Lassoing the Virgin Mail-Order Bride

By: Alexa Riley


I’d made plans for that as well, making sure I’d gotten myself on the pill before I’d come out here. I might have landed myself in this situation, but I wouldn’t bring a child into it with me. This was about surviving, and Cash had never said anything about children.

I go to the pantry and look to see what I have that could feed almost twenty people. After looking over the shelves in here and in the kitchen, I decide on burgers with baked fries and a pasta salad. I’ll need to go to the store soon, but I have enough for tonight and breakfast tomorrow. But I need to start with the pies to get them into the oven.

When I come out of the pantry, I scream. Caught off guard by a young man who looks to be about my age or maybe in his early twenties. I’m still a few days shy of my twentieth.

He holds his hands up at my shriek.

“Sorry, ma’am. I was just coming in for the first-aid kit.” He wiggles the kit he has in his hand. “Barbed wire got his calf.”

“Sorry, you just scared me. I didn’t expect anyone.”

He gives me a crooked smile. “So the boss went through with it. Got himself a wife.”

“That’s me,” I confirm, though we aren’t married yet. I go over to the sink and pull out a dish towel I saw in the drawer, wetting it with warm water.

“You might need this.” I hand him the towel.

“You’re mighty small.” His eyes run over me like I’m hiding size somewhere. I am small. I’m barely five foot two, and I used to have a little more meat on my bones, but when money runs tight so does food.

“I think I can handle my chores while still being small.” I reply, not sure where he’s going with this.

“Oh, I’m sure you can. I just meant…” He looks back at the front door like he suddenly wants to leave and not finish what he was saying.

“Well?” I push, wanting to know.

“I should really go.” He backs up out of the kitchen, first-aid kit in one hand and towel in the other, before he darts out the front door. And I stand there, wondering what he meant.





Chapter 2





Cash





Sitting up, I take off my hat and pull the bandana out of my back pocket. I wipe the sweat off my brow and around my neck, feeling the heat of the day on my back. I love being outside and working with my hands. There’s no greater pleasure in life for me than working on my land and running my farm. This kind of life isn’t for everyone, but it’s in my bones. I can’t stand going into the city and being around all those people and that noise. I’ve got enough noise out here with the livestock and the men who work for me. They’re like family, so being around them isn’t a problem.

I grew up on this land, and though I’ve been other places in the world, this is still the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. As much as I hate the city, and being out here is great, it does get lonely a lot. These guys who work with me every day are the backbone of this ranch, but it’s not the same as having a family of my own.

That’s the reason I wanted to do the mail-order bride thing in the first place. I thought that I could use someone to make this more of a home. Bring the ranch together and make it into something I couldn’t. Sure, I could run this farm blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back. But it doesn’t give it the soul of a real home. That is something only a woman could do, and I thought marrying someone who was in it for the same reasons would make things easier. More straight-cut. No lines to blur, and everything in black and white. Hell, I even had the kitchen redone so that it would be perfect for my new bride.

But last night I tossed and turned thinking about what I was going to do with a wife, and I decided to just cancel the whole damn thing. I got up just before dawn and was going to talk to Earl about it, but one of the fences had broken and we had to get straight to work. It got late before I had a second to think and by then I just told him to go tell her to get back on the train and go back home. I just said to tell her that I’d changed my mind. I didn’t want to admit to Earl or to myself that deep down I was just afraid. Afraid of what it would mean to have a wife. What if she didn’t like me? What if she resented me for working on the land so much and not giving her enough of my time? I don’t want to disappoint anyone, and I had a feeling I’d be doing that a lot. I have no clue what to do with a wife.

As I put my Stetson back on and climb down off the fence, I see Earl riding up on his horse. When he gets close, he climbs off and walks over.

“Did you take care of it?” I ask, waiting to see if he sent back the bride.

“Yes. It’s taken care of,” he says, walking past me over to where some of the guys are still working on the last of the fencing.

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