It was a long drive from Los Angeles to Fielding Texas where Katie Harris was offered a job as a private nurse and nanny for a terminally ill child. A ten-year-old girl dying of a rare blood and heart disease. She had no close friends and never knew who her parents were. She lived in foster care till she was old enough to work and put herself through nursing school. So leaving Los Angeles was no big deal to her.
Katie was amazed at how beautiful the country was, with its mountains and rivers, the sky so blue. She soon came to a sign that read: Welcome To Fielding Texas.
She breathed a sigh of relief at having finally reached her destination. The town was so much smaller than she thought it would be. Katie was in dire need of a cold drink so she pulled into what looked like a small variety store.
The door creaked and a bell above chimed when she opened it. There was a young girl behind the counter, she couldn’t have been more than sixteen at the most, her brown hair was done up in a ponytail. Two men were standing on the opposite side of the counter, both in jeans and cowboy hats.
The older man looked to be around fifty or so, his belly round and sticking out. He smiled at her, he had a friendly smile, so she smiled back. The other man was much younger, tall and muscular. His hair was midnight black and his skin tanned, obviously from the sun. He was dangerously handsome and when he smiled at her she felt her heart beating a tad faster.
They had all stopped talking when she entered the store and she could feel their eyes on her, watching as she walked over to the cooler.
The water bottles were on the top shelf, right out of her reach. Even standing on her toes she still could not reach them and groaned softly.
Ray, the young man standing at the counter couldn’t take his eyes off her. She was petite with long blond hair and had a hot little body. Walking over to the cooler reached above her head and pulled one of the bottles of water down and handed it to her. “Here you go, Miss. They really should put these on a lower shelf for little ladies like you to reach.” His tone was a little condescending.
With him standing so close she could smell his aftershave mixed with sweat. He smelled so manly and she felt a shiver course throughout her body. But she was also hot and very tired, wiping the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. Being on the road for so long she was tired, her eyes felt as though there was gravel behind them. She was in no mood for smartass comments about her size and snapped at the stranger who stood so close. “I’m not a little lady you jerk.”
With the water clutched in her hand, she walked over to the counter to pay for it. Her throat was so dry, she was dying to drink it. She was annoyed when he followed her to the counter but decided to ignore him as she pulled out her wallet.
As she went to hand the money to the clerk the young stranger spoke up. “Lucy put the lady’s water on my tab.”
Tilting her head to look at him she once again snapped at him, her tone harsh. “I don’t know you and even if I did I can pay for my own water. I certainly don’t need any help from you.”
The older man laughed, slapping the younger one on the back and looked at Katie. “You tell him, little lady. My name is Bo, and this here is Ray and Lucy. Are you just passing through town, Miss?”
Katie smiled at Bo, she liked him right away. He had such a friendly face and she didn’t even mind him calling her little lady. “No Mister.” She stopped talking, not knowing what to call him.
Bo held out his hand to shake hers. “Reilly Miss. Bo Reilly. Just call me Bo, and you are?”
“I’m Katie Harris. I’m going to be working for the Marshalls, taking care of their little girl. Could you point me in the right direction?”
Bo’s face lit up, his eyes sparkling as he glanced at Ray. “Well, Katie I can do better than that.”
Ray stood back and listened to the two talking with a scowl on his face. He was only being nice to her and she treated him as though he was being a nuisance, his ego was badly bruised. So before Bo could say another word he interrupted them. “Take a left at the stop sign, go about two miles and make another left. You can’t miss it as long as you’re paying attention to where you are going,” he added sarcastically.
Rolling her eyes she thanked him and then turned back to Bo. “It was nice to meet you,” she said as she gave him a warm smile.
“Oh, it was my pleasure, Miss Harris. I’ll be seeing you around.”
As soon as Katie left the shop Bo turned to Ray. “Why didn’t you let me tell her who you were?”
Chewing on a toothpick he smirked. “I didn’t like her attitude. There’s no way that city girl is suited for the job, I’ll send her packing soon enough.” A grin spread across his chiseled face. “But first I think I’ll have a bit of fun with Miss Harris.”
“What are you planning for that little lady?” Bo asked, watching the way Ray was grinning.
“I’m just going to show her how hard life on a ranch can be. See you later Bo.” Ray waved to the two and walked out, he was going to teach the uptight city woman a thing or two.
Bo turned to Lucy. “You know what Lucy? My gut tells me it’s going to be Miss Harris who’s going to teach him a thing or two.”
Laughing Bo leaves the store, he was anxious to get home to tell his wife about the spunky Katie Harris.
As she drove down the bumpy dirt road she found herself thinking about the man called Ray. She was fuming over the way he was making a joke of her height, he made her feel like a child and wanted to slap that smug grin off his face. But then her car started making a strange noise so she pulled over to the side, then it quit running.
Pounding her fists on the steering wheel started cursing. “No, no you stupid damn car, don’t you dare quit on me now. Oh God not here of all places, in the middle of nowhere.”
After trying to start the car she gave up. Knowing she would have to walk the rest of the way got out and grabbed the two bags she would need. The others could wait till she was able to come back and collect them.
Just then a dirty white truck came roaring past, then slowing down backed up and the driver poked his head out the window. She groaned when she saw it was the annoying cowboy from the store.
“Having car problems lady?” he barked rudely at her.
“You again,” she shakes her head. “Wow, nothing gets past you does it?”
His hands tightened on the steering wheel, he started grinding his teeth. Anger rising within him he still got out of his truck and over to her car. He opened the hood and yelled at her to get in and start it. “Well turn the key already,” he barked at her.
“I am, but it’s not doing anything,” she yelled back.
“Are you sure you’re doing it right?” he yelled, wiping the sweat from his brow.
This remark made her furious, God he was treating her as if she were stupid. With his head still under the hood, she pressed on the horn and it still worked, making him jump and hitting his head.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Ray swore at her, rubbing his head.
A smile crept up on her face as he swore and slammed the hood down. “I’m sorry, my hand slipped.”
Ray removed his hat and rubbed his head, seeing the grin on her face he knew she was lying. “Well, your car is done for. My guess is you need a new engine.”
Katie got out of the car, slamming the door behind her. “Oh, that’s just great. Where am I supposed to get one of those around here?”
“We may be a little hick town to you lady, but we do have a garage in town. But they only accept money, not chickens or baked goods,” he added with sarcasm.
Placing her hand on her waist she glared angrily at him. “Are you always this rude to strangers?”
He grunted under his breath, thinking it was her that was being the rude one. Jumping into the truck, wanting to leave but then he looked over at Katie. If his parents hadn’t raised him to do the right thing he probably would have left her stranded. Payback is a bitch he said to himself.
“Do you want a ride to the ranch?” he yelled out the window.
Arms crossed she answered back. “I wouldn’t want to take you out of your way.”
“You wouldn’t be, I’ve got lumber to take over there. I’m fixing the back porch.”
“In that case yes, thank you,” she said and going to the trunk took out the other three bags.
Instead of helping Katie with the bags he remained seated, waiting while she struggled to put them in the back.
Getting in she glared at him. “Gee thanks for all your help,” she hissed.
Ray chuckled out loud. “Thought you said you didn’t need or want my help?”
Slamming her door shut she fastened her seatbelt and sat back, arms crossed. Not wanting to talk to him she looked out her window. Thanking God she wouldn’t have to be anywhere near him ever again, and that it would be a short drive to the ranch.