Bearly Apart (Big Paw Security Book 5)
my cousin Oliver,” Jamie said pulling the face that she always pulled when thinking about her cousin.  

    “He doesn’t seem to fit in,” Jesse said flatly. “What’s his problem?”

    “I don’t see how that has anything to do with your duties on the ranch,” Jamie said hotly leading Jesse around the barn to the stables on the far side. The dirt and gravel drive was mostly swamp and mud at the moment. They splashed up water and Jamie was glad of her knee high boots.

    “I’m just trying to get the lay of the land,” Jesse said casually. “You know if we’re gonna work together, we should at least try to get along. You know for the sake of the cows.” He pulled a face at her.  

    This sort of behavior made Jamie think the person she was speaking to was an idiot. She was beginning to wonder why her father had hired this man. But looking at him she realized that the face he was pulling was a little funny. So she let the corners of her mouth go up just a smidge. Jesse watched her and shook his head.  

    “Tough audience,” he said. “No problem, I’ll bring my ‘A’ game.”  

    “If it includes working with cattle, then great,” Jamie said and they ducked into the stable.  

    The horses had their heads out staring at them as they walked along the line. Jamie’s horse was called Thorin and he was a young stallion with a chestnut coat, black ankles and a black star on his nose. He whinnied when she came near and pushed her head with his. He was stamping a little, agitated.  

    “Okay boy,” she said smiling and rubbing his cheeks and neck in the way he loved.  

    “You can take my brother’s horse,” Jamie said, leading Jesse over to the grey stallion her brother had always preferred, “His name is Shadowfax.”  

    “That’s unusual,” Jesse said reaching out for the animal.  

    Jamie nodded, “Andrew was a ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan. He named both our horses. This is Thorin by the way.”  

    Jesse nodded. “Aha, well that explains it then. Good name,” he said to Shadowfax who nibbled his open palm.  

    The saddles were arranged in a row along one wall, balanced on a horizontal pole. The blankets were there too, neatly folded in a pile on the bench next to them. Jamie walked over to the blankets and grabbed one.  

    “Here you go,” she said turning to look at Jesse who smiled and took it, then froze in place.  

    “Don’t move,” he said.  

    “What?” Jamie said turning her head to look at the spot that Jesse was fixated on.  

    A snake reared up, its head twitching from side to side watching her. Her hand was inches away. Jamie froze, her blood going cold. She began to shake.  

    “Hold steady,” Jesse said.  

    Out of the corner of her eye Jamie saw him moving slowly around to the right. What was he doing? She tried to keep him in view, but the snake was twitching, eyeing her hand. Jamie concentrated on keeping it as steady as possible. Her muscles began to yell at her that she needed to move them, and panic was backing them in their desire to get as far away from the venomous fangs as possible.  

    Jesse moved around behind the snake, inching slowly. The snake seemed to be ignoring him.  

    “Okay,” Jesse said softly in a gentle, calm voice that made Jamie want to slap him. “Hold still.”  

    It happened in a flash. Jesse was behind the snake now and he reached out and grabbed it’s head just as it darted forward to bite Jamie’s hand. He grabbed the body of the snake as it wriggled and writhed and then marched out of the stable with it.  

    Jamie sagged onto the floor and sat there breathing heavily.  

    In a couple of minutes Jesse came back into the stable.  

    “Are you okay?” he asked going down on his haunches next to her.  

    Jamie managed a nod. “I think so. Man! That scared me!”  

    “It would’ve scared anyone. You did well though.”

    “Have you caught a lot of snakes?” she asked.  

    He nodded, and offered her a hand

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