A knock sounded on the door and Jake leapt from his seat.
"I'll get it," he called to Dannie, who had half risen from her chair. She resumed her seat and picked up her sewing. She was determined to have the drapes finished before tonight. Loud male voices sounded out at the front door and presently Jake came back into the kitchen, followed by two men. One Dannie recognized as Sam, the other was a stranger to her. He was about a head shorter than Jake, but robust, with square facial features and a tiny beard outlining his chin. He had a neat and composed air about him and conducted himself with ease and charm.
"Dannie," Jake introduced. "This is Clayton Walkers, owner of the Cora Belle. Clay, this is Danielle Wade, my wife." The pride with which Jake spoke the last two words caused Dannie to blush and the two men to chuckle.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Danielle Wade," Clay stated with a small bow. "At last I get to meet the wonder woman Jake couldn't stop talking about."
"I assure you the pleasure is all mine," Dannie replied, motioning for the two men to have a seat. "I've wanted to meet you for very long.Jake and Sam praise you all the time."
"Only I am not as good as they say," Clay laughed. Dannie put her sewing down and poured coffee for the men, after which she made herself a cup of tea.
"Well," Sam looked around the small kitchen. "I have to say, Dannie, you sure brought a beautiful feminine touch to this here house. It surely takes a woman to make a house a home."
"God knew what he was doing when he made us," Dannie joked. "Though sometimes we can be a little too much to handle. My father used to always say, 'women are the most wonderful and blessed creations of God, but how glad I am that He made me a man."
Everyone laughed at this.
"Has Jake shown you around the ranch?" Clay asked once they had settled down.
"Good, because it's my ranch and I am the one who should be showing it to anyone," Clay laughed.
"I should very much like to see it," Dannie smiled. "I've heard some less than positive remarks about it from Miss Martin and I'd like to find out just how much truth there is in her words."
"What did she say?" Clay was on the defensive.
"She called it a wild, uncivilized place, filled with rag tag men."
"She's pretty spot on," Sam chuckled.
"She ain't neither," Jake scowled.
"Let's allow Mrs. Wade to decide that," Clay suggested, rising from his seat and offering Dannie his arm. "Allow me to show you the ranch. Oh, Jake you can tag along as well if you want too."
"Much obliged," Jake retorted, reaching for his hat and following Clay and Dannie out of the house.
"Oh, and this here is my wedding present," Clay motioned to a beautiful palomino mare. "Her name is Star, she's around five years. Jake told me you were a good rider and I figured might as well have a horse of your own."
"Thank you very much," Dannie was genuinely touched by the gift. "She is beautiful, and what a lovely name, Star."
"Personally," Jake put in. "I'd rather he just gave me a bonus to my salary, but this ain't so bad either."
"Jake, you wicked man," Dannie reached out to give him a playful slap, but Jake caught her hand.
"None of that," he warned in a tender voice. "I've already been slapped by this hand and man did it hurt."
"She slapped you?" Sam questioned as they mounted their horses.
"Yup, the first day of our journey we quarreled over somethin' and it ended with me getting whacked on the face by that little hand." Jake laughed.
"I guess it's a wise thing to stay on your good side then?" Clay teased.
"It probably is," Dannie nodded her head with a giggle. The four of them urged their horses to a quick but steady trot.
"Your ranch has a lovely name," Dannie pointed out. "May I ask how you came up with it?"
"I named the ranch Cora Belle after my little sister, who left us early in life," Clay explained, his voice growing gentle. "And I hope you will come to love it as much as we do, and call it home."
"I believe I shall," Dannie smiled, "I believe I shall."
Thus the book of Westbound comes to its end, it has been a wonderful journey and I am so thankful to all of you who took it with me. I didn't think the story would get so much reads and so many votes :) but I truly am touched by all you dear people. Thank you so much for your support :)
As you have all noticed, I have at last introduced Clayton Walkers, I wanted my readers to get to have a glimpse of him before we jump into the second book, where he is the central character :)
Brotherly Love, book 2 is the second book in the Love Travels West series. You can find it if you go to my page. In it Dannie adjusts to life on the Cora Belle, finds herself quite suddenly at odds with Clayton Walkers, and when Sophie Martin comes to the ranch things become even more interesting. While all the time, a certain bounty hunter is out to reach the little ranch, what will happen when he finally makes it?
Once again, a million thank yous to all the readers who stuck with this story till the very end. I hope to see you again as the saga continues. After all, each happy ending is a brand new beginning :)
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, cradle_lifeWrite a Review