I must have dozed off not long after leaving, as the next thing I knew I was gently being shaken from my nap.
“We are here,” Maz says with a smile in her tone.
I stretched and rubbed my blurry eyes before noticing the beautiful ranch house just off to my right. I jump from the vehicle with an excited “Yes” before scanning all that is around me. I feel like an excited school kid on my first camp.
In all my excitement about seeing my home for the month, I had totally forgotten about Jada, thankfully she was still in the back of the car playing on her iPad.
I opened the door for her. “Bub, look! This is where we are staying for a month.” I told her excitedly. She climbs out and looks around, her tell-tale happy humming starts, and I know she is as excited as I am.
Maz shows us our room and tells us we can either explore the ranch now before dinner or we can relax for a bit, and she would show us around afterwards and we could help her feed the animals.
We decided on option one, as despite all the sitting we had done in the last thirty-plus hours, we both needed to decompress in a quiet place.
A few hours later, we were sitting around the table in Maz’s dining room eating dinner and chatting about all kinds of things from where her husband was, who was on a job away for a few months, to the new ranch hands starting in the morning.
It’s so nice to be sitting around talking with new people in a new place, but the bone-weary tiredness is really starting to set in now.
I opt to skip the tour tonight and instead get some sleep. I gave Jada a quick bath and put her to bed. She is out within minutes and I follow suit, having a quick shower and jumping into bed. I do not remember anything past lying down.
I woke early to a happily jumping Jada. “Morning Mum, I want toast please.” I glanced at my phone and saw it was only half past four.
Wow, I slept for a solid eight hours. Nice! I crept out the door after telling Jada to stay quiet and stay put whilst I went looking for food. I head for the kitchen and am surprised to see Maz already up, dressed and making coffee.
“Good morning.” I whispered, startling her.
“Oh good morning, I didn’t think you would be up for a while yet…Coffee?”
“Yes, please, I would love some. I’m not normally a coffee drinker, but after the day I had yesterday I need some. Hey, don’t suppose I could get Jada some toast?”
“Sure, help yourself, bread is in the fridge and toasters on the cupboard next to the fridge. What would she want on it? Butter is also in the fridge and the spreads are in the pantry.”
“Cool thanks.” I said while grabbing what I needed, “Oh hang on I’ll be back in a tick.” I said, hurrying off to the room. I came back brandishing a jar of Vegemite.
“Oh, is that Vegemite? I’ve heard of that stuff, apparently, all Aussies love it, but most other countries don’t.” she says with a laugh.
“You’ll have to try some and see.” I told her, sticking my tongue out at her.
As I made breakfast for myself and Jada and an extra piece for Maz to try, I questioned her as to her early rise. “Oh, I’ve always been an early riser but got up a bit earlier to get organised for the two ranch hands starting this morning at five-thirty am. Hubby, in all his wisdom, decided I needed some extra help while he is away at work for two months.” she says as she sips her coffee and watches me spreading the Vegemite.
She screws up her nose at the smell. “God that stuff smells awful, and you guys eat that?”
“Don’t judge it until you try it.” I stated with a smirk. I finished making breakfast and called Jada out to the table.
With her taken care of, I could focus my attention on the frowning Maz as I handed her a piece of toast. “Trust me, it’s amazing.” I said, biting into my own piece of toast and exaggeratedly moaning “mmmm soo goooood”.
She takes a small bite and I burst out laughing at her face. “Ugh girl, this stuff is horrid.”
She puts the toast down and takes a huge swig of her coffee. “Never again. Hey listen, since you're up, would you mind keeping an eye on my kids while I get the new help settled and running through their jobs?” she asks me whilst flitting around the kitchen. “They will get their own breakfast and probably just watch TV, but in case they need something, I’d appreciate your help that way I don’t have to stop what I’m doing”
“Sure, of course, I can help you out. How long do you think it’ll take? Want me to organise some lunch for you all?”
“You don’t have to do that, you’re a guest here.” she says to me.
“Yeah, but I feel like a moocher since I’m not paying you anything, I’d feel better if I could do this for you.” she thinks about it for a second before agreeing.
She then asks “do you think you'd be right to make lunch for four adults, two of whom are big burly blokes and three kids?”
“Yeah, piece of cake.” I told her whilst internally wondering if I really could.
“OK, well help yourself to whatever you need.” she says before taking off out the back door.
The morning flies by, Maz’s kids do exactly as she said they would, and Jada happily joins them on the couch to watch TV.
After cleaning up the brekkie dishes and doing some reading, I was not really sure what to do with myself, so I got started on something for lunch.
I decided to do something fairly easy to get me into the swing of things, so I opted for spaghetti bolognese and garlic bread, knowing my girl would only eat the pasta and bread without the sauce.
I checked with Maz’s two kids to see if they’d eat it and, thankfully, they both loved it.
I got everything prepared and cooked the sauce, so it was all ready for lunch and seeing I still had a couple of hours, I made a cake mix I found in the cupboard.
Maz had already told me they would have a coffee and biscuits during the morning, so I thought they might appreciate a cake for afternoon tea.
I had just finished icing the cake when the kids decided they wanted to play outside. I followed them out to just keep an eye on what was happening so they wouldn’t annoy Maz.
Whilst they were playing on the swings and things, I decided to take a small stroll, keeping the kids within ear and eyeshot. I really wanted to check out the environment. It was such a stark difference from where I lived in Australia, but it had a wild beauty about it. I decided to check out one of the horse corals I could see.
After a few steps, I heard the kids making a racket, so I turned to make sure all was OK, without stopping my forward momentum towards the coral.
After seeing that all was well with the kids, I turned back suddenly and ploughed straight into a wall. Well, at least it felt like a wall, but it was, in fact, two very solid bodies.
I bounced off them, lost my footing and was about to hit the ground when I was stood upright by one of the two guys.
“Oh gosh, I’m so sorry I should have been paying better attention” I mumbled, straightening out my top “I got distracted by the kids and…” my voice trailed off and my mouth fell open as I finally took in the appearance of the two bodies in front of me.
The first guy was around my brother's height of six feet one inch. He had dark hair cut short, back and sides, much like I would expect of the military. His eyes were also dark brown, and his skin was a very sun-kissed tan colour. I trailed my eyes down his frame. The guy was built like a tank, all muscle and not an ounce of fat.
I then shifted my eyes to the other guy, starting from my already looking down position, and raked my eyes back up. This guy was even bigger than the first and again he was all muscle and no fat, but he had an even larger frame than the first guy. I noticed a fair amount of ink on his heavily tanned arms. This guy was huge!
I continued to travel my eyes up towards his face, I’m sure I must have drool coming out my mouth, I swallow hard and close my mouth as I finally reach his face, which is a long way up, He’d have to be at least six foot four easy.
He looked like a bloody Norse god with his sandy blonde hair just past his shoulders pulled back at the top, piercing blue eyes which twinkled with mischief, a long yet neat beard and full lips which were turned up in a toothy grin, showing his perfect teeth.
I was suddenly aware of several chuckles and turned beetroot red as I looked down at my feet.
Oh my, I just got sprung big time checking out the new ranch hands. How embarrassing.
I turn on my heels to walk back to the kids when Maz stops me. “Don’t you want to meet the new guys?” she says with a smirk. Ugh, kill me now.
“Yeah o-ok” I managed to stammer out. Yeah, real smooth girl, I scolded myself.
“Raylee, these are the new workers Tate…” she says, pointing to the first guy, who smirks and holds out his hand for me to shake, which I do quickly whilst just nodding.
“and Corey.” she says, pointing at the Norse god. I cannot even look him in his eyes, I’m so embarrassed. He extends his massive hand and I take it gingerly.
“Nice to meet you Raylee, you can call me Cor.” he says with a laugh. He then kissed the back of my hand. I looked up in shock and quickly pulled my hand away.
“N-Nice to m-meet you both.” I sputtered.
I turned back to Maz. “Uh, lunch is almost cooked when you guys are finished, I just have to reheat the sauce and cook the pasta & garlic bread. I made spaghetti bolognese.” I all but spit it out in a hurry.
“Sounds great, we are nearly done here if you wanna get it ready. Thanks” she replies, still smirking at my awkwardness.
“Cool OK, um yeah I’ll see you all in there” I mumbled and took off back towards the house, wishing I could just hide somewhere so I didn’t have to deal with my stupid awkward brain.
I race back to the kids, mentally kicking myself the whole way. I have never been this awkward around guys before. I mean I grew up with two brothers and always hung out with guys as I got older, so why were these two guys, particularly Corey the Norse god, affecting me so much?
I told the kids it was time to go in and get ready for lunch and I followed them inside. I told them to wash their hands whilst I put the garlic bread in the oven and pasta on the stove while the spaghetti bolognese sauce is rewarming.
About fifteen minutes later, everything was prepared and dished, and I hear three sets of footsteps on the front porch. After chiding myself for being so weird, I decided I needed to just move forward and forget the previous disastrous meeting.
“Perfect timing.” I smiled at the three as they entered the door. “Just finished dishing, I’ve set the kids up in the lounge as there wasn’t room for us all at the dining table, I hope that's alright?” I asked Maz.
“Yeah great, you guys go wash up, down the hall, third door on the left. I'll help Raylee set the table.” She waltzes over to me and when she thinks they are out of earshot she smirks at me and says “Good to see you’ve pulled yourself together. I was starting to think I was gonna have to scoop you up off the floor.” she started laughing.
“Oh ha-ha, I think it was just the shock of literally running into them. I’m never that weird around guys.”
“Yeah OK, let’s go with that.” she chuckles again and grabs a couple of plates to take to the table.