the First

Knight in Shining Armor

I awake to sunlight streaming into the living room, and arms wrapped around me. I cuddle into the warmth, until I realize who it is. It's Luke, and I'm his human teddy bear. Great. Last night's events come crashing back down on me, and I gently wiggle out of his arms. He doesn't wake up. Padding out of the living room and into my bedroom, I walk into my closet and turn on the light. Walking to the back, I slide my clothes aside until I get to the final piece of clothing, the shirt. It's just like it looked last night, but the blood has dried. So it wasn't a dream. I back out of the closet and slide the door shut behind me. I then become aware of the dull pain in my feet. Crossing to my bed, I sit down and pull my left foot up to look at it. There's nothing there. It felt like I was getting cut by the rocks last night, but I guess they weren't deep enough to bleed. I pull up my right foot. Nothing. Why do they hurt, then? Are they bruised and I just can't see it?

I'm not going to tell anyone about last night for now. I sigh and walk back out of my room, my feet starting to ache a little more. Luke is still sound asleep, so I decide to go investigate the side of the house while the sun is shining. I pad over to the glass door, and unlock it. Sliding it open gently, I walk out into the incredibly hot summer day. It's at least ninety degrees out, but there is a light breeze. I walk around to the side of the house and peer around the corner, there's nothing there. I creep a little closer to the spot where he was lying last night. Not one drop of blood, and no sand. If I didn't have the shirt, I would swear I dreamed the whole thing! This is flat out weird. I turn and walk back into the house, where Luke is still sleeping. I grab my pillow and thump him as hard as I can. He wakes up slowly with a stretch and a groan, and smiles sleepily up at me.

"Morning, sunshine."

His voice is still husky with sleep. I roll my eyes and throw my pillow at him, "Good morning."

He laughs and flops back down onto the pillows. I walk to my room and select the day's outfit: a long sleeved plaid button up, tied into a crop top, and white washed short shorts. I walk back out to find Luke looking out the glass door again.

"So," I start, he whirls to look at me, something flashes across his face but it goes too quickly for me to read it.

"Where do you want to go for breakfast?" I ask.

I decide to let it go, he's just looking outside.

"Um," his playful demeanor has returned, "I picked last time, so it's your turn. Choose wisely. It's the last day of our summer."

I grin, "How about O'Brien's?"

"I knew you were going to say that!" he shouts in triumph.

"This is your fault! You decided to take me there the first time. And we need to check up on Knight."

Luke sighs with a smile, "Get showered and we can go then."

He ruffles my hair as he walks past, a spark in his icy blue eyes.

"Yes, Mother." I respond. I walk to my bathroom, shutting and locking the door behind me. I start the water and strip, and hop in. I let the warm water run down my body and wash away last night's strange events. I'm going to try and forget all of it. School is starting tomorrow, there's no reason for beginning my senior year on a bad note. And, my eighteenth birthday is in a few weeks! It's actually during homecoming week, which makes it a little depressing because no one really remembers it, but I'm turning eighteen all the same.

I stop the water and grab a fluffy towel off of the hook. After drying off, I pull on my clothes. Hanging up my towel, I run a brush through my hair, put on some makeup, and brush my teeth. I walk back out of the bathroom and enter the living room, and grab my pair of muck boots from their plastic mat by the door. I turn and find Luke sitting on the couch, tapping on his phone.

"Ready?" I ask.

"Yeah." he replies, without looking up.

I walk up behind him and wrap my arms around his neck, resting my chin on the top of his head. He quickly closes whatever it was he had open, it looked like he had been texting someone. He wriggles out of my loose grip and stands, shooting me an odd grin.

"Let's go." he says, not meeting my eyes.

"Um, okay."

What's up with him? He starts walking to the glass door and I follow, he unlocks it and slides it open. We emerge from the basement, I close the door behind me. We walk out from underneath the top deck and start towards the barn. Knight has already come out to say hello. He's a huge horse, I'm five foot eight so he needs to be kind of big I suppose. He's all black, with dark brown eyes and a white star on his forehead. Knight In Shining Armor is his full name, but it's Knight for short. He whinnies when he sees me, I walk closer and reach up to pull him in for a kiss on the nose. I rub his neck a little before walking to the barn and putting in the code on the lock. I tug and it clicks, and I slide the massive barn door open. I step onto the concrete floor inside the barn, Luke follows me in. Knight comes inside from his outdoor pen, and he gently nudges the bars of his gate. I go to the opposite end of the barn, where his pile of hay is located. I grab a handful and walk back to his stall, I open the feed door and toss the hay through, where it lands inside his food trough. He gratefully starts munching, and I latch the feed door. Luke has taken up a spot on the wall. He enjoys watching me work. He still has that upset look on his face. I almost consider asking what's wrong, but that would be invasive. Right?

I cross to the tack room and open the door, flicking on the lights. I bend down and pick up his grooming bucket, full of brushes, picks and other utensils. I carry it back to Knight's stall, where I open the main door and step inside, closing it behind me. He doesn't flinch, but continues to chow down on his breakfast. I place the bucket on the floor, and select a brush. I clean off the night's dirt as he eats contentedly. Luke is silent, saying nothing as he continues to watch me groom Knight. I stand back to admire my work. Perfect. His stall and outdoor pen are clean, I mucked yesterday. I go outside and check his water trough, it's full. My work here is done! After breakfast I'll drop Luke at his house and then I'll give Knight a little exercise. As if he knows I'm thinking of him, he comes walking out of his stall and to me, expecting a little petting. I give in.

"Good boy."

I loop my arm underneath his head, leading him back inside. I grab the grooming bucket and leave him in his stall as I open and close the gate. Luke is right where I left him, staring at the floor. I'm not going to even try to guess what he's thinking. I walk into the tack room and replace his grooming bucket with a halter and lead rope. I put it on him and lead him to the large pasture on the right of the barn. I slide open the massive gate and undo his halter. He's off like a shot, galloping across the pasture as fast as he can. I turn and enter the barn, Luke hasn't moved. I select his treat bowl from off of the shelf, and choose the biggest one I can find. I made these myself, they're a big yummy ball of molasses, oats, and apples. Knight absolutely adores them.

I flick off the light in the tack room and exit, closing the door behind me. I go back to the pasture and enter, Knight is waiting for me. He knows what I have in my hand before I even show it to him. He walks forward eagerly, ears at attention. I smile and present it to him, he greedily takes it from my hand and it's down his throat in two seconds flat. His eyes ask for more but instead, I pull him in for a hug, wrapping my arms around his neck. He bends his head around my shoulders, and we stay like that for a while. I love his hugs. I pull away and kiss the star on his forehead.

"Ready?" Luke asks, coming out of the barn and locking the door behind him.

"Yep." I respond.

I exit the pasture and turn back to Knight.

"Love you!"

He tosses his head in response.

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