As the limousine traveled up the hill towards the big house of Rachael’s childhood, she couldn’t stop herself from thinking about the good times she had spent here. As the evening sun lit up the grasslands spreading the yellow shade till the eyes could see, making it the most spectacular sunset she had ever seen. Once the car reached the top of second hill across from the main entrance, one could see the entire pastures and the small manmade lake which her grandfather had built as water resource for the ranch. She then realized this lake was adequate for entire ranch. Then why did O’Cauly cheat John into getting the land from his ranch? Wanting to make sure Ted never took advantage of others anymore; she walked up to the door and knocked.
The door was opened by an old man late in his seventies. “Yes?”
“Hello, I am here to see Mr. Ted O’Cauly” Said Rachael handing her business card.
Showing her to the den, the old man informed he would return soon. Making herself comfortable in a chair close to the window Rachael gathered her thoughts before O’Cauly entered.
O’Cauly was just sitting down for dinner when he heard the doorbell. Hoping it is not one of the ranch hands bothering he walked out the dining hall to find his butler showing a lady to his den. He adjusted his coat and walked towards his den. The butler handed him the card of the lady. Looking at the name he tried to remember if he knew the person, but the name didn’t sound familiar. Knowing well he would find what is the business of the lady in his house he entered the den to come face to face with the beautiful girl he had ever laid eyes upon. Cursing he should have changed into something more formal he approached the girl who looked in her early twenties.
“Hello Ms. Burns. I am at disadvantage of not knowing you. Have we met before?”
Ignoring his hand Rachael looked down the length of O’Cauly and said “You many not know me Mr. O’Cauly, but I know you well enough. Pray I didn’t keep you from your dinner?”
“No Ms. Burns. But it would be my pleasure if you would join me” Said O’Cauly sneering at her.
Rachael just looked at him until O’Cauly felt uncomfortable under stare and said “Mr. O’Cauly I don’t have the habit of eating dinner with my competitors and certainly not with cheaters.”
O’Cauly did not understand anything Rachael was saying but calling him a cheater didn’t sit well with him and in anger he said “Ms. Burns might I remind you are in my house and insulting me. You have no right to call me cheater.”
“You see O’Cauly I do. I have brought McGrover ranch and it seems you have intentionally changed the markers along my property on the north side and stopped the flow of the stream.”
“What? Owner of McGrover? John would never sell that ranch to anyone let alone to a woman. I don’t believe this.”
“It depends on you if you wish to believe or not. But I own that ranch now and I am here to warn you about trespassing on my property.”
“Your property? Well the land you are talking about is mine. John has sold it to me.” Said O’Cauly frustrated.
Pulling out some papers Rachael said “Not according to this land deed I signed. The land belongs to me.”
“John and I shook on it Ms.Burns and that stands for him handing over that land to me.”
Standing from her chair Rachael walked towards O’Cauly who was a stout and bald man now and said “Mr. O’Cauly I am business woman and for me if the final word is not put on the papers in legal terms then it is not acceptable. I have gone through every page of this sale deed and there is no mention of you being given the land. So legally it still belongs to me and if you do not remove your markers by daybreak tomorrow I will call the sheriff’s office for trespassing. Goodnight.”
O’Cauly was flustered and couldn’t utter a single word as Rachael ordered him to remove the markers. For first time in his life someone had ordered him and he couldn’t say anything. His butler called him in for his dinner but being a man of unprincipled character he took his anger on the poor old man.
Rachael reached McGrover ranch which had been her second home for as long as she could remember to find John waiting for her on the porch. Paying the driver Rachael walked towards John and sat next to him.
“So what happened with Ted?”
“He got his warning and am sure he will never set his sight on this ranch.”
“Rach you have to be careful. I know he is your father and it must be difficult for you..”
“No Uncle John. It is not difficult but it does hurt so much that he couldn’t recognize his own daughter. How does one father not recognize his own daughter?” said Rachael dejected.
Putting an arm across her shoulder John spoke of happier times they had on the ranch when she used to visit as a child. After about an hour John’s cab arrived and he left for California promising to keep in touch. Saying her goodbye to John, Rachael walked into her room to settle in for the night praying tomorrow would be the start of something good.
Rachael was up and early in her office the next day wondering what O’Cauly would do now. Hearing a knock on her office door, she put aside the work she was doing and opened the door to find Barbara standing with a girl.
“Good Morning Rachael. Sam told me you have asked him to leave the job here at ranch and would like to meet his sister with an offer in his place.”
“Please come in Barbara and Donna is it?”
“Yes Mam” replied the girl.
“Call me Rachael. Now please make yourself comfortable. I would like to discuss few things with both of you.”
Worried what Rachael will have to say to them, both Barbara and Donna took seat. Rachael sat back in the chair behind her work desk and asked Donna directly “Donna, are you willing to work for me?”
“Yes Mam. With Sam not having work I will have to find some jobs outside. Here the jobs are scarce and the baking doesn’t cover all the costs of house. Even for few dollars I am willing to work for you mam.”
“Hmm call me Rachael. I have a proposition for both of you. There is no pressure; you can take some time to think it over before you answer me.”
“What is it Rachael?” asked Barbara curious.
“Well you see I need your help full time in the office and since you have been helping uncle John for very long time I would like you to assume the fulltime position of my assistant and handle all the paperwork of running the ranch. And I would like to hire Donna as the house keeper and cook. You will have to keep the house for me as I will be working in ranch all day and cook lunch, dinner for me and everyone working on this ranch, if you are ready Donna?”
Both the ladies were stunned into silence. Then Donna gave a cry of joy, walked across the desk and gave hug to Rachael giving her thanks. Smiling Rachael said “I hope two thousand dollars per month is agreeable to you both? The ranch is ruins and I can’t offer more at this time.”
“Oh my god, it is much more than we expected” Said Barbara closing her mouth with her hands controlling her tears of joy.
“No you deserve it Barbara. Every ledger I have seen here in this office is in perfect order thanks to you and with so much work you still volunteered to cook for Mr. McGrover. He trusted you and so do I.” said Rachael
“You will never be sorry for hiring us Rachael.”
“So does that mean you both accept my proposition?”
“Accept. Oh dear we should be asking you if we can start right now.” Said Barbara laughing
“That would be great. But Donna if you have previous commitments you are welcome to join from tomorrow.”
“Oh Ms. Rachael thank you so much. I need to deliver a batch of cookies and bread to Mr. Wilson and will be back before noon to cook lunch.”
“Do take your time Donna. No hurry.”
Smiling Donna hurried out the office and Rachael informed Barbara the first order of business she would like to take care is buying a car to commute and check few options for improving the water reserve on the ranch and along with it visit a nursery to purchase few herb plants and fruits trees to plant on the ranch. Barbara made note of all the required items and informed Rachael where they can bought.
“Well Barbara lets go shopping. Give me fifteen minutes and I will be ready.”
Nodding her agreement Barbara set about tidying the office, removing the clutter which John never allowed her to clear saying he preferred it. Hoping things were about to change around this ranch for good.
Reaching Owl Creek by Barbara’s car, they headed straight to the only car dealer of Chevy. After looking around all the possible options available, Rachael settled for Avalanche the latest model in Chevy trucks to deliver the next day. It would be practical to use around the ranch and to commute long distances from the ranch. Even though it was truck she made sure it had all the accessories along with the smooth and soft beige leather seats. Once out of there she said to Barbara “If a girl has no choice in cars for practicality, well it at least gotta have style.”
“Oh you are sly one. I like you dear” Said Barbara laughing.
They walked along the Owl Creek market buying everything of the list. Barbara introduced Rachael to all who lived in around Hot Springs and Owl Creek. It seemed here everyone knew everyone being a small knit community. Even in her childhood she had never met so many of her neighbors for having stayed in hostel all time. But it was different now. This was the place she had decided to settle back in her house and make a life for herself, doing what her mother loved.
Once the shopping was done Barbara and Rachael returned to ranch. Calling one of the ranch hands to help with storing the gardening items and plants in the shed. They walked into the house to find Donna setting lunch on table. Washing up Rachael invited everyone on ranch for lunch. All ranch hands were surprised of the invitation but taking it as a goodwill of their boss settled in for a warm meal. Seeing her kitchen filled with so many men in dirty boots, hay on clothes and lack of table and chairs, Rachael decided to work on a lunch room outside the house with picnic tables and benches for all. Finishing lunch she walked out and spoke to Jacob about setting up the lunch room. They walked along the perimeter of the house and decided a spot in the rear of the house facing the small lake spanning over a width of few yards. Jacob set about working with Eric for the shed. Overseeing the plan Rachael gave her inputs and walked back in kitchen to inform Donna she needed her help with gardening. Changing into her work clothes Rachael worked along with Donna on the herb garden.
As they were planting the herbs, they heard the beats of hoof, curious who would be riding Rachael walked around the side of house where they were planting the small garden to find a man riding the most magnificent horse she had ever seen. As the rider came closer she was mesmerized not only by the horse but also by the man riding it. The black Stetson over his head covered all his features but from the angle of his lower face he had to be handsome and his blue jeans and flannel shirt only accentuated his masculinity.