Ranch Daddy - Page 68

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As exhausted as I was, I should’ve fallen asleep the moment I lay down, but the adrenaline rush of conquering what had seemed impossible kept me from relaxing. Long after everything had gone quiet on the ranch, I slipped from the house and headed out to the spot where I’d often gone as a kid, the one where Blake had convinced me to conquer my lack of faith in myself instead of running away. How long ago had that been? A few months? It felt like another lifetime.

The moon was full, giving me just enough light to see out over the pastures. What would happen to this place after I left? The one time I’d visited my dad since the accident, he’d told me Leanne had convinced him the ranch was too dangerous for them, and they would be living in Houston. Leanne was already shopping for a house. My dad hadn’t made any progress toward hiring a new foreman, and I’d started to wonder if he was considering selling the place.

I thought of Angelo, Casey, and all the others. If my dad sold the ranch, would they get to stay?

I wasn’t supposed to be worried about that. I was supposed to be focused on my own future. I would talk to my dad tomorrow, he’d give me the money like he’d promised, and my time at the ranch would be over. I never had to come back again. Months ago, I thought that would be a victory. Now, I’d grown attached to the place and the people there. The only thing missing from my life for the last few weeks was Blake. I had everything else I wanted, purpose, people who trusted me, and a sense of peace.

I stood there for a while, enjoying the quiet, gazing up at the stars, looking out at the cows in the distant pastures, and I made a decision. I knew what I wanted after all.



When I stepped into his room, my dad was bitching at one of his nurses. I needed to do something for them to apologize for having to put up with the old bastard.

“Shouldn’t you be at the ranch?” he asked.

“Nice to see you too.” He snarled and started to say something else, but I interrupted him. “The last of the calves was born yesterday.”

“How many did you lose?”

“One was stillborn, the rest are all healthy.” I took my backpack off my shoulders, pulled out a portfolio, and handed it to him. “The figures are all there.”

As he glanced through the spreadsheets and graphs I’d worked up, his eyes widened. “Damn. This is the best year we’ve had.”

“Yes, sir. It’s a record number of calves. And our projected earnings are way up.”

He gave me an assessing glance and, frowned. “I was wrong about you. Apparently, you can learn something after all.”

“Do I take that to mean you’re prepared to agree I know how to run the ranch?”

“It appears you do. I’ll call the bank once I finish with this damnable physical therapy they torture me with every morning.”

I chose not to remark on its necessity to his recovery. “Actually, I have a slightly different proposal.”

“You’re not getting all the money now. You might have proved you can run a ranch short-term, but you’re not ready to control your whole trust fund.”

“That’s not what I’m asking for.”

He frowned again and gave me a suspicious look. “Then what is it?”

“What are your plans for the ranch?”

“I’m not sure. I might sell it.”

“Even though it was your father’s?”

“After all this”—he gestured around the room, and I assumed he meant his injury and recovery—“I don’t really have much interest in living there, but I guess if it’s profitable enough I may keep it.”

“I’d like to have it, sir.”

He tried to sit up farther and then winced. “You?”

“Yes. Me. I spent the last few months learning to run the place, and I’d like to keep doing it.”

“You hate the ranch.” He looked at me like I was a stranger.

“Not anymore. Sometimes people change, you know?”

He snorted. “I suppose sometimes they do. Are you offering to buy the ranch with your trust fund money?”

This was it. Once I took this step, there was no going back, though I supposed I could sell the ranch myself down the line. “I am. But I intend to negotiate a good price.”

He studied me. “You’d really trade money you could use to flit about drinking and partying for a ranch where you’re going to have to work damn hard to keep up this kind of profit?”

Or hire someone else to do it like you did. I kept that thought to myself. “Yes, sir.”

“Hmpf. Maybe I really was wrong about you. You’ll probably never hear me say this again, but I’m sorry.”

I nodded. “Thank you, sir.” Our relationship was never going to be easy. I couldn’t forgive him for the way he’d treated me or Blake, at least not now, but I appreciated that he’d at least admitted he’d been wrong.

Tags: Silvia Violet Romance
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