Surrender to Desire

By: Tory Richards

Chapter 1





With an unlady like snort of disgust Callie Peters tossed the crinkled map aside, and swerved over to the side of the road with a sinking feeling in her stomach that she was good and lost. For the better part of an hour she’d been driving around, looking for the sign that would direct her to the Evans Ranch, and her future place of employment. Yet she hadn’t passed as much as a single mailbox. She whipped off her over-sized sunglasses and tossed them onto the dashboard, taking in the surrounding area.

The road stretched on until it disappeared into the darkening horizon. Nothing but rocks, dry dirt, and dried out pot holes. Grass and wildflowers knee high swayed with the breeze along the shoulder, and further, past the barbed-wire fence that lined both sides of the countryside. An occasional tree dotted the landscape, some dying and nothing more than twisted, bare branches that looked like fingers clawing their way out of the earth.

She opened the door to her dusty Volvo and got out to stretch her legs, the last forty-eight hours-at least thirty of that behind the wheel-beginning to take a toll. Turning in a three hundred and sixty-degree revolution she saw absolutely nothing that indicated that anyone, human, that is, lived in the vicinity. She’d seen plenty of cows and horses, but where were they now? She supposed they were brought in for the night.

Closing her door, she walked to the middle of the narrow road, looking back in the direction she’d come. The thought of turning around and losing more time didn’t appeal to her, and besides, she only had about an hour before it would be dark. Her gaze took in the fact that there were no power lines, which meant she’d be lost out there with nothing but the headlights of her car to guide her.

She sighed, already knowing there was nothing behind her. Should I keep going? Her gaze landed on a small hilltop in the distance, a lone mushroom-shaped tree perched on the center of it like an open umbrella. Maybe she could see something from there. Without hesitation, Callie began walking toward the fence, realizing she’d have to climb between barbed wire to reach the hill.

She wondered how much trouble she could get into for trespassing, as she cautiously made her way between two rows of fence to the other side. No one could accuse her of being there to steal any live stock; this particular pasture didn’t look like it was being used, as far as she could tell. Still, she glanced around for a moment to make sure, before marching up the hillside toward the tree. She should have a bird’s eye view once she got there.

Callie had no sooner made it to the hill top when her gaze immediately spotted the large black cow, just on the other side. It was massive! If the size hadn’t intimidated her the massive horns certainly did the trick. For a moment she stood still, in awe, never having been so close to anything like it before. She could hardly count the calves she’d been allowed to hug and pet at the state fair each year.

The animal hadn’t noticed her yet, and was contentedly munching on the new grass growing at its feet. Then, suddenly the huge head swung up, and large dark eyes zeroed right in on her. Callie held her breath as their gazes locked. She didn’t think cows were dangerous, but she’d grown up in the city and didn’t know very much about them. She took a fearful step to the right, thinking she’d be safe closer to the tree, and that’s when the cow vaulted into action.

With a cry of alarm Callie realized she was in trouble. There was nowhere for her to go and she doubted she could outrun a cow in the open pasture wearing sandals. She wasn’t about to wait around to see if the animal was coming to check her out in friendly curiosity, either. Her only hope was the tree. She didn’t give her girlish attire a second thought as she jumped for the first branch and pulled herself off the ground. It was funny how adrenaline helped you do the unthinkable when fear ran through your blood.

By the time she was a safe distance in the branches above the cow was directly beneath her, staring up at her with big friendly looking eyes. I’m not falling for that, big boy. She positioned herself in the fork of the tree and leaned back against the trunk. Great, just great, Callie thought to herself as she took in her barren surroundings. Now what am I supposed to do?



****



Blade Evans pulled his stallion Calypso to a halt, searching the ground beneath them for signs that Satan had passed that way. The prized bull was getting ornery and independent these days, disappearing at will when the mood struck him. But at least he was predictable, Blade noticed, taking in the deep hoof prints left in the soft earth next to the watering hole. Raising his head, he squinted as he searched the horizon, seeing a small black spec in the distance. Yep, at least he was predictable.

Pulling on the reins sharply, Blade directed Calypso in the direction of the hilltop. Satan was beneath his favorite tree, standing poised as if he were telling the world he was king of the hill. He appeared to be daring anyone who got in the way, ready to back up that challenge with a twenty-five hundred pound body and the massive horns he wore like a crown on his head. In spite of the aggravation, a smile spread across Blade’s mouth as he nudged Calypso into a faster trot. He’d promised Marissa he’d get home in time for dinner for a change.