Saturday, January 11, 2014

Nobody's Angel, Advanced Chapter

Everyone loves a free book! Have you checked out Original Works on Tricky Raven? No E-Reader required. They entertained you with fan fiction, now show those authors you loved your support by reading their original stories!

Were happy to share an exclusive update to Nobody's Angel by Tricky Raven's Jaime Sommers, better known as Dragonfly76. To read previous chapters of Nobody's Angel, stop by Original Works!

Genre: Romance
Rating: M
PreReader: MP
Beta: ChrissiHR

“Do not be afraid; our fate
Cannot be taken from us; it is a gift.”
― Dante Alighieri, Inferno

Jenna was doing alright in life. Sure, things weren't always easy, but then again, what ever is?
Alone in the world except for a hermit uncle and a few other lonely souls for friends, she's determined to make a life for herself. One without any romantic entanglements. But sometimes love barges in without warning.

Cash is a lonesome soul, traveling back and forth between the place he calls home and Boulder Flats, living the gypsy existence of a ranch hand. Things are cut and dry in his world. The wife he hates, the job he loves and nothing in between.

Until she came along.

She makes him want to believe and he breaks down her carefully constructed walls. But when everything is standing in the way how do you change a wish into reality? Or are some dreams meant to be broken?

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

All Right Reserved - Jaime Sommers Books

Five: Wasted

“As flowerlets drooped and puckered in the night turn up to the returning sun
and spread their petals wide on his new warmth and light-just so my wilted spirits rose again.”
-Dante Alighieri, Inferno Canto II

Walking to the barn door, Cash mentally kicked himself for somehow having managed to offend Jenna. It was his fault and there was no excuse except for the fact that he was tired as hell from spending the entire weekend fighting with Tammy. If anyone asked what about, he’d be hard pressed to come up with a reasonable answer other than the fact that they hated each other, not to mention the fact that she was more than half-crazy.


For the better part of two days his wife flung promises of divorce at him, nearly as much as every knickknack in sight.  By Sunday afternoon he doubted there was a wall in their house that wasn’t gouged by some piece of porcelain Tammy aimed at his head.  

Divorce ... deep down he knew she didn’t actually mean it.  It was just another empty promise meant to force enough guilt on him to stick around.  Only this time, it didn’t work.  

About an hour before he was supposed to hit the road, Cash had taken about all he could stomach of Tammy’s endless complaints and decided to call her bluff.  “We’re done,” he’d announced, slinging the worn backpack he travelled with over one shoulder.  The wooden screen door slammed closed behind him on the way out.  “I’ll call a lawyer this week.”

The shocked reaction on her face when he pulled away was worth the fight.  If any part of her thought it was a joke, she was sorely mistaken.  This time Cash meant it and there was no going back.  Wondering what all would need to be done, he made up his mind to find some time in the next week or two to seek out a lawyer here in Boulder Flats, knowing full well that a divorce involving Tammy would be anything but amicable.  That woman could turn a ballroom dance into a boxing match.

Leaning against a post, he watched Jenna lead the little bay out to the round pen for some exercise.  For all her bravado, he caught the slight wince on her face when she slung a leg across the mare’s back.  It was obvious she hadn’t sat a horse in a long while.

Mouse, who had stood on the back porch of the main house witnessing his niece and Candy’s reunion, spotted Cash and strode over to the barn.  Crossing the grassy lawn, the man appeared as a formidable force.  Oh, everyone heard the nickname his niece had given him, but none of the hands had the guts to call him Mouse to either his face or behind his back.  Broad shouldered with heavily muscled arms from years of hard labor, the man had fists that could hit like a jackhammer if the occasion arose, but an unmistakable twinkle of pride lit up his face at the sight of Jenna in a saddle, giving away the softer side of him.

“Mornin’.” Mouse greeted Cash with a nod of the head, then cast his eyes back to Jenna, who was half bent over Candy’s back, wrestling with the stirrup.  Mouse knew she must have been none too pleased to find the old saddle of her youth gone, replaced with something new.  He was sure to get an earful later, Jenna having been awful attached to that particular piece of tack knowing that it once belonged to her mother.  Making matters worse, the new saddle hadn’t been treated yet and the leather was stiff as a board.  Between that and not having been on Candy in a good year, his niece was going to be saddle sore by the time the day was over.  

“You two meet yet?”

“Yeah, we met,” he responded, resisting the urge to help when he saw her try and fail to secure her right boot in the stirrup. “I mighta pissed her off,” he warned, thinking of the workday ahead along with the stupidity he’d shown in provoking her.  Unintentional or not, technically she was his boss, though from what he gathered, they’d rarely cross paths.  

“Didn’t expect a woman, huh?  Eh, she’ll get over it.  You ain’t the first or the last to make that mistake.”  Mouse knew the Sugar Creek was somewhat of an anomaly. Being unmarried, it was easy enough for anyone to assume any business partner would be a man.  Typically they were.  Most ranches were run by men, usually passed down by somebody’s grandpappy over several generations.  If a woman helped with the operation, it was normally because she’d married into it.  Mouse had purposefully omitted the fact that she was a woman to Cash when they’d run through the plans for today.  Still having high hopes that one day Jenna would take a more active role in the ranch, and if Cash worked out long term as hoped for, he’d have to be able to handle working for a woman.  Furthermore, Jenna would have to not just learn to work with men, but actually trust a few of them.

‘Sides, I know my niece.  Probably got riled up over nothin’, but you just ignore it, that’s her way.  Jenna ain’t easy ‘round strangers.  Holds everyone back at arms length until she knows ‘em a little.”  Mouse slid him a conspiratorial wink. “You already got a leg up in her book anyhow.  I told her Aggie likes you.”

“Appreciate that,” he commented, not sure if even Aggie could change Jenna’s mind about him after this morning.   

Mouse recognized the look on his face.  He’d seen it many a time over the years and, married or not, it was a tough lesson he’d learned once upon a time.  “She’s a woman, Cash.  Right or wrong, make your apologies.  Goes a long way with the so-called fairer sex.”  

Neither man said another word on the matter, instead watching quietly for a little longer while Jenna put the bay through her paces in the round pen--though by the tricks the horse was pulling, it seemed the other way around.  Even Mouse winced when Candy decided to throw herself up against the fence, testing his niece’s patience until she swore loud enough to wake the dead.  Getting slammed and pinned against metal like that hurt every time and both men knew it.  

“Looks a mite rusty in the saddle.  You sure she’s up for this?” Cash asked.

Mouse nodded his head slowly, almost as if he were trying to convince himself.  “Jenna might be a silent partner, but don’t let her fool you.  That girl knows every blade of grass on this place.  Knows a whole lot more than she gives herself credit for.  She and Candy grew up together.  Got her for Jenna right after her folks passed on.  Good therapy.  Been awhile since she’s ridden, but I guarantee, in an hour or so, she’ll be riding circles around everyone and Candy will know her place.  You too,” he tacked on as an afterthought.  

Cash couldn’t help the grin breaking out across his face.  Never one to back away from a challenge, the very idea of pushing Jenna and testing limits was fun, sending his wheels spinning into overdrive with possibilities.  Without a doubt, she’d push right back, and the masochist inside of him looked forward to it.  Even if she didn’t realize it yet, they were cut from the same cloth.  He recognized the stubborn nature in her personality, a little ragged on the edges, much like himself.   
There was something about this woman that got to him in a way no other ever had, bringing out both the devil and man in him at the same time.  The more he learned about Jenna, the more he wanted to know.  That same thought reminded him of the situation he was stuck in with Tammy.  Cash shifted a little uncomfortably, pissed off that he was going to have to ask a favor from his new boss this early in the game with so much going on.  

“Listen, Mick, I hate to ask, but I’m gonna need to take a little time off later this week.  Either a morning or afternoon.”

“Shouldn’t be a problem,” he stated, unconcerned by the request.  Life on the ranch was a twenty-four hour-a-day job and sooner or later everyone needed a bit of personal time now and again.  “What you got goin’ on?”

“Know any good divorce lawyers?” Cash asked, choking down the last of the coffee that had turned cold in his cup.  

“Not from personal experience, but Walt Anders over on Cedar Street is pretty fair.  Known him most of my life and he can be tough when the occasion calls for it.”  Mouse shot him a sidelong gaze.  “You lookin’ to get yourself unhitched?

With a heavy sigh, Cash realized there was no good way to explain the complicated relationship between he and his wife.  “Ain’t been married to that woman for years.  Paperwork’s nothin’ but a legality as far as I’m concerned.”  It might have come out sounding cold, but there was no sense in sugarcoating the truth.  He’d never much cared what other people thought and wasn’t about to start worrying about it now.

“Well, I wish you luck then.  Probably gonna be a bachelor the rest of my life, but every man deserves to find a good woman.”  

Mick eyed Cash, noting the unusual way he was watching Jenna.  There was more to it than plain curiosity, he was sure of it.  Something was in the air and whether it was trouble, love, or both he was unsure.  By the look of the man, and the considering the current state of his affairs, Mick wondered if he was gonna end up being the one in need of a lawyer down the road.  Having chased off one man already, he had no problem getting rid of another one if the situation called for it.


The day passed quickly and, just as Mick predicted, Jenna was riding circles around half of the field hands and doing a good job of it. Sitting a horse seemed as natural to her as breathing, and Cash had enjoyed watching her tear across the pasture, hell bent for leather, hat flying off the back of her head with ribbons of dark curls streaming wild and free. This morning he’d caught something different in her eyes, something hard and untouched, a bit of sadness even; but this afternoon, seeing her ride, there was unrestrained joy in her countenance, as if she were laughter riding the wind.

The smile that caught his eye the first night in the tavern was evident on her face, right down to the ruddy blush on her cheeks.  There was real happiness in that smile, and Cash couldn’t help the way it made him feel.  Jenna’s laughter was infectious.  

She was also damn competent--and damn good looking.

His sharp eyes noticed every detail, from her tiny hands holding the reins to the way she took in every blade of grass and bird in the sky, right down to the denim hugging the rounded curve of her hips when her ass bounced in perfect rhythm with the saddle.

Not to mention the way she firmly brushed off every single man that dared waste his time by flirting with her.  Oh, he wasn’t above it himself.  It was all Cash could do not to ride up alongside her like the other boys had, just to feel the brush of her denim-clad legs next to his.  The thought was more than tempting and the urge enough to make him shift uncomfortably in his tooled leather seat a couple of times.  The difference was, he wasn’t gonna be fool enough to try it.  Definitely not after this morning--at least not yet.  Besides, he’d rather be the one to hang back and take his time.  Some women were worth the effort of winning over slowly, and in his mind, Jenna Evers was one of them.  

It was odd, the new feeling of relief that Cash had, knowing he was finally going to be free of Tammy. For the first time in nearly twenty years, he could be his own man again. As bad as things had been, the only part out of their marriage he didn’t regret was Andy. Raising him had been the one thing Cash knew he’d gotten right. There would never come a day he’d forget the kid, but the time had come to bury the past and start living. Too many years had already been wasted, but he could change the future.
Taking in his surroundings Cash realized Sugar Creek could be a blank, new page in his life, and Boulder Flats a new home. The work of a rancher might not be every man’s dream but it was the job he was built for. All the college education and books in the world couldn’t replace the feeling of accomplishment from working hard all day. Cash thrived on it. Ranching might not be all he was, but it was what he was born to do.


I ain’t nailed down and there’s nothing to stop me. Smiling wide at the thought, he laughed out loud, and with the kick of a boot he took off across the pasture at breakneck speed. With the wind on his face, the clouds had finally parted. There’d be storms ahead, but sooner or later the clouds would part and the rain would stop.  

Suddenly he felt like celebrating.  Everything had gone smooth for the most part, unless you counted one inexperienced hand that got too close to a hole and ended up getting thrown head first into a pile of cow manure.  Even Jenna seemed to have forgiven him for this morning’s encounter in the barn, working seamlessly alongside him, and laughing when he pulled an apple out of his saddlebag for Candy at lunch.   

For the better part of an hour, the rest of the hands had been making plans to hit the town after the day was done. Maybe I’ll go out with the boys tonight, he thought, immediately turning his attention to Jenna, and when he did, his eyes were full of hope.