The Rancher's Callous Heart Ch. 01byJazzMatthews©
This is the new story that I've been working on. Just wanted to give my overwhelming gratitude to those who enjoyed my Ryan Boys Trilogy. That means a lot to me that they were mostly well received. I can only pray that this one is the same. I hope you enjoy The Rancher's Callous Heart.
Over my dead body!" declared a vehement Darren Banks. "You can't just come into a man's house demanding--"
"It is not a demand," came the cool, collective reply of his visitor. "Think of it as a proposition. I'm simply offering my services to make sure that she is well taken care of. She's a beautiful young woman by any standards, and I know that she's applied at UT for the upcoming fall semester. Your daughter is smart, Banks, but she doesn't have scholarships enough to get her through financially without taking out some loans. I'm more than willing to provide her with any financial backing she may need."
The mahogany brown features of Banks remained in its scowl, dark chocolate eyes blazing with fierce anger. "I'm her father. I'll provide for her!"
A heartless chuckle came from the other man's chest. "With what means, Banks? After all, you're getting loans from me. So if you think about it, I'm supporting both you and her. Not to mention, you're still indebted to me, with interest." The table creaked from the man leaning upon it, his arms bracing his weight as he stared levelly into Darren Banks' eyes. "But majority of that debt can disappear if you'd relinquish to me your most valued asset. Wouldn't you like that instead of telling your little girl that you've spent what should have been her college fund on your gambling habit?"
Around the corner from the office, a small gasp was stifled by a hand. Andrea just couldn't believe what she was hearing, but it only confirmed what she had suspected. This man, her father's shady associate, was someone who had helped in fueling her father's gambling debt. Their finances had been in dire straits for years. They lived comfortably in the opulent Tarrytown subdivision of Austin. Their house was already paid for by her father's cushioned job as a manager of product development at Cisco Systems. But now that she thought back on it, after the death of her mother, this detestable habit, the gambling, was simply to fill a void that Andrea felt could never be filled. Her mother's passing was something Darren Banks never got over despite his assurances that he was perfectly fine about it now.
However, regardless of this unhealthy vice of his, her father was always attentive toward her. No, he loved her almost above anything, and sometimes she was able to appeal to him to stray away from the casinos a couple of days out of the month. But this man, this dark cloud hovering over them since Andrea was fourteen, only made their struggle through this addiction more difficult. And she was either too young to see it or she just didn't want to, but Andrea now recalled the flicker of interest the man had in her even back then. She was never introduced to him formally. Her father would always rush him into his office and insist she'd make herself busy in another part of the house. However, at times when he did catch sight of her, he'd always have a cocky smile teasing the corners of his drawn mouth.
Also, once she had filled out due to age, Andrea felt like she had been raped each time his eyes would rake over her body with utter fascination and deep, profound lust. And now that today was her eighteenth birthday, it seemed only too convenient that he showed up before they went out to dinner to celebrate. But with what she had just heard, Andrea wasn't too sure she wanted to go. She was losing her appetite.
The office was just too quiet. Her father had yet to say anything in response. Then her ears suddenly picked up on a rustling noise as if someone was rising from his seat.
"Get out, now," she heard her father muttered none too politely. "I'll deal with you when I have to, but you're never setting foot in my house again. And if you come even a mile near my daughter, I'll make sure you pay."
The silence after that was almost unbearable. But she was afraid of the consequences behind her father's threat. The man didn't seem the kind to take them sitting down.
Andrea scooted back further into the shadows, not wanting to be seen when he left. She barely heard a mumbled response before their visitor hastily got up. The door to the office flew open. She perceived his shadow stepping across the threshold and slamming the door behind him. He paused a second, running a hand through his smoothed back sandy hair, taking a moment to voice a blaspheme Andrea didn't care to repeat.
He motioned as if he was about to leave, then he paused again. Andrea barely hitched a breath before he was suddenly in her line of vision.
She stumbled back a couple of feet in her three-inch heels, her coffee brown eyes widening in surprise and fear. He easily narrowed the distance, pushing her back into dimly lit formal dining room. Andrea's lips parted to scream, but it was muffled by the rough hand that unceremoniously covered her mouth.
Andrea struggled with him, hitting a broad shoulder with her clutch purse, scratching at him with the other. He crushed her to him, restraining her flailing arms.
"Don't fight me," he gritted, despite that she continued to do so. He briefly glanced behind him before narrowing his bottle green eyes on her. "Your father might not want to comply with my wishes now, but I can wait. I've waited almost four years for you." Those lascivious eyes traced over her exquisite, dark features, and she could feel the faint brush of his thumb against the curve of her cheek. She was trying so hard to keep the bile down her throat. "I can wait a couple of more."
He quickly uncovered her mouth to force his lips upon hers. She squealed and fought to keep her lips fused closed when his tongue tried to enter. Andrea shoved him, drawing upon herculean strength to force him back. She sputtered, wiping her mouth roughly with the back of her hand, all the while the untamable fire blazed in her eyes of unspeakable hatred. The bastard had the audacity to smirk and licked his swollen lips.
He wiggled his fingers at her in a wave. "Bye for now, little one."
He turned to leave, rushing out of the house just as her father came out of the study and into the dining room to see Andrea collapse to the floor in a heap of tears.
"Andrea?" He ran to her side and placed a concerned hand upon her back. "What's wrong? What did he do?"
She couldn't speak, her tears choking her. Her future couldn't possibly look like this, one of constant fear of that man always being there, lascivious and wanting her in the unhealthy way that he did. She didn't want to be a victim for the rest of her life. A good part of her refused to be a victim to such a man. Drawn on her scattered courage, Andrea vowed to find a way to change her obscure future. She had to.