Chance For Love (The Watson Brothers #1)(2)By: Ann B. Harrison
Once Chance was settled inside, he dropped the cane to the floor. Raising bulls instead of riding them isn’t exactly what I’d planned on this year. My career can’t be over, not just yet. Not when I’m still the toast of Montana and the IBR tour. But perhaps it was what he’d been looking for, why he’d felt so unsettled, and why Terror – two tons of bucking fury – had gotten the better of him. Sometimes things happened for the best reasons even if it didn’t feel like it at the time.
“Where to, Chance? Back to the hotel?” Ralph grinned at him from over his shoulder, waiting for instructions.
“Yeah, but we won’t be staying there for long. I’m expected at the office for a catch-up with the boys from the International Bull Riders to fill them in on future plans. While I’m there, I need you to grab my bags and then you can drop me at the airport if you don’t mind. I’m heading home to the ranch. I have things to sort out.”
Callie Lister gazed out at the red, barren land just outside of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, Australia. This place was her home, always had been, and she’d expected to grow old here, just like her father’s parents and his parents before that. Her father regaled her with tales of how she would take over when he was too old to work, letting her run the station as she saw fit. She would make sure her sisters could work alongside her as well, if that was what they chose to do, still keeping the spread in the family for future generations.
But now that was all gone...or would be by the end of the week. The accident that took both of her parents brought home the cruel reality of life in the outback. All in the form of a letter from the bank delivered just days after the funeral that saw both of her parents buried under the unforgiving, red earth because a tired driver caused them both to be taken far too young.
“Callie.” The youngest of the twins, Jess, stood at the gate of the house paddock, looking unsure of whether to approach her or not. Tears streaked down her thin pale face and Callie held open her arms to her sister. Together they stood in the dusty, barren yard, holding each other up against the onslaught of pain threatening to knock them down.
“Hush. It will alright, you’ll see.” Callie brushed the damp hair from Jess’s face. At three weeks shy of sixteen, Jess was the more sensitive of the twins. She was the one who always felt the pain or disappointment in life whereas her sister Lori was pragmatic and down to earth. It was she who was packing the twins’ belongings to move to the city to live with their father’s parents so they could attend university and get a better education.
“I don’t want to go. I want to stay with you.”
Callie pushed her back and wiped her thumbs under Jess’s eyes to stay the tears. “You can’t and we both know it. I have to do this; I have no other choice if we want the family name to not be tarnished with debt. I won’t let Mum and Dad have their names run through the mud this way. You’ve heard what’s happening in town already. They don’t need to be the gossip at the local pub because they died leaving us to sort out the bank. I won’t do that to them.”
“But you’ll leave us alone.” She hiccupped and the tears trickled down, making twin paths across her freckled cheeks.
“You won’t be alone. You have Grandpa and Nana and I’ll be home as soon as my contract ends. I don’t have a choice and you know it.”
“Get a job here on another station. There must be someone who will employ you.”
“There isn’t. Besides, the money isn’t that good here anymore, not with the drought hitting everyone as hard as it has. Plus, I don’t know anything else but farming. I wouldn’t stand a hope in hell of getting a job in the city either, Jess. I’m better off taking this chance and going to America. The rancher is offering great money for a twelve-month contract with all the perks and a bonus at the end of it if I manage to up the stock numbers.” She stroked her sister’s hair, willing her to understand. “I need that bonus. The banks told us in no uncertain terms what our position is. It’s not fair but we can’t change it. I will not let our parents be remembered for leaving us rolling in debt. They deserve more than that. Maybe then I can come back and we can start again, maybe find a new place if the bank has sold our home off.”