Down the Road

Chapter Seventeen

by Melinda Kay Jenkinson

Living Water at the Oasis
Living Water at the Oasis

Down the Road
Chapter Seventeen

Becki was the first one up the next morning. She had a fire started; coffee made, and was cooking breakfast by the time Kaye Leigh got up.

"How are you today?" Becki asked taking in her swollen eyes.

"Terrible, how are you?" she replied holding her head.

"Feeling really stupid for accusing the guys of being afraid of Jeff." Becki said laughing.

"That would have been funny to see." She said.

"What are we doing today?" Becki asked. Kaye Leigh took a sip of coffee before she answered.

"I don't want to go back, if you do you can." She said.

"I'll go back and let them know you're ok and then I'll come back and find you." Becki said.

"I'm not staying here so I'm not sure where I'll be." She said.

"I'll find you, are you sure you want to be alone?" Becki asked.

"I'm sure; I'll be fine don't worry." She said.

Jeff got up, took a shower, and went downstairs. Jon had made coffee and handed him a cup.

"Thanks." Jeff said.

"No problem, did you get any sleep last night?" Jon asked.

"A little." He said. "Any word from the girls?"

"Nope, no one has seen them since yesterday when they left the stable. Curtis talked to the guys who were in there when they left, but then again you don't care remember?" Jon said.

Jeff looked at him.

"You said it yourself last night." Jon reminded him.

"You've never said anything when you were angry right?" he said.

"I didn't say that." Jon replied.

"Then what is it that you want Jon, do you want to fight is that it?" he said wearily.

"No not at all, I want you to get your temper under control, find your wife, and make things right. We are working on the situation with Morgan and that can only go so fast. I know that Kaye Leigh can be trying at times." Jeff laughed.

"But Kaye Leigh loves you more than life, I believe that you would never cheat on her, but last night you hurt her intentionally out of anger. We've all done it before but we know Kaye Leigh is different, she's going to run to keep from being hurt, and you need to catch her before she disappears." Jon finished. Jeff nodded.

"How's Curtis?" he asked.

"Still in shock that we were accused of being afraid of you, which by the way we're not." Jon replied laughing. Jeff laughed.

"That would have been interesting to see." He said.

"It was actually because she was so serious." Curtis said as he came into the kitchen.

"She was extremely upset, she thought that you would really hurt Kaye Leigh I think." Jon said.

"Actually I knew he wouldn't hurt her, I just didn't want to see them fight like that." Becki said from the doorway.

"You've come back?" Jon said smiling.

"I've come back to let you know that Kaye Leigh is ok, but I am going back out there because she isn't ready to come home yet." Becki said.

"Will she ever be ready?" Jeff asked.

"Eventually she will." Jon said.

"I'm going to try to get her to come back soon." Becki assured her.

"We'll all go get her in a little while." Jeff said. "She doesn't need to be out there anymore."

"Are you sure you want to force her to come back?" Becki asked.

"What I would really like to do is shake her until she accepts the truth, however no matter what she belongs here at home." He said. Jon and Curtis laughed.

Kaye Leigh was riding when she noticed another rider coming towards her on her left. She reined in Skye to try to see who the rider was, when she could tell she seen it was Tim, and let out the breath she had been holding. Had it been Jeff she was prepared to put Skye into a full run the other way. Tim came up beside her and stopped.

"Hey boss, what are you doing out here?" he asked.

"You weren't sent after me were you?" she asked.

"Afraid not." He replied. Kaye Leigh set Skye into a trot.

"Good then don't tell anyone you've seen me." She said.

"Why are you hiding?" he asked curiously.

"Just don't want to be found yet." She replied.

"Mind if I ride with you for a while?" he said.

"No not at all." She replied continuing in the direction she was heading.

"Anything you want to talk about boss, I'm a great listener." Tim said.

"No not really it's just a marital thing." She said laughing.

"Ok then." He said laughing. When they came to a creek, Kaye Leigh suggested that they take a break for a while. She dismounted, went down the bank of the creek, took her boots and socks off, and put her feet in the cool water.

Jeff and Becki were sitting on the porch when Jon and Curtis came and said that they had horses ready to go collect Kaye Leigh. When they headed out, Jeff silently prayed that they would not have another day like yesterday.

"Where did she say she would be?" Curtis asked.

"She didn't I just told her I would find her." Becki said. "I didn't think it would be that hard." Curtis looked at her and laughed. "What?" she asked.

"This ranch is huge how were you planning on finding her? Yelling her name and hoping she answered?" Curtis said. Jon and Jeff laughed.

"Well, so I wasn't really thinking about it." She said.

They went to where they camped the night before and followed tracks they figured were Kaye Leigh's. After a half hour, they came across tracks joining the ones they had been following.

"Looks like someone joined Kaye Leigh." Curtis said.

"One guess who?" Jeff said.

"Who?" Becki and Jon said together.

"Tim." Curtis said.

"The stable hand?" Becki said.

"Oh you've met him?" Curtis asked.

"Yes, I met him my first day here, he was in the stable when Kaye Leigh and I went out there." She told them.

"Well I think he has taken a liking to her." Curtis said.

"He's attracted to her." Becki laughed. "Who isn't?" she said.

"Me." Jon and Curtis said laughing. Becki rolled her eyes.

"He better not be with her, I'm not sure my temper can take that today." Jeff said.

When they rode up, they saw Kaye Leigh sitting by the creek and Tim leaning against a tree. Jeff was angry.

"Stay calm." Jon said. They had not heard them ride up; Jeff went to get off his horse.

"Stay there." Jon said. "You hurting the man isn't going to help especially when they are just talking Jeff."

"Kaye Leigh we found you." Curtis said. Kaye Leigh turned around and looked at them.

"Lucky me.' She said sarcastically. Jon laughed.

Kaye Leigh looked at Jeff and could tell that he was extremely angry, but she did not care.

"Kaye Leigh get on your horse." Jeff said coldly.

"Um, no I don't think I will but thanks for asking so nicely." She replied. Tim stood up and looked at Jeff.

"Kaye Leigh do what your husband said." Jon said quickly.

"When I have a husband I will." She said stubbornly putting her boots back on and gathering up the few things she had out.

"Until we're divorced you have a husband." Jeff said coldly not taking his eyes off Tim.

Jon and Curtis got off their horses.

"You know I love you sis, but at times you can me just plain stubborn." Jon said. He picked her up and carried her to Jeff's horse, and with Jeff's help put her on the horse in front of him.

"Jon stop it!" she yelled at him.

"You'll thank me later." He said.

"Don't ever come to my house again!" she yelled.

"Be quiet Kaye Leigh." Jeff said as he turned the horse around.

"Let me off this horse now, you can barely ride by yourself." She hissed.

"You can insult me all you want Kaye Leigh." He said. Kaye Leigh was struggling in his arms. "If you jump off this horse or fall off and I have to chase you I can promise you that I will be a lot angrier than I am now." He warned her.

"Do you think I care how angry you are Jeff?" she yelled.

"You should." He replied.

"What are you doing out here Tim?" Curtis asked as they were heading back to the house.

"I was out checking fences and horses, then I saw a rider and wasn't sure who it was. When I saw it was the boss she looked upset and said she didn't want me to tell anyone I had seen her so I asked if she wanted some company." Tim replied. "Nothing more than that, I swear."

"What are your thoughts on Kaye Leigh?" Jon asked seriously.

"What do you mean?" Tim replied.

"Are you trying to come between her and her husband? Are you flirting with her to upset her husband or what?" Jon said.

"That's a little extreme Jon." Becki said.

"No it's a question he needs to answer." Jon said.

Tim shook his head.

"Kaye Leigh is a great boss, and I hoped that we could be friends, maybe not like her and Curtis but you know. I don't mean to flirt with her if that's what you call enjoying her company, she is a remarkable woman." Tim told them. "I don't mean any disrespect to any of you but do you really think that Kaye Leigh would hang around me if I was hitting on her. I mean she didn't even like the way I looked at her and until I apologized she barely said two words to me."

"Good point." Becki said. "See he isn't doing anything wrong, trying to be a friend isn't a bad thing just because he's a guy and she's a girl." Jon and Curtis laughed.

"Just make sure you let Jeff know that it's a friendship and only a friendship you're interested in, because if you cause problems intentionally for them it's not only Jeff that you're going to have to deal with." Curtis said.

"Gotcha." Tim said.

Jeff did not head in the direction of the house.

"I want to go to the house." Kaye Leigh snapped. She was a little afraid of him right now, and she did not like that feeling. Jeff took her to the meadow, where he got off the horse and helped her down. She immediately tried to put distance between them but he grabbed her arms, pulled her to him, kissed her, and then pushed her away. Kaye Leigh rubbed her arm that was bruised from last night.

"You're driving me crazy Kaye Leigh!" he said running his hands through his hair.

"You're scarring me." She said backing away from him.

"I'm not going to hurt you Kaye Leigh you know that I never would." He said quietly.

"You did last night." She said accusingly pulling up her sleeve so he could see the bruises. His face went pale.

"I'm so sorry Kaye Leigh please forgive me, I am so sorry." He said. "It's fine." She said.

"Did Tim stay the night with you?" Jeff asked.

"No." she said shocked that he would think that.

"Why was he with you?" he said.

"He found me while I was riding and asked if he could join me for a while." She said backing away from him some more.

"Kaye Leigh please stop moving from me please." He said.

Kaye Leigh stopped but watched him carefully. Jeff could see the fear in her eyes and he hated himself for putting it there.

"You would rather have him near you than me?" he asked looking at her.

"Jeff why don't you cut to the chase and ask me what you really want to know, am I attracted to Tim? Do I like him? Am I having an affair?" she said.

"I know that you would never have an affair." He said.

"But you think that I'm attracted to him?" she said.

"No Kaye Leigh I know that you love me. I want you to believe that I love you too." He said.

"Come here Kaye Leigh please." He held out his hand to her.

Jeff sat down and pulled Kaye Leigh down with him. "Kaye Leigh I am really sorry about last night and I am asking you to forgive me. I said and did a lot of things I shouldn't have and I didn't mean." He said quietly. "I was angry because you attacked me without even asking me or listening to me. I'm running out of ways to try to convince you that I didn't have an affair." He shook his head. "Then you were with Tim after hiding from me all night."

"I wasn't hiding from you Jeff, I was tired of fighting." Kaye Leigh said moving so that she was sitting in front of him. "And no matter what Jeff I would never hurt you by having an affair."

"Like you think I did." He added bitterly.

"Jeff I'm sorry, but I have only seen the pictures and receipts that say otherwise, I have no proof it didn't happen and overwhelming proof it did." She said.

"You have my word." He said angrily.

"I would love to say I believe you and it didn't happen, but I can't and won't lie to you Jeff. What would you do if the situation was reversed? Would you accept my word when pictures that you couldn't disprove were starring at you?" she said.

"I would like to think that I would accept your word, but I can't honestly say that I would." He said. "Then Kaye Leigh help me prove it to you, don't kick me out, leave me or push me away. Let me love you like I want to, lets pray together, talk with Pastor Mark, talk with each other."

Kaye Leigh had started crying. "Jeff I want to be with you so much, but why would you want to be with me when I have nothing but doubt? What if I wonder sometime who it is you are really thinking of when were together? I can't pray right now and I have no desire to talk to Pastor Mark either, I know that I shouldn't be angry at God but I am." She said.

"Kaye Leigh every time we're together I know that you know you're the only person on my mind, when we're together you consume me fully, just like I know I consume you." He said pulling her into his lap and holding her. "I understand your doubts even if I don't like them, but if we're together then I know you haven't completely given up on us. I am sorry that you are angry with God, but you know He is not the cause of this and I will pray for us until you can again. Just please don't push me away or leave me." Kaye Leigh looked at him and saw the tears in his eyes.

"I love you so much Jeff, I can promise that I won't leave or attempt to kick you out, but I can't promise I won't try to push you away, I can say that I will try not to." She said.

"I'll take it." He said kissing her tenderly. "I am so sorry about your arm, please forgive me. I love you Kaye Leigh always."

"I forgive you for everything, it was from me trying to pull away more than you holding it anyway I'm sure." She said smiling at him.

He stood up and said, "Let's get back to the house before your brother thinks I've strangled you or something." He pulled her up, helped her onto the horse, and climbed on behind her. Then set off in the direction of the stable.

When they got back up to the house, Curtis, Jon, and Becki were all sitting on the porch.

"Are you ok Kaye Leigh?" Curtis asked.

"No marks on her neck so he didn't strangle her." Jon said. Everyone laughed. Kaye Leigh sat down next to Jon.

"Does this mean I am welcome at your house now?" Jon asked smiling at her.

"You're always welcome even when I don't like you so much." Kaye Leigh said hugging him.

"We've decided that we're going to stay together while we prove this isn't true, and she's not going to kick me out, leave or push me away." Jeff said taking her hand.

"Well good luck with all of that." Jon said laughing again.

"We're firing Tim." Jeff said.

"Sounds good, I'll get right on it." Curtis said.

"No you won't, we're not firing anyone." Kaye Leigh said. "He's a good worker and it's not his fault that everything is going on."

"He's hitting on my wife." Jeff said. Kaye Leigh started laughing.

"He isn't hitting on me, he was talking to me. Do you really think if I thought for a moment that he had other ideas in mind, that I would have allowed him around me?" she said.

"We already talked to him Jeff; he says he had no ideas on Kaye Leigh other than being her friend." Becki said.

"See Jeff, he wants my friendship that's all." She said.

"Don't worry." Becki said. Jeff did not look happy at all.

"I'll watch over him." Becki added. Jeff and Curtis laughed.

"Who will watch over you?" Curtis said.

"That would be you Curtis." Jon said.

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