Reunited with the Bull Rider

By: Christine Wenger


“Callie Wainright, what the hell are you doing in my home?”

Callie jumped at the low and lethal voice. She spun around and found herself toe-to-toe with Reed Beaumont.

Reed. Seeing him so unexpectedly, so near, she couldn’t swallow. They’d gone to school together since they were first graders in Beaumont, Oklahoma, up until the summer after senior year of high school when things got too serious too fast. Then they’d parted ways.

Callie had thought she could handle seeing Reed again if they ever met face-to-face for any length of time, but she couldn’t find her voice.

He was the middle brother of the bull-riding Beaumonts. The Professional Bull Riders’ announcers called them the Beaumont Big Guns, and they were breaking records with every ride.

Big brother Luke was solid and responsible and a recent bridegroom. Younger brother Jesse was footloose with a devil-may-care attitude. Reed was a healthy mix of the two. There wasn’t a soul in the town that was named after their founding ancestor, Ezra Beaumont, who didn’t follow their careers, including Callie.

“R-Reed.” She swallowed hard. “Reed. Hello. It’s been a long time.”

She looked into his eyes for several beats of her heart. She remembered them as mostly calm and comforting, but the blue pools were turbulent, just like that sunny day that had changed the direction of both their lives.

Callie’s normally poised and businesslike manner was nowhere to be found, and she was afraid that her suddenly weak knees would give out.

“Why you are in my father’s study and sitting in his chair? What are you doing at the Beaumont Ranch?” His voice was cold and icy; obviously he’d never forgiven her. In spite of all their wonderful plans for the future, Callie had backed out at the last minute. She’d stayed home to take care of her mother and gone to community college. She had been supposed to go on the road with him, but she hadn’t able to.

Not when her family had needed her—and they still needed her.

She’d had obligations in Beaumont back then. She still had the same obligations, only now she had a mortgage and she was working hard to pay for it.

“In answer to your question, I’m working here for a while.”

Recently, Luke had hired her for the job of her dreams. When he was in town last year, restoring the ranch after Hurricane Daphne, he’d heard of her work as an executive helper, along with her top-notch business, Personable Assistance.

Yes. She was now sitting in Big Dan Beaumont’s office on an overstuffed brown leather executive chair on the historic Beaumont Ranch. Several patriarchs had sat behind the great oak Stickley desk.

The ranch was the pride of little Beaumont. As a tourist attraction, it brought much-needed dollars to various shops, restaurants and cafés in the area.

The Beaumonts needed her and she needed them. When word got around town that she’d been hired at the ranch, Callie’s Personable Assistance would skyrocket. Maybe she’d even have to hire some help.

She pointed to the crutches he was leaning on. “Bull-riding accident, Reed?” she asked to fill the silence.

“Yeah. But how about elaborating on my question—what are you doing here?”

“I’m a personal assistant. I was hired to get everything organized,” she said. “And to digitize the ranch’s records.”

When Luke had shown her what he’d wanted her to do, Callie had noticed that the Beaumonts’ record keeping was an outright train wreck. All income and expenditures needed to be organized and entered on a spreadsheet.

She was good at that.

Callie gestured to the pile of mail sliding from the desk to the floor like an avalanche. There were opened and unopened sympathy cards and mass cards in memory of Valerie Lynn Beaumont, Big Dan’s wife. Valerie Lynn had died over three years ago.

“I’ll send thank-you cards to what needs to be answered,” she told Luke. “Like the mass cards or monetary gifts.”

There was more mail in the three feed sacks leaning on the right wall. Luke had pulled them out of his pickup, hoisted all three on his shoulder and deposited them, explaining that it was fan mail from the Professional Bull Riders’ office for Reed, Jesse and himself.

Callie remembered telling Luke, “I’ll answer all the fan mail with an autographed picture of whomever the mail is addressed to. And then there’s email that comes via your outdated websites. I’ll answer that, too, and get your them into this century.”

Reed cleared his throat. “Who hired you?”

“Your brother Luke.”

“But Luke’s on his honeymoon,” he said coolly.

“I know. He hired me before he left for Hawaii with Amber. I think that it was Amber—or should I call her Sheriff Beaumont?—who suggested me.” She stood and rubbed her forehead. “What’s the problem, Reed? Do you think I broke into this office because I was just dying to answer fan mail for you and your brothers?”

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