A/N: We still own nothing; but believe me, if we did, we would have written Jasper and Garrett more into the storyline and had way more fun with them *winks*
"Miss. Swan, I didn't expect to hear from you so soon," Paul Lahote said with a chuckle.
"Yeah well, when life hands you lemons and all that," I replied.
"So, I take that to mean that you are going to accept the ranch and all that goes alone with it?" Mr. Lahote questioned.
I paused; did I really want to do this? I didn't have a clue as to how to run a ranch, let alone what would I do with myself in Dallas. I knew no one, didn't know where anything was. But, if I stayed here, I would need to look for work, would have to deal with the possibility of running into Alistair or Leah, so really this was my only option.
"Yes, I'm ready to accept the ranch," I said after letting out the breath I didn't know I was holding.
"Excellent, when shall we meet to sign the papers?" Mr. Lahote asked eagerly.
"Tomorrow will be alright." I replied.
"Alright, I shall come by your apartment tomorrow around noon. Is that agreeable to you?"
"Noon sounds great."
"Wonderful, see you then Miss. Swan. I hope that you enjoy the ranch."
"So do me." I responded before I hung up.
I tossed my cell on the couch beside me and looked around the apartment. There were some things that I wanted to take with me but the rest of the stuff I didn't care about, I guess I would have to text Alistair to come and get his stuff before I donate the rest of it. From the money that I was due to receive on Monday for my compensation, I would have to pay of the bills, get my security deposit back and get a plane ticket to Dallas. As well as ship all my boxes to the ranch in Dallas before I got there. There was a lot to do and I wanted to be out of Los Angeles by the end of the month; that was two and a half weeks away.
I knew there was no time like the present to start packing, so I sent a text off to Alistair to get his sorry ass to the apartment to collect his belongings. I then went out to get boxes, so that I would be able to get all my things together. Alistair was surprised that I was just picking up and leaving, he try to convince me to stay but I told him to fuck off and get what he wanted.
Once Alistair collected everything he wanted, I spent the rest of the night drinking and packing; there might have been a few things that I threw across the floor and relished in the fact that it broke into a lot of pieces. The next morning, I woke up with a slight headache. After having my breakfast, I got in touch with my landlord to let her know that I would be moving out in two weeks, she said that I wouldn't get my whole deposit back because I was supposed to give thirty days' notice when moving out; I didn't mind, I would be able to swing everything I needed to do still.
Paul Lahote was knocking on my door promptly at noon, once inquiring if he wanted anything to drink; we got down to work on signing all the papers. It took an hour but once it was done, I was holding the keys to the ranch and Paul; as he requested me to call him, said that he would be on the next plane to Texas and filling all of the paperwork. I thanked him and then went back to packing.
Before I knew it, it was the end of the month and I was getting prepared to board the plane to start my new life. I was both excited and afraid, I had tripled checked that I had everything done, packed and shipped to the ranch before this departure day. I arrived at the airport an hour early and after signing in, I sat in the waiting area, listening to music and reading. Finally they announced it was time for us to board, I gathered my belongings and made my way to the boarding gate.
Once I got to my seat and put my carry on in the compartment above me, got my book and settled in for the ride. I fell asleep halfway there and when I awoke 'Welcome to Texas Bella Swan' went through my head as I looked out my window. I gathered my belongings and made my way off the plane, I walked through the airport, checked in and rented a car and headed in the direction of the ranch that I put into the GPS of the car.
I stopped at the ranch's iron gate's with name 'BLACK' on the top in large cursive letters and took a deep breath before driving down the long dirt road, towards my new home.
I took in the vast grounds that seemed to go on forever. I saw horses on one side and cows with huge horns on the other side. As I drove a huge red barn came into view and there were a bunch of trucks parked in front, so I figured this is where I needed to be and find James or Jasper.
Getting out of my car I stop to listen for voices so I don't have to wander around and get lost on this vast ranch.
I hear laughing and talking coming from the back of the barn and head that way, as I round the corner I'm knocked on my ass by someone.
"Oh shit! I'm so sorry. I didn't see such a tiny thing down there." The guy smiled at me with a sexy smirk. "Are you lost little lady?" he asked.
"NO!" I say with authority, I've already made up my mind I'm not going to let a man into my life, no matter how good looking he is. "I'm looking for James or Jasper, I'm Isabella Swan. The new owner of the ranch." I smile politely.
"Oh! Hey, I'm Garrett Lee, the resident vet. I was just here checkin' on one of your mares, she's pregnant and due very soon." He smiled. "Would you like to see her?" he puts his arm around me.
"Garrett! What the hell? I told you to stop bringin' your little whores to the barn!" This tall, muscled, but not overly built guy walks out of the barn in just jeans and boots with his blond wavy hair pulled back in a ponytail and sweat dripping off of him, looking like all kinds of perfection.
"Excuse you Mr. Whoever you are! I am Ms. Isabella Swan! The new owner of this ranch, not some two bit WHORE!" I snapped.
"Oh, I- I'm so sorry." His stuttered out.
"Damn it James. You're always stickin' ya damn foot in your mouth!" Another guy who looked a little like the second; only a little shorter, came walking around the side of the building covered in some grease shouted. "Sorry ma'am, these two have no manners. My brother and cousin are morons." He smiled.
"My name is Jasper Lee, I'm the mechanic and handyman for the ranch and this idiot that's standin' next to you is my brother- whom I'm assumin' ya already met, and this here is James Hunter, our cousin he runs the entire ranch, maybe not after today, but up until a few moment ago… he did a fine job." He chuckled and shook his head.
"Can you point me in the direction of the house? I'd like to freshen up and then have a meeting with everyone who is KEY personnel to ranch and introduce myself properly." I glared at James.
"Yes ma'am. I actually have to go up there and fix the faucet for the housekeeper. You'll want to keep an eye out for her, we've only had her employed here for about four months and she's found a way to break somethin' constantly for me to fix." Jasper sighed.
"Is she that incompetent?" I asked.
"I don't think so." He answered as I drove. "She seems smart, but she's got a thing for me and she's so not my type, for one she's maybe 4'11" and about 85 – 95 pounds, I'd probably break her if I were to have sex with her, I don't like to take things that gently." He lifted his face in a smirk and I blushed.
"So what's her name?" I asked.
"Alice." He rolled his eyes. "She's quite energetic too, so be prepared." He chuckled.
"Great. I just want some peace and quiet, not someone in my business." I sighed.
"Oh, well that would be Alice. Luckily she's just the assistant housekeeper. You'll meet Siobhan the head housekeeper in a couple weeks. She had to go back home to Ireland for a couple of weeks, her father passed. She is wonderful, I think Alice will be on her ass when she gets back." He stated.
"If not before." I mumbled.
He laughed. "And who would do all the grocery shopping for the ranch hands? Keep their area clean?" he asked.
"Well, I'm assuming Siobhan does the cooking for everyone? Am I correct?" I asked.
"Yes. We usually eat in shifts and she handles the cookin', but Alice has always done the shoppin' and the cleanin' of the ranch hands barracks." Jasper shrugged.
"Well, as of now… I'll be taking over the grocery shopping. I don't have a job and as owner of the ranch, I expect to learn how to take part in the daily functions of this ranch and the jury is out on Alice. I need to meet her yet and if she's going to keep breaking my shit, just to get you to fuck her… she's going to have one hell of a problem." I snapped as we pulled up to a beautiful Pueblo style house.
"Don't let the simple outside fool ya, once you step inside its pretty grand. It's still decorated in Billy's style, you're welcome of course redo it anyway you want to. Siobhan has a room here, but Alice lives offsite, because she only works here a few days a week. The ranch hands live in the bunk house above the barn. Billy had it made into a really nice apartment for them and then built James and I a nice cottage about a mile away." He informed me.
"That was nice of him." I smiled.
"Yeah, we were the kids he never had. He missed you a lot. He talked about you all the time, has a few pictures of when you were little, I'm guessin' from when your mom was alive." He shrugged.
"Yeah. I found out looking at that he was my mom's brother. I'm guessing my dad and him didn't get along." I shrugged.
"No, they didn't. We do know that much. He always said that he didn't like Renee runnin' off with Charlie and settlin' for a lesser man." Jasper sighed.
"A lesser man?" I questioned. "My father was a great man. A police chief. He risked his life every day and besides, my mom ended up leaving my dad for another man, which caused her to get killed. Not her being with my dad." I shook my head.
"Oh. I didn't know. Billy never informed us of that. Only on the fact that Charlie's career got her killed." Jasper said apologetically.
"It's OK, my dad didn't talk about it much. My mom died when I was 5." I shrugged.
We entered the house and something came running at us, gluing itself to Jasper.
"Jasper! Thank goodness! There's a mouse…" she squeaked and I had to stifle a laugh.
"Alice. This is Isabella Swan, the new owner of Black Ranch. Your new boss!" he said sternly.
"Oh, hi Ms. Swan. It's so lovely to meet you. We're going to be great friends." She bounced.
"First off. I'm your employer. I won't be your BFF," I sighed and watched her face fall. "Secondly, if you don't unwrap yourself from Mr. Lee here you're going to find yourself with a sexual harassment suit." I said firmly.
"Yes ma'am." She whispered.
"We'll be having a meeting on the back deck in 15 minutes. Make sure everyone is there, including yourself. Now Jasper, if you'd kindly show me to my room, I'd like to get freshened up before the meeting." I nodded.
He nodded and led the way.
Once inside my room we busted out laughing.
"You're going to be a breath of fresh air around here, that's for sure. Thanks for saving me back there." Jasper smiled.
"No problem. I was telling the truth though, she will be out of a job though. I won't have my employees being uncomfortable." I shook my head.
He excused himself and I washed my face and changed into a clean shirt and pair of shorts, the heat here was stifling.
Walking out onto the patio I saw all the employees sitting there and relaxing.
"Ms. Swan." James approached me. "I'm truly sorry for the comments I made earlier. Garrett is a bit of a player and I just thought you were another one he was bringin' here to try and impress." He rubbed the back of his neck.
"Fine. Just don't let it happen again." I nodded.
"I'll try to keep my foot out of my mouth." He smiled and chuckled.
"OK everyone as the rumor I'm sure has spread, I'm Isabella Swan, but please call me Bella. I was Billy's niece and although I never knew him, I'm grateful for this opportunity and to learn about the ins and outs of the ranch. Please be patient with me, I've grown up in the city." There were groans and chuckles.
"There will be a few changes happening over the next few months as I learn how things work, but the very first thing that will be happening when Siobhan gets back is that the ranch hands will start cleaning their space. This will no longer be Alice's job. Guys, if it's a busy time of year or if something happens, I'll bring in a special cleaning crew. Also twice a year I'll bring in a cleaning crew for a deep clean. But on a daily and weekly basis it's your duty to clean up after yourselves. You've got two weeks to learn to do laundry and clean a bathroom." I stated.
"As for groceries, Alice you're relieved of that as well, that's always been one of my favorite chores and I'll continue that. I'll also ask that EVERYONE contributes to the menu. I want suggestions for weekly menus and for dinner, no more shifts. We're a small enough crew we can all eat together. There's nothing that pressing that can't wait. I know there's a horse getting ready to have a baby, if it's an emergency… That's different." I noted.
"Ms. Bella." One of the ranch hands spoke up. "Garrett usually deals with that and doesn't like our involvement. It's a doctor thing." He shrugged.
"Oh, if my horse is having a baby, I'm going to be there." I demanded.
Jasper and James busted out laughing.
"Do you two have a problem?" I asked.
"No, but we have a feeling Garrett's going too." Jasper smirked.
After the meeting, I mingled with everyone to get to know them. Most seemed really nice, there were a couple who had me on alert, Alice included.
"Bella not to overwhelm you, but if you're up to it I'd like to go over my budget with you sometime." James smiled at me.
"That would be great. Who's been in charge?" I asked.
"I have. Billy had it set up pretty straight forward and when he fell ill, he let me in charge. I signed for everythin' and Jasper was the second signature of approval." He assured.
"Oh, OK. I'm glad you two made sure to cover yourselves." I smiled. He was easy to talk to when he was being civil.
"It was all Billy, I assure you. I know nothing about business. Billy taught us everythin' we know. He helped us when we were pitched aside." He looked down.
"Hey, I'm sorry." I touched him arm.
"Don't be." He held my hand on his bicep and stared into my eyes.
"James! We need to finish up!" Jasper yelled breaking our little spell.
"I- I need to go. Um, coffee tomorrow night and the budget?" he asked.
"Yes. After dinner. Please be prepared." I nodded.
And with that he was off and I took a deep breath and leaned against my door.
I think I might enjoy Texas… If for anything, the way they built their men.
Sorry for the wait in between chapters…
Ms. Laurie has been busy with school and then when she sent the chapter to me…
The characters wouldn't SHUT UP!
So I hope it's worth the wait!
Love ya Laurie… 3
Love ya Star 3
Also, we have no connection to