Chapter 2

“About why the girl is here?” Theo suggested turning the kettle on.

“No, we will wait for that until she is back.”

“Then what?” Kraven said shortly.

“I saw the way you were looking at her,” Thomas said with a stern expression.

“So what? It’s not as if anything would happen,” Theo said annoyed that the man would even mention it. “And not that it has anything to do with you if it did, but she is much too young,” Kraven added in a tone which would scare must people.

“Don’t you speak to me like that boy. You may scare everyone else but not me,” The older man said in a deep threatening tone. “That young woman in there has had a hard life. Surely you remember Marsh and Rena talking about her?” He used his friend’s nicknames.

“Yeah, over-protective mother. So what?” Kraven replied.

“Yeah, I meant to ask before,” Theo interrupted the pair. “Ryan was killed twenty plus years ago, then where’s the girl come from?”

Thomas looked at him appalled, then looked at Kraven, “Are you serious?”

He mumbled obscenities under his voice when the men said nothing.

“I know you guys don’t have girlfriends, but I know you’ve been with women. I have enough complaining about it to me and Greta. What am I? Your keeper?”

“You’d be bored without it, old man.”

“Less of the old.” Thomas glared at Theo but then looked down the corridor checking she wasn’t done yet.

“I’ll give you the quick version. Though she rarely speaks to me – she has anxiety problems, as you’ve probably guessed – her mother spoke to me often before her death. God bless her soul,” He said crossing himself.

“Her mother’s dead? Then who’s her guardian? What is she doing here alone?”

“She is twenty-five, she doesn’t need a guardian, you dumb ass,” He shook his head. “As I was saying, from what I have gathered from Victoria’s mother, Joyce-“

“Hang on, that’s the one who used to call, the owner?” Kraven thought out loud.

“No, she was calling for her daughter. As I said, she is very bad with people, can’t speak, and so on. If Joyce were the owner, she would have sold outright. I had a lot of offers passed to me after Marshall’s death. But Victoria refused to sell, despite her mother doing her best to convince her.”

The two large men were thankful she didn’t. Lord only knows where they would have been if she had.

“Now let me finish before she comes back.” They nod their heads. “Joyce went a little crazy after Ryan died. He was her childhood sweetheart. She even rejected her family because they hated his. Victoria was home-schooled, never let to do anything dangerous like…”

“Visiting the ranch?” Theo guessed correctly.

“Among a lot of other things, yes. She – up until the last few years – was a recluse in the true sense of the word.

“I hate to blame her mother and speak ill of the dead, but it was her fault. She never let her go anywhere alone. She coddled her. She inadvertently made her daughter afraid of people.”

He heard the bathroom door open. She had obviously got the courage to rejoin them.

“She has been learning, trying to get over her fears by taking this trip alone, now her mother is gone, her safety blanket,” He spoke quickly and quietly, but loud enough for the guys to hear.

“Don’t worry. We’ll watch out, make sure not to stress her,” Theo said lowly just before the nervous, shy looking woman entered the kitchen slowly.

It was clear that Thomas didn’t get to say everything he wanted too, but hopefully enough.

The two guys watched her intently as she walked in.

Was she really twenty-five?

It was hard to believe. But at least it didn’t make them feel quite so bad about checking her out earlier.

“Would you like tea or coffee?”

“Y.. You ha.. Have tea?” She asked quietly, she was looking down a the ground as she spoke.

They would have been annoyed if it were anyone else, but they guessed she would struggle again to speak if she looked them in the eyes.

“Yes, we big men have tea and decaf coffee, chamomile, green and black tea,” Theo tried to make her feel more comfortable. But being playful with anyone other than Kraven was alien to him. His tone always serious, but his friend understood the differences.

She was still stood in the doorway.

“It helps me sleep,” Kraven added, but as normal his tone was harsher than his friend’s though he didn’t mean it to be.

“B… Black tea. I… If that’s alright?” She slowly looked through her lashes.

“Sure thing, Vicky. Any milk or sugar?”

She nodded and said softly, “One sugar.” Theo nodded and began preparing the drinks.

“Take a seat,” Kraven ordered making her jump back slightly and earning him a glare from the older man.

“Forgive him, he speaks the same to everyone. He doesn’t mean anything by it,” Thomas defended. “Take a seat, Victoria and we’ll talk.”

After apprehensively walking to the table and taking a seat, Theo placed the cups on the table, before taking the one free seat beside his friend.

“So, what can we do for you, boss?”

“I w..w..w..” She stopped and huffed, took a deep breath and tried again. “I wanted to s..see Grandpa’s ranch.” She glanced at Thomas for help. He gave her a small smile and nodded.

“She wanted to spend a few days here before continuing her trip.”

“Where abouts you going?”

“Who you going with?” Both friends asked at the same time.

They may not have been too keen on the owner before, but that was when they thought it was Joyce.

But knowing how much the older couple had loved Victoria, spoke to her and a little about her in past they told to them, they felt protective of someone other than themselves for the first time in years.

She shrugged, “N.. N.. No one. I a.. Am j.. Just going to s.. S.. See how things go.”

“You shouldn’t be traveling alone. Especially if you have no idea where you are going,” Kraven audaciously told her. “You can’t travel alone. Your grandfather wouldn’t like it.”

Her face looked a mixture of scared, sad, annoyed and angry all at the same time.

“I agree,” His friend said in the same tone. “You should contact a friend and-“

“That is enough!” Thomas exclaimed forcefully. “I warned you,” He said lowly and threateningly towards the two men.

“I.. It’s alright,” Victoria interrupted.

“They we.. Were only looking o… Out for m.. Me. I think…” She mumbled the last part.

“But… But I.. I don’t.. I don’t have…” She looked down embarrassed, not really wanting to tell them her embarrassing secret.

“You don’t have, what? Friends?” Kraven asked in disbelief. Everyone has one friend, even him.

“C… Can I s.. See t.. The horses?” She asked not wanting to answer.

The guys stayed quiet for a moment before answering. “Finish your drink and we’ll show you around your ranch.”


“And these are more specialized, but…” Theo leads a silent Victoria into the back of the large stables.

She hadn’t said more than one-word answers since leaving the main house. But it was clear by her expression she was in love with all the horses and property in general.

“These are beautiful,” She spoke in awe, for the first time not stuttering a single word.

Thomas who was with them still smiled. “These were always your grandmother’s favourite.”

He took a step closer to one of the stalls. Inside stood a tan coloured thoroughbred miniature horse, he was lapping up the attention the young woman was paying him.

“She used to teach classes to children, teach them how to ride. The younger ones would often use the miniatures in shows. Irena loved that, she especially loved showcases.”

She looked to the two managers who were stood feet away, side by side watching her with the same blank expression as before. “Do..Do you…?”

“Yes,” Kraven answered already knowing the question. “It is the best place to show off the horses skills and get the word out. It is good for business.”

“There is a show next week if you want to see the horses in action?” Theo suggested.

She nodded, “Maybe.”

Thomas looked back feeling eyes on him, to find the guys both staring at him.

“Isn’t it time you went home?” Kraven suggested nonchalantly. But the older man didn’t miss the dark look in his eyes and Theo’s.

“Um…” He glanced down at his watch and his eyes widen. “Oh lord! Greta’s going to kill me,” He muttered to himself.

“Victoria,” She looked back at him. “You are welcome to stay with at my house. I know my wife would love another woman in the house.”

“No,” Kraven said not giving her a chance to answer. “This is her home. She’ll stay here.”


Victoria was surprised by the man’s comment, especially due to the fact that it was Kraven.

She would have been surprised if Theo mentioned it too, but more so his friend because he seemed more detached, unfeeling. Though both of them were, Theo had at less attempted at being hospitable.

Yes, it was her ranch. At least technical. But in all honestly, as much as she loved the place it wasn’t hers in anything other than the name.

“Legally, but…” She began to say but stopped and shrank back towards the small horse.

“,” He repeated slowly. “Your grandparents would want you here. You have a room in the house after all.”

She looked back up from the horse. “I”

“You do.”

“I’m sorry. But I really must go,” The older man interrupted. “The offer is still open?”

She looked to the guys chewing her bottom lip nervously, then again to Thomas.

“I’m a..alright, you, Mr. R..R..Reeves.”

He looked reluctant but nodded anyway. “Well, you have my number if you change your mind. Don’t be afraid to call day or night.” She didn’t fail to miss the warning look he shot the younger men.

“Alright then, but take care and try not the drive unless you listen to the weather reports first,” He warned. “I heard there was a big storm heading in this direction,” He added.

“Good to know, old man,” Theo said seriously, but with a hint of humour in his eyes.

“Less of the old,” The lawyer replied and pulled out his vibrating phone. “It’s the Mrs,” He told them glancing down at his phone then to Victoria. “I expect you to call me before you leave. Your grandparents, my wife, and I were great friends, she would love to meet you… Sorry, I really have to get this. Take care, dear, and remember I’m only a phone call away.”

He left the stables a moment later with his phone held to his ear.

“We have to go to the store and pick up some food. Especially if a storm is coming.”

Kraven nodded, “You go ahead, and I’ll finish up here. You take Vicky with you. Make sure to buy enough for a couple of weeks just in case. Lord knows how bad the storm will be.”

“W..will the horses be alright?”

The corners of his lips curled into a small smile. For the first time, she saw a real emotion.

“Don’t worry, they’ll be fine. There is at least one hurricane a year though this is not the normal time of year. The horses are well protected and it never gets bad enough that we can’t get out and care for them,” He reassured her.

“Hurricane?” She panicked.

“Probably. Thomas wouldn’t have warned us otherwise. But don’t worry. The house is safe, you’ll be fine.”

“He’s right. Everything will be fine. A few high winds and thunder, nothing to serious.”


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1 year ago

My favourite book 📚

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