Tough love

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Best buddy Mac and taken advantage off

3

Trenton went to find Mac then to the stables to saddle up his palomino stallion. Mac watched him saddle up his horse. Next to his father Trenton had the best horse on the ranch, Mac envied him since he didn’t really have one and just got to use one of the other ranch horses excluding Trenton’s, Tyler’s or Darlene’s and there were too many of his sister’s for them all to have a horse each, they just shared them too.

Trenton was an accomplished rider; he had been around horses since he was born since his father had always been a horse trader. But Trenton just did not seem to be following in his footsteps. They also had a herd of cattle that Trenton seemed to spend more time tending to. But his father’s horses were his main income, most of them he sold on after they broke them in.

Tyler Butler encouraged all his children to learn to ride. But with Trenton, it was a necessity he had to learn in order to work on the ranch. Trenton didn’t mind being forced into riding, he liked riding. He has had his horse Buck since he was 12. Mac and Trenton were just mounting their horses when his mother came up with the lunch she had promised them.

“I brought you guys some biers too! Only don’t tell your Pa’ Trenton!”

“Won’t he notice they’re gone?” he asked.

“It’s okay I bought some more in town earlier! Just be careful up there love and stay close to Mac!”

“Sure mom! But it ain’t like I dun’t know how to ride only been riding horses practically since I could walk!”

“I know that honey, but a mother just can’t help but worry, especially when your father’s always sending you up on that range to tend those Cattle. What if they were to suddenly decide to go on a rampage? I’ve heard stories about even the most experienced of riders being bucked from their horse and trampled to death by a heard of rampaging cattle!”

“For god sakes mom! Would you relax! Only thing I’ll be getting is another licking from the belt if you don’t let us get going!”

“Just be careful is all I’m saying!”

“Sure mom! Would you quit mollycoddling, you’re embarrassing me!”

Trenton kicked his heels into each side of his horse and clicked his tongue to move his horse on.

Darlene looked at Mac and he shrugged.

“Boys growing up Darlene!”

“Growing up to fast Mac. I can’t believe he’s going to be 18 soon!”

“I know!”

“Hey, Mac, are you coming or what ain’t got time to sit around and chat! Got hungry cattle to feed!”

Darlene grinned, and Mac laughed.

“Beginning to sound like his father to!” replied Mac.

“Mac!” growled Trenton.

“Sure, thing boss! I’m coming!”

Mac shrugged again and rode to catch up on Trenton. Darlene sighed as she watched them go. She knew she was being over protective, she knew how much of an experienced rider he was, but she still couldn’t help but worry when his father insisted he ride up on the range and tend to the cattle, he said Trenton was a natural at cattle rearing. He could catch them with a rope and hog-tie them too in double-quick timing, something his uncle Joe taught him just for fun he said. Trenton had spent summers up in his Uncle Joe’s ranch and that is where he had learnt about the cattle. His father said he was not patient enough to be with the horses. Trenton was better at all the physical ranch work and cattle rearing like his Uncle Joe. However, it still scared her no matter how experienced he was.

At least today, he had sent Mac up to help she could not believe he had left him up there on his own yesterday with all those heifer and bulls checking to see if the heifers have been caught yet. But Tyler said he had to learn the ropes.

Mac and Trenton rode up to the range. Trenton told Mac he could drive the truck and he would feed the cattle.

“Sure, thing boss!”

“Why’d you keep calling me boss Mac?”

“Well technically you are my boss Trenton I mean you’re the boss’s son, so I guess that sorta makes you the boss too!”

Trenton smiled as if he liked the idea.

“So, who’s better me or my Pa’?” he asked.

“You definitely! Got more of your mom’s nature I think, not tough like your Pa’!”

Trenton smiled.

“Hey, I can be tough!”

“Sure, you can Trenton!”

“I can! Watch this just like my Pa’ does! Get in that there truck and start driving boy! Less you want me to lick you so’s you can’t sit for a week!”

“He’d kill you if he heard you! But it’s pretty good. Sound jus’ like ’im!”

“But I can go one better! I can do you!”

Trenton watched as Mac took off his Stetson and stood completely straight with his hands behind his back as if he was addressing a military sergeant.

“Yes sir!” he replied like a military soldier.

“I ain’t that scared of him!”

“Sure, you are!”

Trenton threw some hay down at him.

“C’mon we better get on with it!”

“Yes sir!”

“Give over Mac!”

Mac laughed and jumped into the tractor and drove slowly while Trenton threw the feed to the cattle.

Once they had fed them, they rode the length of the range to check for any stray cattle and loose or missing fencing.

“What’s the point to this? Groaned Trenton. “It’s so! Boring like watching paint dry!”

“I know what you mean? But I guess we’re supposed to check for any of the fencing for any that’s down and any cattle that happed to escape or get caught in it!”

“It’s now a quarter before 11, it’s going to take us till after dusk to ride the whole of this fence line and have you ever tried to coax a cantankerous bull back into the field it tried to escape from in the first place?”

“Are they all bulls on this range?” Mac asked.

“No, they’re steers! That’s what you call bulls what’s been castrated!”

“I know that just wonder if you knew the difference!”

“Yeah right!”

“What I did!”

“Sure, you did Mac! Anyways the bulls and the heifers that’s young female cattle what ain’t had any young un’s yet, they’re all up stream mingling with the bulls hopefully so to become cows that’s female cattle what’s had young un’s. I don’t know why he even invested in ‘em he’s a horse trader not a cattle rancher. But I reckon he’s trying to give me something to work on! I spent summers up on my Uncle Joe’s ranch with him an’ his cattle and I’ve spent more time up here in this here range in the last two years than he has since we got ’em almost 4 years ago when we first moved here for more space he says! But at least today I got you for company he helped me feed the bulls and heifers yesterday then said I had to ride the fence line on my own and check for any heifers that were pregnant as well as make sure all the fences were intact.”

“You what he left you up here on your own with a huge heard of cattle? Is he nuts?”

“You sound jus’ like my mom! But Pa’ says I jus’ gotta learn!”

“Then maybe that’s his whole point! Said Mac. “Do you know much? About horses?”

“Not much only how to ride ’em and feed ’em muck ’em out and groom ‘em. The trading and breaking part that’s a bit too complex for me. I leave that to my Pa’ and Dick. Pa’ says I ain’t ruthless enough to be a horse trader, says I got too much of my mom’s nature in me and I jus’ don’t reckon I could find the patience to do what my Dad and Dick does, specially Dick!”

“Dick’s got a talent! Said Mac. “I dun’t reckon I could even do what he does with ‘em horses. I mean it’s like he’s gifted! He can take any horse. Even the most cantankerous or timid ones an’ turn it into a champion race horse or a horse so placid even a 2 year old could ride it”.

“I know! I’ve known him all my life and my Dad has too known him all his life; My Grandpa Joe and Dick were friends in high school and were in the army together. That’s where my Dad gets all that tough love as my mom calls it. She reckons he’s only stricter with me cuz’ he wants me to learn ’bout the ranch and that the girls only need to know ‘bout how to cook and keep house! Dick and my Grandpa’ taught my Dad all there is to know ‘bout horses and how to run a strict ranch. My Uncle Joe got Grandpa’s ranch in Texas, My Uncle Travis is somewheres in Oklahoma and My Uncle Larry moved to set up ranch in Colorado and he’s got a sister somewheres too I heard Pa’ say she moved to Canada! My Pa’ was the only one what showed an interest in my Grandpa’s horse trading that’s how we wound up with Dick! He sorta scares me just like my Grandpa’ did!”

“Dick scares you why?”

“All that tough love stuff I were talking about, him and Grandpa told my Pa’ he had to be strict with me an’ I only needed schooling just enough so’s I could read an’ write and I had to learn how to work the ranch. Dad pulled me outta school when I was 9, cuz’ he says I wasn’t learning anything! Him an’ mom don’t agree on that one cuz’ mom reckons I’m dyslexic and should’ve at least been in school until I was fourteen so’s I’d catch up on my reading and writing. But pa’ says I didn’t need to read an’ write all’s I needed to know was how to ride a horse, drive a truck, muck out stables and mend a fence. They had an argument about it again a few months back when I used the wrong feed supplement an’ almost killed half the horses!”

“Jeez I remember that! So, it was you what did that, your Dad was going crackers!”

“I know! My mom managed to stop him from giving me a wupping, said it was his fault cuz’ he didn’t listen to her in first place!”

“So how did they resolve it all?”

“The vet managed to get ‘em all right as rain again and I usually get Mary-Kate to help me read all the supplements an’ Dad calls up in advance when he’s got supplies to get so’s they got it sorted for me ready to pick up an’ they give me notes when I go grocery shopping so’s I just gotta hand it over and they go get it for me! But with the cattle Mary-Kate helped me work out this really cool system since Pa’ says I gotta learn how to look after ‘em on my own an’ I’d really love to be able to do somethin’ on my own for once without having to rely on everyone else. So, Mary-Kate came up with this plan to colour code all the supplement I gotta feed the cattle and Pa let her sort it all out in that there supply shed and I gotta wait for her to help me unload everything! C’mon I’ll show you!”

Mac followed him to his cattle supply shed. Each section in the shed was stacked with everything he needed to look after the cattle, everything was colour coded and had pictures of the seasons on when he was supposed to feed them what supplement; Green with a flower for spring, yellow with a sunshine for summer, red with a maple leaf for autumn/ fall and blue with a snowflake for winter and every supplement was picture labelled on what it was to be used for.

“Man, that’s so cool! So maybe your Pa is planning to make you a cattle rancher ’stead of a horse trader. Cattle ranching’s pretty easy ain’t it the cattle can pretty much take care of themselves, can’t they?” said Mac.

“Well as long as they got the right supplements at the right times an’ they got plenty of grass to graze on and hay to forage on, hay is mostly in the winter though! During spring and summer, you gotta keep moving ’em around to let the pastures grow! Then you gotta trade ’em into the slaughterhouse once in a while to keep the stock down and you gotta make sure you get ‘em checked with the vet regular and look for any signs of pregnant or any sick cattle! One sick animal could jeopardise the whole heard! And you gotta make sure like we’re doin’ now and ride the fence lines for any possible escape routes and any dumb one what gets ’em self caught in the fencing”

“I reckon you know more than you think!”

“Yeah reckon I could become a cattle rancher. Then all’s I need to do is sit on my butt all day and hire dogsbody’s like you to do most of the work for me! Replied Trenton with a smirk.

“Gee Thanks Trenton! Is that all I am to you the hired help? Hired to do all the dirty work for you? I didn’t think you were like that Trenton Joseph Butler!”

“Jeez Mac dun’t call me that please! An’ it’s cool buddy I was jus’ kidding! I mean you and me we’re mates right?”

“Course we are Trenton Best of buddies ever since you’re Pa’ hired me! I remember you then too! Just this lil’ scrawny thing you were only ‘bout seven and looked kinda cute in your overalls, checked shirt and denim jacket and this big ol’ Stetson. I remember your Pa’ was real strict on you back then too!”

“Yeah I know! That’s when he started me with all the chores, making me muck out the stables and learn to groom the horses, said Trenton. “Hey, Mac, you wanna see something really cool?”

“What?”

“Just watch!”

Trenton kicked his heals in his horse and sped off at the herd of cattle swinging his lasso and roped one off the steers, jumped off his horse and tied it’s legs.

“Hey where’d you learn to do that!” asked Mac.

“My Uncle Joe taught me!” he replied bending down to untie the steer.

“You should enter in on the rodeo circuits!”

Trenton gathered his rope back up and hung it back on his saddle.

“Uncle Joe wanted to teach me some more to perfect my timing and take me to the rodeo, but mom wouldn’t let him!”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know! Said she didn’t want me havin’ that kinda life said it’s all too dangerous! Man reckon I she forgets I ain’t a kid no more, she still treats me like I’m five!” He replied jumping back on his horse.

“Well I reckon it can be, I’ve heard of guys breaking their ankles and wrists sometimes! And Trenton can I ask you something, I mean I don’t mean to be rude or anything but how can you drive if you can’t read?”

“I can read a little just gets kinda get confusing an’ I find it hard to concentrate and I ain’t got a driving licence yet only a permit, since I ain’t really driving on interstate roads and mom says the sheriff told her I could get help to complete my theory test. But I’ve been driving my pa’s farm truck and tractors since I could reach the pedals, so mom reckons I’ll past my test no problem if I ever need to take it! I’m supposed to have an adult with me if I go out with the town”

“I reckon you’ll pass that test too Trenton”

Trenton smiled.

“Mac what’s it like sleeping in the bunkhouse?”

“Well it ain’t got all those home comforts you got that’s for sure!”

“What’d you mean Mac?”

“Well it looks more like the inside of an army barracks than a bedroom with two sets of metal bunks, a battered old sofa and a table and four chairs, there’s a coal range stove and we all gotta share the bathroom!”.

“Why you thinking on improving the living standards of the hired help?”

“No Pa’ says I gotta move in with you guys”

“Ouch!”

“It’s not that bad is it?”

“Not if you like white washed walls and cold stone floors and there’s Harvey’s snoring and Grants stale socks hanging on the end of his bed!”

“Jeez I can’t believe you guys still live like that! Maybe I could move into Dick’s cottage with him?”

“Are you kidding he’s only got one room and he’d never let you sleep there. Old gits got everything too! Central heating, kitchen”

“So, I guess it’s the bunkhouse then!”

“What’s he moving you into the bunkhouse for anyways?”

“If I tell you, you promise you won’t tell the others?”

“Okay I promise!”

Trenton gulped.

“He, he uh! He caught me perving on our Mary-Kay at breakfast this morning!”

“You what!”

“It, it’s not like I meant to, I mean not really, she’s got so grown up in the last year and I just sorta look at her and! Said Trenton rubbing his face. “Oh, jeez makes me kinda mad at myself now for doin’ it! So, pa’s making sure I never get the chance again, he wants to put me in the bunkhouse and make me eat with you guys too. He gave me a wupping’ for it an’ it still hurts! My mom and Mary-Kay seemed to understand better than my Pa’ did. Mom says I’m a bit confused, I mean it’s not like I’ve never been around girls I got eight sisters. But up until now Mary-Kate and Lily-Mae were just so little and it’s just kinda happened, jeez Mary-Kate knows more about it than I do! And she got this thing she does when I annoy her, she yanks up my boxers”

“Man, that has to hurt!”

“It does! ‘specially when you’ve just been skinned with a belt an’ he made me sit on the porch stairs for half an hour till my sisters’ finished their breakfast before he let me finish mine!”

“Ouch! Well Trenton I guess you’re gonna have to put up with Harvey’s snoring and Grant’s socks!”

“Oh brother!”

Trenton and Mac got a quarter of the way through the first part of the range by 12.

“Hey, Trenton, what’s the time? You reckon we could stop a while down by the creek and have that lunch your mom made us up?”

Trenton looked at his watch.

“Well it’s gone a quarter after 12 reckon it’s time we stopped a while, besides I’m gettin’ kinda hungry!”

Mac and Trenton took their horses down to the creek and let them have a rest and a drink from the creek while they had lunch.

“Mac?”

“What buddy?”

“Do you uh! Really reckon I’m a pervert?”

“Nah you’re just curious mate! Must be hell living with all those sisters though reckon that’d drive a guy wild!”

“Even if I told you I was uh! He watched Trenton gulp. “I mean I told Pa’ I didn’t know what he was talkin’ ’bout, till he spelled it out, then I felt real bad! I mean jeez Mac I had my hand in my shorts!”

“It’s all part of growin’ up. I’ll bet even your Pa’ did it at some point too despite what he says!”

“He’d kill you if you heard you say that!”

“Yeah I know! Ain’t there any girls in town you like? I mean you must meet some when you go on errands for your mom n, Pa!”

“Well there’s a few girls what kinda say hi an’ stuff but there’s this one girl I’ve kinda got talkin’ to, she kinda makes me! I dun’t no kinda makes me nervous! But I’m not so sure she likes me that much”.

“Is she pretty?”

Trenton smiled.

“Well I guess you could say she’s pretty, she got long wavy red hair. Her pa’ owns the hardware store in town. But she hangs around with all the other kids and she hangs around with the sheriff’s son and he’s got his own truck an’ he always got new gear! I mean why would she be interested in someone like me for when she got someone like Mitch Hardy?”

“Have you ever spoken to her? I mean properly an’ not just in passing”

“Sometimes! She asks me how things are and why I don’t come hang out! I hate having to tell her its cuz’ Pa’ won’t let me! I feel like 5 year old”

“Has she ever said anything else?”

“Well I saw her today when I went down to get Pa’ his feed. She asked how I was an’ if I was goin’ to the dance on Saturday. I dun’t know why she asked me that! She knows I never go anywhere!”

“That’s cuz’ she’s hoping you’ll say yes to her for once! Said Mac. “What’d she say when you told her you couldn’t?”

“Said maybe Pa’ would change his mind and let me go for once!”

“Shit Trenton this girl’s crazy ’bout you!”

“You reckon?”

“Man, I don’t just reckon she does! I know she does! If she’s popular like you say she is then I reckon she wasn’t just asking to be polite. Girls like that Trenton dun’t ask guys like us out on a date unless they seriously got the hots for us!”

“But look at me Mac! I mean this is how I looked this morning when I saw her! In my ripped wranglers, but at least I changed my overalls. Mom made me change ’em. She went ape when I said I didn’t have anything else. ’Cept that dumb suit she makes me wear to church!”

Mac laughed.

“Don’t you like wearing it?”

“No way! I look like a dork!”

“So, did it stop her asking you to the dance? Did she say anything ’bout your wrecked wranglers?”

“Well I don’t reckon she noticed! But I find her real easy to talk to, she was askin’ ’bout the truck, everyone loves that dumb truck!”

“That’s a seriously cool truck Trenton!”

“Yeah but it’s huge I gotta park it side on when I go to get feed. Besides it’s not as cool as what my Dad’s got in the garage!” He replied smiling.

“I didn’t know he had another car!”

“You mean you ain’t never seen his 1959 Coupe Deville Cadillac convertible?”

“Are you serious?”

“Straight up! He keeps it all shined up an’ everything! It’s dark red, got brown leather seats, 375 hp, 21 gallon tank 46,000 miles on the clock and the engine purrs like a kitten!”

“Geez Trenton you gotta get out more mate!”

“What do mean Mac?”

“Never mind mate! Have you ever sneaked in for a peak?”

“Sure, hundreds of times. I’ll show you it sometime, but he’d kill me if he caught me!”

“Hey, could you see that girls face if you picked her up in that!”

“No way! He’d never let me! He ain’t even let me out the door yet!”

“You gotta get with this girl Trenton!”

“I know! Mom already knows bout her. Amy-Louise almost ruined everything this morning! She asked her if she thought I was fit!”

“No way are you kidding!”

“Straight up! But the funny thing is she kissed me and said I am fit!”

“No way!”

Trenton nodded. He pulled his hat down low.

“Hey, Trenton, you’re goin’ red!”

“Shut up Mac!”

Mac hit him on the shoulder.

Trenton sighed.

“But what’s the point Mac he won’t let me go out!”

“There is one way you can get with her! But you need to consider if it’s worth getting a licking or not”

“You mean sneak out dun’t you?”

“Seems to me like it’s the only way buddy!”

“No way he’d kill me!”

“Then I guess you’re jus’ gonna have to rely on waiting to see if he changes his mind!”

“But what do I say! I mean if he were to let me out? What do I say to Selina?”

“Then you talk to her and ask her if she’s still interested in going out then you go pick her up”

“You just make it sound so easy!”

“Trust me Trenton!”

Trenton just smiled behind his bier bottle. Trenton and Mac finished lunch and got back on their horses again to ride the fence line. By the time, they were finished the sun was going down. Trenton groomed the horses and Mac gave them some oats.

“Well guess I’ll see you in the bunkhouse later!”

“Is he moving you in tonight?”

“I reckon so!”

Trenton walked into the house after sorting the horses, his father was sitting at the table with a coffee and his accounts spread out on the table.

“Hi sweetheart! Supper won’t be long. Do me a real big favour and go collect your sister Mary-Kate from the Coopers ranch”

“Oh, hell do I ’avta?”

“Watch your mouth Trenton! Now do as your mom says boy”

Trenton gulped.

“You hear what I said boy?”

“Yes sir!”

Trenton drove to the Cooper’s ranch to collect Mary-Kate in the farm truck, his father’s pick up was too big to turn in the road at the Cooper’s ranch he pulled up into the Cooper’s road hoping to god he didn’t see her dumb little friends.

He took a breath and knocked on the door. He took off his hat.

“Hi, Trenton, you lookin’ for Mary-Kate?” Asked Charlene Cooper (Lizzy’s mother).

“Yes Ma’am! Could you tell her she gotta come back for supper please!”

“They’re up at the treehouse love why don’t you go on up!”

“Er alright! Do you want me to send Lizzy down too?”

“Yes, please love”

“No problem!”

Charlene smiled as she watched Trenton run up to get his sister. She went inside. Her own two son’s Tom 16 and Hank jnr 19 were sitting at the table with their father.

“Who was at the door love?”

“Trenton Butler looking for his sister! Replied Charlene. “He’s real polite!”

“He’s weird is what he is! He don’t ever talk to anyone ‘cept Selina Westland and that’s only cuz’ she talks to him, but even she says he dun’t really say much! Says she feels sorry for him cuz’ his pa’s real strict and if he’s there he dun’t talk at all,” said Hank.

“I’m not surprised! Tyler Butler is a bully! He’s real hard on that boy can’t understand why he won’t let him socialise with any of the kids in town when he let’s his sister’s get schooling and get friends and they’re all a lot younger than he is!”

“I heard Mary-Kate tell our Lizzy that her pa’ says girls would just distract him from working an’ I heard he can’t even read or write, he gives the Arbuckle’s a note when he goes in for anything!” said Tom.

“Poor kid!” said Hank Snr.

While the Cooper’s talked about him, Trenton went up to find his sister. He stood at the bottom of the Cooper’s treehouse there was more than Mary-Kate and Lizzy up there. He chuckled as he listened to them talk. Did all girls talk about boys?

“So, what about Lizzy’s brother’s?”

“Which one? Hank junior or Tom?”

“Hank Junior definitely! Tom’s a pain in the butt! But Hank junior he’s such a hunk!”

“Not as much as a hunk as you know who!” Said Hannah Gleeson.

“Don’t!” said Mary-Kate.

“Why he’s so fit and gorgeous,” said Lizzy.

“And man, all those muscles!”

“Stop it!” yelled Mary-Kate.

Trenton grinned. He climbed slowly up the ladder, stood halfway up, resting his elbow on the treehouse floor, and rested his chin in his hand. They hadn’t noticed he was there. They were all still talking.

“He is though Mary-Kate, such a hunk your brother!”

Trenton cleared his throat. They all turned round and looked at him in shock.

“Trenton!” They all yelled in unison.

“Hey y’all talkin’ ’bout me?”

“What you doin’ here! Said Lizzy. “This is my treehouse an’ there’s no boys allowed! Didn’t you see the sign?”

Trenton gulped and looked at Mary-Kate.

Mary-Kate whispered to Lizzy.

“Are you kidding me? But he’s 17”

Mary-Kate pursed her finger to her lips.

“He dun’t like folks to know”

“I’m sorry Trenton,” replied Lizzy.

“S’ alright”

“What you doin’ here Trenton?” Mary-Kate asked.

“Mom says you’re to come back for supper!”

“Hey, you didn’t hear us, did you?” asked Hannah.

“Well now that depends! But I guess that’s for me to know an’ y’all to find out!”

“Trenton!” growled Mary-Kate.

Trenton smiled.

“C’mon let’s go!”

“But I’ve got my bike!”

“So, I’ll stick it in the truck!”

“You didn’t really hear us did you Trenton?” asked Ellie-Rose.

“Maybe!” he replied smirking.

“Trenton!” they yelled together.

Trenton just chuckled.

“Let’s get ’im!”

“Oh, oh!”

Trenton placed his feet on the sides of the ladder and slid down them.

“Cool! Did you just see what he did?”

Trenton turned around pushed his hat up with one finger and folded his arms. Four little girls came down the fireman pole one after the other.

“C’mon let’s get ’im!”

“Hey c’mon I can’t take on all four of you and I don’t hit girls!”

“So, tell us what you heard!”

“Er! Nope!”

They all ran after him. Trenton ran and one of them stuck out their foot.

“Hey no don’t do that oh heck!”

Trenton went down.

“Okay Lizzy, Hannah grab his arms, Ellie-Rose sit on his legs”

“Ow hey! Get off!”

“Not unless you tell us what you heard!”

“I didn’t hear anything!”

“I betcha he’s lying!”

Mary-Kate yanked up his boxers.

“Ow let go Mary-Kate!”

“Not until you tell us!”

“Ow! Ok, ok! Y’all said I was fit and gorgeous and a hunk and you said Hank was a hunk too! But you said I was better!”

“Oh man now you’ve gone and gave him a big head!” said Mary-Kate.

Mary-Kate yanked up his boxers again.

“Ow! What were that for?”

“For listening into our private conversations!”

Lizzy and Hannah pulled his arms further.

“Ow hey! Let me go now I told y’all everything!”

“And that’s for trespassing in our private treehouse!”

They were just about to let him up when Hank Snr appeared.

“What the hell is goin’ on here?” He yelled.

All four girls jumped up. Trenton got up and dusted himself down.

“What the hell do you think you are playing at Trenton Joseph Butler?”

Trenton gulped.

“I, I don’t!” He gulped again and looked at the four little girls.

Damn it they were just kids! What the hell was he doing?

‘C’mon help me out here. I’m about to get in trouble again!’ he said in his head.

“Trenton! I asked you a question boy!”

“It’s not Trenton’s fault Daddy we were just mucking around! Said Lizzy. “We were interrogating him cuz’ he was listening in to our private discussion!”

All the others agreed.

“Alright Lizzy get inside!”

“I’ll come by for y’all tomorrow okay!”

The girls nodded. Mary-Kate handed her brother his Stetson. Trenton put it on and pulled it low.

“And Trenton!”

“Uh! Yes sir?”

“You think I can trust you boy to get Hanna and Ellie-Rose home for me on the way back to the ranch?”

“Um! Yes sir! I reckon so!”

“Go on get outta here!”

Trenton sighed with relief as he put the three girl’s bikes into the back of the truck.

Mary-Kate, Hannah and Ellie-Rose were quiet on the way back home. Mary-Kate sat alongside her brother and Ellie-Rose and Hannah sat in the back.

“See you tomorrow Hannah!”

“See you Mary-Kate!”

Trenton got out to get her bike out of the truck bed.

“Thank you, Trenton,”

“No problem kid!”

Hannah looked up at him and smiled. Trenton winked at her and chuckled when he watched her look at him in awe.

He dropped Ellie-Rose off last.

“I’m sorry for gettin’ you in trouble with Mr. Cooper Trenton!”

“That’s okay! I didn’t get in trouble, I mean not really!”

“Bye Mary-Kate! I’ll see you tomorrow!”

When Mary-Kate and Trenton got back, the others were already sitting down to their supper.

“You two are late!” replied Tyler.

Mary-Kate watched Trenton gulp.

“It’s okay!” she whispered.

“Trenton you can go and start packing up your belongings, Mary-Kate sit down!”

“Don’t Trenton get to have supper!” asked Mary-Kate.

“Not till later with the ranch hands!” replied Tyler.

“How come? “Asked Amy-Louise.

“Well it’s gettin’ to be a might too crowded round the table and being the only boy gets to have his with Dick, Mac, Grant and Harvey!”

“But that means he’s gots to wait till we’re all done eating, what if he’s hungry?” asked Lilly-Mae.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine till then, now just keep quiet and get on with it!”

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