Page 6 of Faithful Cowboy (Whiskey Valley Bryant Brothers)

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I look all around, and the beauty of the land is absolutely amazing. There are cows, hundreds of them, happily grazing in the almost darkness. The stars in the sky light up the area, and I can see the huge barn. When we come around the corner, the huge white sprawling two-story house is right in front of us. “Oh my!” I say.

He looks at me. “Wasn’t what you were expecting?”

“Not at all. This is breathtaking. It’s, wow, inspiring.”

He nods. “Good, maybe you’ll be able to get a lot of writing done while you’re here.”

I automatically stiffen. I would love to be able to write, but it’s a struggle lately, and I don’t want to get into that with him. “I’m only here four days. I’ll be happy to research while I’m here.”

He pulls his hat lower on his head. “Four days.”

When he stops next to the house, I jump out. I grab my purse, and by the time I walk around, he already has my bag and carry-on in his hand. “Come on, I know Natalie is still up waiting to meet you.”

There’s that name again. I want to ask him about Natalie, but I don’t dare. I force a smile onto my face, and he holds the front door open for me. The house is beautiful and cozy. I barely get in the door, and a smiling woman greets me, arms open wide. “You’re here. I can’t believe you’re here.”

I laugh and smile then because this part of my job will never get old. To this day, it still amazes me that people want to read what I write. “Hi. I’m Hailey.”

She laughs and squeezes me with her arms. “Oh, I know who you are.” She steps back and is smiling. “I’m so excited to meet you. I know you’re here to work, but I hope we get some time to talk while you’re here.”

I nod, “I’d love that.”

Griffin carries my bag toward the staircase. “I’m taking this up to her room and then hitting the hay. It was nice to meet you, Hailey. Night, Natalie.”

“Paulina held your dinner,” Natalie tells him.

He shakes his head. “I’m not hungry. See you in the morning, ladies.”

He gives me one last look and then turns to go. “Good night,” I mutter.

Natalie is watching him walk away with confusion. “Not hungry? He missed dinner.” She shakes her head as if she was thinking out loud. “What about you? Are you hungry?”

“No, I’m good. Thank you, though.”

She claps her hands together. “Okay, how about a tour then?”

I follow behind her, and she shows me the living room, dining room, and kitchen. “You’ll get to meet everyone tomorrow. We all live in the main house for now. Well, everyone but Chance. He has a house around a half mile from here.”

I nod, a little overwhelmed. I’m an introvert, and the thought of meeting so many new people is a little unsettling. As if she can hear my thoughts, Natalie touches my shoulder. “But don’t worry, you have your own space, and when we get a little loud or too much, you have somewhere to escape to.”

She laughs, and I join in.

“So now, how about I show you your room?”

I nod and follow behind her. At the top of the stairs, there’s long hallways to the right and the left. She goes to the left. We pass one door, and she points at it. “That’s Griffin’s room.”

I stumble and catch myself.

Natalie holds her hand out. “You okay?”

I nod. “Yes, I’m fine.”

She stops at the next door. “And this is you.”

I look down the hall at Griffin’s door and then at mine. We’re right next to each other. I take a deep breath and force a smile to my face as Natalie opens the bedroom door and ushers me in. The room is huge. My bag is sitting on the floor, next to the dresser. If I take a deep breath, I swear I can still smell Griffin in here. Natalie walks around the room. “Your bed and the sitting area. I had King put in a desk right in front of the window so you could sit here and write if you wanted to.” She points at a door. “And that leads to your private bathroom.”

I open the curtains and look out into the darkness of the ranch. I can’t make out a lot now, but it makes me excited to see it in the morning. “This is so perfect, Natalie. Thank you all so much for allowing me to come here. I owe you all. I really wish King would have let me pay for my stay here.”

She shrugs. “No way. Trust me, King doesn’t mind having you here.”

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