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Authors: Celya Bowers

Baby Girl: Dare to Love

BOOK: Baby Girl: Dare to Love
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Baby Girl

Dare to Love

 

 

 

 

By

Celya Bowers

 

Copyright [email protected] Bowers

A New Novel

August 2015

 

This is a fictional work and the characters are a product of my imagination.  Any correlation to any persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

 

 

 

             

 

 

Acknowledgements:

I would like to take this time to thank my support group.  My sisters, Jeri and Sheila, my brothers, William and Kim, for always being there for me.  My nieces, Shannon, Yolanda, Celya and Kennedy, for helping out when necessary. I love you guys so much!

A big thank you to my BFFs: Cherry, Erica, Donna, Lewis, Maria, Judy, Daniel, Angela, Diane, and Sharon.  I appreciate every minute you helped me with a plot problem.  You guys rock.

To my forever friend, Roslin Williams, who fought a good battle with cancer and is resting in heaven:  I miss you every day.

To my sister, Darwyn, who is resting in heaven, I miss you!  I really miss our conversations.

If I forgot you, I’m sorry.  Charge it to my brain, not my heart.

 

Thanks,

Celya Bowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

  “Jemma, you need a new place,” said Janna Hubert, her older sister. They were sitting on Jemma’s prized living room sofa she’d purchased in England on one of their many family trips.  “There are so many memories of you, Jared, and Kassie, being here as a family.”

Jemma Patterson at the young age of thirty-eight, had become a widow thanks to a drunk driver.  Her husband of ten years, Jared, had been killed on his way home from work.  That was a year ago, and she was still picking up the pieces of her life. Kassadee, her eight-year-old daughter, was taking his death the hardest. The last few months, the child said less and less until she barely uttered a word. “So you’re telling me to sell my house and move my child?  I love living the in this part of Dallas.”  She was only twenty minutes from her parents, and her sister.  

“I’m telling you that you both need a change of scenery.  I’m not saying move to Egypt, just maybe Arlington, or even Mansfield.  Something totally different from here in pricey surburbia of Dallas.” 

She and Jared had lived in the Crabtree Hills gated community since Kassie was born.  It wasn’t far from Jared’s job, and near the private school Kassie attended. Jemma had been tossing around the idea of moving, but thought it would be too much for Kassie to deal with, since the passing of her father.  “I love this house and we got a good deal on it.”  She took a deep breath.  “It’s time for us to move on.  I just wish I knew what I could do to get Kassie to talk again. I’m afraid I’m losing my baby.”  She wiped away a tear. 

Janna moved closer to her and caressed her hand.  “Jemma, as I have told you before, this condition is temporary.  She is processing her grief. Kids do it different than adults.  I know you want to help her all you can, and I think moving to a new area will do the trick.”  She reached into her oversized purse, pulled out a large postcard and handed it to Jemma. “A friend told me about this place.”

She quickly scanned the card and snorted.  “A horse ranch?  We don’t know nothing ‘bout no horses!” 

“This isn’t for you. This is for Kassie. She needs something to get her mind off her daddy.”

It would be nice for her eight-year-old daughter to smile again.  Hell, it would be great to hear her daughter talk again.  “Okay, Janna, you’ve won me over.  I’ll start looking for houses.”

 

Three months later, Jemma walked through her new home and smiled.  Janna was right.  Moving to Mansfield had been a great idea.  Kassie still wasn’t talking, but Jemma was hopeful.  She’d found the house in the Blooming Hill subdivision on the outskirts of Mansfield.  So far the house was everything she could have ever wanted, including a swimming pool.  With the sale of their former home, she was able to pay for the two-story, four-bedroom home in cash.  She even had a generous amount to put in Kassie’s college fund.

She’d made an appointment to see the ranch before she signed on the dotted line. Photos on the Internet were one thing, seeing it in person was another.  She’d worked in advertising for over fifteen years, she knew how deceitful pictures could be.

After picking up Kassie from school, they headed to the ranch.  It was located deep into the woods of Mansfield.  Her navigation system in her Cadillac Escalade didn’t recognize the area. “This was how the horror movies started,” she muttered to herself.  Then she finally saw it. Cross-Cut Ranch.  Their website hadn’t done the place justice.   It stood very regal and from the looks of the well manicured lawn and the number of trucks parked to her right, the ranch was doing very well.

“Looks like a lot more than 200 acres, huh Kass?”  She glanced in the rearview mirror to gauge her daughter’s expression.  Nothing. She returned her mother’s gaze, but didn’t open her mouth.

Her mother’s instinct told her this was exactly what her daughter needed, so Jemma pressed on.  “I know this is going to be a great experience for us, both.”  She turned into ranch and took the first turn to the right.   Luckily, she was directly in front of the business office.  “Okay, Kass, come on.”    She opened her car door and then helped her slender daughter out of the car.   Kassie had inherited her father’s skinny genes.  She had her mother’s honey brown complexion and curly hair.  

Hand in hand, they entered the business office.  Three women and a man stared at her as they walked further inside the building.  Closer inspection proved that two of the woman were actually young.  Teenagers, most likely.  They returned her smile. The older woman looked her up and down. Most likely trying to gauge if this African-American woman can actually afford these pricey lessons for her daughter. “Can we help you?” The older woman took the few steps toward Jemma and extended her hand. 

Jemma took it.  The woman smiled, then looked down at Kassie who now had her mother’s hand in a death grip.  “I have an appointment.  I’m Jemma Patterson.”  She motioned to her daughter.  “This is my daughter, Kassadee.  I wanted to sign her up for riding lessons.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful.  I’m Tesla Cosgrove. Please call me Tesla.  We have some of the best trainers in the state,” she boasted proudly.  She motioned to the wall adorned with pictures.  “These are some of the people who have trained here over the years.  Cross-Cut has been training horses for over hundred years.  Why don’t you look around while I get the papers ready for you to fill out?”

Jemma nodded, leading Kassie over to the wall.  So far so good, she mused.  Kassie hadn’t broke out in tears and fled the building.  Things were looking up.

 

Kyle Cosgrove retreated to his office.  His mother could handle the minor paperwork.  He had other things to do like order hay and feed for the next month. 

He had just settled in his leather chair when his mother made her entrance.  “Now, Kyle, go talk to that woman.  Her little girl looks troubled.  Put that fancy degree you earned to use.”

Sure he had a doctorate in Psychology, but he seldom used it these days. Actually since returning to the ranch five years ago, he seldom thought of the life he used to lead in Austin as a child psychologist. Even though he hadn’t treated a child in five year, he instantly recognized the mother was talking for her child. He’d noticed the child hadn’t uttered one word.  Normally, kids went nuts over the pictures on the wall.  Perhaps, she was deaf or mute, but he hadn’t gotten that vibe from her. “Mom, I’m sure it’s fine.  Let Tiffany or Chutney interview her.”

“No, sir.  This is your dance.  You’re the ranch manager, so go do it.  Your father is ready to retire,” she hinted casually. 

His father’s retirement was contingent on Kyle taking over the reins of the ranch completely.  He took the papers out of his mother’s hand and stomped out of the office.  He looked down at the paper. “Mrs. Patterson?” He glanced around the room to see mother and daughter sitting at the table admiring one of his mother’s cookbooks for sale.

She rose instantly.  She was a tall woman, beautiful brown skin, and long curly black hair. She wasn’t thin, which he liked, but he noticed the large diamond wedding ring.  Damn.  

“Yes, please call me, Jemma.   This is my daughter, Kassadee.  The lessons are for her.”

Why was she talking so fast?  Something about this wasn’t right.  “Yes, ma’am.  I’d just like to get a little information.”  He glanced at the child. She was staring into space.   “Kassadee, would you like to see the horses?”

Nothing.  Puzzled, he glanced at the mother.  “Deaf?”

She shook her head.  “No, she’s fine.”

He knew this child wasn’t fine.  He also knew that he couldn’t ask Jemma anything with her child in earshot.  What a time for Baxter to take a nap?  He grinned as he saw his canine friend sauntered into the office by way of the doggie door.  “Well, there you are.” He rubbed the dog’s chocolate fur.  Baxter also moonlighted at as a therapy dog as the local children’s hospital.  “This is Baxter.  He’s my mom’s chocolate lab.”   He nodded over his shoulder at his mother who was watching the interaction.  

He waited a beat for Baxter to do his job.  That dog could warm the coldest heart.  He hoped he could work some kind of magic with Kassadee.  As if he’d sensed the problem, Baxter slowly walked to Kassie and sat down next to her and placed his head in her lap.  His not so subtle hint to be rubbed.  

At first, she stared at the dog, then at her mother.  Jemma nodded approval.  “It’s okay, baby.” Kassadee caressed the dog’s head.  She wasn’t talking, but at least she wasn’t staring into space like a zombie.   “Kassadee, would you mind keeping Baxter company while your mom fills out the papers in my office?  If you need anything, Tiffany and Chutney will help you, okay?” 

She didn’t answer him.  She continued rubbing the dog’s head.  Jemma rose and grabbed her purse.  “I’ll be right back, honey.”  Still, the little girl hadn’t said a word. 

“She’ll be okay.”

Kyle had to take the woman at her word.  “My office is this way.”  He motioned her to the back of the small building.  Once they were both seated, Kyle took a deep breath.  This wasn’t going to be easy. He hated turning away a child in need.  But if he thought for one second that he couldn’t help her daughter, he would. “Jemma, I’m going to have to ask you some tough questions concerning Kassadee.”

“I understand.  She’s not mentally challenged.  She’s grieving for her father.”

Loaded statement.  “I’m sorry?”

“About sixteen months ago, my husband was killed by a drunk driver. Since his death, she’s been withdrawn.  Each month worse than the last. She completely stopped talking completely about six months ago.  My sister suggested the horse riding lessons would help her focus on something other than her father not being here anymore.”

Kyle nodded.  “Yes, our horses are great therapy tools for kids as well as adults.  Do you have a support system in place?”

“What’s that got to do with a lesson?”

“I’m asking because your child is exhibiting some serious grief issues and it’s going to take more than riding a horse to get her back.  There a several levels of grief and since she’s choosing not to talk, that makes things twice as hard.  How’s she doing in school?”

“She understands what’s going on.  She does okay.”

She was hedging.  “Okay, Jemma, let’s start small.” He handed her the pile of papers.  “You can work on those while I schedule Kassadee’s riding times.  What kind of lessons do you want?”

“I’m sorry?”

Novice.  “We teach English, western, endurance, saddleseat and racing.  Racing, we don’t do too much of that.  For someone who’s never been on a horse, I would suggest English.  This is a working ranch, so she will learn all aspects of riding, such as grooming, feeding, and exercising the horse.”

“Good.  She needs structure. Something to keep her mind off her daddy.”

“When would you like to start the lessons?  Did you want her in a group or individual?  Group lessons will be less expensive than the individual ones.”  Kyle turned to his keyboard to bring up the schedule spreadsheet. 

“I would like to her start as soon as possible.  Probably individual lessons to start.  How do I pay?”

“We can set up monthly payments, or weekly payments.  It’s pretty much up to you.” His mother would kill him for suggesting monthly billing. 

“Oh monthly is fine,” she said, reaching for her purse.  “I’m assuming in advance.”

“No, with Kassadee, let’s play it by ear.  I’ll work with her the first few times, once I feel like she’s doing okay, one of the other trainers will take over.”  

Jemma nodded.  “Thank you.”

He glanced at the schedule and crossed off a two-hour block of time.  “How about Thursday at five? Is that too early?”

“No, that’s fine.  I work from home, so that will work great.”

He was staring at her, he knew, but he couldn’t help himself.  She was a beautiful woman. Her skin was flawless, and she smelled like flowers. He forced himself to think of something to say.  “Great.  If you want, you can get her a pair of riding boots, and riding pants, it’s not mandatory, but it may help. Uniforms give a sense of belonging. A riding helmet is mandatory.”

She rose from her seat.  “Okay, that sounds like a good idea.  I’d better get back to Kassie.  I put my phone numbers on the papers, so please call if there’s a problem.”  She left the office without another word. 

What was he thinking?  He heard his mother as she stood in the doorway of his office.  “Have you lost your mind?  Monthly billing?”  Her mother walked further inside and took a seat.  “That child didn’t say one word while you were in here talking to her mother.  Chutney tried everything, but she just keep rubbing Baxter’s fur.  Not that he minded one bit.”

“She’s grieving for her father,” Kyle said quietly.  “I’m going to have to talk to Justin about the psychology aspects of this.” He usually conferred with his younger brother, who was still in the field, when problems came up which wasn’t often. “Would be a good test case, huh?”

“If you can get her to talk, yes.”

BOOK: Baby Girl: Dare to Love
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