Authors: Arthur Mitchell
By Arthur Mitchell
Content copyright © Arthur Mitchell. All rights reserved.
Published in the United States of America.
First published in June, 2013.
The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance it may hold to persons living or deceased is entirely coincidental.
All individuals depicted in this work are adults over the age of eighteen years old.
About This Work
CAN ONE HOT RANCHER AND A BABY BURY THE PAST?
Sadie Derby arrives at Weldon Ranch with a crushed up car and no memory of her past. Despite her amnesia, she's sure that the handsome rancher who allows her to stay on his property is the most caring man she's ever met. Not to mention the drop dead sexiest.
Brax Weldon is surprised by the beautiful angel he pulls from the wreckage. Her presence is a dangerous temptation for a man who's been missing sweet feminine charms. It's been too long since he's laid his rough hands on a woman, and Sadie invites his darkest desires.
Soon, their lust creates more than just toe curling pleasure – a baby from the cowboy's seed. But Sadie's terrifying flashbacks are intensifying. Is Brax strong enough to banish her demons for good and keep her safe from those who wish to drag her back into the darkness?
Rancher's Healing Touch contains sizzling scenes of domination, tied up passion, and pregnancy romance. An erotic romance novella of over 32,000 words.
I: Blank Slate
The lightning current slashing across the sky is the first thing in her sight when she awakens. Sadie blinks once, bringing several cold fingers up to her forehead.
“What's this?” The interior of her small car isn't at all like she remembers.
The world has turned upside down. Unbuckling her jagged seat belt, she reaches toward the door, its window tilted toward the stormy sky.
She winces. Grasping the handle sends pain flaring through her shoulder. As soon as it pops, the sounds of unsettled blackness rush in. Her ears are overwhelmed with bass thunder, rain, and then...barking?
Several shadowy figures approach the crumpled up car, accompanied by a big hound with long legs.
Her heart jumps several inches toward her throat.
I should get out of here. I don't know these men. Are they the same ones I was trying to get away
from? Why do I feel like I was fleeing?
Reflex makes her grab desperately for the ignition. But it's too far for her to reach, reinforcing the fact that the broken vehicle isn't going anywhere.
With a hard push of her opposite hand, the door cracks open. Her muscles betray her, going slack.
Above, everything spins wildly, as if the whole world is about to collapse in on her.
“Is she hurt?” A strong masculine voice intermittently cuts through the black daze blanketing her senses.
“Get her back to the truck. Doesn't look too bad. Can't say the same about this little Mazda...”
Sadie's consciousness cuts in and out. Her ears and eyes open, if only for a second. She feels herself floating off the ground, swept into a man's bulging arms.
Above her, his face is shadowed, illuminated for seconds only by the odd lightning strikes breaking through the sky. Even in the fiery light, his eyes remain dark, like two gems planted above a hard jaw peppered with short stubble.
“Go back to sleep, beautiful. We're gonna help you out of here. You'll be just fine.”
She squirms once as he lifts her into the passenger seat of a bigger vehicle. The urge to resist wells up again.
But the fabric feels so good, and his voice is calming – not at all like the demonic captor she feared.
Soft country music floats through the darkness. Static snags the radio in the storm, giving the guitar strings an extra twang.
A little while later, the truck lurches into motion, but by then everything inside her is thoroughly fried. Blackness as dark as ink is coming up like a tidal wave.
Sadie flexes her hands, fighting off new dizziness. The fabric beneath her has turned softer, thinner, cooler.
When she opens her eyes, the lightning and rain is gone. So is the truck.
Ugh. How long was I out?
Her vision widens. She's in a small room decked out with antique furniture.
Outside, light streams through the thin curtains, casting a ghostly halo across the white sheets. She pulls them closer and sits up.
Her eyes immediately find his. The stranger who carried her away from the wrecked car is the only familiar thing in the new room.
“Morning. I was beginning to wonder if you were going to wake up.”
“Where am I?” Her tone makes her want to roll her eyes. It's like a line from a movie, mixing exhaustion with genuine surprise.
“Weldon Ranch.” The man stands, and she notices his generous height for the first time. “I'm Brax Weldon, owner of this place. Also the guy who brought you in from that mess out there.”
So it wasn't just a dream. Shit.
Sadie winces at his words. Dealing with the car wreck isn't a pleasant idea. She'll have to survey the damage, call up the insurance company, maybe see to some body work.
Damned insurance. Why can't I even remember my carrier?
Her mind draws a frightening blank. Brax eyes the strange expression on her face. He folds his arms and cocks his head to the side.
“Not even a 'thank you?' I got a feeling you aren't from around these parts.”
You got that right, cowboy. I don't think I am either.
Slowly, she drags her hand through her hair, stopping to rub her face. Her right cheek hurts and something pangs around her shoulder blade, but at least she's in one piece.
“Thank you, sir. I'm sorry about this. I really am.”
“Don't be. You've just been through a hell of a twister. You're lucky my farmhand Dinkie saw your wreck when he did. If it weren't for him coming to get me, I'm not sure how much longer you would've lingered out there. Storm kept up for awhile after we brought you in too...”
He smiles, holding his tall black hat to his chest. The big man sits near her feet.
The mattress sinks noticeably beneath his tense weight.
“So, you wanna tell me where you were going? How'd you wind up in this little town? We're a long way from the highway, beautiful.”
Beautiful. Surely, he's humoring me right now.
Trying to make me feel better after the accident. Funny, but it's kind of working.
Sadie wants to laugh. She hasn't even seen herself in the mirror yet. With the bruises undoubtedly stamping her skin, she feels anything but beautiful.
His question still nags, reaching deep into her brain. Geography hasn't failed her completely.
She wracks her head for familiar cities: Sioux Falls, Mankato, Omaha. Nothing feels familiar.
“I...I don't remember.”
Brax stares at her, his smile flagging uncertainly. “Really? You've got nothing? Can you remember your name?”
“Yeah. It's Sadie. Sadie Derby.” The frightening hole in her memory is like a canyon, and it turns her blood cold.
“Hm. Wonder if I should've called up the Doc after all.”
“I don't think that will be necessary,” she says quickly, though she isn't sure why. Something about being studied and prodded at unnerves her.
“I think I've got a little short term memory loss. It'll all come back to me eventually. I know it will.”
I sure hope so, anyway. God, what if I'm stuck here forever with no idea who I am?
Brax clenches his teeth. Her request grates against his instinct and common sense.
Then again, it looks like she's in fine shape. Not bad for ramming her car into a sturdy wooden fence, destroying the vehicle's front end in the process and leaving it turned on its side.
“I suppose we can give it a chance,” he says finally. “I've got a guy in the spare garage looking at your car right now. It's a real mess, I'm sorry to say. Might be totaled. Do you think there's anything in there that might bring back some memories?”
Sadie stiffens. She knows his suggestion is reasonable, but something about it makes her tense.
Against all reason, she hopes that the car is as blank as her head.
Christ. What's wrong with me? Maybe I do want to take a look at the car – alone.
“I'm not sure. Do you mind if I have a look later on?”
His face brightens. “Of course. Just take your time. I think you ought to rest more, anyway. Much as I'd like to stay and chat, this is an active ranch. I gotta go and make sure operations are running smoothly.”
She smiles and nods. “I'll be fine. When I'm better, I'd be happy to help you with anything, Brax. It's the least I can do to pay back your hospitality.”
“Might not hurt to have an extra set of hands. But we'll talk about that later. All I care about is you getting your beauty sleep right now.”
Without another word, he turns and steps into the hall. The door clicks shut, and the last thing she hears before falling into a dreamless sleep is the sound of his tall boots thudding on old wood.
Days pass in a blur. She takes long naps and sleeps a lot at night, rising from the mattress only to clean up in the nearby bathroom or take in food.
Brax and the other rugged men who occasionally pass through the house tolerate her presence politely. There's a big breakfast waiting for her every morning, and a bigger dinner each night.
Normally, Brax eats with his men, but now his dormant kitchen is getting used. Being a good host sometimes trumps being a boss whose worker loyalty relies on shooting-the-shit.
“Tell me about this place,” she says to him over ribs on her third night there. “I hear lots of animals some mornings. Plenty of mooing. What do you guys produce?”
“You nailed it. Cattle is our number one export on this ranch. It's been that way since my great grand daddy's time.”
Sadie chews her food. The barbecued meat is delicious, just like everything he makes.
Herding cattle and tending machines in fields feels alien to her. Yet, there's something attractive in it all, a beautiful simplicity clearer than everything else in her scrambled brain.
I can't remember where I'm from, but I have a feeling it wasn't a place like this. Life seems so sweet
and certain out here.
“You must work hard. If I saw you outside this place, I'd say you were an ex-Marine.” She stops, feeling a flush of embarrassment over talking about his very sculpted figure.
Brax grins. Having a lady compliment him isn't an everyday occurrence. Hell, finding pretty ladies around these parts is even rarer.
“Oh, lady, I know you like these guns. Don't worry about it! It's not the first time someone's gushed all over them. Feast your eyes on this.”
He hoists himself up in his chair. Beneath the tight button down shirt, he flexes his muscles. They bulge against the fabric, drawing her eyes closer.
The naked confidence hides how long it's been since a woman showed interest in his mass.
She laughs, though it isn't all humor running through her blood. A heat she hasn't felt for a long time burbles beneath the surface. It's good to take in such a handsome man with his blessing.
“Go on. Get a good look.” His smile is still there, but his voice is more serious.
Sadie rolls her eyes and looks away reluctantly. She has to find some way to mask her attraction, or it could lead to dangerous possibilities – chances she's far from ready to take.
“You know, I'm feeling almost like my old self. If it's okay with you, I'd like to start pulling my weight around here. Is there anything I can do tomorrow?”
Brax settles back into place. He strokes the outline of his jaw, deep in thought.
“Well...I suppose we could start you off on the pumps. Most of the animal troughs have automatic water supplies, but it's gotta be managed by a person. I'll have Dinkie show you the ropes. Hope you can be up by six o'clock sharp.”
Holy shit. I can't remember the last time I ever got up that early...probably not since school.
She grins bitterly. Then the enthusiasm of working on the farm surges, and she breaks into a real smile.
“You got it. I'll give it my best, cowboy.”
After dinner, she makes sure he isn't anywhere nearby. Sadie leans her head out her room and listens closely.
The shower water is running upstairs. Her host is taking a long one, as he sometimes does after a day on the land, working it through the summer heat.
Biting her lip, she brushes off her imagination. It wants to focus on thoughts of suds and water running down the deep canyons of his muscles, trailing its way off hard peaks, toward the magnificent spike resting between his legs.
That's enough of that. This is too important to screw up. I can't spend all day thinking about your
hard body getting all soapy and wet, Brax Weldon.
She opens the screen door and closes it carefully. Despite not spending much time outside the house, there are only a few enormous buildings to navigate in the distance.
The structures for work and storage are positioned comfortably away from the house. After a little searching, she finds the spare garage behind the main storage shed.