Home > Cowboy SEAL Homecoming (Navy SEAL Cowboys #1)(9)

Cowboy SEAL Homecoming (Navy SEAL Cowboys #1)(9)
Author: Nicole Helm


   Becca whirled on Alex. “What problem do you have with her being a woman?”

   “We don’t have the facilities to house a woman. You can’t have us and her living in the same bunkhouse as anyone who comes here. It wouldn’t be comfortable for her or them. We need to focus on men. At least as we start.”

   “Bullshit,” Becca retorted. Every single one of them raised their eyebrows at her and she was mad enough that she could only think, Good. Good she had surprised them and good they learned she could be…a bit nervy at times, but she had a backbone too.

   “A therapist licensed in therapeutic horsemanship and counseling who has studied PTSD extensively has exactly the background necessary regardless of her military experience. Not to mention, this isn’t for men only—there are plenty of women who’ve been deployed and deserve to find purpose here if they choose to.”

   “That would be complicated, Becca. Right now we’re creating a single bunkhouse. That’s not about excluding women—it’s about what we can reasonably do.”

   “My ass,” she retorted. “If we have an interested female veteran, we’ll find arrangements for her as well. I’m not going to be the only woman here just because you guys are afraid of some breasts.”

   Again, she enjoyed the shocked looks on all of their faces. At least until they exchanged glances. It irritated her they could communicate with each other like that, excluding her.

   At least when she was irritated with them, her fear and nerves tended to dissipate. Maybe she should just be irritated with them all the time.

   “This is a group effort, I know, but the therapeutic horsemanship is mine,” Becca said fiercely. “That’s my baby. We agreed on that. You guys are going to be in charge of all the stuff with the cattle and bringing the veterans in. I’ll handle hiring the staff I need.”

   “Don’t you think we should have a consensus, being partners and all?” Alex asked coolly.

   She glared at Alex. “No. Certainly not if you’re really going to sit there and say a licensed therapist isn’t qualified to be part of your oh-so-manly endeavor just because she’s a civilian.”

   “That’s not what we’re saying. That’s not what Jack meant,” Alex said all too carefully, and while Jack didn’t look pleased to be spoken for, he didn’t say anything further.

   “We never talked about having therapists wandering around. It’s going to make a lot of the guys uncomfortable,” Gabe said, and Becca figured it would make Gabe uncomfortable, but she didn’t say that aloud. “At least former military adds some common bond.”

   “A guy who’s been through what we’ve been through wants somewhere to have a purpose. We need work. Hard work. Value. That’s the point of what we’re doing,” Alex said, his voice still so calm and even that it stoked her irritation higher.

   “I think it’s important we have a licensed therapist on staff,” she returned with none of Alex’s stoicism. “If that’s going to scare you and the other men off, regardless of their military background, then you and they are not ready. You cannot heal someone who doesn’t want to be healed. There has to be some desire, a desire that isn’t wrapped up in whether you can be military buddies with the therapist. We haven’t figured out how the program will go on the day to day, which a therapist will help us with, by the way. That being said, therapeutic horsemanship can be optional, but I’m not giving this part up. And I’m not compromising on this necessity. Even if it makes you lot uncomfortable.”

   “Why is this so important to you?” Alex asked, his voice quiet and concerned.

   Which made her nerves flutter. She had a lot of reasons for doing this and she wasn’t comfortable sharing them. They were personal and somewhat embarrassing.

   She swallowed. “I was planning on having a therapeutic horsemanship arm of the ranch before you called and told me that you wanted to move home. Before Burt died.” She took a deep breath and tried to calm her rioting nerves. She focused on finding the right combination of words to give them enough so they didn’t argue with her, without giving so much of the truth she made herself uncomfortable.

   “My focus was going to be kids with terminal illness, but this is pretty rugged terrain. We’re isolated. It would have been difficult for families like that to get here with the health risks involved. Expensive to create the kind of facilities and doctors needed.”

   No one seemed particularly impressed, which meant she had to give a little bit more. She looked down at her clasped hands.

   “I don’t know you very well, Alex, but I thought a lot about how hard it must have been to be injured and lose your father all in one fell swoop. I couldn’t help but think about how many people go through really hard things after their deployment and how they’d be the perfect candidates for hard work as healing. When you were talking about your idea to bring some soldiers home to find some purpose, I couldn’t think of a better new focus for my horses than wounded veterans.”

   That seemed to reach them a little deeper, but still they said nothing. They didn’t exchange glances or look at her—they all had a certain military blankness about their expressions. Becca wondered if it was a choice to respond that way or simply habit.

   “Maybe you guys are perfectly healed emotionally.” She didn’t believe that, because if they were healed, they wouldn’t be concerned about having a therapist on the grounds, but she’d give them their space on that right now. “But there will be men and women who come here who will need someone to talk to. Someone who can help them work through their conflicting feelings. You should all know that. Even if you don’t need it, you should know some people will.”

   Alex glanced at the two stoic men he’d brought to their ranch. Becca still couldn’t tell what those looks meant, but clearly they were communicating.

   “All right. I think if we all agree, it’s fair that Becca handles the therapeutic horsemanship without our interference. We’ll set it up as she had planned, allowing her to hire who she wants. If you do hire a woman, you’ll also be in charge of securing housing for her.”

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