Cade threw his leg over his saddle and stepped easily to the ground in one fluid motion. He didn't bother to take his hat off as he approached her, and for some reason, the lack of respect irked her. However, her pique was short lived as he stopped directly in front of her. Faith knew he was going to be tall from the way he sat in his saddle and his long limbs, but good Lord, he was almost a foot taller than her, and she herself was five feet four inches tall.

"I'll start today. Where's the bunk house?"

Damn, he was arrogant! "The bunk house is behind the barn. The rest of the men should be back before dinner. I'll let them know who you are. The pay is sixty dollars a month, paydays are the first and the fifteenth of the month."


"No? Excuse me."

"No, my salary is twenty five dollars a week and I get paid every Saturday. I also know that you've been having problems around here. I think it's mostly over water. So, what I say goes, no questions asked." Cade stated, obviously not expecting any resistance.

Faith drew herself up to her full height, pointed her index finger at his chest, and laid down a rule of her own. "Let's get one thing straight Mr. Jacobs, this is my ranch and what I say goes. I'll pay what you asked and when, but only because Cole recommended you." Anger turned her eyes a bright vivid blue, Cade noticed as this woman stood up to him, something most men wouldn't do.

"I'll let you call the shots until I need to." He said with an emotionless face and voice. Faith's body began to shake with rage, and for a split second, he thought he might have pushed her too far. But before she could say or do anything, he turned his back to her and walked towards the barn, then let out a shrill whistle. A moment later, Rusty was by his side, nuzzling Cade's arm for attention.

As soon as he turned around a rare smile crossed his face. "This just might be the most fun we've had in a long time, ole boy. What do you think?" The horse bobbed his head up and down as if he were answering his master. Cade led Rusty into a stall but didn't unsaddle him, one never knew when you would have to ride quickly. He left the barn after giving it a thorough inspection, then went to the bunk house. He chose a bunk in the far right corner, slightly separate from the other ones.

All Faith could do was stand there and watch the most handsome and most infuriating man walk away from her. She did notice, however, that he looked almost as good walking away as he did coming towards her. He had a loose, easy walk, full of confidence. Once he entered the barn she realized that she was still standing on her front porch gawking at him. So, she did the only thing she could do. And that was to stomp across the porch, snatch the door open and slam it behind her.

Oh God! This was never going to work. In less than five minutes that arrogant beast had turned her into a spoiled child throwing temper tantrums. Faith smacked her forehead with her palm. Great! Now he was never going to look at her as a capable woman, he would only see her as a petulant door slamming child.

"Come in." Faith called out as someone knocked on her front door. She was up to her elbows in dough.

A moment later John walked into her kitchen. "Faith?"

"I know ya'll are hungry. I'm sorry, dinner will be ready in about an hour." Faith sighed heavily. "I got a later start than usual."

"Do you know who you hired to be your foreman?" The excitement in his voice was unmistakable.

"Yes, his name is Cade Jacobs and he's a friend of Cole Weston."

"He is the Cade Jacobs! He's a hired gun, a gunslinger, a killer!"

Faith stopped kneading the dough and looked up at John, then shrugged. "Well, maybe that's just what we need to stop those people from destroying my ranch before it even really has a chance to get going. Have the men filled him in on what all's been happening?"

John nodded his shaggy, dirty blonde head. "They started as soon as he introduced himself."

The boy was eighteen, but sometimes he was just like a three year old when he got all excited. Faith shook her head and went back to kneading the dough, then began to pat out the biscuits. "Are you and the other men okay with who he is?" She herself was still slightly in shock. She knew he was a friend of Cole's and that he had a dangerous look about him, but a killer. A shiver ran down her spine, and it wasn't necessarily a bad shiver either.

"Oh yeah! We're hoping that he will teach us a few things and maybe tell us some of his stories. He might even show us how fast he can draw!"

Cade bit into a hot flakey biscuit slathered with sweet butter. How long had it been since he had a meal like this? It was just a simple beef stew and biscuits, but it just might be the best meal he'd ever had. Cade looked down at his empty bowl and thought about getting another helping. Sighing, he decided it would be best not to. He did, however, grab two more biscuits before getting up from the table.

He watched as John gathered up the dirty dishes, placing them in a wicker basket, then he started towards the door. "I'll take those." Cade said as he took the basket from the boy, turned, and walked away, not even giving John time to say anything. He continued on to the house, half way there, a movement behind the house caught his attention. Cade made his way quickly to the porch and sat the basket down quietly.

He drew his gun and silently made his way to where he'd seen something, keeping to the shadows. The moon was almost full, so there was ample light for him to see, but that also meant there would be ample light to be seen. A lone figure stood about forty yards from the house. The person took off their hat, letting long wavy hair fall nearly to her waist. Cade now knew who the person was but simply could not make himself turn away. In fact he continued to move closer, until he was no more than thirty feet from her.

Keeping Faith  (Book 3 in the Red Valley Series)Read this story for FREE!