Ben showed up just after noon, Jesse was out helping my dad so I went to meet him on the porch as he was knocking on the door.
“Hey,” I called out from behind.
He turned and headed to meet me, “Hey.”
“Jesse told me you were coming; he’s just doing some work for my dad. Can I show you around?” I asked wondering if he was interested.
He followed, “It seems like you have a lot of horses.”
“Has Jesse told you anything about the ranch?”
He nodded, “Just a little.”
“Well, we have about sixteen horses right now, ten are ours that we use for lessons or trail rides or for us and the others are here to be trained.”
“I think my brother mentioned Blackjack,” he added.
“Yeah, he left a couple weeks ago. So this is one of the barns, there’s another one behind here. We have an indoor barn which is about an acre away; if you want to go for a ride with your brother later he can show you. Have you ever ridden before?”
He nodded, “Yeah, a few times.”
He shook his head, “No, usually when I was on vacation.”
“So you like to travel a lot too then?” I asked.
“Not really,” he said not going into detail.
I pushed him for more, “Why not?”
“It’s not really my thing. I just want to settle down, start a family one day,” he finished.
“I would have never guessed you to be that type, you seem more of a go lucky kind of guy who parties at night, sleeps during the day and feeds off of his older brother.”
He laughed, “I can see why you would think that.”
“Don’t take it the wrong way,” I grinned.
“Don’t worry,” he smiled, “I know what you meant.”
“So your brother told me you were thinking of staying,” I said as we went back to sit on the porch.
“He told you that?” he said surprised.
“Yeah, was he not supposed to?”
“Oh, it doesn’t matter. It’s not a secret. This seems like a nice place and it may not seem like my kind of place to settle down but maybe that is why I like it. Plus my brother is here so it’s not like I’m on my own.”
“I think by staying your brother will be very happy. I know he’s been lonely.”
“Not since he’s met you,” Ben added.
“I guess your parents didn’t want to come see him?” I asked fishing for information.
“Nope,” Ben said without going further, “So does your dad need an extra pair of hands? I don’t mind.”
“They shouldn’t be too long but you can help me if you’d like. I’m going to start training another horse, just pleasure riding but it’s young so I have to teach it to pick up its hooves, lie down, things like that but if you want you can watch.”
“Yeah sure, that sounds interesting,” he said following me into the barn.
As I worked, I could see interest in Ben’s eyes. I also noticed some resemblance between brothers, they had the same nose and the shapes of their eyes were the same which must have come from one of their parents.
“Can you hold the line for me?” I gave him the rope.
I bent over and grabbed the front hoof but it was a stubborn horse and took ten minutes before he finally lifted it up.
“You’ve got patience,” Ben commented, “I would have given up nine minutes ago.”
I laughed as I spotted Jesse and my dad, “Looks like they are back. You can go see him if you like; I don’t think he saw you.”
He nodded, “Are you sure you don’t need my help anymore?”
“I’ll be good,” I said, “I’ll see you later.”
“Thank you for having us for dinner,” Ben said as he took a seat at the table, “You have a lovely home.”
“Thank you, we like it,” my dad replied as he put the meat on the table, “and you are welcome here any time. We’re practically family.”
“I appreciate that.”
“Did you guys finish repairing the gate?”
“Yeah, it was easy,” Jesse said, “How was training today?”
“Sometimes I love training horses the basics, it’s a nice break.”
“Whatever,” Jesse shook his head, “You love the energy of jumping and racing.”
I blinked my eye lashes, “You know me too well.”
“So Ben,” my father said, “I hear your looking for a place to work.”
“I’ve been looking in town, it doesn’t seem like a lot of places are hiring except for the bar.”
I looked at Jesse and smiled, it was the same bar that I got a little tipsy at.
“We’ll see how it goes,” my father said, “But if you haven’t found anything, I’m sure we could hire you part time, especially in the winter.”
“I appreciate that,” he said, “Even if it’s a couple days. At least I can help out with rent.”
Jesse smiled, “I like the sound of that.”
“I know you do,” he said.
Once everyone was finished eating, I cleared the table and then let the guys get acquainted in the living room. Jesse came into the kitchen and put his arms behind me as I washed the dishes. He kissed my neck and made me drop the dish into the soapy water.
“Way to go,” I grinned.
“Need any help?”
“I’m practically done, but if you keep doing that it is going to take me a lot longer.”
“That’s okay; I’ve got all the time in the world.”
“Nice to know,” I said rinsing the last dish.
I grabbed a dishcloth to dry my hands before wrapping them around Jesse’s neck, “I like your brother. He seems really nice. I got to know him a little bit today when you were with my dad.”
“Oh yeah? What did he tell you?” he asked curiously.
“Just a bit about himself I guess, that he wants to settle down, that he’s been horse back riding before.”
“Is that the first thing you ask everybody?” he asked.
I thought about it, “Maybe not the first but usually the second.”
He laughed, “What’s the first?”
“Probably their name,” I smiled.
“You’re amazing you know that?”
I shook my head, “No,” I corrected, “I’m just a girl who is madly in love with you.”
He bent over and kissed me on the lips, “The feeling is mutual.”
“You think we should join them?”
He nodded pulling me by the hand. Once we got into the living room, I found my father showing Ben pictures of the ranch and all of the horses that have come to be trained.
Jesse went to go look at the stack of books and picture albums and when he pulled one out I jumped and grabbed it from him, “You don’t want to see that.”
He shifted his weight to lean against the sofa and put out his hand, “Yes, I want to see it so give it to me.”
I shook my head not wanting him to see my yearbook pictures, “They are really bad. I didn’t always look like this you know?”
“I am sure they are not that bad.”
My father coughed, “I wouldn’t have said that.”
“Dad!” I protested trying not to laugh, “See even my dad laughs at them so can we not?”
“Come on,” he said, “It’s not a big deal, just show me.”
I brought it on the sofa and sat on it. It didn’t take much energy for Jesse to pull it out. I didn’t bother trying to prevent him as he began to flip the pages.
I turned to Ben, “Is he always this annoying?”
“You have no idea,” he rolled his eyes, “Just wait, the more years that pass the worse it gets.”
I laughed as Jesse finally came to the page, “Wow, you look nothing like that.”
I frowned, “I know, I told you it was bad.”
“It’s not bad, you just changed a lot.”
“I was ugly,” I sighed.
“Oh stop it,” my father said, “It really isn’t that bad I just like to tease you about it because I know you hate it.”
Jesse ran his finger over the picture, “So you had braces?”
“You think anyone has teeth this straight without being put into this shape?” I asked sarcastically, “Yes I had braces, for three years.”
“I had braces too, when I was fifteen but only for fifteen months.”
“It’s okay, I mean look at you now, it was worth it right?”
I nodded, “Yes, okay now that you saw can we put it away?”
He shook his head, “Ben didn’t see,” he said handing it over to Ben.
I pouted, “Oh you are mean.”
He leaned over and kissed me on the cheek, “Take that back.”
“What are you going to do about it?”
He began to tickle me, he knew my weakness, “Take it back,” he shouted over my giggles.
“Okay, okay, I take it back,” I said.
“I lied,” I said and when he was about to tickle me again I said, “I’m joking, I’m joking, I would never lie about such a thing. Actually I would never lie period.”
He smiled, “I am glad to hear it because I won’t lie to you either.”
“Good because a relationship based on lies will never work.”
“You don’t have to worry about that,” he said forgetting that we had a live audience.
“Well I am glad to hear that,” my father said, “Because believe me, when lies are involved it never ends well.”
“Sounds like you are speaking from experience,” Jesse said putting an arm around my shoulder.
“Yes, I am. My daughter knows the story too. My wife and I almost called off our wedding,” he started.
“What happened?” Ben said sitting on the edge of his chair.
“I basically hid something from her, when she asked me about it I lied because I thought it would be better if she didn’t know. I didn’t do anything wrong but the fact that I lied to her almost destroyed the love we had. I felt guilty and I couldn’t marry her with that feeling so the night before the wedding I confessed.”
“What did she do?” Jesse asked.
“She threw me out of her house, she told me she needed time to think. She was disappointed in me, she felt like she couldn’t trust me. I mean if I easily kept something from her then she began to wonder if I kept anything else from her or if I would get into that habit when we were married. She called the next morning and said she wanted to see me. We talked for the next three hours, she forgave me and we got married, half an hour late.”
“She forgave you just like that?” Jesse asked.
“She did a lot of screaming but I let her. I was disappointed in myself. In the end she said she still loved me and couldn’t picture her life without me. She also warned me that if I ever did it again she would leave me. I loved her and I knew I would lose her if I did so I never did. Except when she was pregnant, she wanted veal but we didn’t have any and I really was tired after working on the ranch all day. All we had was beef so I told her it was veal.”
Everyone laughed, “Did she find out?” Ben asked.
“She did,” he said, “I told her after we had Jennifer but she didn’t care at that point, plus it was something so irrelevant. Bottom line, if you ever want to make a relationship last, do not lie because eventually it will come out.”
“We could learn a lot from you,” Ben said.
“Wisdom comes with age.”
“Well it’s getting late,” Jesse said standing up, “We should go.”
I walked the guys to the door and gave Ben a hug, “Thanks for helping me today.”
“No worries, I didn’t do much.”
“It’s okay, you still helped,” I said turning to Jesse.
I could feel Ben’s eyes watching us but Jesse didn’t seem to care because he still pressed his lips on mine.
“Thanks for tonight,” he whispered in my ear.
“Thank you for last night,” I winked as I pulled away.
“We’ll do it again.”
“Just not in the winter,” I joked.
“We might wake up stuck to the truck with ice.”
“We’ll just have to cuddle,” he said, “We’ll create our own heat.”
“Okay, I have heard enough,” Ben said walking down the porch, “I will wait in the truck.”
I laughed, “Alright, you better go. Good night handsome.”
“Farwell my lady,” he said taking a bow before heading to the truck.
I waited until he was in the truck before heading inside. As I closed the door I walked back into the living room.
“Ben seems like a nice kid,” my father commented.
“Yeah, I got the same impression.”
“Well, don’t worry; I am sure we can afford to hire him for two days a week if he doesn’t find something within the next couple weeks. We’ve got three horses coming next week so we will be busier and he could take over your work in the barns which will free you up some more to train.”
“I guess that is true.”
“Then when he finds a job, he won’t be here so it will just be temporary. I think it would be good for him too, to be here with his brother. It’s a new place for him so it will take some time for him to get used to the country life so having people he knows around him will help.”
I smiled, “You’re such a good dad you know?”
“I try,” he kissed my forehead, “I will see you tomorrow morning,” he said heading up to bed.
I sat on the couch and watched a little television before heading up to bed.