Home on the Range: A Novel

Home on the Range: A Novel ◻ [PDF]-Home on the Range: A Novel ☭ Book By Ruth Logan Herne ♤ Nick Stafford stared at the half buried, round roofed dwelling and realized he couldnt go through with the elementary school principals edict Not if it meant meeting with a hermit who lived in a toadstool shack tucked so deep in the forest that woodland mice couldnt find it A hobbit house No way on Gods green earth was Nick Stafford about to risk his daughters mental health by having them counseled by a recluse who lived halfway to a mole hole No matter what the girls principal said What was next A hollow tree He did an about face, ready to stride away, and came face to face with a dryad Cool gray green eyes appraised him from beneath a hooded cloak, Celtic friendly, except they werent in the lush green hills of Ireland They were in the forestland of central Washington, and the thin spring leaves did little to protect him from todays chill drizzle Which made her hooded wrap sensible than his bare head A dark dog moved their way, darting furtively through the shadowed edges of the small, rounded property Achilles Stay The dog paused, peering at them through the dense undergrowth edging the rain soaked clearing Dr Andreas The rain and shadows shifted An oblique ray of sun made quivering raindrops sparkle along the mostly bare branches framing her The quick change to filtered light forced his pupils to adjust He thought she winced when he said her name, but maybe it was the dance of light With the shadows bobbing and weaving, he couldnt be sure, and when the sun broke through, brighter and stronger, nothing but a mild, placid expression stared back at him Elsa, please And you are Nicholas Stafford Yes Mrs Willingham recommended you, and just so we start on the same page, Im not here by choice Then leave She didnt blink, didnt move, and for a moment he was caught up, staring into Monet like watercolor eyes, absolutely gorgeous if you liked whimsical characters in a fairy tale setting Hed tried for a fairy tale ending once But hed crashed and burned because no matter what he did to make his princess wife happy, Whitney Stafford hadnt been ready to take the role of queen seriously She ended their marriage after abdicating the throne to run off with the court jester, a.k.a one of the ranchs rodeo riding hired hands Shed abandoned her husband, her vows, and, worst of all, two beautiful daughters to become a rodeo cowboychasing buckle bunny But he couldnt possibly have heard correctly Did the wood nymph just tell him to go What kind of therapist did that She moved toward the door, reached out, and twisted the handle The door opened easily, no key needed Of course if you were this far off the grid, maybe no key was ever needed He started to follow her, but she turned, effectively blocking the entrance Youre still here We had an appointment He stretched out the last word, miffed by her mandate, his life, his lack of choices, and pretty much everything known to man, and despite what his older brother, Colt, said, he was not one bit depressed He was simply mad about everything, and that was his God given right Mr Stafford Nick is fine Mr Stafford, she continued in a cool, clear voice I dont want to be here either Which means our sessions are doomed, so why waste time You have a life, dysfunctional, of course an easy shrug and her matter of fact expression said that was a given but you havent done irreparable harm, so youre free as a bird I have a life as well, and I appreciate my privacy than most these days, so let me save us both from a dead end path we neednt take Go home And if things continue to spiral downward and out of control, take my sisters advice and find a therapist you do want to see Im closed She took one step back and shut the door in his face She couldnt do that, could she They had an appointment Hed even set up a reminder on his phone Hed scheduled time to see her, against his will, and hed followed through You followed through because Angelina and your brother hounded you until you walked out the door Left on your own, you d have conveniently forgotten the whole thing Do you want to make the same mistakes your father made thirty years ago Or try to fix things for the girls by expending some kind of sincere effort Cheyenne nearly got killed earlier this spring because you refused to compromise But of coursethe voice of reason paused as if resigned to being brushed off the choice is yours Again. Well, he washere Hed shown up as promised, and finding her little hut in the woods hadnt exactly been a cakewalk He glared at the door and lifted his hand to knock A long, low growl from behind him said the dog wasnt all that enad by his presence either Nick was pretty sure this couldnt get worse, but then a brightly colored bird winged its way to the tree alongside the house, squawked, flapped its wings, and screeched, Youre a jerk Youre a jerk Youre a jerk The dog sank back on his haunches and barked twice in agreement Nick conceded defeat The bird was right He dropped his hand and started to back away from the door, hoping to escape before the dog attacked while the bird pecked his face off Where was his trusty Remington long barrel when he needed it Sixty feet away, in the rack behind the seat of his extended cab ranch pickup truck The dog barked again, but this bark didnt sound threatening It sounded sad, if such a thing was possible, and the croon in the bark said the mutt was either looking forward to hand to paw combat or he wanted someone to pet him Nick crouched and tapped the path beneath him The dog ambled over He sank onto the stones and flipped to his back, waiting for a good scratch Youre no watch dog, thats for sure, Nick said as he rubbed the dogs belly As far as protection goes, youre on the low end of the scale, my friend Dumb dog Dumb dog Dumb dog Nick glared up at the raucous bird Listen you rude, loud pile of feathers No one needs your guff, okay And youre so stinking ugly, no one than twenty miles north or south of the equator would even use your feathers to decorate their hats So there Youre arguing with a macaw He hadnt heard the door open but was kind of glad it had Just having my say, he returned, not looking up The birds obnoxious and it poops when it roosts He shrugged a shoulder toward the offending pile to the dogs left Reason enough to make pie out of it right there Hed figured to tick her off, because she had animal loving, tree hugging, far left liberal written all over her eccentric outfit, but she surprised him by laughing Only her laugh sounded rusty, like his I cant deny Ive been tempted Is there to your menagerie He angled his gaze up while still petting the dog Stray monkeys and elephants, perhaps A dinosaur or two Jumanjiinspired Her smile deepened at the mention of the fantasy movie No, just these two Why are you still here He studied the dog, then her, assessing Im not sure Now that I know the dogs not going to maul me, I could have simply walked to my truck, backed around, and left But you didnt No He stared around and shrugged again Im in a bind Ive got to do something to jump start my oldest daughter, and the principal your sister, right he met her gaze and she nodded slightly gave me your card and threatened further action if I dont get help for both my girls So here I am, in the last place I ever expected to be In the woods, petting a dog He frowned at her deliberate misinterpretation Hunting down a therapist to fix things that never should have been broken Ah She sank onto one of two garden benches, still damp from the quick rain shower Life has a way of doing that, doesnt it You got that right He kept petting the dog, and when he paused, the hound pulled his head around and pushed it against Nicks flank, a silent plea for Ive got two daughters Cheyenne and Dakota Western girls Except theyre not, he answered instantly, as if denying the girls ranch identity was important And it was, to him, but that was part of the problem Well, they werent western girls, that is Washington girls, sure, but not western,as in riding and roping Is there something wrong with a father wanting whats best for his children And who has the right to question that Is it the questioning thats hard or the fact that your definition of bestis being criticized What do you know about it He sounded petulant, but he didnt care because he was sick to death of people second guessing his choices, his ideas, his deeds when it came to the girls and just about anything else these days He shifted to face her Do you have kids No Do you work with kids Not currently So what makes you an expert on them or me She accepted his question with a nod, and between the hood and the curved chair made out of bent forest limbs, he felt like Luke Skywalker chatting with Yoda, only he actually likedthe Star Wars character You search for understanding Yup Yoda, all right He sighed And yet, when others want to help, it has to be on your terms, your way Not always, he shot back, indignant, and when she didnt meet his gaze, he realized he was angry again because shed hit the truth and he didnt like it when people hit the truth He sighed and stood with one last pat to the dog Listen, this probably wont work She nodded, quiet And its silly to waste our time She accepted that as well, still quiet I He shrugged A quick breeze shook the baby leaves above him, sprinkling him with fresh raindrops, chilling him despite the warming spring temperatures Ill get on my way, and one way or another, well muddle through Families have been doing this a long time I dont expect were any different than most And thats all right with you Her voice didnt change but her question hit home I To settle on chance rather than taking firm steps to set your children on the right path Put that way, he sounded pretty stupid and self centered, as if he knew what was best for the girls If hed known that, for real, they wouldnt be in this hot mess of crazy right now Cheyenne was about to fail her grade, and Dakota pretended acquiescence while she did what she pleased, a dangerous combination for a first grader Sometimes people just need someone to talk to Someone theyre not trying to protect Someone wholl listen to their complete thought without building instant brick walls of rebuttal You think I should bring them to see you She lifted her eyes to his, and when she did, he recognized something he hadnt seen when their gazes locked before Pain And that realization inspired added caution I dont know anything about you A valid point The kind of thing a responsible parent would say What would you like to know Why are you buried in the woods She made a face at the stone drive leading up to her small home, then raised a brow to him You found me, which means Im not buried Youre avoiding the question She shook her head I said that Im a private person Nick had been raised between two brothers His older brother, Colt, jumped headfirst into every situation, confident of his success, alwaysneeding to prove himself, while Trey, his adopted younger brother, found his paths made smoother by faith in God and humanity, but Nick knew both men Their outward natures hid a lot of internal junk Being stuck in the middle made him privy to a wide family spectrum And that answer says youre either not capable or not comfortable living a normal life surrounded by everyday occurrences So why should I trust my children with someone who has clearly shrugged off everyday existence Privacy equates to inability She mused the words with a measured look at him Interesting assessment Hey, fixing you isnt on my agenda, and while I appreciate the way youve put together the setting he flicked his attention to the house, the dog, and the talking bird this is all a little too surreal for me Thanks for the time, Doc Send me a bill and Ill put a check in the mail Im going to guess you dont do a whole lot of online banking out here No charge, she answered smoothly as she rose from the bench I wish you well, Mr Stafford No offense taken None meant, maam He reached out to shake her hand and felt like a fool when she didnt extend hers Well, then Have a good day He did an about face, strode back to his truck, climbed in, and backed it around before aiming the big V8 up the slope He turned onto the main loggers path, carved out over a decade before and kept clear by an avid group of hunters, and followed that to the county road He was right back where he started The principal wouldnt be happy, his family wouldnt be happy, and hey, news flash He wasnt happy He stopped for gas, picked up a package of his favorite popcorn treat, Halfpops, then went for broke and bought two and ate all three bags on the way back to the Double S He stuffed the empty bags into one of the storage bins behind the seat so the girls wouldnt see them He was careful with their snacks when they were at home, so because he knew Angelina would feed them anything she pleased at the ranch Since he respected and possibly feared the former Seattle detective who had agreed to marry his know it all big brother, he held his tongue about it and the girls werent worse off Whitney would have a fit if she was here, and you know it. He knew it and he didnt want to care But something about a woman leaving her husband and two beautiful little girls meant he must have done something drastically wrong Otherwise, why would a woman turn her back and walk away from her children You tossed aside a chance to help two little kids What are you thinking Elsa shoved the mental scolding aside and moved toward the house She knew exactly what she was thinking She didnt dare let herself get drawn in by another anxious parent, even if the guy was a twelve on a smokin hot cowboy one to ten rating system Sure, he needed help She saw it in his eyes and heard it in his tone, even as his words refuted her sisters directive You want to help him No Strike that Youre intrigued about helping the girls, especially the older one Youve worked with kids like her before, and youre good at what you do Isnt it time to move on Especially if it can help this child And if you help the big sister, the younger one benefits as well Are you willing to let Will Belvederes depraved choices steal of your life Youre a jerk Youre a jerk Youre a jerk Elsa didnt need the birds ill timed reminder It was there in the mirrors reflection, in the set of a stubborn mans shoulders, the understandable question in his eyes Who in their right mind wouldbring their precious children to a therapist with her mental health record No one Not if they knew her history He was right to run hard and fast, and she was just as right to let him The phone rang as she finished laying out food for Hoyl in the parrot cage She raised the phone, read her sisters number, and clicked End, but Rachel wasnt fooled by that She called right back, knowing Elsa couldnt resist two tries in a row, just in case something serious had happened She answered the phone as she opened the front door for the bird to return to his cage for the night Hey, Rach Whats up Stop ignoring my calls how did the appointment with Nick Stafford go Patient client privilege, HIPAA rules, leave me alone Stick to basics, then, her older sister insisted Did he show She could answer this honestly and keep the guy temporarily out of trouble Yes Good You sound genuinely pleased, noted Elsa as she wired the birds cage shut Why His daughters are delightful, even if Nick is oblivious, Rachel replied Theyre smart, funny, and have a lot going for them But its real tough when youre old enough to understand that your mothers new boyfriend is important than her children You think they know Nicholas Stafford had seemed protective than the average angry single dad shed met while in active practice in a Seattle suburb She wouldnt have labeled him as a rash talker in front of his kids, but then shed been wrong before A tight sigh wound its way up from gut level She forced it back, determined to stride forward Its Grays Glen, small town USA Of course they know, said Rachel Wives running out on rich husbands, chasing rodeo cowboys, ditching kids Please, thats a reality TV show with no cable bill involved Dakota might be a little less informed, but Cheyenne was older when Whitney took off Trust me She knows Mother abandonment, the toughest scenario for any child to surmount Bad enough when inadvertent, like death, but the raw, ragged edged emotions left by a mothers deliberate abandonment could leave lifelong scars and present challenging behaviors When are the girls coming to see you Rachel wanted definitive answers Elsa could throw the guy under the bus and tell her sister he wasnt going to follow through, or she could give him some time to figure out what he wanted to do Life and emotions werent as cut and dried as her big sister seemed to think Once again Ill cite patient client privilege and leave it at that Elsa Rachel Elsa blew out a breath as she studied the deepening shadows surrounding her forest home I understand the districts concern, and Ill keep you in the loop For the moment, youre about to end the spring semester, all the kids will be on summer break soon, and then they have the entire summer to try and make headway This isnt a quick fix, ever You know that I do, but Nick Stafford has already shrugged off my concerns for seven long months Well have to hold Cheyenne back a year, and while thats not the end of the world, I dont think being labeled as stupid by her peers is going to help anything Her self image is already soured You cant just pass her Not and live with myself, Rachel retorted But I dont want to add to her passive aggressive plate by pushing her over some unseen edge She paused, sucked a quick breath, and backtracked Sorry, I didnt mean that the way Youre fine, Rachel And youre correct, the stubborn, quiet ones can brew a head of steam no one notices I wont ask any questions, but I want you to know that if you need information from me, Ill share, Rachel continued, and Elsa knew not all school administrators were that accommodating If they were No, she wouldnt look back and wouldnt cast blame There was plenty of it to go around From a clinical point of view, she understood not everyone could or would be saved But every now and again, when shadows loomed and she remembered the sound of little Christiana Belvederes voice, she wondered what would have happened if shed called the school with her concerns that day Would they have taken steps to hold the children there Probably not, but shed never have the chance to know because she never made the phone call And then it was too late Her sisters words bothered her all night Or was it the look of defeat in Nicholas Staffords troubled brown eyes that messed up her sleep In any case, she questioned her snarky attitude and her judgment well into the next morning Finally, she stormed into the house, picked up the phone, and hit Nick Staffords number He answered on the second ring, which meant he wasnt crazily avoiding her Double S Ranch, Nick speaking Mr Stafford, this is Elsa Andreas Was he hauling in a breath Looking around him, uncomfortable Peeved and considering hanging up the phone without another word Stop creating the scenario and let it occur naturally Why is it so easy to use your training on everyone except yourself Yes Ive been reconsidering our conversation yesterday The one where you held all the cards and treated me like some kind of low level species beneath your dignity That would be the one To her relief, he laughed, so she waded in Ive had time to think about the girls and their current situation and how I might be able to help Doctor, I Heres the thing, she went on, ignoring his objection You and I dont have to be best buddies for me to be effective with your children And yes, I decided I wanted a solitary setting last year, but a love of solitude doesnt negate years of education and practical experience in family therapy My sister has legal means at her disposal to ask a court to order your children into therapy, but is that what you want Absolutely not His voice went hard My thoughts exactly Heres my suggestion You come over here again Or you could come here, save me the drive to Middle earth Funny Like I havent heard that before Rachel tweaked her about it all the time, but she had to hand it to Nick Stafford It sounded funnier coming from him Your steady barrage of company makes Tolkien jokes, Doc Why do I suspect thats not the case Reiterating, she drawled, disregarding his comment, you could come over here and our first session could be a family session You get to know me, I get to know all of you, and the noisy bird is a great conversation starter for kids Its neutral ground, Mr Stafford Kids do better on neutral ground And yes, at some time Id like to come there With your permission, of course Rachel and I were raised on a ranch up north, so animals, hay, dogs, and farm equipment are a comfortable setting for all concerned Youre a ranch kid Doubt speared his voice Not everyone finds their home on the range, do they She left the question rhetorical and moved on My familiarity with their setting might make sessions at your place beneficial My fathers home, you mean His fathers home Shed been tapping a pencil against the tabletop She stopped You and the girls dont live on the ranch I assumed We live in town, but I work here, so the girls are at the ranch fairly often I see And here might be conflict number one, because with a huge spread like Sam Staffords Double S Ranch, why wouldnt his son be living on the gorgeous rolling acreage spreading across the rich plain of the fertile Kittitas Valley Too much family proximity An aversion to the ranch Separation of job versus daily life Her mind jumped to possible scenarios, any of which might have an effect on the girls behaviors He sighed, and he didnt try to cover it In fact, he might have exhaled extra loud for her benefit, and when he did, she almost smiled Unless you prefer the long drive to Ellensburg, she continued They have many good therapists there, and I wont be offended Seconds mounted, and when he did speak, she knew shed made her point No one had extra time these days, and single parents suffered from lack of time than most When should we come She wasnt about to let scheduling mess up progress My schedule is flexible, she replied smoothly Yours isnt What works for you Do the girls have after school activities we need to work around They do, but theyre free on Thursday and Friday this week Does that work with your schedule Again the pause, but he didnt make her wait too long before he conceded Ill make it work Perfect Thank you Ill see you and the girls on Thursday at five She hung up the phone before he could answer She was pretty sure hed prefer being a no show if she gave him the chance Hed put Rachel off for most of the school year, which meant he was adept at shelving problems Reticence in his tone indicated he was cornered, and Elsa had been a western girl for a long time Born to the saddle cowboys never liked being cornered Now it was up to him She moved toward the door, set down the phone, and walked outside Clean spring air had swept away the smell of winter mold from leaf clutter and needle droppings Birdsong surrounded her, bright and vibrant, assorted visitors singing welcomes as they cared for northern nesting grounds She used to love springtime The dance of new life, resurrection, rebirth Shed reveled in the fresh angle of the sun, its sharper rays, a defined warmth On her parents ranch, theyd be birthing puppies, piglets, and calves a true season of renewal Her brother, Ian, and his family would come to help, even her littlest nephew Ian had bought an old timers house up the road and fixed it up for his growing family so they could all be part of the ranching process When Nick said he lived in town, her internal radar had spiked, but shed been in Grays Glen long enough to hear a little history And current history in Grays Glen revolved around Sam Stafford and the Double S She drew on her cape and stepped outside The bark like voice of a heron paused her It was joined by another great blue, then another, and as she turned toward the honking voices of pterosaur looking birds, a sweeter, melodic tune made her stop Moving slowly, she peeked around the corner to find the songster On the southeast side of the shed, in the lee of a faded, peeling shutter, a purple finch knit bits of grass and weed in quick, decisive motions His bright plumage danced in the warming sun, and when his mate flew in with nesting material, he bobbed a quick look of true love her way and kept right on working as she flew off in search of goods A young pair, most likely Hurried, with no last years nest to guide them, but the fury of first love and babies pushed them to commit Did they stay together out of need or desire An age old question that niggled present day anthropologists She stared around her small holding, suddenly dissatisfied, and with a swoosh of her cape, she strode back inside and gathered her art supplies She piled them into the car and followed the loggers road to a higher elevation where dense foliage welcomed her She pulled her cloak close, set up the easel, arranged her colors in nonspectral order, and let the shadows draw her in Up here, she was safe amid somber grays, blues, and browns Brightly colored birds singing songs of love didnt find cozy nesting corners in the gloomy chill, and when shed applied paint thickly to the eighteen by twelve canvas, she took a razor blade from the side pocket of her bag and began carving muted images of shadowed trees and lifeless branches, light along the edges and growing darker inside Like her. ECPAbestsellerIve been so eagerly awaiting this book by Ruth Logan Herneand its even better than Id hoped An overprotective cowboy daddy and the therapist masquerading as a woodland fairy princess called on to help his daughters What could possibly go wrong Just everything The whole delightful story is full of fun twists and poignant turns Home on the Range is a great new installment in the Double S Ranch series.Mary Connealy, author of No Way UpHome on the Range showcases Ruth Logan Hernes ability to write wounded, damaged characters grasping for grace with both hands My heart ached for Nicks loss, Elsas guilt, and little Cheyennes desperate need As always, Hernes story is sprinkled with hope and gives the reader glimpses of the One who came to save A satisfyingly happy ending left me sighing with contentment Mary Jane Hathaway, author of The Pepper in the GumboIn Home on the Range, the finely crafted second story in the Double S Ranch trilogy, Nick is caught in a downward spiral of repeating his fathers mistakes and no amount of cowboy gumption is going to fix things But Elsa, a family therapist who sought refuge in Grays Glen to escape her own tragic past, defies her fears and conventional wisdom to connect with Nick and his daughters, bringing a soothing balm to this hurting cowboys wounds Ruth Logan Herne explores the darkest recesses of her characters souls and bring light into the shadows, giving hope to the lost and healing to the broken This latest story is no exception and one of her finest Jan Drexler, award winning author of Hannahs Choice and Matties PledgeA child in crisis, a hunky but clueless single father, and a reclusive therapist with a big secret Intrigued I sure was Home on the Range is a fabulous story of hope, faith, and real life family drama Filled with heart tugging emotion, delightfully sassy bantering, and a cowboy to die forwhats not to love I loved it so much I quickly ordered the first book in the series Well done, Ruth Logan Herne Vickie McDonough, best selling, award winning author of Sarahs Surrender, book 3 in the Land Rush Dreams series CHECKSTRIPE shop StarTribune News, weather, sports from Follow the StarTribune for news, photos and videos from Twin Cities beyond FOLDOC Computing Dictionary The Free On line Dictionary of contains terms computing such as acronyms, jargon, programming languages, tools, architecture, operating HyperScale An Online Magazine Aircraft Club Hyper Visit HyperScale s Forums at Discussion Groups to buy, swap sell models online Datasheet catalog integrated circuits, diodes, datasheet, datasheet search, datasheets, Datasheet search site Electronic Components Semiconductors, diodes, triacs SikhNet Sharing Sikh Experience SikhNet makes a person spiritual journey relevant in context modern world way people live now For over years has served University New Brunswick UNB Leading discovery innovation since Choose programs University two campuses Discover your potential UNB CSHS California 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Our products fit into unified DevOps toolchain enabling platform teams manage mainframe Home on the Range: A Novel

  • Format Kindle
  • 311 pages
  • Ruth Logan Herne
  • Anglais
  • 12 March 2017