Bright red and blue lights lighting up the sky... loud sirens being carried in the wind... cops and volunteers all talking at the same time. I looked around, "Excuse me, can you help me?"
No one stopped, I wasn't even sure if they knew I was there. Cops would scribble something in their notebooks, paramedics would say something like "I don't know if the kid is gonna make it", "There is so much blood" or "How did this happen?"
I felt a knot get stuck in my throat, I shouldn't be here. I shouldn't have to hear all these things. Was I dreaming? If I was dreaming, then this was surely a nightmare. A nightmare I so hoped to wake up from. The only thing was, when I closed my eyes and counted to twenty, I opened them up to see the same exact scene. When I pinched myself, it hurt. I was really awake and this was really happening.
"Excuse me", I reached out and grabbed a cop by his sleeve, making him turn and look at me. Finally, someone notices I'm there, "I'm looking for Paul, the victim from the red pick up truck."
The cop looked my up and down and smiled, "You're the girlfriend, Lana right?"
I nodded, "Sherrif department called, said there was an accident. Is he okay?"
He pointed to the ambulance, "He's right in there. Better hurry, they're about to take off to the hospital."
I smiled up to him and began to walk towards the ambulance. I felt a hand grab my elbow and turned to see the cop I had just talked to. He looked from the truck in the bushes to me and then to the back of the ambulance, "Lana, its worse there then it is here. I know Paul, he'll fight til the end."
Fight til the end, what was that suppose to mean? I didn't know, but it scared me. How did it come to this? It wasn't suppose to be this way... Did I do something wrong?
---Chapter One "From Humble Beginnings"---
(Three monthes before)
Rolling green hills everywhere I looked, big oak tree in the middle of the pasture, large fishing lake down at the bottom of the hill, this view I could get use to.
"You must be Lana", I heard someone behind me say. I turned to see a guy, two years older than me, tall, dark hair, tan skin, bright green eyes. He wore a button up shirt with the sleeves cut off at the shoulder, revealing his muscular toned arms, grabbing my attention the moment I turned to face him. Good thing I wore sunglasses so he could see where my eyes looked.
I quickly shifted my gaze from his arms to his eyes... his deep, emerald green eyes. Trying to not think about the beauty that covered him head to toe was absolutely impossible, especially when trying to make a conversation with him. I had to look past his head to get the words out of my throat, "Yeah, I'm Lana. And you are...?"
"Paul", he stuck his hand out and smiled, "nice to finally meet you. Your grandfather talks highly of you."
I slipped my hand into his, his palms hot and sweaty in my smooth hands. Trying to keep ahold of the strong feelings I had towards him, "Oh, well thats awesome. How long have you worked for my grandfather?"
Paul shrugged, "Its been about two years or so. It first stated out as just a payment plan. I couldn't afford to give Rufus any of the medical attention he needed at the time, so I asked if he needed any extra hands around the barn. I just liked working here so much and hanging out with your grandfather..."
I pulled my glasses down to the tip of my nose, "Hanging out with my grandfather? I didn't think people his age 'hung out' any more."
Paul chuckeled, "You obviously don't know your grandfather that well. Let me show you around."
I simply smiled up at Paul as he swung his head towards the barn. I had seen the barn and office so many times from countless visits and really didn't need a tour, but any extra time with Paul sounded pretty good to me. He showed me the kennels where dogs would stay overnight, the washroom where they bathed the smaller animals, the feed room where horse and dog food was kept, and the stables where the horses stayed or large dogs were kept if they ran out of room in the kennels. Paul walked over to a large brown mare with black smeared up her nose and a white line right between her eyes. He placed a hand on her and kissed her nose, "Hey girl. This is Lana, Doc's granddaughter."
I watched as the horse blew out of her nose and nuzzeled his hand softly. Paul turned to me, "I call her Tinkerbell. Girly I know, but thats the only thing she came to when I called her. I was big on Peter Pan when I was a kid, and I kinda always thought Tinkerbell was a babe. I don't even know what came over me, but a year or two back she was out in the pasture, minding her own business and what not. There was a terrible storm on its way and Doc asked for all the horses to be brought in. We never named her because she never paid us any mind, but that night as I was bringing them in, got my hand zapped by the elctrically fence out there. I just grabbed it and said the first thing that came to me."
I wanted to laugh, but I thought it would make Paul mad at me, so I just smiled, "And the first thing that came to your mind was Tinkerbell?"
Paul chuckeled, "Sounds weird, I know, but she shot her ears up and turned to me, like a dog would. She casually walked over and licked my hand. Motherly instincts, I guess. I was completely blown away and tried it again. Said her name and she shot her ears up and looked at me, as if she was trying to ask me what I wanted. It was the darnest thing."
I leaned against the stable wall and watched as Paul began to stroke her nose and kiss her on her white line. It was cute to see him so gentle and sweet with her, like she was his baby. I couldn't help but voice the chemistry between them, "She really loves you."
Paul smiled at her, "Yeah. Ever since that day in the pasture, Tink has been the only horse I ride. Its safe to say that she is my favourite."
Watching him pet her and kiss her was probably the sweetest thing I had ever seen. How precious, a beautiful, southern cowboy with the gentlest touch towards animals. You never see these types of things in New York. I liked to watch Paul with Tinkerbell and began to make myself comfortable. I turned my back against the wall and propped my elbow up on the stall window next to me. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. It felt as if nothing would ruin this moment, until I felt something bite my elbow. I gasped and turned to see a huge gray spotted horse poke his head out of the window I had rested my elbow on. He blew out of his nose and shook his white mane, kicking the door a couple time and scaring the mess out of me. I rubbed my elbow and looked at him, "What's his problem?"
Paul sighed and walked over to him, "This is Rebel. He's young and still has alot to learn before anyone can ever ride him. Problem is, no one can break him in. We had Justin, another guy that works here and usually does a great job with breaking em in, he couldn't even do it. He was either thrown off or rammed into the fence. No surprise Rebel didn't kill the both of us."
My mouth dropped open, "You tried to ride him?"
Paul nodded and smiled, "Almost broke every bone in my body trying. Can't sell him because no one can ride him, can't let him run in the pasture or he'll never come back, but then again we can't even really put him on a rope and lead him anywhere without gettin jerked around. Its like I said, he's young and when he learns to stop acting like a baby, maybe he'll get out of here every once in a while."
Rebel threw his head back and let out a long and loud cry. I watched in amazement as he shook his head and turned to walk away, but not before giving the door another kick with his back leg. I looked up at Paul, "Its like they actually udnerstand what you're saying."
"They're not stupid, you can train a horse just as good as a dog. Never in my life have we had a Rebel like this fella."
Rebel blew hard out of his nose and looked at Paul through the bars next to his window. We both laughed and began to walk from the barn to inside the trailer that was known as the office. Grandpa was sitting on a stool and looking at a folder with, what I guessed held a chart for some animal. He looked up at us and closed the folder, smiling, "Lana, when did you get here? I thought you weren't suppose to be here for another couple hours."
I shrugged, "Mom changed my flight plans to an earlier time. She was suppose to call and tell you."
Grandpa looked at the clock on the wall and then back at me, "Well, its better then being late. I see you've already met Paul."
My cheeks turned a slight pink, I really hoped my make-up covered how much I was blushing when Grandpa flashed me a smile as he said Paul's name, "Yeah, he was reconnecting me with the place. It looks... different from what I remember."
Grandpa shrugged his shoulders, "You haven't been here in a few years, things change over time."
I nodded my head, "It still looks great."
"Good gracious, what happened to your elbow" ,Grandpa exclaimed as he threw the folder in his hands on the countertop and grabbed my right arm. I didn't noticed the shallow bite marks and light blood trickeling from them. Paul looked to where Grandpa's eyes were and shook his head, "Rebel."
Grandpa looked up at me and then at Paul, "You let her near him?"
"She rested her arm on his window and he apparently didn't like it. I was showing her Tinkerbell."
Grandpa sighed and grabbed a washclothe, beginning to rinse it under some water and lather soap on it, "I don't know what to do with that horse. Can't do anything with him. Maybe we'll try breaking him again, its been a few weeks since his last try."
The corners of Paul's lips dipped into a frown, "We'd better call someone to come do it. Justin isn't gonna want to try again and I think I've come closer to death then I really want to be. I hate to say it, but maybe Venny..."
"No sire, he will have nothing to do with me or my horses", Grandpa said as he gave Paul a stern look, "I don't want anything to do with that man or his business."
"What business? Ouch!"
Grandpa was washing my elbow with the cloth and began to press down a little to hard. He loosened his grip and began to sroke it softly, "Sorry. Venny use to be a good customer of mine. He would bring these horses to me to be checked out and made sure they were good and healthy. I never asked his business, just assumed he was doing horse shows or something. He always brought me these fine, beautiful horses and I would even try to buy a few off of him. I did manage to get a couple, good thing too."
I looked from Grandpa to Paul, "What's his business?"
Paul sighed, "He owns a glue factory. He buys healthy horses and works them to death and when they don't have any work left in them..."
"Sick man! Sick, sick, sick man", Grandpa exclaimed as he began to wrap my elbow in bandages, "the minute I found out what he was doing, I told him to find services somewhere else. Ain't another horse doctor around here for miles. Slow down his business, but surely didn't keep him from doing it. Sick man! Sick, sick, sick man!"
I had never seen my Grandfather so upset. If this Venny guy was really that bad, I sure hoped he wouldn't come back around here. Just speaking his name sent my Grandfather into a whirlwind of anger and hatrid, what if he really did show up? I was sure Grandpa would lose his mind.
Paul hung his head, upset with himself for even suggesting it. Grandpa saw the expression on his face and rested a hand on his shoulder, "Don't worry, son. I know you want to do what is best and it does seem like a last resort. We'll figure something out."
Paul nodded and looked up at him, "Sorry."
Grandpa shrugged, "Its like I said, don't worry, we'll figure soemthing out. Right now, I've got a truck load of feed that needs to be taken to the feed room. Stall four and seven need to be cleaned out as well. Gibson is bringing Lady and Knight by and if need be, they'll need a place to stay."
Paul dipped his head and turned to walk out the back door, "I'm on it."
I watched as Paul walked out of the office, closing the door behind him. I looked over at Grandpa to see him looking me up and down, "You better change your clothes if you're gonna help clean out them stalls."
I dropped my chin is total disbelief, "I've been here for maybe an hour and already getting put to work?"
Grandpa smiled, "Got to earn your stay around here somehow."
"But we're blood."
"And so is Jenny, but don't think I'm paying her car insurance for free. I pay them, she works for me. If you want dinner, at least clean out a stall or two. Brooms and wheel barrel is in the same place its always been."
My mouth dropped open, he was kidding. He had to be kidding. Surely my own Grandfather wasn't going to make me work to eat and have somewhere nice to sleep. Before I could ask him anything, Grandpa dropped his pen on the counter and looked as me as if to say "I'm not kidding, get to work". That was Grandpa for you. For as long as I have known him, he was a hard working man, paying off everything he owned and making sure you paid him back what you owed. I walked out of the trailer and to my car so I could change into a pair of old jeans and a tee shirt. I sighed as I slipped on a pair of sneakers and began to walk towards the barn, "Nice seeing you too, Grandpa."