Skyheart Ranch

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A Beautiful Surprise

Katie

February arrived cold and snowy and brought all the hands back to Skyheart. Katie was genuinely happy to see everyone back, but she missed the cozy winter days of curling up with Cash or sitting around watching Hallmark movie marathons with Ruby. She hadn’t been feeling great for a few weeks and was incredibly tired, so much so that she started taking naps during the day to feel rested.

One morning during the last week of February, she dragged herself out of bed and into the kitchen, hoping to grab some food and go right back to sleep.

“Rubes?” she called. “Is there breakfast?” Katie didn’t see him in the kitchen, which was odd, but her nose led her to one of the microwaves, where she found eggs and bacon. Katie tried a bite of eggs and gagged, so she pushed them over to the side of the plate and gobbled down the bacon as quickly as possible. She had nearly finished when the kitchen door opened and Ruby walked in, stamping his feet and carrying a plastic bag,

“Still not feeling well?” Ruby asked. Katie just shrugged, refusing to give up eating the bacon to bother answering. Ruby shook his head and dropped the plastic bag in front of her as he hung up his puffer coat.

“What’s this?” Katie reached for the bag, looking inside and seeing almost a dozen pregnancy tests, all different brands. She groaned and looked at Ruby. “Seriously? I’m tired, not pregnant.”

“Yes, and being tired is a sign of pregnancy.”

“Says who?”

“Every website I’ve looked at talking about early pregnancy symptoms,” Ruby said.

“You’re looking up pregnancy symptoms?” Katie asked. “Why?”

“Because you’re living in denial and Cash hasn’t noticed how tired you are yet,” Ruby retorted, placing his hands on his hips and glaring at Katie. “Trust me, as soon as he does, he’ll be taking you straight to the doctor and one of the first things they’ll test you for is pregnancy. Might as well get confirmation now.”

“Ruby-”.

“Don’t.” Ruby sat down across the kitchen island from Katie and took her hands in his. “Sugar, I know the idea of a baby is scary. After what happened the last time you were pregnant, of course you’d be apprehensive, even if, in your heart, you know having a baby with Cash would be amazing. You’re scared. I get it. But you also need to be responsible, and if you are pregnant, we need to make sure we have everything you need. All those vitamins and special pillows and...you know, stuff.”

“Stuff, huh?” Katie was biting her lip, trying not to laugh at how flustered Ruby was getting.

“Look, I know pregnant ladies need special things, I just haven’t read up on all of that yet! I’ve been focusing on the pregnancy signs, not the care of pregnant women. But I’ll start researching that as soon as you take the tests!”

Katie squeezed Ruby’s hands, looking down at the tests in front of her, her stomach roiling. She finally looked up at Ruby, eyes wide, all artifice stripped away.

“I’m scared,” she whispered. “I want a baby with Cash more than anything, but... You’re right, the last time, I was so excited and I lost my baby. I can’t go through that again.”

“Oh, sugar.” Ruby moved to sit beside Katie, hugging her close as tears spilled down her cheeks. “You know I can’t promise you that something won’t go wrong. Women lose pregnancies for all sorts of reasons. I can promise, though, that you’re not gonna lose this baby ‘cause some asshole throws you down the stairs. Besides, once Cash finds out, he’s probably gonna swaddle you up in cashmere and stick you inside one of those human-sized hamster balls to keep you safe.” Katie barked out a surprised laugh, pulling back to wipe the tears off her face.

“We don’t know I’m pregnant.”

“And we don’t know you’re not. Until you take these tests, this is, like, Schrödinger’s pregnancy.”

“I’m both pregnant and not pregnant at the same time?” Katie laughed, shaking her head.

“Until you prove me otherwise, yes,” Ruby stated. “You are now officially a quantum physics thought experiment.”

“Quantum mechanics, technically, but I get what you mean.” Ruby laughed and hugged Katie around the shoulders, kissing her temple.

“This thought experiment baby is gonna be so beautiful and smart! And I guess some of Cash, too, but honestly, your genes are enough!”

“You’re ridiculous,” Katie laughed, reaching for the bag. She noticed her hand was shaking.

“It’s all right, sugar,” Ruby said encouragingly. “I’m here for you the whole way. Except for peeing on the stick. That’s totally you.”

“Okay, okay, I can do this,” Katie said, bouncing up and down a little to psych herself up. “Right? I mean, I want a baby with Cash so bad. So whatever it says is fine. It’s all fine.” Ruby laced his fingers with Katie’s and tugged her toward the newly decorated master bedroom.

“C’mon, sugar.” Ruby led Katie in and they both sat down on the big bed, pouring out the different pregnancy tests and reading their directions.

“Okay,” Katie said, “these two say to do it in the morning before you’ve gone to the bathroom.”

“Have you?” asked Ruby. Katie shook her head.

“I just wanted food.”

“Oooh, I have two here that are first pee of the morning too!” Ruby squealed, sounding way too excited. “How about those four and...oh, how about this one? The early detection one?”

“Okay, five,” Katie nodded, holding them all. “That’s, that’s good, I mean, one might be a false positive and two, well, what if they say different things? Three, you could still get two saying pregnant and one saying not, and you can’t do four, ‘cause that’s an even number, what’re you supposed to think if you get two positives and two negatives? Five, five tests make sense. I’m rambling like a crazy person, aren’t I?”

“Little bit, yeah,” Ruby said. Katie took in a deep breath and let it out.

“Okay, time to go pee on some sticks.”

“Let me know when you’re done,” Ruby said. “Most of these are three minutes, so I’ll set the timer.” Katie nodded, still shaking a little as she closed the door to the master bathroom. She opened the door only a few minutes later and motioned him in.

“So now we wait.”

“Did you seriously turn them all over?” Ruby asked, looking down at five tests all facing downward.

“Hey, if I hadn’t, I would have spent the entire time staring at them. This way is better.” Katie paced as Ruby stared at his phone, counting down the minutes. Finally, he looked up.

“They’re all ready, sugar.” Katie nodded, but didn’t move closer to the counter all the tests were on. Ruby walked over to her and rubbed up and down her arms. “Want me to look?” Katie nodded jerkily, looking both terrified and excited. “I’ll look at all of them first, then I’ll tell you. Okay?” Katie nodded again, then reached out and grabbed Ruby’s arm before he could look at any of them.

“If, if they are, you know...positive, can you not tell Cash? Not yet, anyway. I can set up a quick doctor’s appointment for the next time you go to town, so we can be absolutely sure. I just... I don’t want to get his hopes up until it’s confirmed. Okay?” Ruby nodded and smiled encouragingly at Katie.

“It’s gonna be fine no matter what it says,” Ruby told her. Katie nodded, then turned away as Ruby started turning the tests over. After a few seconds, he cleared his throat.

“Well, they all have the same result.” He paused for a second. “Congrats, sugar. You’re pregnant.” Katie whipped around and stared at the tests on the counter. They were all positive. Katie looked up at Ruby, her eyes wide.

“I’m pregnant,” she whispered. Ruby just nodded. A smile started spreading across her face and she started laughing, happy tears falling down her cheeks. “I’m pregnant!” Ruby grinned and laughed, pulling Katie into a tight hug.

“You’re gonna have a baby, sugar!”

“God, a baby,” Katie said almost reverentially, like the idea of a baby was so impossible, the fact she was having one was unbelievable. “I’m going to be a mom. Oh, god, Rubes, a baby!”

They were both laughing and crying, hugging each other in the master bath. Eventually, Ruby pulled away, wiping the tears off his face, then Katie’s, making her giggle.

“I’ll call the doctor and get you an appointment for tomorrow,” Ruby said. “You can come with me to town and we can make sure everything’s going okay.”

Katie nodded, still grinning, until a yawn overtook her. Ruby laughed and kissed her cheek.

“Go back to sleep, sugar. I’ll take care of getting rid of the tests, you just get some rest.”

“Thank you,” Katie said, already crawling under the covers. “Hey, Ruby?”

“Yeah?”

“You’re the best, you know that?” Ruby gave Katie a sweet smile as he walked to the door, the pregnancy tests back in the bag.

“Get some rest, sugar. We’ll go to town tomorrow to make everything official.” He turned off the light and quietly closed the door, still smiling.


Katie made up some bullshit reason for needing to go to town, concerning documents that needed to be notarized. Cash bought the excuse right away, which both amused and irritated Katie.

“I mean, I’m glad he didn’t question why I had to go, but he didn’t even seem to bat an eye. What if I had been lying?” Katie was riding in Ruby’s truck, ready for her doctor’s appointment.

“Sugar, you were lying,” Ruby said, laughing.

“Exactly!” Katie exclaimed, throwing her hands up in exasperation. “And he just believed me! What is wrong with him?” Ruby started laughing so hard, he almost drove the truck off the road. Katie huffed, crossing her arms. “It wasn’t that funny.”

“Oh, lord have mercy, you’re gonna be one of those crazy, hormonal pregnant ladies, aren’t you?”

“I am not crazy! I’m...”. Katie trailed off, realizing what she’d been saying. She smiled, shaking her head. “Okay, fine, that’s probably fair. Plus, I’m still not used to people just automatically believing me.”

“Don’t even worry about it, sugar,” Ruby said with a grin. “These next few months are gonna be hilarious.”

Katie just rolled her eyes, smiling wryly. Once they reached town, Ruby went to the stores while Katie went to the doctor. The doctor did a blood test, confirming Katie was pregnant and offered to do an ultrasound, which Katie politely refused. She explained she wanted the father there the first time she had an ultrasound. This made the doctor smile and they set up an appointment in two weeks time to do an ultrasound and go over everything they can expect with Katie being pregnant.

Katie and Ruby talked about the baby the entire way back, both of them so excited. Ruby planned on making a separate, special dinner just for Katie and Cash, so she could tell him he was going to be a father. When they got back, Katie tried to help Ruby with the groceries, but he pushed her towards the door, saying she shouldn’t be picking anything up. Katie laughed, going inside and taking off her coat, scarf, and hat. She heard a loud thud when she was hanging up her things in the bedroom.

“Ruby?” Katie called out. She didn’t hear a response, so she started walking towards the kitchen. “Ruby? You okay? Did you drop something?”

Katie got to the kitchen and looked around, frowning. She didn’t see Ruby anywhere. She circled the island and gasped. Ruby was laying on the floor, completely still, blood trickling from a gash on his forehead.

“Oh my god, Ruby!” Katie cried out, panicked. She practically fell down beside him, searching for a pulse and giving a big sigh of relief when she found one. She looked around for the ranch radio to call someone for help when she was suddenly lifted up, crushed between a strong set of arms. She struggled, kicking out, as a sweet smelling cloth was slapped over her mouth and nose. Katie started weakening, feeling herself losing consciousness. The last thing she heard was a cruel laugh and the words-

“Found you, kitten.”

‘Damien! No!’

The world faded to black.


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