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Beth Winters had something that she can't share with anyone: a secret. When they moved to a small town in Montana her secret was in danger of being discovered, especially when her father coerced her into taking a job with a local cattleman. He had the way of finding the truth in anything did Marshal Davis, and being attracted to Beth made him more determined to get to the bottom of things.
After Father Davis finished his sermon, he asked the Winters family to please stand so he could introduce them.
As the three stood; mother father and daughter, Ben, Marshal's nephew spoke in a barely audible whisper to try and keep his voice down, "Uncle, that's the family that bought the spread next to ours." They were sitting adjacent to them in the opposite aisle. Ben had seen the moving truck at the old O'Neil's residence when he took the school bus in last week. Obviously the old man's family sold the place when he died. It was a very nice spread, but not as nice as his uncles.
Marshal heard his Nephew but he didn't say anything as he looked at the three of them. He knew from rumour that the man was a lawyer and had set up practice in Salt Springs, but being a cattleman was something you had to have bred in you. This man looked nothing like a cattleman in his three piece suit. Marshal felt his lip curl sardonically. He had money though and probably thought that's all he needed. When people tried to do something they weren't bred and born for, they made fools out of themselves like singers who try and become actors or vice versa. Furthermore, something seemed a little odd about the three of them. The wife didn't raise her eyes at all and kept her head bowed while the husband grinned and nodded to various greetings. However, the daughter did and turned her head to look at everyone. Yet, her expression seemed almost sad as her eyes guided around the room.
She was beautiful, there was no doubt. She had long auburn hair that was plaited in a braid that fell halfway down her back, and as she looked around, Marshal saw large almond shaped emerald eyes that complimented perfect skin, oval face and high arched brows.
"Not bad eh?"
Marshal forgot about Ben who obviously he saw him staring at the Winters' girl.
"I heard her name is Beth." He leaned toward his uncle with a glint in his eyes.
"Shut up Ben." He answered in the same low tone as the Father continued to introduce them and asking the people to make them feel welcome.
Ben smirked and did as he was told. The words weren't said harshly in the least but more as a warning because Marshal didn't like to be teased about women. Ben was probably one of the few people besides Marshal's brother that could get away with it, but it usually wasn't for long and they were smart enough to know when to stop.
His uncle had a reputation for being a hard man, but Ben knew that under that crust was a soft spot for people he cared about. After all, he was raising him. Yet, he'd seen the man clear a room with his temper. He'd also seen him carry a newborn calf into the barn and warm him with his own hands and soothe him with his deep voice.
Besides that, people liked him because he had that quiet confident pose about him that drew attention and a few years ago Bobby, a good friend of his told him he should run for mayor when the old one retired. He would be fair and honest which is what any town needed. However, Marshal was also a workaholic and that would mean he'd have to give up some of his other responsibilities, which he wasn't ready to do. He loved ranching and as far as Ben was concerned, his uncle was born to do just that.
As Ben watched his uncle, he grinned because he still hadn't' taken his eyes off the young woman except to tell him to shut up. He may have been barely in his teens, but he knew a pretty girl when he saw one and Beth Winters was definitely pretty.
When the sermon was over, they were outside the church when Father Davis introduced Marshal to the Winters. Marshal tried to evade him but John spotted him through the crowd and waved him and Ben over, "This is Marshal," He explained as Marshal and Ben approached, "My older brother and he also happens to be your neighbour."
John was always one to make people feel welcome, but Marshall couldn't care less. John was outgoing and easy to get to know whereas Marshal didn't care if anyone liked him or not. They were opposites in many ways, but their brotherly bond was strong. He actually tried to leave because he knew damn well John would try and waggle him into making the Winters family feel welcome just because he was their neighbour. As far as Marshal was concerned, he had enough friends and had no desire to gain anymore. Not only that Lawyers weren't on his favourite list.
"Brother?" Said Theo holding out his hand, "That's nice to know. So you're the Cattle baron I've heard so much about?"
He shook Theo's hand hating that title, "Cattleman," he corrected without humour causing his brother to clear his throat in discomfort. It was true, he was filthy rich, but he'd worked hard for it and it wasn't easy work. He'd inherited the spread from his father, who had practically run it into the ground before he died. It took Marshal ten years to achieve the success he had now, but it certainly wasn't without sacrifice.
Marshal oversaw everything and worked an eighteen hour day which left no time for his love life, not that he wanted one. He still dated, but it wasn't anything serious and the women filled his needs as much as he required.