Tanya’s oldest daughter chose that moment to walk into the kitchen. She accepted her daughter’s hug before Caroline sat down.
“Good morning, Caro.” Tanya smiled. “And seriously? A new clock? I just bought you that one a week ago, honey. You need to go easy on them.” she sighed. “I’m just going to buy you one of those old fashioned bell ringer clocks. Those are nigh indestructible.”
Tanya shook her head, chuckling at her daughter’s antics.
“I smell cinnamon buns!” came a deep male voice. Randy strolled into the kitchen, dressed for the day in a faded pair of blue jeans and a crimson plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows.
“Fresh out of the oven.” Sadie grinned, setting the dish on the table. Tossing a leg over the seat, he moved to grab one when Sadie slapped his hand away with a wooden spoon. “Ow! Sadie!”
“What’s the rule, young man?”
“No one eats until everyone’s at the table.” Randy sighed, rolling his eyes.
“Your father tried the same thing on more then one occasion. Be lucky she wasn’t holding the metal spatula.” Tanya chuckled, just as the final member of their family waltzed into the kitchen. Fresh as a spring daisy and twice as beautiful, Nina was all smiles as she greeted her family.
“Mornin, y’all.” she stated, sitting at the table and pouring herself a glass of orange juice.
“Mornin, sis.” Randy greeted, grabbing for a cinnamon bun before Sadie could stop him again.
“Morning, sweetie. How’d you sleep?”
“Pretty good, all things considered. There was an awful lot of giggling comin’ from RJ’s room last night.” Nina smirked, arching an eyebrow at her brother. Randy glanced up from devouring a cinnamon bun to find all eyes on him. Tanya and Sadie’s look could have buried him deep.
“Was that…thing…in your room last night?” Tanya scowled.
“Oh come on, Momma! I’m old enough to have a girl over!”
“Girls, yes. Money grubbing, c-”
“Tanya!” Sadie exclaimed, cutting her off.
“-crazy, bleach blonde bimbos with nothin between her ears, no!” Tanya continued as if she hadn’t been interrupted.
“Darla is not crazy.” Randy frowned.
“And she’s not blonde, neither.” Sadie snorted.
“Don’t know why y’all pickin on my girlfriend. She’s nice.”
“Until she bites your fingers.” Nina added.
“Wonderful family I got.” Randy pouted. Tanya patted his arm.
“We’re just lookin out for you, darlin. No harm, no foul.”
“I appreciate it, Momma. But I gotta make my own choices, good or bad.”
“And you’ll have your family to catch ya when you fall on your ass.” Sadie grinned.
“Thank you, oh so much, Sadie.” Randy snorted.
The Kirks and Sadie got down to the business of eating breakfast, as the other ranch hands wandered in and out to get their own meals. Sadie loved cooking and always made sure she cooked enough for everybody.
“Oh, Momma…I was thinkin with the rodeo comin up this weekend, we should think about hiring another hand around the ranch. I mean we’re all going to be pretty busy in the next few days and we could use the extra help.” Randy suggested.
“Way ahead of you on that, son. I put an ad in the paper yesterday. I’m just waitin for someone to pick it up and give us a buzz.”
“You want me to look through the applicants.”
“No. I’ll do it this time around. Thanks for offering though.”
“I’m headed out to put Windrunner through her paces. She’s been gaining speed steadily and I’m hoping to get her to a 5 flat before this weekend.” Nina stated, getting to her feet. Tanya nodded as she helped Sadie clean up the table. “Oh, Randy. Might want to mention to Daniel and Drew that the fence in the south pasture needs to be re-posted. I mentioned it to them this morning but I don’t know if they’ll remember it.”
“Is it just the posts that are loose or the wire too?”
“Just the posts. But it couldn’t hurt to tighten the wires too.”
“I’ll pass on the message.” Randy nodded, wiping his face with his napkin before he too headed outside.
“Caroline, it’s your turn to milk the cows and feed the chicks this morning. And then Sadie offered to help you learn you practice your lines for your play.”
“I did?” Sadie gaped, eyes wide. “Woman, stop volunteering me for stuff! You know I’m lousy with reading.”
“Yeah, but you make it fun.” Tanya chuckled. Sadie just rolled her eyes and turned to the sink to dump the plates she was holding. “Crazy woman.”
It was like this every morning. The constant stream of people both family and workers that ventured into the Ranch kitchen to have one of Sadie’s amazing breakfasts. You could say Caroline was used to it, but it didn’t mean she liked it. Her younger siblings finally descended, and as per usual it was on for young and old about the company that Randy was keeping in his room. Back and forth Sadie and Randy traded blows over his latest piece of fluff. Just another skirt, Caroline thought before slyly pulling out her iphone and then getting the head jacks and putting them in her ears. If ever there was a time she wanted to drown her family out, it was now. She scrolled through the song lists of the Grease soundtrack and made a face as the part she had really didn’t have her sing a lot. So with the ear jacks in and listening to Greased Lightning, she could watch her family argue and fuss with no audio, the music in her ears drowning them out. It actually put a smile on her face as in her mind, they all started to do the dance moves to Greased lightning.
Caroline actually started to chuckle at the lot of them and then went on with eating her breakfast without adding to the conversation. She knew what it usually was about. The horses, the rodeo, the fences, the farm. Yadda yadda yadda. That was until she saw her Momma look at her and speak, and this made her take out her ear jacks.
“Caroline, it’s your turn to milk the cows and feed the chicks this morning. And then Sadie offered to help you learn you practice your lines for your play.”
Now, it was not the milking or the feeding of the chooks, that had Caroline bothered, it was having to sit through learning lines with Sadie. She really didn’t take Caroline’s obsession with drama as seriously as say her drama teacher at school. Sadie was already back peddling, saying she was lousy with reading. Getting up slowly, Caroline rolled her eyes and stuffed her iphone into her back pocket.
“I’ll do my chores, Mamma….but I think I will be just fine doing my lines in front of the mirror.”
She shrugged her shoulders at Sadie, before heading outside to start her chores.
Daniel had just tossed the last bail of hay to the other ranch hand before wiping the sweat from his brow with the back of his forearm, with the bails loaded Daniel looked about before wandering off towards one of the stallions pens. The stallion’s name was Big Hoss while being a pure bred palomino and rather tall and stocky. Once at the pen that housed Big Hoss Daniel would hop the fence before slowly and cautiously approaching the rowdy stallion. As he approached the stallion he would smile gently before resting his hand on the neck of the horse and stroking the coarse fur tenderly. Then Big Hoss would take off like a bat out of hell sending Daniel sprawling to the ground before he scrambled back to his feet and dusted himself off. After dusting himself off Daniel would raise a brow slowly wondering what caused the stallion to spook. Slowly he would advance once again towards Big Hoss with his arms extended out to the sides. Once close enough Daniel would slowly reach towards the stocky stallion and murmur softly soothing words so as to keep the horse calm. With the horse calmed and standing still Daniel would slowly slip a halter over the Stallion’s muzzle and fasten it into place before leading the uneasy stallion out of his pen and into the ring so that Daniel could work with him.
After having purchased an old red 1953 Chevy from an older gentleman a couple of towns over, Cain Paccans was cruising down road, glancing over at the newspaper tin his hand. The ad read about needing a rancher, and Cain knew he was more than fit for the job, a job he desperately needed since he was running low on pocket change. As he continued down the road, the man finally slowed down to the large ranch and viewed the ad once more to see if this was in fact the correct address before entering. The man took in a small breath before turning into the drive way, slowly getting a better view of the land. Pulling up to the front door, Cain put his truck in park, placed the newspaper down on the seat beside him and turned the truck off. After exciting the truck, Cain brushed himself off before walking up to the door, checking to see if he looked suitable to even ask for the job. Dressed in a white button-up shirt that had the sleeves rolled up and worn out Levy jeans, Cain didn’t really have much else that was appropriate for an interview so it would have to do. The man’s boots made a blunt but quiet thud each time he made a step.
As he walked up the porch steps, Cain took one last breath in, keeping his mind clear so his words would be short. One wrong word and there would be no job in his future. Three knocks were made upon the door before the young man adjusted his lucky black cowboy hat as he waited for someone to answer. Silently, he glanced back at his truck and let his eyes wonder around the porch, letting his mind clear while he waited patiently.
It was some time after breakfast and Caroline was off who knows where practicing her lines for her role in ‘Grease’. Nina was out with her horse, getting set for the rodeo that weekend. RJ was doing what he was supposed to be doing, while Tanya was out in the horse barn, going through paperwork. She had converted one of the smaller horse stalls into an office, complete with all the latest technology money could buy to successfully run her business. Sadie was cleaning up the house, as per her usual weekend goings on.
She was vacumming the front hall when she thought she heard the sound of a truck coming up the drive. Frowning, she shut off the vacumm and gave a listen. There was no sound but the birds chirping outside the open window and horses whinnying in the distant pastures.
Shrugging, she turned the machine back on to continue her work.
She was just passing the front door when there came the distinct sound of a knock. Frowning again, she shut off the vaccum and moved to answer the door. A good-looking young man, in a black cowboy hat and a white shirt, was standing on the front porch. When she opened the door, he looked pretty eager.
“Howdy. What can I help ya with?” she asked.
Up in her room, Caroline was standing in front of her mirror – wearing a bright pink wig and rehearsing her lines. She held the script up in her right hand, her left hand making gestures like any young actress would in order to get her point across.
” Men are rats, listen to me, they’re fleas on rats, worse than that, they’re amoebas on fleas on rats. I mean, they’re too low for even the dogs to bite. The only man a girl can depend on is a daddy.”
As Caroline said this, she then turned to look at a picture of her father on her night stand. Wistful memories of him started to flood her mind, and while she had been trying to concentrate on her lines, she suddenly felt the urge to pick up the gilded photo frame. It was a picture of Caroline on her father’s shoulders – wearing his big ten gallon hat that was way too big for her. Dressed like a right cow girl at one of the rodeos that she loved to go to when she was little.
Dropping the script on her bed, she took up the frame as her thumb ran across the image of her father’s smiling face.
“……the only man a girl can depend on is her daddy.” Caroline said in a soft whisper as though speaking so quietly she wanted no one else to hear. Wiping away a stray tear, she thought this was silly. It had been years, and she should have gotten over it by now. Setting back her father’s frame on the desk, she again picked up her script but felt her stomach growl in protest.
“Wonder if there are any cinnamon rolls left in the kitchen?” She thought to herself, and headed off out the door of her room and down the stairs. As she descended the stairs, she noticed Sadie talking to a young man at the door. Caroline stopped just two steps from the bottom, and then her eyes went cross eyed looking up cause she realized she was wearing the bright pink wig.
“Oh my lord!” She sung out, ripping it off to reveal her blonde tresses beneath. A hot blush appeared on her cheeks and she jumped the last two steps before dashing for the sanctuary of the kitchen.
The young man’s head turned from his truck back to the front door where an older woman was standing before him. He tipped his hat and nodded to the older woman with respect as he spoke firmly. “Howdy, Ma’am. My name’s Cain Paccans. I’m here to speak to the owner of the ranch. I’m here about the ad in the paper, Ma’am.” Cain’s eyes peeked behind Sadie and saw the vacuum and quietly pieced things into his head as he realized he had interrupted her cleaning routine. Remembering the ad saying Kirk, his eyes searched around to view any signs marking the name, but couldn’t look around too much without seeming scetchy to the woman, so he remained calm and firm, confident that he got the correct address.
Caroline chose that moment to come down the stairs, still wearing the pink wig she was using for her role. Sadie chuckled when the girl realized she was still wearing it, yanking it off her head before running into the kitchen in embarassment.
Sadie shook her head, turning back to the young man on the porch. He had taken off his hat when he caught sight of her. He had manners. She was impressed.
“Howdy, Ma’am. My name’s Cain Paccans. I’m here to speak to the owner of the ranch. I’m here about the ad in the paper, Ma’am.”
“Pleasure, Mr Paccans. I’m Sadie Jenkins, Missus Kirk’s housekeeper. The young lady you just saw was her eldest daughter, Caroline. You’re here about the ranch hand job? You’ll want to talk to Tanya about that, she’s the owner. You can find her in her office down at the barn.” She spotted one of the ranch hands walking by and called out to him. “Robert! You come here a sec. I got a job for ya.” Robert quickly changed directions and joined the duo on the porch.
“Yes, Ms Jenkins?”
“Take Mr Paccans here over to the office. He’s here about the job.”
“Yes, Ma’am. Say? Any chance of their being some sweet tater pie at lunch?”
“I might whip up a couple.” Sadie winked at him. Robert grinned and slapped his thigh.
“Ms Sadie, if I wasn’t a married man…hooo weee!”
“Mind yer manners, Robert. You couldn’t handle all this woman.” Sadie winked before heading back inside. Robert chuckled as Sadie closed the door and he looked at Cain.
“Right this way.” Robert smiled, leading the way.
Cain glanced back behind Sadie to get a look at who Caroline was, but he figured it would be in time he would meet her, without her pink hair. Once again, the young man nodded to Sadie to thank her before putting his hat back on his head, while shaking Roberts hand firmly, only to follow behind him to the barn. His blue hues wondered around the yard as Robert chatted a few things to the young man. Not being much of a conversationalist, Cain just nodded when needed until they reached Tanya’s office within the barn. Cain cleared his throat slightly as he stepped into the woman’s office and tipped his hat before removing it, holding it close to his stomach while he spoke. “Excuse me, Ma’am. I’m here about that ad in the paper. My name’s Paccans, Ma’am. Cain Paccans.” The young man stood tall and strong as he spoke. The smell of hay and horse was through out the whole barn, and being such a southern boy himself, it was a nice comforting smell, one that kept him relaxed with interviews such as these. It was the environment he was born to be in, born to work in, and happy to be apart of, though he only would if he nailed the job. “The position is still available? I just rolled into town a little while ago and saw the ad. I got a lot of experience, Ma’am, I can promise you.” His accent was truly southern, though his words were clean and able to be understood. Cain never mumbled, unless it was profanity he was mumbling to himself.
In the kitchen, the script to Grease the musical was now on the kitchen table, the pink wig was being worn by the family dog – Brutus, and a disheveled looking Caroline was helping herself in the fridge for a pitcher of orange juice. Bringing it out, she closed the door with her foot, and then went to find a clean glass in the cabinet, while Brutus sat near Caroline’s chair, wagging his tail happily. Probably thought that Caroline would share some cinnamon bun with him, as she normally fed him under the table at meal times.
Caroline could hear Sadie talking to the hot guy on the door step, then one of the farm hands Robert. They had to get a new guy come visit the day she was rehearsing her lines. Setting down the glass on the kitchen table, she poured herself a glass of orange juice and then placed the pitcher back in the fridge.
Humming the tune from Summer nights to herself, she sat down at the table, and reached for her glass of juice, before going to start reciting her lines. Again Brutus was right at her side, the wig falling back slightly to reveal his eyes. He was hungry as usual. Feeling the hot breath on her thigh, she reached over and took off the pink wig before giving Brutus a pat.
“You know I’d give you somethin’, but Sadie going to come thundering in here any second and start ranting about how this is HER domain.” Rolling her eyes, she then sighed and started to mutter her lines. She wasn’t that keen about playing Frenchie. She truly wanted the lead, but…it was something, and something was better than nothing.
Tanya really hated doing paperwork, but it was a necessary evil in the grand scheme of things, especially when it came to her family’s business. She wanted to be able to leave a legacy for her and Randy’s children when she was gone from this world, and didn’t want to leave behind any debts for them to take care of.
Converting one of the barn stalls into a private office, it was a start. She found it soothing to be near her animals. The sounds and the smells were comforting. Argo knickered softly in the next stall over and she smiled warmly. Yep, this was her domain, this office.
Sighing, she sat up in her seat and got back to plugging figures into the computer. She really hoped she was able to hire another ranch hand before the weekend.
“Ms Tanya?” came a voice from behind her. She turned in her seat to see Robert and another young man standing in the open doorway.
“Robert, what can I do for you?”
“Ms Sadie asked me to bring him down. He’s inquiring about the ad in the paper.”
“Ah. Thanks Robert. Back to work now.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Robert nodded before leaving. She stared at the young man, who seemed nervous but confident in her presence. He pulled his hat off his head again.
“Excuse me, Ma’am. I’m here about that ad in the paper. My name’s Paccans, Ma’am. Cain Paccans. The position is still available? I just rolled into town a little while ago and saw the ad. I got a lot of experience, Ma’am, I can promise you.”
“Pleasure, Mr Paccans. I’m Tanya Kirk, owner of the ranch. Please, have a seat.” She pointed to a chair beside the desk and waited for him to sit before she continued. “So…tell me about yourself. What brings you to Austin? What kind of experience have you had?”