AN: A great big thank you to all of you that have decided to go on this silly journey with me and MidnightLove87. We really appreciate it!
A big thank you to our amazing Beta, Sunflower3759!
Oh…I have a new story called A Sort of Fairy Tale and it's a drama! You can find it on my profile
I stepped inside the house, relishing the cool air that hit me as soon as the door was closed. Thank goodness for geothermal cooling. Without it we would be suffering. In this economy we probably wouldn't be able to afford conventional air conditioning, and besides that, it was much greener, and I just loved helping the environment. I remember the old days when we had no form of AC, and after working long and hard on the farm, Daddy and the boys would kick back in just their boxers and have a cool glass of lemonade. As awkward as it was, I really did miss the good ol' days.
After getting a cold glass of water and washing my face, I decided it was time to go take Sally for a ride. She needed it and after that fool from the city had been here, I needed some time to myself. A nice trip through the woods was bound to clear my head and put me in a better mood.
I finished off my water and searched out my boots again, sitting down to slip them on and lace them up. Boots were wonderful when you worked on a farm, you could just kick off the caked on cow shit and wear them steady through all the seasons. And here in Vermont we definitely got all of the seasons, hot as hell in the summer and freezing cold in the winter.
Just as I had finished lacing up the first one, Jasper busted through the door looking bright and happy.
"Come in to get some pants?" I asked, grimacing at his greasy blond mop. Don't ask me how he ended up with that hair when the rest of us got Daddy's dark locks. I still wondered, to myself of course, if Momma hopped the fence for that one Mr. Dwyer at the General Store; since Jasper's coloring was very suspiciously similar to his.
"Huh?" he questioned, looking confused, before shaking his head. "No, sis, there was a real nice guy out there. A gentleman, I tell ya, and he asked me to see to it that you got your hands on this, right here," he babbled on, before shoving a manila envelope in my direction.
"Oh yeah?" I knew that jerk was preying on Jasper's lack of brain cells and I was thoroughly annoyed.
"Yeah, he was so nice. And he was really interested in all the goings on around here. He wanted to know how much we make each year, and what kind of cows we have, but I told him I had no idea and that you were the one to talk to about all that. Can you imagine someone thinking I know about those things? Maybe I should be running the farm!" he exclaimed with a smile as he reminisced on his conversation. I wanted to throttle the big mouth. "Ya know, he didn't seem too happy about that, but then he cheered up some when I introduced him to Sadie."
"Yeah, I bet he did." I gritted my teeth and tossed the packet in the garbage, before dusting off my jeans and heading toward the door. "Please stop speaking to strangers!" I added before I left, leaving Jasper standing there in his, er…I mean Daddy's, skivvies.
I reflected on the handsome, money grubbing, shyster that ruined my morning, as I rode Sally on the dirt roads of my property. I just wished for one day when everything could be done perfectly without any drama.
But it wasn't often a situation like that was a possibility for us Swans. If someone wasn't trying to swoop in and buy the place out from underneath us, there were bill collectors bugging us, or there were neighbors yapping about the smell. It was never simply a peaceful day in the country.
I spent several more minutes trying to regroup before headed back toward the stables. After riding her freely for a while I had to put her out in the pasture, she needed some fresh air. Not only that, but she and Quentin needed some time apart.
While the horses were spending some time apart, I went and got my inspection sticker on my baby. I was so proud of that little car that I beamed when my official zero emissions sticker was placed on the windshield. My brothers might mock my love of protecting the environment, but I knew that when I went to sleep at night I was doing my best to protect the Earth. Not to mention, those tax write-offs were fantastic. I really needed to look into those solar panel tax breaks. Geothermal cooling was just one small step in the right direction, being off the grid was the ultimate dream.
The rest of my day flowed like the days before. There were chores to finish, brothers to feed and bills to pay. My life was a broken record that only played the same song. But today at least I had some comic relief.
That night I went to sleep, still giggling about that city boy who came around earlier.
A week later I tacked Sally, gently talking to her as I did. I wanted her to know I cared for her and my frustrations with the day. Usually, it was Bessy I discussed these things with, but Sally was just as kind, when she wasn't in the barn. Quentin wore on her, my gelding desperately wanted to be a stallion, but he was past his prime on that front. I realized I talked more to the animals on the farm than to actual people. No wonder I didn't have any real friends. I frowned at the realization.
When she was done, I swung my leg up over her as I was finally ready to ride. She seemed pleased and slowly made her way out of the barn and into the field. I gave her a little heel before clicking for her to speed up. I wanted to be on the trail, and fast. There was no need for that moseying bullshit, but she was reluctant to give into me.
Now, I knew Sally was stubborn, but she was also a trained horse, she usually didn't need more than a little prodding or some sugar to keep her going. So this was unusual for her. I scowled and gave her a little break, wondering if that would help speed her up a little, but nothing doing. She wanted to walk and there was no changing her mind.
Typically my beautiful chestnut mare would cantor through the path, right over the strewn sticks and rocks at a good pace. But this time she stumbled and trudged her away along, certainly not giving me that flying feeling which normally came when I rode her. I was afraid something was amiss with my beloved horse.
I enjoyed the wind in my hair and the feel of being free. That was the best part of being on her - I always felt so free, but not this time.
I had her continue on until the path broke and we were in a large meadow, one of my favorite places to be. It was quiet and serene, but occasionally we'd get some random wolves poking around. Nothing everlasting, though, thankfully.
Once I was sure it was only the two of us, I slid off my saddle and took a look at her legs, trying to understand what could be going on. Then, as I looked it over I could clearly see what the issue was, Sally was favoring her right front leg.
"You're hurt, aren't you girl?" I whispered, lightly scratching her nose and cooing at her.
She neighed and nuzzled my shoulder.
"Poor baby." I stroked her softly, kneeling down to touch the affected hoof. It had to be tender too, because she pulled away just as my fingers grazed her ankle. I felt terrible for pushing her when she was feeling poorly. I had to give credit when credit was due, Jasper would have known there was something wrong. He always knew. Not wanting to rile her up any more than necessary, I decided to walk her back to the pasture and call Garrett; equine problems were best left to him and his superior knowledge.
The walk back wasn't too long, and we were back at the pasture before I even realized it. I left her tacked and headed into call the good doctor.
As I passed by the barn I saw Jasper tormenting Emmett with a baby bunny. Em was screaming like a girl, running away from him, but Jasper was hot on his tail and relentless.
"What the hell is wrong with you, Jasper," Emmett yelled in a high pitched voice, like his testicles were in a vise. "It's going to bite me with its rabid, tiny, razor-sharp teeth!"
Jasper squealed, "He just wants to kiss you, Bro! He loves you!"
Oh, fuck me. I sprung forth from the same loins that those two numbskulls came out of.
And one look to the right told me the damn fence still wasn't fixed.
I grumbled to myself, but before I yelled at my foolish brothers I needed to get the vet on the phone. Sally was in pain and while I might not have much understanding for my siblings, Daddy always taught me to be good to the animals. And that was exactly the motto I was following at the moment.
I picked up the phone and dialed his number.
"Hello," a deep voice came through the phone. I held back a moan at hearing the rich timbers of his words. That man's voice made me swoon.
"Hi Garrett, it's Bella," I said, trying to remind him of who I was. Actually, I was trying to remember my own name at that moment. He made me giddy like a stupid girl most of the time. Though, that was usually when he was in front of me, staring me down with those beautiful eyes.
"What can I do you for, darling?"
I nervously giggled, then I felt the need to smack myself in the face, there was no need for that shit. "Well, Sally is favoring her front right leg and I'm terribly concerned."
That was right, I got down to business. I wasn't about to catch myself giggling around him again. I swallowed another giggle fit that was about to burst forth. Stupid hormones.
"Okay, and have you checked for any kind of debris in her shoe?" he wondered.
"Yeah, I checked quickly, I didn't want to piss her off, but either way, I saw none."
"Alright, are you going to be home in an hour?" I heard him flip pages. It was probably his day planner. I wondered if he could fit me in for a quickie. I shook my head trying to get that idea out of my brain. The man was way too tempting.
"Yep, I'll be here," I squeaked, trying not to envision him lying naked in my hay loft.
"Sounds like Ms. Sally will be needing some special attention, so I'll see you then."
"Thank you very much," I told him with sincerity, since I was sure he had other clients to deal with. Of course, my traitorous brain added that I needed some attention too.
"Not a problem, Bella, you know you can call me whenever you need me."
And with that he hung up and I felt flushed. Garrett was a sexy beast of a man, but I hated myself for feeling weak at the sight of him. It wasn't good for business and in the long run Garrett was the best vet we had ever employed.
When he arrived, exactly an hour later, I made sure I was washed up. It was just being polite, neighborly even. Truth be told, I wouldn't mind looking a little nice for the man, but the farm kept me busy and it wasn't really the place for a skirt or a dress. So like always, I was dressed in a clean pair of jeans and a fresh t-shirt.
With a knock at the door I greeted him with a smile; he returned it and added a wink. I could feel the heat on my cheeks. How embarrassing, but I chose to power through my boiling emotions.
While Garrett was investigating Sally's hoof, I was hovering, worried about her well-being and safety. It had absolutely nothing to do with his crystal blue eyes or the boyish smile he always seemed to throw me while I was peering over his shoulder.
He had his bag open and a few medical looking instruments out in front of him. His fingers were wrapped firmly around Sally's ankle and I watched as he carefully began looking her over. It was oddly seductive.
He asked question after question about her care and regular exercise. I was always impressed by his knowledge. That man would make an excellent husband. I cringed at the thought.
But just as Garrett was beginning to talk to me about her condition, Jasper came running in and interrupted us.
"Bella, Bella," he shouted. "Come here, you little piglet!"
"What do you want?" I snapped at my brother, who was at least now wearing a new pair of clean underwear. He could embarrass me like no other.
"That man is here again, sis, the one from last week. You know, the nice one," Jasper stood there rambling on.
"Huh, what?" I asked feeling very confused. I tried to remember who the hell Jas was talking about when he sighed and took me by the hand and began dragging me out the door. "Where are we going?"
"I'll be right back, Garrett," I called over my shoulder on the way out.
When we reached the front of the pasture I saw just what Jas had been babbling on about. That friggin' city boy was back, with his big, red truck and all. That horrible machine was a gas guzzler! I watched as the man leaned against the truck with a lazy smile upon his face. He was sexy, alright, but I hated him. My anger bubbled up inside of me, but I tried to keep myself in check, besides, I didn't need Garrett seeing me blow a gasket. I had a reputation to uphold around my handsome vet.
"How long has he been here?" I asked my dear brother.
"Not long," he drawled. "About twenty minutes. He wanted another tour, but I told him that I had chores to do."
"Good boy, Jas, I'll take care of this from here. Why don't you go put on some jeans and see if Garrett needs any help?" I suggested.
"But sis, you know what it does to me when Quentin and Sally start going at it," he murmured with a sigh. He was so odd.
"Garrett is here to help Sally's foot, Jas. I don't think Quentin will be having any fun for some time."
I was trying not to gag. It was disgusting, Jasper had some serious issues; one of which was when he saw Quentin trying to be a stallion and mounting Sally, he took off running for the house. I hated to even think about what he did once he was locked away in his room. He needed a woman.
"Alright, sis, I'll help him, but do I really need to go put on jeans? You know how constricting they are..."
I shook my head to myself and left him standing there. I had bigger fish to fry than my brother's affinity for not wearing pants.
I reached the driveway in record time, probably because I was storming through the grass like a bull on a rampage, but there was no stopping me.
"Ms. Swan?" the same man from last week asked.
"Yes," I nearly growled.
"I don't think we had a proper introduction last time. I just wanted to stop by and clear that up. I'm Edward Cullen, Hood Milk rep for the area." He flashed a panty melting smile that was sure to make other women swoon. I wasn't an idiot female however, I was so much better than that.
I smiled sweetly at him. I wished I could pelt that pretty face with cow patties.
"Well, Mr. Cullen, now that we know each other's names, I'm sure you can be on your way. Thank you for stopping by," I said quickly.
"Wait, Ms. Swan, I was also here to see if you've had a chance to look over that proposal I left with your brother? And I was also wondering if someone would be willing to give me a tour?"
His tender green eyes did make me stare a bit, but Edward's smile wasn't the same as Garrett's, and I wondered if he was just a smarmy, corporate asshole who didn't care about the little business folks. My guess was yes, considering how he was dressed.
But then I got an idea.
"Mr. Cullen, Swan Organic Creamery is a busy place and I don't have a lot of free time. So, as you can see, there is much to be done around here. If you want me to look at your proposal and give you a tour, you'll have to do something for me." I fluttered my eyelashes at him. I could only hope that he thought it was seductive and not that I had something in my eye.
One of his thick eyebrows rose in challenge and I crossed my arms. His smile got bigger and his eyes were a little darker, while gazing down my body.
"Are you good with your hands, Mr. Cullen?" I wondered. I licked my lips. His eyes widened. Bingo!
"Most say that I am," he replied confidently and I didn't miss the hidden innuendo there. I decided to use it to my advantage.
"Great, follow me." I lead him toward the front barn, where my piggies were housed. My hand caressed his arm slowly. Looking deeply in his eyes, I crooned, "Grab that tool box."
"Hmm..." His voice went deeper. I realized this man thought we were going to do something kinky with the tool box. What kind of pervert was he?
I instructed with a smile, "There is a fence that has needed repair for some time now, and since you want to hinder me, then you'll have to fix it. If you do, I'll take the time to look over your proposal and give you the tour you want. If not, feel free to leave and never come back again."
This was the best plan I'd thought of in a long time.
It was a win-win situation. Either I got my fence fixed or I never had to see this handsome fool again.
"Okay, Ms. Swan, deal." He grabbed the tool box, and I looked at him in shock.
"It's over here, right?" he asked, stepping outside again.
"Yeah," I replied, slowly, not really believing that the city boy who showed up in Italian loafers was really going to go fix my fence.
But as I stood there and watched, I was witness to it. Edward, as he said his name was, walked all the way to the far side of the land and proceeded to take off his suit coat, not before throwing me a wink. He rolled up his sleeves and began digging in, getting down to work. "It's pretty hot, right?"
My mouth dropped open at his little comment at his physique, and made me think dirty thoughts that both repulsed me and turned me on. I sighed and left him there to work, because honestly, if I continued to watch pretty boy swing that hammer, I was going to go insane. I needed to check on Garrett and see what Sally's prognosis was anyway.
After my walk, I found Jasper and Garrett still in the field barn.
"Hey guys, how's it going?"
"Good Bella, I think I've gotten it all straightened out," Garrett told me in his warm voice.
"Yep, the little lady here just has a sprain; she's going to need some time to recover and a brace."
I felt relief flow over me. At least I wasn't going to have to put her down. That would've killed my mood for the rest of the year, surely. Sally and I were close; and in my opinion, one in the same. We didn't need men in our lives. Sure, on occasion, she would have Quentin going at her, but she kicked like hell when he tried.
I'd had my own version of a Quentin before, a while back when I'd just graduated from high school, now, though, I was smarter, I knew I didn't need that foolishness. Jacob pulled a number on me and I was afraid of opening myself up again to the pain.
"Thank you so much," I told Garrett, after hugging my beautiful equine. I wondered briefly if this kind man would be worth a try.
"You're welcome, Bella. It was all in a day's work," he murmured as he packed up his supplies. His smile was warm and made me want to hug him.
I walked, silently with him out to his car, it wasn't terribly far, and I ignored the pretty city boy as we passed by.
"I'll see you around," I said softly, when we reached his car.
"Yes, you will, Bella," he told me. Before getting in and taking off down the road he shocked me with the hug I was craving. I stood in shock at the warmth that filled me. Garrett flashed me a smile and took off.
One look to the right, at the huge, red, dual-wheeled truck, told me I needed to go check on our visitor. I walked over there, still smelling Garrett's rustic oak and cherry smell on my shirt. I wanted to sniff myself.
If I wasn't confused enough; there, next to my fence, stood a sweaty, tanned, and essentially sexy piece of human, man meat. Edward had shed his white button-up shirt. He was now in just an undershirt that was damp and slightly dirty.
"What do you think?" I heard his sexy voice rumble as his back was still turned to me.
"It looks like you fixed my fence," I answered, looking at his handy-work. And it was true, the broken pieces had all been repaired, the wire was tied back in, and it looked strong.
"I did, and now I do believe, Ms. Swan, you owe a tour and a few minutes of your time," he said with a sly smile.
I rolled my eyes and nodded. These men were going to be the death of me.