Cardwell Ranch Trespasser - By B. J. Daniels
Just inside the door, she stopped to take a look around the apartment to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything. This place, like all the others she’d lived in, held no special sentimental value for her. Neither would the next one, she thought. She’d learned a long time ago not to get too attached to anything.
The knock on the other side of the door startled her. She froze, careful not to make a sound. The building super, Mr. McNally, again, wanting the back rent? She should have left earlier.
Another knock. She thought about waiting him out, but her taxi was already downstairs. She would have to talk her way out of the building. It wasn’t as if this was the first time she’d found herself in a spot like this.
She opened the door, ready to do whatever it took to reach her taxi.
It wasn’t Mr. McNally.
A courier stood holding a manila envelope, a clipboard and a pen.
“Dee Anna Justice?” he asked.
She looked from him to the envelope in his hand. It looked legal. Maybe some rich uncle had died and left Dee Anna a fortune.
He glanced past her into the empty apartment. She’d sold all the furniture and anything else that wasn’t nailed down. Seeing him judging her living conditions, she pulled the door closed behind her. He didn’t know her. How dare he? He had no idea what kind of woman she was, and he certainly wasn’t going to judge her by the mess she’d left in the apartment.
She cocked a brow at him, waiting.
“I need to see some identification,” he said.
Of course he did. It was all she could do not to smile. Well, sneer, as she produced a driver’s license in the name of Dee Anna Justice. She’d known where to get a fake ID since she was fourteen.
He shifted on his feet and finally held the pen out to her and showed her where to sign.
She wrote Dee Anna Justice the way she’d seen her former roommate do it dozens of times, and held out her hand impatiently for the envelope, hoping there was money inside. She was due for some good news. Otherwise the envelope and its contents would end up with the rest of the trash inside the apartment.
“Thanks a lot,” she said sarcastically, as the courier finally handed it over. She was anxious to rip into it right there, but she really needed to get out of here.
It wasn’t until she was in the backseat of the cab, headed for the train, that she finally tore open the envelope and pulled out the contents. At first she was a little disappointed. There was only a single one-page letter inside.
As she read the letter through, though, she began to laugh. No rich uncle had died. But it was almost as good. Apparently Dee Anna had a cousin who lived on a ranch in Montana. She ran her finger over the telephone number. According to the letter, all she had to do was call and she would be on her way to Montana. With a sob story, she figured she could get her “cousin” to foot most if not all of her expenses.
She had the cabdriver stop so she could buy a cell phone in the name of Dee Anna Justice. After she made her purchase she instructed the driver to take her to the airport, where she bought a first-class ticket. She couldn’t wait to get to Montana and meet her cousin Dana Cardwell.
“You’re never going to believe this.”
Hilde Jacobson looked up from behind the counter at Needles and Pins, her sewing shop at Big Sky, Montana, and smiled as her best friend came rushing in, face flushed, dark eyes bright. Her dark hair was pulled back, and she even had on earrings and makeup.
“You escaped?” Hilde said. “I don’t believe it.” Dana didn’t get out much since the birth of her twin boys last fall. Now she had her hands full with four children, all under the age of six.
Her friend dropped a packet of what appeared to be old letters on the counter. “I have family I didn’t know I had,” she said.
Hilde had to laugh. It wasn’t that long ago that Dana was at odds with her siblings over the ranch. Family had been a word that had set her off in an entirely different direction than happy excitement.
Last year she’d reunited with her siblings. Her sister, Stacy, and baby daughter, Ella; and brother Jordan and his wife, Deputy Marshal