Michelle’s Story

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Forever and Ever Amen

I saw a cowboy leaning on the fence, intently watching the broncos. My pulse increased as I sensed his energy and reverence for the horses. I watched him focus on one mare in particular: he observed her closely for about ten minutes as she snaked her neck and tossed her head, moving the other horses off their piles of hay. I saw the cowboy nod at her, then walk away with the grace and unconscious body awareness that all talented horsemen possess. Who was he? I checked my rodeo program. Buck MacDonald.

Buck was a bronc rider who’d been undefeated in his novice year. The program said he was twenty-five, and his body was all man, but he had a baby face that made him look like he should be riding a bicycle rather than a bronco. His nose was beaked and a bit too big, and his eyes a bit too small, but his smile lit up the room like a camera’s flash and he displayed that high-intensity grin easily and often. Many bronc riders are small and wiry, but Buck was just under six feet tall, lean but nicely muscled. The competitor number pinned to his back emphasized his broad shoulders and his chaps framed his well-rounded behind.

I saw Buck ride that afternoon and watched for him at the cabaret that evening. My cousins and I met around pitchers of beer on a circular table. I caught Buck’s eye and smiled at him. He looked sexy in his pressed jeans and the western shirt boldly embroidered with his sponsor’s logo. He grinned confidently back at me.

My stomach lurched as Buck sauntered over and said, “I’m not much of a dancer, but I know how to work with a partner. Would you care to take a ride?” He flicked his head at the dance floor.

My cousins smirked and one of them pushed me towards Buck as I stood up, my cheeks reddening.

Buck was kidding about not being a dancer and right about knowing how to lead. He didn’t pull me too tight or push me around. We followed the other couples about the perimeter of the floor and he spun me at each corner. My stomach flip-flopped again when he looked at me as the two-step ended and he asked me to stay for another song.

I was glad to hear the first few bars of a slower song, “Forever and Ever, Amen”. I breathed in the cedar and citrus of Buck’s aftershave as I moved in closer and rested my forehead on his chest while we danced. It can get a bit wild at the cabarets when everyone’s been drinking, but I felt safe in his arms.

Beautiful as a Newborn Foal

I spent the next morning curling my hair, redoing my make-up and picking through my cousin’s entire wardrobe to find the perfect outfit. I chose a moss green and pale pink checkered shirt that showed off my figure, with a matching green broomstick skirt. I polished my boots and adjusted my cowboy hat. I inspected myself from every angle, then twirled before blowing myself a little kiss in the mirror.

I arrived just in time for the rodeo. Buck won the go-round and finished second overall for the three-day event. I was determined to congratulate him. Like the night before, he winked and moved quickly through the crowd towards me. “I’m headed to Calgary on Tuesday. Can I take you for breakfast tomorrow?”

I dug through my bag to find a pen and a piece of paper.

He held out his hand and said: “Just write it on here. I don’t want to lose your number.”

My pulse rose as our hands touched. The skin on his palm was remarkably soft. I scribbled the number across his lifeline.

“I’ll call in the morning to get the address where I can pick you up. Can’t wait.” He smiled once more, then tipped his hat.

I watched him walk away, then floated over to my cousin’s truck to head home.

The next morning, I got up extra early to make sure my hair, lipstick and eyelashes were as perfect as I could make them. I borrowed some diamond stud earrings from my aunt. I was waiting for Buck’s call but I still jumped when the phone rang. He picked me up about twenty minutes later, coming to the door to say hello to my family.

“You’re as beautiful as a new-born foal,” he said before he opened the truck door and tucked me in.


We were married for thirty-two years. For the first fifteen, Buck was gone all summer on the rodeo circuit. In the winters, he worked in the logging camps while I kept the home fires burning. I held entry level office jobs until our kids, Blaze and Sienna, were born.

We all loved our western lifestyle. Both kids lived in their cowboy boots and hats and were handy around the ranch. We found a wonderful Welsh pony-cross mare named Brownie for the kids to learn to ride. Blaze outgrew Brownie quickly and advanced to Junior Rodeo young: our son wanted to ride saddle bronc like Buck.

Sienna loved Brownie and rode her for years, long after she was ready for a bigger, faster horse. Sienna could rope and ride better than most of the boys. She was adorable with her long blonde braids fluttering as she galloped Brownie up and down the hills, hot on the heels of Blaze and Buck on their horses. Even after Sienna advanced to her barrel racing horse, Brownie stayed with us. Sienna visited her daily and still rode her occasionally.

I loved seeing the collection of cowboy boots and hats in various sizes and colours assembled in our mudroom. I found my life’s purpose in being a wife and mother.

gET the Book

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“How could I have been so blind?”

This novel was written after Jocelyn shared dating “war stories” with her wonderful friends who had experienced similar stories of deception. Many of us were embarrassed at our naivete, and Jocelyn wanted to cast a light on how trusting people can be at risk of manipulation, create resilience and become less susceptible to emotional fraud.

Balancing trust with discretion can be a challenge. Sometimes we err on the side of caution, attaching intentions to others that may not be true. Other times, we make excuses for poor behaviour, attaching attributes we wish someone had when their actions haven’t supported our hopes. 

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