Chapter 13 – And cat’s out the bag

Chris’s Ranch

Confrontation with Karen had put off Chris from visiting Rachael. He found himself on his porch observing Gabe as he went about the chores around the ranch. Chris was devastated when he had heard about the fire at Rachael’s school. He had driven down continuously for hours together just so that he knew for sure that there was no mistake. Then how was it possible for Rachael Burns and Rach McBurns, “oh how original for her. Is she trying to hide her identity or making it plain visible to all”

“Did you say something?” called out Gabe walking with pile of water to the stable

“Hmm. No no, I was…” Chris looked around and cleared his throat and said “well you see I was going to” he took the pile from Gabe’s hand “I will water the troughs, why don’t you do something about dinner.”

“Huh, you always go to Karen’s or Barbara’s for dinner. Why change of kitchen now?” asked Gabe scratching his head

Chris looked at him for a minute and called out walking to the stable “Go home Gabe, I will heat some pizza for dinner” without looking back to see if Gabe left.

He filled all the troughs with water and pulled out hay bales and placed in the stalls for horses. Then he began rubbing down the sultan before moving on to other horses.

“Hey cowboy, do you need help? Looks like a long lineup” called out Rachael from the entrance of the stable picking up a rug hung on the stall and walked towards Chris

“Rach, what are you doing here?” said astonished Chris unable to believe if it was reality or figment of his imagination

“Well you didn’t show up for our first day of the contract and also your breakfast got cold.”


“Yes, the one you asked Barbara to make. So I thought I will bring it down.” Saying Rach started grooming the horse in the next stall to where he was standing. He was amazed at the way her hands moved lovingly over the horse and the easy way she had been able to gain trust of the horse.

“So you got me the breakfast for dinner.”

“Well yes.” Said Rachael hiding her smile

“You mean to say you got me the cold ham and eggs that Barbara made in the morning.”

“Yes of course. What did you expect?” said Rachael with expression saying is he daft.

Shaking his head side to side, Chris dropped the rag in the bucket and walked to the stall Rachael was in and took the rag from her hand. She lifted her eyes and it was the biggest mistake she could have ever made. Chris pushed her to end of the stall, holding her hands at her side; he picked out hay in her hair and ran his fingers down her cheek to her lips. Rachael’s heart kicked up the pace and beating was loud in her ears. As soon as his fingers touched her lips, they parted of their own accord ready for Chris to kiss her.

 “I thought I lost you Rach. I didn’t believe when they told me you were dead. I searched the site for you because in my heart I knew you were still alive.” It was liked someone had dunked cold water on Rachael’s head. She jerked away from Chris’s embrace and walked away as fast as her legs could carry her.

She stopped at the stable entrance and without turning said “You mistake me for somebody else Mr. McGrover. Barbara sent dinner for you when you didn’t show. It’s getting cold on your porch.”

Chris stood shocked to learn his doubts were true, it was Rach, his Rach come back alive. But he couldn’t understand why she had to try and change her name and buy the ranch from his Pa. His Pa, “well I will be damned, that old geezer has been on it from the beginning.” Chris laughed out loud at what a fool he was to not have realized that his father would never sell the ranch. His old man and Rach were up to something and wanted to know what and why. But he needed to tread carefully with Rach now that she knew he knew who she was. “huh huh, what a complication”

McGrover Ranch

Rachael drove back as the devil himself was behind her. She reached home and walked up to her room even when Donna called out to her. Opening her bag she emptied all the contents in it on her bed. The charms jingled stuck to side of the bag. She freed it and held it close to her heart. This was really a complication she had not planned for. “How I am supposed to carry out my plan now?”

There was soft knock on her door. Rachael walked to her door and opened to find Donna with some iced tea in her hand. “Are you ok Miss? I saw you run up and wanted to see if you needed anything?” she said shuffling on her legs. Rachael opened her door wide to let her in. Donna placed the tea on the table and poured it in a glass for Rachael and started to leave the room. “Donna will you stay a bit and talk to me please.”

“Yes of course Miss. How can I…?”

“Why do keep calling me Miss or McBurns Donna. Please call me Rachael. I would like us to be friends.”

Donna hesitated for a second before she sat next to Rachael on the chair and said “Then tell me what is bothering you so much Rachael?”

Taking a deep breath “You know sometimes we do and say things we don’t mean.”

“Yes, if we do it not intention to harm anyone it shouldn’t be cause of concern.” Donna said

“Well you see this friend of mine…”

“Is it one of those discussions where you start with friend of mine because you don’t trust your audience?” asked Donna little angry

Sighing Rachael laughed “Is it that obvious?”

“Yes, now tell me what did Chris do to upset you so much? He seems to have fallen for you and men in love do and say things which harm them only. You shouldn’t take it to your heart.”

“Donna, what are you talking about? I was not talking about Chris.”

“Oh well, oh you were not talking about Chris.”

“Well actually sort of was going to talk about him, but not what you think.”

“Oh ok.” There was a moment of silence before “Then what were you going to talk about?”

“Ahhh… nothing I should probably rest. I don’t know what I am saying.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, very much. Have you had dinner?”

“No I will be going home for dinner. Mama and brother will be waiting for me.”

“How are you going?”

“I will walk back.”

“This late, no no take the truck” Said Rachael handing her the keys.

“No Rachael, I can’t” said Donna shying away from Rachael’s outstretched hand with the keys

“Why not Donna? Didn’t we just establish we are friends?” said Rachael

“Yes of course, we are. But you see I don’t know how to drive.”

“Oh oh, well I will teach you from tomorrow. Let me ask Joshua to drop you home.” Rachael walked to window of her room hollered for Joshua, when walked up pulling his shirt tails looking up her window. “Joshua can you please make sure Donna reaches home safely.”

“Yes Miss”

“Thank you Joshua.”

Closing her window she turned to Donna and gave the truck keys so that Joshua could drop her home. Donna took the keys and hugged Rachael and said “You are the best thing that happened to us here”

Rachael kept watch until the tail lights of the truck faded away into darkness. She turned in for the night, but sleep evaded her. A tall dark cowboy kept her awake late into night. She tossed and turned and fluffed her pillow in hope that sleep will come, but it was futile. Giving up she untangled the blankets from her legs and rose from the bed and walked to the window to look at the moonlit sky. As was looking up the sky, smoke started to rise up. She looked around to find the source of the smoke when she saw streak of something shining and then heard horse hoofs going away from the house. She climbed out the window and saw that the new lunch area they had finished was burning down.

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