Skyheart Ranch

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Invasion of Skyheart


The next few weeks were an absolute blur for Katie. She remembered some events with perfect clarity, but most of it was just lost in a haze. She remembered arriving back at the big house and Ruby tearing down the porch steps toward her, pushing all of the hands who had already returned out of his way so he could get to her. Ruby was almost hysterical, sobbing and apologizing for not protecting Katie one minute, then yelling and threatening a gagged and bleeding Damien the next.

She remembered all of the hands coming over to check on her, then each of their faces getting the same hard, angry look as they realized how badly Damien had hurt her. She especially remembered, with morbid glee, Damien’s cries of pain as the hands not-so-accidentally dropped their supply bags on him or intentionally bumped into his leg or hip.

Katie didn’t remember anything from the hospital except the ultrasound for the baby. She and Cash had desperately clung to each other until they were told the baby was perfectly fine and Katie was around eight weeks pregnant. She knew she had to get stitches in her eyebrow and had to have surgery on her broken arm, since the radius was broken in multiple places and the ulna was cracked straight through. The cast on her arm was a vivid reminder of the surgery, but she still couldn’t remember it.

She couldn’t remember telling the sheriff what happened, but very clearly remembered having each of her injuries photographed and documented, just like what had happened multiple times in Chicago. She also remembered watching the news when the story broke that Senator Thomas Crawley was suspending his presidential campaign after his youngest son was charged with four counts of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault, assault and battery, kidnapping, and violating a restraining order.

It was almost two weeks after Damien’s assault and things were finally starting to get back to normal. Cash was hovering, coming inside almost every hour with one ridiculous excuse after another, until both Katie and Ruby yelled at him to go back to work. He obeyed with a lot a grumbling, but Katie was relieved he wasn’t going too far from the big house when a motorcade of four black SUVs came tearing down the driveway.

“What in the name of sweet baby Jesus...” Ruby mumbled, staring outside the kitchen window and frowning. Katie was lying on the sofa in the living room, but still heard him.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Umm...well, it looks like we’re about to be invaded by a bunch of city folk.”

“What?” Katie abruptly sat up, staring out the picture window at the SUVs roaring down the driveway. “Not city folk. Those are government plates. We’ve just been invaded by politicians. And I’m guessing some super expensive lawyers.” Katie felt her breakfast coming back up, already knowing who had come to Skyheart.

“Shit.” Katie clapped her hand over her mouth and ran to the bathroom, throwing up everything in her stomach. She brushed her teeth and gargled some mouthwash before slowly walking back out. Ruby was standing by the front door and obviously trying not to laugh.

“What on earth is funny about this?” Katie practically snapped.

“Come and see.” Katie walked over to join Ruby by the door. She gasped, then burst out laughing. The entire front porch was filled with gun-toting ranch hands, with Cash in front casually holding a rifle. There were six men in suits surrounding the SUVs that Katie recognized as Senator Crawley’s personal security. They seemed to be having some sort of stand-off to see who would blink first.

“Well, this could take awhile,” Katie said dryly. She turned to Ruby. “Wanna start that new Hallmark movie?”

“Hell yes I do!” Ruby responded, making her laugh. Katie curled up on the sofa, snuggling up under a blanket Cash’s mother had crocheted. Ruby came back a few minutes later with a big bowl of popcorn. He plopped down next to Katie, stealing half of her blanket.


“Oh, hey yourself,” Ruby said, rolling his eyes. “You think your stomach can handle popcorn?”

“I guess we’ll find out.” As Katie was grabbing a handful, she glanced back outside and noticed Cash was on the phone. “Who do you think Cash is calling?”

“If I had to guess, I’d say his own very expensive lawyers,” Ruby answered.

“Well, I doubt they’re paid as much as the Senator’s. He throws around millions like it’s candy.” Ruby gave Katie a funny look, prompting her to ask- “What? What’s wrong?”

“Sugar, do you not know how much Cash is worth?”

“What?” Katie looked incredulous. “I mean, obviously he does well since he can afford all the hands, but no, his net worth has never come up.”

“Oh, lord, sugar,” said Ruby, laughing, “are you in for a surprise!”

“Ruby, what the hell are you talking about?”

“Cash has oil on his land,” Ruby said. “A lot of oil. Cash is worth a couple hundred million.” Katie choked on the piece of popcorn she was eating, wheezing and coughing until she finally got it out. She wrapped it in a tissue and turned to Ruby.

“You’re joking. That’s... Almost all of his jeans are worn out and I know for a fact he hasn’t bought a new shirt in two years! He can’t be worth... You know, what you said.”

“Couple hundred million?” Ruby helpfully added.

“Yeah. That. I mean, I do the books for this place, I would know!” Katie said almost hysterically, panicking at the idea of Cash being worth that much money. She loved rancher cowboy Cash, not some strange oil millionaire.

“Sugar, you do the books for the ranch,” Ruby said gently, sensing Katie’s potential freak out. “Cash has personal accountants for the oil business.”

“That’s... How on... What?” she stammered, then her eyes widened. “Oh, shit.”

“What? What is it? What’s wrong?”

“Not only are we having a hand/bodyguard standoff, we’re going to have an expensive lawyer stand-off. We are so doomed.”

“Probably,” Ruby shrugged. “Movie?”

“Yeah, okay,” Katie said, deciding to just go with it. After half an hour, the front door opened. Katie and Ruby turned to see Rocky walking in, a frustrated look on his face.

“Rocky, what wrong?” Katie asked.

“Oh, that piece of crap Senator is refusing to leave his car until we all put our guns down and Cash is refusing to let him in the house if he brings any of his security.”

“So nobody’s going anywhere,” Katie stated.

“For now, it doesn’t look like it,” Rocky said. “Cash called his lawyers as soon as those idiots showed up, but it’s still gonna take them around four and a half more hours to get here. Katie, hon, Cash wanted me to ask you what you wanna do.”

“Why couldn’t he just come in?” Katie asked and Rocky grimaced.

“He’s refusing to leave the pissing contest on the porch.” Katie gave an exasperated laugh and shook her head.

“I don’t mind if the Senator comes inside,” Katie said. “But I’m not talking to him or his lawyers until Cash’s lawyers get here. Look, do you think you could pass on a message to his security?”

“Of course, hon.”

“Just tell them all I want is a divorce,” said Katie. “I don’t want money or property or anything else Damien and I got during our marriage. I just want a divorce.” Rocky smiled at Katie and nodded, turning toward the door.

“I’ll tell ‘em,” Rocky said, “but I doubt that city slicker came all this way with a few cars full of lawyers just to grant you a divorce.”

After Rocky left, Katie and Ruby looked at each other and burst out laughing.

“City slicker?” Katie chuckled.

“I know!” Ruby said. They kept laughing and returned to the movie. Another thirty minutes later and this time Cash was the one to walk in the front door. He smiled as soon as he saw Katie, making her blush and smile too.

“So what’s the verdict, Boss?” Ruby asked. “Are they coming in?” Cash sighed, taking off his cowboy hat and running a hand through his hair.

“Yeah. That Senator and his seven lawyers-”.

“Seven?” Katie and Ruby exclaimed at the same time, then turned to grin at each other. Cash just gave them a wry smile.

“Yes, seven, plus one security guard. Rocky and I will be here, and you, Ruby, obviously, but we’re bringing Hank in too, since he was there that night. Angel, my lawyers are still about four hours out. We passed on your message and it was immediately rejected. The Senator is insisting he needs to talk to you face-to-face.” Katie rolled her eyes.

“Go ahead and let them in,” Katie said, “but I’ll only tell them what I already have: give me a divorce and go. If they have anything else they want to talk about, we can all just wait for your lawyers. Oh, thank you for calling them, by the way.” Cash smiled and gently stroked Katie’s cheek with his thumb. Her bruises were fading, but it was still obvious she’d taken a pretty bad beating.

“Of course, angel,” Cash said. “You know I’d do anything for you. I’ll go and let them know they can come in.”

Cash left and Katie and Ruby straightened up the living room. Katie was nervous, not knowing how this meeting would go or if she’d finally get her much-needed divorce.

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