Thursday Morning I woke up around 11:00am. I slowly opened my eyes as I began to see three mirrors instead of one, two chests instead of one and four glasses of water next to my bed instead of one.
I moaned as I shut my eyes again and slowly sat up in bed. It wasn’t that I had a headache; I felt like I needed more sleep, I felt a little dizzy. I ran to the bathroom before throwing up on the floor, and I made it to the toilette. I turned on the shower, turned the knob towards cold and jumped in the shower with my clothes.
I needed to look half decent if I was going to go check up on my dad. The cold water made me twitch but it slowly made me feel awake. I quickly changed, put some moose in my hair and brushed my teeth twice wondering if my dad would be able to smell the alcohol on my breath.
I put on a pair of shorts and a tank top as I could already feel the heat burning through my window, the last two days have been the hottest of the season and the weather network reported that the rest of the week would be just as hot. My bruise was completely healed so I didn’t have to worry about my father finding out what happened last month.
As I climbed down the stairs I stopped midway as I had a flash back from the prior night, falling down the stairs with Jesse. Everything from the night before came rushing back, all the questions he had asked, all the answers I had given him. I remembered him on top of me laughing leaning over me, maybe heading for a kiss but I couldn’t make that assumption especially because of how I was feeling. It could have been a spur of the moment thing. It’s not like the kiss happened anyways, I reminded myself.
As I turned the corner I saw my father staring out the window, “Good morning dad.”
He smiled, “Hey sweetheart. How are you today?”
“Good, I slept in,” I pointed out hoping he wouldn’t ask any questions.
He nodded, “That’s okay, I got up a little while ago. Everyone is already hard at work.”
“I better go out and make an appearance,” I grinned.
“I’d like to come out too and see the horses.”
I nodded, “Do you need help?”
He shook his head, “No, you go, I will take it slow. I have all day.”
“Okay well if you need something I will be in the barns.”
I put on my boots and headed towards the gate to greet Mary.
Mary waved as she brought Woody to the side of the gate, “He misses you.”
“Who does?” I said.
“Woody,” she replied, “Are you sure you don’t want to continue training him?”
I nodded, “I am sure. Susan is coming today, I forgot to tell you. I figured it would be good to start getting her working with Woody so they can form a bond. I know he isn’t jumping tall heights but it will be good as he progresses that they progress together.”
Mary nodded, “That’s why you don’t belong in the barn.”
I smiled as I began to walk towards Luca who was loading Blackjack into a trailer.
I went to go shake the hands of the owner, “Blackjack is amazing, he’s going to get really far.”
“Thanks to you,” he said.
I shook my head, “No, Mary and Luca worked with him.”
“That’s not what I heard,” he winked, “Anyways, I better go but thanks again. I’ll be back here if I ever need another horse to be trained.”
“Glad to hear it,” I said.
As I waved them off Luca came next to me, “Cookler arrived this morning.”
I nodded, “Jumping?”
“Yeah, do you want to…”
I cut him off, “Nope, you go ahead and start with him. I’ll be in the barn.”
“Jen, who are you trying to kid?”
I sighed, “Luca, I appreciate what you are doing, I appreciate what everyone is trying to do but I can’t.”
“I’m not going to push you; I just think it would be foolish for you not to use your talent.”
“You’ve always been like a second father to me,” I sighed, “If only my biological father would see thing like you do.”
With that I walked into the equipment room and grabbed a grooming kit. I entered into Snowflakes stall and began with the curry comb.
“It’s okay right? This just gives me more time to spend with you,” I told Snowflake, “I know you get jealous when I don’t spend as much time with you.”
“Like you don’t spoil him already,” Jesse popped his head out causing me to drop the brush on the ground.
I turned around too quickly and began to see two of him, “Really? You really think it is smart to creep up on me like that?”
He laughed, “How you feeling?”
“After a cold shower, I almost feel normal,” I said picking up the brush.
He smirked, “No hangover?”
“Headache, puking, spinning…”
“Two of the three,” I said leaning into Snowflake, “No headache.”
“Good, that’s the worst of the three.”
I picked up the grooming kit and exited the stall, “So, I guess I should either thank you or apologize for last night, not really sure which one.”
He laughed, “I don’t think either is necessary.”
I sighed, “I was a mess.”
He shook his head, “No,” he corrected, “Maybe a little out of the ordinary for you but you weren’t a mess”
“It’s sweet that you think I wasn’t but if I remember correctly I was dancing with random strangers,” I tried not to laugh.
“Okay so you were entertaining to watch,” he shrugged his shoulders, “I wouldn’t worry about it too much.”
I headed into the equipment room to put the grooming kit back, “Well thank you for getting me home safely.”
“Did your dad ask any questions?”
I shook my head, “No, but I should probably get my car before he does.”
He nodded, “I can drive you to town if you want?”
I nodded, “Okay, shall we go now?”
“Sure,” he said, “You are my boss.”
As I got into the car I remembered more of the night before, “If I remember correctly, you should probably apologize to me.”
“What?” he asked, “What did I do now?”
“Hmm, let’s see. I recall you asking me a million questions when Sara specifically told you not to.”
He laughed, “I know, the thing is, I didn’t promise you I wouldn’t.”
“So you thought it was okay?”
“I didn’t see any harm in it.”
“Sorry for freaking out on you,” I said blushing, “When you said I was cute. I overreact when I have alcohol in my system but it’s like I can’t control what I say.”
He glanced at me from his peripheral vision, “So I can say you are cute now that you are sober?”
I sighed, “I guess.”
“I get the impression that I can’t,” he said.
I turned serious trying to hide my embarrassment, “Thank you.”
“Now what are you thanking me for?”
“For being here now. I just remembered…um.”
“That I pretty much took my shirt off in front of you.”
The smile on Jesse’s face disappeared, “Actually I think it was me who took it off.”
I faced the mat on the ground, “Sorry.”
“I didn’t see anything,” he pointed out.
I looked up at him, “I know, but I am still sorry I made you do that, you could have just left me you know?”
He shrugged his shoulders, “It’s not a big deal.”
“I’m still sorry I put you in an awkward position.”
He changed the subject, “Was there anything you said that wasn’t true?”
“I can’t remember everything I said,” I lied.
“Shall I remind you?” he asked.
“I guess it depends on if it is important for you to know,” I said wishing he wouldn’t.
As he parked in the driveway of the bar he removed the keys from the ignition, “You said you wanted to make me jealous.”
“I did?” I said pretending I couldn’t remember.
“I know you know what I am referring to.”
I looked out the front window, “Look, I was drunk and I really didn’t know what I was doing so yes I wanted to make you jealous but I honestly don’t know why. I don’t know why I said it or why I lied, it just came out.”
He nodded, “I believe you.”
“So no more questions?” I asked.
He was very pensive, “I might have asked you another question if you were still drunk but since you are not, I think we’re good.”
“Just ask me,” I encouraged.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said.
“Fine,” I said getting out of the car, “See you back home.”
As I closed the door I remembered I didn’t have my keys. As I turned around to open the truck Jesse was already holding out my keys with a grin on his face. I grabbed them as I tried not to stifle a laugh.
Jesse waited until I was in the car before he drove out of the parking lot. He drove behind me the whole time until we arrived back on the ranch.
The next day around noon I grabbed a saddle and went to find Jesse.
He was walking out of a stall as I placed the saddle into his hands, “Come on.”
“Where are we going?”
“Nowhere, I’m giving you another lesson.”
He nodded as he began to walk into Gerry’s stall, “What are you doing?” I asked.
He popped his head from the corner, “Saddling the horse?”
“Does that look like Gerry’s saddle?”
He analyzed it, “No, but I thought since I rode him for our first lesson.”
“You thought wrong,” I said, “Gerry is to slow for you. We’re going to learn how to canter today.”
He walked out of the stall and analyzed the saddle, “Snowflake?”
I nodded, “He’s getting old but don’t let that fool you.”
“I know, I’ve seen you ride him,” he replied, “Are you sure you want me to ride him?”
I nodded, “Yes.”
He slowly walked into Snowflakes stall and began saddling him up, “Who are you going to ride?”
“No one,” I said, “I am going to teach you from the ground today.”
“Jen,” he began.
“Don’t start,” I said raising my hand and heading out of the barn, “I’ll wait in the middle ring. The other two are occupied already.”
A few minutes later Jesse brought the horse into the ring. I sat on the gate as I watched him mount on him. Snowflake snorted as he wacked some flies with his tail.
“I think he likes you,” I told him, “Okay, start by just bringing him around a couple times walking, then when you are ready bring him to a trot and then I will give you further instructions.”
He nodded and did as I said. I couldn’t help but look over to the other rings as I watched Mary calling out instructions to Susan and Woody. Luca was in the other ring doing basics with Cookler. I sighed as I turned my attention to Jesse who was now trotting.
“Are you ready to give it a try?” I asked.
He nodded, “Yeah.”
“Okay so make a kissing sound and tighten your legs some more,” I called out for him to hear.
He did just that and immediately Snowflake picked up his speed. I let Jesse ride Snowflake because he was the perfect horse; he wouldn’t throw a tantrum or randomly get spooked. He was perfect!
I watched Jesse with a smile as he went around the ring, he wasn’t the least bit struggling, “Looking good.”
“How do I bring him back to a walk?”
“Speak to him,” I said.
I heard him tell Snowflake to stop cantering and burst out laughing, “In a language he knows,” I said.
He began to smirk as he pulled lightly on the reins and called out, “Woah!”
Snowflake immediately slowed down and began to walk, “There you go.”
“That was awesome,” he brought Snowflake close to the gate, “Now I know why you love it so much. It’s like he’s unstoppable.”
I nodded, “It’s incredible right?”
“Snowflake rides smoothly too,” he commented as he patted Snowflake’s neck, “Do you let all beginners ride him?”
“He’s not a beginner’s horse,” I said, “You have too much potential to be riding a beginner’s horse and no I don’t let everyone ride him.”
Jesse met my eyes like he did many times and smiled, “I feel special.”
“Good,” I said looking at my watch; time was going by quickly, “Now get off my horse and get back to work.”
He laughed as he dismounted. I began to walk to the other ring and watched Mary work with Susan.
“Looks like she is having problems.”
She nodded, “She’s not working with the horse, she’s trying to do everything on her own.”
“Tell her to loosen up her reins; Woody doesn’t like being told what to do.”
“Susan,” Mary called out, “Loosen up your reins a bit.”
I watched as she did was she was told, “Her whole position is wrong.”
“I know, I keep telling her, she will fix herself into a good position but then a few minutes later she goes back to that.”
I watched as Susan attempted a jump, on the lowest level. Her whole stride was off; she was squeezing Woody too much and leaning all her weight on his back. Her calves were weak.
“She needs to work out,” I told Mary, “Put her on a different workout routine. She needs to work her legs some more. She’s all over the place. What is her work out now?”
“Two hours a day, weights for one hour and walking for another.”
“Okay, she’s eighteen?”
“What about her diet?”
Mary went on to describing her meals, it was important for a jumper to be fit but also important that they eat healthy and enough. To work out every day, they needed to eat just as much, it wasn’t about losing weight, it was about getting muscle and Susan was lacking it.
“Okay change her work out to three hours, she can break it up, I want her running in the mornings and weights in the afternoon.”
Mary nodded, “Okay, what about meals?”
“She needs to eat more,” I winked as I left them alone.
Luca waved as I passed his ring before turning his attention back on Cookler.
Jesse was in the Snowflake’s stall giving him a rubdown, “She’s pretty amazing isn’t she?”
I stopped in my tracks to hear what he was saying, “Yeah, I know we’re just friends right?”
I walked up to the stall and poked my head over the stall, “Are you trying to pick up my horse?”
He laughed, “Are you eavesdropping?”
“Haven’t you heard it’s not polite?” he joked, “So I saw you out there with Mary.”
I nodded and explained to him what I discussed with Mary, “Susan looks lazy; she’ll never be one with Woody if she isn’t serious about it.”
“How do you know she needs to work out more?”
“It’s what I needed when I was her age.”
He nodded, “You’re pretty remarkable at what you do you know?”
I faced the ground, “So is everyone else in the business.”
“I don’t think so. You don’t realize it but I could see how happy you were just helping Mary out. I mean Mary didn’t even know what to do.”
“She did, she just needed a little help. She would have figured it out eventually.”
“But you knew right away,” he pointed out, “Come on Jen, you know you can’t give up training. Stop being stubborn and talk to your dad.”
“It’s not going to happen.”
“Then I will,” he said.
I looked at him, “Excuse me?”
“You heard me; I will tell him that you have been training.”
“Yeah I would because I believe he will understand.”
“You do that and you won’t have a job here,” I said with attitude.
“I don’t believe that,” he said drawing near to me.
“Want to bet?” I asked backing away from him.
“Yeah actually, I do,” he said backing me up until I reached the back of the stall, “I will call your bluff any day.”
“What makes you think I am bluffing?”
“You like me too much to let me go,” he said putting one of his hands on my waist.
I shook my head, “I think you like me too much to ruin our friendship.”
“It wouldn’t be ruining out friendship if I make your dad understand this is your life.”
“Yes it would, because it would prove that I can’t trust you.”
“So you trust me not to look at you when taking your shirt off but you don’t trust that I can convince your dad?”
I hated him for mentioning that night again, especially that intimate moment in the context that he used it in.
I pushed him away as I walked away, “You’re an ass.”
Jesse knew he was pushing my buttons, “No I am not. I just care about you.”
“That’s why did you had to bring last night up again? You think if I was sober I would have really done that?”
He shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know.”
I laughed, “Trust me; I wouldn’t, especially not with you.”
Jesse backed off, “Fine, you win. I won’t say anything.”
“Thank you,” I said leaving him alone.