I think I would rather him at least be angry or something. The indifference and coldness left me empty and numb.
What I did find during my internet search was a job opening on his ranch. Someone to help around the house for the summer and do some of the books. I could get an up-close look at the father of my child before I had to tell him the truth.
“Ma’am, I think that’s everything.” I look up at one of the movers who’s been packing up my stuff to put into storage. I take the clipboard he’s holding out and sign on the dotted line. He hands me the key to the storage unit they’d put it all in.
My hand closes around the key that holds almost everything I own except two suitcases I have packed away in the trunk of my car. Even the stuff for the baby room I’d started to put together has been packed away in here. I hold back a tear, not wanting to make this poor man uncomfortable.
“Thank you,” I tell him, handing back the clipboard.
He nods before turning to leave.
I stand in my empty house. The place where I thought I’d be raising my son. A home that would have been filled with so much love. He’d never feel the coldness like I had.
Even without the donor mix-up I would have been leaving anyway. I’d moved to this little town because I wanted to get away from the big city. I dreamed of living somewhere where everyone knew everyone. I wanted to have a family in a place like this.
Problem was, I couldn’t find anyone I wanted to have a family with.
I toss the rope into the back of my truck and head for the house. I’ve got a new mare that just won’t break and I’m about out of options with her. Stallions and bulls, I can handle, but give me a stubborn female horse and I might as well hang up my saddle. It was a mix-up, and I’m trying to make the best of it. I wanted a new horse for the ranch and I made a deal with another rancher a few hours away to buy his foal in the spring. He’d promised me a stud, but when a mare popped out, he told me I could take it or wait another two years. I didn’t have much of a choice and agreed.
My home, the Branding Ranch, is located in south Texas. I retired on this piece of land right after I won my last rodeo championship. I was in it to make enough money to buy myself some cattle and got out. It’s a hard life working rodeos, and a dangerous one at that. I was lucky enough to walk away with my nuts intact, but even I got close with that one.
My last ride was on Hercules, the circuit’s biggest and meanest bull. He threw me off just after I set my eight-second record, and stomped right on my boys. They rushed me to the closest hospital and I had to stay there for a week. They had to take sperm samples from me, because I couldn’t get hard to ejaculate. I haven’t been able to get hard since before the accident. I thought I’d lost my dick that day, and though it’s still attached, it doesn’t work. They told me my sperm was still viable, but a lot of good that does when I can’t get the fucking thing up.
I’ve got a couple of guys who work the ranch for me, and they all stay out in the bunkhouse. But it seems pointless now, because it’s not like I need my privacy. I won’t be bringing women home, because it’s not like anyone would want me. A nice conversation only goes so far. I wasn’t bringing women around before, but I’d always hoped one day I could find a wife and we could make a few babies. But that dream got stomped on, literally, the day of the accident.
My new hire, MJ, should be here today. I put an ad in the paper for a new hand to help out with some of the day-to-day stuff. I’ve got enough labor, but I need someone to look over the houses and catch all the stuff I’m missing. I’ve always had a good head on my shoulders for business, but the everyday shit, I seem to miss. I need an assistant who can go around with me during the day and see what I do and what I don’t do.
I make my way back to the house, put the truck in park, and hop out. My hound dog Blue looks up from the porch for half a second before yawning and lying back down.
“Don’t go hurting yourself,” I say, shaking my head. The damn dog hardly moves, let alone barks. I thought hound dogs were supposed to howl.
I stay in the main house, which is on the small side—my bedroom and bathroom and a couple of empty bedrooms in the back. When I had it built, I’d thought one day of filling them with kids, but not now. There’s a simple kitchen and table, but most of the meals are made in the cook house. There’s a big building across the way where there’s an industrial kitchen and long picnic tables for the guys to eat at during chow time. But most nights I end up in here alone. It’s not that I’m a loner, I just can’t seem to keep the scowl off my face. And I can tell that people would rather I keep my attitude to myself.