Skyheart Ranch

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Holiday Decorations

Katie

The week of Thanksgiving was absolute madness, thanks to Ruby’s OCD that everything had to be perfect. He went into town basically everyday, afraid he had forgotten something they would need to have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Katie kept volunteering to help and Ruby eventually caved.

“Okay,” Ruby stated bluntly, “you are not getting anywhere near my kitchen.”

“Then-” Ruby quickly cut off Katie.

“No, no, no, no talking, arguing, anything. The kitchen is off-limits. However, Lilah had a bunch of Thanksgiving decorations. All these beautiful cornucopias, fancy decorated little pumpkins. She even had this First Thanksgiving ceramic set, with pilgrims and Native Americans. It’s small, but so adorable. Cash hasn’t let me use any of the decorations for years, but I think he’ll be happy to see them this year.”

“He does seem more comfortable talking about his parents,” Katie said, blushing and smiling. “He even mentioned starting to furnish and decorate the rooms again during the break. I have no idea how someone decorates a three-story house, but he seems excited about it.”

“Well, of course he is, sugar,” Ruby said, smiling, as he ran around the kitchen. “You’ve made this place a home again, not just a house people use to eat and then Cash uses to sleep. You’ve brought life back to the ranch.” Katie’s blush darkened as she shook her head and stared at the floor.

“I haven’t don’t anything, Ruby. I’ve just... Well, I’ve just been here.” Ruby smiled, lifting Katie’s chin gently so she would look at him.

“And you just being here is exactly what we needed,” he said. “It takes someone real special to bring a ranch together, make it a home. And you’ve done it without any effort at all. That’s something to be proud of, sugar.”

“Cash said something like that to me months ago,” said Katie thoughtfully. “How most women don’t like living so far from ‘civilization’, as he put it. Hell, I can’t imagine living anywhere else after being here.” Ruby gave Katie a brilliant smile and skipped around the counter, giving her a big hug.

“I’m glad you like it here, sugar, ‘cause we have no intention of letting you go.” Katie laughed, squeezing Ruby for a moment before they broke apart.

“All right,” Katie said, “Thanksgiving decorations. Where am I looking?”

“They’ll probably be in the library on the second floor,” Ruby answered. “I know that’s where all the Christmas decorations are and I’ve had to sneak up there just to bring a few down.” Katie was silent, staring at Ruby with wide eyes, her lips parted in shock. “What? What’d I say?”

“We have a library?” Katie whispered.

“Well, sure,” Ruby said, confused. “It was Lilah’s, mostly, but there are all sorts of books up there. I’m surprised you haven’t seen it.”

“I don’t go upstairs unless I need to find older documents for the ranch,” Katie explained. “And I’ve never looked into rooms the paperwork wouldn’t be in. It always felt like I’d be invading Cash’s privacy.”

“Sugar, invade away! Trust me, the boss won’t mind.” Ruby turned back to the pie crusts he was making, hearing Katie mumble happily to herself-

“Library, library, library...”

Once Katie was on the second floor, she glanced around, trying to figure out where to go. The second floor was designed almost identically to the first, with an enormous family room taking the place of the dining room and kitchen. Katie could almost picture little children, who looked like a mix of her and Cash, playing all over the place, then everyone settling onto the big, comfy couches to watch movies. Katie had to shake her head to get rid of the images.

‘Okay,’ Katie thought to herself, ‘I can admit I want that. I want me and Cash and a handful of kids. But I can’t start daydreaming about something that might not happen. There’s still so much about my life that’s unsettled. I can’t start dreaming of a future with Cash until I finally close the door on my past.’ Katie had reached the end of the room, where there was a set of double doors in front of her. ‘Well, this must be it.’

She turned one of the handles and gasped as she walked through the door. The far wall was a giant picture window looking out towards the mountains. There were window seats the entire length of the wall as well, with bookshelves underneath the seats. The rest of the walls were covered with white sheets, which Katie pulled back to poke her head in and look around.

‘Holy crap,’ she thought, ‘the entire wall is a bookcase and it’s completely full.’

Katie glanced behind each sheet and found floor to ceiling bookcases on all three walls. Only about half of the bookshelves were filled, almost like Cash’s mom was waiting for someone to help finish her library. Katie thought about the books she had bought since moving to the ranch.

‘They barely fill a shelf in the bookcase in my room. I didn’t want to get too many in case I had to leave the ranch in a hurry. I wonder if Cash would let me move my books up here. Maybe even buy some more.’ Katie ran her finger over the spines of a few books, breathing in that distinctive, old book smell. ‘I think I just found my favorite room.’

Katie smiled to herself and reluctantly moved away from the books to the dozens of boxes stacked in the center of the room.

‘God, I hope these are marked with what’s inside,’ she thought. ‘Otherwise, this could take forever.’


Cash

Cash walked in the front door, stamping his feet to get the little bit of snow off his boots and rubbing his hands together to warm them up. He walked over to the kitchen, taking off his hat and scarf. He only saw Ruby, but that didn’t mean anything. Katie was probably in the office.

“Hey, Ruby,” Cash said, smiling. “Something sure smells good.” Ruby jumped a little, clearly startled.

“Geez, Boss,” Ruby cried out, holding his hand to his chest. “Maybe make some noise before you sneak up on people!”

“I wasn’t sneaking,” said Cash, laughing. “I closed the door and stamped my feet. What else could I have done?”

“Sorry, sorry,” Ruby said, turning back to the kitchen. “You know how I get around the holidays. I kinda lose track of everything around me.”

“Well, I can’t imagine that garbage you’re listening to helps you hear what’s around you.” Ruby gasped, placing his hand over his heart in shock.

“Garbage? Boss, this is vintage Spice Girls. They’re not garbage, they’re revolutionary!” Ruby exclaimed.

“That seems a little excessive,” Cash remarked dryly.

“Oh, shoo,” Ruby cried, waving his hands at Cash. “Get out before I throw something at you.” Cash just laughed, walking towards the office.

“Oh, Boss, she’s upstairs!” Ruby called out from the kitchen, making Cash pivot on his heel and walk back.

“Why’s she upstairs?” Cash asked. Ruby was placing pies in the oven, so he answered Cash rather distractedly.

“I asked her to find Lilah’s Thanksgiving decorations. Thought they might be in the library.”

“You’re using Momma’s decorations?” Cash’s tense voice alerted Ruby to potential trouble, so he quickly finished putting the pies into the ovens and set the timers.

“Cash, I know it hurts,” Ruby said, walking over to him. He grabbed one of Cash’s hands from across the counter. “I miss them too. I’ll always miss them. But Lilah and Eli wouldn’t want us to hide them away in boxes and stop living. They’d want us to find happiness and after awhile, the memories we have of them will turn sweet again.” Cash stared at Ruby, surprised with both his insight and advice.

“Have you been taking psych classes behind my back?” Cash asked. Ruby grinned, releasing Cash’s hand and throwing a dish towel at him.

“I’m naturally brilliant, thank you very much. Why don’t you go on upstairs and help Katie? I know she’d love it.”

“She’d love me poking around in random boxes?” Cash asked incredulously, raising an eyebrow.

“She’d love you sharing your past with her,” replied Ruby, rolling his eyes. “I know it hurts, but if my sugar can open up about her nightmare past, then you can certainly open up about yours.”

Cash stood there silently for a minute, twisting the dish towel in his hands. Then, he tossed it on the counter and headed for the stairs.

“You’re right,” said Cash. “If Katie can talk about the absolute shit she’s been through, I can talk about my parents.” Cash paused and turned back to Ruby, a grin on his face. “Since when has Katie been ‘your sugar’?” Cash used exaggerated air quotes, making Ruby stick his tongue out.

“Since she’s been ‘your angel’,” Ruby replied, copying Cash’s air quotes and making them grin at each other. Cash was chuckling as he made his way upstairs.

‘I haven’t wanted to even think about my parents since the accident,’ Cash thought. ‘But now, with Katie... The big house is alive again. We can decorate with some of my parents’ things and then we can decide together what to do with the rest of the house. Make it ours, my angel’s and mine.’

Cash started to whistle as he headed toward the library, actually excited to be going through his past and getting to share it with the woman he loved.
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