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Back To My Country Heart

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Amidst the bustling embrace of her newfound urban existence, Dannica is unexpectedly drawn back to her family's ranch in Oklahoma. The call to action arises when her parents confront a crisis, illuminating the true dwelling place of her affections. In the countdown to her departure, the reappearance of Liam, a former lover fraught with unresolved emotions, reintroduces a whirlwind of feelings, but upon returning home, a serendipitous encounter with Austin, a compassionate cowboy, ignites a profound and meaningful bond. Nevertheless, the persistent specter of Liam lingers, refusing to be ignored, thereby intricately weaving an added layer of intricacy into her transformative journey.

Romance / Drama
Jessie F Royle
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

*Baby, I miss you. I need to talk to you. Please call me!

Another text from Liam; I sigh and resist the urge to text him back. He sends me a message or two every day since I broke up with him two weeks ago. I liked him a lot, but he was just becoming a little too intense. He called, and texted all the time; always wondering what I was doing, and who I was with. I don’t understand why though, he’s gorgeous, wealthy and charming, and could have just about any girl he wants, I didn’t take him for the needy type. He’s been trying to get a hold of me, trying to get together, begging for me to give him another chance. I'll admit, I have been tempted to see him, to hear him out, but there's a little alarm that keeps going off in my head telling me not to.

I’m sitting at my favorite coffee shop one block from my apartment, patiently waiting for my best friend Kyla to get here. She is ALWAYS late, but I love her anyway. We usually try and get together a few times a week, but our visits have been sparse lately. We’ve both been really busy with work, and today is the first day we’ve had time in nearly three weeks. So here I sit with my Mocha, reading my favorite magazine, enjoying some downtime. I stick my phone into my bag and try to ignore the urge to reply to Liam.

Work has been so hectic. I’m an assistant manager at a local bridal boutique, Leanne’s Bridal, and it’s January, the beginning of bridal season. The shop has been bombarded with women, all looking for dresses for their summer weddings. We’ve been up to our ears in brides, many who have been proposed to over the holidays and couldn’t wait to start planning. Women planning their weddings can be downright crazy, and I could really use a break, but nonetheless, I really enjoy what I do.

I hear the doorbell ring as I see Kyla breeze in. She spots me and I give her a little wave. She smiles and goes to order herself her usual caramel latte. She grabs her drink and finally comes over to join me.

“So sorry I’m late Danni” she sinks into the chair across from me.

“It’s Ok, I was just catching up on my celebrity gossip,” I shove the magazine back into my bag, “How are you, Kyla? I feel like I haven’t seen you in like- forever.”

“I know, I’ve really missed my bestie, ” she smiles as she takes a sip of her coffee. “How’s it going at the store?”

“Oh you know, it’s that season again, so we’ve been crazy. How’s your new job going?”

“Ugh! It’s going okay I guess, I’m not sure I like my boss, she’s kind of a bitch,” she makes a face.

Kyla and I used to work together at Leanne’s. We started there at the same time three years ago. She only stayed for two years, but we’ve been best friends ever since.

“Just give it some time, you’ve only been there a month,” I give her a reassuring smile.

“I know, sometimes I wish I hadn’t left Leanne’s though, maybe I’d have a management position like somebody I know” she leans over and pats my knee.

“It probably worked out the best for me, otherwise you’d probably have my job right now. You sure could sell a dress.”

“Well, so can you. It just got annoying selling wedding dresses to all those women. Some were so awful and high maintenance, I’m surprised they could get anyone to marry them in the first place. All the while we can’t even find a boyfriend worth more than a couple of months time,” Kyla makes a dismissive gesture with her hand and shakes her head.

“Aren’t you still dating David?" I ask her.

“Yeah, I’m still seeing David,” she smiles.

“That’s good to hear Kyla, you two seem really cute together, and maybe he’ll be worth more than a couple of months.”

“Well,” she smiles wickedly, “he is really good in the sack.”

I laugh out loud, "But that will only get him so far right?”

“That is true. Some of the worst guys are the best in bed, ” she giggles, “and how about you and your love life? Are you still seeing what’s his name? Liam?”

“No, it didn’t work out with him,” I shake my head, and feel a little wistful.

Kyla gives me a concerned look, then an annoyed face.

“Really? Why? And why am I just finding out about this now?”

“Sorry, I ended it two weeks ago, and I haven’t seen you,” I apologize. Kyla hates not being in the loop.

“Well, you could have called or text me. So tell me what happened?” she leans forward, hungry for a little gossip.

I shrug, “ I dunno, he just became a little overwhelming. Called me too many times a day, always wanting to know where I was, who I was with.” I take a deep breath.

Kyla shakes her head. “Sounds like a creeper to me. I'm glad you ended it before it got any worse.”

I nod slowly. “It’s too bad really. Liam seemed like such a catch. He's tall, good looking, smart and seemed to really like me. And I did like him too, but I just couldn't handle the intensity. Oh well, what’s new? I always manage to find the weirdo’s,” I shake my head, resigned.

“We all date a few of those at some point,” she reassures me, “I know I certainly have. Remember that guy? Greg?” she shudders.

“Ewe, yes, I remember him.” I make a face at his memory. He was into some freaky things in the bedroom that was even too much for Kyla. I shake it away.

“Anyway, it does make me feel better to know that I’m not the only one to always date the toads. Though, I haven’t really dated that many men. I think I’ve had at least one normal boyfriend. Ben from high school was fairly normal,” I muse.

I had dated Ben since sophomore year but broke up a couple of months after starting college because we just couldn’t deal with the long distance. I think I was in love with him, and he with me, but we were young, and had our new college lives ahead of us. We had even lost our virginities to each other the night of graduation. I smile at the memory. It was awkward and a little uncomfortable as is most peoples first time, but it was still special.

“Ben? Wow, blast from your past,” I’ve told Kyla lots of old stories about him.

“Yeah, he got married last year. Even has a baby on the way,”

“How do you know that?” she asks curiously.

“We still email each other every once in a while to see how each other's lives are going,” I shrug, “Sometimes though, I wish I was maybe doing better myself on the romantic front, so I would have something better to email about. Not that I’m keeping score or anything.”

“Well, good for him,” Kyla nods, “But enough about men, we are only twenty-four years old, we can worry about all that later,” Kyla concludes.

“Agreed,” I sip my drink.

“So, it’s the first Saturday you’ve had off in like…weeks. What do you want to do tonight? Do you work tomorrow?” She asks me with a hopeful smile.

“Actually, by some miracle, Leanne has given me tomorrow off as well. She thought I needed a weekend to let off some steam since we’ve been so busy, and she realized I haven’t had a weekend off in a long time. She wants me refreshed by Monday.”

“Awesome!” she claps. “This means tonight, you are all mine to do with as I wish. So that means we are going out for a nice dinner, then drinks at Josephs.”

“Josephs?” I raise an eyebrow at her.

“Yeah, Josephs. It’s a new bar downtown. Seriously Dan, keep up with the times,” she teases me.

I don’t keep up with all the new social venues as Kyla does. She always knows where the newest restaurants, bars, and clubs are. I know more about stuff like florists, caterers, photographers and dress fabrics, and all the other important wedding day planning information than I need to, but it all comes with the bridal business. I know once it’s my time to get married, I’ll have an idea as to what I want, not that I've given it much thought.

“Okay, well that sounds like a good plan. I’m in. Is anyone else coming out with us then?”

“Um, yeah actually. My friends Holly and Samantha, and I think Vanessa is going to come too. She said she’d text me later and let me know for sure.”

“Oh good, Vanessa! I haven’t seen her for a while.”

Vanessa used to work at Leanne's too. She was already working there when Kyla and I started but quit six months ago to accept a better position elsewhere. Again, it was a shame she left because I liked working with her, we had become good friends, but when she left, I got her job as an assistant manager.

“Who are Holly and Samantha?” I ask.

“Oh, just some girls I work with. They’re actually pretty cool. You’ll like them. I’ve been out with them two or three times already, and they're pretty fun.”

“Sounds like the makings of a fun night, just what I need.”

“Glad you are on board. Now, I think we need to go out and buy new outfits for tonight then. You all finished?” she swigs the last of her coffee, raring to go.

I gulp the last of my drink too. “All done, let’s go!”

A few hours later we are back at my apartment having a pre-night out drink and getting ourselves gussied up for tonight. Vanessa had texted Kyla and confirmed that she is coming too, so she is on her way to my place to join us in getting ready.

“Should I wear my hair up or down?” Kyla asks me as she holds her long, blond hair up.


I love her hair. It’s so long and healthy, like what you would see in a shampoo commercial. Kyla nods in agreement and drops her hair. She sits down on my bedroom floor in front of my full-length mirror and proceeds to do her makeup.

“Put some music on, it’s too quiet in here and we need to get in the party mood,” she orders. I walk over to my stereo and turn it on. One of my favorite country singers starts crooning.

“Not Country!” Kyla protests.

“I love country music,” I pout.

“We need club music,” she gets up and walks over to my stereo and starts scrolling through my iPod. She finds something that pleases her and turns it up a little bit.

“There, much better,” smiling triumphantly.

She walks over to where I’m sitting at my vanity, trying to figure out what to do with my hair. She runs her fingers through it.

“I love your hair Danni, the color is beautiful,” she grabs my brush and runs it gently down my hair.

My hair is black, but sometimes in the right light, you can see faint highlights of red. Most people think I dye it, but I haven’t done that since I tried dying it in junior high. It wasn’t too bad, but I’d never dye it again. I actually prefer my natural color. “I think you should wear it up.” She starts styling it, and at the end, I’m left with a nice loose updo.

“Looks good,” I examine myself. “Thanks, sweetie, now I just need to finalize my outfit.”

At that moment we hear the door buzzer. Kyla runs to get it.

“Hey chicas, let me up!” we hear Vanessa’s voice through the intercom. Kyla presses the button to let her in.

A minute later, Vanessa breezes in. Her shoulder length curly hair looks a little windblown.

“Windy out there?” I ask.

“Very, but it’s a warm wind thank goodness. How are you guys? I’ve missed you,” she rushes over to us and envelopes us in a quick group hug.

“We’re good, just excited to have an evening out with friends,” I answer her.

Kyla has already walked over to the kitchen and is now pouring Vanessa a drink. She walks back over and hands it to her.

“Wow, starting early are we?” Vanessa laughs good-naturedly.

“You know it,” Kyla lifts her own glass and clinks it with Vanessa’s. She reaches out to me then stops. “Where’s your drink Dannica?” she frowns.

“Oh, left it in my room, I’ll go grab it.” I run into my room. Just as I enter I hear my cell phone ring. I find it and press answer.

“Danni here.”

“Danni sweetie, it’s Mom.”

She sounds funny. The hair on the back of my neck stands up.

“Hi mom, how are you? Is everything okay?”

“Well, not really dear. It’s your father, I'm afraid he’s had an accident,” she explains.

“What happened?” I say loudly, alarmed, “Is he alright?”

“He was doing a little work in the barn, up in the hayloft, and he was moving around some bales, and I guess that disturbed a wasp nest. They started swarming, and while trying to get away from them he backed up and fell off the loft. He’s hurt his back pretty badly and broke his leg, even got stung a few times too. So he will be in the hospital for about a week because his leg requires surgery, then he'll be on bed rest for who knows how long.”

She sounds so upset and worried, but Thank God he’s alive. I was starting to fear the worst for a few seconds there.

“Oh my god, Mom! Poor Daddy. Is there anything I can do?” I ask her, worried.

My parents own and run a pretty successful horse ranch in Oklahoma, just outside of Tulsa. It’s where I grew up. Then I moved here to Houston, Texas after college to find work. My parents could be considered quite wealthy, and so have padded my bank account, but I wanted to attempt making it on my own and gain some life experience outside of Tulsa. I'll admit though that I don’t mind that I don’t have to struggle too hard and worry if I’m going to eat this week or pay my rent.

“Well honey, I really hate to ask you this, but I was hoping I could persuade you to come home for a while to help out around here. We are looking for some extra help, on top of what we have already, but this was so unexpected, and I can’t manage all of this on my own. I understand you are busy and have your own life, but I’m not sure what else to do,” she sounds so apologetic.

“Oh mom, of course, I will,” I say before I even think about it. I’ll probably have to quit my job, and I hate to do that during our busiest season, but I care more about my family’s well being, and can’t fathom my poor mother trying to deal with everything on her own. Maybe Leanne will understand. Maybe she’ll give me a leave of absence?

I hear her sniff, she must be crying. My heart constricts for her, and I fight the urge to cry myself.

“Thank you so much sweetheart, I’m so sorry to ask you,” she apologizes again.

“It’s okay Mom, don’t apologize. I’ll work it out. It will probably take a day or so to get everything squared away, but I could probably make it there by Tuesday evening. I’ll drive up there. I’ll call you Monday morning and let you know for sure. I’ll have to talk to my boss tomorrow.”

“Okay honey thank you so much,” she says quietly with a sniffle.

“It’s fine Mom, don’t worry about it, you have enough to worry about. I’ll come and we can worry together. I will see you guys on Tuesday. Give dad a kiss for me?”

“I will baby, Thank you.”

“Your welcome Mom, Goodnight, I love you”

“Goodnight Dannica, I love you too.”

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