18 year old Samantha Forster skipped to house from the barn. She was jovial today. She had just had a nice ride on Ace after doing all her chores.
Sam had recently graduated high school and was enjoying days of nothing to do.
Wyatt and the rest of the family weren't pressuring her into college like Jake's did. Sure she would like to go to college and major in photography but she'd rather help run the ranch.
Sam went through the screen door with a bang earning a bark from Blaze the Border collie.
"What have I been preaching about slamming that door?" Gram asked, trying to sound cranky but failing dreadfully. She was flipping pancakes at that moment.
"Sorry Gram!" Sam sucked in a breath. She had been running full out all day and now was panting. She started walking toward the living room. The door was closed which was very odd because it was never shut.
Sam decided to not go in just yet when she heard her father Wyatt and stepmother Brynna arguing.
"Do you think they'll be happy?" Brynna inquired something.
"I'm sure Sam will warm up to the arranged marriage," Wyatt sounded exasperated with Brynna.
Sam's mouth dropped open in horror. What? Marriage with whom? Arranged marriages weren't happening anymore!
Sam's eyes narrowed and she barged in the door. Her parents turned to see her. Brynna paled 3 shades lighter and looked ready to swoon. Wyatt had a poker face.
"Arranged marriage?" Sam squalled in horror.
"Yes Sam. You're going to be married next week," Wyatt said firmly to her. His expression hard hiding all expressions.
Sam backed away in horror; "No!" she fled from the house not bothering to ask whom she was to marry. Tears started streaming down her face as she ran through the barn doors.
"This can't be happening! No!" Sam yelled to the air. Suddenly she ran into something solid and whimpered.
"Brat?" Sam looked up into the familiar mustang eyes of Jake Ely and nearly sobbed. She slid to the ground in a heap. Her wonderful day turned so horrible in merely minutes.
Jake sat down beside her not saying anything. He put his arms around her to try to comfort Sam who was now shaking with sobs.
"Oh Jake, it's so horrible!" Sam cried out angrily, she looked up at him. He was handsome as ever or maybe more.
"Hey, nothing can be so bad to cry over," Jake tried to soothe but it seemed to not help.
"Yes there can. Dad has arranged a marriage for me. I can't get married!" Sam hid her face in his shoulder.
Jake's form turned rigged in horror. Wyatt arranged a marriage for her? He felt his blood boil in anger. Someone was marrying His brat, his Sam! He couldn't do anything about it. Sam was lost from him. It no longer matter if he had feelings for her or not. "Sam," was all he could get out.
"Samantha, come back in here, please!" Gram called from porch.
Sam shot back a strangled, "I'm coming," then turned to Jake, fear in her eyes. "Come with me?" she asked him as he helped her up.
Jake nodded and they started walking out to see Jake's dad pull in the drive in a red truck.
Sam gave Jake a questioning look to which he shrugged. He didn't know anymore than Sam did about any of this.
Luke and Maxine (Jake's mom) got out and walked up to him, "Hey, you two," they both said in unison as the four walked in the house.
Wyatt, Gram, and Brynna were sitting in the living room as they all walked in. Luke and Maxine sat down immediately but Sam and Jake stalled in the doorway, oblivious.
Wyatt took in a breath, "Sam, Luke and I have arranged you and Jake to be married," he watched both their expressions.
Jake froze in surprise. He would have never thought he was the one arranged to marry Sam. He was in shock but in a way a little happy. He still had the girl he loved even if she didn't know his love for her.
Sam suddenly couldn't breathe.
She was going to marry Jacob Ely, her best friend. The best friend she happened to be madly in love with ever since that time at the bonfire those years ago.
It was too much to think about. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she fainted against Jake.
Jake quickly caught his future fiancée.
"Wyatt!" Gram snapped at her son, whopping him on the side of the head lightly.
"It had to be done," Wyatt confessed to which Luke nodded. They had both been planning a marriage between the families. At first they hadn't known which Ely bother out of the 6 to marry Sam too but over time it turned out the youngest brother Jake was the one. He had always been there for her. He was overly protective of her ever since her accident. It was only a matter of time before they would fall for each other. The arrangement was perfect.
Sam stirred against Jake and opened her eyes staring right up at him. He gave her a grin which she returned, in spite of the circumstances the two were in.
They were no doubt in love with each other so that wasn't the problem. It was just the thought of marrying each other. What was it going to be like? Would it still be like it was now? Best friends that were sometimes friendly enemies?
"The marriage is next week," Luke added as Jake helped Sam stand upright.
Sam closed her eyes, maybe this day wasn't as bad as she thought it be but she wished their parents would have let them fall in love the regular way and get married on their own if they wanted. She blushed at the thought.
"You all may go now," Brynna told them.
Sam and Jake quickly went back outside. Both in a state of shock.
Sam sighed. They were in the barn, sitting on hay bales by Ace's stall. She still couldn't believe it. She was marrying Jake of all people. She should have been mad but she was unquestionably happy about marrying Jake. She hoped Jake was the same.
Jake stared at Sam. He was going to marry her and he should have been angry that their families had decided this without letting them know but he was ebullient that he was marrying the one he loved. He needed to tell her how he felt about her.
"Sam?" Jake asked softly as the redhead looked up.
"Yes?" she asked him, noticing his serious expression.
"I—I love you," Jake said quickly, suddenly aware he was leaning over her. Lips inches away from hers.
Used to he would have jumped back in embarrassment but now he didn't see why he should. They were betrothed to be married. Sam needed to know he was serious about loving her.
Jake kissed her softly. It said more than his words could have.
Sam kissed him back and knew she needn't have to tell him 'I love you too,' he knew already.
"So I guess we're both okay with this marriage thing?" Jake asked, scratching the back of his neck.
Sam nodded, shyly.
"We can take it slow," Jake assured her.
Wyatt walked in the barn then, "Is everything okay, now?" he asked, looking ready to get yelled at, now poker face all the way disappeared.
Sam and Jake both nodded. Jake took Sam's hand in his.
"I know you will take good care of my daughter, Jake. I've seen you many times put your own life in danger just to keep Sam safe and I know you will protect her from harm. Me and your Dad always knew you two belonged together even if you two didn't see it. Me and Luke also wanted to keep the Forster and Ely ties," Wyatt explained.
Sam squeezed Jake's hand and knew this marriage was no mistake and was thankful that the family had arranged this. It finally made her realize how much she loved Jake Ely.
Arranged marriages weren't always all bad….