The little red sports car made a sharp left turn without a hint of slowing down, keeping its rapid pace as it drove through the open gate of the McCrea Horse and Cattle Ranch. The cattle and horses grazing in the two fields on either side of the dirt road took little notice of the car as it sped past. When it came to a stop, the driver’s door swung open, and out stepped the very leggy and beautiful Josephina McCrea. She stopped momentarily to look across the fields and farm. The large red and gray barn to the right of the mansion looked to be sturdy and well kept, and the fence that surrounded the mansion was as white and attractive as she’d remembered it. To the left of the mansion, Josephina noticed the horse stables were also in prime condition, so she had to admit that the ranch had been well taken care of since she had left.
As she stood and surveyed the area, she suddenly realized how a small group of ranch hands working along the fence line had stopped to stare at her, and were whispering among themselves.
“You men get to work and watch your tongues. She’s McCrea’s daughter, Jackson’s sister, and possibly your new boss,” Steve Morgan, the Ranch Boss growled, as he walked past the group. This comment caused the men to quickly go back to their task without speaking any further.
Josephina McCrea turned to look at the magnificent Antebellum home in front of her. She sucked in her breath and held it, as she marveled at its beauty. It really is beautiful, she thought to herself. The wraparound porch with its sleek, white columns was a testament to the pride, craftsmanship and attention to detail given by the men who had built it well over a hundred years ago, and the gray stone floor of the porch still shimmered brilliantly in the sunlight. She was pleased to see the exterior of the mansion had been carefully maintained by her father.
Grasping the stained, wood handrails, she climbed the rocky steps, and then finally released the captured breath she’d been holding, as a feeling of peace came over her.
She entered the door and paused a moment, pleased to see the interior of the home was still just as lovely as the exterior. Nothing had changed; it was as immaculately decorated as it had always been. The gorgeous spiral staircase was the first thing to catch one’s eye upon entering the McCrea home. It radiated beauty and elegance throughout its rocky steps and oak railings. Josephina’s mother, Etta had always been very detailed in the décor of their home. Her love of beauty shone throughout the Antebellum styled mansion; from the glass chandeliers hanging down from the vaulted ceilings, to the wood stained floors flowing throughout the home. These were just a few of the things Etta McCrea held onto during her many renovations. Josephina’s father, Hank was far more interested in his beloved ranch to care about renovations and remodeling. He’d given Etta full authority to make any changes she desired to the interior of their home, but the exterior and its grounds were under Hank’s careful and watchful eye. The ranch was one of the most successful ones in all of Utah, because of his close scrutiny.
“Is that you Miss Josephina?” a voice asked from just outside of her vision.
Josephina knew immediately who the voice belonged. It was Calvin Rainthorn, her father’s assistant.
“Yes, it’s me,” she answered softly.
Josephina had not been home in seven years. She wouldn’t be there now if her parents hadn’t been killed in a plane crash, and their memorials were planned for that weekend. While on her way to the ranch from New York, she had received a phone call from Calvin with the news that her brother, Jackson had been injured while climbing on Dusty Mountain. He had gone after the death of his parents to try to regroup before he made any decisions as to what to do about the ranch. He was returning home when one of his ropes failed, and he dropped more than 20 feet, hitting his head on a large rock.
Josephina quickly wiped away the tear creeping down her cheek because she didn’t want anyone to see her cry. She had always been taught that tears were a sign of weakness, and she was not a weak woman. Her parents had taught her to be strong-minded and unafraid, and she had used that fearlessness and strong mind the day she had walked out of their lives forever. Unfortunately, she had to admit how sometimes life has other plans for us, because she now found herself back to the very place she swore she would never return. She felt uncomfortable being here, as this was their home, not hers….