At Wolf Ranch

By: Jennifer Ryan

“It’s the stables and pastures I’m more interested in.”

“Please, that house is beyond awesome.”

Yeah, it certainly would appeal to that elusive wife he kept looking for.

“Did you get it cleaned out like the owner asked?”

“Get this, I’ve dealt solely with Phillip Wolf, but Lela Wolf showed up the other day.”

“What’s she like? Spoiled rich girl?”

“Hell if I know. I only spoke to her for a couple of minutes. I met her in the driveway. She wanted to know what I was doing there. When I told her Phillip requested I put the contents of the house in storage, she told me to leave the place alone and tore out of there. You’d have thought the hounds of hell were after her.”

“So you didn’t pack the house?”

“No, I did. Moving trucks showed up fifteen minutes later.”

Blake frowned. “Why didn’t she want you to touch anything in the house?”

“She didn’t say.”

“Did you tell her you own the place now?”

“I don’t own it until escrow closes in nine weeks. That’s the deal.”

“Did you tell her that?”

“She didn’t give me a chance. Come to think of it, she thought her uncle sent me to find her.”

Blake frowned and narrowed his eyes. “That’s strange.”

“I had my orders from her uncle and delaying the inevitable seemed stupid. The stuff sat in that house for the last ten years untouched. People like them, from the city, more money than they know what to do with, they don’t care about all that land. Hell, Travis Dorsche took over running their prime cattle, and that guy’s just this side of worthless, and they don’t give a shit. So, yeah, I cleaned out the house. When the deal goes through they’ll still have all that stuff sitting in the lockers Phillip rented. With those people, it’s out of sight, out of mind.”

“Too bad you didn’t get the cattle as part of the deal. That would have saved you some big bucks getting the place set up.”

“Tell me about it.” Gabe rolled his shoulders to ease the ache.

“Still sore.”

“I’m too old to be riding bulls and roping calves. I’ll leave that to Dane.”

“You won the bull-riding championship. Again.”

“It felt good to beat our little brother one last time. I got the last of the seed money I needed to pay for the cattle.”

“When do you expect delivery?”

“The day I move in. Things will be tough the first year. I sank everything I have into this deal, but after that, sky’s the limit.”

“You’re on your way.” Blake gave him a thump on the shoulder. “Come on, let’s load this guy and get you moving. The snow will pass us by here, but you’ll meet it head-on. It’ll be sunset in another hour.”

Gabe led Sully to the gate Blake held open and walked him straight to his truck and trailer. He unstrapped the saddle and pulled it off, handing it over to Blake, who took it inside the stables to put it on the rack. Blake walked out carrying a brush and handed it to him. Gabe tossed the saddle pad Blake’s way, and his brother caught it and took it back inside too. Gabe shook his head and thought of them back on their parents’ ranch, always working together to get the chores done. He missed those days. Now that they were all scattered—Caleb down in Colorado with his new wife, Summer; Dane traipsing all over Texas, Arizona, and Nevada riding rodeo; and Blake here—it wasn’t often they all got together at one time. He missed being with his brothers. Maybe Blake was right about him rambling around that big house alone.

He thought often these days about having a wife and kids. Seeing Caleb last month with his pretty bride, how happy they were together, made him think of finding someone special, instead of someone just for tonight, or this week, or this month. Tired of roaming, he wanted to settle down to a normal ranch life like his parents shared and Caleb found with Summer. The life he planned to have with Stacy before it all fell apart.

Blake slapped him on the back, bringing him out of his thoughts.

“Go anywhere interesting in that mind?”

“Just thinking about Caleb and Summer.”

“Never seen two happier people.”

“Me either. Maybe that will be us someday.”

“Let’s hope,” Blake said, surprising him with his candor. Whenever they talked about women it was to razz each other or brag about some conquest. They never talked about getting married and settling down.

Gabe brushed Sully down before leading him into the trailer and changing out his bridle for the halter. With the horse settled into the trailer, Gabe stepped out, closed the gate, and faced Blake.

“What do I owe you for the feed and training?” Gabe pulled out his wallet, but his brother put his hand on his arm.

“Call it a housewarming gift from me to you.”

“It’s not necessary,” Gabe tried to argue.

“It’s a gift. I can’t wait to come out and see your new place once you get settled.”

“I’ll probably need some help when the cattle arrive to get them into the right pastures.”

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