Excerpt for Rancher (Four Historical Romances) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Rancher (Four Historical Romances)


Vanessa Carvo

Copyright 2017 Quietly Blessed & Loved Press

From Kansas To Nevada & Preferring The Other Cowboy Brother

Sarah & Her Cowboy in California

Abandoned By The Wagon Train: A Story of Survival & Faith

Free At Last In California

From Kansas To Nevada & Preferring The Other Cowboy Brother

Synopsis: From Kansas To Nevada & Preferring The Other Cowboy Brother - A woman leaves a small town in Kansas after corresponding with a man in Nevada, then travels to meet her new intended. The man she thought she knew by his letters turns out to be very different, rude, inconsiderate and crass. She is introduced to her fiancé’s brother and finds him a far better person than the man she is supposed to marry. She starts to fall in love with the brother and believes that he feels the same way about her, but she’s in a quandary as she has no idea how her fiancé will act.

Randi stared out of the window of the one room cabin she shared with her grandparents. She was sixteen years old and had lived with her grandparents for six years since her parents had passed away. Sometimes, she had a hard time remembering anything else than this small cabin. Her grandparents were wonderful people but Randi knew they were getting really old and had a hard time taking care of themselves, much less her. She sighed as she thought of her future.

In the year of 1855 in a small Kansas town, there were not many choices when it came to marriage and moving out. You kind of had to pick whoever was available. This is not how Randi had visualized her life. Her dreams were big and she wanted to marry for love but she knew she was running out of time.

A week before, Randi’s Grandpa Mac had come to her and given her an idea to think about. That was why on this cold rainy day, Randi, was in dreamland, staring out of the one windowed cabin. Mail order brides were good for young ladies who had no other choice and no good suitors to marry.

Two available men lived in the nearby town and they were both in their forties. That seemed a little old to Randi and they already had children from previous wives. Now, Randi wanted kids someday but raising kids at the moment scared her.

Surprisingly, Randi wasn’t mad at her Paw Mac for the idea, she just never realized that the time had gotten so close for her. Now that she really thought about it, she should have seen it coming.

Randi moved into the kitchen quietly so as not to wake up her grandparents. The kitchen was just a small spot on the wall with a stove. Randi poured herself a cold cup of black coffee and tried to take a drink. The coffee was nasty and needed some sugar but that wasn’t something her grandparents often had.

She poured the coffee out and lay down on the small bed that her grandparents had made for her. The blanket was soft and her mom had made it before she passed away. Randi loved the blanket and took great care of it. She had very few things but she never complained. She was just glad to have a happy home.

Some people could call Randi a poor person but she never looked at it that way. At least she wasn’t living in an orphanage where she knew the poor kids had it really bad.

Randi curled up on her bed and decided that Paw Mac was right. She had to make a decision soon. She didn’t want to wait until her grandparents were sick and she didn’t want to make them keep working harder to take care of her. She decided that tomorrow she would write a letter to the mail order publisher and see what she could do about finding a possible husband.

She fell asleep and dreamed about a tall, handsome cowboy who came from Kansas and whisked her away to a wonderful home. She lived in a nice house with a real kitchen and pretty clothes. Randi woke up the next day to the sound of chickens outside and she knew that she had been dreaming.

She climbed out of bed and saw that her grandparents were outside having their coffee. She threw on her shawl and went outside to tell them what she had decided to do. Her sweet grandparents were smiling and enjoying their coffee when Randi sat down in the old rocking chair next to them. Randi smiled and picked up Paw Mac’s coffee and took a drink.

Paw and Maw I’ve made a hard decision and I don’t want ya’ll to scold me on it, ok,” Randi asked with a sigh.

Paw and Maw looked at each other, than at their beautiful granddaughter who looked like she was going to cry.

I want to find a husband through the mail order bride service,” Randi told them without any more hesitation.

I love Franklin and I know you love me, but it’s time for me to move on. “

Randi looked at her grandparents and wondered what they would say.

Her grandma stood up and hugged the young girl.

We love you Randi. We just want to see you married and happy before we get too old.”

Her grandpa hugged her and agreed.

Randi went back into the house and wrote her letter for the publisher then hitched the horse to ride into the town of Franklin and mail it off. Randi loved riding horses and she prayed wherever she landed that she was able to ride horses and enjoy being outside. She hoped she didn’t move to live with a city man that wanted her to stay inside all day and clean or cook.

She mailed her letter and stopped by the store to pick up some flour on the way home. When she went in the general store she saw one of the men that needed a wife and he had his three kids with him. He wasn’t a bad looking man but his three kids were young and Randi knew nothing about taking care of kids. She could just barely take care of herself.

Randi quickly grabbed her flour and paid for it then headed out the door.

She hurried home so that she could get her chores done before it started getting too late. She knew that grandma wasn’t feeling well and she didn’t want her to have to do all of the chores by herself. Randi started supper and decided they would have dumplings for dinner.

After she finished dinner she washed up the dishes and made some fresh coffee for her grandparents. Randi knew that things would be easier on them when they didn’t feel like they had to take care of her.

Randi gathered all of the things she would need when she left for her big adventure, as she decided to call it. That was the only way she could accept the decision she had made. She packed them in her cedar trunk that belonged to her parents and waited patiently for the letter to arrive.

It didn’t take but a couple of weeks before Randi got a response from the publishers. They had sent her a list of possible men that she could choose from. Randi went through the different pages of men and she picked out the best possible suitor that she could think of. He was a cowboy from Rochester, Kansas, and he had no kids. The man was in his late twenties with sandy blonde hair and blue eyes.

That sounded good to Randi since her hair was blonde and she had blue eyes too.

Randi was only five foot three and the man was six foot, but she felt like she would still be ok with that. Randi wrote to him immediately and waited for a response. It took a little longer than she expected but three weeks later a letter arrived for her at the post office. Randi was surprised at the response from the gentlemen who wrote her. He addressed her as ma’am and his name was Will.

Will talked about his life mostly as a cowboy and his handwriting was horrible. Randi laughed at this because her dad never could write very well either.

Randi wrote the man back and told her about living with her grandparents since her parents had died and how she needed to move on with her life, and as a wife. She hoped that Will liked her and she looked forward to meeting him.

Will and Randi wrote a couple of times over the next couple of months and she decided it was time to go see him. She could prolong this all she wanted but she knew she would just have to do it.

Will lived on a small farm with his brother, Kale. Kale’s wife had died a year ago and he had moved in with Will so that he didn’t go crazy. The brothers seemed to get along well so Randi was ok with this.

Randi told her grandparents that the time had come and she was moving to Rochester to meet Will and to see his ranch.

It’s still in Kansas so I won’t be far,” she told them.

Randi’s grandparents packed her some food and kissed her cheek goodbye as they put her on the stagecoach that would take her to Rochester to meet Will. They knew they might never see her again but she was a smart girl and she knew how to take care of herself.

She cried a little as she waved goodbye but she knew that this was the best thing for everyone.

The ride to Rochester seemed like it took forever. They had to stop a couple of times and let different passengers on and off. Randi met a couple of really nice people along the way that were excited by her courage to meet a strange man and make a life. They understood what she was doing and gave her some great advice. Randi felt like she had made some friends even though she wouldn’t see them again.

When she finally arrived in the town of Rochester she got off the stagecoach and stretched her legs. There were a couple people standing around but none of them looked like Will had described. Randi sat down on the bench and waited.

As people started clearing out one man still stood there looking nervous.

Ma’am is your name Randi Sims,” the young man asked her.

He couldn’t have been more than about twenty five and he had dark brown hair and green eyes. He was handsome, but he looked very sad.

Yes I am,” Randi replied to the quiet young gentlemen in front of her. “Are you Will?”

The man shook his head no and replied, “My name is Kale. Will couldn’t make it so he sent me.”

Randi looked at the man in disbelief. Her first time to meet the man she might marry and he couldn’t even find the time to come and pick her up? Randi sighed and picked up her things.

Ok, let’s go then,” she replied.

Kale helped Randi put her things on the horse and buggy and gave her a hand up on the front. Randi sat up straight and paid a lot of attention to her surroundings. It seemed like a dusty place but it was wide open spaces and she liked that. That part reminded of her of home. Randi missed her home some but she promised herself that she would make this work somehow so she put her chin in the air and pressed forward with a man she didn’t know, who was taking her to another man she didn’t know.

Kale looked nervous all the way to Will’s ranch. The only thing he asked her was if she was ok. Randi smiled at herself she wasn’t sure who was more nervous, her or Kale. When she saw the ranch she was surprised at what she saw. It wasn’t this big, fine, fancy ranch but a small cabin about four rooms and a huge wide open area of cattle.

Will and Kale were truly cowboys. There were horses in a corral to the left side of the house and they were beautiful. There must have been a hundred horses in this huge area.

Kale helped Randi off of the buggy and took her trunk inside the cabin while she stood there and took it all in. Randi looked around at her new home and smiled to herself, thinking, this isn’t so bad. She was a little anxious to see Will though and wondered when she would be meeting him.

Randi took a step towards the house and she could hear a commotion from inside the house. Kale was trying to be quiet and he was obviously saying something to another man.

She is right outside so you need to go greet her. Will, you are being rude to your girl.”

She’ll come in when she’s ready and there is a lot for her to do so she needs to hurry up about it,” the other man was telling Kale.

Randi assumed this must be Will and he seemed like he was a slight bit arrogant but who knows, maybe she was wrong, she tried to convince herself. Randi walked right on into the house and peered in the dark at a man sitting in a chair with his dirty boots up on a table drinking a glass of water.

The man was filthy and looked like he hadn’t bathed in a week. The house smelled and there were things strewn all over the cabin. Randi was taken back at the mess that she saw inside and the dirt all over the floor. The cabin seemed like it could have been nice at one time but right now, it was a total disaster.

Excuse me sir, my name is Randi,” the young blonde girl said to Will as he sat there staring at her like she was from another country.

Well, that’s obvious and it’s about time. I thought Kale would be gone all day picking you up.”

Will said this as he stood up and crossed the room to stand in front of her.

Randi didn’t know what to do because he was standing very close to her like he was inspecting her. She wasn’t a horse for sale and she began to get angry. She thought better of it and tried biting down on her lip, so she didn’t say anything bad.

Glad you made it safe and I think it’s about time you get supper started because we’re hungry. Kale and I have some work to do and we will be back in later. Try to cook up something good because we’ve been eating cornbread and gravy for weeks.”

With that, Will walked out the front door and didn’t even look back.

Kale hung his head and looked mad at his brother.

I am sorry, ma’am, and whatever you cook will be fine I’m sure. Your room is two doors to the left of the kitchen and make yourself comfortable.”

Kale tipped his hat to Randi and walked out the front door.

Randi sat down in the chair and put her head in her hands. She wanted to cry so badly but knew it would get her nowhere. No crying, she thought. I can make this work. Maybe all this place needs is a little cleaning and Will can be happy with me being here.

He was a handsome man and she knew that he probably meant well but he seemed so mean. She looked around and thought to herself, I’d better get to work if I want to clean and have dinner cooked in a couple of hours.

Randi went into the very filthy kitchen and took a look around her. This place was an utter wreck and looked like a woman had never set foot in this place. She cleaned a large cauldron and put it on the stove for some meat and gravy. She found a large slab of beef and put it on to boil with some onions, garlic, and seasonings. After that, she made a roux for the gravy so it would be thick and then whipped up some biscuits.

She also found some greens and cooked them down in a slab of bacon grease so that they looked yummy and also made the house smell good. After supper was going she started scrubbing the kitchen. It took her two hours to clean the kitchen from top to bottom and she was pretty tired after she was done.

It looked amazing though. The floors were scrubbed and all the dust was removed. Randi was pretty proud of her work, even if she did say so herself.

She decided that the next day she could do the rest of the house so she walked outside and took a look around. It was pretty easy to find the water spout and she got some fresh water for drinking. She then wandered over to the horses and realized that they were wild horses that had been corralled. These men were cowboys and they had beautiful horses to move.

On the other side of the house were cows as far as she could see. She wondered how long it took to herd that many cattle. She saw Kale and Will branding the cows and she didn’t want to bother them so she went back into the house.

Randi sat down for a bit to rest her back and she fell asleep on her bed. She had meant to be putting her stuff away but she was just so tired from her trip and cleaning that very dirty kitchen that she fell right to sleep. It seemed like just a few minutes and she heard someone hollering her name.

Randi!” they said, and she jumped up clear off her bed.

Coming,” she called.

Randi left her room and headed to the kitchen where Will and Kale were standing in the center of the kitchen. Will had not even bothered to take off his boots and was tracking dirt all over her freshly scrubbed floor. He picked up a spoon and ate right out of the kettle. He put the spoon back down and made a huge mess everywhere.

Kale looked embarrassed and she noticed that he had removed his boots at the front door. He was washed up already and staring at Will in disbelief. Will looked at Randi then at Kale and said

What are you two staring at? I’m ready to eat now.”

Randi shook her head and set the table for the three of them to enjoy a nice dinner. Before she could finish setting the spots Will had already sat down and started eating his dinner. Randi sat down across from Will and politely started eating her dinner. She wasn’t sure how to take the man that was sitting across from her acting so rudely.

His letters never indicated this kind of behavior and she wasn’t sure what she had done to upset this man so much.

Kale watched his brother be rude and couldn’t believe his attitude. Why he was acting this way was beyond his knowledge but he knew when his brother acted this way you couldn’t talk to him at all. The best thing was to leave Will alone and let him work it out himself, he knew.

The three adults sat in silence and ate for a little while and when Will had finished he actually thanked Randi for cooking the dinner. This was the first nice thing he had said to her all day and this gave her a small bit of hope. Randi stood up to clear the plates and other dishes while the men went to the sitting room to rest.

Randi finished up the cleaning and cleaned the floor up again where Will’s boots had tracked in dirt then she went to see what the two men were doing. She found Will asleep in a chair and Kale was reading a book by lantern light. Randi excused herself and went to the room that had been assigned to her and she locked the door. She looked around the room and saw that the furniture in the room was all fairly new.

It was all beautiful and made from cedar wood. She wondered who had made the furniture and thought they were pretty talented. Randi was tired from her long day and changed into her nightgown and bonnet. She lay in the large bed covered in beautiful homemade quilts.

After her nighttime prayers she made a promise to herself that tomorrow would be better no matter what. She was going to do a lot of cleaning and make sure that Will knew how much she appreciated him giving her a chance to come here and make a life.

Every room was filthy so she knew she would be too busy all day to get to go outside much and that kind of made her sad. Randi closed her eyes and thought of her grandparents. She knew they were worried but she also knew that they were going to be okay. Randi slowly drifted off into a deep sleep and slept surprisingly well in a new place far away from her old home.

She woke up early and realized that no one else was awake in the house yet. She put on a pot of strong coffee for the two men and started some bacon and eggs for their breakfast. Biscuits were her specialty so she whipped up a fresh batch big enough to last them all day and then sat down to enjoy her coffee before everyone else got up.

Will smelled a wonderful smell coming from the kitchen and remembered that Randi was already here. He thought about the girl who had arrived yesterday and how he hadn’t been that impressed with her arrival. He wasn’t sure what exactly he had expected but he knew that he hadn’t expected this small, frail-looking girl with the sad look. He knew that he had been kind of rude but she needed to realize that he wouldn’t be waiting on her or coddling her if she got sad about missing her home.

He needed a tough woman that was ready to be a mother and take care of his place. Will got dressed and put his dirty boots on. He walked out of his room at the same time Kale exited his own room and they made eye contact. The food and coffee smelled wonderful and whether Will liked to admit it or not he was anxious to get some food in his stomach.

The men went into the kitchen to find Randi sitting at the back door looking out with her coffee in hand. She was so tiny and quiet that Will thought her nickname should be Mouse. He then rethought this because she might get insulted if he called her anything but Randi and besides who was to say he wanted her to stay anyways.

Only time would tell him whether or not he could love this woman and want her to stay in his home.

Randi turned to see the two men standing in the kitchen and she got up to fix plates of breakfast for them.

Kale looked at Randi and said, “Its okay. I can help myself ma’am. You’ve done enough by just cooking it.”

Will snorted at his brother’s words and sat down at the table to allow Randi to serve him. No woman of his would make him fix his own plate at any meal, and she better realize that. Will stared at Randi as if to warn her not to argue this point and she did get the point. Randi hurried and fixed Will’s coffee and food and sat it down in front of him. She looked at the rough looking man and spoke.

Good morning. I do hope you like bacon and eggs with fresh biscuits.”

Will replied, “Yes I do and I like them hot so make sure that you don’t cook the eggs to early before I get up.”

Randi looked at the floor in disappointment and sat down to finish her coffee when Kale angrily told Will, “That was mean, Will. This woman has made you breakfast and coffee so stop being so rude to her.”

Will turned to his brother and gave him a hard stare. The look said enough and Kale shut his mouth. Randi didn’t know what to do so she just hurried up and cleaned the morning plates off of the table while the men got up to leave the house.

The men walked out the backdoor and Randi slipped outside to see where they were going. They walked over to a large barn and took two horses out of it by their halters. The horses were beautiful and Randi wanted so badly to go ride them and learn to do some of the outside work like they did, but she knew better than to even try it.

She returned into the house as the men saddled up and rode off towards the east together.

In the kitchen, Randi did a little organizing of the few jarred foods that the two men owned. She figured there must be a friend that brings them canned foods so she inspected them and made sure they were all still good then she started a pot of beans for supper.

She made some homemade bread for lunch sandwiches and headed into the living room. This room proved to be just plain dusty.

After two hours of dusting and sweeping Randi stopped to take a look around. It looked like a whole new cabin now. She was pretty pleased with herself and then decided it was time to take on Will’s bedroom.

She opened the door and looked around the small room, making a note that it really wasn’t that dirty. She did a little dusting and hung the blanket outside for some sun then swept the floors nice and tidy. Will didn’t have much in his room but a small table and chair with a dresser. There was a black and white photo of a lady that she assumed to probably be his mom and she picked it up to inspect it. The lady looked stern, with a tight bun in her hair and a ruffled dress on. She wasn’t ugly, she just looked like she didn’t smile much.

Randi replaced the picture then quietly headed to Kale’s room to see what kind of mess he had in store for her. She opened the door to his room and her mouth fell open wide. Kale’s room was as neat as a pin. There was very little dust and his bed was already made. The floors looked like they had been swept recently so Randi also took his blanket and hung it on the outside porch for some sunlight to freshen it up.

The blanket was beautiful. It was yellow in color with bright blue blocks sewed on it. Inside the block someone had stitched white roses. She was impressed by how well the blanket was taken care of especially for a single man. Randi thought about the drastic difference in the two men then shook her head. It was wrong of her to compare the two brothers and besides she need not think of anyone but Will. He was to be her future husband and she needed to treat him as such.

Right at noon the two men were standing on the porch talking and Randi decided they must be hungry. She went into the kitchen and fixed sandwiches and set them on the table for them to enjoy. Again, like yesterday, Kale came in with no boots on and Will came in filthy as could be. Randi decided she would speak up this time because this man needed to learn some manners.

Will, would you please start taking your boots off at the door so you don’t track in all of that dirt on the freshly swept floors,” Randi asked him sweetly as she could.

Will stopped eating and looked at her like she had slapped him.

Then he gruffly retorted, “Your job is to keep this house clean and cook and my job is to take care of the ranch. You do not tell me what to do and if you don’t like something, keep it to yourself.”

Randi shook her head in disbelief and looked at Kale for help on the subject. Kale silently shook his head as if to say ‘don’t push your luck’. He hated seeing Will treat Randi like this and it was making him furious but he couldn’t say anything until his cabin was completed and that would take a couple more months. He had been working hard on his small cabin in the woods to the south of Will’s and needed just a little more time.

The two men finished their lunch in silence just as the day before, then excused themselves for an afternoon herding the young heifers back up to the corral. Will stopped at the door and told Randi they would be late for supper but keep it hot for them and she just politely nodded.

Kale looked sad again and for some reason that made Randi unhappy. Kale seemed like such a nice man and Will seemed so rough around the edges. They were like night and day in personality.

Randi was just about to go back to doing some laundry when she had a thought. She had been stuck in the house too long and she deserved a small break. Randi slipped into a comfortable dress and some boots then went outside to see what she could find.

First thing she noticed was a whole lot of cows in the fence near the cabin. There were cows on one side and horses on the other. Randi loved horses so she walked over to the corral and watched them stare back at her. She talked to them for a while and then decided to go exploring.

There weren’t very many trees on the ranch but there was a path that appeared to go towards the south side of the house and she followed it for a long ways. She came to a patch of trees but the path obviously continued on. Randi looked around and decided she was alone so she continued into the trees and along the narrow winding pathway.

She walked for what seemed at least a half a mile until she saw an opening in the trees up ahead. When Randi got to the opening she saw a magnificent cabin that wasn’t finished but it was almost done and sitting on top of a hill. It was small, but cute and she went closer for a look. She didn’t go in but she walked all around the cabin trying to figure out why it was just out in the middle of nowhere.

When Randi reached the back side of the cabin she saw another path that went further and she asked herself ‘why stop now?’ She followed the path a short ways and came to a small grave sitting alongside of it. Near the grave was a tree with a swing in it. On the grave it said Debbie Kennebrew, loving wife. Randi realized that it was Kale’s wife’s grave and that must be Kale’s cabin.

She was sad at the sight and it made her cry. She felt uneasy then like she was trespassing and walked further along the path to find a small creek. It was of interest so she sat by the creek for a long while. Randi thought about many things that day by the creek and she felt like she was very confused about life. Will obviously didn’t like her and she didn’t know what to do about it.

Randi cried a little but it was more out of frustration than anything.

After a long while Randi knew she had to get back because the sun was getting low. She hurried along the path to get back but stopped to pick a few fresh flowers for Debbie’s grave and she placed them as she passed it. She paid her respects and then hurried back to the cabin that she shared with the two men.

She quickly made the men’s beds back up and heated the beans so they would be hot when they came in. She decided it was best not to tell them about her adventure because she didn’t know how Will would react and Kale might get mad that she had been so nosey.

Just like clockwork she heard a noise right after dark and the two men came in but surprisingly, both had taken off their boots at the door. Randi decided it was best not to mention it and they sat down for supper.

So how was your day Will,” Randi asked him as he ate his dinner.

It was another day in the life of a cowboy,” Will answered her while eating his beans and cornbread.

Randi thought about asking Kale but thought better of it so she made small talk about the weather being nice and how pretty the horses were outside. She told them about her horse at the old cabin and she mentioned some about her grandparents but she quickly got quiet when Will looked bored with the conversation.

Supper was over and Randi was cleaning up when Will came into the kitchen and told her to sit down. Randi reluctantly sat at the table and looked him in the eyes. Will had no nonsense eyes that showed little emotion, a lot like his mom.

“Randi are you happy with your room and board here?”

Will asked her like she was a tenant and not his future wife.

Randi thought about it for a second and she told him, “I’m happy about it and I enjoy being here. Thank you.”

Well, tomorrow I’ll give you a horse to ride and you can get out of the house some on the weekends when you do not have chores. Kale suggested I do it so don’t get all schoolgirl happy on me,” Will told her in a stern voice.

Her face must have been glowing because she was pleased. He told her she could pick out of the three horses he had broken in and she would take care of it herself. She jumped up to thank him but he told her to thank Kale, not him, because it was totally his idea.

She ran into the living room and sat down next to Kale in a small chair made of more beautiful wood, just like the wood that was in her bedroom.

Thank you Kale. I really am excited about the new horse. I rode horses a lot at my grandparents and I’m really good at it.”

Kale looked shy but he smiled and Randi noticed how cute the man was when he was relaxed and happy.

You are welcome Randi. I heard you talking about how much you liked to be outside so I thought it was a great idea,” Kale said as he stood up for bed.

Randi was so excited about tomorrow that she excused herself and went to her room to turn in early. She lay in bed for hours listening to the two men turn in for bed and the coyotes howling outside. It was a nice sound that she felt she could get used to. She tossed and turned imagining the time she would spend with her new horse outside.

Maybe she would even find time to ride into town and see what kind of other people lived around here. She fell asleep thinking that this place wasn’t so bad maybe she just hadn’t given it enough time to grow on her.

She woke up early as usual and dressed a little warmer today than the day before. It was April but it seemed a little chilly outside and she wanted to ride her horse today as much as possible. It was Saturday and her chores were all caught up so she planned on packing a lunch and doing some riding in town. Randi went into the kitchen and braided her hair down one side so that it swung kind of loosely. She threw together some ham and eggs for the three of them and put on some fresh coffee.

Kale came into the kitchen first and stopped dead in his tracks. Since his wife had passed he had not bothered looking at another woman and Randi was the prettiest thing he had ever seen. She was kind of short and had long beautiful hair with large round eyes. Her eyes had such life in them and they always looked curious as to learn something new. She had an apron tied around her skinny waist and a light yellow dress on that made her look like the color spring would if spring had a color.

She was humming and making coffee just like his wife used to and his heart skipped a beat. Kale shook his head and knew that these thoughts were wrong since she was supposed to marry his brother. Kale hurried to the table and sat down for breakfast just as Will entered the room.

Will never stopped to notice Randi’s beauty or the small things like the curl that was slipping out of her braid and hanging around her face. He just hurried to the table for his coffee and breakfast.

Well, after breakfast dishes you can come outside and pick out your horse,” Will told Randi, who was staring at him with her big beautiful eyes.

Oh Will, thank you so much. You don’t know how happy this makes me.” Randi beamed at him with her pretty white teeth and pink lips.

Kale noticed that his brother never even looked at the girl and he shook his head. He knew that Will wasn’t interested in this girl and it was just a matter of time before he sent her away. This made Kale kind of sad to think about. He didn’t want Randi to go and he thought that he might need to have a talk with his brother before this happened.

Will was just so hard to talk to and Kale knew that if his mind was made up there would be no talking him out of it. Randi deserved more than to be someone’s maid, but it was her choice.

Randi hurried up and did the chores as fast as she could. She heated up the previous days beans and covered them for their lunch and packed herself a sandwich and some water for her ride. She slipped her boots on and headed out to the horse corral.

In the corral stood Kale and Will, with three horses tied up to the fence. One was white with a black star on its face, the other was chestnut with a white mane and tail and the last was black as night with white tips in its legs at the hooves. All three were gorgeous, but Randi still knew exactly which one she wanted for herself. She smiled widely when she saw the black horse. It was the prettiest thing she had ever seen and she walked right up to it and grabbed the reins.

This is my horse Will, this is the one I want,” she told him confidently.

Kale looked at Will and smirked at his brother.

That horse is yours then. Name her what you want, but Kale called her Shine.”

Was this Kale’s horse,” Randi asked Will, confused by his response.

It was the horse I had bought for my wife right before she passed away, but she never even rode her,” Kale told her in a small voice. “I’m glad you chose her though because she is a beautiful creature that deserves some attention.”

Randi wasn’t sure what she should do, but she still wanted the beautiful horse.

I’ll call her Shine then,” she told Kale as she stroked the horse’s mane.

Then she walked all around the horse looking at her and loving everything about her.

Will informed her that he had things to do and he left her to take care of her new horse. Kale also said he had things to do and Randi watched him ride off towards the trail she had found yesterday. She knew where he was going and she had the strange urge to follow him but she decided it was best not to.

Randi mounted Shine and started riding towards town. She took her slow at first to get a feel for her, then broke her into a wide open run. She handled very well and Randi felt great riding her hard and fast. Shine ran for a while then slowed down into a gallop as they got close to town. She rode the horse to the general store and then tied her up out front.

Randi walked into the store for a look around and Will had left a small amount of change for her to buy anything they needed for the cabin. She shopped around for a while and saw a pretty woman sitting at the counter, so Randi decided to go and talk to her.

Are you the young woman that Kale was writing to for a mail order bride,” the lady asked Randi.

Her mouth fell open wide and she looked at the woman.

Yes, but there must be some mistake. Will wrote to me, not Kale.”

The lady looked at Randi and smiled.

No, honey, Kale came here once a week and wrote to you and I know because I mailed the letters for him after I told him what to say to you.”

Randi was confused, so she bought some sugar and put it in her saddlebag then mounted up for the ride home. She thought about what the woman had said to her and then it all made sense. She just thought she had been talking to Will, but after meeting him she should have known that he wasn’t the same man. Will was so mean and rude and Kale was nice and softer around the edges. Maybe Will had Kale write the letters for him and Kale just did as he was told.

Nothing else made a lot of sense to her and she intended to ask them later.

Randi rode up on Shine and dropped the sugar off at the house. She looked around and didn’t see anybody around so she decided to ride Shine down the path to Kale’s cabin and see what he had to say about the letters. She galloped down the path and enjoyed looking at the scenery as she went. It was so pretty and she felt like she could ride this path forever.

She slowed down as she approached the cabin and saw Kale putting some boards in a pile.

She dismounted and walked over to Kale to talk to him. He heard her coming and stopped what he was doing to see what Randi needed. She looked at Kale and then asked him if they could sit down for a minute. Kale looked nervous but took a seat in the grass and drank some water as Randi started talking.

Kale, you’re very nice and I heard something today that made no sense to me. A lady in town asked me about being a mail order bride and she told me that you had written the letters to me, not Will.”

Randi said this as she sat crossed legged across from Kale, looking at him reluctantly.

Kale looked shocked and didn’t really know what to say but he decided the truth was best.

Randi, I did write the letters because Will needed someone to love and to bring him out of his distressed state he has been in for years. He has never loved anyone and I thought that a good woman would make him act different. I’m sorry I deceived you and if you want to leave I will understand.”

Randi thought about this for a moment and she chose her words carefully before she answered

Kale, I do not like Will at all. I somehow knew that you had written the letters and not him. I do not want to leave though, and I’m scared to tell you why.”

Kale stared at her scared about what she was fixing to say. He thought he was falling in love with Randi and didn’t know how to tell her. Could it be that she felt the same way about him also?

“I think I am falling in love with you Kale.”

Randi said this quickly and looked him right in the eyes because she wanted to know how he really felt about her.

Kale sighed with relief and yet at the same time knew that he would have to handle the situation with Will.

Randi, I feel the same way about you. I’ve liked you since I picked you up from the stagecoach and my feelings for you have just gotten stronger. I have to tell Will though, and I don’t know how he will react.”

Randi grabbed Kale into a hug. She had never been in love before and he loved her back. That was a feeling like no other. She was worried about telling Will and this made her very nervous.

“When should we tell him Kale”? Randi asked him in a serious voice.

I’ll tell him soon just let me think about how. Until then we will not bring any attention to this matter, ok,” Kale told her quickly.

Randi agreed this was a good idea so they spent the rest of the day working on Kale’s cabin and talking like best friends. They talked about all of the things they had experienced in their pasts and what the future could hold for them.

Later that afternoon Randi decided she had better head home and cook some dinner for the three of them. She mounted Shine and rode off down the path towards home. She had a lot to think about and she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that she had finally found love in a strange place. Her parents would have been happy for her and her grandparents would be thrilled also.

Kale sat down for a while and thought about the day’s events. He never knew he could find love again since his wife had died and Randi was amazing. She was everything he had ever wanted and he wanted to make sure she was happy. This gave him reason to hurry and finish his cabin so that they had somewhere to live as a family. He was great at building but it just took time. He also needed to figure out when the best time to tell Will that he and Randi were in love.

He worked hard well into the afternoon and decided that he could get a lot more accomplished if he worked some after dark every night. He was going to head to Will’s and get some things so that he could stay and work a lot more.

He reached the house to find Will sitting on the porch looking out at the distance. When he saw Kale he smiled at him.

I’m glad you are home brother. I have something to say to you if you will please sit down.”

Kale looked happy to Will so he knew that what he had been noticing was true. What Kale didn’t know was this had all been planned. Will had known his brother needed a mate after his wife had died and it was killing him not to have one. Will liked being alone but Kale did not. Kale looked at his brother and wondered what he was thinking.

“Kale I want you to know that I know about your feelings for Randi.”

Kale opened his mouth to speak but Will stopped him.

Now, brother, don’t go denying it, ok? You love Randi and I think she loves you. I want you to be happy and I have no feelings for the young woman. Please understand that I did all of this so you could move on with your life. Now, let me help you finish your cabin so that the two of you can get married and live happily.”

Kale sat there for a long time in silence. Was he really hearing what he thought? He couldn’t believe his brother was just handing him Randi and had planned this whole thing. That’s why Will had been so rude to the girl because he wanted her to not fall for him. That was a crazy idea but it seemed to have worked. Kale reached over and grabbed his brother in a hug that squeezed the breath out of Will.

“Thank you so much Will, but what about you”?

Believe it or not, brother, I have met a girl that lives not far from here. She is everything I have ever wanted and I am in love with her. I knew you were not happy though, so I needed to find you a mate.”

These words made Kale even happier and he did a little dance around the porch. Randi could hear the commotion from inside the house and she came out to see what was going on. She saw Kale dancing and Will watching him happily. This confused her greatly.

She stared at the two men with a confused look on her face for a few minutes before she asked, “What in the devil has gotten into you two”.

Kale grabbed Randi by the waist and danced her around the porch as well.

“Randi,” Kale said to her. “We are free to be together. This was all planned by Will and he wants us to be together because he is in love with another woman.”

Randi looked at Will and asked, “Is this true, Will?”

Will shook his head yes and smiled at the young woman.

“I was rude because I wanted you to fall for my brother not me. For this I am sorry but it had to be done.”

Randi smiled at the two brothers and couldn’t believe her luck. She had taken a chance on a man that had meant well for her after all. She hugged Will and thanked him for everything and then turned to Kale. He was so handsome. His hair was kind of long and hung on his forehead and his eyes were smiling now.

Earlier, she had noticed the sadness in his eyes now that was gone. She had taken the sadness away from this man and made him happy again. Randi decided this meant a celebration for the trio.

“I have a surprise dinner for this occasion.”

With that, Randi went inside and started a pan of thick-cut steaks and potatoes with white gravy. After she had finished this she heated up some biscuits and took an apple pie out of the oven that she had started earlier.

The two men smelled the apple pie and wrestled each other all the way into the kitchen where Randi stood by the table with flour on her face and a smile. Kale walked over to his future wife and wiped the flour from her cheek. He then kissed her right on the forehead.

Randi you are the best cook I have ever met. Don’t you think so, Will’?

Will smiled at the two and said, “I don’t know. You haven’t tasted my Vickie’s cooking.”

Vickie is a lucky woman and I can’t wait to meet her,” Kale told his brother with a goofy grin. “Maybe this coming week we could have her over for dinner.”

That will be happening sooner than you think. We got married today at the courthouse. In fact, she is headed this way now with her things,” Will told the two of them.

Randi noticed Kale’s mouth drop wide open and she laughed.

Well, wonderful! I will make her a plate.”

Randi jumped up and made an extra plate for the surprise guest of the house and heated up a fresh steak for the young woman. What a great day it had turned out to be, she thought. She was used to change but this was all happening so quickly.

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