Ranch Daddy - Page 28

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He frowned. “My dad doesn’t do any of that, does he?”

“No, but he’s the owner. I’m talking about the people who work the ranch.”

“But he used to work—”

I shook my head. “He used to play at working the ranch.”

Riley laughed. “I’m sure you’re right, but to hear him tell it, he worked just as hard as you or anyone else. I should know better than to believe anything he says, though.”

“You should, especially when it comes to you. He’s wrong about you. You’re a fast learner. If you believe anything I tell you, believe that.”

“Thank you.” The way he smiled reinforced what I already knew. He needed constant reminders of his worth. I would get frustrated with him in the coming weeks, but I would keep reminding myself that he needed encouragement, not criticism.

10

Riley

Once we’d fed the horses and checked them over, I followed Blake to the office. He talked me through all the ins and outs of calving: the breeding period, watching over pregnant cows, tagging and checking the calves as soon as they were born, watching to make sure their mothers were caring for them, and all the many things that could go wrong at every stage of the process. By the time he finished, I wasn’t sure how they ever ended up with enough healthy calves to sell. I was also about to lose my mind from being expected to focus for so long. When Blake suggested we ride out and check on the rest of the soon-to-be mamas, I jumped up so fast I turned my chair over.

“Ready to get out of here?”

“Yes. Um… I’m just… I’ve never been good at sitting still that long.”

Blake laughed. “I knew I was right about that office job not being the thing for you.”

“You totally were.” I took off out the door.

When we reached the barn, Blake handed me Rollo’s saddle. He was one of the bigger horses and thus more intimidating to the cows. Ginger was such a softy Blake didn’t like to ride her when working cattle. Blake rode his stallion, Midnight, and I was very happy to follow along behind him. He was clearly as comfortable on horseback as he was on foot, and he looked damn fine in the saddle, legs hugging the side of his horse, moving like he was part of the animal. He sat up tall with his ever-present Stetson on his head. I let my gaze roam over his broad shoulders and down to his tapered waist and gorgeous ass.

“Riley? Did you hear what I said?”

“What?” He glanced back at me. “How many times do we have to go over the importance of not getting distracted while we’re working?”

“We’re just riding,” I protested.

He gave me his you’re-asking-for-a-spanking look.

“If you don’t want me distracted, stop looking so fucking hot.”

Blake rolled his eyes and motioned for me to come up beside him. “When we get to the pasture, I want you to practice opening the gate the way I taught you.”

“Didn’t we do enough of that yesterday? We’re not doing a roundup now, so can’t I just open it normally?”

“No, you need to practice until you can do it without thinking. If you’ve got cows coming in behind you, you need to be able to get through that gate and get it closed. You’ve got to take this seriously.”

I doubted he meant for his scolding tone to turn me on, but damn if it didn’t make my dick swell. “I know it’s serious. Cows are big. They can hurt me.”

This time, his glare made me shiver. “Didn’t you just tell me it was nice to be able to sit down comfortably again?”

“Yes, Daddy,” I said, not even trying to modulate my petulant tone.

His look turned truly serious. “Not out here. That name is for when we’re in private.”

I glanced at the wide expanse of pastureland. “There’s no one around.”

“I know, but if you get used to it…”

“I won’t.” I liked calling him that, and I didn’t want to stop unless there was truly a chance of getting caught.

“Boy.”

“Now you’re doing it,” I huffed.

“It’s not the same.”

I wanted to argue. I wasn’t sure why, but the bratty side of me needed to rile him up. Maybe it was because I’d sat still so long and I was filled with too much restless energy, always a dangerous thing for me. But I was trying to be more mature and responsible. I didn’t want him to think I had to be a brat all the time. “I won’t call you that except when we’re completely alone, okay?” My voice sounded sadder than I’d intended. I truly didn’t want anyone knowing I called him Daddy, but I also didn’t want to hide what I felt for him.

“Riley, I’m sorry things have to be this way.”

“So am I.” I figured he just meant us having to hide, but I meant all of it: the hiding, me having to leave, our time together being temporary. I already knew that no matter how much I wanted to get away from my father, I wasn’t going to want to leave Blake. The way he looked at me made me feel like I was actually as capable as he said. There was something between us that felt more real than any connection I’d ever felt.


Tags: Silvia Violet Romance
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