to be stupid," Nikki muttered to herself. "She just met this guy, there's no way she could know if she loves him or not."
Trey spent the evening with Cindy, then came in and went straight to his room.
"I need to borrow two thousand dollars, Miss Maggie," Trey said as he crammed a huge fork full of pancakes into his mouth at breakfast. "I phoned Daddy this morning, and he was telling me Rampage's son is for sale. He wants to buy that old bull's son, because he and Mister Johnny won a bundle riding Rampage, but he just doesn't have the money. I wouldn't ask if it didn't mean so much to him and I just knew in my heart you'd want to help."
"I most certainly do," Margaret said. "Will a check be all right or do you prefer cash?”
"I reckon I better take cash, Miss Maggie," Trey said. "Folks around here don't know me. It'd be pretty hard for me to get a check cashed so I could wire the money to Daddy."
"I'll go into town right now," Margaret said. "I'll have the money to you by nine thirty."
"Thank you, Miss. Maggie," Trey said. "I reckon my daddy was right. He always did say you were a fine woman."
"Why don't you write a check for two thousand dollars, Margaret?” Nikki said. "I'll go into town, get it cashed and bring the money back in a jiffy. You can help Trey make his wedding plans."
"That's a great idea, Nikki," Margaret said. "I'd much rather be here helping Trey make arrangements for the wedding."
Nikki was back by nine fifteen. She handed Trey two thousand dollars all in twenty's. Trey crammed the money into his pockets and rushed next door where Cindy was waiting in her car. They had a ten o'clock appointment to get their blood test.
Trey hurried into the house around eleven thirty. He went to his room and packed his clothes.
"Where's the human garbage disposal?” Nikki asked as she sat lunch on the table.
"Maybe he's lost track of time," Margaret said, ignoring Nikki's catty remark. "You better go tell him it's time to eat."
Nikki went to Trey's room and all his belongings were gone and so were several of Margaret's antique pieces that were sitting on the dresser. The floor was cluttered with cans and crunched up bits of pretzels. She went outside, to find Margaret's car wasn't in the driveway.
"Margaret" Nikki said, hurrying into the dining room. "Trey's gone; he's stolen several of your antiques and taken your car."
"I don't want you to breathe a word of this to anyone," Margaret said. "It would be embarrassing if anyone found out, besides I don't believe Trey stole my antiques or the car, I'm sure he will show up shortly with a good explanation."
"I'd call the cops, embarrassing or not," Nikki said. "I can't understand you thinking he'll be back. That bum's left town and you won't ever see or hear tell of him again."
"I'd rather keep it quite, I presume you will honor my wishes," Margaret said. "I'm sure Trey wouldn't even think of stealing from me, and as for the antiques, you probably moved them when you were dusting then forgot where you put them. I gave Trey my permission to use the car anytime he needed it."
"Yes, Ma'am," Nikki said. "I won't mention Trey's name again."
Cindy phoned wanting to talked to Trey that evening. She called the bank after Nikki explained Trey had left without telling anyone. Trey had already been by the bank and wiped out both of Cindy's accounts.
It was after dark when the telephone rang. Nikki was busy preparing the sourdough bread that Margaret asked her to bake for breakfast. Margaret picked up the phone and listened intensely before hanging up the receiver.
"Nikki," Margaret said, going into the kitchen. "Cindy just called. She reported Trey for taking her money. The police called her a few minutes ago. They picked Trey up for giving a counterfeit twenty dollar bill to a service station attendant. I want to apologize to you; he had my antiques in the trunk of the car. He told the service station attendant he had came into a great deal of money, and he was on his way to Las Vegas to have a good time."
"Have I got a surprise for you, Margaret," Nikki said, taking the two thousand dollar check from her apron pocket. "I was hesitant to say anything, since you were positive Trey was innocent and I didn't want you getting upset again. I didn't go to the bank this morning; I borrowed two thousand dollars worth of counterfeit bills from Chief Dykes that he confiscated last month when he caught that little blonde haired girl from Washington trying to pass them at the mall. I was hoping Trey would use those phony twenty's before he used Cindy's money. Oh, by the way, I accept your apology."