We’re back this week with a new chapter and a new prompt!
Today’s selection comes from that perpetual contemporary romance WIP with no name. Anna has just woken up from a nap and found that it’s time for dinner on the Homegrown Ranch. Let’s see what she’s up to, shall we?
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When she woke, it was to the sound of a dinner bell and the savory aroma of steak. It brought her downstairs and directly into Wesley, Sr.’s path.
“Come on, sweetheart,” he said and took her arm, “let’s get you a good seat for dinner.” He led her out the door onto the verandah where the crowd of ranch employees bubbled and roiled around the long picnic-style benches. The cloud of noise enveloping this rowdy bunch made her ears ring as their boss led her by the hand toward a wide gap on one of the benches. The hands took their seats one by one, still embroiled in loud conversation and didn’t seem to notice. She took her seat on Wes’ right side at his father’s request and immediately found herself boxed in on the other side by Cam.
“Hey, beautiful,” he said with one of his most dazzling smiles.
“Hey yourself,” she replied, then turned her strained smile on Wes.
Before she could speak, Linda appeared from the kitchen door followed by three of the cleaner looking hands. They carried trays loaded down with steaks and foil-wrapped potatoes, and the clanging sounds of voices melted into near silence. The occasional stomach grumbled, but the din was gone. The smell of cooked meat assaulted her and Anna realized she was starving. Until that minute she didn’t think anything could distract her from the virile, sexy, aggravating man sitting next to her.
“We weren’t sure how you take your beef, honey,” Linda said as she leaned over Cam to place the tray on the table, “so we did one extra of each temperature. And don’t worry about the extras…these boys always see that no food goes to waste.”
Anna smiled at the kindly little woman, “Medium-rare, please.” Several pairs of eyes snapped to attention. Linda smiled down at her as she dropped a large cut of meat onto the plate.
“It’s not every day we get new blood that knows how to eat a steak.” She leaned close to Anna. “I think you have a few fans now.”
Anna glanced up to find that the surprised stares had softened into something resembling admiration. Out of the corner of her eye, she even caught Wes looking at her.
“That’s enough, boys,” Linda said, patting Anna on the shoulder. “Eyes on your plates.” The men complied, albeit reluctantly, and plates of baked potatoes and roasted corn made their way around the table. Anna’s stomach rumbled in anticipation, but as she reached for the foil wrap on her potato, Wes caught her hand and pulled it back under the table.
“Not yet,” he whispered. She turned to question but his father chose that moment to rise and tap his glass against the heavy table. The chatter immediately ceased and every set of eyes turned to the head of the table.
“I’d like to introduce everyone to our guest, Anna Scott. She comes to us from Raleigh, North Carolina. Miss Scott will be with us for the next eight days, taking photographs for a new advertising campaign, so please make her feel at home.” Wesley, Sr. continued with his announcements, mercifully moving the attention away from her. She lowered her head to wait out the speech, inadvertently catching Wes’ eye. He winked slyly before turning his attention back to his father.
The announcements ended and Anna raised her hand only to have it stopped again by Wes. She turned to look at him and found his head bowed. He didn’t let go of her hand. On her other side, Cam took hold of her free hand. For the second time today, she sat and listened to a blessing. This, too, was a simple prayer, yet the words were filled with conviction. It touched her.
She sat motionless long after the rest of the crowd started to eat. This world was so vastly different from the one she knew, and every time she turned around, these wonderful people reinforced that thought.
“You okay, sweetie?” Cam asked, startling her from her thoughts. The warp bubble she’d entered popped and the sounds of ripping meat, hearty conversation and clanging silverware took the place of the earlier noise. Anna pasted a smile on her face as he turned to him.
“Just fine,” she replied a bit too brightly. “I just got lost in thought for a minute.” She reached for her potato, half expecting Wes to stop her, but he was too busy slicing into his steak.
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For more wonderful stories to the prompt of “noisy”, check out the Tuesday Tales blog!