A/N: Welcome! This story can be easily followed without reading the prequel, "The Diaries of Circle M Ranch." We begin four months after Enos learns that Beth O'Connell left him the Circle M Ranch in her Will. Overnight, Enos has become a wealthy man, with twenty-five million dollars and all the O'Connell family assets. As part of her last wishes, she sent him on a journey to Wyoming to visit his godparents, Gus and Emily Rafferty, where she revealed certain truths (and more) through years of diaries. Now he deals with the aftermath of his trip and struggles to find balance in his new life.
Daisy is still trying to rebuild her relationship with Enos after a disastrous fight this spring severed their romantic ties. After following him to Wyoming, she found him enamored with another woman. Determined to win him back, she stayed in Wyoming for the cattle drive, only to be kidnapped by a violent man and rescued by a mysterious Scotsman, the brother of her rival. Daisy returned to Hazzard in hopes that Enos would sow his oats and come back to her. When Enos returned from his trip unexpectedly, Daisy found him heartbroken. Yet he refused to give up on the woman he left behind and Daisy was forced to wait for him to recover.
Boss's scheme to steal Enos's ranch is about to have long reaching consequences for all of them. Daisy and Enos will be pulled into the mysterious past of the MacFarlands while they are forced to fight to save his ranch...and their lives.
The characters of Agnes Strate and Otis Strate were created by WENN9366 in "The Story of Us" and are used/referred to with her permission. The MacFarlands and all other original characters (except established DOH characters owned by Warner Brothers) are my creations and owned by me. Thanks to all who read and/or review! Enjoy!
Chapter 1 -Difficult Adjustments
"Just because everything is different
doesn't mean anything has changed."
~ Irene Peter
August 10, 1987
It was another sweltering August day in Hazzard County and Enos begrudgingly left the cab of his air-conditioned pickup to walk into the station. Heat radiated from the pavement and wrapped around him with suffocating pressure. From the hallway, he heard Rosco and Cletus in a heated discussion. He entered the station and found them arguing in front of a marked up road map of Hazzard County that was pinned to the bulletin board. Apparently, Cletus had been in the wrong place…again.
Rosco gestured wildly and didn't notice his arrival. "Cletus! I said at Pond Creek and Highway 20, not Highway 14! There ain't no way to set it up at Highway 14! Now ya' done wasted all mornin' out there and Boss eventually wants Highway 20 shut…GYU! Enos!"
He waggled his fingers and said, "Hey Sheriff, hey Cletus!"
"Don't hey me, dipstick! What are ya' doin' sneakin' up on us like that! Ya' tryin' to give me a heart attack?" Rosco yanked down the map and rolled it in a jumbled mess.
"I'm sorry, Sheriff." Enos apologized. "I didn't mean to interrupt y'all's meetin'."
"Oh just hush! We're finished anyway, now both of ya' just git on outta here. Go find that convertible that's been speedin' all over th' county. It's gettin' to be plum embarassin'!"
"Convertible?" Enos crinkled his forehead. "Sheriff Rosco, I've been off duty for three days. What convertible are ya' talkin' about?"
"Oh, good grief!" Rosco replied with rolling eyes. "Don't ya' keep th' radio on at th' house? That riffraff has been causin' all kinds of commotion 'round here!"
Enos had so much work to do at the Circle M Ranch that he was working more hours off duty than on. Sam Tucker, his ranch foreman, had been pressing him for awhile to hire two new hands and he hadn't had the time. Balancing his job as a deputy sheriff and his new life as a ranch owner was proving to be a rather difficult task.
"I've had th' radio on, Sheriff, but I ain't been inside to hear it. What's been going on?"
Cletus rocked on his heels and replied, "Oh well see there's this silver convertible and it's been speedin' all over th' County. It put Rosco in th' pond Saturday." Cletus chuckled and pointed at the Sheriff. "Three times."
Rosco wasn't amused. "Oh hush! Whoever is drivin' that thing put you in th' pond twice on Sunday and once Saturday afternoon! At this rate we ain't gonna have no ponds…just holes with patrol cars in 'em! Now y'all split up and find that car! Oh, and watch yourselves! We're goin' through cars faster than Cooter can dry 'em out!"
"Yessir, Sheriff." Enos grabbed the keys to Hazzard Two and walked out with his fellow deputy. "Hey, Cletus? What were y'all talkin' about when I walked in? Is somethin' goin' on at Pond Creek and Highway 20?"
"Boss mentioned something about re-zoning and road construction, but I ain't sure what he's up to. Th' map changes every time I see it and I can't keep up."
"Huh." Enos scratched his cheek. "That ain't far from th' ranch. Sure would be nice if they repaired Old County. So what's this about a convertible? What's it like?"
Cletus took on a look of excitement. "It's fast, Enos. I mean real fast! It's a silver convertible Mercedes, brand spankin' new, but th' top ain't never down. We've been getting' calls from upset farmers about it racin' and stirrin' up th' livestock all weekend. When we find it and start hot pursuit, it lets us get real close. Saturday afternoon it actually pulled over for me, but when I stepped out of th' car it took off! Enos, I've chased that car three times now and it's as hard to catch as th' General Lee! I'm thinkin' it's just a bunch of kids goofin' around."
"I don't know about that. It's an awful expensive car for kids. What about th' Duke boys? They ever run into it?"
"Not that I know of."
"Thanks, Cletus. I'll head out towards Old Mill Road, ya' wanna go th' other way?"
Cletus smirked and slapped his shoulder. "You just wanna go see Daisy, don't ya!"
"No, I ain't gonna out just t' see Daisy, I'm goin' to see if th' Duke boys will keep an eye out for th' convertible. Have ya' talked to Cooter?"
"Well, it's gotta gas up somewhere, don't it?"
Enos rubbed the back of his neck. Sometimes it wasn't easy having to play dumb. He told himself he would do that less and less, but it was coming slow.
Cletus scrunched his forehead and replied, "Oh. Yeah. Ya' want me to talk to Cooter?"
"No, thanks. I'll do it. I need him t' look at a truck I got at th' house anyway."
"Ya' got two trucks now? What are ya' doin' with two trucks? Ya' can only drive one at a time."
"It ain't exactly mine, but when Gus and Emily went back to Wyoming it wouldn't start. I've been too busy to look at it so when I talk to Cooter about it, I'll have him keep an eye out for th' convertible."
"Oh! That's a real good idea. Ya' learn all that in L.A.?"
No. Kindergarten. "Yeah. Detective course. See ya' later, Cletus."
Enos strolled to the patrol car and dropped the keys before he could get the door open. He bent down to pick them up when a pair of high heels appear to his right. Tall red ones…with long tan legs attached.
"Ding dang it," he muttered.
Enos swallowed the dollar sign shaped lump in his throat and stood without making eye contact. "H-hey Margaret, how are ya' doin' today?"
Enos quickly opened the door, but she slipped in front of him and blocked him from getting inside.
"Hey Enos," she cooed while batting her eyes. "It sure is hot this afternoon. I was wonderin' if ya' wanted to go out to th' pond later and…cool off. We could go swimming or somethin'."
"But, I'm on duty and I-"
"I made sandwiches and some peach cobbler, I even got me a new swimmin' suit!" Margaret leaned in close and whispered sensually, "It's ittsy-bitsy. Wanna see?"
"No! Um...n-no." Enos's skin crawled and he took a step back like she was a wild animal about to rip him apart.
Margaret was one of the girls he now called"The Three Barracudas." Margaret, Cindy Lou and Lori Jean. They had no shame and had yet to get the message that he was not interested. They hadn't given him the time of day until he inherited all of the O'Connell assets and some of their tactics were downright scary.
Enos sighed and wondered if he would ever find balance. His natural affinity to be kind and not hurt anyone's feelings had been repeatedly challenged. He constantly walked a thin line between assertive or rude and was growing weary of the games.
Margaret giggled and pinched his cheek, "C'mon! It'll be fun! You can put th' sunscreen on my back, or anywhere you-"
"No! No...um...sunscreen. I'm sorry, Margaret but I'm on duty. I gotta take care of police business."
"Oh, Enos. Ya' ain't gotta be so shy." Margaret pouted and lowered heavy fake lashes.
Enos was so embarrassed by the way she was dressed he could barely look at the girl. Her tank top was at least two sizes too small and the rest? He didn't even want to know.
"Wait!" Margaret blurted and Enos started in place. "I know how you can make th' time! Why don't ya' meet me at th' pond on your break?"
"Margaret, I can't." Enos huffed and dug his fingers into his gun belt. "I told ya' I'm on duty and I got things to do on my personal time for th' ranch. My schedule ain't gonna change for a long time."
"How long is long?"
"Years. It's a lot of work havin' two jobs to-"
"Margaret! You shameful hussy!" Lori Jean's shrill voice pierced the air as she marched over. "Ya' just stay away from him!"
"What did ya' call me!?"
"Why you little tramp!" Margaret darted away from Enos and rushed towards Lori Jean.
Seeing his escape, Enos slipped into the car and was about to drive off when he heard the two girls scream at each other. "Ding dang it. Is this ever gonna stop?"
He was forced to leave the car to pull them apart before things degraded further. There had already been one cat fight this week between Cindy Lou and Lori Jean, complete with hair pulling. In the end, he was the one who was knocked in the head when Cindy Lou threw a shoe at Lori Jean...and missed.
Once the girls were separated, his patience was spent. "Th' two of ya' can't keep actin' like this! Margaret, go home. Lori Jean, where's your car?"
"It's across th' street. You can walk me there!" Lori Jean hooked her arm around Enos's and stuck her tongue out at Margaret.
Margaret immediately protested, "That ain't fair, Enos! You're gonna walk Lori Jean to her car and make me walk home? Alone!?"
Enos peeled his arm away from Lori Jean and said wearily, "I can see your house from where I'm standin', Margaret. Ya' go on home now. Both of ya' are gonna get me in trouble with th' sheriff if ya' don't cut this out!"
"But I made peach cobbler and everything!" Margaret pouted dramatically.
Lori Jean sneered, "Don't eat it Enos. It's probably got Margaret cooties in it!"
"You ain't one to talk! You're about as useful as a sidesaddle on a pig!"
When the slapping started, Enos was right smack in the line of fire, as usual.
"Ow! Ding dant it! You two just quit! Stop it now! What's wrong with ya'?"
"Enos? Can I help?" Doc Appleby stepped off the curb and the girls immediately stopped to stare at him.
Enos went rigid, barely able to tolerate being in the man's presence.
The country doctor frowned and said, "Margaret, I know your daddy wouldn't be pleased with you bein' out here acting like that. You just walk with me and I'll take you home."
Doc Appleby took her arm and moved her away from Enos. With a sad expression he said, "I'd sure like to visit with you, Enos. I hate that we don't talk anymore. Would you please come by my office later? I've cleared my appointments this afternoon. We haven't had a chat in months and Mrs. Appleby sure misses your visits."
The breeze ruffled Enos's tie as he said stoically. "I appreciate ya' walkin' Margaret home Doc Appleby, but I don't see where we got nothin' to discuss. Ya' give Mrs. Appleby my best. I don't mean to hurt her feelings. If you'll excuse me, I gotta get back on duty."
Enos took Lori Jean's elbow and quickly led her across the street while Doc Appleby stalked away with Margaret.
"Aw, Enos." Lori Jean spoke with a sugary timbre. "You're so sweet to walk me to my car."
"Lori Jean, I'm on duty and if you and Margaret don't stop this bickerin' I'm gonna…I'm gonna… Y'all just stop actin' like a couple of teenagers before I have to do somethin' I ain't proud of."
With a dramatic gasp, she stopped and smiled giddily. "Ya' mean, ya' might arrest me, Enos?"
This was beyond creepy. "Lori Jean," he whined. "J-just get in th' car!"
Enos opened her door and pushed her inside, slamming the door behind her.
She leaned out the open window and grabbed his wrist. "Hey, anytime ya' wanna see a movie just give me a call!"
"Buckle up and go home." Enos freed his hand and turned on his heels, feeling the need to find soap.
He hurried back to his patrol car hoping to get inside before Cindy Lou popped up somewhere. It wouldn't be the first time she had hidden in the bushes to catch him off guard. Thankfully she was nowhere in sight and Enos drove to Cooter's, hopeful that there would be no more problems with the barracudas today.
Enos walked in the open garage doors and looked around. "Hey, Cooter! Where ya' hidin'?"
Cooter slid out from under the car next to him. "Hey, Enos. What's goin' on buddy roe? Did ya' see what Margaret is wearin' t' day? I gotta tell ya'! Since you inherited all that money? On behalf of us menfolk, we wanna thank ya' for improvin' th' scenery around here. If ya' know what I mean." He burst into rowdy laughter.
Enos dropped his shoulders and leaned against one of the support posts. "It ain't funny, Cooter. I feel like th' last fish in th' barrel and th' bullets keep comin'."
"I'm just messin' with ya'. Hey, sorry Boss won't pay to fix the A/C in your patrol car. Why don't ya' bring it in later and I'll see what I can do off th' books?"
"That would be great, Cooter. Thanks. I need to ask for a favor."
"Sure thing. As long as it don't involve snookerin' th' Dukes for Boss."
"No, I'd never ask ya' to do that." Enos took off his hat and worried on the brim. "There's a truck out at th' ranch that won't start and I ain't had th' time to look at it. I need it runnin' so I can find somebody to drive it out to Wyoming in September."
"Two trucks?" Cooter dropped his wrench and rested his arm on a knee. "Ya' got two trucks now?"
"Well no. It ain't exactly mine."
It had been a difficult transition for Enos. Everybody in town wanted to know every detail of his new life. The shiny red truck that sat in his driveway belonged to Jenny MacFarland and every time he looked at it, he yearned to be with her again.
Jenny had loaned him the truck to help transport a load of horses across the country from Wyoming. Much to his disappointment, she didn't come along. Her brother Drake had taken her away to "protect her" from a killer named Wallace Monroe. Drake had a bone to pick with Enos and refused to tell him where she was. He was keeping them apart and he had no way of knowing when she would come back...if she came back. Right on cue, the pang in his chest nearly took his breath away.
"Enos? Ya' all right? Ya' got that sad puppy look again. What's goin' on with you lately anyway?"
"Sorry, Cooter. I'm just distracted."
Cooter waggled his eyebrows. "Margaret, huh!"
"Huh? No, it for sure ain't Margaret." Enos harrumphed in offence. "There's somethin' else I need to ask ya'. Have ya' seen a silver convertible lately?"
"Ya' mean that one everybody's been complainin' about?"
"Yeah! That's th' one! Seen it?"
"Nope. Ain't seen it, but I had to pull Cletus and Rosco out of th' pond six times this weekend."
"I know that Cooter." Enos flopped his hat back on his head. "That's why I'm lookin' for it. We need to catch it before somebody gets hurt. If ya' see it, or it comes in for gas, give me a hollar, would ya'?"
"You got it, buddy roe." Cooter looked up with concern. "Enos, are ya' sleepin' all right? Ya' look awful tired and ya' ain't been yourself. I saw Daisy last night and she's been real worried about ya'. Said ya' ain't been by th' farm in awhile."
"I appreciate ya' askin', but I'm all right. I'm just tired with all th' long hours."
"Alrighty then." Cooter grabbed his tools and reclined. "I'll go out and take a look at your truck later this afternoon. Think about droppin' by t' see Daisy, would ya'? She ain't gonna admit it, but she's missin' ya' somethin' awful." Cooter pointed the wrench at him and said, "Swallow your pride, son. She's one fine woman and everybody can tell you're just as miserable without her as she is without you. Ask her out and make up."
Enos's stomach tied in a knot. "I gotta git. I appreciate ya' lookin at th' truck. Keys are on th' floorboard."
"No problem. See ya', Enos." Cooter took off his cap and scratched his head. Enos was already to the door, having walked away at a fast clip. "Huh. Wonder if there's any truth to them rumors? That boy's been actin' squirrelly since he got back from Wyoming."
The temperature continued to rise as Enos drove towards the Duke Farm. The air was thick with humidity and the mirage shimmered in waves on the horizon. Enos listened to the dirt pepper the undercarriage of his patrol car and thought about Doc Appleby.
Doc hadn't approached him since their ugly confrontation this past June. Enos wondered if he should hear him out, but he hurt over all the lies. Enos felt betrayed and hadn't been able to allow the man back inside his circle of trust. Doc knew Beth was his real mother, but he had kept Enos in the dark all these years.
As a result, Enos had been robbed of precious time and when Beth died suddenly, his chance to say goodbye was taken away, too. He was having a rough time getting over it and was tired of important choices in his life being controlled by someone else.
The thought brought Jenny to mind. Her choices had been taken away more than once in her life. He was so excited when Jaxon MacFarland showed up at the Circle M. He was the last person Enos expected to see on his doorstep, especially after the horrible fight he had with his brother, Drake.
Jaxon was a likable fellow and the two hit it off right away. Jenny and Jaxon were twins and Enos could see the similarities when he came by to visit. He had news about Wallace Monroe and said he had come to help.
August 3, 1987 - One Week Ago
"Deputy Strate, you need to read this and then we need to have a long talk about Wallace Monroe - and my sister. My name is Jaxon MacFarland. It's very nice to meet you."
"Jaxon!? Possum on a gumbush!" Enos rushed down the porch steps and offered his hand. "I'm sure glad to meet ya'!"
Jaxon shook his hand and flashed a charismatic smile. "Hi, Enos. You are exactly the way Jenny describes you."
"Jenny talks about me?"
"All the time. She misses you, Enos."
"Really!?" A million question burned through his mind at once. "Where is she? Are th' three of ya' still together? Is she all right? I know she was shot in June, but Drake wouldn't tell me th' details. I've been worried sick about her. Y-you aren't gonna tell me I ain't good enough for her are ya'? I don't mean no disrespect, but can't ya' see what Drake is doin' is wrong? She has th' right to see who she wants and when she wants. I'd never hurt her, Jaxon. Cross my heart!"
Jaxon chuckled. "One step at a time, Enos. Like I said, I'm here to help."
"Sorry, I've waited a long time to hear from her. C'mon inside and let's get outta th' heat."
Enos led the way and they sat at the kitchen table. His heart thumped away rapidly and he worried about saying the wrong thing. This was his chance to reach her. The last time she was close, he never sat eyes on her.
"Jaxon, how bad was she shot in June? Is she all right?"
"Open this while I tell you what I can." Jaxon passed an envelope across the table and his eyes turned stormy. "Jenny is almost fully recovered and she's going to be fine, but she had a rough time."
Enos's stomach dropped. "She's still not fully recovered? What went wrong? How bad was it?"
"Read, Enos. She's fine now."
Enos knew there was more to it, but he dropped the issued and turned his attention to the letter in his hands. It was a report on the shooting, the same one that injured Drake, Jenny and himself. His eyes popped wide. "This is addressed to Wallace Monroe. There ain't no signature or address though. How'd ya' get this?"
"It's a copy, but I have my ways." Jaxon smiled and tilted his head to the side in the same manner as his twin. "You can read the details later. Monroe's status reports are almost impossible to come by, but trust me. This is the real thing. Skip to the bottom and read the recommendation.
Enos quickly scanned the report. "It says, 'Abandon hit at this time. Targets protected. Strategic risk too high.'" He looked over the table. "Drake said somethin' about us being considered protected, but he didn't say nothin' about why Monroe came after us in th' first place. Does this mean they could come back?"
"Don't worry." Jaxon sat back and removed his cufflinks to roll up his sleeves. "It's my job to know these things. If anything changes, if you, or Daisy, or anyone else is in danger, I'll know. I just wanted you to have reassurance."
"I sure appreciate that." Enos rested his elbows on the table. "Jaxon, please tell me more about Jenny. Is she ever coming back? I really need to see her. I got so much I need to say."
Jaxon heaved a sigh. "Well, as I said, Jenny misses you very much. She wants to come back, but she's scared. She has a lot of reasons and she hopes you will understand. The biggest issue is Monroe. Jenny doesn't want to make you a target again. The next issue is Drake. He's putting a lot of pressure on her to stay away."
Enos bit his tongue.
"Drake is very, very protective of us. Jenny told you about his fiance?"
"Yes, Cynthia." Jaxon paused a moment, as if he were thinking of a better time. "When Drake lost her, he was devestated. For awhile, we wondered if he would survive it. He shut down, closed himself off from the rest of the world. He blames himself for what happened to her and I think in some ways, he's trying to protect Jenny from going through that. Anyway, I digress. Jenny and I are all he has and you could say the same for me. They're all I have, too."
"I'm real sorry, Jaxon." Enos leaned across the table and pleaded with his eyes. "Let me help ya' stop Monroe. Please. I ain't gonna call th' FBI or force ya' to do somethin' ya' don't want to do. I'd work with ya'."
"What about Drake?"
"Jenny loves Drake. I'd never come between any of ya'. That wouldn't be right, but it's my duty to stop Monroe." Rubbing his neck Enos continued, "Drake told me I was using Jenny as a plaything, but I promise it ain't like that. She's not a rebound or a security blanket either. What I feel for Jenny is real and I'd never hurt her. Is there any way you can help us?"
"I'm going to do my best." Jaxon turned melancholy. "I promised to help her when it was safe. It's not completely safe yet, but I hate seeing her this sad. Enos, you need to understand what you're getting into. Living on the run isn't easy. Using alias names, always watching your back, not being able to…to go home." He ran a flustered hand through his hair. "It's a hard life. We aren't normal people."
"No, Jenny's far from normal. She's too special to be called normal, but she deserves a normal life no matter what Monroe is tryin' to do. All of ya' deserve a normal life."
Jaxon laughed. "Jenny said you would say that. I love my sister, Enos. We have a very special bond as twins and I can't watch her wither away in front of me anymore. I'm losing her piece by piece, a little more every day. With Monroe out there, it's better if the three of us stick together instead of running alone. We need each other. Nothing, and I mean nothing, comes between the family. I'm not opposed to letting someone new inside, if it will make Jenny happy and I think you will. However, Drake is more reserved. I need you to give me a little more time to work with him."
"I'll do whatever it takes." Enos's hope burst to life in a brilliant flame. "I appreciate this, Jaxon. It means a lot to me that you're here."
Jaxon looked at his watch. "I've gotta go, but is there anything you want me to tell her, or do you want to write a quick note?"
"Yes sir! You bet I do!"
"That's a great start. I'll take it to her and try to call you tomorrow."
Unfortunately, tomorrow had come and gone over a week ago and Enos's excitement had returned to the same painful yearning he struggled with since June. Every morning he got out of bed hoping that he would hear Jenny's voice, or see her smile before the sun set for the day. Each night, he would look up at the stars and wonder if she was looking up at the same time. As usual, Enos could only hold her in his dreams and he feared Drake had taken the twins further away.
His thoughts shifted when Enos turned into the Duke Farm. Hazzard County was scorched by the drought and everything that once thrived had shriveled and turned brown. He knew the Dukes would struggle to make ends meet this year. They were proud folk, but he would make sure they kept their farm. He had more money than he could spend in ten lifetimes and had already set up a fund...with Tom Grady's assistance...to help the locals affected by the drought. It felt like the right thing to do. Some would lose everything if he didn't.
The knot in his stomach tightened when he spotted Daisy's jeep in front of the farmhouse. While they were repairing their friendship, some days were more difficult than others. He knew she wanted more, but he had nothing but confusion to offer.
"I'm here to do my duty." Enos repeated the mantra a few more times.
Hopefully, the Dukes had seen the silver convertible, or at least they could help catch up to it with the General Lee. If the car was as fast as Cletus said it was, Enos would have to out drive it.
The silver Mercedes was carefully hidden in the shade of the trees along County 64 and it's driver waited patiently for just the right moment. The last two days had been a total waste of time. The patrol cars the convertible engaged in hot pursuit had not been the one. Losing them had been simple, but watching them, go in to various ponds…six times…had been hilarious. This town might as well have a special traffic sign made, one with waves and a police car above it.
When the scanner crackled to life, it was time to get down to business. The information was clear and the correct patrol car had finally been located. The driver was ready and would listen to the calls.
After everything he had been through, he wouldn't allow anyone to come between them. She was his responsibility to love and protect. Not some hick deputy from Hazzard County. When the time was right, he would make his move.