What Lies Beneath

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Third Degree

The next morning I woke up around seven. My father was downstairs trying to reach a bowl from a higher shelf.

“I’ll get it dad, you know you are not supposed to strain yourself.”

“I was getting a bowl.”

“You can’t reach it.”

“Honey, at some point you are going to have to let me get things done on my own.”

I sighed, “I know.”

“So, I heard you get in yesterday. How was dinner?” my father asked.

“It was nice,” I smiled.

My father knew I went out with Jesse but he didn’t know where things stood between us.

“Well it is my duty to say a few things,” he began.

“Dad, come on, I am not a little girl anymore.”

“I know but you are twenty one and he is a little bit older than you, so I feel like I should.”

“Okay, go ahead.”

“Well for starters, I am happy to see that he makes you smile. Second, I think you need to be careful because of his age, you guys may not always see eye to eye on things but it is important that you guys listen to each other. If you really like this guy, you should ask him where he sees himself in five years, it is better to know now than be heartbroken down the line.”

I knew he was right, “He told me he wanted to stay here for now, isn’t that a good sign?”

“Yes, but ‘for now’ is what worries me.”

“Dad, we’re just dating right now, so let’s see where things go from here, if he actually decides he wants to stay, then I will talk to him.”

“You’re not a little girl anymore.”

I smiled, “No, I am not but I will always be your little girl.”

“Okay, now go. I think he’s here and I am sure he is dying to see you,” he winked.

I giggled as I headed out. The sun was already shining bright; one of my favourite things with living on a ranch was waking up in the mornings and smelling the fresh air.

“Good morning,” Jesse popped his head out from one of the stalls.

I leaned over it to give him a kiss on the cheek, “Yes it is. Did your brother come with you today?”

He shook his head, “Not today, he wanted to take it easy, he’s a bit jet lagged.”

I nodded, “Makes sense. Do you want to take a ride later? Maybe on lunch?”

“Sounds perfect.”

“Okay, I’ll be in the ring if you need me.”

Mary arrived just as I was heading to the ring, “The dresses arrived.”

“Two more months, how are you holding up?”

“I am so anxious but nervous at the same time.”

“I wouldn’t know but I can tell you one thing, you will make a beautiful bride and Sam is a very lucky guy.”

“Thanks Jen, you’re too sweet. Well it looks like your clients are here so I will leave you to it.”

I smiled as I saw Susan and Eric walking up the drive. I wondered why Eric was here so early in the morning but it didn’t matter.

“Hey guys, how are you today?”

“Tired,” Susan huffed.

“She needed a ride this morning,” Eric said, “So how have you been?”

“Pretty good, you?”

“Good, I’ve got the day off today so it’s nice.”

“And you didn’t even sleep in?”

He shook his head, “My parents had to go to work early so I was her only drive.”

I smiled glad that we could still be friends, “Are you going to stay and watch?”

He thought about it, “How long do you think you guys will need today? I’m meeting a friend around noon.”

“Oh we’ll be done before then,” I thought about going for a ride with Jesse, “Woody is just about ready to go.”

“Really?” Susan called out as she got on her horse.”

“Yes, really. You guys have been amazing this past week, I can see a real bond and he’s jumping perfectly. As long as you keep at it, you can take Woody back to your place I would say as soon as you want.”

“Well we can get the trailer over here maybe tomorrow evening if that is okay?” Eric said.

“Yeah, I will be here so it’s not a problem.”

I worked with Susan and Woody for a couple hours, giving her some pointers, telling her some secrets and tips on how to go around the jumps quicker to reduce time and I praised her when she did something extraordinary.

I knew jumping wasn’t an easy sport, it was hard work and it took practice and patience but Susan had all of that and more. She just needed the right encouragement and push to get her going but now that she was, there was no stopping her.

In a way she reminded me of myself when I was her age, no one could stop me from going to jumping competitions.


Around noon as I walked into the barn, two horses were already saddled.

“Eager are we?” I laughed.

He shrugged his shoulders, “I thought it would give us some more time out there.”

“Don’t worry about time; we’ve got all the time in the world.”

“So which trail are we going to go on?” he asked as we left the property.

“We’re not going to go on a trail today.”

“Are you kidnapping me?” he sounded shocked.

“You’ll see.”

We rode in silence for about twenty minutes before we arrived at my favourite spot of all, the land we own. There stood the two trees that I loved to lay against. I dismounted and Jesse did the same.

“You took me to your spot?” he clarified.

I nodded, “Yeah.”

We took a seat on the grass as we lay our backs against the tree. Jesse wrapped his arm around my shoulder.

“I thought no one was allowed here except for you and Sara?” he questioned.

“Yeah, but you’re pretty special to me too so I wanted to share it with you too.”

He smiled, “I am honoured.”

“Good,” I joked.

“So when you left last night, my brother asked me who you were.”

I was confused, “What do you mean?”

“He asked me who exactly you were to me and I didn’t know what to say.”

I finally clued in, “Well what did you want to say?”

“I wanted to say you were my girlfriend.”

I smiled, “Then maybe when you see him, you should tell him that.”

“I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.”

I faced him and kissed him lightly on the lips, “I’m pretty sure we are.”

“There is something else I want to tell you,” he said.

“What is it?”

“My brother brought me a message from my parents last night.”

“What was the message?”

“My parents want me to go home.”

I swallowed, “Where is it that they call home?”

“Chicago.”

I faced my hands and began to fidget, he grabbed my hand, “You don’t have to worry.”

“Jesse, I would never ask you to stay here if you wanted to go home. I would understand, they are your family and if I was in your shoes and I missed them, I would probably go.”

“Maybe last month I might have but I don’t want to leave now. I’m in love with you and I want to see where this goes.”

I thought about what my father said, “My father gave me a talk this morning about you.”

“Oh no.”

“He said I should ask you where you see yourself in five years so I know where things stand.”

“He’s a good father.”

I nodded, “He has his days but I can’t really complain.”

“Well, I can’t tell you where I see myself in five years unless I know where you want to be in five years.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I want to be wherever you are.”

“In other words?”

“In other words, I am not going anywhere.”

I never thought it would be possible to smile as big as I was, “Are you sure because I do not want to stop you from doing anything you want to do?”

“I am positive.”

“My dad will be happy to hear that,” I shamefully said.

“What about you?”

I closed my eyes and kissed him, “What do you think?”

He kissed me back and for a few moments we didn’t move. When he pulled back I lay my head on his shoulder and breathed him in.

“How did your brother take the news?” I asked.

“He was fine about it,” he laughed, “He said I would be crazy to leave such a babe.”

“A babe?”

“Don’t worry, I told him not to call you that,” he chuckled, “I told him if anyone was going to call you that, it would be me.”

I giggled, “How do you think your parents are going to take it?”

“I’m not sure. My brother said he might want to move here too, stay with me.”

“Yeah?”

He ran his hand through my hair, “Yeah, he said he could do with a fresh start.”

“Sounds like he likes to travel a lot too. I mean, the way he would just pick up and move here, don’t you think that’s a little weird? Maybe there is a reason for it.”

“I doubt it, my brother doesn’t have any priorities, and he does what he wants.”

“How old is he anyways?”

“Twenty one, your age.”

“Well, if he stays I’m sure we could always use another hand on the ranch if he wants to work.”

“No, you don’t have to do that. I know you guys can’t hire another stable hand. He will be fine if he decides to stay, I am sure he can get something elsewhere, plus ranch work isn’t really his thing.”

“I don’t think it was your thing either when you first got here.”

“I know but I have more of an open mind.”

I smiled, “Well I am glad you do.”

“I could spend every day like this with you.”

I couldn’t remember the last time I felt this happy, “Maybe we can.”

“I know that we said we would take this slow and we’ve technically only been together for two days but…”

“Technically yes,” I cut in, “But I think we were both beating around the bush the whole summer.”

“You’re right, I just feel like I could see myself having a future with you.”

I bit my lip, “I know what you mean.”

“We should probably get back,” he said standing up pulling my hands to stand, “They might think we eloped.”

“Maybe one day we will,” I winked as I got on Snowflake.

He laughed as he followed behind all the way back to the ranch.

As we got to the ranch we let the horses graze in the field as they cooled down. Jesse grabbed my hand as we walked into the barn. When we got into the barn he began kissing me but it was cut short when we heard whistling.

Luca walked into the barn and must have caught Jesse’s arm around me as he had a look of amusement, “So it is true then, the two of you?”

I grinned, “Who told you?”

“I’m pretty sure your dad sent out a memo,” he joked.

Jesse started to laugh as he placed his arms around me again from behind, “Then I guess we don’t have to hide it from anyone.”

“I just have one question Jen; I mean you pretty much run everything around you. You make our pay checks and make the schedules and all of that’s stuff…”

“And…”

“Well, I just am a little worried about being treated unfairly,” he winked, “We all love you so I just think you shouldn’t have a favourite employee.”

I laughed pulling away from Jesse, “You are absolutely right Luca. Jesse, we are just going to need to start sneaking around.”

Both the guys started to laugh as Luca walked away slowly, “Yeah, yeah. I’m happy for you guys. Jesse, treat her good because if you don’t, you not only have to worry about Joe but myself included.”

“And me,” Mary popped her head into the barn.

“Well I am not planning on doing anything anyone disapproves of.”

“I’m sorry,” I apologized, “Everyone is very over protective of me.”

“Damn right,” Mary said, “We’re a family here and Jen here may be the one who calls the shots but she’s the baby in this family.”

Jesse put his arm around me, “You hear that? You’re the baby in the family.”

Just then my father came into the barn, “What’s going on in here? Are we having a meeting without me?”

“No dad, everyone is just giving Jesse the third degree.”

“Oh, in that case I have a few questions myself,” he began.

“Oh come on,” I finally said, “I think we have tortured him enough.”

“I would hardly call this torture my love,” he looked amused, “My life is an open book, anything you want to know, feel free to ask but I will say that my intentions with your daughter and your boss and friend are good.”

“I think that pretty much answers everyone’s questions right?”

They all looked around at each other and nodded, “I guess.”

“Good, so we will just be on our way.”


The next week couldn’t have been any better, Jesse and I spent every night together, and some nights his brother joined us, others he didn’t. I got to know Ben a litter better, he seemed like a decent guy, I got the impression that Jesse was a little worried every time Ben and I were in our own conversation, it was like he was worried that I may fall for his brother since he is closer to my age but it wouldn’t happen.

We went horse back riding every other day on our lunch; we brought a picnic once and went to eat in my favourite spot. He took me out to dinner another night and the next we went to the movies. It was all so surreal, I felt like I was the character in some romance novel.

August was at its end, September was approaching quickly. I anticipated what the next season would bring for Jesse and I. Sometimes I wish I was psychic.

Then I had Mary’s wedding to look forward to.

On Wednesday night after work Jesse and I went on a double date with Mary and her Fiancé, Sam. Since Sam didn’t have a big family he asked if Jesse wanted to be in the bridal party, my partner specifically.

“Are you sure?” he asked considering they just met.

“Yeah, I know we just met but I’ve known Jen for a while now and since you two are together we would like you to be in it as well.”

He smiled, “Well yeah, I would love to.”

“I’m sure we will be seeing more of each other,” Sam said.

Mary winked at me, “Oh yes you will.”

I laughed; Mary always got me to giggle at her facial expressions.

“What is the date again?” Jesse asked.

“October 6th.”

“Hopefully it won’t be cold then.”

“It shouldn’t be,” I explained, “It usually doesn’t start getting cold until mid November.”

“I guess things will settle down at the ranch by then?”

Mary laughed, “If you think the summers are busy, be prepared to be amazed.”

“How busy could it get in the winter?”

“That’s the same question I asked her way back when,” Sam said.

“Guys,” Mary sighed, “They are all the same.”

“Well, the fall and winter is when most people want horses trained so they are ready by the spring or summer.”

“Can you actually train outside?”

I shook my head, “We have an indoor ring. You know the tall looking shed you saw when we went on the trail ride the other day?”

He nodded, “Yeah, it was huge.”

“That’s our indoor barn.”

“I thought it was like a storage place.”

I shook my head, “No, there are two rings in there so we could train two horses at a time.”

“So what season is not busy?” he asked.

Sam answered that one, “Christmas time.”

I nodded, “Everyone gets two weeks off in December.”

“Except for Jen,” Mary pointed out.

“So I guess I will be getting two weeks off too then in December?”

I shrugged my shoulders, “If you’re good.”

“Oh I will be good, but I’m not so sure I want the time off.”

“What?” Sam asked, “No time off?”

He shook his head as he sat back and put his arm around me, “What am I going to do for two whole weeks without this one?”

He still made me blush, “I’m sure you would survive.”

Mary smiled at us, “You guys remind me of Sam and I when we first started dating.”

“How long have you guys been together? Jesse asked.

“A long time; five years.”

“Then it is time to get married,” he joked.

“I thought it was time.”

“So where are you going for the honeymoon?”

“We’re thinking Miami.”

“I hear it’s nice there,” Jesse said, “How long are you going to stay?”

“A week,” Mary looked at Sam.

“That’s still under negotiation.”

“One week?” I questioned, “Come on, you have to go for at least two.”

“What about the ranch?”

“Mary,” I was shocked, “We will be fine. We will manage perfectly fine; I will just get Jesse to do some extra work since he’s been slacking anyways.”

I could feel Jesse’s glare on me, “Slacking?”

“We’re not talking about you right now sweetie,” I grinned, “As I was saying, you need to go for two weeks minimum, even three weeks. I won’t have you back at the ranch until at least two weeks after the wedding so it would be a shame if you came back and had to spend a week here, instead of somewhere tropical.”

Mary smiled, “Alright, alright,” she looked at Sam, “We’ll go for two weeks.”

“Thank you,” Sam looked at me.

“Next time, don’t feel like you can’t talk to me,” I told Mary, “You work so hard I would never say no to you.”

“I know; I just felt bad.”

“It’s your wedding,” I raised my voice.

“She’s such a good boss, isn’t she?” Jesse added.

“Yeah, when people pull there weight around the ranch,” I pointed out.

Sam laughed, “I’d watch it man. You better start doing your job.”

“I would, it’s just hard when you have this one pulling you into her office every five seconds.”

I nudged him with my elbow, “That was supposed to be our secret.”

“Oops!”

“And it is not every five seconds,” I protested.

“Alright, we better get going,” Mary and Sam stood up, “It’s getting late.”

“Yeah, us too. See you tomorrow.”

“It was good to meet you Sam,” Jesse shook his hand, “I’ll see you around.”


A couple nights later we went out with Sara and her boyfriend, Frank. It was also my first time meeting him but I got a good impression right away and gave her my approval.

As we left the guys and headed to the ladies room Sara couldn’t keep the smirk off her face.

“Say it? I know you are dying to.”

“I told you so,” Sara couldn’t keep it in any longer.

“Yeah, you did.”

“I still can’t believe it, I mean you were so against it in the beginning and you actually convinced me that nothing would ever happen between you two.”

“That’s because I was afraid things could go south but we’re on the same page. No one wants to get hurt.”

“What about when he decides he wants to go on a trip?”

“Well, I won’t stop him but he said he wants to stay here so I think that’s a good sign and who knows maybe one day I will go away with him on a trip.”

“Excuse me?”

“On a trip,” I repeated, “I would obviously come back.”

“You better, I would die without you.”

“Have I ever told you, you should have gone into acting?”

“Just about every other day.”

“That’s because you are such a drama queen.”

“Me? What about you?”

I laughed as we headed back to the table where we found the guys in their own conversation. It was nice having these outings with friends, where Jesse and I weren’t always alone. I wanted him to get to know my friends and I hoped that one day he would call them friends too not because of me but because he felt a connection with them too.

“So you’re telling me you actually like the Red Socks?” Jesse asked Frank.

“I can’t believe you don’t.”

“Oh man, you need to get out more and watch some real teams.”

He laughed, “Are you asking me out on a date?”

“Hey now,” I cut in, “I’m afraid he’s already taken.”

“You heard her,” Jesse said as I kissed his cheek.

Sara grinned, “We need to get together more often like this.”

I nodded, “I agree.”

We continued to converse as the evening progressed. Around ten we all left and headed home. Jesse drove me home and walked me to the door, kissed me slowly on the lips sending sparks down my spine before he left.

All in all, Jesse was the ideal boyfriend who treated me with respect and always made me feel adored.

He made me feel special; he kept his eyes on me when we were out together, even when waitresses were flirting with him. He was quite the catch!

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