Authors: C C Blaze
|C C Blaze|
|CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2012)|
Maddy Cassidy is running away from an abusive past and makes a wrong turn on a deserted road. The road leads to friendship, romance, and peril. She lands a caregiver position at the Mountain Rose Ranch and life is good. Will Jack let her go without a fight? Will she finally succumb to millionaire cattle rancher Dusty Cash's charms? As our heroine says . . ."That man is just like Cowboy Candy. All heat with a hint of sweet."
Copyright © 2012 Cowboy Candy by C. C. Blaze
All rights reserved.
Dusty Cash was sitting on his front porch drinking from a large jug of
ice-cold water. The day had been a long one, and he still had plenty to do.
The heat scorched his lungs with every breath. The sun’s rays had been
pounding on his back all afternoon, as he trenched the perimeter of his
mom’s fruit orchard. He was digging for days. On the other hand, was it
He somehow lost track. Sure, he could have hired some cheap
labor to do it for him. Nevertheless, as his daddy always said, “If you want
things done right, you’d better do it yourself.” He sighed. He had been
seeking the approval of the old man his entire life; but no matter what he
did or how hard he tried, it simply was never good enough.
“Maybe the old man is right. I sure can mess things up without even
trying.’’ He got up and stretched his muscular frame. There was no time to
waste. The sun would be going down soon, and he was nearly finished.
“Why in the hell did mom ever decide to grow these dang avocado
trees in the first place,” he muttered while climbing into his Jeep. He sat
for a minute taking it all in. The ranch truly was incredible at this time of
The trees were lush, green, and laden with clusters of bright
The sweat was beading up on his forehead, and he wiped it away with
the back of his hand, leaving a large smear of dirt in its wake. He had
plenty of time to think about his life as he dug into the earth. The only
woman he had really loved had up and left him for someone else. Dusty
had no idea where she was. Hell, he really didn’t care. Now, the only thing
he cared about was his poor mother.
She was sickly and he had promised
to take care of her, always. It worried him that her caretaker had given him
a two-week notice. How was he going to find someone willing to relocate
to such a remote place as the Mountain Rose Ranch? Heck, they were close
enough to town, yet it felt extremely isolated at times.
He decided he would drive into town in the morning to post a helpwanted sign on Mabel’s community board at the pit stop. He figured he
Surely, he would get some takers.
Women were always
hounding his dad for a job, well, now was their chance.
Rosalinda had had family in town and recently found discovered that
she was pregnant. He understood all too well, that commuting thirty miles
daily could wear anyone out. Maybe it was just as well. Obviously, she
would have given notice eventually. He was simply grateful that she didn’t
just up and quit.
Still, what type of woman would willingly give up the comforts of the
city to live on his ranch? Who wanted a whole truckload of responsibility?
It was going to take a hell of a strong woman to be able to deal with his
father, the isolation, and the stress. Shoot, he expected a lot. He knew.
However, he expected the best for his mother. She was the most important
person in his life.
He finished digging the last bit of irrigation ditch and decided to call it
a day. The rest of the ranch hands were in the bunkhouse or down at Red’s
tavern drinking a cold one. Dusty fondly remembered the days when he
had less responsibility. His old man had always run the ranch with an iron
fist, and he respected him for it. Nevertheless, being the son of Walt Cash
was not easy. At times, he felt as though his father was tougher on him
than the hired hands.
turned out in unexpected ways.
prospered under the old man’s watchful eye. They had a steady income,
plenty of money, and were well-respected in the community. In addition,
they owned ten thousand acres of prime ranch land, and his mother’s
Dusty counted his blessings and learned the hard way not to take
things for granted. He appreciated his lifestyle, his family, and his friends.
The only thing sorely missing in his life was a woman to call his own.
Madelyn Cassidy was lost.
“Shit, guess I should’ve taken a left back there, instead of a right.”
Yawning, she rolled down the windows, lit up a smoke, and turned up the
music. She glanced at the gas gauge. There was just a quarter of a tank,
and she found herself in a predicament. The two-lane country road was
becoming lonelier with each passing mile.
Her trusty old Mustang was
hanging in there, but she had to baby it these last few hundred miles.
She was starting to get sleepy and found herself having to squint. The
oncoming headlights became brighter with each mile.
The sun was
beginning to disappear on the horizon.
If she did not get back to the
freeway soon, she would have to sleep in her car on the side of the road...in
the middle of nowhere.
“Dammit," she swore. “How in the hell did I manage to get so lost?”
She resisted the urge to pull a U-turn and sighed with relief as she passed a
“Grand Valley, twenty-five miles. Lord, please help me.”
She was tired, and way past the point of pissed off. She wondered how
Jack felt when he realized he had made the biggest mistake of his life. Did
he actually think that she was going to sit there night after night while he
cheated on her? Wrong! The years of verbal and physical abuse were over.
Tennessee was nothing but a distant memory, and all she wanted to do was
settle down out west and start a new life.
In the distance, twinkling porch lights indicated that she was nearing
the town. At last, she spotted on a brightly lit gas station sign. “The Pit
Stop” beamed in the darkness like a beacon of hope. Relieved, she stepped
on it and headed towards the exit. "Hallelujah, there’s a hotel...and it has a
vacancy," she laughed. She slowed the car and took the exit. Relieved, she
pulled into the gravel parking lot. She noticed there was hardly a soul in
There were a few cars in the parking lot. Traveling alone didn’t bother
her, much. Unfortunately, this was no pleasure trip. She realized she was
more than a little paranoid.
She couldn't shake the feeling that she was being followed.
There was no
telling how crazy ass Jack was going to react when he realized she’d gone.
“Hope the Grand Valley motel doesn’t have a creepy little guy named
Norman at the desk.”
Her legs felt like rubber when she stepped out of the car. She nearly
drove non-stop from Tennessee. Maddy always did things this way. Once
she set her mind to do something, she did it one hundred percent. This
drive was a mere inconvenience compared to the verbal abuse, the lonely
nights, and the wicked ways of her ex.
She stretched and looked at her
reflection in the night manager’s window. “Ugh! I look like hell,” she
groaned. As she reached for the buzzer, she straightened her hair with her
hands and took a deep breath.
After a few moments, an interior light came on and the shade pulled
up with a snap that startled her. The owner was wrestling with it as it fell
back down. “Son of a bitch," a woman swore, “That dang window
shade...” the old woman behind the glass smiled.
“Howdy, what can I getcha?” she asked while fumbling with her
Maddy stifled a laugh. The old woman was as tough as nails. She
could see that.
Nevertheless, her twinkling blue eyes gave her away.
Somehow, Maddy sensed that underneath her rough exterior lied heart of
“Howdy, Ma’am . . .”
“What...hold on just a minute. First off, none of this ma’am
business,” the old woman laughed. “Folks around here call me Mabel,” she
“Mabel? Oh, yes ma’am, I mean... Mabel it is,” Maddy smiled. “Well,
Mabel, I need a room for a night. No, make that two nights, if that’s alright
The old woman peered through the window. “Are you travelin’ alone,
hon,” she asked. Maddy nodded, “Oh yes, yes. I assure you; I'm alone,"
She handed Mabel her driver's license, so she could pay for the room.
“Hmm, Tennessee,” Mabel remarked.
“You sure are a far ways from home. What brings you out here to
these parts?” she asked.
Maddy’s face turned a few shades of red.
“Well, I was sick of being a punching bag, so I decided to cut my
losses and run,” she explained.
“Glad you left the son of a bitch!” Mabel said, “There ain’t no excuse
for a man to put his hands on a woman.
“Now, here’s your key, hon. You’ll be in room number one. It’s close
to the office in case you need anything.”
She smiled while punching the keys on the old cash register.
“How’s thirty dollars sound?”
Maddy smiled. She was not expecting the room to be so inexpensive.
She pulled out some cash and paid Mabel, gratefully accepted her key, and
As she stepped inside of her cabin, she noticed how remarkably quaint
and clean the room was. It was perfect. Maddy opened her suitcase and
began to put her clothes in the antique pine dresser. She pulled her favorite
fluffy slippers and bathrobe out and carried them into the bathroom.
She was road weary, for sure.
She gingerly stepped into the tub and turned on the steamy water.
This was just what she needed. She finally felt her body begin to relax. She
scrubbed away any traces of Tennessee and memories of Jack and watched
them swirl down the drain along with the soapy water.
Dusty groaned and peered over at the alarm clock, "Five a.m., time to
get up.” He groaned again. The oversized king bed felt so good this
morning. “Only five more minutes,” he mumbled and nearly fell back to
He jolted awake, realizing that he could not just laze away the
morning in bed, no matter how tired he was. He had a busy day ahead of
him. He slowly rose to his feet and stretched like a giant, graceful cat. “All
I need is a nice hot shower and a strong cup of coffee,” he sighed while he
made his way to the shower.
As he lathered up, he felt the kinks working their way out of his
muscles. He was restless and suspected it was because he felt lonely. When
Janie left him, at first he was so broken hearted, he didn’t date for months.
The months then turned into years. Sure, he had taken a few of the women
in town to dinner and a movie; nevertheless, there was no spark, no fire,
nothing. They bored him, plain and simple.
His world shattered when she had run off with one of the ranch
hands, Ramón. He always knew that son of a bitch couldn't be trusted. No
sense in placing all the blame on him, Janie was equally at fault. Guess he
had been right about him all along, but was completely blindsided by what
she had done. They planned to marry in the fall. “What a fucking joke” he
He stepped out of the shower and went to the sink to shave. “No
wonder she left me, I look like dog shit,” he mumbled as he looked in the
mirror. Dusty Cash had every right to be bitter. He had every right in the
world, but he was wrong about one thing. No woman in her right mind
would have ever described him as looking like “dog shit.” In fact, Dusty
Cash couldn’t look like shit even on his worst day. Almost all the women
in town mooned over him; even so, he rarely noticed. He was never one to
be stuck on his looks. He was charming. He was dashing. He was humble.
He was considered to be a “man’s man,” was well respected in the
community, and women shamelessly attempted to flirt with him.
He removed the towel from his chiseled waist and pulled on his
boxers. Stepping into his closet, he pulled a random shirt from its hanger
and grabbed a pair of Wranglers. He slowly pulled on his cowboy boots,
grabbed his hat, and went downstairs.
made his way into the kitchen, he announced, “I smell
something delicious.” Their housekeeper, Miss Dottie flipped an omelet in
the big cast-iron frying pan.
“I made one of your favorites today Dusty, some western omelets," she
“You did...well, this morning is turning out better than I thought.”
She placed a large platter of omelets on the big oak table, and he
helped himself to one or two.
“Miss Dottie, these are absolutely the best!”
blushed, pleased that
complimented her cooking.
Walt’s voice boomed as he walked into the kitchen.
“Good morning Mr. Cash, can I get you some coffee,” Miss Dottie
“That’d be great. Thank you Dot.”
He hung his Stetson on the side of the chair and had a seat at the table
across from his son.
“Dusty, what are your plans for today?” he asked while taking a bite of
“I thought I’d head into town this morning and pick up the rest of that
irrigation line I need for mom’s grove. I figure I’d stop in at Mabel’s and
post a help wanted sign up on the board while I’m there.”
Walt did not lower the newspaper he was reading.
“Well, that sounds just fine. Oh, you might as well pick up some feed
while you’re at it,” he reminded him.
“Will do, dad,” he said, as he pushed his chair away from the table.
“I think I’ll go pay mom a visit before I go.”
“Good idea,” Walt remarked.
Dusty made his way through the foyer, and into the private wing of the
house built specifically for his mother. It was equipped with all the things
that made her happy. It was also equipped with a hospital bed and oxygen
tanks. His mother was an inspiration to him.
Once, she was a fairly well known equestrian, and now she was nearly
crippled. He vividly recalled the day that her accident happened.
One minute she was riding, and the next was bucked onto the ground.
She damn near snapped her neck.
How she managed to walk, was
somewhat of a miracle.
Since as far back as he could remember his mother had always been a
ball of energy. She ran the household just as efficiently as Walt ran the
ranch. She was passionate about everything, especially her gardening and
sewing. Walt could be a real son of a bitch, but he always treated her with
nothing but respect.
Dusty realized now that his mother probably would
have kicked the old man’s ass had he attempted to treat her otherwise.
Nobody pushed Grace Cash around, not even her husband.
His mother remained a beautiful, funny, and intelligent woman, even
after that horrible day. However, she spent most of her days cooped up in
her wing of the house. Walt had decided to build it for her so that she
could use her walker and sit out on the veranda. Although she was still an
avid reader of fine books and periodically worked on a needlepoint, she
tired easily and slept the majority of the day. Partially, because the doctors
kept prescribing her so many painkillers, Dusty thought with derision. It
was as if the pills were sucking the life right out of her.
She had endured agonizing pain, multiple surgeries, and nearly lost her
life. However, she was feisty and a fighter. He felt blessed to have such a
wonderful woman as his mother.
He stood before the double French doors and knocked gingerly.
“Mom, are you decent?” he asked.
“Honey, come in. The door’s open,” she called out to him.
As he stepped into the room, he inhaled the familiar scent of Chanel
No. 5 perfume. It was her signature scent and always reminded him of his
He found her watering one of her cherished African violets.
“Mom, you amaze me. Your room is beginning to look like the
greenhouse,” he laughed.
“Oh, I know it, honey. Nevertheless, you know how much I love my
plants,” she chuckled.
He stepped up to her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I’m going into
town this morning to get the rest of the irrigation line for your orchard. Do
you need anything while I’m there?” he asked.
“No honey, not a thing,” she smiled.
He turned to leave and she stopped him in his tracks.
“Honey, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something,” she said.
“I’ve noticed that you haven’t been getting off the ranch much these days.
When are you going to give yourself permission to be happy,” she quizzed.
“Mom, I get out enough. I am happy, really. I am not interested in
anyone in town, and I am not about to go driving clear to El Dorado simply
to find a woman. Besides, I am way too busy to do all that,” he replied.
“I see your point, honey. I hope someday you take some time off to
relax a bit. I know there has to be somebody out there that catches your
fancy,” she pointed out.
“Nope, not a one,” he affirmed.
“Well my son, it’s okay to take the blinders off now. Give yourself
permission to be happy. When you open your eyes, I’m sure you’ll be
amazed at what you might find.”