After dinner, the four Dukes went their separate ways. Jesse had decided to go to bed early and Daisy was in the kitchen washing the dinner dishes. She smiled as she remembered the evening’s events. She thought dinner had turned out pretty well. She had been worried about how Bo would react, especially after his drunken arrival at the farm earlier; but, her younger cousin had behaved admirably. She was proud of him; she knew how hard it must have been for him. She honestly didn’t know her excitable, at times over-emotional ‘baby brother’ could be that strong. It was obvious to her that Bo still felt very strongly about Meghan; but he managed to hold back enough to keep Luke from catching on. Daisy grinned as she remembered that she had to poke Bo in the side a few times to keep him from staring too long at the pretty, petite brunette. He somehow managed to act like he had never even been passed-out drunk just a few hours ago! He smiled, laughed, and talked like nothing had ever bothered him. She shook her head. Maybe Bo had a career in acting waiting for him! Daisy’s thoughts moved to her older cousin. Luke was definitely head over heels about this girl. She had never seen him this much in love. Meghan seemed to care for Luke just as much…and she was such a nice, likable girl. She would fit it with the rest of the family so well; but something about her bothered Daisy. Daisy thought she had noticed Meghan looking at Bo with the same look of longing that Bo had for her. Could it be possible that Meghan had feelings for Bo as well? Could she be in love with both him and Luke? Daisy felt a chill run up her spine. She couldn’t really blame the girl if she was…either of her cousins would be ideal catches…but she prayed that was not the case.
After dinner, Bo had gone out into the yard with Cooter to look at a problem with Jesse’s truck. Luke had left to take Meghan home and would probably been gone for a while. Cooter quickly determined the problem and said that he would order the needed parts the next day. The mechanic studied his young friend for a few minutes as he wiped his hands.
“Hey, buddy…what’s on your mind? You ain’t been acting like yourself lately,” Cooter asked.
“Aw, nothing much…just some personal stuff. I think I’m about over it now…or will be pretty soon.” Bo said; hands shoved into his pockets, not looking at his friend.
Cooter adjusted his cap and studied Bo. The young man nervously kicked at a clump of grass in the barnyard and looked like he did not want to talk. He had watched Bo grow up and considered him, as well as Luke, as a brother. Therefore, Bo’s strange behavior lately had bothered him just as much as it had the Dukes. “You know you can talk to me if you need to, Bo. I just don’t want to make a habit of draggin’ your drunk butt home; and I sure don’t want to get a call to pull the General out of a ditch or off a tree because you decided to drive when you shouldn’t.” Cooter looked out from under his cap brim with serious eyes.
“Thanks a lot for bringing me home, Cooter. I don’t know what I was thinkin’. I guess Luke was right…I wasn’t thinking at all.” Bo said with a grim chuckle. “I just had some things going on that I didn’t know how I was going to deal with…so I guess I thought I could deal with them better if I was drunk and didn’t know what was happening. But, don’t worry…I talked to Jesse and he sorta put things straight for me. I’ll be all right.” Bo stuck out his hand to his friend. Cooter grasped it and pulled the younger man into a quick, brotherly hug. Bo grinned and slapped Cooter on the back as they parted.
“I sure hope so, Buddyro. Jesse’s always been able to straighten you and Luke out. I’m ready to see you kickin’ it up again! It’s been getting kinda dull around town without you chasin’ women and causing trouble!” Cooter joked and aimed a mock-punch at Bo’s shoulder before he turned to climb into his tow truck.
“Thanks again, Coot. Let us know when those parts come in.” Bo waved good-bye to his friend and walked to the porch of the old farmhouse.
He didn’t know how he did it, but Bo had managed to keep his true feelings hidden and not make a total fool of himself. He shook his head and laughed as he sat down on the glider. When he had shaken Meghan’s hand tonight he had to forcibly stop himself from taking her in his arms and kissing her, holding her delicate frame to his and making her forget that Luke Duke even existed! Every little movement she made caught his attention. He knew he would have bruises on his side from Daisy poking him, but he just couldn’t help staring! Bo remembered nearly every word his sweet little Meggie had said during dinner. She had told them that she was from a very small town in Tennessee and that her dream had always been to be a nurse. She was a country girl… raised near the Tennessee River, she had been the only person in her family to go to college, she had one older brother and her parents still lived in her quiet little home-town. She hated being so short, she loved music, played the piano and she was a “bookworm”. Bo nearly groaned with longing when she told Jesse she drove a white ’79 Camero, loved fast cars and football (thanks to her older brother), and she really liked to cook on her days off! The more she spoke, the more Bo knew that he would happily spend his life with this woman if she would have him!
Bo swayed slowly in the old glider and softly smiled to himself as he remembered her explanation for how she had ended up in Capital City. Daisy had asked her why she chose to come there as opposed to someplace bigger or more exciting. Meghan replied that, in order to help pay for her student loans, she had signed up with an agency that sent nurses where they were needed the most.
She said, “I thought I would get to go someplace exotic or exciting, but I got sent to Tri-County General instead! It was just as well, though; a country girl like me probably couldn’t handle anything more exotic than north Georgia! Besides…I wouldn’t have gotten to meet all of ya’ll if I had been sent somewhere else.” Bo recalled the tender look she had given Luke after saying that and the quick, gentle kiss Luke had given her in return. His heart clenched at the memory. He felt ashamed when he remembered the jealousy that had surged through him and that he had to restrain himself from reaching across the table to push Luke away from her!
Bo also recalled the flame he had felt run through him whenever he and Meghan caught each other’s eyes or briefly touched. He had seen something there, in those emerald eyes, that had given him hope; she seemed to have felt something too, he was sure of it! Bo then thought of Luke’s gentleness toward this woman. Luke was truly in love with her…and she seemed to return that love. ‘They don’t need me screwing up something that could be good for both of them. Even if there was as chance that she did feel something for me, I can’t justify hurting Luke like that just to make myself happy,’ Bo thought. He knew what he would have to do. The only way he could get Meghan off his mind would be to leave. He couldn’t stay around, constantly seeing her and listening to her voice; he would eventually mess up and his true feeling would be found out…then all hell would break loose!
‘Now…to keep things under control until I can figure out where I’m going and what I’m going to do once I get there! Daisy and Jesse might understand…I hope so; but how in the world will I explain it to Luke?’ He thought as he rubbed his still-aching head and stared out across the yard. The blond-haired Duke sat on the rusty, old glider for several hours; listening to the sounds of the Georgia summer night, lost in his thoughts and dreams of what couldn’t be.
Meghan and Luke had spent a couple of hours just driving around and sitting out by Hazzard Pond; talking and cuddling. He had dropped her off at her apartment after a lengthy and very enjoyable good-bye. Once alone, Meghan began to process the events of the night. She immediately started getting ready for bed; she needed all the rest she could get because she had to work the next several days. As she puttered around her apartment, getting ready to turn in, she realized that she had really enjoyed herself tonight. The Duke family and their friend, Cooter, had reminded her of her own family and the farm seemed so much like home! They had all talked and laughed with ease and she looked forward to seeing more of them; as she was sure she would, since she and Luke had decided to get more serious! Luke was wonderful…she could definitely see herself with him for the long haul! They suited each other well. Daisy seemed like she would be a real good friend, even like the sister she had never had. Luke’s uncle reminded her of her own grandfather so much it was scary and Bo…well, Bo was a different story. There would be no way on earth she could ever feel only brotherly feelings toward Bo Duke! Her cheeks flushed when she remembered her reaction to Luke’s younger cousin. She knew she had probably acted like an idiot! When he touched her…it was all she could do to keep from leaning toward him and kissing him! His smile and sparkling eyes melted all her resolve to ignore him. How was it possible to ignore 6 feet, 3 inches of blond gorgeousness? He had talked often during dinner, but she barely heard him. She had to remind herself to stop staring at his kissable mouth when he spoke! ‘He must think I’m so rude! I barely made eye-contact with him!’ she thought, changing into the tank-top and boxers she slept in. She admitted to herself that she was afraid to meet his eyes. The feelings she had felt the few times they did overwhelmed her. Her mind reeled as she remembered holding that midnight-blue gaze with her own…was what she thought she saw in his eyes really there? Did he feel the same way? Did he also feel that she was the missing part of his soul…like he was to her? As irrational as it sounded, she realized, tonight, that was exactly how she felt about Bo Duke. They just had a connection…or at least she felt they did…that she and Luke, as much as she loved him, didn’t have. ‘Great! That would be my luck…finally find a wonderful man who loves me and who I love in return and the “man of my dreams” turns out to be his cousin and he might possibly have feelings for me, too!’ Meghan thought as she frustratedly brushed out her hair before going to bed. ‘I just have to be stronger. I can’t let these crazy feelings for Bo ruin my relationship with Luke.’
She climbed into bed and turned out the bedside lamp. The petite brunette tossed and turned for a while before finally falling asleep. Her dreams started out being about a quiet, gentle man with dark, wavy hair, crystal blue eyes, and work-hardened muscles she could feel underneath the white T-shirt he had worn tonight; but they eventually turned to a tall blond with midnight eyes and a soft, brilliant smile, wearing a red T-shirt over sun-bronzed skin that her hands itched to touch.
Luke pulled the General into the yard, parking next to Daisy’s jeep. He climbed out of the window, whistling softly as he did. He bounded up the porch steps and was almost through the door when he noticed his cousin, Bo, quietly sitting on the glider.
“Hey, Bo. I thought you’d be in bed by now…nursin’ that headache.” Luke said with humor.
“Oh, hey, Luke. Just thinkin’.” Bo said quietly.
“Alright, Cousin, what’s goin’ on?” Luke said. He motioned to Bo with his hand and said, “Scoot over.”
Bo scooted over on the glider and Luke sat down next to him. Bo noticed that Luke had gone into his “father/big brother” mode and he grinned, slightly.
“Talk to me, Bo. Something’s bothering you again. What is it? You’ve always told me before,” he paused. “Have I done something to make you not trust me anymore?” Luke said with concern and a hint of nervousness in his voice.
“No, Luke, I still trust you. That’s not it. I…I just…I just thought I’d try to handle this on my own; you know, finally be grown up and deal with my problems by myself. It’s something personal, Luke. I hope you understand and I didn’t mean to worry you,” Bo’s voice trailed off as he tried to express his thoughts. “I’m awful sorry about today, too. I didn’t really mean to get that drunk…it just happened.” Bo shrugged his shoulders and hoped his cousin would accept his explanation and apology.
Luke seemed almost at a loss for words. He took a deep breath and turned to reply to his cousin.
“I guess I understand…and I was more scared about what coulda happened to you than I was mad at you for gettin’ drunk. I’m sorry, too, for all that stuff I said…I didn’t mean it. I just wish you’d have talked to somebody before you got to feelin’ that bad.” Luke ran his hands through his wavy hair. He was silent for a few minutes; then he looked at his cousin, studying the younger man intently, and spoke…seemingly at a loss for what to say. “It’s just…well…Bo…I’ve just been so used to you comin’ to me with every little thing since you were old enough to talk. You’ve always come to me to help you or to give you advice…I guess I sorta miss it. I’m not used to you being all grown-up and having secrets.” Luke admitted with a slight smile and wink as he reached out to ruffle his cousin’s hair.
Bo submitted to the gesture…something Luke had been doing to him since they were small. When they were children, Bo dee always let on that he hated it, but in truth, it always reminded him of their closeness and shared childhood. He scowled and smoothed his hair; gave Luke a sideways grin and said, “Oh, brother…between you, Daisy, and Jesse, you’d think I was still ten years old!”
“Well, you are the baby of the family…and always will be, Little Cuz!” Luke said as he dodged a light punch from his cousin.
“Cute, Lukas…real cute!” Bo said, after he had tried to hit his cousin’s arm.
“Changing the subject,” Luke said, as he rubbed his hands together, “what did you think of Meghan?”
Bo’s expression quickly became thoughtful, his eyes distant. “She’s a wonderful woman, Luke. You’re a lucky man to find someone like her. You two seem to really be suited for each other.” Bo said honestly.
“Thanks, Bo. I really do like her…I love her. I could see myself settling down with her.” Luke chuckled, “Can you believe it? I’m actually thinking seriously about settling down with one woman!”
“That’s great, Luke. I’m happy for you. You deserve a good woman like her and she needs someone like you, too. I hope everything works out for the two of you.” Bo said, putting a hand on Luke’s shoulder. He was barely able to suppress his emotions. He told his cousin the truth, meaning every word, while hiding his own breaking heart.
Luke noticed the seriousness in Bo’s eyes and voice. He was unused to his younger cousin acting in such a manner. He also noticed that Bo’s eyes seemed a little too bright. Were there tears in his eyes…nah, it was just a reflection from the porch light…wasn’t it?
“Bo…that really means a lot to me. Thanks. You’re a good friend.”
Luke put an arm around his cousin and drew him into a hug. Bo squeezed his older cousin tightly. He wanted to cry…about Meghan, about hiding this secret from Luke and about his choice to leave…but he steeled himself against the feeling. The two cousins soon got up and went into the house, both tired from the eventful day and evening. Later, as the blond Duke lay in his bed, he allowed his pent-up tears to freely and silently slide down his face. His mind had decided what his heart could not. He would definitely leave the farm to ensure Luke’s happiness with Meghan…even if it meant sentencing himself to a lifetime of misery without her or the closeness of his family.