The Lady and the Cowboy

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Authors: Catherine Winchester
want to come?” Sam asked Ruth.
    “Please,” she smiled politely at Sam.
    She had already realised that work on the ranch was usually at a minimum on Saturdays as Sam liked to give most of the horses two days rest a week. Besides, she should probably see the local town, then she’d know how to get there on Angel when she wanted (she hadn’t paid much attention on the carriage ride out here).
    She should probably write to her family as well. She had written a few days after the boat docked but not since she’d arrived at the ranch. She certainly wouldn’t be telling them about her recent riding antics but she should give them her address , if nothing else. And she had to tell her solicitor where to send the small stipend that she received from her paternal Grandmother’s estate.
    Mamma informed her that the local post office had a Western Union, where the funds could be sent and picked up in cash.
    ***
    When it became clear that Ruth intended to work a full day exercising and training the horses, Sam pulled her to one side.
    “I thought you were going to work up to things slowly?” he said as she came out of a stall.
    “I feel better today than I thought I would.”
    Sam narrowed his eyes again and she felt as if she were being sized up.
    “Fine, I’ll put you on next week’s roster so you’ll know which horses you have to exercise each day . We like to mix it up, get them used to a variety of riders, especially the young ones.”
    “That sounds fine,” she answered, turning away from him as she gathered up the horse ’s tack.
    “Let me help,” he said, trying to take the saddle from her.
    “I can manage, thank you,” she snapped and Sam backed off.
    He watched her as she walked out of the barn. He had identified what was wrong with her, she was angry but not like when she yelled at him, more like she was quietly seething.
    As much as he had tried to provoke her up until now, after their ride on the trail yesterday, he found that he didn’t want her to be angry at him any more. He liked it much better when she was friendly and open, so they could talk like friends.
    She seemed to be making an effort to engage the ranch hands in conversation today, and they were all eager to chat to her. Who in their right mind wouldn’t be, Sam wondered. It remained to be seen if she could be firm with them when needed, as well as friends. He didn’t think most of them would try to take advantage of her in any harmful ways, they feared Mamma’s wrath too much but it was human nature to try and get away with things and Ruth was new, therefore easier to fool.
    She remained very cool towards Sam for the rest of the day, refusing all offers for her to take a break or finish early.
    Over dinner that evening, she looked dog tired, hardly able to hold a coherent conversation. After washing off the dirt and grime, she had considered not going down for dinner and just curling up in bed, but she was really hungry.
    As much as she annoyed him since she’d come to the ranch, Sam had to admire her spirit. She had done everything that he and his other hands had, without even blinking. He doubted that many English ladies (or American ladies for that matter) could have done the same. He knew that her muscles had to be killing her by now but she didn’t complain at all.
    Knowing that it would help with her pain and lethargy, Sam got a bottle of wine out to have with dinner, although he gave it to Mamma to serve, since Ruth would probably refuse if it was his suggestion.
    “Wine?” Ruth asked as Mamma handed the bottle to Sam to open.
    “To toast your first two days on the ranch,” Mamma lied. “You did well and we should celebrate.”
    “I think I’d rather have a brandy,” Ruth muttered softly.
    Sam and Mamma shared a smile at her comment.
    “You’ll fit into life out here in no time,” Mamma declared, pouring her a large glass of the white wine. Ruth didn’t tell her that you should serve red wine with beef.

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