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|Glasses and Garters Part 2|
|Written by RKP Hunt|
Andy was working on Goliath’s hoofs, getting the months of dirt cleaned off. He was so consumed in his work that the rest of the world would just past by and he would never notice. Nick stood on her tip-toes to look over the stall door, as he brushed out the dirt from Goliath’s horseshoe. There wasn’t anything else in the world that the big horse loved more than to be pampered.
“Teresa said that dinner will be ready in a bit.” Nick finally said when Andy put the horse’s foot down.
“Alright.” He told her, still sitting on the bucket with his back to her.
“Much happen while we were gone?”
“We had to s-shoot Sundance, Trent was riding her by the cr-creek and she slipped down the slope, broke her front legs.” He told her as he used his hands to clean out the dust from the brush, and then picked up Goliath’s other foot.
Trent and Darren had come with her and her father on the drive, as well as two other men that Jacob had hired until the cattle stock dwindled. A lot of times out of work ranch hands would come to the ranch to see if they could get work during the drive, Jacob always hired the first two that arrived. All the others were told to go to another ranch and Jacob was always kind enough to name a few for them.
“That’s terrible, Sundance was old though.”
“Yep, sure was. But Biscuit, she’s pr-pregnant by him, so maybe we will have another Sundance soon.”
“You sure it was Sundance?”
“S-saw it with my own two eyes.”
It was quiet for a moment, as Nick racked her mind for something else to ask. “Rock bother you much?”
Andy cocked his head slightly to look at her, “I can handle my own with him, Nick.”
“I was just asking…”
Rock thought that because Andy was slower then most and stuttered occasionally that he was stupid, but that wasn’t the case at all. Of course, when Andy first came eleven years ago, he couldn’t read, but he didn’t tell any one at first. Chores were divided up by Jacob, and tacked up outside the stable. Andy couldn’t read them, and Jacob knew right away by the way the boy would stare at the paper. Finally, after three days of Andy just doing guess work or pretending he could read Jacob’s hand writing, Jacob told Nick to teach him.
It didn’t take Andy long to breakdown and admit he couldn’t read when Nick asked him. Not being able to read wasn’t uncommon, and it was kind of rare that everyone who worked at the ranch knew how. Of course, most people in Honeycomb did. That was thanks to Caroline Beldin who refused to let any child leave her classes on the first day without knowing the alphabet. She even started adult reading classes, all this when she was only sixteen. She taught math as well, but most people did adding and subtracting then gave up once triple digits began.
Andy still took classes from Nick, he wanted to learn all that he could in the ways of reading and mathematics. He loved reading books about horses, which was probably why the ranch had some of the healthiest horses in the town.
“Have you seen Boss?” Nick asked when he turned his head back to Goliath.
“Couple of the bitches are in h-heat, he’s probably p-paying them a visit.” His voice sounded annoyed.
“Are you mad at me, Andy?” Nick asked, as she stretched to look over the stall door to get a better look.
“I’m busy, Nick, leave me be.”
Dropping back onto her heels, she made a huff noise. “Have it your way then.” She snapped, and walked over to Snow’s stall to prepare the horse.
Once Snow was saddled up, she rode out to the field to see what her father and the others were doing. Hank was showing Jacob some of the cattle, apparently one had been born with a defect and might have to be their food this winter.
Stopping next to Rock, she looked over and smiled. Rock’s story was much the same as Andy’s, he watched his family murdered as well. That was all he would ever say, unlike Andy, he blamed everyone including God for his family’s death. While Andy blamed the men and hoped that one day they would receive justice. Rock had a big build, large shoulders, and sharp features. Some would say he was built for ranching, but ranching isn’t all about brawn, it’s about outwitting the cattle sometimes, and having a gentle touch. He hadn’t learned that yet, but he was only three years into the work.
“What going on?” Nick asked pointing at her father and Hank.
“One of the cattle has a limp, she’s been doing that since ya’all left.” His eyes stayed on Hank for a moment, and then turned to her. “What are you riding that horse for?”
“Goliath’s tired, and needs some cleaning up. I’m going to let him rest for a day or two.”
“She ain’t no good as a cattle horse.” he snapped, and his deep voice got an annoyed tone. “She’ll just get you hurt.”
“I appreciate your concern, Rock, but Snow is a fine horse around cattle. She was born on this ranch, and use to be my father’s horse.”
“And why isn’t he riding…”
“Snow is a bit of an old girl, and she can’t take my father’s weight anymore. But I am half his weight, and she takes to me just fine. Anyway, how do you know that she isn’t a good cattle horse? You try to ride her?” Nick giggled.
Rock tried to ride Goliath once when he first arrived, he said that his horse was too small and he deserved a big mount. He got much further than Nick expected him to, but as soon as his rear was in that saddle, Goliath bucked just once. It sent Rock into a fence, and into bed for a month.
“No, Hank told me. I don’t ride any horse but this one here.” He patted the neck of Mud, he was a dark brown gelding that was assigned to Rock when he first arrived. Rock never used the horse’s names, he didn’t believe they were worth giving names to.
“Mud is a good horse. He has taken to you well.”
“He takes to everyone, he would let a stranger ride him out of town.”
Nick shrugged, “Not all horses can be Goliath.” With a grin she looked back at her father. “I heard you got Beth sent to Boston.”
Rock gave a deep sigh, “Teresa needs to learn to hush her mouth. I haven’t been able to go into town since it happened, everyone gives me angry stares. And sometimes people come out and start yelling at me.”
“Welcome to my world.” Nick smiled.
“Yeah, guess you aren’t the person to be complaining to about that.”
“Just ignore them, if you don’t let them see that it bothers you, then it’ll go away in time. That’s the only reason that they do it.”
“I suppose.” He gave another deep sigh.
“And you know what? Why are you soiling these girls’ good names? Just go to the brothel, and get yourself a gal for a night.”
Rock cracked a grin, “Why pay for it, when I can get it for free?”
“Cause you’re hurting girl’s lives for your own pleasure. Ten years from now, they are just a notch on your bedpost, but those girls fell in love with you…”
“How do you know they are in love with me? They just want what I want and are afraid to ask for it, cause of the bullshit teachings they get at church.”
“I hear them, they think that they are going to marry you anyway. Last I was here, Sarah still thought you were getting married and that you were just having cold feet. She wants to believe that, Rock, because otherwise she was just used and thrown away.”
“I don’t need no lessons from a little girl, and I’ll do damn well what I want to do when I want it.” He kicked his heels into Mud’s side and rode off over towards Jacob. Nick gave a sigh, even if he was angry then maybe he heard some of it and would be a little more cautious next time.
Jacob came to ride over to her after a moment, “What’s wrong with Rock?”
She shrugged, “He’s in one of his moods. What’s the plan?”
“Hank and Rock will be tonight, then Trent and Darren for tomorrow, and then you and I will take Sunday night, and we will keep on that rotation.”
“I want to take a break, we’ve been on the rode for months, Nicky.” He laughed.
The sound of the dinner bell went off, and everyone began to ride in. They dropped off the horses at the stable, and ran to the table that was behind the house. Most dinners were held outside, because Teresa didn’t want to yell at everyone to take their boots off. She also hated that dirt would get all over the seats.
It took no more than ten minutes for everyone to find their seats around the light wood table. The large pot of stew was placed in the center with several loafs of bread framing it. Everyone always sat in the same positions; Jacob and Hank both sat at the head of the tables as the oldest men, Teresa sat next to Hank and Trent, while Nick sat next to her father and Andy. Trent and Darren were always next to each other, which left Rock to sit next to Hank and Andy.
Trent and Darren were twins of a Honeycomb family, sadly their home was burned down and they were left without a farm. In order to make money to get the family farm back up, the dark haired boys that were now in their late thirties, came to work for Jacob. However, once the farm was once again up and running, they picked to stay on the ranch, and let their older brothers have run of the farm. There were rumors of Indian blood in the boy’s family line, because of their thin builds, and dark hair and skin, but it had never been proven and remained just a rumor.
Teresa reached across the table and slapped Rock’s hand for trying to steal a chunk of bread. “We pray first, and then we eat. Do not disgrace God in my presence!” Clearing her throat, she held out her hands and everyone took the cue to hold hands. “God, bless this food we are about to eat, may it make us strong for the days to come, so that we can survive the winter ahead. And bless the cow that gave it’s life so that we could live another day, and the earth for being so generous this year and giving us an ample amount of vegetables. Enough to not only feed ourselves, but to give to the poorer families of Honeycomb. And Lord, bless Honeycomb, this little town has given us so much and in return it feels like we’ve given so little back. And Lord, bless the ranch…”
Teresa’s prayers were normally longer than the actual meal. Everyone would start stealing food while she was praying. With stew and bread it was rather hard for it to go unnoticed, and so everyone began to look around, except for Jacob and Hank, who kept their eyes tight.
“And finally, bless Elisabeth Hartley, forgive her for what she was tricked into doing. Also, help Rock find his way back to you, he’s lost and needs guidance. Amen.”
“Amen.” Everyone chimed together, as Teresa stood up to fill everyone’s bowl with her hearty stew.
With that the gulping began, no one except for Teresa had any manners when it came to eating. She hated the way Nick ate, and for a long time had scolded her, until Jacob told her to stop. They needed to hurry up and eat so that they could get back to the cattle, especially now that the wolves were out in abundance. Rock was the first to finish and he headed back out, soon followed by Trent and Darren, who always seemed to finish eating at the same time.
After a few minutes, Andy headed to the stable without saying his usual goodbyes.
“What’s his problem?” Nick asked when she was sure he was out of hearing distance.
“Oh, missy,” Teresa began, whenever she started her sentences like that everyone knew that she was angry and it was gossip. “Miss Patricia Sanborn, she broke his heart.”
“I didn’t even know they were courting.” Nick rose her eyebrow.
“Happened about a week after ya’all left. Patricia was being sweet on him, smiles and waves. Coming out here to visit with him at the stable, and I even saw the girl kiss his cheek.”
“What happen?” Nick hated the fact that she sounded like she was interested in the gossip in front of her father and Hank, and knew she should just let it go at that.
“Andy saved up his money, and bought her this pretty little necklace. Had a little rose charm, it was simply beautiful. He gave it to her and she accepted, one day he ask her about marriage. She laughed at him, told him they were just friends, and she hasn’t come back since. Evil little girl, using poor Andy like that to get gifts.”
Nick stood up, “I’m going to get Snow, and head out.”
Heading back to the stable, she saw Andy sitting on the bucket brushing Goliath.
“I’m still busy.” He mumbled.
“I heard what Patty did to you.”
There was a silence for a moment, as if Andy was trying to decide if he wanted to talk to her about it. “It’s cause I stutter, and I talk s-slow.”
“No, it isn’t, Andy. She’s just a mean girl, and you aren’t the first.”
Turning around, he stepped out of the stall and looked at Nick. “I’m a fool, thinking any pretty gal like that would want anything t-to do with me.”
Slowly, Nick shook her head. “Don’t think that, Andy.” Sliding down, she sat on the hay and leaned against the stall door, then patted the ground next to her.
Andy took his seat and looked over at her, “She said she loved me, Nick.”
Looking down at her hands, she thought for a moment, “Andy, she’s just a mean girl, who will get what’s coming to her eventually.”
“That don’t make me f-feel any better.”
Nick grinned and looked at him from the corner of her eye, “Want me to rough her up a bit?”
Andy laughed, “That would make me feel a b-bit better, but no. I did like her.”
“I know, I know.”
“Can’t believe I was a fool enough to save up money and buy her that necklace. I w-went all the way to Riverside to get it.”
“Don’t worry none, we all make mistakes. Just don’t let yourself become bitter hearted from it. Patty is just a mean ole’ girl, and mean girls get what’s coming to them.” As a matter of a fact, Nick was going to give her some of what was coming to her when she saw Patty on Sunday. “I got to get out onto the field, I’ll see you tomorrow, Andy.”
“Alright, Nick. I’m going to finish up on Goliath and finish cleaning the stable.”
Nick gave a nod, and stood up, wiping her pant legs down. Walking over to Snow’s stall, she saddled her back up and road out with the guys. They would stay out there until sundown, when they would leave Hank and Rock for the night.
Saturdays always seemed to be the longest day of the week, it must have been the anticipation Nick had for church the next day. Whatever it was the day lingered on, and just when she began to think it must be about dinner time is when they would have their quick lunch. Breakfast was eaten out the door, and lunch was eaten on the horse. An apple and some strips of jerky were all she had, but it was enough.
She chewed on the meat while she watched Trent and Darren talk across the field, and Jacob was tending to a cow that had gotten a limp over night. Hank and Rock were allowed four hours to sleep, and then they had to come back out. That was the worst part of night watch, the next day was the longest of your life. They were lingering, it had been seven hours now, and Jacob hadn’t sent anyone to wake them up or check on them. Of course, no one really cared if they stole an extra few hours.
Just as Nick was thinking about complaining, Hank rode out towards Jacob and Rock came to Nick’s side.
“Seven hours?” She asked with a raised eyebrow, still chewing on her jerky.
Rock shrugged, and reached into his pouch that Teresa packed their lunches in. “We had a rough night, a pack of wolves showed up and…”
“I didn’t hear any gun fire.”
He scowled, “We didn’t shoot, they were too close to the cattle. We scared them off, but not before they got a couple pieces to take as souvenirs.”
“Pansy, sleeping seven hours.”
“Hank did too!”
“Hank is seventy six years old, what’s your excuse?”
He frowned, “You know… shut your mouth, I have to work here while the rest of you are playing at church.”
“If you went to church it would alter every Sunday.”
“A man deserves a break every once in a while, and there hasn’t been one day that I haven’t been out watching cattle in three years!”
“There hasn’t been one day that I haven’t in eighteen…”
“Yeah, yeah. When are we branding the cattle?”
“Pa says on Monday.” She told him, and he gave a nod. Both their eyes went back to the cattle, “Oh, you know what? Pa and I stopped off at Gregor and got some of those maple candies that Denise orders from the east every fall.” Reaching into her pocket she pulled out one and offered it to him.
He took it and popped it into his mouth, allowing it to melt down. “You know, Nick, there has been one thing that has been bothering me.”
“Why didn’t I get to go on the drive this year? I asked to go everyday for a month, and Jacob didn’t let me.”
Nick shrugged, “It’s not about asking, it’s about proving yourself. We run into a lot of unsavorily people, and we can’t be starting fights with them every time they make us angry. You just have a bad temper, Rock, maybe if you work on it until the next drive, then you can go next year.”
Pressing his lips together, he breathed in and out of his nose heavily. “That’s what I am talking about, Rock. You need to learn that criticism isn’t always bad, and I am just trying to help you. After all, you make more during the drive a day then you do here at the ranch.”
Still he said nothing, only stared at the cattle.
“Don’t ask for the truth if you can’t handle it, Rock.” Nick told him as she rode off on Snow over to her father to inspect the damage the wolves had done.
After a few minutes, there was a whistle from the ranch, everyone head’s popped up to see Sheriff Devlin waving at them.
“You have a visitor, Nicky.” Jacob told her, and Hank chuckled.
“Son of a…”
“Watch your mouth, little girl.” Jacob snapped, then grinned at Hank as she rode over to him.
“What is it, Avery?” Nick said looking down at the blonde haired man, he was almost as tall as Rock, but not nearly as muscular.
“I heard you were back from the drive and I wanted to come and say hello.” He grinned.
“Hello. Now, shouldn’t you be making sure those kids aren’t throwing stones at Randall’s shop, instead of slowing down production here.”
“Where’s Goliath?” It was like she hadn’t even said a word.
“He’s taking a rest, and as for me my rest is over. I have to get back to work.”
Devlin smiled, “Oh come now, I am sure the men can get along without one woman for a little while.”
That’s why she hated him, he didn’t believe that she had any importance on the ranch. He thought that Jacob was just humoring her by allowing her to ride her horse around the cattle everyday.
“I am sure they could, however they need their sixth rancher. See you at church.”
He gave a nod, as he chuckled, “Take care, Nicolette.”
Riding back she saw the rest of the boys chuckling, and she only gave her best glare to each of them.
“Have a good break?” Jacob asked.
“Don’t, pa, just don’t.”
Sunday morning seemed to be filled with activity, Teresa was always paranoid about being late for church and not getting a good seat. Jacob never seemed to be able to find his church clothes, because Teresa changed where she put them every week. Trent and Darren having spent all night up, where lingering about trying to decide what to do. Andy and Nick were ready and waiting on the front porch, while the rest of the house shuffled itself together.
Besides Teresa and Hank, the rest of the ranch hands slept in a bunk behind the house. When Hank got married they allowed him to move into the house, because it wasn’t right for Teresa to be out there with the ranch hands. Nick wasn’t sure if that was Jacob’s idea or Teresa’s.
Nick smiled as Trent walked up the porch, it was rare to see him without his brother. It was even more rare for them to talk to anyone but each other.
“You look nice, Miss Nicolette.” He told her as he stepped into the house.
Nick already knew that, she wore not a fancy but a white dress with yellow lining. Her hair was up in a French braid that Teresa had carved into her head. She wasn’t known for being easy on Nick’s hair, she liked to pretend it was full of knots because of the work she did. Nick knew better, and she brushed her hair every morning and night, but Teresa didn’t know that.
The front door opened and Boss’ black coat was shoved out by Teresa. “Damn dog!” She snapped and then slammed the door shut.
Boss believed that he belonged in the house, and would sneak in during the night to sleep with Nick. For a long time, Teresa believed that Nick was letting the dog in, but one night she waited in the hall for Nick to sneak out of her room. She never did, but Boss did walk up the stairs and pushed her bedroom door open.
Teresa was flabbergasted and couldn’t figure out how the dog was getting into her house. Nick didn’t have the heart to tell her that he was getting in through the cellar.
“Come here, Boss.” Nick patted her lap, and the border collie put his feet up on her lap, as Nick stroked him.
“Teresa is going to kill him someday.” Andy laughed.
“Ah, I don’t think she minds as much as she tries to lead you to believe.”
The door opened once again, and Jacob stepped out, grinning at Boss. “Dog ate one of her shoes.” He said meaning Teresa.
“Come on, Andy, lets get the cart together.”
“See you at church, Andy.” Nick told him, still petting Boss. Andy always took a horse there, so he didn’t have to wait for Teresa to mingle with her gossiping grannies.
It took no more then fifteen minutes for everyone to pile onto the cart, including Boss who went everywhere with Nick, and prepared for the short journey to the church. Rock was already out in the field with the cattle as they rode past, and he waved at Jacob, probably to let him know that he was paying attention.
The church was small, and most of the time people had to stand in order to watch the service. The benches were old and probably should have been replaced years ago, the hard wood floor was cracked in several places and dirt had seeped through. Voices of those talking ricocheted throughout the walls. Nothing in Honeycomb was a sadder sight than the old, moldy smelling church, but it never seemed anything got fixed no matter how much people gave. Some thought the Reverend was keeping all the money for himself, Teresa had even said the only way it would ever get fixed up is if everyone came and did it for free.
Reverend Peter Halton was a tall, thin man with a beard that wasn’t quite full. His eyes were dark and seemed to be filled with mischief. His wife had past away the year before of a mysterious illness, and it seemed he was ready for a new one within a few weeks. He had his eye on little Jasmine Baker, who was only sixteen. Everyone seemed to shiver whenever he approached the young girl, and the only ones not offended by this were the two people that should have been, her parents. It was announced that when Jasmine turned seventeen she would be wed to the forty three year old reverend.
He walked around the church with Jasmine’s frowning person walking beside him, as he talked to people as they arrived. Teresa went and took her seat at the front. They always saved it for her, so no one could really understand why she was so worried about being late.
Nick smiled and waved at a few of the Honeycomb gentlemen as she walked in. And it seemed it didn’t take more then a few seconds for a couple of the boys to give up their seat for her. Andy grinned and shook his head, knowing he had to stand in the back with Jacob and the rest. Walking to the back of the church, Jacob grinned at him and rubbed his head.
“Every time.” Andy mumbled.
“Makes you think about wearing a dress of your own, doesn’t it?” Hank jested, causing them to chuckle.
After two hours, church was let out and everyone crowded out in front to chat. Nick had a more important task, and she began to survey the court for Patricia. She wanted to make sure Andy didn’t see her talking to her, least he suspect what she was doing.
There she was under the tree with Betty Milton, Helen Telford, and Rose Gilmore. They were all dressed in their expensive dresses, giggling and flirting with any boys willing to pay them any attention. The girls were the center of attention during the week in Honeycomb, but on Sunday it was Nick who got their affections. Not only was Nick stunning in her Sunday’s best, but any man who could marry her would be the owner of the Honeycomb ranch once Jacob past away.
Nick approached the girls, and noticed that Patty was wearing Andy’s necklace. It was a gold chain with a small rose-like charm, it wasn’t much, but it was all Andy could afford.
“Well if it isn’t Miss Nicolette Beldin. I don’t recall inviting you over here today.” Patty said, even her voice angered Nick.
“Give me Andy’s necklace.” Nick held out her hand.
She gave a half chuckle and looked at her friends, “I believe he gave it to me, silly boy thought I was in love with him or something. Like I would love anyone who st-st-st-stutters.”
“Patty, give me that necklace or I will hit you so hard that you’ll wake up next Sunday.”
Helen stood up for her friend, whose eyes had widened and mouth had shut. “You can’t threaten her, if you hit her, I’ll get the Sheriff and you’ll…”
“And what will the sheriff do? Tell me how beautiful I am in my Sunday’s best or perhaps propose for the nine hundredth time?” Nick’s eyes went back to Patty, “Andy isn’t a rich man, and by taking that necklace from him, you stole in my eyes. Especially since you knew why he was giving it to you.”
“I had no idea. I thought it was a gift from one friend to another.”
Nick frowned, “Don’t lie to me. Now give it to me, this is your last warning.”
Patty looked at her friends, and at some of the boys who stood around, none seemed to be any help. “If you take this from me, Nick, it’s stealing…”
A quick shove from Nick’s hands and Patty found herself in the dirt. “Give me the necklace, and the next no I hear from you, it’ll cause you to bleed.”
“Fine, I don’t want the cheap thing anyway.” She told her as she reached her hands around her neck to take off the necklace, and then handed it to Nick.
“Patty, I better not hear of you ever messing with any of the boys at the ranch. I don’t care if it’s Rock, because if you do, I’ll be back and trust me a push into the dirt will be a pleasant day for you.” With that Nick walked away with the gold chain in her hand.
She found the rest of her group standing around the cart, but before she could reach them, she was stopped by several of the boys in church.
“Hey, Miss Nicolette.” Neil, Randall’s son, said. “You walking home today?”
“I can walk you home.” Gregory told her, which caused Neil to push him.
“Excuse me, boys.” Devlin’s voice broke through, as he shoved through the boys standing around her. He stopped right at her side, and gave his best grin. “If anyone is walking Miss Nicolette home, it will be me.” He said with a smile, no one objected, just frowned and walked away. Turning his eyes to Nick, he gave a large grin, showing his crooked teeth. “As sheriff, it’s just safer that I walk you home, don’t you think?”
“Safe from what?” Her eyes shifted up to look at the thin sheriff, just his face made her angry, and being close to her was even worse.
He ignored her, “You know, Nicolette, I was thinking the other day after I left the ranch. It just isn’t right for a beautiful woman like you to be outside in the heat and cold all day. A woman like you needs to be in the home, doing womanly things, wearing dresses like this one everyday, and just taking it easy.”
Nick breathed in and out, a little set back as to what she was going to say. It was hard to decide if he actually meant what he had just said, although she knew he was ignorant enough to say it.
“Now, I know your father raised you to think that it was your job, but beauty like yours in pants and on a big disgusting, sweaty horse like Goliath, I mean surely God is upset.”
He nodded, “He created this beautiful woman for a good man, like me, to love and cherish, and here her beauty is going to waste on cattle. You could look just this beautiful everyday. Now, I assume you would want a spring wedding, so it can be held outside.”
“Right then, Reverend Halton is getting married in the spring, we should before he does. That way we won’t still much of his thunder.” He grabbed her arm, but Nick yanked it away, “Something the matter, I assumed you would like a spring wedding.”
“Avery, I will not ever marry you.”
His smile faded, “What is it you have against me?”
“You are a vile man, who never hears a word I say. The man I marry won’t want me for a trophy or for the ranch, and he’ll believe that a woman has a right to be heard.”
“Come now, Nicolette, we both know you are living in a fairy tale.”
“Excuse me, my family wants to go home. I have a cart to take me, I don’t need to walk.” With that Nick spun around and headed to the cart, her angry glare told everyone not to bother her with jokes about Devlin.
No one on the ranch much cared for Devlin, and it would have been Jacob’s nightmare had Nick actually liked him. He was arrogant, and pig headed. As a matter of a fact, Jacob would prefer his daughter to marry Rock who would cheat on her, over Devlin. His heart was cold and his head empty, the man just couldn’t think beyond what was best for him. All he wanted was Nick not because of the ranch, but because she was the prettiest girl in town, and he felt he deserved that because he was sheriff.