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The Devil in a Stetson by Lietha Wards
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The Devil in a Stetson by Lietha Wards
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In a small town, Cassie Jensen was working as a waitress. Her father had died from a heart attack a few weeks before and she was now alone, broke and trying to keep strong. Her luck had then deteriorated from bad to worse in a matter of a few days. The only person that had the means to come to her aid was Blake Eckert, a rough, tough Cowboy who would never take no for an answer. Cassie had no choice but to accept his help. But what was it going to cost her?

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Cassie swore her legs were just about done for. The diner was crazy all day. Maybe it had something to do with the amazing food that came out of the kitchen. Today Molly had made an incredible beef stew with homemade bread for lunch as a special and there wasn‘t an empty seat in the place since it opened at six o‘clock this morning. Her boss comes in to open, set up the diner then goes home until two. Her husband, on the other hand, stays most of the day and works the grill. Besides her father, she‘d never seen people who worked that hard. Not only that they were always cheerful. It was a great atmosphere to work in even if her legs were screaming by the end of her shift.

She‘d only been here for three weeks but it seemed that every day was the same, busy as ever. It wasn‘t just the food either; Molly and Garnet were wonderful people and were really easy to work for. She figured they were both in their sixties, but still were young at heart, always smiling and cheerful to everyone they knew. They had one son Dylan, who was away at college. They had tried for years to have kids, then in her late thirties after being told that she couldn‘t have any children, she got pregnant. Cassie hadn‘t met him yet, but Garnet and Molly were very proud of him. He was going to be a lawyer.

She gathered up some dirty plates off a table and went into the kitchen shaking her head because it was noon and not once was there an empty seat. Garnet, Molly‘s husband laughed at her expression of disbelief.

"Get used to it honey." He patted his protruding belly, "I didn‘t get this way by drinking beer. Molly was always a great cook. That‘s why I married her." he wiggled his eyebrows causing her to laugh.

"There are some perks," Cassie said setting the dishes in the rack for the dishwasher. "I get great tips."

Garnet watched her push the rack into the dishwasher and turn it on while absently brushing a loose tendril of fair hair behind her ear. It wasn‘t the food that was getting her the tips and he and his wife knew it when she walked into the diner three weeks ago asking for a job. Cassie was stunning. If he was thirty years younger and single and not still in love with his wife, he‘d be chasing her like a man obsessed.

She was only just twenty, but she acted ten years older. From the bits and pieces he and his wife got out of her without prying, she had a pretty hard life. Her father had raised her and had just recently died, leaving a lot of bills and she‘d lost her mother early in life. From what Cassie had told them her father tried to be the best he could to her and run his own ranch, but soon became bankrupt. He died shortly after of a broken heart she said. He had loved ranching and losing it just took the life out of him.

It made him and Molly feel very protective of her. Cassie was a sweet girl and they took to her immediately. Molly especially. There had been several times that she‘d warned the patrons off of her with a threat of banishment from their establishment after they‘d made inquiries about their newest employee.

They‘d listen if they wanted a home cooked meal, but sooner or later, someone wouldn‘t care about the food when it came to that filly. Garrett cared about her, but he was more relaxed about it and new that she was old enough to look after herself. If it was something she couldn‘t handle he‘d certainly step in, but he didn‘t believe in interfering unless he had to.

He cast another glance at her. Maybe she was still young in a lot of ways. She‘d been there three weeks and he and his wife had noticed that she hadn‘t‘ dated anyone but there‘d been loads of offers. She turned and walked out of the kitchen and he silently prayed that if she found someone here, they would becgood to her.


Cassie turned at the sound of her nickname that she somehow adopted since she started working here. Marla, another waitress that was about four years older than her rushed toward her with an odd look on her face. The reason why it was odd was because Marla was always laughing and teasing the customers no matter how rough a day was. She could also take banter like no one she‘d ever met and toss it back to them.

"That‘s the perks of growing up local." She told her once when Cassie asked her how she could handle some of the comments that practically bordered on sexual harassment.

Now, however, she looked a little worried.

"What‘s wrong?" she said darting her eyes around the diner thinking someone actually offended her.

She indicated with a nod toward a truck through one of the front windows that had just coasted up to the curb. It was large, shiny black and loaded with chrome. On the door was an insignia of a cobra inside a circle with the words Cobra Head Ranch underneath. "That‘s Blake Eckert‘s truck. I just want you to be aware of him. He is mean to the bone and I wouldn‘t even try and joke with him."

"Oh dear." She said if the truck wasn‘t intimidating, but looking at the size of the man that just rounded the back end of the truck was. If Marla wouldn‘t joke with him this had to be serious.

"Don‘t try and talk to him, " she continued quickly, "just get his order. He‘s very abrasive and doesn‘t have any use for women except maybe Molly. I don‘t know why, but he seems to respect her."

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