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EXCERPT (Please excuse any formatting issues posting to this blog has caused.)
snow was coming down in blankets covering the ground as quickly as it fell.
Rachel Connors in her window sill looking out. The tears rolled down her face,
as the thought of going back home haunted her. She hadn't seen her parents in
five years, and wasn't completely positive she was making the right decision in
going back now. She needed to be near family now more than ever. Rachel made
the decision to keep her medical problems to herself as she needed a break from
reality. She knew there was no sense in making her parents worry about her. She
would tell them nothing.
sound of the cab's horn jarred her out of her thoughts. She wiped the tears
away and grabbed her bags. She would be staying with her parents until after
the holidays. The doctors didn't need to see her until the end of December. How am I supposed to forget everything and
enjoy a vacation at a time like this? Rachel sat in the back seat of the
cab as it headed to the airport. It would be a long plane ride from Colorado to
her parents' Ranch in Tennessee. It was always beautiful at her parents’ ranch,
which was about an hour and a half outside of Nashville. They always teased her
growing up about being a singer, but she never had any interest in singing. She
always wanted to be a talent agent. She wanted to be the one who found the
talent, which was exactly what she did. She was very successful at it, until
she received a job offer from a ski resort in Aspen. She moved there to be the
manager of her friends resort. It was a great escape from reality, and in the
process she grew to love her new life. Rachel took a long nap on the plane ride
to her parent's house. She had been under a lot of stress lately. It seemed
like only minutes after her head hit the pillow when the flight attendant was
saying they were landing. She looked around and saw that they were coming onto
the runway. She rubbed her eyes and stretched her arms before standing up.
Landers stood there holding a sign for a woman who he had never met before. How do I get myself into situations like
this? He thought as he started to pace back and forth. He couldn't tell Sue
and Tom that he wouldn't go pick up their daughter for them even though he knew
he wouldn't like her. He couldn't understand how she could stay gone as many years
as she did knowing her parent's missed her. Kyle would do anything for Sue and
Tom. They took him in four years ago when he didn't have anywhere else to go.
He had no family and no place to go until he got the job on the ranch. He
looked back and forth for Rachel. He had
seen many pictures of her over the years.
Kyle decided he didn't want to give some stuck up, too good to come home
to her family, up tight woman a ride. He dropped the sign into the trash can
and walked out. He would tell Sue and Tom the flight must have been delayed. He
felt a little bad lying to them, but he knew that their daughter could use a
good lesson on how you treat people. She hadn't treated her parents very well
not even visiting over the years. He turned and walked away.
walking down the aisle, Rachel saw her name written on a sign lying in the
trash can. That was strange since her
plane was right on time. Her parents told her a man named Kyle would be picking
her up. Where was he? Why didn't he wait?
She walked out of the airport and tried to
catch a cab, but there weren't any in sight. Rachel walked up and down on the
side walk with no luck. All the cabs were busy and she wanted to go home. She
grabbed her bag and started to walk. Surely somebody would give her a ride
within an hour and a half she thought. She made it down to the end of the
parking lot when she saw a man getting ready to get into his truck. “Excuse me
sir. My name is Rachel Connors. Can you please give me a ride to my family’s
ranch? I'll pay for the gas and if you can't take me all the way there, I would
be happy with anywhere close. My ride
didn't show up to pick me up and I can't seem to get a cab.”
shot her a look that let her know he wasn't in the mood to talk. He couldn't
believe his luck. Of all the people wanting a ride it had to be the one person
he wanted to leave at the airport. “Let's go. I have a lot of work to get done
back at the ranch.”
didn't know what to think. “Okay” she said, as she glanced down at the ground.
jumped up into his truck not saying a word. Rachel felt a little uncomfortable
being with him. Once she got buckled into his truck she looked over at him.
“Excuse me, but you haven't even told me your name.”
My name’s Kyle.” He said as he continued to drive.
I done something to offend you? I don't even know you, but you seem to dislike
me for some reason.” She said, as she
played with her hands nervously. “Wait a minute. Are you Kyle Landers? The same
Kyle Landers that works for my father? Why were you going to leave me here at
the airport? I wasn't late.”
really didn't want to get into it with her right then, but it was going to be
an hour and half ride back to the ranch. He knew he would have to talk to her
at some point in time. “Why don't we stop to eat? I haven't had lunch yet.”
wasn't sure if he was trying to be nice now or if he was just hungry. “That sounds good to me.” She said even
though she was still angry at him for leaving her there.
drove for another thirty minutes in silence before turning into the parking lot
of a small restaurant. Rachel had eaten at that place before and remembered
them having good food although she hadn't been eating much of anything lately.
She hoped the trip back home would take her mind off her problems, but not
bring up bad memories in the process. They walked into the restaurant and found
a table in the back away from everyone.
sat down and picked up a menu without speaking. When the waitress walked by he
waved her over to him. “I'll take a cheeseburger, fries and a coke please.”
saw the waitress look over at her. “I'll take the same. Thanks.” She looked
over at Kyle. “How long have you worked for my father?”
years.” He said without adding anything more.
great. My father really needed help after Bobby....... Well never mind. I'm
glad my father has you.” She took a sip of her soda trying to hold back the
tears as she thought about her brother.
looked surprised to hear that Tom had somebody else work for him. He hadn't
ever heard them talk about anyone else. “Who's Bobby? I've never heard the name
looked surprised by the question. “Oh, well… Bobby was my brother. You would
have really liked him. He died six years ago in a car accident.”
sorry to hear that.” He felt bad for asking now.
food came and they ate in silence. When they were finished eating they started
on their trip back to the ranch once again. Neither of them spoke. Rachel
couldn't help but wonder why Kyle seemed to dislike her so much. How could he
make a judgment not to like her that quick? She sat there staring out the
window thinking about when she was younger.
She remembered the way her and Bobby would go on long walks exploring
the entire ranch or taking the horses out across the range. He would take off
across there like he was in a race that he had to win. She could remember
staying back watching him go. He feared nothing and embraced life to the
fullest. Rachel could feel the tears starting again. She hadn't been home in so
long that she had buried the memories deep down. She always thought about Bobby
during the holidays, but more so this year. Bobby would have handled the news
from the doctors better than she did. Rachel wiped a tear from her eyes.
glanced over at the saddest person he had ever seen. He was beginning to think
maybe he misjudged her. Could she have good reasons for not coming around? Did
it have something to do with Bobby? He knew that he didn't know anything about
her, but the same time he knew that he wanted to. “Is everything alright?” he
wiped her eyes and sat up straighter. “I'm fine. Just memories flooding me,”
she said with a smile.
could tell that she didn't really want to talk about it and he wasn't sure that
he did either. “It's not much further.” He said as he wished he could take the
words back. Of course she knew it wasn't much further. She grew up there. He
always got flustered when he got nervous. He stared at the road emotionless as
could see her parents’ house coming into view as she got more excited. She
couldn't wait to see her mom and dad. It had been a long time since she had
seen them. They had visited her two years ago in Colorado, but she just
couldn't bear to come back home after Bobby died. She stuck around for about a
year after he died and then she had to get out of there. The memories hurt too
much. He was not only her brother but also her best friend. She didn't know how
to live without him.
truck stopped and Rachel jumped out as fast as she could. She saw her mother
standing on the porch with a smile on her face. Rachel ran to her and threw her
arms around her. “I missed you.” she said to her mom.
missed you too baby. I'm glad you're home, even if it's only for the holidays.”
Sue said to her daughter as she hugged her tighter.
dad?” Rachel asked as she looked around.
pointed into the house. “He threw his back out again. That's why Kyle had to
pick you up.”
he alright now?” she asked as she walked in the house. Looking back at Kyle she
said. “Thank you for driving me home.”
nodded his head. “No problem. I'll talk to you later. I'm sure.”
walked on into the house to find her father lying on the couch with a heating
pad behind his back. “Dad, how are you feeling?”
sat up with a smile. “You made it. I'm glad you're here. How was the trip?”
was fine. I don't think Kyle likes me much, but the trip was fine.” she
gave her a smile. “Kyle just takes a little getting used to. He's a good man.”
visited with her parents for hours sitting in the living room around the
fireplace. Her mother had made hot chocolate and apple spiced cake. Her mother
always made the best cakes in the world. At least that was what Rachel always
thought. She loved the way it felt being home again and almost hated to think
about leaving. She decided to go take a nice long hot bubble bath before going
to bed. She needed it after the stress that she had been under lately. She
planned to get up bright and early to go riding on the ranch. It had been a
long time since she had been out on the ranch.
next day Rachel got up and dressed in jeans and a t-shirt to go riding. She
walked up to the stables to pick out her horse. When she walked in she saw Kyle
brushing one of the horses.
morning.” she said to him.
looked up at her. “Hi. Going riding this morning?”
It's been awhile. I can't wait. Would you like to go with me?” she asked not
knowing where that came from. The words came out of her mouth without thinking.
didn't know what to say. “Sure. I can go riding with you. Let me saddle up a
couple of horses.”
went over to one of the stalls and started brushing the midnight black horse.
Its coat was shiny and smooth. “This is my horse, buttercup. I haven't ridden
her in a while. I'll get her ready for me to ride. If you don't mind?”
Go ahead. I'll saddle up Ranger for me to ride.” He walked over to the brown
horse in the last stall and started getting the horse ready.
a few minutes of getting the horses ready, they headed off across the land.
Rachel loved the feel of the wind hitting her in the face as she rode quickly
across the fields. She hadn't done that in a really long time. Thoughts of her
and Bobby racing their horses flooded her mind as she raced her horse to the
back part of the land. She wanted to stop at the creek to let her horse have
some water. When she stopped and got off, she looked back to see if Kyle was
still there. He was coming up behind her slowly.
ride great.” he told her as he jumped off his horse.
smiled. “I love to ride. I never get a chance to anymore. The only thing I ride
is a snowmobile now.”
walked over and sat down on a big rock and watched her horse drink from the
creek. Glancing up at Kyle she said. “It's okay though. I get paid good money
to do what I do.”
isn't everything though. You need family too.” He still wasn't sure why she
moved away, but he was starting to think she had reasons, and maybe he was
wrong to misjudge her the way he did. He could tell that she loved her family.
Why did she leave? He wanted to find out, but didn't want to come right out and
sighed. “I know and I do miss my family. It was really hard on me after Bobby
died. I stuck around for about a year afterwards, but then I had to get out of
here. Now it's been all this time and I don't know what has been keeping me
away. Now I wish more than ever that I lived here near my parents.” She looked away with a tear in her eye. She
didn't want to cry in front of him, and she didn't want this complete stranger
to know anything about her medical problems.
sorry if I upset you. I didn't mean to do that.” Kyle felt horrible.
wiped a tear away. “You didn't upset me. I always get emotional around the holidays.
More so now than before.”
didn't know what she meant by that, but he could see a sadness in her eyes. He
stood there staring at the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She was about
five foot five inches tall with long brown hair. She couldn't be more than a
size six. He couldn't believe that he was looking at her that way. It was only
a day ago that he had decided that he didn't like her. Things were changing for
him with time. He looked over at her. “I guess you and your brother, Bobby, were
smiled as the thoughts of Bobby came back to her. “Yes, we were like best
friends. We did everything together. It was really hard for me when he
died. We had spent the whole day
together that day at a baseball game in Nashville. That night Bobby wanted me
to go to the store for him and get him some ice cream, but I was tired and said
I didn't want to. He left to go get it himself, and on his way home he was hit
by a drunk driver. I can't help but blame myself. If I had went to the store then
maybe he would still be here with us. It's my fault that he is dead.” Rachel
couldn't stop the tears from falling. They were coming down like rainfall.
went over to her and took her into his arms. “It's not your fault, Rachel. You
can't blame yourself. Is that why you have stayed away so long? If it is then I
think you need to come home to your family.”
wiped the tears away and walked back to her horse. “You don't understand. I
can't leave Aspen right now. I have to be there. I wish I could, but I can't”
She walked over and got up on her horse. She rode across the land without
they got back to the stables she started brushing her horse. Rachel loved that
ranch and missed it every day. She would love to move back, but knew she
couldn't until the doctors said she could. The waiting for the test and then
the results were going to be the hardest thing she had ever had to do. The
doctors couldn't get her in for her test until January. Rachel was snapped out
of her thoughts by the sound of Kyle walking in with his horse.
sorry I upset you. Sometimes I put my whole foot in my mouth.” he said as he
walked the horse to the stall.
laughed. “You’re fine. I just get a little emotional sometimes. It's not your
about you let me take you out tomorrow night for dinner to make up for it?”
Kyle had no idea where that came from. He was usually a little on the shy side
looked at him with a little shock in her eyes. “I would love to go out with you
tomorrow night, but I can't. My mom and dad are going out of town to the cattle
sales, and I promised that I would get some baking done for thanksgiving for
her. You’re welcome to come over and let me cook you something if you would
like. We can watch a movie while the cakes are baking.”
good to me.” Kyle said. “I'll see you then.
couldn't believe she had made a date with him. She barely knew him, but she
couldn't help but think how great looking he was. He was six foot tall with
sandy blond hair and a great complexion. She could tell that he worked long,
hard hours out in the sun. She walked in the house and saw her mom over by the
stove cooking. She went over to her and gave her a hug. “Something smells
smiled over at her daughter. “It's beef stew. One of your many favorites.”
laughed because she loved to eat. She told her mom. “Guess what I'm doing
have no idea, dear.” Sue answered.
cooking dinner for Kyle while you’re gone. He asked me out and I told him I had
to do the baking for you, but that I would cook him dinner. He said yes.” She
seemed to be talking a mile a minute.
hadn't seen her daughter look that excited about anything in a very long time.
“I'm glad honey, but I would be careful not to lead him on. You’re still
leaving at the end of December aren't you?”
mother. We won't get serious. It's just one date.” Rachel tried to make herself
believe it more than her mother. She went over to the cabinet to get the dishes
down to set the table. When she was all done setting them out, she went to get
her father for dinner.
all sat down at the table together to eat. Rachel made small talk with her dad
about the ranch and the horses. “How's it going around here lately?”
looked over at his daughter. “Well, I could sure use a good manager to run this
ranch. Do you know anyone that can run a whole business, like maybe a huge
resort that might be interested in the job?”
had no idea that her dad wanted her to run the ranch with him. “Dad, I can't
believe you are asking me this. I would love to, but I can't right now. I have
some stuff that I have to take care of back in Aspen. Hopefully I can get that
all taken care of in a few months and then I would love to move back here.
face could have lit up the whole room. Happy didn't come close to the way she
felt at that very moment. She would do anything to have her daughter back home.
“What do you have to take care of?”
nearly choked on her iced tea. “What? Oh, I just need to give a notice at work.
Help train somebody. That could take a few months. Then pack everything that I
own and move it here. It might take me some time to get things in order, but I
will work on it as quickly as I can.”
they all finished eating, Rachel went to take a long hot bubble bath. She
filled the tub to the top, and then sank down in the steaming hot water. She
felt so relaxed for a few minutes. She laid there in the tub, and before she
realized what she was doing, her hand reached up and fell on her breast. She
couldn't help but touch it, but when she did the tears came flooding from her
eyes. The doctors had found the lump in a routine exam. They told her that it
may be nothing but they would have to run some blood tests and CT scans. If
that didn't give them the results that they wanted then she would have to have
a biopsy. Rachel laid there in the bath tub crying until her water went cold on
her. She didn't know how long she had been in there but she knew she didn't
want to get out.
what seemed like hours, Rachel got out of the bath tub and dried off. She stood
there looking at herself in the mirror for a few minutes before getting
dressed. How could somebody as healthy as she had always been be sick now? It
didn't make sense, and it didn't seem fair. Was she being punished for
something? That was all that she ever thought to herself. She got dressed and
crawled into bed. Maybe thinking about spending time with Kyle would help take
her mind off things.
next morning Rachel woke up to the smell of bacon cooking. She had truly missed
being with her family. She usually grabbed something quick and easy for
breakfast. It had been a while since she had a nice home cooked meal like the
one she smelled downstairs. She threw her robe on and headed down the stairs.
When she made it to the bottom she saw Kyle sitting at the table. She turned
around and ran back up the stairs as fast as she could. She couldn't let him
see her like that. She had to make herself beautiful. She ran over to the
dresser and started combing her hair and putting some make up on. She grabbed a
red t- shirt and some blue jeans to wear. When she finished getting dressed she
walked slowly downstairs. She walked into the kitchen to find only her mother
there. Her father and Kyle had already left to get started on the ranch work.
I hear voices down here a few minutes ago?” Rachel asked as if she hadn't seen
Kyle sitting there.
you did. Your father and Kyle already went out to the back field to gather the
cattle for tonight’s sale. They will be gone for most of the day. I'm sorry
that you missed them.” her mother told her.
no big deal. I was just wondering.” Rachel said as she acted like she wasn't
really interested. “I think I'll go into town today and do some sight-seeing.
It's been a while since I've been home.”
sounds like a great idea, dear.” Sue was glad to see her daughter thinking of
it more like home. She had wanted her to move back for many years now.
spent the whole day in town going from store to store looking around. She went
into the music store and spent hours in there. She remembered going there with
Bobby many times. It had a new owner now, but everything looked the same.
Rachel picked up a couple of CDs to buy. After she left the music store she
went into a small general store. The first thing that grabbed her attention was
a pink ribbon pin for sale for one dollar to help promote breast cancer
awareness. It seemed like she noticed more things like that now then she ever
had. Rachel walked past the pin without picking it up. She didn't need any
reminders telling her that she could have cancer. It was scary enough thinking
about it on her own and knowing that she was going through it alone. Rachel
couldn't tell her parents they could lose the only child they had left. She
spent the rest of the day in town and then she headed back home. Rachel wanted
to say goodbye to her parents before they left for their three day trip. They
had asked her if she wanted to go with them, but she didn't want to leave the
ranch. It had been too long since she had been back there. Rachel didn't want
to think about leaving. She only had six weeks before she had to go back home
for her doctor visit. That's when she would get the results to the CT scan and
blood work. She didn't understand why the doctors couldn't get the results
before the holidays, but they said the lab was overloaded with work and they
were way behind. She didn't like it, but she understood.
pulled into the driveway and saw the cattle trailer hooked up to the back of
her father’s truck. She had made it just in time to say goodbye before they
left. Rachel walked in and found her mother in the kitchen making notes. “What
are you doing mom?”
making you a list of pies, cakes, and breads that I would like you to make for
me while I'm gone. I'll be delivering them to the church when I get back. They
are making baskets for needy families.” Sue told her as she handed her the
Mom. You have enough stuff on this list to feed the whole state. I'll be busy
all night and tomorrow too.” Rachel pretended to be angry, but the whole time
she loved every minute of it. She hadn't done any baking in years. She used to
love making things with her mom. It was going to be fun being in the kitchen
all weekend. She walked over and gave her mom a hug. “I love you. Have a good
will. You have a good weekend too.” Sue hugged her daughter and then turned and
walked out to the truck.
went back into the kitchen to try to figure out what she wanted to fix for
dinner that night. She wanted it to be perfect for Kyle. She put some chicken
breasts in the oven to cook. Then she peeled some potatoes to make mashed
potatoes. She cut one of her mom's fresh loaves of bread and put some butter on
the table. Rachel had everything almost finished when she heard Kyle pull in.
She ran upstairs quickly to spray her favorite perfume on before he walked in.
She double checked her hair in the mirror and then walked back to the kitchen.