Dante Pane is not a nice man. He’s aware of that fact. It hasn’t helped his mood. Living on the ranch where his favorite brother died also hasn’t helped his mood. There is a part of Dante that wants to blame all his problems on Aren. It all went to shit once Aren showed up and stole Deacon, the love of Dante’s life. Unfortunately, Dante was a big part of everything going to shit given he broke into Aren’s house and destroyed his things. It’s easier to just hate Aren, but the guy tends to do the right things. Like sending a woman, Cami, up to Dante’s ranch. Dante was not pleased until he realized there would be no more meals comprised solely of pickles canned before the ranch’s previous residents had died.
Cami is intensely private. Slowly, she parcels out bits of her personal story to Dante as she mends clothes in front of the fire. Mostly, she tells mythological folk tales. Dante finds it comforting to have someone with whom he can relax, and, in some ways, someone he can take care of. Regardless of his marriage ending disastrously, he had never given up on the ideal of being a rancher with a wife and children. Dante, being uninterested in women sexually, and Cami, not wanting a sexual relationship due to her past in a whorehouse, are able to become friends.
A portion of the story is told from the point of view of Simon, the foreman on Dante’s ranch. He is best friends with Frances. He knows Frances loves him, romantically, but just doesn’t feel that way in return. It’s not just that Frances is the wrong gender, but Simon has a tragic romantic history. His fiancée, Lena, had been violently raped. Despite marriage, she deteriorated and died. Simon refuses himself any relationships with women, however transitory, in Lena’s memory. He and Frances begin to have sex, in the sense of a friend helping out another.
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