The Rancher and the Event Planner - By Cheryl Gorman Page 0,1

cursory glance. “I don’t think so.”

“Good, you’re under arrest.”


A fly buzzed around JC’s head in the only courtroom of the Salvation courthouse. She swiped at the insect. The mortification of being arrested for the first—and she hoped the last—time in her life had not abated. The officer had told her they give criminals their day in court once a week and this was her lucky day. Ceiling fans stirred the thick air and a clerk attempted to relieve the heat with a hand-held fan advertising the Davis Funeral Parlor and Crematorium. The air conditioner must be broken.

Her attorney, Jack Porter, wearing a dark suit sat beside her in the back of the courtroom typing on his lap top. She remembered him from high school when he was the star quarterback. He’d been a few years ahead of her in school and thank God he hadn’t recognized her.

Sweat beaded on JC’s neck. Tension gripped her shoulder muscles, and an ache thudded at the base of her skull. What about her job? She needed to get to Dallas by this evening because she had her first meeting scheduled with Senator Grant to discuss the fundraising gala. She glanced at her watch for the umpteenth time. Three hours had passed since the accident. Three long, hot, sweaty hours. Would her employer, Affairs to Remember fire her if she didn’t make it there today?

The judge entered the courtroom through a side entrance and took his seat on the bench.

Crap. The judge was Linc McCord—the brother of Rafe McCord, who happened to be her own brother’s best friend as well as the man she’d had a crush on growing up. Could this day get any worse? Linc still had serious blue eyes and chestnut hair clipped short. His black robe was unwrinkled even in the stifling heat.

Court was officially called to order and the judge began hearing cases. Some of the cases before her were so ridiculous, JC hoped Linc would be worn out and lenient by the time he got to hers. But she wasn’t charged with something mundane as shooting the gnomes in an ex-wife’s yard or charged with shoplifting a box of condoms.

Her stomach knotted. She was charged with something much worse.

“Would Ms. Barrett please stand?”

Miserable with embarrassment, she stood with her attorney at her side hoping that Linc didn’t recognize her. “I’m here, Your Honor.”

He scanned the report in his hands. “Ms. Barrett, you have been charged with reckless driving with willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons and property. How do you plead?”

She glanced at her attorney who nodded. “I plead guilty to speeding, Your Honor, but the rest was an accident. I didn’t start out my day with the intention of disregarding anyone recklessly or otherwise. I will gladly pay for a new mail box or my insurance will, of course.”

The judge’s lips thinned. “Ms. Barrett, the reckless driving and the property damage were a direct result of your speeding.”

“Yes, Your Honor, but as I told the officer, I was startled by the police siren and then a dog darted across the road in front of me. Everything happened so fast. That’s my only excuse and I’m deeply sorry.”

The judge stared at her for a moment longer and JC was afraid he’d recognized her. He straightened in his seat. “Ms. Barrett, under Texas law, this misdemeanor is punishable by a fine which is not to exceed two-hundred dollars or confinement in the county jail for not more than thirty days—or both.”

The knots in her shoulder muscles constricted further. “Your Honor, I’m a law abiding citizen with a good job. I’m an event planner and on my way to Dallas to plan the most noteworthy event of the year for Senator Grant’s campaign. I never drive that fast, it was a mistake. I truly am sorry.”

“Ms. Barrett, the court appreciates your remorse but Mr. Henry Thomas’s life was put in danger and I feel you need to do more than pay a fine.”

“Darn tootin’,” Mr. Thomas said from the front of the court room. He turned and frowned at her.

As an event planner one of her skill sets was staying cool under pressure especially when something went wrong or the client was nervous about an event. But it seemed that no matter what she said the judge was determined to throw the book at her. “Your Honor, please don’t send me to jail. I’m not a reckless person and I have a healthy respect for the law, believe