Darling Ranch. It was a family name in this town, a family business and a family way of life.
Over the past year, the place hadn’t felt like family, or home, and I was barely staying in business.
My wife had died from an aneurism while pregnant with our first child. It happened one morning while I was out in the field tending to the animals. The doctors told me it wouldn’t have mattered had I of been by her side, the outcome would have been the same. Still, I beat myself up. My best friend and neighbor, Gabe Bentley knew this. He let me mourn my own way, but now he’s pushing me harder than ever.
“What’s the rush?” I asked him one morning.
“I’m being deployed. I need to know my sister and the farm are taken care of….by the only man I trust in this town…you.”
I’d known the army was recruiting again but I didn’t know he’d been called upon. I also didn’t know Cadence was back in town. I really didn’t know if I could be the man, the friend, the rancher that he needed me to be.
What I did know?
No matter how much it pained me, I’d try to do whatever it took to make sure that I didn’t let Gabe down.
Then I saw Cadence and for the first time since my wife died I actually thought I could heal. She made me feel alive, made the pain go away. So why did I feel so guilty? One minute I was longing to hold her, the next I was pushing her away, until I finally pushed too hard and sent her running.
I didn’t want to fail my best friend, and I didn’t want to fail Cadence. We all needed our Christmas wish and I decided to do whatever it took to make sure we got it.