Polly shook her head as Nathaniel stormed out. I watched, amused as he got in his car and drove off.
"That went well," Polly muttered, "and now I don't have a ride to work."
I waved my hand. "I'll take you." I looked at her. "Seriously, though, why did you pick me? I know it's not because of my father."
"Well, part of it is," she said. "The second is because, if anyone can kick my brother's ass, it's you."
I smiled smugly. "Why, thank you." I shook my head. "What's the dinner for?"
"A new museum we're opening," she answered and I whistled, impressed. "I know." She sighed. "Willow, this dinner is really important to the family business. You know that Nathaniel will be taking over in five years. He needs to get his shit together or he'll destroy the company."
"Why aren't you taking over? You're older."
Polly cleared her throat. "Well... I may or may not be getting married to a musician," she murmured.
I laughed, throwing my head back. "Woo! Go Polly!" She blushed. "What's his name?"
"Evan," she answered. "Their band is just starting to get a good fan base and they'll be touring soon. I won't be around to baby my brother."
I wrinkled my nose. "So I'm his new babysitter."
"Nope. You're going to be the woman to show him how important it is to get his act together."
"And how am I going to do that?" I asked.
"You'll figure it out," she said, finishing her orange juice. "You've got five years."
I rolled my eyes. "Gee. Thanks for the help. When do you go on tour with Evan?"
"In a year," she said promptly. "We're getting married in six months. It's still on the DL, though, so keep your mouth shut."
"Your secret is safe with me," I promised. "I happen to actually like you."
Polly put her hand on mine. "Oh, honey, I'm flatter but I would make a terrible girlfriend."
"Oh, shut up," I snapped, throwing my napkin at her. "I can't believe him! I have enough respect for myself to not spend the night in Nathaniel's bed and he thinks I'm a lesbian?"
"When's the last time you had a man?" she asked.
I shrugged. "I've been busy, Polly."
"How is the ranch going, by the way?"
"Frustratingly," I sighed. "My father won't hand it over. He's too old to be doing all this work with the horses, Polly."
"He's just teaching kids, isn't he?"
"Teaching, breaking, breeding, saddling, cleaning," I said. "He's doing it all even though he has employees! We pay them but they never come because he doesn't schedule them! Now, when I take over, things will be different. Unlike Nathaniel, I take business seriously."
Polly shook her head. "I really do wish he'd change, Willow," she said quietly and I looked at her. "He doesn't know how worried Mom and Dad are for him."
"Because he's still a player?" I asked.
"He's 28," she said. "Twenty-eight and still pulling strings and going to clubs, getting plastered. He needs to start taking things seriously."
I puffed out my cheeks. "Maybe that's why my father is freaking out. I'm coming up on 26 and still single. He was married when he started up the business. Maybe that's what he wants for me." I groaned. "Why does he have to care so much!?"
She smiled kindly at me. "Because he lost his wife when you were a kid. You're all he has left."
"Thanks for the guilt trip," I muttered. My phone rang. "Speak of the devil. Hey Dad," I said into the phone.
"Hi, Willow! When will you be coming in today?"
"I'll be there in 30 minutes. I have... exciting news for you," I added, rolling my eyes when Polly grinned.
"Great! I'm looking forward to it!"
"Yeah," I sighed. "See you soon. Love you."
"Love you, too."
"I should get you to your office now," I said while she paid for the breakfast.
"You'll see," Polly said. "You'll have fun!"
"Just as long as there's an open bar," I grumbled.
When I got to the ranch, I resisted the urge to honk my horn. He was bent over trying to lift a saddle.
"Damn it, Dad!" I hissed, getting out and hurrying to him. "Let me help."
"Ah, thank you dear," he said cheerfully.
"Why are you trying to do this on your own?" I asked.
He shrugged. "You weren't here."
"I told you I would be," I said, putting my hands on my hips. "The saddle would not have fallen apart after an extra 30 minutes."
He laughed. "Don't be so sure about that."
Aaron Turner was 55 years old and still pushing himself to keep the ranch going. We were famous, all things considered. We had over 50 horses. Most of them were used for competitions of different kinds. The room with the hay had over 100 medals and our house was littered with trophies. The other horses were used for training kids to ride. The kids my father taught always went on to become champions.
I looked a lot like him. I had his green eyes and brown hair that had been bleached to almost gold from being out in the sun so often. Our skin was tan but my father's was starting to get too thin.
"You need to retire, Dad," I sighed, passing him a water bottle. "You're killing yourself."
"I can't yet," he said stubbornly. "Now, what's this exciting news you have for me?"
I rolled my eyes. "You're a mule." He laughed. "Tomorrow evening, the Bankers are opening yet another museum and Nathaniel Banker needs a date. I am the lucky girl."
He laughed. "Finally! How does Polly feel about that?"
"She's the one that suggested it. Why?"
"You've been spending a lot of time with her, that's all," he said and I rolled my eyes again.
"How many times do I have to tell you, Dad? I'm not a lesbian."
"Then why haven't you had a boyfriend in five years?" he pressed.
"Because I'm busy here," I said, trying to dodge the subject. "There's a lot to do."
He shook his head with a sigh.
"Well, I hope you had a big breakfast because we have a lot of kids coming in today for their first class."
"Beginners. Those are the best!"