Ain't Gotta Lot To Me

@ Jalista + Lyss

Mason needed work. That much was clear. And as the sun rose he knew that today was going to be the day he could put money back in his wallet. He wasn’t hurtin’ but he sure as hell needed something if he was going to stay and find that girl. He wasn’t the time to hit it and quit it and Mason wasn’t gunna start now.

So he rose with a determination, ready to give his 4 second get up about being The hardest worker there ever was and not throw in’ in the towel until the sun went down, only to rise before the sun kissed the horizon the next day. He didn’t choose to dress up in anything fancy, just his normal garb. He did make sure he paid extra attention to his buckles to make sure they were clean. But that was about it.

Hair was pulled back into a bun at the nape of his neck, a cowboy hat draped over his eyes, a plain white t-shirt with a blue plaid flannel over the top and buttoned nearly all the way to his collar bone. The sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and his jeans were actually ironed. He was cleaner than a brand new fishing boat as he pulled up to the ranch and put his old truck in park. He’d heard about this place on a passing billboard and thought it sounded like home. It’s be a place he fit in.

Those city folk weren’t worth his attention and he wasn’t going to try and get a job in the heart of Portland. He wasn’t cut out for it. Mason needed to work with his hands and if you add horses to the mix, then he was on the right side of heaven. He stepped up to the main cabin, taking off his lid and holding it against chest before entering and stepping up to the main desk, tapping the little bell that was sitting there. The soft chime echoed against the wooden walls, and suddenly he felt just a tad tad nervous.

He needed this job to support his search for the fanned girl he bit. With nothing but a scent, he was in for a world of search and hurt.

 The gray mare snorted a sharp exhale of frustration. Charlotte pressed on, and with the angle of her body, she turned the horse around, sending her clockwise at a trot. The ranch and the people who ran it did well to pull from as many resources as they could. Charlotte was good with new horses, good with Mustangs. So every year she entered the Mustang Makeover competition as a way to keep her skills sharp. The publicity for the ranch was a boon, too.

 But she'd fallen behind. The bad days had strung together like a chain of sour-faced paper dolls. She could hardly focus, even alone - a state she'd opted for frequently as of late, if only to skirt Naomi's ever- persistent inquisition. There were only so many versions of 'okay' and 'fine' and 'I don't know' she could spew before something harsher and far less patient clawed its way out of her mouth.

 With a heavy sigh, she clicked the Mustang forward before dropping her posture entirely. The horse stopped, confused, giving her two additional seconds of attention before finding a dusty clump of grass to graze. Charlotte floundered as the thing inside her woke up. Grabbing onto the half-rusted metal of the round pen, she scanned the horizon, spotting a stranger on his way to the main cabin. The monster lurched again, and she strode up to the lodge, rushing in through the back.

 "I can take care of this one, thanks Marcie." The words were a near incoherent string, but the other woman shrugged and left, happy enough to stow away in the kitchen so she could nab the last bit of coffee cake. When Charlotte looked up her eyes were violet. "How can I help you?" she asked, but even the question had an edge.

Mason didn’t have to wait long. Long enough to figure out what the hell he might have for dinner and that was that. A small, pretty little thing came up behind the counter, greeting him quickly and efficiently.

He reached up, automatically tipping the front of his hat down in greeting. "Good day there, miss. I’m wondering if..." he looked into her face then, seeing the violet in her eyes the scent of cougar on her skin. It was mixed with that same scent he smelled the night he attacked the girl. She was no girl, but this was who he had been looking for.

It had been far too easy. " are currently hiring. I’m great with horses and pretty good with people... though I prefer the former," he said after a small pause from shock after noticing who she was. This was his “progeny.” His responsibility. Now he just needed to figure out how to help her without shoving a pile of shit in her face and rubbing it around.

 There was a lapse in his words as like recognized like. Having often been compared to a wet-wood fire, Charlotte was slow to warm. But the stranger had a pull, and her beast stood hunched and curious as she approached the male with a kind of cautious optimism.

 Still, the divide in her mind was too great a chasm to cross, and an awkward silence bubbled like a tide between the split ridges. Shaking her head, Charlotte pinched the bridge of her nose, vainly hoping that the cougars would fade like a sun-burnt mirage.

 They did not. Setting her jaw, she circled around the front desk and got in the stranger’s face, her cat trying to make her back-pedal away. The split desire made her muscles ache. “Who and what the hell are you?”

Mason clenched and unclenches his jaw, attempting to handle the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that overcame him. He was here. She was here. Now what? It had been easier than he would have liked, wanting to get used to the idea of his life before biting her being promptly dropped like a Hot Tamale.

He looked up, searching her freckled face and violet eyes, his own caught some where between blue and hazel. His cougar had his nose in the air, sniffing hers before walking forward with calculated purpose and attempting to muzzle the female cougar where her neck met her shoulder. His progeny.

Attention on that metaphysical plane between them was promptly broken as the girl made her way behind the desk and got in his face. He didn’t move back, instead his nostrils flared slightly as both him and the feline were taken aback by such a greeting. It made sense. His life had been changed but so had hers. Perhaps more so than his. Mason wouldn’t know until he stuck around to know her... if she didn’t send him packing before hand.

"Mason Davenport, Miss," he said, his voice soft and respectful but his body unyielding from her closeness. "I beg to think you know what I am because I’m the same as you. Though here is not the best place to have that particular conversation." Mason met her gaze, his eyes soft, brows raised in question, though the cougar wanted her to look away first. They differed on that plain of dominance.

“Oh,” Naomi said, final forkful of coffee cake hovering in front of her mouth. “Hi, Marcie.”

“Hi Naomi.” Marcie poured herself a mug of coffee-sans-cake. “Good cake?”

“You know, it was a little dry,” Naomi said. Marcie gave her a look of strong doubt, and she smiled sheepishly, abandoning her fork on her plate. Marcie pulled out one of the rough-hewn stools at the kitchen bar and settled next to her. Steam wisped up from her mug. It really did look like a cup of coffee that would have paired perfectly with a slice of cake, well-savoured. Naomi glanced down at the crumbs that were left; she had wolfed the slice down while standing up, fully intending to head back out to work the second she swallowed her last bite.

“Before you ask,” Marcie continued, “I’m not out front because Charlie is there.”

“Charlie?” Wasn’t she working with her mustang?


Charlie was nose-to-nose with some poor soul, fists clenched. Classic.

“Hi,” Naomi chirruped, as if she saw nothing amiss with the scene. “Welcome to Bracken Hill! Sorry to pop in! Can I be any additional help?” She smiled first at the visitor, before smiling at Charlie, eyebrows quirked. As far as she knew, Charlie preferred anything to do with the horses over working the front desk.

 "I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about and--" Naomi’s voice cut through her words, easing the tension like a salve.

 At the sight of her friend, Charlotte was thrown into an entirely new wave of worry, paddling against a rising current and an instinct to hide. Immediately breaking their gaze, she turned around and pretended to fidget with a series of files next to their dinosaur of a computer. It was a box with an affinity to cut off at random intervals. Charlotte usually smacked it as a form of troubleshooting.

 "He’s here looking for work, but I don’t think we need any extra hands." Dropping her two cents in a canister that didn’t have a donation sign on it.

Mason’s soft smile never wavered, holding his lid at his chest in earnest as The woman’s ... Charlie’s... challenge still stood. There was no denying the familiarity between them. Not when his own mountain lion recognized hers like it would kin. Of course, Mason wasn’t startled when the other young lady came in she seemed to hold an air about her. Someone in charge, perhaps?

Mason gave her a respectful nod, briefly lowering his eyes before meeting hers. A small chuckle given at Charlie’s brashness. "Miss Charlie here is correct. I was hoping you might need an extra set of hands around here. I have extensive horse experience and I’m good with people," he said, his voice like smooth molasses. Deep, respectful and soothing.

"I understand if you don’t need a set of well-worn hands though." Mason glanced between the two woman, his own mountain lion trying to get the attention of hers. To play or just to greet, Mason didn’t know. He didn’t have time to decider what the feline was truly wanting at the time. As long as he was content and wanting to play nice, Mason gave him free reign.

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