Reading Time: 3h
Cat Wolfe knows a werewolf when she sees one, and if she’s not sure, her half-wolf children tell her what they sense. Her two new ranch hands, one of them Owen, the most attractive man she’s ever met, are definitely high-ranking wolves from a local pack. But they know nothing about ranching, so what are they doing here? Can she trust her instincts about them?
Age Rating: 18+ (Assault, Sexual Assault/Abuse, Violent Death)
It was our typical Monday morning on Wolfe Ranch, twenty miles outside of Baker, Montana.
Baker was a small town of about two thousand people but was widely known in the world. This sleepy little town had more going for it than just the cattle industry. There were other things around here to enjoy.
There were three packs of werewolves that surrounded my property of three hundred acres. There was one pack to the east, one to the west, and one just north of us, leaving the south open to who knows what.
I could only guess that the total number of members for these packs would be about one thousand or more people that weren’t on our annual census.
We never had problems with the packs and had dealings with one of them all my life.
With all of this going on around me, how could I be negligent and not notice strange things like the packs after living out here my whole life?
By the way, my name was Cathrine, but everyone just called me Cat. I was a twenty-five-year-old single mom to my adorable twins, who’d just turned six.
Ivy and Jacob are my whole world other than the ranch I inherited when my dad passed away two years ago from a heart attack.
My dad raised me by himself after my mom died when I was nine. She was out riding in one of the pastures when she had a brain aneurysm and fell from her horse. When she didn’t come back home by dark, Dad went looking for her.
Daddy was a great man, strong yet gentle and always supportive. He was always there when I needed him.
He didn’t pass judgment when I got pregnant with the twins, decided not to go to college, and cut ties with their father. Well, cut ties as much as I could.
I was up this morning before the sun, as always, to make breakfast for everyone, including my one ranch hand, Hank, who was my dad’s best friend.
He was a cranky old man that had my back no matter what. He would tell it like it is, and I always needed that. He saw the world differently than me, and it was important to have that around.
I made my coffee and was sipping it while starting the stove to get eggs, bacon, and toast made for everyone. As I cracked the eggs to whisk them up, I heard both the kids’ alarms go off from their rooms upstairs.
One of the kids turned their alarm off quickly, and I could hear the sound of footsteps running across the floor. I knew that it was Ivy because she was always excited about going to school.
Jacob’s alarm was still going off in his room for a minute or two before I heard him turn it off.
I listened as Ivy headed to the bathroom, while Jacob sounded like a drunk person stumbling up to his closet to get dressed. I stifled my laughter and shook my head at him.
Soon, I had the eggs ready in a large bowl and started to cook the bacon.
Hank shuffled into the kitchen from the back door to get coffee and sit at the table. He lived in the foreman house not far away from the main house that I lived in with the kids.
Hank was in his fifties, almost sixty, and he was slowing down. He wasn’t a tall man and had a belly that was growing as he aged and drank beer. His hair and mustache were gray, and his light brown eyes were kind.
“Good morning, Cat,” Hank said as he grabbed a mug to fill with hot coffee.
“Good morning, Hank. How are you this morning?” I asked.
“As good as ever.”
This was his answer most mornings unless he was really not doing well. He’d been working on the ranch all his life.
Most of the time, he was stiff, but he could work and move just like everyone else. It just took a little longer for his body to get ready for each day.
As the bacon cooked and Hank sipped his coffee, Ivy bounded down the stairs into the kitchen.
Ivy was one of the sweetest kids I had ever met. She was smart, caring, and strong-willed. With her bright blue eyes and black hair, she would grow up to be a beautiful woman.
“Well, good morning, little stinker,” Hank said as Ivy took her seat at the table.
“Good morning, Hank,” she said, rolling her eyes. Then she looked at me and smiled, saying, “Good morning, Mama.”
“Good morning, baby. How did you sleep?”
“Perfect!” she answered happily.
I finished cooking breakfast at the stove about the time Jacob walked downstairs.
Jacob looked like his sister with blue eyes and black hair. His personality was the complete opposite of Ivy’s though.
Jacob was very protective, guarded, and tended to get angry very easily. He could be sweet, but you really had to know him to know what sweet was.
He had a seat with Hank and Ivy while I brought the food to the table. When everything was placed down, I sat down, and we started to fill our plates with food.
While eating, I told Hank, “I’m going to head to the feed store and the general store this morning after dropping them off at school.”
“Okay. Do you have the list of supplies ready?” he asked to make sure.
“Yep. Any extra requests?” I asked.
“Can you get that chocolate spread we use so much of?”
“I have Nutella down on my list. Don’t worry,” I told him with a smile.
He nodded his head and took another bite of breakfast.
“I’ll also be on the lookout for two more hands,” I told everyone.
“Don’t hold your breath on finding anyone,” Hank grumbled.
“Oh, I won’t, but I need to get the word out there that we need some extra help.”
Hank just nodded his head and kept eating his food. Sure, the two of us could manage this place, but it was tough for us. I really needed at least two more people to help out.
I had crops to plant in the garden, cattle to bring in, daily chores, and then kids with homework at the end of each day. If there were four of me, life would be exquisite.
We finished our breakfast, then cleaned our dishes. The kids went to grab their backpacks while I drank the last of my coffee.
The three of us pulled on light jackets and headed out the door to my truck, while Hank was headed to the stables to get his horse ready for his day.
The kids and I got into my dark green Dodge pickup truck and started it up. The weather had just turned warmer, and we were soaking it up.
The mornings would start off in the forties, and by the warmest part of the day, it was in the sixties. I was happy that there was no snow on the ground, and spring was in full swing.
I started our journey into Baker, where I would drop the kids off for their day at school, and I could get errands done.
Cross your fingers that I can find two ranch hands looking for work. Fate needs to be a little nice to me at some point. Let this be that day.
I drove into town and up to the school to sit in the crazy line with all the other parents. For such a small town, the school line was always insane, but I guess that’s what happens when all the grades are in one place.
When it was our turn for the kids to get out of the vehicle, their teacher opened the truck door, and both of the kids barreled out of my truck at her. I barely got to tell them bye as they raced into the building.
“Well, I guess, have a good day,” I said to myself as the line started to move and I left the school.
Once I was away from the school, I made my way further into town. I had a few errands to run in town before heading back to the ranch. My first order of business was to go to the feed store.
We seemed to always be needing feed or hay. I needed to put in a hay order with the guy that I always got hay from near Billings. Life was never slow for a ranch owner, but I couldn’t let it overwhelm me.
I parked my truck on Main Street and hopped out. Walking into the feed store, I smelled all the familiar smells of leather and feed.
There was just something about the smell of a feed store that put a smile on my face and set my soul at peace.
“Hello, Cat. What can we do for you today?” the clerk asked when he saw me.
“Hey, John. Well, I need the usual. Five bags of cattle feed, two bags of horse feed, and two bags of chicken feed,” I said as I stepped up to the counter.
John was a middle-aged bald man with a large salt-and-pepper mustache. Sweet man and always helpful. Knew a lot about livestock, so whenever I was lost and needed answers, he was always someone I called other than the vet.
I paid my bill and got the receipt to hand it to the workers in the warehouse. I made my way around the side and found Oscar sitting on some feed stacks waiting for something to do.
I greeted him with a big smile and said, “Hey, Oscar. Boring morning?”
“Hey, Cat. Yeah, it’s a little slow so far this morning,” he answered as I handed him my feed receipt.
“Well, here’s a little something for you to do,” I said.
He got up and grabbed a feed cart. He looked over the ticket and quickly started piling up my order on it. Once he had everything, we headed out front to my truck to load it up.
I brought the tailgate of my truck down and climbed up into the bed. Oscar started handing me the feed sacks so I could place them where I needed them while we talked.
“Do you know of anyone in the area that’s looking for a ranch hand job? It’s gotten to the point where Hank and I need help out at the ranch,” I told him.
“Not that I know of off the top of my head. I’ll talk to a few people and see what I can find out,” he answered.
“If I were you, I would go to the general store and ask Amy too,” Oscar suggests.
“I was actually thinking about that. I need to get a few things there anyway.”
Once we were done loading the feed sacks, I climbed out of my truck and closed the tailgate.
“See ya later, Cat, and good luck on the hiring process,” Oscar said as he waved and walked away with the cart.
“Thanks,” I told him.
I hoped my search got better results. I wasn’t desperate for help yet, but I knew I would get there eventually, and I needed to find people before that happened.
I turned from the feed store and walked across the street to the general store. It was an old wooden building that looked like it came right out of a Western.
We loved it, though, and Amy, the owner, made repairs and updates to it each year, but intentionally kept the old Western feel to it.
I walked into the general store and as always, as I opened the door, I heard the bell ding from above me. I stepped inside and closed the door behind me.
I glanced around and found that I was the only one in the store other than Amy. She was at the counter opening things up for her day.
“Good morning, Cat,” she told me when she glanced up and saw me.
“Good morning, Amy.”
I quickly went down the three aisles that the store had, grabbing the few things that we needed and that the kids asked for.
The general store didn’t carry much, but if you needed something, Amy could order it and have it delivered to the store.
When I had all of my items, I walked up to the counter and set them down while smiling at Amy. She smiled back at me and started ringing up my items while making the usual small talk.
She was a sweet woman who was a few years older than me. Amy was a little taller than me with a thin build and long brunette hair. She was really pretty.
“So how are things going on the ranch?” she asked me.
“Good. I’m actually looking for two ranch hands to help out. Do you know of anyone looking for work at the moment?”
She finished ringing me up and told me the total while thinking about my question. I handed her the cash and she opened the drawer to get my change. She reached out and handed me my change and receipt.
“Actually, I don’t know of anyone at the moment, which is odd for this time of year. Someone is always looking for work around here,” she told me with a perplexed look.
I nodded my head and put the change in my jeans pocket. I knew there would be a chance that there wouldn’t be anyone looking for work, and that was okay. I would keep looking, because the work would still be there to get done.
“That’s okay. Keep me in mind if anyone comes asking around,” I said as I grabbed my bags from the countertop.
“Will do. Have a great day,” Amy said.
“I will, and you too,” I told her with a bright smile.
I turned to walk toward the door with my bags of goods when it opened up and two men stepped inside. On sight of them, I instantly stopped in my tracks and looked them both over.
Both were handsome in their blue jeans, baseball caps, and tight T-shirts. I could see hard, muscular bodies through the clothing, and I wouldn’t lie, it was a turn on.
I was drawn to one of them instantly and wondered why I was so attracted to this man right away.
That was unusual. I had only ever been with or attracted to the twins' dad. Though now, I wasn’t attracted to him anymore. Most days I hated him.
“Good morning, guys. What can I do for you today?” Amy asked.
Both of them stood in front of the door, blocking me in and looking at me. What was going on here?
“Actually, we were hoping to help Miss…?” one of them said while looking at me.
“Wolfe,” I answered.
“That’s right. We were hoping to help Miss Wolfe fill those ranch hand positions,” he said.
I took a good look at the men in front of me and realized that I had seen them before, but it was years ago. They went to the same high school as me, but they were a few years older.
“How?” I asked.
“We were over at the feed store and were told to come find you over here. We’re looking for some work,” the same guy said.
I nodded my head while looking them over. I could tell by how they held themselves and walked that they didn’t know much about ranch work or life.
I was desperate at the moment. I could teach them just about anything if they were willing to learn.
“All right, perfect. The ranch is just down Highway 20. You’ll see the entrance that says Wolfe Ranch on the right-hand side.”
“All right, we will come by shortly,” he told me.
The other one just nodded at me while staring intently. They opened the door and I walked past them and to my truck. Was I crazy for bringing them on as ranch hands? I would have to teach them everything, but it was better than nothing at all.