Skyheart Ranch

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Christmas Trees


Katie and Cash met Rocky and Ruby for breakfast the next morning in the hotel’s restaurant. Ruby took one look at Katie’s crazy curls she’d tried to hide with a brain and started grinning. Ruby knew her hair only got like that if she slept with wet hair instead of taking the time to dry it.

“You kids have a good night?” Ruby asked, trying to sound innocent and failing miserably.

“Shut it,” Katie warned. Ruby just laughed as Rocky smiled and shook his head. Ruby was pouring glasses of orange juice for everyone from a pitcher on the table. Breakfast was set up as a buffet and Ruby grabbed Katie’s hand, dragging her over to the food.

“So...”. Ruby left the question unsaid, just staring at Katie as she grabbed pancakes and bacon.

“Don’t you have anything better to do than wonder about my sex life?”

“Nope.” Ruby started filling his plate. “I’m living vicariously through you, sugar, which means I need all the hot and heavy details. That is my best friend right. See, I’m trying to figure out just what makes sex oh so appealing and you are my answer key.”

“I’ll tell you later,” Katie said, laughing. “When we’re not in a hotel, surrounded by families.”

“You’re ruining my fun, sugar,” Ruby said, pouting. “Part of living vicariously through you is shocking people with your naughty escapades!”

Katie just shook her head, smiling, and headed back to their table, Ruby following closely behind.

“Are you done interrogating her?” asked Cash, scowling at Ruby as he stood to pull out Katie’s chair.

“Nope,” Ruby replied, “but she’s being annoyingly prim about not discussing sexy times in front of families.”

“Shocking,” Rocky said sarcastically as he got up, joining Cash to go get their food. Ruby just stuck his tongue out at them.

“At least confirm my suspicion,” Ruby begged, using his fork to gesture at Katie’s wild hair.

“Yes,” Katie said, chuckling.

“Eee!” Ruby squealed, excited. Kate and Ruby had reached the point where they could have full conversations with a few words and significant looks. Katie had never had a friendship like that before, which made Ruby all the more special to her.

“Oh, no. You didn’t tell him, did you?” Cash sat down next to Katie, shaking his head at Ruby’s obvious excitement and Katie’s embarrassment.

“I didn’t say anything,” protested Katie. “It’s not my fault he inferred.” Rocky laughed, setting his plate down and settling himself into the chair next to Ruby.

“Let’s be honest,” Rocky said, “the two of you could just look at each other and he’d figure out what you’ve been up to.” Katie and Ruby stared at each, then started cracking up, knowing Rocky was right.

“All right, all right, can we please change the subject?” Cash was flushed a deep red, which made Katie and Ruby laugh more.

“You’re not gonna win against the two of ‘em, Boss. You might as well surrender now and accept it,” Rocky said to Cash.

“Sorry, cowboy,” Katie said, still laughing. She leaned over and gave him a peck on the cheek, causing him to smile and shake his head resignedly over both Katie and Ruby.

“I swear,” Cash said, “the two of you turn into giggly 12 year olds when you’re left alone together for too long.”

“I’m afraid you speak the truth, boss man,” Ruby said, grinning. “But c’mon, no one can be super mature and adulty all the time.”

“‘Adulty’? Seriously? Oh, lord,” said Rocky, shaking his head. They all laughed before starting to eat.

After breakfast, they quickly packed everything up and loaded it into the truck, setting off for the Christmas tree farm.

“I’ve never cut down my own tree before. I’m excited!” Katie exclaimed.

“I’m pretty sure your bouncing up and down gave that away,” Ruby said drying. Katie jokingly punched him in the arm.

“Hey,” she said, “I’m allowed to be excited. Don’t be a jerk.”

“Aw, sugar, I love that you’re excited and I love you!” Ruby reached over in the backseat and gave Katie a big hug. “We’ll find the perfect tree. I promise.”

‘This is what life is supposed to be like,’ thought Katie, grinning, feeling happy and content. ‘Love, family, friends, laughter, hell, even tears... This is right. I only wish I had figured it out sooner. But I have it now and I’m never giving it up. These people...they’re my family.’

Once they reached the farm, both Cash and Rocky took out saws from the bed on the truck. The farm stretched out as far as Katie could see, beautiful green firs covered in a light dusting of snow. The four of them started walking, looking around at the trees. Other families were at the farm, laughing and taking pictures, as they cut down their own Christmas tree. After about twenty minutes, Ruby stopped, his eyes wide, and pointed.

“That one. That one’s perfect.”

They all looked at the beautiful fir tree. It wasn’t too tall, maybe six feet, and it was full-bodied, with plenty of branches for ornaments. It tilted slightly to the left, but somehow, that added to its charm. Katie circled it, softly touching the needles with her gloved hand. Once she made a full circle, everyone was looking at her for an opinion. Katie smiled.
“It’s perfect.”

Cash grinned as Rocky chuckled. They both kneeled down to find the best place to saw. Once they agreed on an area, Cash motioned for Katie and Ruby to step back.

“This shouldn’t take too long,” Cash explained, “but I don’t want it accidentally falling and hitting you guys.”

“Yeah, uh...”, Ruby said, “we’ll just stand over here and supervise.” Ruby took Katie’s hand, stepping back and making sure they were safely away from the tree. Cash began sawing first, then Rocky went. Cash finished, with the tree gently falling to the ground. Katie and Ruby applauded, making Cash blush and Rocky laugh. Cash hoisted the back of the tree onto his shoulder while Rocky grabbed the front.

“Do you need help?” asked Katie.

“No, that’s okay, angel. We’ve got it,” Cash replied, smiling. After a short walk, they settled the tree in the truck bed and paid for it, setting out for Skyheart earlier than expected.

“Everything goes okay on the road, we’ll get back in time to help with the evening chores,” Cash remarked to Rocky, who nodded.

“I can probably whip something up for dinner. Let the hands know and then we can rope them into decorating with us,” Ruby said. Everyone laughed as they all settled in for the drive home.
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