"Welcome to Landmark, Texas." Anastasia flattened the last box, muttering to herself as she laid it on the pile of other boxes by the drive of her grandparents' home.
Standing, stretching, she wiped her brow, sighing, blowing a caramel strand from her damp forehead, lifting the rest of her heavy locks off her sweaty neck her eyes taking in the barn, fence, and green pastures stretching behind the house.
It was another sweltering day in Texas. But surprisingly, she was getting used to the heat and humidity, and definitely enjoyed it over the city noise and smells of Baltimore.
She'd been here a little over two months and couldn't get her mind wrapped around the fact that this part of Texas had more pine forests, streams, lakes and ponds instead of mesquite scrub and cacti.
Her grandparents having moved to Landmark just six years ago, Stasia had never visited being too busy building her career. But with her latest failure in love, she didn't have to worry about her career it had taken off like a rocket as she'd cashed in on the bdsm craze in romance novels a few years ago.
But, to find... she wiped sweat from her brow with the back of her forearm, refusing to think about not being able to find just the right... "doing it again, Stasia. Let it go."
It had taken a lot of soul searching and remarkably very little work to move from her furnished apartment in downtown Baltimore to Landmark. Her grandparents welcomed her, and she'd found feeding cattle and learning to ride therapeutic.
So much so in fact, she couldn't wait to begin her latest books featuring cowboys. "No more menage's and Dom's for me." Now if she could just get her heart and body to go along with her head.
Hurrying back to the house, she entered and headed upstairs, where she'd taken over the entire second floor as her own, to shower so she could take her grandmother to the beauty parlor.
Her first time inside was a shock. It was a mix of old school gum-smacking-smoking beauticians with big hair to one hip younger woman, looking more like a teen instead of the twenty-two year old, who thought a rainbow of colors in her hair would not resemble a clown's wig.
Stasia wanted to tell her she'd lost that effort. Anyway, today while her grandmother got her weekly do, she planned to flesh out her latest novel. It was going to be hard not to listen to Mrs. Putnam not gossip about her grandsons, Cody and Wade and their pursuit of McKenna and hopefully avoid Flory, now that woman was a character.Yes, stranger than the young woman with the hair of many colors and piercings.
Mostly, Landmark is filled with hardworking cattlemen and women. Gorgeous cowboys with muscles that worked hard and played hard. She'd already been told the annual rodeo in October was a must see if she was looking for a man. Which she'd sworn off after her last fiasco.
Lifting her shirt as she strode into her bedroom, she littered the floor with clothes as she made her way to the bathroom. Now was not the time to think of her life in Maryland. In fact, she'd made strides to forget the fast life. This weekend she was going to her first girl's night out in what was too long to remember with her PA and friends, Jacy, Maddie, and Danika.
Anastasia was determined not to let her older status, maybe the older sister instead of aunt, and have a great time eating, drinking, and dancing at Mastersons.
"But, first things first, need to get Gramma to the hairdressers, so let's get a move on." She spent the next half hour cleaning her body, drying her hair and dressing in jeans and t-shirt. No more pencil skirts and five-inch spiked heels on a daily basis for her. "Thank, God."
Driving into the parking spot, Anastasia let out a short huff. Would she ever get used to the roadways through here. The two mile road in front of her grandparents' home was barely paved, a combination of tar and some gravel. The main road, thankfully truly paved, wound around itself several times.
Praise the Lord, she'd made the correct left turn instead of right like she the last two times, winding up in Paris, Texas. She did get to see the famous Eiffel Tower of the west, the large red hat looking as if it would teeter off in a brisk wind.
And the first time she found herself on her way back to Landmark from Paris, she had missed the turnoff and wound up in Clarksville. Not today though. Today she had done herself proud and made it to the town center on her first try.
"Stasia?" Her grandmother's voice interrupted her reverie.
"You gonna sit here all day?"
Looking over to the passenger side, Anastasia saw her grandmother leaning in looking at her.
"Go ahead, Gramma, I'll be right there." She sat there looking at over the town. The layout was strange. Main street was straight, lined with residences, grocery store, and a church and a few other small businesses. It ended in a half circle with roads on each side, shooting off to the right and left. At the back of the circle was a wide sidewalk with the heart of the town's businesses and government offices flanking the veranda style walkway.
"Hurry it up if you don't want to be cornered by Stubblefield." She cocked her head to the left. Anastasia didn't need to look behind her to know her grandmother was referring to Tony Stubblefield the town's youngest widower. The man had hit her up her first time in town wanting to know if she was looking for a ready made family.
His twin boys, eleven and teen daughter were good kids, but since that day, she steered clear of the man. "Thanks, I'm right behind you."
Hurriedly gathering her purse and notebook, she alighted from the car, catching up to her grandmother. Greeting the townfolk, Anastasia was beginning to feel at home.