Down the Road

Chapter One

by Melinda Kay Jenkinson

Living Water at the Oasis
Living Water at the Oasis

Down the Road
Chapter One

Peace Ridge, Texas is located about four hours south of El Paso. A small town, Peace Ridge is reminiscent of the Old West. Located fifteen miles outside of Peace Ridge is Silver Creek Ranch.

At five years old, Silver Creek was earning a reputation as one of the best ranches from which to purchase racing horses. Silver Creek was owned by Kaye Leigh Rutherford, a woman who had always dreamed of living in Texas on a ranch and riding the open range.

Six years ago, when she first came to Silver Creek, Kaye Leigh had been running from love. She had been dating Jeff for about a year; they had met on the first day of kindergarten when both their daughters had started school. From the moment she met Jeff, she had been infatuated

They lived in a small town in Michigan, Kaye Leigh worked for the state government, and Jeff was a successful doctor with his own practice. Kaye Leigh had never thought anything would come of her infatuation with Jeff, especially after she had to move to another town when her department was reorganized. They didn't see each other in a few years, but then during a visit with her parents, Kaye Leigh ran into him again. After exchanging e-mails and phone numbers, their friendship began.

E-mails or instant messages were exchanged several times a day. Ultimately, after Kaye Leigh wrote and published her first book, she moved back to her hometown.

Having fallen in love with Jeff, Kaye Leigh wanted him to know everything about her past. She had gone through some rough times during her life and, for a long time, had turned away from God. She accepted a speaking engagement at her church and asked Jeff to be in the audience that night. Kaye Leigh wasn't sure if Jeff's feelings were the same as hers or not, but she didn't want to hide anything from him. Jeff found her afterwards and asked her out on their first real date.

She and Jeff had both been divorced, and they wanted their relationship, wherever it led them to be based on God. A few months into their relationship, they rededicated their lives to Christ. Jeff had given Kaye Leigh and their daughters gold chains with crosses on them that day. Kaye Leigh had worn hers since then; it had become a source of comfort and strength for her.

When they approached their one-year anniversary, Jeff hinted at marriage. The thought of being married to Jeff was incredible, but at the same time frightening. Her first marriage had nearly destroyed her, and she did not want to go through that again. Without talking to anyone, without even praying about it, Kaye Leigh packed up her kids and everything she owned and took off for Texas. Not wanting to hurt Jeff; she had tried to explain things in a letter to him.

When she arrived in Texas, the only things Kaye Leigh knew were that she was going to continue to write and she was going to build her ranch. That first Sunday in Peace Ridge Kaye Leigh and the kids attended Peace Ridge church and were welcomed immediately.

That same day Kaye Leigh met Curtis Shaunghnessy. He took her and the kids out to lunch after church. Curtis would become not only her supervisor, but also a very good friend. With God's and Curtis's help, she built Silver Creek Ranch. Curtis made sure that no one took advantage of the fact that Kaye Leigh was a woman, or that she didn't have a lot of building experience. Less than a year after Silver Creek Ranch was completed, it was making a profit.

Curtis listened while Kaye Leigh talked about the situation with Jeff and about how much she loved and missed him. He let her cry on his shoulder whenever things got too much for her to handle and he gave her advice whenever he could.

When Jeff had received her letter, he had been hurt that Kaye Leigh had not talked to him about her fears, but he didn't give up on her. Kaye Leigh didn't tell him where she was going so by the time he located her six months had gone by. When he found her, he closed his practice in Michigan, packed up his kids, and followed her to Peace Ridge.

When he got there he had no problem finding her. Almost everyone knew Kaye Leigh. When they met for the first time in Peace Ridge Kaye Leigh had cried and apologized repeatedly. He knew that she was afraid and he told her that he would have followed her to the ends of the earth if he had to.

Jeff rented an apartment in Peace Ridge. They discussed the possibility of he and his kids living with Curtis in his house on Kaye Leigh's land, but they didn't want to create temptation and they wanted to set a good example for their children. They were married in a small ceremony back in Michigan with their families a little over a year later.

Kaye Leigh was sitting on the porch swing watching the sunset streaking the sky with an orange and pink glow. The ranch house was located at the base of the Santiago Mountains. From the porch you could see the stone peaks, to the lush greenery of the forest, and finally to the vast openness of the range. It was another hot day in June; the temperature reached over one hundred degrees. The only thing Kaye Leigh missed about Michigan other than her family was the snow in the winter.

Kaye Leigh noticed a cloud of dust in the distance; she knew it was a horse causing the dust as its rider spurred it on. It could be any number of people from one of the ranch hands to a neighbor. She got up and walked around the porch to the side of the house to see if she could tell who was coming. When the rider got into view, she could tell it was her husband. Kaye Leigh remembered the first time he tried to get on and stay on a horse. It had taken five attempts. She had tried not to laugh, but the kids were hysterical, and the thought of it made her smile.

Jeff had seen Kaye Leigh when she moved to the side of the porch. He would never get tired of looking at her, for she was beautiful inside and out. Jeff remembered when they first met; she had not been the strong, confident, fit woman she was today. Kaye Leigh had had a deep sadness in her eyes. When they had first started e-mailing each other many subjects were off limits; she had built walls around herself that Jeff wondered if anyone would be able to get through. He had been determined to try, though and as their friendship grew, she began to open up to him. When Kaye Leigh had asked him to go to her speaking engagement, she had told him that she wanted him to hear her whole story before their relationship progressed any further. He knew that she was in love with him and he felt the same for her, but she was afraid he would think differently once he knew everything. Her revelations that night, however, had only made him love her more. After he heard her story, he wasn't surprised when she ran at the hint of marriage; what did surprise him was the fact that she ran to Texas.

Jeff rode his horse, Ambrose, into the stable where he dismounted and handed the reins over to one of the grooms. "Take good care of him" Jeff told the boy.

"Yes sir!" the young boy replied. Jeff normally took care of his own horse but today he wanted to spend some time with his wife.

Jeff walked toward the house and up the back porch. Kaye Leigh was no longer on the side where he had seen her, but he found her on the porch swing. Sitting down beside her Jeff took her hand, and brought it to his lips. "Have I told you yet today how much I love you?" Jeff asked.

"No, but you don't need to tell me Jeff, I can see it every time you look at me" She replied with a smile. Kaye Leigh leaned her head against Jeff's shoulder. She just loved being with him, it didn't matter what they were doing as long as they were together.

"You looked like you were laughing at something when I was riding up." Jeff commented.

"I was remembering the first time you were trying to get on a horse." she laughed.

"Yeah that first ride was a little rough, but you have to admit I have gotten better since."

"That's true, but you're still not as good as I am." She said saucily. She rose from the porch before leaning over and kissing him. "I need to get dinner started."

"Do you want some help?" he asked.

"Sure I'll put you to work."

Jeff stood up, grabbed her hand, and led her inside. Kaye Leigh loved their entire house; she had helped plan it and build it right down to the last nail. It was a big, warm, and inviting place. Their faith was seen throughout the house. They had a least one bible in every room, and many plaques with their favorite verses. No one who walked into their house could ever doubt what they believed.

Their kids would be home soon. They would no doubt have friends in tow. Their house was one of the favorite places to hang out, but today they had been at the football coach's house. They each had a boy and a girl from their previous marriages. Josh and Grace were Kaye Leigh's and Daniel and Faith was Jeff's. The boys were sixteen, their birthdays were just days apart, and the girls were fourteen, their birthdays were exactly a month apart. All the kids got along great, they had their moments just like any other siblings, but it was as if they had been brothers and sisters forever.

They always ate in the dinning room as a family; they came there every night and discussed their day. Dinner was ready and the table set when the front door banged open.

"Mom, we're home!" Josh yelled.

"Mom, we're hungry!" Dan yelled.

"Typical kid." Jeff laughed.

There were four extra boys tonight. Once the extra places had been set and the kids had gotten cleaned up, they sat down, took each other's hands, and prayed. Jeff prayed, he thanked God for family, friends, and for the food they were about to receive, and he prayed for protection, health and happiness for all of them.

One of the boy's friends had asked Kaye Leigh one day why they prayed so much. She had told him Psalms 37:5 commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you. She explained that even though God's answer might not be what you wanted He would still help you to be where He wants you to be if you allow Him. A short while later the boy started going to church and youth group with the boys. That was one thing Kaye Leigh liked about having kids over, a lot of them had found their way to salvation through the kids.

Once everyone was settled and served, the football talk started. Josh and Dan were both on the football team, this year they were going to tryout for Varsity. Josh is the quarterback and Dan is a wide receiver. She and Jeff never missed a game; the boys always said they could always hear their mom no matter what because she had the loudest mouth.

When dinner was over Kaye Leigh went to clean up the kitchen and to do the dishes.

"We'll help mom." The girls said coming into the kitchen.

"Thanks you two." She replied. Kaye Leigh wasn't surprised that they offered to help, all the kids did. They immediately started telling her about the boys in the other room, and about who liked whom. Kaye Leigh just laughed at them.

When they finished Kaye Leigh stuck her head in the family room where everyone had gathered, told the other boys good-bye and told Jeff that she was going out to the stables. Silver Creek had three stables; the main one was behind the house. She went out the back door, down the porch, and headed in the direction of the stable.

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