Skyheart Ranch

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Even after his talk with Ruby, Cash was terrified, which was a strange feeling for him and one he didn’t like at all.

‘Take a risk, Ruby said. Check on my angel, Ruby said. I won’t regret it, Ruby said. I swear, if this goes sideways, I am punching that man in his stupid, perfect face.’ Cash walked slowly down the hallway, passing his own doorway and standing in front of Katie’s closed door.

‘Okay, okay, okay, I can do this, I’m not some idiot teenager, I’m a man, I run a successful ranch, I employ almost 60 people, I can do this.’ Cash just stood there, staring at the door.

‘You have to knock on the door, idiot. You’re not Superman, you don’t have X-ray vision, just knock.’ Cash still just stood there.

‘Why the fuck aren’t you knocking? Move your arm, make a fist, and knock! This isn’t rocket science. Hell, it’s not even science! Babies can knock. Fucking knock!’ And still, Cash didn’t move.

‘This. Is. Humiliating. How am I supposed to talk to her if I can’t even knock on her goddamn door? Just do it. Knock. Now. Now. Knock now.’ No knocking occurred.

‘I have got to be the biggest-’. Suddenly, Cash heard something in Katie’s room that made him rush toward the door.

‘She’s crying. My angel’s crying. I have to see her. What if she’s hurt, what if she’s sick, something’s wrong!’ Cash finally knocked on the door.

“Angel? Angel, are you all right?” Cash heard some things moving around in the room, then silence. “Angel?” Katie finally responded through the door.

“I’m fine, Cash. Thank you for checking up on me. I’ll right back to work tomorrow.” Katie’s voice sounded hoarse and congested, like she’d been crying for a long time.

“Angel?” Cash asked, more afraid now than he had been only a few minutes ago. “Do you, uh, do you think you could open the door?”

“I told you, Cash, I’m fine. Really. You should get to bed, it’s getting late.” It wasn’t late and they both knew it. Katie was clearly trying to get rid of Cash.

‘An hour ago, that would have worked. But now...’ Cash shook his head, not moving. “Angel, please open the door. I can hear you crying.” After a very long pause, much too long in Cash’s opinion, he heard Katie moving toward the door.

“Really, Cash, it’s nothing. Just, uh, just go to bed.”

“I’m not leaving until you open the door, Angel. I’ll sleep out here in the hallway if I have to.” Cash heard Katie sigh, then the lock disengaging. She opened the door a few inches, not enough to see her, but enough to talk through.

“Door’s open, so you should go to bed,” Katie said.

“What’s going on, Angel? Can I come in?” There was another long pause, another sigh from Katie, then he heard her walking away from the door. She left it open, though, which Cash took as an invitation to come in. Almost all the lights in the room were off, except the bedside lamp, which was on its lowest setting. It made the room look small and the shadows cast about the room looked frightening. When Cash’s eyes finally adjusted, he saw Katie in a white, silk robe, her knees pulled up and her arms wrapped around them.

“Angel?” Cash asked quietly. He took a small step forward, not wanting to startle her. “Angel, what’s going on?”

“It’s nothing. I was being an idiot, that’s all.” Katie wasn’t looking at him, so Cash took another small step forward.

“I don’t understand. How could you possibly be an idiot about anything? You’re the smartest person I’ve ever met.” Katie gave a watery chuckle and glanced up.

“I might know how to balance spreadsheets and run computer programs, but... That doesn’t mean I know a damn thing about life.” Cash frowned, hearing real, deep pain in her voice.

‘I gotta help her,’ Cash thought. ‘My angel’s hurting and I don’t know why. I have to fix this.’ Cash sat down on the end of the bed, causing Katie to curl up into a smaller ball. He noticed the robe wasn’t very long, but she seemed to be doing everything she could to cover her legs. Cash stood again and grabbed a quilt off the trunk in the corner, handing it to Katie. She looked up at him and the devastation in her eyes nearly brought him to his knees.

“Thanks,” Katie whispered. She wrapped herself up in the quilt until only her head was poking out. Cash sat back down on the bed, a little closer this time.

“Angel, please let me help you,” Cash pleaded. “Just tell me what’s wrong.”

“What’s wrong is I’m an idiot. I got all of these ridiculous dreams in my head and now... Well, now I realize none of them would ever really come true. I forgot who I am, what I am.” Katie wrapped the quilt even tighter around herself, refusing to look at Cash.

“What you are? You’re amazing, that’s what you are. I don’t get why you’re talking like this.” Cash ran his hands through his hair, frustrated and more than a little worried. He’d never heard his angel sound so defeated before. She’d been sad, scared, even panicked, but never hopeless.

“You don’t understand, Cash,” Katie said, sounding on the verge of tears. “I tried to reach for something, something I wanted more than anything, and then I remembered...”. Her voice trailed off, her bottom lip quivering.

“Remembered what?” Cash asked.

“That I’m broken!” Katie’s shout surprised Cash. Her entire time at Skyheart, she’d never raised her voice and now she seemed furious. “I’m fucking broken, Cash! I thought I could have you, I thought I could make you love me the way I love you, but then I saw them all and I realized I was being an idiot! Someone like you would never want someone as fucked up as me!” Katie started sobbing, burying her face in the quilt on her knees. Cash, for his part, looked completely stunned.

“You love me?” Cash asked, reverence filling his voice. Katie looked up at him in utter bemusement.

“Seriously?” Katie asked, furiously wiping the tears off her cheeks. “After everything I said, the only part you heard was that?”

“No, no, I heard the rest just fine, but the only important part was that you loved me. You do love me, right?” Katie was staring at Cash like he’d lost his mind.

“Men! Jesus Christ, yes, I love you, but we’re never going to be together because-” Katie was abruptly cut off by Cash’s lips on hers. He was slow and gentle, trying not to frighten her. Katie was just stunned.

‘Cash is kissing me,’ Katie thought, trying to wrap her brain around this fact. ‘Cash Buchanan. Is kissing. Me? This doesn’t make any sense. Although I’m sure as hell not going to stop him.’

Katie made a small whimper in the back of her throat and pulled her arms out of the quilt to wrap them securely around Cash’s neck. Cash seemed to take this as a sign he could continue, because he leaned into Katie, cupping her soft cheek in his rough, calloused hand and deepening their kiss.

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