Can't wait to see you; I'll be there in a few weeks. Mitch must be getting big. Give Seth my love.
Folding up the letter to make it fit inside the envelope, Sara Younger finished up her task quietly. The school was empty; Sara tended to stay in the spacious building long after the students had deserted it, the solitude comforting her in ways no one really understood. She finally stood and headed out; Boston's notorious night life was about to get started, and Sara wanted to make it home before the mob took over. She glanced up at the sky; unable to see the stars because of the lights, Sara suddenly missed Wolf Point. She was dreading the trip out there; seeing her brother and sister for the first time since her father's death six months ago would be hard. She finally heaved a sigh and headed home, watching the people around her as she walked. Coming to a stop in front of her house, Sara glanced around once before continuing on with her walk. The warm air brought her a sense of peace; a feeling she had forgotten existed. She thought of Seth and Sam, living their lives exactly as they wanted to. It had been two months since their father's funeral; ten since their mothers. Now, Sara was faced with the terrifying thought of living alone after being with family for the past three years. Sara maintained her slow but steady pace as she approached the park. Sara groaned as she sat down on one of the swings.
"That's what I get for trying to be 12 again."
She pushed off, enjoying the moment while it lasted. As her eyes caught sight of a couple walking quietly though the grass, Sara drug her feet so she would stop swinging. She watched the couple sit down and laugh, oblivious to anything but their love. Sara hung her head and wondered where she went wrong. At 28, 29 in three weeks, Sara wanted a family. If she were honest with herself, she was a tad bit jealous of Sam; the baby of the family. Sara, at last, stood and headed back towards her house; she had a lot of packing to do in just a few days.
Jake Waters grabbed the nearest brush and started to groom Goliath. He smiled at Haley Younger as she came into the barn; she was leading her own horse Snow into a stall.
"Good evening Mrs. Haley. How are things?"
"Very well Jake; please just call me Haley. The only people that call me Mrs. are my students. How did branding go today? Seth said you guys had some trouble."
Jake nodded and sighed once before saying
"A couple of the cattle got loose. I think old man Carter left his gate open on purpose, but that's just a theory. I plan on telling Seth as soon as I'm done in here. Is he with Cole?"
Haley smiled and nodded in Jake's direction.
"He's picking up Mitch so Sam and Cole can have a little bit of time; the two of them haven't had a moment to themselves since that little tiger was born, not that you'll ever hear them complain. They love every second of it."
Jake heard the air of wistfulness in her voice but definitely thought better than to say anything. He knew that Seth and Haley wanted to wait for a while to have kids, but they both wanted children sorely. Having been married for almost two years now, though, Jake wondered how long it would be until Haley announced pregnancy. Jake closed his eyes and prayed that their wish would come true, whenever that time may be. He thought about Sam and Cole; how their four year marriage put faith back in Jake's heart. Since his own parents couldn't make their marriage work, he had started to believe that true love didn't exist. Now, though, he saw it every day through Seth and Haley; from Sam and Cole. He had often thought of settling down, but every time he tried to get close to a woman, his head told him it was time to get out. He didn't know what his problem was, but he often wondered if there would ever be a woman who could make his eyes light up like Seth's did every time he looked at Haley. He cleared his throat and continued to brush Goliath, his mind going off into different directions.
Jake jerked at the sound of his name; he blushed slightly when Seth laughed at him.
"What's going on buddy? Haley told me that you wanted to talk."
"Yeah…has old man Carter snaked your cattle before?"
Seth sat down on the bench he had built and set up, mainly for Sam and Haley. The women liked to be involved, but neither wanted to stand up for a long period of time.
"I thought he did a few months back, but turns out there were just up the hill grazing. Why?"
Jake placed his hands in his pockets and looked at Sorrow, Seth's powerful black stallion. Jake finally sighed and said
"I just…I saw his gate open this afternoon when we were riding by, and it just seemed strange to me. I thought you should know."
Seth tipped his hat at Jake before standing up and taking a few steps towards Jake. Though he was older, Jake knew less about ranching. He was counting on Seth and Cole to show him the ropes so he could one day run his own ranch. Now, Seth said
"I've actually been wondering the same thing. You did a good thing by coming to me. You didn't run off and accuse someone. You might have mentioned your thoughts to Haley and me, but you didn't go banging on Carter's door threatening him before you knew the facts. I'll look into it, and if it turns out you're right, I'll make sure it gets noticed."
Jake nodded and tipped his own hat in Seth's direction before Seth walked out of the barn. Jake watched him from the barn doors before glancing around the spacious barn. He finally sighed, feeling incredibly lonely. At 31, he was beginning to wonder if he would ever settle down. For the moment, though, Jake pushed the thought out of his mind and continued to brush Goliath.