The next week flew by. I worked with Blackjack and Woody, a new jumper, every time my father went out for the morning. Blackjack began to run further distances each day and I was just beginning to jump with Woody.
I set the jumps to the lowest level before I mounted on top of Woody, “Alright bud, we’re going to try to jump these okay? We’ll go slow.”
Slowly I brought Woody into a jog as we ran around the ring; I turned the reins to lead Woody in front of the jump. I leaned forward as Woody took off for the jump which he breezed over. I took him through the whole course and he cleared all jumps.
“I don’t know how you do it,” Mary said, “Seriously, horses love you, they do whatever you want them to.”
I laughed, “You’ve got the talent too.”
“Not like you,” she sighed, “You’ve been working him for barely a week and you’ve already got him jumping.”
I smiled at the compliment, “Woody listens to me.”
“Mhm, they all listen to you,” she said.
I dismounted and brought Woody back to his stall, Mary tagged along.
“So, we set a date,” Mary said.
“When is it?”
“October 6th,” she said, “and we were wondering…”
“Yeah,” I prompted.
“We were thinking if it was okay with you guys, we wanted to have the reception here. It’s just so perfect and beautiful and it feels like my second home.”
“I don’t see why not, I would love that and I am sure my dad would be all for it.”
“We would definitely pay you guys for it.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. We are not going to accept your money. You’re like family.”
“I’m going to go talk to your dad,” she said, “I think I just heard his truck.”
I nodded, “See you later.”
Later that day Luca popped his head through my office door, “You busy?”
I shook my head, “Come in.”
“I was just thinking, what are your thoughts on Blackjack?”
“I think I need to test him out and see what he’s all about. I mean really test him out.”
“I think you are right, I’ve been watching and it looks like he has so much energy. I think he might be ready to go.”
I nodded, “I know, I just need to take him out into the field; if he runs good then I will call his owners.”
He nodded as he stood up, “Alright, well just be careful. I don’t like lying to your dad about this.”
“You are not the one lying,” I said as he left, “I am.”
I sat back down in my chair and put my head down on my desk, I said a short prayer asking God whether or not I was doing the right thing. A part of me knew I wasn’t but at the same time I felt like it was my only choice. I tried to tell my dad how I felt but he didn’t want to listen.
There was a knock at the door as I looked up and smiled at Jesse, “Come in.”
“I’m beginning to think you do that a lot, I mean that’s the first position you were in when I met you,” he pointed out.
He nodded, “Tough day?”
I nodded, “What are you doing tonight?” I asked, an idea brewing in my mind.
“Nothing, go home and relax I suppose.”
“Would you mind taking a ride with me?” I asked.
“Horses or driving?” he clarified.
“I want to test Blackjack but Luca and Mary are busy,” I explained.
“Test him out? You’re going to race him?” he asked.
“That’s the plan, if you come.”
“So, I’m your last choice huh?” he asked pretending to be hurt.
“No, I just know you’re not into horses the way they are and you’ve already been staying later almost every day and I feel bad asking you to stay even later.”
“It’s my choice to stay later,” he pointed out, “and I will stay to go with you.”
I smiled, “Thank you. I would go alone but my dad would ask questions and get suspicious since I’m taking Blackjack.”
“No worries, when do you want to go?”
“You can stay for dinner,” I suggested, “Then we can go.”
“I feel bad; I’ve been having dinner at your house a lot lately.”
“It’s the least we could do. I wish I could pay you more Jesse.”
“I told you, don’t worry about the money.”
“I know but, it still doesn’t make sense to me.”
“What doesn’t make sense?”
“Why you would settle for this,” I explained, “This place is the world to me but to someone like you, I would think this place would be a joke.”
“It’s not a joke,” he argued, “I may have had doubts when I came here because I didn’t understand but the only thing I think about this place now is that it is amazing and beautiful.”
“Okay,” he interrupted, “No more talk about my wage.”
I nodded, “Okay, let’s get back to work so we can have dinner.”
During supper my dad chatted with Jesse about accounting. My father got excited when Jesse told him he was doing a good job or he was doing it correct.
“So you guys are going to go for a ride?” my father asked.
I nodded, “Yeah, it’s a nice night out.”
He nodded, “How do you like it here Jesse?”
“I’m enjoying myself; Jennifer’s even got me talking to the horses now.”
My father laughed, “Is she giving you lessons?”
“Lessons?” he questioned.
My father nodded, I should have probably told Jesse I told my father I was taking him out on the trails to teach him a few things about horses.
I looked at my plate and swallowed as Jesse replied, “Oh yeah, she’s a great teacher.”
I looked into Jesse’s eyes and smiled, “He’s a quick learner.”
My father got up and began to clear the dishes, “Alright, well let me clean up and you guys go for your ride.”
We both stood up, “Thanks dad.”
“Thank you for dinner,” Jesse said as he walked out with me.
As we saddled up the horses I placed my hand on Jesse’s shoulder, “Thank you for backing me up in there, well, for covering for me.”
“I don’t want to lie to your dad so I’ve been thinking maybe you should just give me a few lessons, make me a better rider.”
I smiled, “Sounds good to me. You already are good so I’ll get you cantering in no time.”
“We’ll start tomorrow?” he asked.
“Yeah, we can do it around noon, on break.”
“It’s a date.”
I looked up at Jesse as those words left his mouth. I could tell he didn’t mean anything by it because he didn’t notice the way I was staring at him. I guess a part of me wanted those words to actually mean something to him. I was falling in love with Jesse that much was clear.
“We’ll go to the open field and that’s where I will test him out.”
“Lead the way.”
“Okay so you can roam around if you want,” I began as we got into the open field, “I am just going to see what this guy is all about. I think I’ll bring him around in a circle, looks like five miles. We’ll see how he does.”
He nodded, “I’ll be here.”
“You don’t have to stay here.”
“First of all, I want to see this, and secondly I don’t want you getting hurt.”
I smiled, “I appreciate the concern, but I will be fine.”
He nodded, “You see what he’s got and I’ll see what you got.”
I laughed, “Be prepared to be amazing….not by me but by this fellow.”
I pulled down the goggles that I had sitting on my forehead; the wind that would arise from speed could cause a rider not to see what’s ahead. I led Blackjack in a circle and took him off in a jog for a couple moments before bringing him to his full potential.
I could feel the wind blow my hair wildly; I felt the adrenaline not only through Blackjack but also in my veins as I got a rush of satisfaction. It was like every thought in my mind left, I was at peace, I was at ease, no stress, no pressure, and it was just Blackjack and I. When I slowed him down and brought him back towards where Jesse remained I smiled almost forgetting that I had an audience.
“You can close your mouth now,” I said taking off in the direction of home.
Jesse caught up quickly, “I guess he’s ready to go?”
I nodded, “Definitely.”
“Are you sure you want to be a trainer and not a rider?”
“I’ve been a rider already, it’s great and all but I love working with different horses.”
He nodded, “You would make a much larger salary.”
“Not everything is about money,” I said, “You would know, you’re working for me when you could be working for some multi million dollar company. You know I’ve been wondering why you aren’t, again”
“Haven’t we been through this?” he asked.
I nodded, “Yeah.”
“Have you come to any conclusions?”
I shook my head, “The only thing I could think of is money isn’t everything.”
“You got it.”
“Really?” I asked, “that’s all there is to it?”
“Are you sure about that?” I asked.
“You don’t believe me?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know. I just think it’s odd that you’re telling me I could make more money and yet you are not because clearly it didn’t make you happy.”
“I was simply stating a fact,” he said.
I grinned to myself as I stole a peak at his expression, “You could relax you know, I’m only pulling your leg.”
I could see the tension in his arms leave as a smile crept on his face, “What makes you think I wasn’t playing along?”
“I guess I don’t, but I doubt it,” I winked.
As we arrived back on the barn, we each rubbed the horse down. My father came into the barn with a frown on his face.
“How come you took Blackjack?” he demanded.
“I figured it would be good to take him out,” I tried to think of a better answer but couldn’t.
“Hasn’t he been working hard all day already?”
“Yeah but Luca said he thinks he’s ready to go.”
“So you tested him out?” my father raised his voice.
“No,” I said almost too soon, “I just wanted to spend time with him since he’s leaving. You know how I get when a horse has to leave.”
My father settled down as he looked at Jesse, “What trail did you guys go on?”
“Oakridge,” he responded which was strictly a beginners trail, how he knew that, I did not know.
My father nodded, “How was it?”
“It was great; it was a pretty easy route.”
He nodded, “Well it’s for beginners. I guess you guys will have to go on a different one next time, one that’s more challenging.”
I nodded, “I know how to teach dad,” I was a little frustrated.
“Alright, well I’m going to head in for the night, I am feeling a little under the weather, I’ll see you tomorrow Jesse.”
“Bye Joe,” Jesse waved.
Once he was gone I banged my arm on the stall gate regretting it once I felt the sharp pain in my arm, the same arm that had been hurt two weeks earlier which was still bruised but getting better every day.
I let out a yelp before clutching my arm to my stomach. Jesse came over right away and grabbed my arm. He rolled my sleeve up and took off the bandage. The colour on my arm was now green.
“Think twice next time, before you let your frustrations out on the poor door,” he grinned, “What did it ever do to you?”
I laughed as I watched him lightly run his fingers over the bruise. I got lost in his touch I barely heard when he asked me if it hurt. The only thing I felt was butterflies in my stomach.
“Hey,” he now looked into my eyes, “Are you okay?”
I nodded, “Yeah, it hurts a little still, more now that I banged it but it’s nothing. I’ve gone through worse.”
“Come on, I’ll wrap a new bandage around it.”
I followed him into the equipment room as I took a seat on a stack of hay. He went to get a white cloth from the emergency kit.
“Thanks for coming tonight,” I whispered once he came back and began wrapping my arm up, “and for covering for me again. Did you see how he freaked; can you imagine if I told him I was training?”
“Don’t worry, I got your back,” he smiled and I couldn’t help but notice what perfect teeth he had.
“I bet you didn’t know you were going to get drama when you applied here.”
“Trust me, this is not drama.”
“Sounds like you’ve had some drama in your life.”
“That’s an understatement.”
“Tell me a story.”
He thought about it, “You don’t really want to hear a story of drama; if you want drama you could just watch a soap opera.”
I laughed, “Okay, then tell me a story of your childhood.”
“You ask a lot of questions.”
“So do you.”
“Fair enough,” he said pulling my sleeve down, “Well I broke my arm once.”
“I fell off my house balcony, one story up so it wasn’t too bad. Jessica and I were fooling around and not paying attention. I took a step back and fell, they rushed me to the hospital, I was bleeding from a few places but it was all external, they told me I only broke my arm.”
“Who’s Jessica?” I asked.
“Oh,” he paused, “Just a friend.”
“Just a friend that you were fooling around with,” I grinned, “Are you sure she didn’t push you off?”
He laughed, “It’s not what you’re thinking. I was seven at the time.”
“I wasn’t thinking anything,” I lied a little relieved that it wasn’t what I was thinking.