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them and they’re naturally wondering whether they’ll have difficulty getting together, and whether transportation to the ranch will be furnished on schedule. So they look at me, start to look away, then do a double take and I can just see them saying to themselves, ‘Now, I wonder if that’s the man who is going to meet me.’ ”

      Kramer grinned.

      “That’s good psychology,” I said.

      “You have to use psychology all the time on a guest ranch.”

      “You’ve studied psychology?” I asked.

      “Hush,” he said.

      “What’s wrong with that?”

      “Everything. If a person knows you’re using psychology on him, it makes it more difficult to get results.”

      “But you told me,” I said.

      “You’re different,” he said. “You said to me, ‘Why did you pick me out of the crowd?’ Most people say, ‘I picked you out of the crowd right away, Mr. Kramer. As soon as I saw you, I knew who you were.’ ”

      I let it go at that.

      We went over and got my bags, took them out to a gaudy station wagon that had the picture of a butte with a trail winding around it, a long string of horsemen coming down the trail, and the words: “Butte Valley Guest Ranch” in big letters on the side. The tailgate had a picture of a bucking bronco, and over on the other side was a picture of a gay party on horseback, with a swimming pool and girls in skintight bathing suits.

      “You must have an artist working at the ranch,” I said.

      “That art work pays off,” Kramer told me. “Every time we go into town for supplies, I park the car, and you’ll notice there’s a container on the side of the door with a lot of folders telling about the ranch, rates and everything. You’d be surprised how much business we get from that.

      “Tourists who are coming in to spend a few weeks in Tucson look at the artwork on the side of the car, pick up one of the folders, and the first thing anyone knows they’re out at the ranch.”

      “More psychology?” I asked.

      “More psychology.”

      “You run the place?”

      “No, I work there.”

      “You must have a nickname,” I said. “They don’t call you ‘Kramer,’ do they?”

      “No,” he said with that grin, “they call me ‘Buck.’ ”

      “Short for your first name?”

      “My first name,” he said, “is Hobart. You can’t imagine people calling me ‘Hobe.’ ”

      “Lots of dude wranglers use the nickname of ‘Tex,’ ” I said.

      He said, “This is Arizona.”

      “I seem to detect a little Texas accent,” I told him.

      “Well, don’t mention it to anyone,” he said, heaving my bags into the back of the car. “Come on, let’s go.”

      We drove out of Tucson into the desert, out toward the mountains to the south and the east. It was a fairly long drive.

      Buck Kramer talked about the desert, about the scenery, about the health-giving atmosphere, but he didn’t talk any more about himself and he didn’t talk much about the Butte Valley Guest Ranch.

      He turned. through a big gate that was open, ran a couple of miles up a fairly good slope, turned and came to a stop on a little mesa at the foot of the mountains that had now become a deep purple with the evening shadows.

      Kramer parked the car, said, “I’ll take your bags over to the cabin, and if you’ll come with me I’ll introduce you to Dolores Ferrol.”

      “Who’s she?” I asked. “The manager?”

      “The hostess,” he said. “She welcomes everyone and tries to keep things moving— Here she is now.”

      Dolores Ferrol was a dish.

      She was somewhere around twenty-six or twenty-seven, old enough to be adult, young enough to be luscious. She was dressed to show her curves and she had lots of curves to show, not big, bulgy curves but smooth, streamlined contours that would lodge in a man’s thoughts and stay in his memory, to come disturbingly back from time to time, particularly at night.

      Her large, dark eyes took me in, first with a little start of surprise and then with a cool appraisal.

      She gave me her hand and let it stay in mine for a minute.

      “Welcome to Butte Valley, Mr. Lam,” she said. “I think you’re going to like it here.”

      And when she said that she raised her eyes with just a flash of intimacy and gave my hand just the faintest suggestion of a squeeze.

      “We’ve been expecting you. You’re in Cabin number 3. We have cocktails in fifteen minutes, dinner in thirty-five minutes.”

      She turned to Kramer. “Buck, will you take his bags over?”

      “Right away,” Buck said.

      “I’ll show you your cabin,” she said, and rested her hand gently on my arm.

      We walked across a patio with a huge swimming pool, tables, chairs and beach umbrellas. The patio was flanked by a row of cabins made to resemble log cabins.

      Number 3 was second from the end, on the north side of the row.

      Dolores held the door open.

      I bowed and waited for her to enter first.

      She came in, turned to me suddenly with swift intimacy. “Buck will be along with the bags in just a moment,” she said. “We won’t have a chance to discuss things now but I’ll talk them over with you later. You know that you and I will be working together.”

      “I was told you would be in touch with me,” I said.

      “I sure will,” she said.

      Buck’s high-heeled cowboy boots clomped along the cement as he tramped up on the porch with the bags.

      “Here you are,” he said. “See you later, Lam.” He withdrew with suspicious promptness.

      Dolores stood close to me. “It’s going to be a pleasure to work with you, Mr. Lam,” she said. “Donald — I’m Dolores.”

      “It will be my pleasure,” I said. “How close shall we work?”

      “Very close.”

      “How long,” I asked, “have you been handling this job on the side?”

      She was standing so close to me that I could feel the warmth of her body as she took her forefinger, placed the end of it against the tip of my nose, pushed gently, and said, “Now, don’t be nosy, Donald.” She laughed, showing parted red lips and pearly teeth.

      I put my arm around her. She was so supple she seemed to melt into my arms; her lips came up to mine without the slightest hesitancy, a hot circle of passionate promise.

      A moment later she pushed me back, using the very minimum of force and said, “Naughty, naughty, Donald. You must remember that you have a job to do and that I have a job to do. But when I fall for people I fall hard. You’re nice — and I’m impulsive. Pardon the intimacy.”

      “I should beg your pardon,” I said. “I was the aggressor.”

      “That’s what you think,” she said, and her laugh was throaty.

      She reached in her pocket, produced facial tissue and solicitously wiped the lipstick from my face.

      “You’ll have to go and get your cocktail, Donald.”

      “I don’t feel like a cocktail now,” I said. “I’d rather stay here.”

      Her finger tips brushed against my hand. “So would I, but I’m the hostess, Donald. Come on.”

      She clutched my hand, pulled me gently to