Aidan's Arrangement

By: Peggy McKenzie
The Langley Legacy, Book 4




Dedication



This book is dedicated to the human spirit and its ability to persevere in the face of hardship and heartache. There is no greater force than the single-minded determination to follow our dreams and to create a legacy worthy to pass down to our children, our children’s children, and all the generations that come after.



“Beare and Forebeare” is an Irish motto that means be patient and endure—a human condition all people have in common without regard to borders.






Chapter One



July 1933

The Legacy Ranch

New Dawn Springs, Oregon



Aidan Langley rode his horse over the rise and down to the creek winding its way through his family’s ranch. The creek ran year-round thanks to the snow melt of the mountains to the north. A great location for raising livestock. And a family—the very reason his great-grandfather, Finn Langley, chose this spot to homestead when he first arrived in Oregon from Ireland in the 1850s.

Frisco, the appaloosa gelding he rode was thanks to his grandfather, Patrick Langley, who bred the spotted horses until the day he died. He had loved his Grampa Langley, who let him name the old appaloosa stud when Aidan had been about three years old. To everyone’s chagrin, Aidan named him Pokey Dot.

He urged the muscled short-barreled horse down the gulley and into the brisk flowing water. Frisco stood in the middle of the creek chest high and pulled at the reins, stretching his neck to drink his fill of the cool, clear water. After the horse had his fill, Aidan guided him on to the wet sand-covered bank and dismounted, careful to keep hold of the reins. The last thing he wanted to do was walk back to the house on a hot day like today. A glance at the bluebird sky gave every indication it was going to get hotter.

He studied the movement of the creek. A stick about a foot long floated by, gently bobbing in the dappled shade of the trees lining both banks of the water. “Hell, why should you get all the fun, Frisco?” He spoke to his horse and patted the big horse on his rump. “Work is done. How about I tie you up here next to this green grass while I dip a toe or two?”

Aidan pulled his lead rope off the saddle horn and tied Frisco to a tree a few yards away from the edge of the creek. He could cool off and keep one eye on his ride home.

He pulled off his boots and socks, jerked his sweat soaked t-shirt over his head, and pushed off his jeans and underwear down his long, muscled legs. A faint breeze bounced off the water and nipped at his nakedness. Goosebumps pebbled his skin when he slipped beneath the waist deep, snow melt frigid water flowing around him.

He grabbed a fist full of tree root jutting from the creek’s bank to keep himself from drifting down stream. His body adjusted to the cold water and he lay back in the water, his eyes closed, clinging to the root, the sun beating down from the cloudless sky. This was heaven.

The gentle rocking of the flowing water lulled him into a state of semi-consciousness. He was vaguely aware of the sounds of the outdoor surrounding him. Meadowlarks chirped from every tree branch. He heard crickets in the tall pasture grass growing to the edge of the creek banks. He heard water trickling off rocks and roots lining the creek. And he heard laughter. A sweet and joyful sound. It made him smile—wait. Laughter?

He sat up in the water and listened closer. There it was again. Aidan faded into the shrubs and saplings lining the creek bank. Someone else had sought relief in the cool water of the creek that ran through his family’s property. But who? No one had permission to access this creek except his family and their hired hands—and there weren’t many of those left since the stock market crashed in twenty-nine and reversed everyone’s fortunes.

He searched the bank for the spot he had thrown his clothes. Damn. He couldn’t get to them without climbing out of the water. And if he climbed out of the water—

A terrified scream sliced through his thoughts. He dove into the water and swam downstream. The current pushed his strong strokes through the water. Soon, he was around the bend and face to face with a—naked girl?

At second glance, Aidan realized this was no girl. His brain was very clear on that matter. These were the curves of a full-grown woman, of that, he had no doubts. But, who was she and where had she come from? It wasn’t every day he found a female standing naked at the edge of his family’s creek without a stitch of clothing on. It was most definitely not an everyday occurrence.

Perhaps that was why he kept staring at her nakedness. He watched the woman pull at the wet waist length strands of honey colored hair to hide her charms from his gaze. It might have worked but for the breeze kicking up a curl or two exposing patches of peach-colored skin.

Aidan pulled his eyes from her—charms—and collided with a pair of vivid green eyes that punched him in his gut. The color reminded him of the grass of Ireland he saw on the pages of the picture books in Grampa Patrick’s old room before he died.

Aidan thought he had died and gone to heaven. He knew he was staring, but she had the face of an angel—

“Is there something wrong with you? Are you a complete imbecile? Get out of the water!” She shrieked at him.

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