Happy New Year! This is the first post of the 2016 year and great things are yet to come. If this is your first visit here, Tuesday talles is a blog hop featuring a small group of authors who share their work in progress with you. I continue to work on Hello Again, a paranormal romance with a touch of suspense. Bill and Charley have been thrown together under the watchful eye of benigh spirits determined to see all of them find the love and happiness meant for them. Since I have every intention of finishing this story and publishing it this year, it has a beautiful cover that inspires me to find the words to bring these two to their happily ever after.
This week’s scene.
Bill watched Charley limp into the house and then turned to Shirley’s spirit horse.
“So, you and I are supposed to get to know one another,” he spoke softly the way he always did around animals.
When he’d first joined the Mounties, he’d been stationed in Ottawa and had spent time attached to the RCMP Musical Ride, the PR branch of the service that entertained the public with synchronized riding displays. The guys had jokingly referred to him as the “Horse Whisperer” because he could ride any one of the black stallions without the animal acting up or objecting one damn bit. Even the most highly strung animal, no matter how wired, behaved under the “master’s” hand.
He sighed. He missed that aspect of the job and never skipped an opportunity to participate in the show when the ride came out here. He’d have stayed in Ottawa, but his foster mother, Carolyn, had gotten sick and he’d pined for the prairies and home. He’d put in for a transfer back out west at the first opportunity, and while he missed riding, he didn’t miss Ottawa nor the bodyguard duties foisted on him too many times to count. He’d gotten back to Regina four days before his mom, and she was his mother in every sense of the word, had died.
The thought brought back memories of one of the hardest funerals he’d ever attended. No doubt there’d be interments attached to this storm, but he hoped never to feel that level of loss and bereavement again. The church had been crammed full of people wanting to pay their respects to one of their own. Her best friend had given a eulogy, and then he’d spoken about the kindest, most understanding woman he’d ever known, a woman who’d opened her heart and her home to the half-breed child no one wanted. Carolyn had lived her faith in every sense of the word, and he had no doubt she’d found her eternal rest. Less than six months later, Jerry, his foster dad, had followed her, and he’d spoken again about the man who’d been more than a father to him. Today, he missed them both more than ever. If they were still around, Mom would know what he’d need to do to make things right. Not only with Raoul, the child he desperately wanted to adopt, but with Shirley and Charley. Bill couldn’t shake the notion both women were his responsibility now.
The stallion whinnied as if he could read Bill’s mind, and nodded his head in agreement. The pinto was a beautiful animal, not at all ragged and ill-kept the way he’d expect a wild horse to be.
“Why wouldn’t you read my thoughts?” he asked the animal. “You’re the spirit horse, right? You probably talk to Shirley on a regular basis. Well, the spirits do a hell of a job taking care of you.”
Careful not to startle the animal, he touched him gently, moving slowly, all the while wondering how the proud, wild horse would take to being bridled and saddled. Bill eased the bit to the edge of the horse’s mouth, and the animal surprised him by opening up without any nudging or prompting. Careful not to hit any of the animal’s teeth, he eased the bit into position. With it in place, he slowly slid the crown of the bridle over the horse’s head, one ear at a time, until everything was as it should be. Taking the blanket, he placed it on the horse’s back, amazed at the way the pinto took to the gear as well as any of the trained horses he’d ridden. He added the saddle and fastened the front cinch. Carefully lacing the latigo through the front cinch ring, he brought the end back up toward the saddle, tightening the front cinch, not too tight to affect the animal’s breathing. Pulling the end of the latigo through the D-ring on the saddle and back down through the cinch ring again, he pulled it up toward the saddle and tied it off with a Texas knot. Satisfied the saddle was secure, he adjusted the stirrups, and then went back into the house.
Shirley and Charley sat at the table, hands covered in flour, kneading bread dough. Charley pummeled the white mass as if she’d make it pay for all the pain she’d ever suffered.
“Are you ready to go?” Shirley asked, not even looking up as she broke off small pieces of dough and rolled them into balls.
“Yes, ma’am,” he said and smiled at Charley, who looked up. Her face was flushed from exertion. “If the phones are working, is there anyone specific I should contact?” he asked.
“Yes. There’s a letter right on top in the document box,” she answered pointing to it. “The name and number are in there. You’ll have to explain what happened. I don’t know how long I’ll be delayed.”
Bill walked over and opened the box. He took out the letter from the Saskatoon Board of Education, folded it in half, and slipped it into his pocket.
“I’ll do my best to get through. What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t?”
“They’ll think I changed my mind and give the job to someone else.” She frowned. “I should’ve signed the papers right away instead of asking for time to consider. My deadline is tomorrow.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” he said, fighting the urge not to make the call. If she lost that job, maybe she’d consider staying in Regina. It would be a hell of a lot easier to keep tabs on her there. Hell, if she couldn’t get a job teaching, he might be able to get her one with the RCMP. A good mechanic was always needed to maintain their fleet of vehicles.
“Thanks. I don’t have much money left, and if this job falls through…”
“Shirley, do you have any messages for Emile or anyone else?” he asked looking away lest Charley read the mixed emotions he felt.
“Tell him to take the medicine and slow down. The damage won’t be fixed in a day, but everything will work out. That old fool always tries to do too much. He’s not as young as he used to be.”
Bill bit his lip. And neither are you. But he kept his mouth shut. Discretion was the better part of valor.
“I’ll be back by five.”
“You’d better be,” Shirley said ominously.
Bill grimaced. “Shirley, do you know something you haven’t told me?”
“Know? No, but I told you; there’s another storm coming. Go, do what needs to be done, but come back quickly. We’ll need you here tonight.”
Bill’s frown deepened. He wasn’t in the least bit happy with Shirley’s cryptic words. “I’m going to move my cruiser around back and put it on the other side of the pigsty. I’m low on fuel, and I don’t want some yahoo coming along and syphoning out what I have left. I saw a couple of cans in the shed I can use in a pinch, but … Leaving the cruiser out front might seem like an invitation to someone who’s looking for wheels to get out of here. If those bikers are still around, I want them to think you’ve gone. Keep the shutters closed out front and lock the doors. If you want to sit out, do it on your veranda, the one no one can see. If you hear their bikes, for God’s sake lock yourselves in the bathroom and don’t come out until you hear my voice.”
The creases on his forehead intensified. Maybe he shouldn’t leave them.
“Stop talking like a fool,” Shirley said angrily. “You’re scaring Charley. If she were in danger, I’d know. Now, go. The spirits want you to. That’s why they sent the horse. You’ll find some of her things along the way. We’ll see you later.”
Bill was about to argue, when a deep sense of relief filled him. It was as if he knew, without a doubt, that they’d be safe until his return, but after that, all bets were off. He checked the waistband of his jeans where he’d shoved his service revolver under the T-shirt he wore.
“I won’t be long.”
He walked out of the sod house, mounted the horse, and turned east toward Sintulata. He’d contact Regina and Saskatoon, do whatever he could for Emile and get the hell back here because something bad was going to happen tonight, and if he wasn’t here…
Well, that’s it for me. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales for this week’s offerings.