One

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ONE

Colton Pierce groaned and leaned back in the leather swivel chair at his hand crafted oak desk.  He massaged a kink out of his neck, closing his amber eyes briefly.  He had spent the past week trying to get their accounts sorted.  Apparently whoever had been keeping the records while he had been gone hadn't had any idea what they were doing.  He had spent two days with the bank manager working things out.  Thankfully they had caught everything before tax time rolled around.

            The cowboy stood up and started to pace around the office.  He barely even noticed the framed photos of some of their rodeo events and famous stallions that had been raised on the ranch that hung on the walls.  A leather couch was pushed up against the far wall and a big sliding glass door led out onto the patio that overlooked the mares' barn.  Normally Colton loved the view, especially now that his beloved mare was in foal, but today he had too much on his mind.  How had so many mistakes been missed?  Whom had his parents hired?

            He slipped out of his office, needing some fresh air.  All the numbers and constant phone calls were giving him a headache.  Not to mention he had been neglecting his mare.  Colton headed across the driveway towards the mares' barn.  He stopped briefly and watched his baby sister working with one of the yearlings.  His sister had a real gift with animals and it was a joy to watch her work.  He glanced around the ranch.  It seemed a bit quiet without his two brothers there.  Justin, his oldest brother, was over at the D and J Refuge with his wife of six months.  His youngest brother and Shayna's twin, Wyatt, was on his honeymoon.  Colton shook his head with a slight chuckle.  Apparently the love buy had bitten the Pierce kids.

            Colton on the other hand was twenty-eight and quite happy as a bachelor.  Not that he couldn't have his pick of women.  Not only did he have the Pierce name on his side, but also he had the tall, dark, handsome look going for him.  The sun had kissed his tawny brown hair the same as his tanned skin.  He had a smile that could knock you off your feet and his amber eyes were always full of life.  He was quite content with his life.  Well, for the most part.

            He had just turned to finish his journey to the barn when he caught movement out of the corner of his eye.  Colton turned back around and smiled when he saw

Shayna waving at him.  He waited where he was for her to join him.  Black Storm trotted happily at Shayna's shoulder.

            "Looks like Black Storm's training is coming along well," he commented.

            Shayna patted the colt's silky neck.  "He's a sweetie and just wants to please.  Isn't that fight, Black Storm?"

            The Thoroughbred bobbed his elegant head.  The siblings laughed as they walked down to one of the paddocks.  Colton opened the gate to the pasture while Shayna unclipped the lead rope and turned the colt loose.  Black Storm kicked up his heels and tore off across the pasture, grass and dirty flying up behind him.  Shayna laughed before turning to lean against the fence as Colton secured the gate shut.

            "So, did you hear that someone actually rented old man Jenkins' place?"

            He looked at his sister like she was crazy.  "You've got to be kidding.  That place is a death trap.  It's just waiting to cave in."

            Shayna shrugged a slim shoulder, a smile lighting up her pretty face.  "Those are the rumors.  We could always go over and offer a hand."

            Colton narrowed his eyes.  "You just want to spy on the new neighbor.  I know you, little sister."  Shayna just smiled innocently.  "Alright, alright," he finally caved in with a laugh.  "Let's get changed and I'll drive us over."

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