When You Fall...
a deep breath, stopped working altogether and watched as his shirt pulled tightly over his strong shoulders while he hammered. There was a rhythm to this; she just hadn’t built up the strength for rhythm.
    “You’re fast,” she said, walking over after he was done. She watched as he walked to post hole number five.
    “How about I finish these last two and you start stringing the wire?”
    “Sure, if you don’t mind,” she said, a little too easily. He had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing outright. She looked funny with sweat dripping from the bandana tied around her head. Those jeans that did wonders for her ass, but it was obviously hard to move around in them. She had on a good pair of boots at least. She appeared to know what she was doing with the wire, he thought, although his view from the corner of his eye was somewhat limited.
    It took him about an hour to finish with both t-posts and to her credit, she had finished stringing wire between the first post, and was working on her second when he approached her.
    “So you
do
know what you’re doing,” he said, standing beside her, assessing her work like a old high school shop teacher.
    “This is a nice sign,” he said, pointing to her handmade sign that lay on the ground. “No trespassing. Security camera in operation,” he read aloud. “Where are you going to hang it?”
    “On the gate,” she said.
    “You bought a security camera?” he asked. He was quiet, studying it.
    “No, it’s just a scare tactic to make whoever dumps here think I do. Maybe they’ll think twice before they try to leave a bunch of junk out here again,” she said.
    “And you’re clever, too,” he said, walking over and leaning on the hood of his truck again. He pulled out his cell.
    “Did you call the number I gave you for Wayne to pick up your junk?” he asked, pointing to her mini junkyard a few yards away.
    “I did. He said he was busy, and didn’t know when he could get by. Maybe next week,” she said.
    He didn’t say anything, but looked down at his phone, dialed some numbers, and walked away from her. She ignored him, working on stringing wire from post two to three.
    He talked to someone for a while. She snuck in a few covert peeps, and during the last one caught him as he put the phone away. He walked back over to her.
    “Call him again. Sometimes you have to harass people. Gotta go. Are you okay out here?” he asked.
    “I am. I’m not as fast as you, but I’ll get it done,” she said.
    “See you around,” he said. He walked back to his truck and left.
    #
    Thursday morning
    Oh, if she could stay in this spot in her bed for a week or two. Her shoulders hurt, her arms hurt, her butt hurt, her thighs hurt, everything hurt. She moaned and gingerly moved each body part until she was seated in an upright position. It was early, way early morning. Night had yet to give way to dawn. She was exhausted. She’d finished attaching the wire to all of the t-posts yesterday, but she’d run out of daylight before she’d been able to hang the gate.
    That was today’s job, after feeding Grey and putting him out in pasture number one, of course. At the rate she was moving, it would take her until nightfall again before she’d finish hanging that one gate.
    She was bushed, that was true, but mixed in with her sore muscles and tired behind was a little bit of pride at what she’d accomplished so far. Rafael and his smug smile again flitted through her mind. Was that good? It wasn’t bad. Her guilt over Bentley hadn’t abated but it was less sharp this week. Maybe her brain, like the rest of her body, was too tired to think.
    Somewhere in the back of her mind, an idea flickered, like a light on one of those creepy motels you find in a scary movie. The idea that she could take over the ranch, make it hers, not go back to the city at all—stay here forever, a hideout for those that thought that—but for her it would be falling in love again, with

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