Bearly Apart (Big Paw Security Book 5)
pulling her to her feet. “A fair few. It was a Massasauga, they live on the grasslands. They’re usually shy. Must be the weather brought him in.”

    “What did you do with him?” Jamie asked.  

    “It’s a protected species, so I found some higher ground and let him go. He won’t bother you.” Jesse said.  

    Jamie nodded. “Okay.” She grabbed her saddle and bridle and quickly got Thorin ready for the ride. Jesse did the same, but he shot glances at her and each time she caught him he would smile at her. It was a really nice smile, warm and open. Jamie found herself relaxing a bit. Anyway snakes were part of life on a ranch. She couldn’t prove to her father that she was more than capable of running the farm if she lost it over a little thing like that. So she pulled herself together. She was having to do a lot of that lately.  

    The ride out to the cattle was pleasant enough. The rain eased up to the point where it was just a constant fine mist, but the clouds overhead were dark and heavy suggesting strongly that more rain was imminent.  

    Jamie had secured the cattle in a field closer to the house than they had been all week. The other fields were closer to the river and the woodland at the foot of the mountains, and she had no desire to lose any cows when the river burst its banks. That was a certainty. This much rain and more to follow, flash floods were practically a given. Luckily the top field was green and much higher than the others so the cattle should be safe.  

    “You were right to bring them up here,” Jesse said as though reading her thoughts. “That creek is just about ready to burst free.”  

    “I know,” she said smiling. It was great to have someone agree with her for a change. Oliver never agreed about anything. And her father, fair minded man that he was, always gave him as much chance to have his say as she had.  

    “Now I like the rain as much as the next man,” Jesse said, “But it’s getting a little torrential out here.”  

    And it was. The rain was coming down now, the drops bigger and hitting harder. They rode back to the barn and after Jesse checked for more snakes, they rubbed the horses down.  

    Jesse had an ease with the animals. It was as though he had known them all his life. They responded to his touch in a way that they didn’t even respond to Jamie, and she had trained Thorin herself. It was great to see Shadowfax happy again. The horse hadn’t been the same since Andrew died. Jamie cursed herself for thinking about him. Her eyes welled up with tears and she tried to keep her back to Jesse so he wouldn’t see.  

    “I reckon your brother must have been a really good guy,” Jesse said gently.  

    “I’m sorry?” Jamie said wiping her eyes on her sweater sleeve.  

    “This horse misses him,” Jesse said. “You know, there’s nothing wrong with missing people when they’re gone.”  

    Jamie nodded. “Yeah.” She bit her lip. The day was proving trying. What with the rain that made her think of her mother, the snake and now Jesse being so nice…  

    “How did you know about it?” she asked.  

    Jesse shrugged, “Was on the news. The circumstances were…hard to forget.” He put a gentle hand on her shoulder.

    Jamie shook her head. Then her face crumpled up and she burst into tears. She hadn’t meant to, and heaven knew she didn’t want to cry all the time, but her heart was so full of sadness. Jesse wrapped his big arms around her, and held her while Jamie thought of her mother and her brother.  

    After a while the tears dried up on their own and she pulled away from him. Jesse seemed totally unfazed by this, as though girls he’d only just met cried on his shoulder all the time. He looked at her with concern and then smiled.  

    “It’ll be better now,” he said with certainty. “So show me the way to the kitchen and I will make you the best cup of coffee you have ever tasted.”  

    They made their way over to the

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