Meet Velia Armano
I feel so attached to Velia Armano, the heroine in Howdy, Ma’am. Spunky, feisty, beautiful…an Italian photographer hired to do a job for a season. Yet, there’s a side to her that holds tight to her wall of protection. Her heart isn’t ready; she still harbors pain and fear. Recovering from an abusive relation from her ex-husband, she had to learn how to trust. But in six months time, she learned to live again, regained her self-worth, and found confidence. Still my heart cried for her many times, both for good and bad reasons. Little did I know book two would bring…another round of emotions.
I reached out and hugged Velia Armano when she walked in the room. My heart feels her silent pain, and I almost teared up.
Me- Velia, I just wanted to hug you because I know the hell you’ve been through.
Velia I try to keep that in the past now. One day I’m sure I won’t even remember it anymore. But…
I noticed the far off look in her eyes, and I know what she saw in her memory.
Me- I know it isn’t easy to talk about, hon, and you don’t have to.
Velia Maybe it will help someone else if I talk about it—and how it all started so gradually. First, a shove here and there, a slap, name calling, and it all led to full blown abuse. I allowed it to go on for too long. Unfortunately, it took the death of my aunt for me to realize the horror of Justin’s abuse toward me. I left to save myself.
Me- One day, it will only be a brief thought, and you’ll move on and be happy again. I saw a smile and it made my heart soar.
Velia Yes, maybe being distracted with that hunk of a bull rider can help me forget. I’ll be too busy for the next nine months to remember, at least that’s what I’m hoping will happen.
Me- Yes, I’m so glad you accepted his offer. You missed your traveling job.
Velia nodded and acknowledged that was true.
Velia I looked into those flame blue eyes. You know? It helps me to realize there’s a future and the past is, well…the past. Starting my own photography shop those months ago when I moved to Tucson—helped me—to find me again. Dear Alice and Edward have been such a help. Thank you for them.
She fluttered her eyelashes and diverted her eyes. She glanced back up at me.
Velia But when he walked in and offered that job, what could I do when I looked into his eyes? He brought out feelings I had forgotten.
She diverted her eyes again.
Velia But, I’m afraid to let go. I don’t want to get involved with anyone right now.
She seemed embarrassed, looking away into her own vision. I know she needed that elderly couple in her life to act like surrogate grandparents.
Me- Yes, I can imagine your dilemma. And your father approves of your job.
Velia Si, mio padre knows I love to travel and use my camera. He understands me.
Me- You kept such a horrible secret from him.
Velia I had to, or… When my father found out, he wanted to… um, I can say my padre had to be held down, and I told him I’d never see him again…if something…happened to Justin, maybe an unexplained… No, I can’t say more.
Me- I understand, and I also know the reason, and I won’t get into questions about it.
Me- Let’s talk a little about your job now. Photographing cowboys? A professional bull rider? A dream come true for some of us lonely women. She laughed, almost a giggle, but not quite.
Velia I must admit it’s pleasant. But, it’s dangerous. Those bulls are so big. She waved her hand across her face. And so smelly! I like to take a shower as soon as I get back to my room, but then after awhile I don’t notice as much.
Me- And sometimes you relax in a hot bubbly Jacuzzi with one cowboy in particular.
Velia Um, yes… he needs to relax his muscles and stiff joints after a show.
Her cheeks pinked.
I smiled, but had to move on.
Me- Velia, you are still in hiding from Justin, your ex-husband.
Velia Si, but I am not afraid of him anymore. This is why I now carry a handgun.
Me- I know your inner struggle about that. Could you—
Velia To protect those I love or myself… She took a deep breath and glanced to the floor. I will make the decision when and if the time comes. She smiled. For now I have a whole team of cowboys to protect me. The treat me like I’m their bambina or something.
Me- And Nero and Roy. We can’t forget them, right?
Velia Yes, and I prefer not to talk about my father’s…men.
I noticed she got fidgety and it was almost time for the show to start. It took some time to set up her cameras and get situated.
Me- I’d love to spend a day with you cooking. Your food sounds so delicious. Have you always enjoyed cooking? Oh, and I’d love to meet your mother! She seems like such a nice mom.
Velia Hey, I’m Italian what else I can tell you? Si, I love cooking, especially with madre and for those I love. Si, yes, mia madre is fantastico.
Me- I can see it’s time for you get to the chute area. There was a knock on the door. She glanced toward it, and the look on her face changed—bright, happy, and a smile played at the corners of her mouth.
I went to open it and in walked a hot looking cowboy with a black cowboy hat on his head, dressed in a yellow shirt, denim jeans, and black chaps with yellow scattered throughout the fringe. I had to do a double take—tall, sexy, strong looking… Whew! Si, bambino, amore mio!
“Howdy, Ma’am,” he said to me, but his eyes went to the cute Italian. Oh, his eyes! I glanced back at Velia and saw the warm look on her face. Her body language shifted from sadness to joy. Maybe she hasn’t figured it out yet, but something is brewing.
When he walked over to her, she rose. “I’m here to escort you to the show like I always do. Ready, ma’am?”
OMG, am I ready ma’am? YES! Wait, he wasn’t talking to me. Oops. I created these people. Did I say, me? What I mean is Velia, our heroine, is she ready for this? The look in his eyes about swept me off my feet, and I can only imagine what it’s like for her to watch him through the camera lens. But, I see hesitation… If only she doesn’t make a big mistake and sink back into her self-appointed exile. If only…
He took her hand, and when he reached the door, he smiled at me and touched the tip of his hat. “Later, ma’am…”
I nearly fell to the floor. Later, ma’am he says…
Velia shook her hand free and came back to me. She took hold of my hands and her brown eyes with that unique green sparkle, stared into mine. Grazie, she said, Thank you.
I must have been wide-eyed or had some weird expression on my face. Thank me for what? I had to ask.
“For saving me.” She glanced back at Caulder and he smiled then winked at her. His eyelashes are so long! He held out his hand. Velia hugged me tight before turning back to him. She took his hand and smiled at me before the door closed. He caught it with his foot and glanced back again, nodded. A little bit of a smile appeared on his lips before closing the door.
I shall not have to worry about her. She’s in very good hands.
For an interview with Mr Hotness McCutchen, click HERE. Bring a fan.
Just so you know ahead of time: Occasional harsh and unsavory language. Sensual love scenes. And of course, the sexy bull rider and the sweet and feisty photographer.
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