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   Chapter 4 Deciding

The Ranger's Daughter By LadyRosabella Characters: 7904

Updated: 2017-12-20 17:31


Vance cupped his hands and peered into the mercantile window. It was strange for the store to be closed on a weekday. Where were his folks?

"Can I help you with something, stranger?"

Vance turned around to see the sheriff standing behind him, "Looking for my folks. They own the mercantile."

"Vance Mcvone. Why I almost didn't recognize you. How've you been doing, son?"

"I'm looking for my parents. Where are they?"

"Well, your pop is in the city with you sister and your ma is out with Gracie Lace. There's been a terrible tragedy in her-"

"I'm sure it was terrible. Can you tell me where the Lace cabin is?"

"Looks like your ma's wagon is a rollin' up now." The sheriff walked over to help Mary Ann and Grace from the wagon. "Howdy Mary Anne. How're you doin' Gracie?"

"I'm fine sheriff." Grace answered with a smile. "How are you and the missus, sheriff?"

"Fine, just fine. What're you doing in town?"

"Mary Anne asked to to stay with her for a while so I don't have to stay alone." Grace gave Mary Anne a grateful smile as the older woman wrapped an arm around her. "She's very kind to me."

"Well honey, it ain't no- Vance! What are you- oh Vance!" Dropping her arm, Mary Anne bustled over to her tall dusty son and wrapped him in the tightest hug he'd had since he left home nearly fifteen years ago.

"Who is that?" Grace asked the sheriff as they watched the mother and son reuniting.

"That's Vance Mcvone. He's the eldest of Tom and Mary Ann's younguns. He left here in a fury nearly fifteen years ago. Had to make his own way without this little town stickin to his boots he said. Took up rangerin' for a while. " the sheriff leaned closer and whispered to Grace, "now they don't appreciate this kinda gossip, but rumor has it he quit rangerin' after he married a city gal, but he just couldn't take the pressure of marriage so he took off. I don't think his mama's heard from him since. She used to get letters regular-like but all of the sudden they quit comin', it was like he dropped off the earth."

"I wonder what's brought him back." Grace mused as she studied the unusually tall man. Though he was head to toe in black, from the black hat that sat on his head, the black bandana tied round his neck to the scuffed black boots- he was a man that commanded respect. Without saying a word, his hard look and straight posture said he was a man that you didn't cross. Grace felt a shiver run down her back when he turned his dark green eyes on her. His mouth forever pressed into a frown, he studied her from head to toe before giving his head a slight shake and looking a way.

Grace was rather upset, it was as if he had appraised her and found her lacking. She had been considered and dismissed in less than three seconds. Though she didn't know the man, though his opinion shouldn't bother her in the least- Grace found herself upset she hadn't see approval in his eyes. Sure, she wasn't a city woman like his rumored wife was but she was a survivor. Straightening her posture, Grace decided in that moment that she wouldn't beg pity or concern from anyone. She had always been emotionally strong, but now she was more determined then ever not to let anything break through the shields she was even now erecting. She would smile, she would dance, she would always have a kind word no matter the circumstance.

"It's a good thing you're back, Vance. I've missed you so much. It isn't easy having all of my babies lo in so far away from me." Mary Anne said later that evening as she poured her son a cup of coffee.

After super, Grace excused herself saying she was tired. Mary Anne and Vance remained at the table however, catching up on too many lost years.

"Seems to me you've been adopting some babies." Vance said with a rather pointed glance toward the stairs leading to the bedrooms.

"You mean Grace." Mary Anne sighed as a frown puckered her brow. "She is a sweet girl. She's

Garrett Lace's daughter."

"The ranger?" Vance asked in some surprise. Garrett Lace was a name well known among the Texas Rangers. He was a hero looked up to and admired.

"The very same." Mary Anne sighed.

Vance frowned, he was curious now. The sheriff had mentioned an tragedy in the Lace family. Now, Vance was itching to know what happened. Obviously something had happened to Ranger Lace. His daughter was here and he wasn't. Another small part in his mind told him not to care. Knowing only led to softer feelings and Vance didn't want to feel soft towards anyone save his ma and pa. No, even though he wanted to know. He wouldn't ask for details. He wouldn't let his ma know the story interested him.

From looking at the girl in front of the general store, you'd never guess she had troubles in her life. Her round freckled face and soft brown eyes led you to believe she was an angel- sweet and innocent of any sort of hardship or worry.

It angered Vance, he'd seen his ma riding with a girl, when the sheriff pointed them out. But when he saw the girl, Grace, he did a double take. She was an angel, he was sure of it. Her hair was the softest shade of brown he'd ever seen. Her eyes were enchanting, if he was of a mind to, Vance was sure he could get lost in those bottomless soulful brown eyes. Her nose had the most adorable freckles, though if he knew girls he knew she probably didn't find them so adorable. Her lips caught his attention, mainly because they were so unique. They formed a perfectly shaped heart. When she sat on the wagon unsmiling, he was entranced to see the perfect heart shaped lips. A small lost freckle made is home at the corner of her mouth. As if those lips weren't enough to tempt a man, she had to have that kissable little freckle.

Vance nearly groaned. He'd been doing so well the past few years. Women were the enemy. There wasn't a redeemable quality in any of them except for his dear mother, of course. He's avoided them like the plague and life had gone on perfectly well for him. Why was this girl, this Rangers daughter with the heart shaped lips, the one that would make him struggle to keep to his self made promise. And he would struggle, Vance knew. He had the distinct impression that this beautiful woman could charm the devil into becoming a saint, if she had the mind too.

He would need to reinforce his defenses, spend as little time around her as possible, leave town if absolutely necessary.

"Vance? Vance, I declare! You haven't heard one word I've said." Mary Anne grumbled.

"I'm sorry, mama. What did you say?"

"I said I'm glad you're back because I think you can be of great help to me."

"How's that?" Vance asked as he sipped at his black coffee.

"You and Gracie have such similar tragedies, I'm just sure you can relate to her pain. Help her to cope. In fact, it would be marvelous if you would spend a bit of time with her. Cheer her up and listen-"

"Mama-" Vance interrupted. "I'm sure we have completely different circumstances. I healed on my own and so will she. It'll just take time."

"The circumstances aren't as different as you'd think, Vance, in fact-"

"No." Vance said pushing back from the table. "She's your wounded sparrow, mama. Not mine."

Bending down, Vance kissed his mothers cheek. "I'm gonna hit the hay. Morning comes early."

"Good night, dear." Mary Anne frowned as she watched her son leave the kitchen. Apparently, he wasn't as healed as she had thought. He seemed so different from the boy that left years ago. He was older, yes, but he seemed so cold and sad. It was as if his spirit was dead. And his feelings. "I guess Gracie isn't the only one who needs to heal." She said into the silence. "I wonder if..." She let the sentence fade away as she stared at the stairs that had taken the two hurt souls to their rooms. "Only time will tell. But there's no reason I can't help fate along." She decided.

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