Caleb's Blessing

By: Jordan Silver

Chapter 1




I knew when I saw my brother’s patrol truck coming down my driveway in the middle of the day that some shit was up.

As soon as he got out and grinned at me, I was sure it was a biggie, and I had a pretty good idea what it was. It had been a while since we’d done this, but I can’t say I was surprised.

"Dammit Drake, you're a pain in the ass you know that?"

"Come on big brother you know I wouldn't ask if it wasn't important."

"What is it this time? You do know I'm trying to run a ranch here and not a halfway house for the descendants of Oliver Twist right."

"Oh come on, it hasn't been that bad, and everyone I've sent your way have worked out, haven't they? The ranch is flourishing and you have reliable help that would bend over backwards to please the great Caleb Dunbar."

"Shut up and tell me what kind of stray you're sending my way this time."

I pulled off my work gloves and wiped the sweat from my brow. It was early yet, but the sun was a bitch already this morning.

I had the scent of horse, cattle and hay on me already and the day had just started. Nothing I liked better though, it gives a man a great sense of accomplishment when he can get so much done before the day’s really begun.

"First off, it's a she this time."

That brought me up short. "A what?"

"It's a female, she's running from her ex I guess you could say.”

"Drake..."

"I know; that's why I thought here would be perfect. I know how you and the guys feel about this shit. He was sent away for attempted murder after he beat her near to death. He was supposed to be away for a long time, but because of some bureaucratic bullshit, he's been released early for good behavior.

She got the call two days ago I was contacted by my guy on her behalf not long after. As you can imagine, this is a very volatile situation, so we need to move quickly."

"Where is she?"

"Out in the truck." The sap smirked at me.

"Pretty sure of yourself there aren't you sheriff?"

"I know my big brother that's all."

"Let's go get your little waif."

I followed him out to his patrol truck. As sheriff of our little town, he spent most of his time patrolling the ranches and farms in the area. His biggest worry was the high school kids getting drunk and disorderly after a Friday night game.

Crime here was damn near nonexistent, as was to be expected in a small town I guess. What most people didn't know though, was that my little brother was also part of an underground network that helped relocate people who found themselves at the wrong end of an unsavory character's ire; kind of like witness protection.

For the past few years he's been sending men out to the ranch for work, men of all ages, from all parts of the country. Some of them had never seen a horse or cattle before in their lives, but my foreman usually had them whipped into shape in no time flat.

This is the first time he's brought me a girl though. This ranch wasn't any place for a female. It was in the middle of nowhere, a good hour and a half from town to be exact, with no one else around for miles, except for me and the hands.

It could get rather lonely out here with nothing more to do than ride the range or watch the animals. And females need a hell of a lot more than that to make them happy. That’s why I have yet to find a wife, not that I’m in any hurry, women are they own special blend of trouble. As a man who was trying to make this place work, there really was no time at present to put into a relationship.

My men usually headed into town to look for female companionship. There were no women here, not even to keep house. The men took turns cooking down at the bunkhouse and I pretty much kept my place clean, only utilizing the services of a cleaning agency once every two weeks because I hate clutter and mess.

"Shit Drake she's a kid." I could barely see her head as she sat in my brother's truck.

"Nah she's twenty two, just a little tiny that's all."

"Some dude took his fists to her?"

"That's not all he did, the last time he went after her he shot her."

I felt my heart seize, though I couldn't see her face, the slightness of her stature made it seem almost sacrilegious that someone would do such a thing. My brother ought to know how this would affect me. It’s no secret that I’ve used my fists to settle the score more than once where an abused woman was concerned. But I trust that he knows what he’s doing. As long as the son of a bitching ex stayed away, he’d live.

"Is she skittish Drake?" I held back my approach to the truck, not wanting to scare the probably traumatized woman any more than she already was.

"Not really, she's okay, just a little spooked you know."

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