Chapter 2 – Arrival at Owl Creek

New York City

Rachael had packed most of her clothes and the necessary stuff needed to start her life at the ranch. This was a new beginning she had been working on for so long. The stint in modeling had been unexpected for her but has been most profiting as it gave her the means to start her own boutiques and business had been very profitable. Profitable
enough for her to get her ranch back from the cheating ***.  The man, who should have protected her and loved his daughter, instead had thrown her out of her own house with nothing but few dollars in her hand. Bless her mother for her foresight to have paid all her tuition at the school else she would have ended up scraping for life than making a career.

As the boarding for the flight was announced, Rachael walked to the gate and handed her ticket to the air hostess named Bess. Upon looking at her name Bess smiled and escorted Rachael to her seat in the first class.

Settling back for a long flight to Wyoming Rachael grabbed her ipad and started going through downloads on the ranch life. She had lived and worked along the ranch hands when she was young but it had been almost twelve years since she had been on ranch thanks to her father.

Owl Creek had been her home. Place she was born and brought up running along the garden her mother tended with her own hands. “Sweets” the Arabian mare was the best gift her grandfather had
ever given her on her 12 birthday. Every year she looked forward to return home from the high school she was in until the year her mother passed away.

She enjoyed going to school at St. Mary’s in Cheyenne and living in her hostel but she missed staying with her mom at home. Rachael felt a tear run down her face as she remembered her childhood and her mother.

Hot Springs

The captain announced the arrival of the “Hot Springs airport”. Taking a look out the cabin window Rachael saw late spring blooms across the stretch as the flight descended its elevation.
The land was filled with vibrant colors of wild flowers making it beautiful sight of her home land. Once the flight landed Rachael collected her belongings and moved towards the baggage claim. After collecting all her bags she walked out the terminal to look for car rentals. Just as she walking towards the hertz counter she heard her name being called. Turning to see she found Uncle John waiting for her with boutique of wild flowers just as she loved when she was young.

Walking and hugging her uncle she said “Uncle John you didn’t have to come so far. I would have driven to the house myself.”

“No no my dear. You are finally returning home after 12 years and you except me to wait for you at home. Ain’t  gonna happen.”

Smiling at her uncle she walked along with him to his truck. Loading all her bags they drove in silence for about an hour. Finally Uncle John said “Rachael I have not told anyone about the deed. No one is aware that you are the buyer. They think some big shot from New York bought the place.”

“It would be best if no one knows that. Else all my plans will go for toss.”

“There is one more thing; everyone thinks Rach O’Cauly is dead, killed in the fire at the school.”

“They are right in that. Rach O’Cauly died the day she was turned out of her own home. Only Rachael Burns is alive and she is the well known and highest paid model and entrepreneur. This Rachael Burns will take back what is hers. She is not back stabbing O’Cauly.”

Uncle John was quite for a very long just looking at Rachael’s profile. He noticed the small innocent girl he knew was replaced by a beautiful woman, who knew what she wanted and how to get it. She was not the girl who needed support when O’Cauly raised his hand on his own daughter. This woman would hit back if necessary and he bet his entire life, when that day arrived he would like to stick around to see O’Cauly’s face.

Driving few miles into Owl creek Uncle John turned on to the dusty road leading to McGrover’s ranch. Fifteen minutes further into the drive they arrived at the house which was just as she had seen about twelve years ago. Except the flower bed was withered for lack of care.
When she looked closer she found the house also needed tending. It had lost its color and looked old. “Uncle John why is the garden full of weeds.”

“They do not have anyone to look after them. After your aunt died this place has lost life and soul” Said Uncle John with tears in his eyes.

“Oh my god, when did Aunt Jenny die?”

“About a year ago.”

“I am so sorry Uncle John. If I had known I would have come sooner.”

“I know dear. I know. Do not worry. But I am glad you are back now. Come let’s go inside and settle you in.”

As they climbed down the truck, a gangly boy came running from the house and helped them to carry the bags into the house. Once inside the house, Uncle John informed the boy to take all the bags to the guest room on the second level. The same room Rachael had occupied
as a girl.  Walking behind the boy, she saw the family pictures along the stairwell. At the top of the first level she saw herself in one photo in happier times along with Uncle John and Aunt Jenny, their elder son Chris and second one Sean.

As Rachael went to her room, John McGrover walked into his office. His phone was ringing and Barbara was not is sight. Picking up the phone he absently started piling the papers. Once the call connected he heard Chris on the other end. “Hello”

“Hello Pa, How are you?”

“Chris, good to hear from you. How have you been my boy?”

“Good pa. I am still tied up here in closing the deal. So should be back around next week.”

“Do not worry son. You should finish your business.”

“Pa, do not stress your health. I will be back soon and take care of the ranch business just like before.”

“Chris my boy, before you became a rancher, I have been handling the place for quite some time. Do not worry about ranch. I have taken care of everything here.”

Talking to eldest born for some more time John McGrover finished filing all the papers dealing with the purchase of three more new mares. Just as he was sorting the papers, Barbara his assistant and self appointed nurse to him walked in with his daily medication.

“Where did you run off to early morning John? We have been looking for you all over.”

“I went to the airport, to pick up the new owner of this ranch. She is right now settling down upstairs. I will introduce you both over evening snacks. Please ensure it is ready to be served at four.”

“She? So the new owner Burns is a girl?”

“Yes.”

“That is interesting. I will have to see how all the ranch hands will take it.”

“Do not worry she knows what she has gotten herself into. She is not meek and shy of working about the ranch hands as equal.”

“You say as if you know her well enough John.”

“Who? Me? No no. I could just read her character.” John tried to hide is misstep with awkward pacing along the office floor.

Knowing no matter how much she insisted John will not tell her the truth so she dropped the subject and walked back to her desk and checked the emails.

After refreshing shower, Rachael headed down towards the kitchen to grab something to drink, finding Uncle John sitting out in the backyard she walked with bottle of lemonade for herself and John. Sitting next to him on the swing she handed the bottle to him.

Smiling at her he said “It is so beautiful here, but all of it seems to pale in Jenny’s absence.”

“You miss Aunt Jenny. I had hoped I would get to eat her chocolate chip cookies.”

“Eat or steal them from the oven” said John teasing Rachael.

Smiling at the memory she held her uncle’s hand and enjoyed the peace of finally coming home. Finishing their lemonades talking about good times, both John and Rachael forgot the time.

Around four in evening, Barbara opened the backdoor and said “Will both of like your tea now?”

Turning to look at her John said “oh, no Barbara. We just finished our lemonades. Why don’t you get yourself something and take the day off early today.”

“Thank you John.”

“Oh Rachael, this is Barbara Whitney, my assistant and occasional cook, if I miss my lunch.”

“Hello Mrs. Whitney. Nice to meet you.”

“Hello Ms. Burns. Please call me Barbara.”

“ Then please  call me Rachael. It is pleasure meeting you. You
seem very efficient in your work. I was impressed with the deed in perfect order.”

“That’s a major compliment. John you should hear that.”

“Well, I always knew that.”

“It would be nice to say it once in a while too.”

“I will think about it.”

“You do that. I will leave now. Marty will be thrilled to see me home early” saying Barbara bade her goodbyes for the day and left.

Rachael had been silently observing both Uncle John and Barbara’s banter and the familiarity of it made her emotional. After she had landed at Hot Springs, she felt she had reached home. As she was thinking to herself how much she missed Owl Creek, Uncle John
told her to follow him as he had a surprise for her.

On the way he explained how the ranch was in the need of few repairs since Chris moved out and obtained a ranch for himself. He tries to maintain this one too but his ranch was too big and was simply taking all of his time. Uncle John gave a tour along the house and pointed the land across which made up McGrover’s ranch. Finally arriving at the
stables, he asked Rachael to close her eyes. Then he holding her hand he guided her to the stable at the far end. Once reaching the stall he opened the door and helped Rachael in and placed her hands on the horse he had bought for her as a gift.

Rachael opened her eyes to see a beautiful mare. “Sweets, it is you?”

Laughing at that Uncle John said, “Well not exactly Sweets, it is Sweet’s foal. I brought her from O’Cauly last month when I heard from you.”

Crying loudly Rachael hugged her Uncle “It is the most beautiful gift Uncle. Thank you. Thank you for bringing me back home.”

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