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Excerpt for Romancing Ranch City (Ranch City Book 2) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Romancing Ranch City

Ranch City Book 2


Copyright © 2018 by Bridgitte Lesley

Published by Bridgitte Lesley

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or scholarly journal.


Publishers note:

ROMANCING RANCH CITY (RANCH CITY BOOK 2) is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or locations is purely coincidental. The characters are a creation of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously.


First Printing: 2018

Bridgitte Lesley

P O Box 612, Uvongo, 4270, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Republic of South Africa

www.bridgittelesley.com


Acknowledgement

I would like to thank my Mom without whose help this book would never have been completed.


Thank you for your patience and guidance, your use of the editor’s red pen…

Chapter 1

Adam and Carol stood at the table in the study. They had a huge board on the table which had been measured out according to scale using the measurements of the ranch they had bought. There was an assortment of tiny little buildings already placed on the board. Each building had the name of a business. They had kept everything to scale. If they put it down, they knew the actual size of the building would be right. Every shop, office, business and store had already been put on to the board. The owner of the business had already considered all the options and had chosen the perfect location for their business. Every time Adam looked the tiny little animals stuck together signifying the petting zoo had been moved right to the entrance of Ranch City. Carol smiled as she put it back in to the right position. “Eve,” Adam said and Carol grinned and nodded. “And Jake. Those two are in cahoots. If it is on the right, then it is Eve. If it is to the left, it is Jake. Where are we going to put the empty buildings? We have catered for them but they don’t have an owner yet.”

“One in the middle on the left hand side of the road. We left a space there. And then one at the end and one across from it on the opposite side. What don’t we have?” Carol asked.

“We have a store for everything you can think of. We even have businesses pulling out of town to set up at Ranch City. We have a month and those buildings are going to start going up. Water, electricity, sanitation, sewerage and everything has been finalized and finished. All they need to do is make the connections. It should be smooth sailing,” Adam said.

“The street lamps are gorgeous. Nothing too bright but just right. I like the look and feel of the lighting. When we have the quarterly street market, it is going to be a huge success,” Carol said.

Mary knocked and walked in to the study. She looked straight at the board. “Patricia keeps messing with my office,” Mary said and switched the two buildings. Carol and Adam looked at each other and grinned. “I will be managing on horseback. I just had a meeting with the ranch manager that side of the road. He cannot wait. There has been a hive of activity for weeks. Now things can settle down. I rather like him. He is so much like my Dad. Just a little younger. I like his chaps,” Mary said and Carol grinned and rolled her eyes. “What? Chaps matter. You can tell a person by his chaps,” she said and grinned as she walked out. “Keep Patricia away from that board. Glue her building on so that she has to fight to move it,” she said and chuckled as she walked out of the study.

“Mary don’t you have an office?” Patricia asked as she walked in.

“Glue that building down,” Mary said and chuckled as she high fived Patricia and ran out of the house and climbed on to her horse.

“Seriously! That woman puts us all to shame. She wears just the right gear all the time. Some days she has her chaps on. But always those boots with stirrups. And that hat. You know she takes that hat off to say hello to every person passing by. Open her saddle bag and she has her duck and naturally her tablet. Not to mention that teeny weeny cellphone tucked in to the waistband of her jeans. She lives in those jeans. Those are the ones she bought in Paris when we went on our shopping spree. Or should I say four or five pairs of jeans. Has she moved my building again? Honest! Why does Mary insist on having her office at the entrance of Ranch City?” Patricia asked and grinned and put her finger on top of her building. Carol gently slapped her hand and Patricia gurgled with laughter.

“Mary is going to manage Ranch City and she will be amazing,” Carol said. They all watched as Eve walked in and looked at the board. She picked up the little set of animals and moved them right in front. She giggled and ran out again. Adam moved the animals back to where they belonged.

“Jake has an ally,” Patricia said and grinned. “I like the setup of the stores. My store is in the perfect spot. And big enough to house my staff to the back in the offices. And five shops down we have the nail technician. She has a range of services she offers. You will walk out there feeling pampered. Has Mary spoken to you about the fabric store?” Patricia asked.

“She has. The woman has already been in and put down her deposit. She rather likes where her store will be. Right next door to the coffee shop,” Carol said and put her finger on the little building.

“Nice. Mary doesn’t need to advertise. She walks and talks Ranch City. You drive past and you see her doing her things with the other hands. Digging holes and planting poles or rounding up a bunch of sheep. Then you look again and she is galloping down the road to go and see the manager on the other side of the road. Get those two together and you will wait for hours before they get through their convo. What is his name? Bruce I think,” Patricia said.

“Bruce Harris. Mary gets on well with him. They need to have a good relationship. He needs to know what is going on in the city part of the ranch and Mary has to know what Bruce is doing. So that they can co-ordinate. If he needs help Mary can help out. And the same applies if Mary needs a hand. She works both ranches as well as Ranch City. She seems to blend in well. But her main responsibility is Ranch City,” Carol said.

“I think once the city is up and running Mary will be able to settle down a bit. Have you seen her after her meetings with Bruce?” Patricia asked and they both shook their heads. “She sits on that horse and it walks her all the way back to the ranch. She has her tablet out and her head down and is hard at work. She is a fountain of knowledge. Mention anything that is headline news, and she knows about it. Not only does she know about it but she knows the ins and outs of what is happening. She knows when a minister steps down or when one is replaced. She is on top of politics. Well everything really. Not only local news but international as well. The worst is when you see her and Bruce having a chat. They were sitting on their horses deep in conversation the one day. I drove up and stopped. I thought they would be talking ranch stuff,” Patricia said.

“And?” Adam asked.

“Not even close. They were discussing the repercussions of the wall that President Trump wants to put up. What I do like is that Mary considers every option. She sees the positives as well as the negatives. So, that guy is the same,” Patricia said.

“Bruce,” Adam said and grinned.

“Yes. Him. And then the conversation suddenly switches back to Ranch City. I can hardly understand a word they are saying. So sanitation and sewerage are not the same thing,” Patricia said.

“No, not nearly the same thing. But don’t go asking for an explanation of either. Mary explains it so well that at the end of the discussion you are totally confused,” Carol said and grinned. “Hey, I am a pilot. I know all about wind velocity, air pockets, and things like that.”

Patricia let out a little groan. “We don’t even go there because wind pockets seriously twirl my brain. Now if you are talking cellphones, tablets and keyboards I am all in. I negotiated such a good deal with that contact of yours. I will let him know the day I am settled and he will be shipping a huge order. He said to say hello. I sent him an eMail and he gave me a call. What a pleasant guy,” Patricia said.

Adam gurgled with laughter and nodded. “He is a nice guy Patricia. Carol introduced us when I went on my trip with her. He sucks you in and shows you everything. His warehouse is enormous. You can rely on him. If he hasn’t got what you are looking for, he will get it for you. Now that is a guarantee,” Adam said.

“He is so on top of things. Metallic is all the rage. He is going to make me an affiliate. He is tweaking a few things first,” Patricia said. She gurgled with laughter and looked at their faces. “That means I get a cut of everything I sell. And I can advertise the entire range on my website.”

“Yikes! We are surrounded by business people, Carol,” Adam said and grinned as he pulled her closer and hugged her.

“It is frightening, Adam. I think Mavis has just put on the coffee pot. I can smell that fresh coffee,” Carol said.

“You have a fetish for coffee. Do you crave anything else?” Patricia asked.

“I do. Food. Heaps and heaps of food,” Carol said and chuckled.

“As long as it comes with a thick cheese sauce,” Adam said and grinned.

“And you are still flying,” Patricia said.

“My doctor says it is fine. And he knows,” Carol said. Patricia chuckled as they walked out of the study. Patricia stopped and looked at the board. “Out,” Carol said and smiled. They walked through to the kitchen.

“Eve has gone for her horse riding lesson with Ralph. Your father can’t wait to get out there Doctor Patterson. Your mom is down the wayside talking to Mary. They have been chatting for ages. Oh here she comes now. Mary is off again,” Mavis said as she poured another cup of coffee.

Mya walked in and took the cup from Mavis. “Mavis I need a dash of something good in there. I have such a headache,” Mya said. Mavis reached for the bottle of brandy in the cupboard and added a teaspoon to Mya’s coffee. She stirred it and Mya smiled as she sipped and sat down. “We are ready for our opening day. Sheila and I have a lot of stock. Such beautiful things we will be selling. I see Mary is in for a busy day. Why does she wear chaps? I mean what is the purpose behind a set of chaps?” Mya asked.

“When they get physical with the animals, they wear chaps. It is to save their jeans. You will always see Mary has a pair of gloves as well. To save her hands,” Adam said. “Mary starts at about four in the morning, Mom. Ray says she flakes out just after supper and sleeps for an hour and then she is up again. She is always on the go.”

“Mary wasn’t always like that. But she is taking everything in her stride and thriving. She is on her way to Ranch City. Bruce gave her a call while we were chatting. Something about a foal stuck in a hole or something,” Mya said. “The jargon is beyond my stratosphere. Who is Bruce?”

“Our ranch manager at Ranch City,” Carol said.

“Oh the guy in chaps,” Mya said and nodded to herself. “Every time I see him I think he looks more and more like Pierce Brosnan. And he is so clean cut,” she said. “What a combination.”

“He does look a lot like Pierce Brosnan,” Patricia said. “I wish you would find someone who looks like Richard Gere or Harrison Ford. Or maybe even George Clooney,” she said. “In chaps.”

Carol gurgled with laughter and shook her head. “So you are both ready and waiting for the day Ranch City has its opening day,” Carol said.

“We are,” Patricia said.

“Do you realize the employment problem in this town is going to be eradicated? With all the new businesses so many people will be working again. I could give you the statistics but those went way over my head,” Mya said.

“Mary,” Mavis said and Mya grinned.

“The buildings are going to go up very soon. It might be quicker than we think. There are a lot of people willing to work. But opening day is all set. That won’t change. Once we have all the buildings erected everyone can start moving in. It will give everyone a chance to set up properly and be ready,” Adam said.

“Mary is on top of everything. Even the shop fittings. If you have a problem with the shop fitters not being ready, then you speak to Mary. She seems to make problems go away. I feel sorry for Mary. She really has broad shoulders at the moment. She wants everything to be perfect for the big day,” Mya said. “But she is coping. She ropes everyone in and delegates. At this point in time everything revolves around Ranch City.”

“Mom, she is organized. She is more organized than any of us. Sure, we think we know what we are doing. But we forget the finer details. We think about signage and the layout of our stores and the offices and things like that. Where we want our bathrooms and storage rooms. I didn’t even think about a telephone. Mary has sorted all of that out for us. The day that all the buildings are up they will be installing the telephones. Every shop needs a till. Guess who is going to be supplying?” Patricia asked.

Carol gurgled with laughter and shook her head. “Mary arrange that for you?” Carol asked.

“She did. I will be supplying every store with a brand new till. I am going to give Mary a portion of the sales,” Patricia said.

“She thinks of everything,” Adam said.

“Ranch City is going to be the place to be. I can see even more companies closing down and wanting to move in with us. And it is close to home. The bed-and-breakfast already has a booking for the first week. Aimee is ecstatic. She is so excited. The Ranch City website is already getting a lot of views. That was a brainwave,” Patricia said.

“Mary’s brainwave and David’s pet love. I can still remember the day Mary sat on her horse that side of the window and asked David to set something up as quick as he can. And it has to have click throughs so that people can really find out about the store or the business. David tweaks that site every day. He monitors clicks and views. These days he stands in the kitchen and the moment she rides past he gives her feedback. Which means she stops and chats for a few minutes and then takes off. Keeping everyone on their toes but they love being in the loop,” Carol said.

“We need to make sure she doesn’t suffer from burnout,” Adam said.

Chapter 2

Mary sat on her horse and slowly made her way down to the stream. She climbed off and tied the reins of her horse to the tree. She sat down and took her tablet and read all her messages. Mary mentally ticked off everything that had been done and things that still had to be taken care of. She updated her spreadsheet and closed her tablet and lay on her back. Mary closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. Half an hour later Bruce rode up to her and climbed off of his horse. He tied the reins to the tree and sat down next to her. He took her tablet and opened the spreadsheet and marked a few things off that were done. He lay down and held her hand and took his nap. A while later Mary woke up and looked at Bruce and smiled. “Needed a break,” she said.

“I crossed two things off of the spreadsheet. Someone donated a trough for the pig sty. I already spoke to Jake and let him know. And a booking for the bed-and-breakfast. I mentioned it to Aimee, and she is going to give them a call. A friend of a friend of a friend,” he said.

“Thank you. I can’t sleep. My brain is churning over at a rapid rate. I was up at four this morning. I completed my exam and submitted it. My final exam. Project management might be my thing,” she said and grinned.

Bruce lay and laughed as he held her hand. “Can you manage a project from here?” he asked.

“I can plan the entire thing from anywhere. I don’t need to be on a particular site. I am debating whether to go in that direction. I crashed at eight last night. Then up again and wading through my books. My afternoon naps help,” she said.

“They help me as well. I love this ranch. I thought I would be leaving. We all did. Harrison didn’t even tell us he was selling the ranch. It was only When Doctor Patterson came and had a meeting with us that we knew it had been sold and what the Patterson’s had planned. I thought they would replace the lot of us. But they didn’t. Not one of us lost our jobs. I didn’t expect the promotion but then Harrison didn’t want a ranch manager. He did it all himself. He thought he was very clever. We all knew why he was losing profits. How can you sell cattle and pocket the money? And not replenishing your stock. He was a real idiot. But Doctor Patterson realized. It was good to have that meeting with Ray. Your Dad understands the business. We discussed my plans, and he told me to do what I thought was best. I didn’t have to ask Doctor Patterson. I did it and the payments went through without me even being questioned. The nice thing is your dad and I understand each other. We both understand the business and what needs to be done. He has a lot of experience and doesn’t mind helping me when I am stumped. I like that. These days I am given an amount and I make sure everyone is paid and stocks are bought. We are running at a huge profit,” he said.

“That is the bottom line. But the Patterson’s have their heart and soul in both ranches. As well as Ranch City. They want this to work and every single person to succeed. I do a lot of running around making sure everything is going to happen on time. But I love it. And they pay me well. Not as much as you though. When I look at my bank statement, I get the jitters. I am earning a mega amount of money,” she said.

“And you are worth every cent,” he said.

“So are you,” she said and chuckled.

He sat up and held her hand. “And once Ranch City is up and running we are going to discuss our future. Which will be on this ranch,” he said.

“Yes we will,” Mary said as he pulled her closer and kissed her. “And we will not leave this ranch. The both of them. City life is not for me. I need to be out in the open,” she said.

“Once everything is sorted, I will speak to your father and do things properly. I know it is old fashioned but that is the way I like it,” he said.

“I like old fashioned. Dad would appreciate that. I am old fashioned in many ways. Lots of people would think I am rather square,” she said.

Bruce laughed and nodded. “I guess I am the same. Must be the way we were brought up,” he said and got up and pulled her up. He held her in his arms and they stood and kissed for a while. “What is next for today?” he asked.

“Follow up on those beautiful trees we ordered,” she said.

“Did that and marked it off. They will be delivered the moment you give them a call. I said it would be on the day the last building is erected,” he said.

“Bruce, I can’t wait. I cannot wait for the day that we are able to walk down the main road and see all those shops. Stop in for a cup of coffee and chill. That will be the day I know I have achieved my goal. That the project is a success,” she said.

“And I will be the one to take you for that first cup of coffee,” he said.

“I can taste it,” she said, and he gurgled with laughter.

“Ready?” he asked, and she chuckled and took the reins of her horse and climbed on to her saddle. He did the same and smiled.

“Ready,” she said. He nodded, and they rode off together. She waved, and he took off in the opposite direction. Mary made her way home. She stood in the kitchen and made pies for herself and Ray.

Ray walked in and took a whiff of the pies. “Steak and Kidney I think,” Ray said and kissed Mary on the head.

“I am starved, Dad. What a busy day,” she said.

“You don’t stop. Are you taking those vitamins Doctor Patterson said you should be taking?” he asked.

“I am, Dad. I am so busy during the day but when I stop I drop,” she said.

Ray grinned as he took the pies out of the oven. Mary had made quite a few. He knew the left over pies would be their lunch for the next day. She always made a few extra so that she could give Bruce something for lunch. They spent a lot of time together discussing Ranch City. He hoped they would take their friendship and make it a relationship. Ray knew Bruce was the perfect partner for Mary. But he didn’t want to say anything or prod her. He watched as she mashed the potatoes and made the gravy. They both sat down and looked at their pies. “My eyes are too big for my tummy,” Mary said and Ray burst in to laughter. “I was so hungry, and this is what I felt like. Up until now. It looks like a mound of food on my plate. I remember when we went to France. Carol bought us all a shawarma from one of the vendors on the side of the road. I looked at the thing and thought I would never finish it. We walked around and we all nibbled as we walked. Well I did finish it and it was divine,” she said and took a mouthful of food.

“That was a fantastic trip. The men’s trip was even better than yours. The Oktoberfest was the perfect destination,” Ray said and grinned. “Our hotel was in the midst of everything. Karl had to keep us all together all the time. Poor guy. He had to carry David back to the hotel one night.”

Mary gurgled with laughter. “Oh Dad. Aren’t we lucky. Doctor Patterson went as hand luggage when Carol flew to Hong Kong. I love it when Carol says things like that. They are amazing. I see them as the perfect couple. Eve is as cute as a button. You realize she might only scrape in at five foot like Carol,” she said and chuckled.

“That always amazes me. A person looks at Carol and the first thing that comes to mind is that she pilots enormous Boeing's and 747’s. What has height got to do with it? But that is always the first comment. She is so little, but she is a pilot. Isn’t that odd?” he said.

“Oh the comments about Ranch City. You are so little and you are taking on a giant of a job. Arranging everything for Ranch City. It must be a daunting task,” she said and rolled her eyes. “People think differently. It is a project. The wheels of the cog must turn and get the engines running,” she said.

“Mary, it isn’t ignorance. They just don’t understand. If you said you are a project planner or a project manager, they would not be able to grasp the concept. Bruce is exactly the same as you. He can’t see why people are not on his wavelength. Project management is a totally different ball game. To some it is something new. They aren’t used to it yet. They have lived their lives without the need to plan or manage. Remember, people are different,” Ray said. “Flip charts, post-it notes, project plans, time lines and time frames are not your regular topics of discussion. Ask someone when something is going to happen and they can give you the date. But don’t ask them to map out a project plan. Oh my God!” Ray said and Mary looked at him with her fork dangling midair. “I sound just like you and Bruce. Oh my God! Your species have got to me! Help me! Help me!” Ray said and Mary gurgled with laughter.

“We are not a specie,” she said and grinned.

“From where I am looking I think the two of you are the same species. You are both time line obsessed. Heaven help us if anything is a day late or a day too soon. What time? What day? How long? Oh the pair of you are like two peas in a pod. Only because if there was another pea in the same pod it would escape out of choice,” he said and grinned. Mary gurgled with laughter as she looked at Ray.

“Are we that bad?” she asked.

“No, Mary, I can honestly say you are worse,” he said and she grinned.


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