This is the fourth of an 11-part short story based on the characters of author Susan K. Marlow’s Circle C Adventures and is posted on her blog https://circlecadventures.blogspot.com/

Part 4.

The Circle C Ranch is huge! I knew it was big, but I had no idea it was this big.  Chad is very proud of it, and rightly so.

At the end of an hour, Chad drove the buggy through the entrance to the Circle C Ranch.  Ellie’s lips parted in astonishment as she surveyed the large yard, barns, and hacienda style, white house.

Chad stopped the buggy in front of the house.  He threw the reins to a ranch hand, stepped out of the rig, and held his hand up for Ellie.  As Ellie got down, the horses were led away and Ellie stood looking at the busy ranch.

Chad crossed his arms over his vest and thoroughly enjoyed her evident surprise.  “Welcome to the Circle C Ranch.”

Ellie turned in a circle, unable to conceal her astonishment. At last she found her voice.  “Mr. Carter-“

“Chad.”  He interrupted.

“Beg your pardon?”

“Just call me Chad.”  His eyes twinkled down at her.

Ellie smiled.  “Thank you.  Chad, I had no idea your ranch was so big.”

Chad looked around proudly.  “There’s no place I’d rather be.”

Ellie’s mind drifted through memories of a young Chad. “I remember.”  She said softly.

Chad chuckled.  “I’ll bet you do.  I remember telling everyone that father owned the best ranch in the world”

Ellie laughed, then sobered as she realized that he had lost his father several years ago.  Chad had taken over, and done well, from the look of things.  Ellie was impressed, to say the least.

Suddenly, a loud whistle split the air and two riders on horseback trotted around the barn.

Chad waved and hollered, his loud voice carrying across the yard and halting the pair.  They dismounted, and led their horses over to where Ellie and Chad were standing.  Chad introduced them.  “Miss Coulter, this is my youngest sister, Andi, and my wrangler, Riley Prescott.”

The petite, dark haired girl waved, and Riley doffed his hat, brown hair falling over his forehead.

Chad continued the introduction.  “Andi, Riley, Miss Ellianna Coulter.  We know each other from way back, and Miss Coulter has just taken over Miss Hall’s position as school teacher.”

Ellie curtsied slightly.  When she looked up, she found Andi studying her curiously, a strange expression in her blue eyes.  Andi snapped back to reality as Chad mentioned Ellie was staying for supper. A mischievous grin lit up her face. “I’ll be pleased to get to know you better.”