Chapter One

The black filly let out a loud whinny and trotted to the end of the lead line. Samantha Forster tried her best to hang on to her, but the filly had gotten stronger. The two were having a nice walk to the river with Tempest behaving herself. That all changed when the horse and rider appeared over the River Bend Bridge. It was who was riding the big, black mare that Sam was so determined to not let the filly get the upper hand.

"No," Sam told the filly sharply, tugging the rope. Tempest looked at her as if she couldn't believe she had just done that. The filly snorted and reared up. Sam dug the heels of her boots into the dirt, struggling to hang on to the filly. Tempest gave one final pull, the rope slipped through Sam's hands, burning her flesh as it did so, and she fell backward onto the ground.

"That's what happens when you baby her, brat,"

Sam picked herself up and dusted off her jeans. She picked up her Stetson and placed it back on her head, all the time giving Jake the evil eye.

"You caught us at a bad time," Sam told him.

Jake just laughed.

"What are doing here?" Sam asked crossing her arms.

"Wanted to see the new horse," Jake answered.

Sam had forgotten that they were expecting a new horse soon. Since, Dark Sunshine had ran off with the Phantom's band, they were one HARP horse short. The program that matches at-risk girls with horses. Brynna had found the mare on the internet at a rescue farm. She had been abandoned and suffered from malnutrition. They were expecting her soon.

A sudden squeal made them both turn around, just in time to see Tempest canter away from Witch towards the ten acre pasture, where Ace, Popcorn, and Penny were standing to see what all the commotion from before was. Sam just started to go get Tempest when the River Bend truck and trailer came over the bridge. She stopped, the filly forgotten for now.

Sam bounced on her heels as she waited for the truck to stop. When it finally did, she hurried over to the trailer with Jake close behind. Dad got out of the pickup, nodding to Jake, and looked up as the ranch house door opened and Gram, Brynna, holding Cody, came out.

"Would have been hear sooner, but the mare wouldn't load up, ended up having to use a tranquilizer" Dad explained, then he looked up toward the house. "Samantha, what's that filly of yours doing?"

Everyone turned toward the house and saw what he was talking about. Tempest had wandered toward the garden and was just about to take a bite out a tomato. Before anyone could say anything else, Sam hurried over to the filly and grabbed the trailing lead rope. Luckily, Tempest didn't put up a fight. Sam quickly put the filly in her stall.

Suddenly, a loud squeal and a kick came from the trailer, as Sam came back. Without saying a word, Dad and Jake moving to the back of the trailer and unbolted the ramp. Dad disappeared inside and then a dapple grey mare backed down the ramp. Sam sucked in a breath at the mare's beauty, but then her heart went out to her for the mare was skin and bones! Everybody saw it too, because it grew quiet. Until dad broke the silence.

"Her name's St...Sterling," he practically choked saying the name and Sam was sure she saw Jake grimace. Sam rolled her eyes, both thought that was no name for a ranch horse.

"Well, I like it," Sam said. Gram and Brynna agreed with her, even Cody gave his two sense. Sam, then, took a step towards the mare.

Sterling's head shot up, her ears pricked, her nostrils flaring. The tranquilizer was just starting to wear off. Sam wanted nothing more than to pat the mare's neck and tell her everything was going to be okay, but Sam couldn't help but notice that the mare hadn't taken her eyes off of her since she came off the trailer. Instead, Sam held a hand out to the mare. Sterling flared her nostrils even, but didn't move away.

"Jake, take the mare to the round pen," Dad told Jake, holding out of the lead. When Jake stepped forward, the dapple grey mare exploded. She shot backward, her back legs hitting the ramp, sending her into more of a panic. Jake quickly retreated and the mare soon settled down.

"Dad, can I take her to the pen?" Sam asked, her eyes still on the mare.

"Samantha Ann, what do you take me for?" Dad asked, it was rhetorical, as he led the mare to the pen himself.

Sam didn't answer.

Cody started fussing, so Brynna went back into the house to put the little boy down for his nap and Gram followed her saying about starting dinner. Sam and Jake followed Dad and the mare to the pen. Jake opened the gate and the mare was release inside. Sterling gave a spirited buck and galloped toward the other side of the pen, away from them.

"You two have a lot on your hands," Dad said.

"Wait, Us?" Sam asked. "As in, Me and Jake?"

Dad nodded, "You're old enough, just be careful, okay honey?"

"I will," Sam smiled, excitement bubbling inside of her. She was actually going to work with the mare. Dad nodded again, and headed off to the ten acre pasture to saddle of Jeep, because there was still so much work to be done on the range. As soon as he was out of range, Sam turned to Jake.

"What do you think?" Sam asked excitedly.

Jake didn't say anything, instead he walked off toward the barn. Sam followed him, wanting to know what he thought of the mare. Jake grabbed two flakes of hay and headed back out to the round pen. He threw the hay inside and turned around, almost colliding with her.

"What?" Jake asked, a hint of annoyance in his voice.

"What do you think?" Sam repeated her earlier question.

Jake shrugged, "Seems pretty wild,"

"But all she needs is someone to trust," Sam contradicted.

Jake shrugged.

Biting her tongue, Sam climbed up the fence to watch Sterling munch on the hay Jake had given her. Sam didn't know if it was that he really didn't know what to do with the mare or if it had something to do with the change in their relationship. Ever since, the New Years barbeque when Jake had taken her hand, they weren't sure what that made them. It didn't help that Jake hadn't said anything about it. Sam sighed, it was May, so if anything was going to happen then it would have happened by now. She'd just have to face it.

Her and Jake just weren't meant to be.