I barely kept myself from rolling my eyes as I turned back to face him. “Yes, sir?”
“I want a report from you at the end of each day. I need to know how things are going with the boy and if you think he can actually do this.”
“Run the ranch, sir?”
I nodded. Of course he had to make this as time-consuming as possible, but I knew arguing was pointless. “Will do, sir.” I didn’t point out that he could get a report by actually talking to his son each night.
“And there’s a damn good chance he’s on God-only-knows-what drugs. Found some pills in his things last time he was home. He claimed they were ‘a friend’s’ but we all know what that means. If you even think he’s taking something, bring him right to me.”
I didn’t want drugs on the ranch any more than Lawson did, especially considering the trouble we’d had right after Riley left for college when one of the hands got involved in drug trafficking and ended up dead. That had been scary as shit. But if I found him with something, I’d handle it myself. I was far more likely to get the boy to listen than Lawson was.
I dressed quickly the next morning, grabbed some breakfast, and then headed to the barn, carrying a thermos of coffee with me. I wanted to get a few things done before I had to deal with Riley who would likely be at his brattiest since he was being forced out of bed at dawn.
When I stepped into the barn, I froze. Someone was leaning into Ginger’s stall, and holy hell his ass was perfection. Had Mr. Lawson hired someone new and not bothered to tell me?
“You’re a good girl, aren’t you?” the man cooed at Ginger who was one of our steadiest mares.
“She is.” The man whirled around at the sound of my voice, and we both sucked in our breaths. “Riley?”
I’d known he would have changed in the four years since I’d seen him. Once he’d left for his first attempt at college, he’d only returned once, and I’d been gone at a cattle show that week. But Jesus, I hadn’t expected him to look like this. Perfect ass. Tight jeans clinging to his thighs, t-shirt stretched across shoulders that were much wider than they’d been at eighteen. He was still lean, but his muscles were more defined, and after some time on the ranch, they’d only be more so, and his dirty blond hair would grow lighter like it was when he was a teenager. I’d known working with him wouldn’t be easy, but I hadn’t realized it would be as hard on my dick as it would be on my patience.
And fuck if that wasn’t messed up. He’s my boss’s son and technically young enough to be mine. We were still staring at each other, and someone needed to break the silence. “I didn’t expect you’d be on time, much less early.”
He smiled, and damn if that didn’t make him hotter. “I never went to bed. Made it easy to get up.”
And it would make my job for the day all that much harder since he hadn’t had any sleep. “Ginger would be a good mount for you if you haven’t ridden in a while.”
He shrugged. “Whatever.”
Great. It looked like things were going to go as badly as I expected.
“Can we just go ahead and start so we can get this over with?”
“You do realize you’re going to be working with me all day, every day?”
His blue eyes widened, but he hardened his expression quickly. “Not every day.”
“Yes, every single damn day.”
He frowned. “You get a day off, right? Nobody works seven days a week.”
“I assure you plenty of people do. When things aren’t insanely busy, I take some time for myself, but the ranch won’t run on your schedule. You’ll show up when I tell you.”
He huffed, and I wondered if he realized it made him look even younger than his twenty-one years. “You’re not my boss. If anything, I’m yours.”
Oh hell no. This was not how things were going to go. “Your father is my boss, and he told me you were working the ranch just like any of the other hands. I’m the foreman, so that does, in fact, make me your boss. If you can’t listen to me and learn what I have to teach you, your father is going to cut you off. That means no more money to fund all the shit you seem to care about like parties, fancy cars, fancy phones, and whatever the hell else you want.”
“You have no idea what I want or what matters to me.”
His face was pinched with anger now, the nonchalance completely gone. He was right; I was making a lot of assumptions, but he was also being as difficult as I expected him to be. “Fair enough, but I do know your father is fed up, and this might be your last chance with him, so you need to figure out how to get along with me and stop acting like a disrespectful brat.”