To read previous parts… GO HERE to catch up..
Jesse Lee spent a restless night with all the thoughts tearing thru her head. What bothered her the most were Peter’s warning to stay away from “that guy.” What did he mean? She would ask him next time she saw him but she doubted she would get a straight answer. And ol’ Joe, so reluctant and nervous. Speaking of nervous, she had to meet Dad in the office this morning.
The kitchen was bustling after breakfast was finished. Dad was giving the boys orders for the day and they were quick to “yes sir” while grabbing their hats and jackets. Then they were out the door and Dad motioned to Jesse to follow him to the office.
As an Affiliate I may earn a small fee from qualifying purchases of some of the links you might click and purchase – at no additional cost to you.
He opened a drawer in the big desk and pulled out a ledger. Waving her over he showed her how he kept track of several things regarding the working of the ranch. Mostly about the cattle. “This is a start.” he spoke. She pulled up a chair and looked over the figures and notes. Thankfully, Dad had a very legible hand.
He pulled the little notepad out of his shirt pocket and Jesse was certainly familiar with that. She never saw him without it. He would scribble things into it at various times. He flipped a couple of pages, laid it down next to the ledger and explained how he put the entries in.
Jesse could tell he was in some pain – but she dared not let on. He was not one to complain or have anyone fuss over him. “Yes, I see.” “Go ahead then. Put those figures in on the cattle sales column.” He pushed the ledger over in front of her. She put them in and added the numbers to what was already there. “Like that?” she asked. “Yes, that’s just fine.”
They went over another ledger, and with more of his notes, Jesse made a few entries and calculations. After the entries were made, he would toss those pages from his pocket notebook. Dad was not one to hand out much in the way of praise, but he seemed pleased with what she had done.
She had never spent any time in the office other than once or twice she had come in to ask him something important. It had to be important to disturb him while he was in there. As they both got up to leave she made a survey of the small room. Besides the big desk with several drawers there were a couple of file cabinets. She noticed both had key entries on them.
As they left the office he said. “Jesse, you may have to help a little more around the place here for awhile.” “Of course.” She replied. “I could check cattle if you want.” “You may have to. I had a lot of repairs planned for this summer and they can’t be set on the back burner until I heal. The boys will be busy.”
Jesse knew he could not do much right now. He could not rope or doctor a cow that might need it, nor mend a weak spot in the fence. Heck, he could not even open and close the gates with his hand the way it was. “No problem.” she replied. “I like making the ride up and know the area well.” “Yes, but if you run into trouble, you come back and get Thomas, ya hear?” “Yes, sir.” Jesse answered. “Thomas was up yesterday. Maybe next week.” He finished.
The week went flew by. Jesse had picked up a little slack for her brothers by doing a few of their routine chores. She had a couple more sessions in the office and felt confident she had it figured out. However, she thought, it would all be so much easier on the computer. She knew better than to bring it up thou. Dad liked doing it his way and she doubted that would ever change.
Friday morning, before breakfast, she got a phone call from Dee. “Been busy around here Jesse. Sorry I have not called.” she started. “Getting everything ready for the barn dance tomorrow night and I am pooped already.” Jesse had nearly forgot about the barn dance with all that had went on. “Your all coming right?” Dee asked. And before Jesse could answer she continued. “Of course you are. Mom said she was pretty sure of it from her conversation with your mom. Hope your Dad is feeling better.”
Barn dances were always fun even thou there were not a lot of them anymore. Last year there had only been two in the area. They never missed one. Both her parents seemed to enjoy these get togethers. Mom and the other ladies would exchange recipes and catch up with one another. Dad always liked to sit and talk cattle with the other ranchers and he really enjoyed the music even if he didn’t dance much. Jesse thought it would be just the thing to give everyone a break right now.
“Oh yes Dee, we will be there. Dad is doing a little better and starts some physical therapy today.” “Oh great.” Dee replied. “I know my folks are looking forward to seeing everyone and so is my brother.” “How is Micky?” Jesse asked. “He looks good Jesse, but seems more quiet than usual. It’s like he is thinking of something all the time and ya have to get his attention.” Jesse thought about him serving over seas. She imagined it had not been a pleasant experience. Before she could answer, Dee came back. “Better run now, Mom is needing some help. See you tomorrow Jesse.”
After breakfast Dad gave the boys their instructions for the day – but before they headed out he told everyone that Mom was taking him into physical therapy this morning so we all needed to be responsible and careful. “No accidents.” he said.
Soon as the boys went out the door he pulled that notepad from his pocket and tore out a couple of sheets. “I think you got a good handle on the books Jesse.” He started. ” Not much for today so this should not take you long.” and he handed her the notes. “We should be back by dinner.” Mom added. “Going to do some shopping while we are in the city. Not anything you need to do Jesse. I have a roast in the crock pot.”
Once they were gone, Jesse headed for the office. She knew Dad would want to double check her work so she left his notes tucked inside the ledger and slid it back in the drawer. She had already figured out that he liked everything in it’s place. But now…. she wanted to do some poking around.
She checked the file cabinets. Neither were locked. One was full of back years worth of ledgers and files. She thumbed through several but there was nothing unusual. The second cabinet didn’t have much in it. A few more old ledgers along with some blank ones. She assumed they were for future use. But wait. In the bottom she found a metal box and pulled it out.
Jesse was a little nervous. What if she found something? At that moment she was not sure if she wanted to pursue this anymore. She was not sure if she wanted to know. Why not just leave it be? she thought. How was she going to handle it if she found out she was adopted? Or worse, that her mother had an affair? What would she do then? Confront her parents? She could not stand the thought of that.
And if she were adopted then who were her parents? She would want to find out. Yes,…. she had to know. She knew then, she would not stop until she had answers.
She opened the box. On top was a neatly folded paper. It was an honorable discharge from the Army. Dads name clearly stated. Under that were 2 medals for various bravery. Wow, she had no idea. She almost closed the box – but noticed an envelope in the very bottom. She was being very careful to pay attention to how she removed things so she could put everything back as it was. She would never want Dad to find out she had been snooping thru his things.
She laid the medals aside and drew out the envelope. Inside was a single photo. A beautiful woman on a dapple gray horse. She could not make out details as they were not a close up and obviously taken with an older camera. What she could tell was that the woman was definitely not her mother. She was young with long, flowing black hair. Dad had no sisters and Jesse had never seen this woman in any of the old photo albums. It must be an old girlfriend he had before he met her mother. Yes, that must be it. She told herself it was probably something he forgot was even in this old box.
Jesse sat in thought. She wondered about that photo. One more thing to add to the growing collection of unanswered questions. She would go over to Dee’s before the barn dance and run it all by her.
Before she rang the bell, Dee opened the door. “Oh good, your just in time. Come on, let’s go up to my room.” Jesse could see Dee’s mother bustling around the kitchen as they went by. The aroma of fresh baked bread filled the air.
Dee started. “So, anything new?” Jesse filled her in about the photo she found in her Dads office. “Did you find anything else?” Dee asked. “Not so far. There are a couple more drawers in the big desk I have not checked out yet. Mom takes him into physical therapy again next week and I hope to get a chance then.” Jesse replied. “How about a ride tomorrow?” Dee asked. “We haven’t been for awhile and we can try to sort this out and make a new plan.” Jesse agreed and the girls got dressed.
Soon, the big barn was bustling with folks from near and far. Everyone coming in with more food and the little band was setting up. Excitement filled the air and Jesse forgot about all the questions she had. At least for now.
A few minutes later – her anxiety resurfaced as she saw Louann and Becky come thru the door. Dee looked at Jesse and rolled her eyes, then, with a bit of surprise on her face she gestured to Jesse to look again.
Just outside the doorway stood Avon and Dee’s brother Micky. It looked like a heated conversation.
Author Linda Carlson. Copywrite 2019
Who is the woman in the photo?
Apparently Avon and Micky know each other – what are they arguing about?
Will this barn dance yield another question to the puzzle? (not to mention some excitement)
Leave your guess’s in the comments