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Authors: Rhonda Grice

Unusual inheritance

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Unusual InheritanceByRhonda GriceKansas Prairie Series Book 1Copyright 2014 Rhonda GriceChapter One

Small white boulders and piles of grey rockswere seen from the corner of her eye. Stormy, suddenly alert,turned the animal with a slight nudge to the ribs and headed theshort distance away from the road. This place was her last chanceto get water before continuing the remaining two miles of her trip.She remembered the small pond, nestled behind the rocks, from whenshe and her parents had come by it on their way to another near-bytown years ago. What a welcome sight it was. She would have turnedto the North from here, if she were heading to the small settlementof Tindal. But today her mission was in another direction. Her skinfelt as if it had reached a boiling point, and cool water wouldfeel like heaven!

Long full branches from several trees spreadtheir limbs out over the water, giving her the shade she sodesperately needed. Stormy slid down from the saddle and rubbed herbehind. Three long days she had been riding, and was so ready toplant her feet on the ground and sleep in a real bed. But for now,the best she could do was cool off.

Squatting down by the water’s edge, herslender hands dipped a rag into the cool inviting stream. Ah, thecoolness of it felt refreshingly good as she cleaned the dust fromthe road off herself with the wet rag. She let down her hair andbrushed the long chestnut brown strands for the meeting with theattorney, Mr. Biggs, and tied it back with a ribbon.“It wouldn't do for me to look as poor as Ireally am,” she thought out loud

Her mind began to wander to the strangeletter she’d received about some kind of inheritance, but shequickly stopped those thoughts for now and got back to the task athand. The sooner she got to Possum Junction, the sooner herquestions would be answered and this would all be over. Stormystood by the pool of water to stretch her legs and let the gentlebreeze dry the skin where she had bathed. Time was getting awayfrom her, so better change clothes and be on her way, she remindedherself.

Her only other dress had seen better days,but at least it was clean. Quickly Stormy stripped down to herunderpants, wishing she had time to jump in the water and reallyget cool. Then she heard it; the noise. Her eyes turned back to therock ledge and there he was, just staring at her. Before she couldcover herself, the dusty cowpoke came all the way from behind therocks, looking just as surprised to see her as she was him.

Stormy pulled the dress up to her bosom for asmall bit of cover. “What do you want,” she asked, scared of theanswer.

The cowpoke tipped his dusty hat at her.“Sorry Ma’am.” A large grin spread across his thin, butclean-shaven face as his brown eyes took her in. For a moment itseemed they were both speechless.

Flustered, Stormy spoke in a harsh voice.“The least you could do is turn around while I finish gettingdressed.”

“Sorry Ma’am.” He said softly as heturned.

No man, other than her pa, had ever seen herhalf-dressed! It was degrading…it was…well she wasn’t sure what itwas, but she didn’t like it! She hurriedly threw the dress over herhead and closed the buttons. “You can turn around now.”

He turned to face her again. “I just want towater my horse Ma’am, if that's alright.”

“Of course it's alright. It's a freecountry,” she almost hissed the words.

Undeterred by her behavior the cowboy asked.“So what's a pretty young girl doing all alone out here in herunderpants? He pointed at the edge of her dress still caught up tothe waist on one side, a small grin doing its best not to escapehis lips.

More humiliation, Stormy thought as shepulled her dress down where it belonged. “For your informationmister, I was just changing clothes before heading into town. Howwas I supposed to know some…some peeper would show up?” Her voicealmost squeaked in agitation.

The man smiled slow and easy like, thenresponded to her outburst. “Huh…a peeper?” He rubbed his chin backand forth as if he were thinking. “Well I've been called manythings lady but never that. So don't be so uppity aboutyour…attributes.” He looked her up and down as he spoke. “I justwant to water my horse, like I said.” He led the horse to drink andbent to quench his own thirst as well, ignoring those dainty handsresting upon shapely hips as Stormy mumbled under her breath.

“Well, I don’t have to stand here and beinsulted”. Stormy mounted her horse, and rode off before the mancould say anything or ask any questions she didn't want to answer.She had only ridden about a 100 yards before she realized thategotistical cowboy, dirt farmer, or whatever he was, had called herpretty. Yeah, she would admit he wasn’t hard on the eyes and smiledfor a moment. A perfect stranger thinking she was pretty. Hmmm,maybe this ain't such a tiresome day after all!

The weather was almost unbearable as Stormyplodded along. Her behind was throbbing and old Wobbles seemedabout ready to call it a day. Once he made up his mind to stop youmight as well be prepared to stop, because that’s the truth of it.No doubt about it, old Wobbles had a mind of his own at times.She’d better get to town and quick!

Stormy spent the rest of her ride reflectingon her situation. Aunt Lucy had died, that was the reason for theletter. She wasn't sure what all was involved in this inheritancebecause the attorney indicated he needed to talk to her in person.Truth be told she wasn't even aware she had any living relativesuntil right before her momma died. Her momma had tried to get herto make contact with Aunt Lucy, knowing she was dying, but Stormywas too pig headed to ask for help from a strange relative she hadnever known existed.

What could have happened to keep them fromspeaking all these years? She may never know since both sisters arepassed on now. It was as strange as the letter she had receivedinstructing her to come to Possum Junction. However, if it hadsomething to do with her momma she would find the truth beforeleaving.

Her ma and pa both died of the fever a fewmonths apart, leaving her alone on the farm which the bank soontook away as well. No need feeling sorry for herself, she thought.She had managed to get a one room shack on the edge of town whereshe took in laundry for folks and was able to scrimp by.“End…of…story,” she said out loud, refusing to give in to any kindof sadness! Stormy gave old Wobbles a little kick, hoping to endthis trip before she got so stiff she couldn’t walk.

Chapter 2

The town loomed before her and was largerthan she had expected. It was full of shops of every kind andpeople coming and going. It literally bustled with activity! With aname like Possum Junction she had expected very few buildings withmaybe some farm land on the outskirts of town. It wasn’t anythinglike her Cedar Wells. It appeared she wasn’t the only one taking inthe scenery. All eyes were on her as she rode down the main street.It's almost as if they were expecting her.

The brown sign with large white letterscaught her attention about half-way through town. Biggs, AttorneyAt Law, is how it read. She may not have the best education but wasproud she could read and write better than most people sheknew.

Stormy threw one leg over to the other sideof Wobbles and slid down to the ground. She tied his reins to thehitching post, pressed the wrinkles out of her dress the best shecould, and entered the office of Biggs, Attorney At Law.

Her eyes took in the high back chairs and anopulent desk that dwarfed the small but tidy office of Mr. Biggs.He saw her, rounded his chair, and met her with a smile.

“Good afternoon, Theodore Biggs at yourservice Ma’am.” He extended his hand and guided her to a chair.“Please sit,” he added.

Stormy spoke right away. “I'm Stormy Calder,the one you sent the letter to. I'll be honest Mr. Biggs, I didn'treally know my Aunt Lucy and so I can't imagine her leaving meanything of value. Let's just get this over with quickly. I have along ride back to Cedar Wells tomorrow.”

“No matter, no matter,” he brushed herremarks aside. “The important thing is that you are here now and wecan start completing your aunts final wishes. As her attorney, Ican't rest until all this is finished. You understand, don't you mydear?” He leaned in close, almost too close in her opinion.

“The best way for me to explain Lucy's willis to just show you. If you will accompany me, I'll take you out toher place to show you what she left you.” He stood up from the bigdesk and walked around to where she sat.

The thought of riding anywhere didn’t appealto Stormy but Mr. Biggs explained they would be riding in a buggyand not horseback so she agreed. It was only a few of miles out oftown so there was no need to wait until morning.

Biggs rambled the entire time of the journeyto Aunt Lucy's. It was as if he was nervous and didn't want to giveStormy a chance to ask any questions. She didn't mind because shewas just bone tired and ready to eat and rest for a while. Her mindwas half way listening to Mr. Biggs until she heard him call hername, rather sharply.

“Miss Calder, did you hear me? We are justabout there. You aunts place is just around the bend.”

Nothing could have prepared Stormy for whatshe saw as the buggy rounded the large row of trees. It was as ifthe heavens had opened up and rained down the most beautifulpastures and grassy meadows she had ever seen. Yellow flowerscovered the fields until they got a little closer. It was then shesaw it. In the distance was the largest house she had ever seen.And it wasn't empty or closed up as she had imagined. There weremen walking around the barn that was off to the West side andhorses in the corral.

The house was nestled back toward the treeline, with a veranda that went all the way around the front andboth sides of the white two-story home. A white picket fence markedthe front yard and gave the huge place a homey feel. She knew hermouth must be open and consciously shut it. What was going on?

With open arms she asked. “Is…is this AuntLucy's place?”

“Yes, it is,” Biggs answered. “Your auntowned one of the largest and most successful ranches in theseparts. Of course she started it with Luther, her husband, but afterhe died ten years ago she took over. Many people thought it wouldgo downhill, but Lucy was a smart and resourceful woman and theranch did better than ever these past ten years. In fact, whenLuther died I offered to buy it from her, but she wouldn’t hear ofit.” His tone a bit resentful.

The buggy came to a stop in front of the bighouse and within moments she was standing in the parlor, her mouthagape again.

“Carmen,” he called. “Carmen, we're here!”Like magic the stout Mexican woman appeared with a huge smile onher face.

“Welcome senorita, welcome,” she said as shetook Mr. Biggs hat.

Biggs made the introduction. “Stormy Calder,this is Carmen. She takes care of things around here in the houseand has been here since she was a very young girl. Anything youwant to know, just ask Carmen.”

Stormy nodded, she was at a loss for words.Finally she asked in a small voice. “Well Mr. Biggs, what is it youbrought me out here to show me? You know, what you wrote meabout.”

Mr. Biggs nodded at Carmen and sheimmediately left the room, but returned quickly with a smallchild.

“Miss Calder, this is Katy Marie.” He usheredthe child forward. Both Carmen and Mr. Biggs stared at Stormywaiting for her to say something.

Stormy looked at the child, about eight yearsold she suspected and then looked at the both of them. Oh my!Surely this wasn't...was it? Katy Marie was her inheritance? Oh no,she thought! What would she do with a child? Just as Stormy wasabout to say something the little girl spoke.

“Are you the lady who is going to take careof me? Aunt Lucy died,” she said as the tears fell down her littleface. “I promise I’ll be good if you stay. I don't want to be aloneany more. I'm scared,” her little voice faded softly away.

Stormy's heart melted at Katy Marie's words.Here was this slip of a little girl with long pigtails and the mostadorable freckles. But what could she do? She knew more than anyonehow it felt to be all alone, but she could barely feed herself! Howcould she manage a child?

The child’s tears increased to a sob whenStormy didn’t answer. When that happened Stormy dropped to thechild’s level and held her by the shoulders. “You are not going tobe alone Katy Marie. We will get through this together. Okay?” shesmiled at the child.

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