Chapters 1-11 Before released in book:

1 Reveal 

The thud of someone knocking at my door led me to wonder who would be up at this hour.  I walked out of my bedroom and the perfect image of a young woman silhouetted in the window of the door.  Irritated Tracy would be trying to tempt me again.  Determined to take her over my knee and whip her butt for coming on to me.  I took a deep breath to control myself I opened the door full of determination, “I told you no!  You need to stop…”

Shock stopped my scolding when I noticed it wasn’t Tracy.  My heart jumped at the sight of Samantha standing there.  She radiated a glow reminding me she is the perfect little angle.

Her eyes wide with wonder and her mouth opened with an unsaid question.  She entered when I opened the door for her.  Normally she came for my stories, but this time her visit is unexpected.

Thick with regret for yelling I tried to recover, “Sorry, I thought you were someone else.”

Dragging her feet, her head down, and the sullen facial expression; told me it’s going to be a serious visit.

In her attempts to be herself she replied, “I didn’t know you had many visitors.”

Waiting with wonder, my eyes followed her over to the bookshelf.  A grin took over my face.  She is here for a story.  Waiting for her to pick the picture of her choice my mind raced with ideas to make her laugh.

In the past she would search out the pictures to find one that spiked her interest.  Today her hand moved slowly to each picture not choosing one, her shoulders raised and lowered in a way that shows she is struggling with something, and the small sniffle told me something is wrong, “Sam?”

Allowing her time to collect her thoughts I detected her trembling hand trace over a couple more pictures.  She procrastinated at telling me what is bothering her.

Maybe she needed a little help, so I asked, “You didn’t come here for the stories, Samantha.  What is wrong?”

When she turned to me the glisten of one tear ran down her cheek.  She took a deep breath and released what she needed to say, “I’m late.”

My insides twisted, my lungs collapsed, and my heart stopped as if I died.  Deep down in my gut I knew this punishment is for every impure idea I had of making love to her.  It went against everything I believed.  I did love her and hoped someday, when she’s a lot older, we’d get married.  I didn’t want to say the wrong thing, but the words escaped from my mouth before grasping what she had just said, “Whose?”

Obviously, this killed me.  In her wide eyes, as blue as the Caribbean Sea, the tears gathered hinting at over flowing.  We stared for minutes, which seemed like hours.  Without her reply I knew whose child it would be…  My nephew’s name came from my mouth again without hesitation, “Jared!”

Her plump bottom lip trembled as the tears spilled over and ran down those smooth rosy cheeks.

This is my punishment for loving a child in the ways of my dreams?  Blackness caved in around me and my voice cracked as I asked another question involuntarily, “Why?”

Not wanting to ever let her go again, I stared into those eyes.  The crease in her forehead, the sad eyes, and the pouty lips gave her regrets away.  I hoped she saw the pain she caused me.  Waiting for her to say something my body intensified filling with something even I had a hard time subduing.

She blubbered out, “You kiss Tracy.”

I guessed her answer reflected the way I looked to her because her eyes avoided me now.

My heart pounded so hard while my pulse echoed in my ears; an excruciating jabbed to my temples made me close my eyes in agony.  My hands fisted with the question in my head.  Is this revenge?  I didn’t deserve revenge.  Punishment for being in love with her, for my fantasies of things we do?  Yes!  But not revenge.  It’s obvious I’m not the least bit interested in her sister.  I never spent any time with her, talked to her, or anything with her sister.  Why she’d think I’d kiss her sister, especially sense I am in love with..?  My jaw clinched as I tried to keep calm, “What you think you saw… Tracy kissed me… What you didn’t see… What I did do, was push her away.  I sent her back to the house!”

A sobbing gasp escaped her, and a full stream of tears flowed from her eyes.  She tried to wipe them swiftly, but too many to hold them back.

Not being able to separate my anger from the longing to hold her ripped my heart to pieces.  All I wanted to do is wrap my arms around her and take away all the sadness.  I wanted to tell her everything would be okay.  I am in love with her and I would take care of It and her if she’d let me.  The only problem with this theory is I wouldn’t allow myself to have her, and what if she loved…, “Do you love him?”

Her eyes flashed blue as they bore into mine while shaking her head.  My knees went weak with relief.  In a whisper, between sobs, came out three words that defused my anger, “He’s like you.”

I held motionless wondering what she tried to say.  Did she tell me she had sex with Jared because she wants to make love to me?  No, that is not a good reason to do that with him.  Does that mean she tried to get my attention, and this just happened?  Now she will never experience how I truly love her because I won’t act on my desires, but I will protect her.

Time is what I needed to evaluate the situation.  Needing to sort through what she said, what happened, and what I’m going to do to protect her, “I need a day to think about this.”

That came out colder than I meant.  Hurt and devastation is what I saw on her face with my reply.  Pulling her into my arms right now would be very dangerous because I’d slip and tell her everything.  The confession would be that I’ve always wanted her, that I’ve always loved her, and that I want to be the one to take care of her the rest of her life.  The sad part is she’s too young and confused to understand this now.  Samantha moved quickly to the door, stopped and wiped her tears, and hesitated long enough to say one last thing, “If I am… I don’t want it.”

She didn’t move.  Was she waiting for me to say something to make it all go away?  I knew it would be wrong to get rid of the fetus, but I didn’t want her to want it.  Wanting to take the pressure from her I said, “Give me a day or two.  I will figure something out.”

Samantha stayed still waiting for me to do something, so I took a step closer.  It’s time to tell her that every touch we shared burned into my soul.  I took another step towards her.  Needing to tell her she meant everything to me and I would help her through this no matter what happens.  Reaching out to take her into my arms, but my hands didn’t reach her in time.

She blurted out, “I Don’t Want IT!”  She raced off at full speed.

Falling to my hands and knees wasn’t how I wanted to react to this, but it happened anyway.  A wave of emotions came over my body and pulled me in deeper and deeper until I could no longer breathe.  I hadn’t experienced hyperventilation since my father passed away.  Between losing Samantha and killing my own flesh and blood; it was too much for me.

No matter what, talking to Jared now is not a choice.  I might beat him.  Forcing myself back to bed I laid down staring at the ceiling until tears trickled out the sides.  As I closed them my mind drifted to Samantha on the first day I met this annoying precious child full of questions.

 

 

2 The Arrival

The day I arrived at the William’s Ranch for my interview with Kyle Williams he introduced me to this horrible, wonderful, adorable, pain in my ass of a child.  Love at first sight did happen with Samantha.  She’s a girl that grows on you.

Mr. Williams lead me around his small ranch while he explained what he needed from me if I took the job.  Being a trainer is what I thought I would become, but his offer would make me one now.  Along with taking care of the horse’s daily needs.  They wanted someone good, but couldn’t afford a big name trainer so they were willing to give me a shot.

The offer seemed okay, but at 19 years of age I didn’t need much.  I’d have a place of my own, a little shack on the property.  It had two small bedrooms big enough for a double bed, a night stand, and a dresser in each.  The Kitchen is an ell shape with a sink, stove, fridge, and very little counter space.  There is only room enough for a small table and two chairs.  The living room isn’t much bigger with only enough room for a love seat, a small TV stand, and two book shelves off to the sides.  Of course the meals would be included, plus $200 a week.  For me this would be my new home with Mr. Williams’s willingness to take a chance on me.

 

Next we made our way out and about the ranch.  First the stables, then grooming area, Mr. Williams’s office, and my office.  At 19 I am going to have an office.  After that we moved down the lane where he showed me all the pastures.  The more I saw the happier I became to make this my new home and my new future.

We got back to the riding rink, and he asked me what I thought about everything.  A little shocked that he hadn’t asked me any questions I’m a little skeptical to reply in a positive way.  He continued to explain how he wanted the ranch to run when I noticed a little girl walking towards us.  That’s when I first met Samantha, who would turn out to be the love of my life, even though I didn’t know it at the time.

Before he got distract with his family I had to ask, “Mr. Williams, don’t you have any questions for me?”

He laughed, but I didn’t get why he would laugh at me, but he pointed to the little girl, “I don’t, but she will.  And the job is yours if she chooses you.”

Stunned that he could leave this decision up to a child my eyes bulged with disbelief.  Kyle hugged Samantha, “I like him so if he passes your tests he stays.”

She didn’t introduce herself.  Her eyes looked me up and down before she took my hand.  She pulled me toward the stables as I glanced back over my shoulder at Mr. Williams wondering if he was serious.  A child shouldn’t be deciding my fate; she’s not even my age.  She wouldn’t be able to tell if I am capable of doing the job or not.  What my qualifications are?  What’s involved in training, or anything that has to do with horses?  Why would he leave it up to her?

I definitely have the job if she’s deciding because I will just use a little playful charm and she’ll be an easy push over.  Her questions seemed easy enough in the beginning.  My name, where I grew up, and how many years did I work with horses, and what I liked most about the job.  Amused with her I still wondered why she’d get to decide my fate.

 

We got to the first stall.  She turned to me with her eyebrows raise, “Now is the real test.  This is Blaze.  He has something wrong with him.  I want you to tell me what you find.”  She opened the stall, so I walked in not wanting to take my eyes off of her.  So, this is how it’s going to go with her?

She nodded her head for me to take a look at him.

Not trusting her knowledge I traced my hand over every inch of his body. I checked his teeth, hoofs, and checked out all the muscles on his legs looking for any swelling.  He had none.  I stopped and peaked at her wondering if she’s just testing me on something not there.  This is a test so it could be a trick question.  She grinned from ear to ear, and she giggled a little when I glared at her.  If there’s anything wrong with him I will find it.  I moved in front of the horse running my hands along his neck, down the crest, and checked his teeth.  Pinching his skin I huffed with satisfaction of finding something.  I walked over to her, glared at her while trying to hold back my satisfied grin, and shook my head with disapproval.

She spoke with a know it all voice, “Well, what do you think is wrong with him?”

“Other than needing a bath, he’s a little dehydrated.”

“He is not!”

Proud of myself I assured her, “Yes, he is.”

Her lips pierced, her eyes grew angry, “NOT!  I take good care of him.”

This time I took her hand in mine and led her to the front of the horse.  Keeping her hand in mine I showed her how to check him for dehydration, “When you pinch here, see how the skin doesn’t pop back out?”

Her eyes met mine with determination, “Yes, and he is not dehydrated.”

“Well, I hate to tell you this, but you’re wrong.”

She walked out and grabbed a hose, refilled his stock tank, and huffed at me.  I chuckled while I waited for her to finish filling the tank.

 

She took me by the hand again and we walked to the next stall, giving me the mare’s name Star.  Again holding out her hand for me to go in and check her.  I did the same evaluation.  She had splints, but I didn’t stop when I found that problem.  Continuing with the evaluation I went over everything before peaking over Star at her, “What’s your name?”

She raised her eyebrows at me and didn’t reply.  Not sure if I want the job if I need to prove myself to her, but everything else is so perfect that I could handle her.

Avoiding my question she asks, “Well, do you have any idea yet?”

Standing back up to glare at her, “Yes, she has splints.”

“What? No way! I take care of my horses.”  She walked over and stood in front of me waiting for me to show her without asking me to show her.  I took her hand and traced down Star’s front leg until we felt the swelling together.  She pulled her hand away, turned to me, looked me up and down again, and a crooked little smirk appeared on that little face.  She handed me the reins without a word.  As soon as I had the reins on Star this child took my hand again and led me out the gate, “Bring Star.”

I followed, and she brought me to another room where they care for the horses.

Not showing me where anything was she stopped her foot and demanded, “Show me how to help her.”

Searching every draw and every cabinet while she made her way to the counter top I pulled out the things needed.  I would glance over at her catching her watching me out of the corner of her eye, but she didn’t want me to see her scrutiny.  Instead she laughed and giggled, finding enjoyment in my struggles to find things.

When everything was ready I spoke to her while doing each step.  The funniest thing; she already knew how to do this.

My whole day filled with different tasks while she evaluated everything I did.

At 6 pm we headed to the main house, but she wasn’t giving me any clue of what she’s going to decide.  She pulled me to the sink in the mud room to wash up for dinner.  As we both scrubbed I had to ask, “So, how did I do?”

She laughed at me handing me a towel.  I wiped my hands leisurely hoping she would answer me.  As soon as I set the towel down she had my hand in hers and she led me to a large dining table.  Mr. Williams, Mrs. Williams, and another girl are all seated and waiting for us.  She shoved me into an empty chair and then she sat next to me.  The other girl looked and seemed older than this child.  Maybe she was the one I needed on my side because this child didn’t seem to care for me.  Before anyone spoke they all folded their hands, the child folded mine for me, and then pushed my head down for the prayer.  They said there thanks together for the food we were about to eat.  At home we didn’t pray regularly, but they kept it simple enough.  My head down I kept an eye on the child from the corner of my eye.  She’s quit the specimen.

She piled food on my plate for me a lot more than I would have taken myself.  I put my hand up to stop her from putting more on my plate not wanting them to think I would eat them out of house and home.  I sat and ate silently as they all talked easily about different things.

When Mr. Williams finished eating he leaned back in his chair with his hands behind his head, “Well, Sam, how did he do?”

She shrugged her shoulders acting like she didn’t think I was that great, “He seems to know a few things.”

Mr. Williams spoke again, “So, do we keep him?”

She took her time Hum-ing and Ha-ing.  Waiting for my fate, my eyes went back and forth between them.  She reviewed a few things to her dad that I’m surprised she noticed.  That’s a good sign.  She stood up sharply but hesitated for the longest minute that I have ever experienced.  It got harder and harder to sit there without saying anything on my behalf.

She finally spoke, “He stays.”

Relief exploded in my chest.  I stood to shake Mr. Williams’s hand, but as swiftly as I took his hand in mine for a hand shake she pulled me away.

Mr. Williams spoke out quickly, “You should call me Kyle.”

But his voice faded as I went out the room, then out of the house following her.

 

She walked into the shack as if she owned it.  She gave a brief rundown of where things were and then laid out bedding for me.

Her direction came out strong, “You have a TV, but I wouldn’t stay up to late though.  I will be back at 5am.  We start work early around here.  There is an alarm clock in your room.  Do you need my help to set it?”

Her eyes met mine, and for the first time she radiated innocence.  The color of blue in her eyes had their very own stunning shade.

Gawking at her made her confrontational, but her eyes stunned me into a state of blatant staring.  I grinned and replied, “No, I can do it by myself.”  I didn’t want her to know that I get up a little earlier than that.

Hesitating she said, “Okay.”

Looking around the shack one more time to see if there was anything else she could tell me, but she only huffed and then said, “How old are you?”

Not knowing if the interrogations were going to continue I replied, “Nineteen, but I grew…”

Putting up her hand she stopped me, “Well, that’s all.”

I caught her name at the dinner table so I addressed her, “Hey Sam?”

She turned glaring at me, “Its Samantha for you.  We feed horses first in the morning then we eat.  After breakfast I will show you the grounds.  Make sure you are up on time. I don’t like to wait.”

I had every intention of getting on her good side, “Samantha, how old are you?”

She gave me a firm look, but cracked a smile, “Well, I’m not the one on probation.”

That surprised me, “Probation?”

“Yes, I will give you a chance to prove yourself for three months.  I want someone who can follow a schedule and who knows what they are doing.  So be ready for more questions tomorrow.”

The smile on her face as she turned around and walked out told me I could win her approval with time.  I moved to the door to watch her run to the house with her dirty brown hair flying behind her.  Kyle waited for her, standing at the top of the steps.  They talked shortly, they hugged, and then he swatted her rear to push her inside the house.   It put a smile on my face to see a loving family.  Kyle attention came to me.  He tipped his hat to me, turned to the house, and followed in after her.

I went to my room setting the alarm for 4 am.  I always started earlier than 5 am, plus I had plans of taking a tour of the stables alone before I had to deal with the over bearing child again.

 

3 Unspoken 

I drifted back to the present time.  My smile tarnished by what she had told me.  How would I ever guess five years ago that today I would be in love with her?

Morning would come quickly, so I needed to sleep, but worrying about Samantha kept me restless.  The pleasant things about her are what I should concentrate on.  Her crystal blue eyes penetrating my soul, her smile brightening my worst days, and her demeanor I wanted to stifle with my kisses.  Back to kissing her was not a good thing.

Starting over with how unruly her sandy brown hair usually is, except when she has it in a ponytail, or curled under her cowboy hat.  This isn’t going to work if I found good within the bad.  I told myself to try again.

How about those old flannel shirts of her dads she wore when she worked with me.  They did nothing for her figure until she got tired of pulling it up and she would tie it at the waist.  Oh her waist that sometimes peaked out when reaching up to get on a horse.  This is ridiculous.  Can’t I find anything about her that repulses me at all anymore?  Her legs, that’s it.  Contoured in muscles, long, and looked particularly thin when she wore cut off jean shorts.  How strong they would be wrapped around me?  Shit!

I rolled over in my bed covering my face with my arm.  How will I ever sleep again when all I can see is everything I love about this girl?  There had to be a bad side… She had slept with another man, but he happened to be my nephew.  She might be pregnant.  She’s stubborn, out spoken, opinionated, and worst of it impatient, though I wanted her to be mine, someday.  Why couldn’t she just wait a little longer so we could have a future together?  I had every intension of telling her how I felt when she was older.  Like 20 maybe.  Now is not the right time, never would be the right time.  I had to get her and this idea, out of my head.

Unless…

Unless I said the baby is mine.  If it were mine she would have to marry me, her parents wouldn’t be happy about it, but I am like family already.  If Kyle didn’t kill me first, he would eventually come around to seeing that it would be for the best.  And the best part would be that she would be mine.  Of course I would be forcing her to be with me and I would have to be a father to my nephew’s child.

No matter how I look at it, we would have to figure something else out, she said she didn’t want it.

STOP!!! I rolled over pulling the pillow over my head.  Think blackness, think blackness, think blackness.  Finally it came.

 

4 The Games

My dreams brought me back to the second day.  How I got up early going out to check the horses over before she showed up and asked me questions.  Her reaction of storming into the barn yelling for me made me chuckle.

“Kameron!  Kameron!  Are you out here?”

Panic in her voice rather than that demanding bossy tone she had the day previous.  Her feet hit the ground hard and fast with her search.  She wanted me here, and she didn’t even realize it yet.  I came out leaning against the stall of the first horse she showed me, Blaze.

Coming to a halt the instant her eyes found me.  They filled with a blazing anger, “I thought you gave up already.  Maybe it’s too hard for you.”

“Nope.  I get up around 4 am to begin my work day.  You didn’t give me a chance to tell you.”

She scowled at me as she went from stall to stall making sure all the horses are cared for and fed.  We spent the whole morning together with little scrutiny from her.  I found it amusing that she wasn’t full of attitude today.  I allowed her to lead me to the house about 9:00 am for breakfast.  She seemed to treat me like one of her ponies leading me everywhere.  We washed up together, and I gave her a shove, “So, how did I do this morning?”

The roll of her eyes left me feeling less than what she expected.  With a scowl she put me in my place, “It’s the first day.  We’ll see.”

After breakfast we headed back out.  Next, she wanted to test my abilities of grooming.  We walked into the cool down room and she handed me the brush and comb.

Expectant she said matter of fact, “It’s all included.  Understanding how to do everything is needed to be a good trainer.  Right?”

Shaking my head and laughing I moved to groom the horse.  She took a seat on the counter to watch.

The oddest thing happened; Blaze fidgeted as if being spooked when I brushed down to his stomach.  When he shifted I stopped to stroke him with a calming voice, “it’s okay boy.”

Trying it again he shifted, stomped, and neighed.  I wiped my hand over his underside in search of finding what bothers him, but he had already calmed.

Samantha seemed to enjoy that the horse didn’t like me brushing him, or checking his belly.

Something wasn’t right, and I smelled a rat.  I started again, but as I moved the brush down to Blaze’s stomach I glanced over his back.  Clicking noise came from her, and that is when Blaze shifted tensely.  She’s irritating him on purpose.  Steaming with irritation I walked around Blaze to stand in front of her, waiting for an explanation.  Trying to keep her innocence she barked, “What?”

I didn’t have time for games, particularly her games.  I pulled her down, tucked her under my arm intending to kick her out while I worked on Blaze, and headed for the door.  She kicked and screamed the whole way, and I didn’t have to struggle to hold her off until I closed the door and lock it.  It shuttered with every punch and kick she threw at it, and the profanity that came from her mouth floored me.  I laughed and went back to work.  Blaze cooperated with ease in his calmer state after I removed the problem.

Not long after it got quiet I finished.  Taking my time I walked Blaze to his stall.  Greeted not by Samantha alone, but she had her father with her.  Fire danced in her eyes as I moved closer to them.

Kyle was first to speak, “So, may I ask why you treated my daughter this way?”

I glared at Samantha, because she knew dam well why I treated her that way, but I spoke to Kyle, “Samantha deliberately irritated Blaze while I groomed him.”

Samantha didn’t wait for her father to respond she bellowed out, “Did not!  You weren’t doing it right.  Don’t blame…”

I would not let her do this, “SAMANTHA!  Do you want to play these games?”  I shook my head glaring at her, “I know what I am doing!”

Her eyes went large with shock.  The conflict in her brain twisting its way until a twitch of a grin grew on her mouth, “Yeah.  I picked on Blaze.  But, I was testing you!”

Our gazes locked on, each other as if to challenge one another.

I think he surprised us both when Kyle chuckled.  That is when our bond broke.  He patted me on the back, “I have seen no one take that approach with her.  Good for you.”

“DAD!”

He turned to walk away but gave his input, “Samantha, behave!”

Wanting to avoid gloating I avoided looking at her and waited.  She must have been avoiding me also because we stood there for far too long.  Knowing it wouldn’t be good to look at her I glanced over to her.  Our timing was right on because she sneaked a peek at me too.  The connection way too long, and too much of a power struggle between us, I had to say something, “What’s next?”

If steam could have come out her ears it would have.  She stormed onward as I followed.  Keeping a foot or two between us we moved on to the next item on her list.  At least she wouldn’t be playing any games soon with being leery of me.

We headed down the lane.  Watching Samantha’s vise grip on the rains; no wonder Blaze acted so temperamental with every little thing she did.  How could her dad have so much faith in her when she still seemed to struggle on so many things with taking care of the horses.  I had to say something, but it would not go well with her, “You tell me you take good care of your horses, but you’re forcing him.”  Moving closer and reaching for her hands, “He knows you.  Don’t use force.”  I loosened her fingers, “Like this.  The slightest movement from you he will understand, and he won’t defy your guidance.”

Pleased that she allowed me to show her something, I grinned, “He wants to please you.”

I held back a little to watch her with the knowledge of something better.  Testing how much control she had; she moved him this way, that way, and then turned back.  Her expression didn’t give away anything.  Not knowing if she’s happy with the results or irritated about me being right I asked, “Better?”

She held back a grin, “Yeah, I guess.”

 

Roaming the grounds she reviewed what her father showed me, but we were going further than that.  The lane leads to a creek, which we followed down to another lane, and then back out to the main road.  From my calculations we were about a mile and half from the ranch. Samantha pointed to houses along the way giving me the names of the owners, and their family backgrounds.  She has intimate details about each of them and had no problem sharing the info with me.

After spending the day with her it clear she will be a handful, no matter how well I did my job.  So much for having a life outside of work if she’s always hanging out down here.

 

5 Nightmare 

I woke covered in sweat, my blanket and sheet entangled my legs.  Everything that ran through my head over the last few days, terrorized me in my sleep.

Worry, sadness, betrayal, and being messed up clued me into the truest feelings I had for Samantha.  Not being able to tell her all these years is wrong even though I did it to protect her no matter how miserable it made me.

Now what am I going to do?  That’s the question that kept running through my head but the answer did not.

If she chose someone else I couldn’t tell her how I felt.  If she is pregnant, it’s someone else’s.  That someone happens to be my nephew.  No matter how I looked at this I knew my feelings didn’t matter anymore.  I needed to put them away and let her go.

Over the last five years, in the back of my mind, for reasons unknown to me I assumed we would eventually be together. My plan to wait for her to finish college might have been a little too long of a wait.  But I wanted to give her a chance to get a job, have a career, and then we’d spend quality time together, and let the friendship develop into… yes, a loving relationship.  The age difference has always been an issue for me, but if we waited until she’s 24 it wouldn’t really matter anymore.  The age difference is part of it, and now thinking she is pregnant, well it broke my heart.

I lay back with my arm over my eyes.  I required sleep.  If only this nightmare would go away.

 

Competition

Samantha at 12 years old had her first riding competition.  We spent months perfecting her technique, her posture, her control, and the routine in which she would ride.  Blaze took to it all because he wanted to please Samantha.  When Samantha complained I pushed her harder, and when that didn’t work I joined her on Blaze.

Distraction is what I experienced.  The sweet magnolia scent mixed with green apples drifted to my sense of smell and made my mouth water.

Ignoring the sensation I held her hands in mine.  We gripped the reins together with my arms wrapped around her.  I pressed my leg in and adjusted the reins to teach Blaze what I wanted him to do, and to show her that it’s not all in the reins.  Day after day I held my arms around her to teach her the best ways to work with Blaze so he performs the way we needed him too.

 

It seemed like little time had passed when it came time for the show.  Standing there in the waiting station I went over everything again one step at a time.  With observing her go through it in her head, allowed me to be more self-assured.  Her father, Kyle didn’t make me nervous, but Samantha wanted to be perfect for him.

They called her name.  Her eyes shot to mine.  Instead of being filled with confidence they swelled with worry.  Her mouth twitch when she claimed, “I can’t do this.”

 

I needed to be supportive, “You are here. You’ve practiced for months.  You have a natural instinct.  Blaze distinguishes what you tell him.  Guide him, don’t command.  Trust me.”

I lifted her up to his back.  Uncertainty filled her face as she surveyed me while I double checked everything.  The way her eyes bore into me made me want to give her more, but there wasn’t anything else.  My chest hurt because of it.  Taking one last glimpse at her face the eyes pleaded.

I had to reassure her.  I patted her leg, “Samantha, it’s your first competition and you have nothing to lose.  You are absolutely ready.”

With this she nodded, straightened herself in the saddle, took a deep breath, and headed off.  I went to stand at the gate to keep my eyes on her.  Confident in her ability I didn’t worried about how she would do.  My main concern seemed to be her getting hurt somehow.

Kyle came and stood next to me, “You did well with her.”

Holding my breath I gasped to reply, “Not yet.  Let’s wait to see how she does.”

He laughed at me.  How could he laugh at a time like this?

He elaborated, “I mean she is nicer.  She looks up to you, and that doesn’t happen for her.”

I glanced over for a moment.  There had to be someone

He pointed to the ring.  Samantha had started her routine, but he spoke as we observed, “It’s hard to look up to someone when you know more than most.  You have showed her things she didn’t know.”

My attention went back to her.  I don’t think he could sense I too am attached to her.

With every challenging move I held my breath. With turns I gasped.  When she completed her run and headed our way I let go of my nervousness and resumed breathing.  She did an amazing job, but we had to wait to see what the judges decided.

We all sat around and waited except for Samantha.  I took Blaze off to cool him down while she paced back and forth.  I wanted to grab her and hug her, but that is her family’s job to do.  She paced her way over to Blaze and me, but she wanted to talk to him.  She praised him over and over, but it my hunch that she is reassuring herself that they did good.

I took a carrot from my pocket and moved close to her.  I took her hand in mine.  When she realized what I gave her a huge grin grew on her face.

Her eyes pierced into mine as her eyebrows rose, “You’re not supposed to do that.”

Justifying myself I claimed, “It’s a special treat, and it’s good for him.”

She rolled her eyes, but moved to feed it to him.

Moving closer to her again I held out an award that had been mine when I use to ride.

Those blue eyes came up to stare at me with wonder, “I can’t take this.  You earned this.”

I grinned and proclaimed, “And so have you.”

 

“Why don’t you both turn so we can get a picture of the two of you?”

Startled by her mother’s words I stepped away from her.  She didn’t let me get far before she grabbed my waist and hugged me there.  I put my hand on her shoulder as they took the picture of us together.  I hid my admiration for Samantha behind my grin.

 

At the awards we lined up.  The riders, the horses, and trainers all moved to the front line.  I stood behind Samantha not wanting the attention, but when they called her name for third place I jumped in place and yelled, “YEAH!” so much for not wanting attention.  She walked up and got her award.  After the first place ribbon got awarded I picked Samantha up in a huge hug congratulating her.  She didn’t even hug me back.  She wasn’t happy, but ecstatic seemed like a mild statement of how much pride and joy that ran through me now.

After all the pictures and congratulation’s we headed home.  With her mopping all the way home I tried to tease, poke, and prod her into play, but she wouldn’t have anything to do with it.  I knew the next competition would be a personal challenge for her because she’s not going to settle for anything less than first place.

 

7 Negative 

I woke finding myself looking at the ceiling again. I rolled from the bed and went out to the living room picking up the picture from her first competition.  The gleam in her eyes, the smile on her face, and when she wrapped her arms around me for a photo, that’s when I started to have feelings for her.  Not like creepy or anything.  I needed to make her happy, to take care of her, to be there for her for everything she needed help with.  Apparently she is a child, being 12 years old, but I am falling in love with her.  How can I deny these emotions, and how am I going to deny my desires now?

God how I wanted to take her in my arms, hold her tight, and tell her everything will be all right, because I loved her and would take care of her.  But I wouldn’t do that.

 

I started my day early and went through my regular routine.  Jared tagged along but determined to work him harder I ordered him to do more.

Watching him put his heart into the task at hand made me ponder about her and him together.  Did he take advantage of Samantha, push her into it?  Or was it her?  My temperature was running hot having him there with me.  I wanted to smack him upside the head and ask him what the hell did he do, but that wouldn’t solve the problem.  The issue being that Samantha may be pregnant and what we would do about it.

My head seemed to go wild with ideas of what I would do if she came down and he is here.  Would I stop him from talking to her, or would it be better to let them work it out?

Why do teenagers have to be so stupid?

 

When we finished our morning chores and Samantha hadn’t appeared, I assumed it would be best if we didn’t go up to the house for breakfast.  Instead we went to the shack.  Jared asked no questions.  He got a pan out and the eggs, he set out salt and pepper, and put bread in the toaster while I whipped up scrambled eggs.  We ate in silence.  He must have known I am upset because as soon as he finished eating he got up and ran the water for dishes.  He washed up his own and the pan.  I heard the shower after he left the kitchen.  What is that boy up too?  Not taking long he came back out in jeans, a white beater top, and his work boots on.  He saw me look him up and down.  His breath came out in a chuckle, “What’s next?”

He looked like a teenage model so there was no way he is getting close to Samantha.  “Back fence.”

It didn’t take us long to load up what we needed and headed to the back of the property.  Anger is not a healthy emotion, but what he did to my innocent Samantha is beyond forgiveness keeping me angry with him.

“Is something wrong?”

Like he didn’t have a clue what is wrong.  My only reply came in one word, “Yep.”

Silence would be better than him talking, but teenagers can’t keep their mouths shut.  “Do you want to talk about it?”

“Hah!  No I don’t!”

Jared’s eyes penetrated me.  Aware that I am upset with him he didn’t get it that all my anger is directed at him.  When I pulled up to the spot we were working today he turned eager to find out why I’m so angry.

“Is it Samantha?  I haven’t seen her in a few days and if something is wrong I might be able to help her.  I see her talking to you, and I just think if I talked…”

“You just thought?”

“Yes, I want to help too.  I like her.”

Blood rush through my body at an elevated pace.  I turned my glare to him, “YOU LIKE HER?”

He nodded and seemed generally concerned about her.  He almost looked innocent, but not quiet.

Blood boiling beyond reason I didn’t elaborate, got out of the truck, and unloaded the supplies.  I had to get rid of this anger or I just may kill him out here and hide the body.  He didn’t push the issue and helped to get the load out.  I got him started and went back to get more supplies.  I had to put distance between us to clear my head.

 

Working to load the truck by myself Samantha came down from the house.  I kept loading, and she followed me back and forth.  This is the saddest I have ever seen her.  She watched the ground when she walked, but she dragged her feet.  In fact her whole body drooped with sadness.  How am I going to cheer her up with all her worries hanging over her head?  This isn’t what I planned, that’s for sure.  I glanced over to her wondering if she had something to say, but nothing came from her mouth.  No gleam in her eyes, no brightness to her face.  Not wanting to see her like this I still didn’t stop glancing at her every chance I might.

When the truck was filled with the load she leaned against it next to the driver’s door.  Good lord I am in trouble here.  My thoughts wanted to sweep her off her feet and hold her so tight.  If I made this better by wrapping my arms around her and embrace her with love I would do that now.  I wanted to whisper in her ear, I love you Samantha and I will take care of you, but that isn’t happening.  Staying silent I waited for her to speak.

Her words spilled from her mouth, “Did you come up with anything?”

I shook my head, “Need a few days.”

She nodded and walked back towards the house.  It killed me to not give her a solution I could share with her yet.

 

Keeping Jared and Samantha apart also made it so I didn’t get to see her either.  After four days she appeared.  Except it’s not what I expected to hear from her, “I have to tell him.”

I have failed her, “No, I said I would take care of it.”

“So what am I supposed to do while you try to come up with something?”

“Give me a few more days to….”

Her voice on the brink of tears she stopped me, “But it’s already been a few days and you aren’t doing anything.”

I had to do something drastic, so at least it looked like I had been working on figuring out how to help her, “I am sending Jared home tomorrow.”

Now her eyes filled with tears, “What?  What about…, …you know?”  Her eyes darted to her belly, and it shredded my heart.

With more determination I repeated, “I will take care of it.”

She swallowed her dismay, “But it’s his responsibility.”

What is she saying, “Do you want him to stay?”

She’s confused but if she loved him than she needed to tell me now.

She shook her head no, but replied, “I’m not sure what I want.”

What did she mean she’s not sure, “Do you love him?”

With a raised voice she scolded, “No.  I told you that.”

Now she’s making me angry, “Why did you do it with him then?”

I guess I asked the wrong question.  She stormed away from me crying.  I hurt her and all I wanted to do is love her, to kiss those plumb lips, and wipe those tears away.  I felt horrible for hurting her because when you love someone you don’t hurt them this way.  But she hurt me with what she did with my nephew.  She had to sense my feelings so why did she do it?  I should have told her all along.  This mess is so confusing and I shouldn’t have desires for her, but I did.  It’s wrong in so many ways it’s difficult for me to sort them out.

 

I brought Jared to the bus station the next day.  He didn’t understand why I’m sending him home so soon.  He kept asking questions the whole way, but I bit my tongue to keep from slicing him to shreds with it.  We got to the bus station, and I stopped the truck, but I had to express why I’m so angry, “Did you have sex with Samantha?”

He stared at me blankly with his mouth hanging open empty of a reply.

He wasn’t even grown up enough to answer me with an honest reply.  Anger seeped into every aching muscle.  I forced myself to move away from him, with his innocent stare.  I grabbed his bag, walked over to the passenger side of the truck, and pulled him from it.  He stood there dumfounded stunned by my question.  I shook my head trying to understand why he acted so innocent.

His eyes wide with shock, “Did she tell you that?”

Does he think I am stupid, that I don’t understand what it’s like to be a teenager, “Yes.  Now you have to leave.”

He pleaded with me, “But, it wasn’t like that.  This isn’t my fault.  Damn, I really liked her.”

There’s that word again, like.

Fiery filled every inch of my body, while I put my hand to his chest pinning him to the truck, “If you liked her you shouldn’t have done that.  If she is pregnant it would put an end to her dreams.”

He didn’t seem worried that I wanted to kill him at this exact moment.  He gasped, “What?  She’s pregnant?”

I closed my eyes not wanting to see his concern for her.  No one loves her the way I do, and it hurt to see something in his eyes.  His worry about her tore me up.  I glared into his eyes, “She’s late and you need to leave now.”

He shook his head disagreeing with me, “No.  I can take care of this.  I need to talk to her.  Look, I will marry her.”

That just about through me over the edge, “Now wouldn’t that be a great idea?”

He grabbed my shirt pushing his way back to the truck, “I need to stay.  I need to talk to her.  We need to figure this out because it wasn’t like that.”

Yeah, he didn’t love her that’s why it isn’t like that.  Floored that he wanted to go back and talk to her.  I pinned him again boring my eyes deep into his, “I have this handled.  This mess will get clean up by me, and you need to go home because right now all I want to do is kill you.”

Making my point it registered that the anger I held restrained, could kill him.  He got on the bus not happy, but he did what I wanted him to do, go home.

 

After picking up a pregnancy test and driving back to the ranch I had a lot more time to consider this.  Samantha wanted a solution, and she wanted me to come up with it.  Jared had the right idea when it came down to it.  I would offer to marry her if she wanted to keep the baby.  That way I wasn’t taking care of the problem I would also take care of her.

 

When I got back to the ranch I found her sitting on a bale of hay outside of the stables.  I made my way to her, but saw she had her arms wrapped around her waist, and a strained face.

Our eyes met.  Her eyes filled with questions though she asked one, “You sent him home?’”

“Yeah.  If you don’t love him it would be best if I sent him away.”

Agreeing with a nod she had the hint of appreciation cross her face.  Looking around to make sure we were alone I pulled out the small paper bag, “Samantha, I have an idea.”  I handed her the bag, “We should find out first before we figure out what to do.  It’s a pregnancy test.”

She looked around carefully before she pulled the box from the bag.  As she examined the directions her eyes filled with tears.  I didn’t want to upset her more, but we needed to find out for sure.

With encouragement I add, “Go get it over with.  I’ll wait right her for you and we can see what it says together.”

Her eyes flashed to mine again.  With her eyebrows raised, and the pursed lips, a doubtful expression filled her face.  I walked with her to the restroom in the barn and she glanced at me as she closed the door.  I couldn’t conceive what she felt right now.

The test was simple.  Pull it out, pee on the stick, and then wait.  So why is it taking her so long to come back out?

 

She came out holding the stick in her hand like its dirty or disgusting.

“So what does it say?”

Shrugging her shoulders, “It’s supposed to take five minutes.”

Now we wait.  Samantha paced back and forth in front of me making me nervous just watching her.

Kyle walked in, “So, are we taking a break or what is going on down here?”

Sam turned to her dad moving her hand with the pregnancy stick behind her back, “No, we’re…” loss of word panic filled her face as she glanced at me for the answer.

“No, I’m trying to talk her into entering another competition.”

“Well, that’s a fine idea.  Are you hinting at one in particular?”

“Yes, the Grade Marie Tartain’s is coming up.”

He clapped his hand, “The Tartain’s is a great competition.  We would get a lot of exposure.”

Kyle wrapped Samantha into his side while I grabbed the stick from her hand.  They continued all the way out of the barn walking towards the house.  Not following, my mind set on the test stick that would tell us if she is pregnant.  Locking myself in the bathroom I pulled it out of my pocket.  With a shake of my hand I willed it to give me an answer.  Holding my breath until a little negative sign came visible.  My heart pounding so hard and my throat closing up I swallowed to push everything down.  I wanted to run to the house and demand to talk with her, but it’s going to wait for now.  I hoped she wouldn’t take long coming back for the answer.

My waiting for her extended to tomorrow because I stood here in front of my memories at the end of my day.  There are so many pictures of her and I at competitions that the memories clogged my brain.  Separating them into my favorite ones is going to be a chore, but I would enjoy each one.

 

8 The Taken

 Thinking about Samantha at 13 years of age and how it had been when we worked hard for almost six months to prepare for The Humbold Dressage Grand Prix.  The picture showed Samantha holding up her first place ribbon for the picture taker but her eyes were on me, and her smile said a thousand thanks while I stared back at her.

 

Before the competition I remember walking with her going over the moves and steps she and Blaze would do.  She laughed hiding her fear.  Making our way toward the ring she relaxed in my arm and repeated each step after me.  She surprised me when she stopped and moved to stand in front of me.  She reached up wrapping her arms around my neck giving me the biggest, tightest hugged.  I loved it until my blood boiled under my skin.  I remember rubbing my face against her head full of want and need to never let her go.  The touch of her hair as it swept against my face made me want to kiss her, so I did, but on top of her head.  I gave her no sign that my feelings for her were growing so deep.  She released me, but I needed more.  I reached for her hands taking them in mine I stared deep into those eyes as the rest of the world fell away.  I wanted to give her all the strength and knowledge I had with one look.

She gave me the biggest smile I have ever seen one her face as she said, “Thank you.”

I took my eyes off of her, glancing at the ring, but spoke to her, “You will be great.”

Her smile enlightened my day as I hoisted her up to the saddle.  Grasping my hand in her she stared down at me for the longest time.  She wanted to say something, or she might want me to tell her I’d be right here waiting for her when she’s done, and for the rest of my life, if she wanted me to.  Did she have any idea that her looking at me like his killed me?  No, she didn’t.  She rode off into the ring with poise and posture while I watched from the side.

She took first place that day a first for her.  After she got her ribbon she came running and threw herself into my arms.  Gently I cradled her body to mine as she wrapped her legs around me.  Not in a sexual manner but as an excited young girl that cared for her trainer.  With her excitement enticing mine, I held her tight and spun her around praising her every way possible.

When I let her down her body glided down mine.  Full of pride down to my core I took her face in my hands.  She’s so happy and I wanted to share this with her, but out of the corner of my eye I saw her family on the way to congratulate her.  Assuring her with a smile I turned her to face them.  She ran to them with excitement while I ducked into the background of her life, taking Blaze with me as an excuse to avoid what they may have seen.  Oh, that day was amazing for me.  I knew then I loved this child, the problem still being she is 13 years old.  Though all I wanted from Samantha at the time is to hold her hand, wrap my arms around her, and just to make her smile, it still made me feel somewhat of a pervert.  She acted older and more stubborn than girls her age, but she happens to be a child and my feelings were not proper on any level.  I will have to be more careful with Samantha.  Not to let myself get taken with her like I did today.

 

9 Cherish

Coming back to my reality I admitted to myself that I had not been careful enough.  My heart has done nothing but grow stronger for her over the last few years, and now when she wraps her arms around me there is so much temptation to press my lips to hers.  If she threw herself at me today like she had that day; I would have no option but to tell her the truth.  To express that I am in love with her and have been since I can remember.  My heart pounded from the memory of how I felt that day, and how I wanted to be the one to love her forever.

If she appeared in front of me right now I would take her hand in mine pulling her into my bed to lie next to me.  With her on her back and me on my side I could cherish every part of her starting with her fingertips.  Taking one at a time I’d press my lips to her finger letting the print mark my lips forever.  Next I would turn her hand so that her palm lay open for me to fall into.  My lips pressed to her palm while her fingers gently caress my cheek.  She has no idea how precious she is to me and how delicate of a flower she is making me want to cherish each touch as if I am with an angle.  The temptation to let my fingers wander down her neck to her chest is just too much for me to handle right now.

 

Trying to erase these feelings from me I closed my eyes to take a cleansing breath, only to imagine those eyes penetrated my very soul.  Shaking off all those feelings rolled over in bed miserably because my dreams would only take me to another memory as they filled my dreams with her.

 

10 The Chosen 

It was almost her birthday and her dad searched for a mare to surprise her.  I went along with Kyle to make sure he was getting a good buy, and it had to be safe for Samantha.  We must have looked at 36 mares before I found Daisy.  Her dad’s frustration with me, after each horse we did not get, elevated, but if he wanted another one for her it had to be right.  Late May made it important to review all the specs of the horses we considered.  Samantha would ride this one a lot over the summer, and I wanted it to meet my standards.  I tried to decide if Daisy would be best for her.

The night was very warm for May so I left my door open for the fresh air to breeze into my shack.  I heard a light knock, and I got up walking to the door.  I smiled as I opened the door for Samantha.  She walked in with confidence of a 25 year old, but went right for my memories on the shelves.  One whole shelf dedicated to pictures of us together, she hesitated to pass them but glanced back at me with a grin.

If she knew what she did when she looked at me that way, she might have been more careful about coming down here for stories.  I think sometimes she wants me to confess my feelings, but this time she only needed a smile before moving to the other pictures.  When she picked one up in her hand she grabbed my hand leading me to the love seat where we both sat.  She handed me the photo, saying, “Tell me about this one.”

I started with ‘Once upon a time…’ as any great story would start.  She smiled, giggled, and her excitement came through on her face.  I went into detail about the difficult work I had put in and how many times I ended up on the ground because of that stubborn horse and his determination to not let me ride him.  But I commanded him instead of leading him.  That is when I learned to respect of their strength.  When I gave him a little freedom he performed.  She sat looking at me taking in this tale.  Her eyes would get wide and then squint in disbelief.  She must have had a million facial expressions that day.  I took them all in to my memory bank and I enjoyed each one.  The hardest part of telling her stories appeared to be when she laughed she would touch my leg.  Each contact sent shots of electricity through my entire body that begged me to have her in my arms.  After I shuttered the third time she asked me if she should close the door.  I smirked at her not being able to tell her it’s her not the cool air that drifted in the cabin.  Talking her hand in mine and rubbing my thumb over her knuckles to ease my longing to pull her closer.  I found this satisfying.  We spent a whole night on that first picture.  When I finished my story I stared into her blue eyes and grinned.  She had never been this easy to please.  She slouched into the couch as if exhausted from the enjoyment.  Realizing how late it had gotten I stood and pulled her to her feet, “Samantha, we have to be up early, I should get you up to the house.”

She huffed as I pulled her to her feet and there she stood in front of me.  Almost 14 years old she took my breath away like a woman would.  Smiling at her I stepped backwards toward the door, but keeping her fingers in mine.  Hard to resist I held on until I got to it.  Opening it I gestured for her to walk out.  She did so, but I followed her.  We made our way to the house without a word.  I stopped at the bottom of the stairs and watched her go up the rest of the way.  She hesitated at first, but hurried back down to the step above me.  Her eyes meet mine and I stood there wordless gazing into them.  My mouth watered and my hands got all sweaty.  All I wanted to do is reach up and kiss her.

She smiled and asked, “Can I come tomorrow for another story?”

I nodded, “If your dad knows where you are.”

She looked at me disappointed, but I had to make sure I would not act on my feelings.  No matter how grown up she seemed she was still a child and I needed to control my desires anyway possible.

She gave me a smile and took my breath away as she hugged me so tight.  Being careful I placed my arms around her letting my hands touch her briefly so I wouldn’t pull her closer.  She pushed away and ran up the stairs.  As my gaze followed her they landed on her father standing in the doorway.  He waited for her to pass by him first then gave me a nod with glaring eyes.  I got an intense sensation he understood the conflict I dealt with between my head and my heart.  I nodded back with understanding; No, I would not go near his daughter in any way.

 

11 What if

I woke to my alarm and rolled out of bed not having any sleep at all.  A shower is what I needed to help me wake up this morning.  Keeping the water cool shocking me awake and thankful I did.  Samantha had let herself in so when I walked out of the bathroom in a towel she got a full view of a man’s body.  She startled me so I grabbed the sink to steady myself.  I wanted to walk over to her, pull her to her feet, and wrap my arms around her taking away all the sadness that her body showed.

Her eyes were so innocent while she asked, “What did it say?”

Bracing myself for her reaction I replied, “Negative.”

I didn’t have to pull her to me because she got up and came to wrap her arms around my waist while her tear filled cheek rested on my chest.  When her hands moved to let her fingers trail my spin the problem occurred.  Standing here nearly naked with her touching me could pose as a problem if I didn’t move away from her soon.  It would be clear I am attracted to her by the hardness that grew beneath the towel.  I tried to distract her while reaching behind me to take her hands from by body, “Samantha, that doesn’t mean we are in the clear yet.  It might be too early.”  I kissed the top of her head to prevent myself from capturing her mouth, “I need to get dress.  Give me a minute so we can talk a little.”

The disappointment in her face that made me hesitated.  I had her hands in mine, our bodies were no longer touching, but my retreat ceased when her eyes pierced me.  I wanted her bad and now, yet I let go walking away.  It wasn’t until I got to my room with the door closed that I could breathe.

I took my time getting dressed, almost hoping that she would run back to the house, or I would have to break down and tell her how much I loved her.  It wasn’t fair to her to keep this from her.  She had to know what she does to me physically.  She needs to be careful around me, especially if she didn’t feel the same way.  After getting dressed I made my way back out sitting in the chair next to her.   Finding it hard to meet her eyes I asked, “If you don’t want it and it still comes out you are…could you handle an abortion?”

Feeling her eyes on me I could only glance at her from the side, but enough to her shake her head no.  She said she didn’t want it, but that would be the only way to not have it if she was pregnant.

“Okay, then if you are, you will have it?”

This time I needed the truth of what she wanted to do so I turned to her.  She still shook her head no leaving me more confused.  Those are her choices.  “Those would be the two options.  You would have to choose one soon.”

My attention on her I watched as she nodded carefully.  Time is the essence, so I took a deep breath trying to collect my thoughts.

Here it goes, “If you want…”  I couldn’t believe I’d say this, but it came out of my mouth before thinking, “I will marry you.”

Her eyes darted back to mine fiercely.  The tears streamed out as she rose rushing to get away from me and out of the shack.

Had I mistaken what she wanted or needed?  Did I screw up my future with Samantha?  I ran my hands through my hair wondering if I should go to the house and force her to tell me what she wants me to do.  No, pushing her to include me would be a mistake.  She didn’t want me or what I offered.  I over stepped my grounds with her and her family.  Shit, now what should I do?

Lost on what to do I headed out to start my routine.  Still early enough the sun hadn’t risen.  Going over in my head what I had tried to talk to her about but nothing resolved.  Except for my understanding she didn’t want the baby, and she didn’t want me.  Hurt and upset the sadness filled me as I started my daily chores.  Dreaming about my stubborn little Samantha, growing more pissed as the day grew strong.  My mind drifted to the multiple times she had told me I did everything wrong.  The thing is when you are angry you can get a lot more done.

I skipped breakfast and kept working.  I wanted to blow off steam, but it grew deep within me as my mind wandered off to think about all the things she does to entice my feelings.  When this calmed down I will point out what a tease is and explain to her how not to be one because if she knew what one was maybe she wouldn’t be in this mess.

All the ranting voices in my head came to a halt when I saw Kyle walking into the barn.  He followed me for a while and then gave me a hand.  He wanted to ask me something, but hesitated.  I continued with my work and he continued to help me.  Nervousness crept in with him hanging around waiting for the right moment.  The only time he has ever hung out with me was when he had concerns about Sam’s behavior.  My instincts justified when he asked, “So, do you know what is up with Sam?”

I looked at him and tried to keep a blank face, “No, is there something wrong?”

His eyes searched my face for any nervous twitch, but I tried to not show him my concern with just the mention of her name.

“Yes, she didn’t come down for breakfast and I noted she hasn’t been down all week to help you.  She always comes down to spend as much time with the horses she can.”

I shook my head and went back to work, “If there’s something wrong wouldn’t she have told you?”  He would realize that I’m lying to him if he’d see my eyes.  Not wanting to lie to him, but I also didn’t want to betray Samantha’s trust.  It seemed pointless if she’s not pregnant..

He made me more nervous as he expressed another point, “You didn’t come in for breakfast either.”

“Nope, I just ate a bowl of cereal.  I had plans for cleaning the stalls today.  Sometimes you feed me to well and then I can’t move.”

He chuckled with this, “Do you want her to come help you today?”

“If she wants to, I enjoy her company even though she will point out everything I’m doing wrong.”  I looked up at him chuckling to myself.  Knowing I was right, and the light conversation, his curiosity had subsided.  He left me to my work, and relief filled me with his exit.  I sat down on a bale of hay to sort this out.  There wouldn’t be anything to figure out if she wasn’t pregnant.

I went back to work, hoping my frustrations would subside this time.  She adventured back down to help with the chores.  I detected her watching me from the gate, but she is still sullen.

“Are you okay?”

She nodded and gave me a slight smiled.

“Are you going to stand there and watch or are you going to help me?”

She came in and worked to help me with the stalls.  We finished the first couple of stalls not speaking.  By the third stall the silence echoed in my ears.  I threw hay at her just to hear her.  She giggled and tossed hay back at me.  We continued to goof off until we finished another one.  When I moved to the next one she disappeared.  Not prying I went back to work, but when I completed the fourth one, and she didn’t reappear, I went searching for her.  I found her in with Blaze talking and hugging him.  Satisfied I let her have private time.  Sometimes saying things out loud you can find the answer.  She came back, and we got a few more done.  On the last one Samantha became playful.  She shoved hay down my shirt and I grabbed her falling on top of her in a large pile of it.

The curves of a woman’s body beneath mine caused a bodily reaction I enjoyed.  I stared into her eyes.  My body enticed by the mounds and valleys of her under me.  I traced my hand along her cheek, “I am serious, Samantha.  I will marry you and take care of you.”

She shook her head, “Not if you don’t love me.  I won’t ask you to do that.”

The need to press my lips against hers is unbearable.  To lick those lips and taste her, “I love you.  You know that.”

She shook her head again, “You don’t.  Not in the right way and it wouldn’t be enough.”

Pressing my lips to her forehead, refraining from caressing her lips from mine, I mouthed to her, “But I will do whatever you need.  We would be happy here together, and you could do whatever you want.  Go to school, not go to school.  It wouldn’t matter because I’d take care of you.”

She ran her hands up my back and my body stiffened as my want for her grew.  She kissed me under my chin sending an alarm to my brain.  I pushed up and away from her, afraid that I would take advantage of her right there.  I liked the way her fingers stroked my back, the way her eyes penetrated my soul, and that mouth tempted me with a soft kiss, it was all too much.  She’s 16 years of age and I’m 24.  It would not be proper to act on my desires when she is thoroughly confused.  She had to make decisions that would be best for her based on what she would go through.  I stood up and pulled her to her feet.  She looked at me with a glance and I went back to work.

She took me by surprise when she yelled at me, “That is what I mean; not enough.”  She stormed from the stall.  I tried to follow, but she was so quick to get away from me.  I should have just told her that my feelings were deep.  They ran deeper than she’d ever guessed.  I should have told her I had been in love with her for years.  How was I going to make this right?

At dinner time I went to the house.  I needed to speak to her.  I needed to make her understand.  She didn’t come down to dinner.  I waited and ate slowly, but there was no hope of seeing her.  My heart hurt as I went back to my shack and forced myself to get sleep.