Here's a treat since I'm late on my promised update. Enjoy. :)

Chapter Seven

I loaded Catherine's suitcase into the trunk first as she said her goodbyes to Dave and Steve. I tossed mine into the back afterward and took a deep breath, releasing it with a large sigh. I settled my hands on my hips and watched the interaction between the boys and my boss. Even though we hadn't spent much time with them, she seemed to have formed a bond with them, much as I had when I first met Dave.

"All right, so...you're all packed and ready to go," Dave asked as Steve gave Catherine a hug. "You're not forgetting anything?"

"Nothing you can't mail us if that's the case," I said as I made my way toward the couple.

Dave sighed and looked at the ground for a moment before I gave him the chance to finally hug me.

"I wish you didn't have to leave already," he said as he opened his arms for a friendly embrace.

"I know, but I promise to keep in touch," I said as I squeezed him during our hug.

"You better. It's been over a dozen years since we've heard from you."

Steve patted Dave's back to get him to let up on the hug.

"I'm sorry. But things are going to be different this time."

"Good," Steve smiled before he pulled me into a hug. "Because we love hearing from you. I don't believe you've ever lived a boring life, Sara Sidle."

"If only!"

Catherine and the guys smiled.

"Well, we should get going," I said after a beat. "Take care, guys."

"Right back at you," Dave spoke for both of them as they smiled.

Catherine and I made our way to the Mazda and, even as I pulled out of the driveway, I stared back at the happy, waving couple. I smiled and waved back before we disappeared down the street. I pressed the control to play one of the CDs Catherine currently had in her car to fill the emptiness of having to leave too soon.

"Those two are my favorite gays out of all the gay friends I have."

"And why's that?"

"Because they know how to have fun. All the others...they're mostly women so they all have their shit. It's a lot of drama most of the time."

"Oh, great," she grumbled. "Well, at least it's someone else's drama and not my own."

I smiled.

After a few moments of listening to the music as it controlled the atmosphere, I furrowed my brow and skipped to the next song.

"What other music do you have," I asked as I messed with the track and CD numbers in search of my answer.

"No, wait," Catherine begged as I hit the button to play the sixth disk in the player.

Unfortunately, it was too late to protect herself as the first track started to fill the SUV.

I smiled and tried my hardest to contain my laughter, but was unsuccessful.

"Foreigner," I asked as I continued to laugh.

"It's my guilty pleasures mix," she said as she turned off the stereo.

"Oh, come on," I smiled as I turned it back on and skipped to the next song.

Another familiar melody hit my ears and I grinned. I started to feel the rhythm and tapped the steering wheel as I grooved to the introduction.

"You're a real tough cookie with the long history," I started to sing. "Of breaking little hearts like the one in me. That's okay. Let's see how you do it. Put up your dukes. Let's get down to it. Hit me with your best shot. Why don't hit me with your best shot."

Catherine smiled and started to laugh.

"Belt it out with me, woman! It's a guilty pleasure for a reason," I smiled.

"Fire away," we sang in unison with Pat Benatar.

"You come on with a come on with a 'come on'. You don't fight fair, but that's okay. See if I care," we continued to sing. "Knock me down. It's all in vain. I'll get right back on my feet again."

We laughed for a small time before we jumped back into the song.

"Why don't you hit me with your best shot?"

For most of the drive, we sang loudly to every old school tune Catherine had on the CD and indulged in every guilty pleasure except for the one that involved kissing her again. We enjoyed each other's company as two friends until we reached one of the finest and most beautiful vineyards in Napa, California.

"Wow. This place is not at all what I imagined it to be," I stared in awe at it as Catherine and drove down the dirt road, past rows of homegrown grapes, to the driveway of a large cabin-style house.

"You've never been here," Catherine asked with an incredulous expression on her face.

"Elise mentioned this place a few times, how she thought we should invest in it. I never got the chance to get in on the action. I can see now that I should've jumped at the opportunity."

"Huh," she said as she took a look at the place as I parked the SUV.

We stepped out onto to California dirt and immediately, someone came out to greet us.

"Oh, my god! Sara!"

I smiled, more than thrilled to see her. She was more tan, had tighter thighs, and a precious glow about her I didn't dare try to diminish.

"Jenn," I greeted as she leaped into my arms for a hug.

I squeezed her tight and smelled her intoxicating shampoo. I felt her smile on my neck as she gently nuzzled herself into it.

"I'm so glad to see you," she said into my skin.

"You don't know how much this moment means to me," I confessed as she started to slip out of my grasp. I didn't want to let her go, but I knew I had to. "You should have called me. I would've loved to be in the wedding party."

"Oh, well...I don't know if this is going to make you hate me less or more. ...My mom refuses to even come to the ceremony, being a homophobe and all, and...my dad...passed away a few years ago, so...would you give me away?"

My jaw dropped and I heard Catherine's do the same.

"Wow. That sounded a lot more honorable in my head," Jenn nervously said.

"No...no, I'll do it. I'll...give you away. Just tell me I get to meet...Kay?"

"Yeah, Kay," she smiled. "You remembered."

"Of course. I need to know who's ass I'm going to kick if anything goes wrong."

"Sara," she warned with a hint of laughter as her smile widened. "Promise you won't be an asshole?"

"How many people do I have to convince that I left that kind of behavior in my past?"

"Everyone that knows you were the worst of all assholes in your day," Catherine piped up with a grin she approached Jenn.

She stuck out her hand in greeting and Jenn shook it as her smile started to wear down.

"Hi, I'm Catherine," she introduced herself. "Sara's girlfriend."

"I'm...Jenn," she put on a polite face. "I'm...sorry. I must be hearing things. Did you say girlfriend?"

"Yeah," Catherine smiled. "Although we're more like life partners. Right, honey," she asked as she backed away from Jenn to stand beside me.

"Oh, yeah. We're stuck together like super glue." I smiled at her and then at Jenn.

"Huh," Jenn replied as she tried to maintain her polite smile. "Well, why don't you come inside, take a look at the place."

I looked at Catherine, as she looked at me, and we smiled at each other before we followed Jenn into the cabin.

My eyes widened at the sight of it. The cabin was well-furnished and had Elise's artistic touch splashed all over it. I smiled, seeing what she'd accomplished since I left, and took a good look around. I definitely didn't want to leave the place any sooner than I had to.

"This is amazing," I said as I stared up at the ceiling. "The detail is...unbelievable."

"Thank you," an all too familiar voice spoke.

I leveled my eyes again to see Elise smiling a few feet in front of me.

"You look incredible, Lise," I said before I smiled and went in for a hug.

She caught me in a tight embrace and for a minute, I thought she would never let me leave her side.

She slowly released me and continued to smile.

"It's good to finally see you in person again."

"Same here," I smiled as I looked her up and down, taking in the life I once had with her.

Suddenly, I saw flashes of that life as I memorized the current curves of her body, which I'd done many times in the past. I saw her on top of me, smiling the same way she smiled at me now. I saw her teasing me in the kitchen after a long shift as we stayed in for breakfast. I saw her reassure me when I felt insecure. I saw her take my hand and lead me into something new and exciting.

Catherine once again stepped up and wrapped her arm around my waist. I crashed back into reality and smiled before I spoke.

"Elise, this is Catherine."

"Oh," her smile became less predatory and more welcoming as she shook Catherine's hand. "I wish I could say I've heard a lot about you, but Sara didn't want to talk to about you to much."

"She likes to keep me her little secret and...we're so used to hiding when we're at work so...I guess it's just second nature," Catherine smiled.

"I remember those days," Elise said as she took her eyes off Catherine and made me the target of her comment.

"So...what are the sleeping accommodations like," I asked.

"Why don't I give you two a tour of the place," Elise offered.

"That'd be great," Catherine spoke for me as well.

I wasn't sure I wanted Elise to give us a tour, but when I really thought about it, I figured there wasn't much she could do to make it awkward.

"Come on," Elise signaled us to follow her to the back of the cabin. "This is the dining room. It's perfect for wine tasting and of course, eating."

"It's a generous sized table, too," I said as I looked at the wood work. "Made out of soft wood?With an incredible finish?"

"I wanted to make it feel like a cabin in the woods, a cozy, homey feel. Remember? This is what we talked about."

"Right. I remember. I just...wow, it's...nice to see you got what you wanted," I smiled.

"I got more than what I wanted from when we first starting talking about this place," she smiled back. "Of course, my life is far from complete, but...I do okay."

I lightly chuckled.

"This over here," she threw her arm to her left to show us the next room, "is the kitchen. I went a little modern with it, but the cabinets and floors are wood. The counter tops are granite, as you can see, and the finishes are astounding. I wasn't expecting the contractors do such a great job. They knew exactly what I was going for and they made it happen."

"That's awesome," Catherine said. "I have this casino...no one sees it the way I do. I can't get them to make the proper changes without them screwing up the wires or something like that," she laughed.

"You own a casino," Elise asked, shocked.

"Yeah, my dad was a big name in Vegas. When he died, he gave me complete control over it...if I wanted it."

"So...you don't work at the lab with Sara?"

"Of course I do. I manage the casino during my off hours. I'm considering running it full time, but Sara and I need to talk about that a little more before I make any decisions."

"Oh, so you're still her supervisor," Elise stated to confirm what she thought she heard.

"Yes," Catherine smiled.

Elise nodded as she attempted to keep up her "all smiles" act, but I detected a hint of jealousy.

"Well, you haven't seen the best part. The upstairs is phenomenal. Oh, but we do have an indoor pool and recreational room down the hall. Those rooms are almost not connected to this 'get-away cabin' because the door leads you to a hallway that goes on for a little while before you get to the pool. The rec room is above it on the second floor."

"Wow," Catherine and I simultaneously said.

"And the upstairs is the best part," I asked.

Elise smiled.

"You'll understand when we get up there."

I furrowed my brow as I wondered what was so spectacular about the second floor, but fortunately for me, it didn't take long to figure it out.

"Whoa," I glanced around the log heaven of an upstairs.

Everything felt genuine and authentic as we followed Elise to the bedrooms.

"We have nine rooms up here, all able to fit at least three people in each, and every bed is a queen," Elise proudly stated.

"Nice," I mindlessly said as I glanced around in awe.

"Here's the room you two will be staying in," Elise opened the door and stepped aside for Catherine and I to enter.

"Oh, boy," I said as I took in the romantic theme of the room.

"Yeah, for the wedding, Jenn thought all of the rooms should have a romantic getaway feel," Elise laughed. "You should see my room."

I looked at the cherry blossom color scheme and couldn't believe I'd be stuck in a perfectly pink wedding. At least I could find the beauty in cherry blossoms.

"I guess I'm gonna have to go shopping," I said as I looked around at the pink and white heart shaped pillows.

"Oh, no need. I remembered your dress size so I went ahead and included it in the order," Elise smiled as she headed toward the closet.

She opened the door to reveal a precious dress that, even though it was white and cherry blossom pink, it looked absolutely breath taking.

"Wow. Jenn really knows how to plan a wedding," I said as I stared in awe at the hanging dress.

"Well, her own at least. I love the colors, too," Elise continued to smile as she ran her fingers over the dress.

"You're gonna look amazing in that, honey," Catherine decided to chime in.

I turned to her and smiled. Half of me wanted to laugh at her perfect timing and cute deliverance of every comment interjected, but, out of self-restraint, I only smiled.

I could feel Elise's eyes on us as I stared at my savior and thought of all the years we spent fighting when we could have been friends instead.

"Thanks, sweetie," I finally said to Catherine before I returned my focus to Elise.

"Well, maybe I should give you two some alone time," Elise's smile started to fade as she tried to leave the room.

"Lise," I stopped her. "We don't want alone time."

"Yeah, we've got plenty of time for that the rest of the trip. Show us around the place some more," Catherine smiled like she was actually trying to make friends with Elise.

Elise forced a smile back on her face.

"Okay," she said with a hint of pain in her voice.

I didn't know what it was with all of my friends, but something about me being with Catherine made them itchy. I hadn't been with Jenn in a long time and even when I was with her, I didn't respect her. I understood why Elise might not be enthusiastic about Catherine's presence, but I always hoped for her happiness over the years. I certainly spent more time hoping for her than mine.

Elise gave us the full tour of the place and I was thoroughly impressed. Elise had managed to put her heart and soul into something that could have easily fell through, but she had a way with making things work. I was proud.

"You've really done a nice job, Lise," I smiled as we came back to the bar and kitchen downstairs.

"Thanks. I really wish you could've been a part of it," she confessed.

"No time to dwell," Jenn jumped in. "You've got to meet Kay."

"Great," I smiled.

"Oh, you're going to love the way you're going to meet her," Elise started to grin again as her words were laced with sarcasm.

"Wait, how am I meeting her," I worriedly asked as Elise and Jenn walked off in the direction of a Jeep.

Within ten minutes, I figured out why Elise grinned. I had followed the Jeep back to a luxurious stable several miles from the vineyard. Horses. There were at least three out in the open, tied to a post just outside of their appropriate stalls.

"Great," I now lacked eagerness.

"What's so bad about horses," Catherine laughed as she looked at me for an answer.

"It's not a problem," I tried to shrug it off.

"Yeah, and I'm the President of the United States," Catherine laughed a little more.

She and I got out of the Mazda and approached the Jeep, which was parked at the stable entrance.

"Kay's been riding all morning. She loves it out here...and I don't blame her," Jenn smiled as she took a deep breath and let the fresh air fill her lungs.

"She's probably at the camp site," Elise directed the comment at Jenn.

Jenn nodded then looked at me.

"So...are you up for it," she asked.

"Up for...what," I asked, hoping she wasn't suggesting what it sounded like she was suggesting.

"Riding out to the site," Jenn patiently answered.

I stood frozen in fear. I most definitely wasn't up to riding out to the site.

"Of course she is," Catherine spoke up to save the day as she rubbed my back. "Right, honey?"

She pinched my left side less than an inch above my waistline and turned a few degrees to make the conversation a little more private.

"You don't want to make this all about you, don't you," she said as though she really were my girlfriend, angry that I might back out of a promise.

"Right. ...Yeah, I'm ready," I tried to speak firmly even as I wavered.

"You'll make an honest woman of her yet," Elise joked with a smile.

"All right," Jenn smiled.

She and Elise walked into the stables and I tried to nervously follow them, but Catherine stopped me.

"Hey, what's going on with you?"

"What do you mean," I tried to act suave.

"Are you afraid of horses?"

"No!"

Catherine cocked both of her eyebrows.

"Really, because it feels like you are."

I scoffed.

"Okay. I don't..." I sighed, scared she would laugh at me and my imperfections. "I don't know how to ride a horse."

"That's it?"

"What do you mean 'that's it?' The last time I tried to ride one, I made a fool of myself in front of a lot of people. Oh, and I also fell off the damn thing."

Catherine chuckled.

"Are you afraid to get on a horse in front of everyone because of that?"

"Well...yeah. But when you say it like that you make me feel like a wimp."

She smiled.

"I'll help you."

"No, it's fine. You can follow Jenn and Elise. I'll catch up with you guys in a few minutes."

"Sara, riding a horse is like riding a bike."

"I suck at that, too," I admitted with a bit of insecurity.

"Oh, honey," she smiled through her pity face. "Come on."

She grabbed my hand, but I slipped out of her grip before she could drag me along with her.

She rolled her eyes and attempted to grab my hand again.

"Come on. I'll show you."

I sighed as I let her take my hand and followed her in to the stables. Jenn and Elise were already on their horses and headed out.

"We'll meet you out there," Catherine said as she looked up to make eye contact with them.

"Okay," Jenn said as Elise looked at me.

"Just follow the trial," Elise told Catherine, but her eyes were glued to mine. "The trees are marked with neon yellow tape."

"Cool. ...Any preference to what horses we take," Catherine asked as she eyed the stalls.

"Not at all," Jenn gingerly said with a smile. "Kay's got her favorite horse and Elise and I always ride these two so...feel free to choose whatever horse you're comfortable with."

"Thanks," Catherine smiled at Jenn.

"Come on," Jenn said as she eased the horse toward the stable doors.

Elise followed her lead and finally took her eyes off mine as she looked forward.

The second both horses stepped out of the stable, they quickly galloped away and left me to my death.

"Stop looking at this place like a future crime scene. You're not going to die here," she said as she calmly opened a stall and guided a horse to the center of the stable.

I backed away as the horse sneezed and didn't want to take a single step closer.

"I'd put you on a smaller horse, but they're all this big so..."

"Whoa, I am not getting on that thing."

"Well, maybe they'll treat you better if you stop calling them things," she smiled. "This is a Morgan mare. They're friendly so you're safer with this one."

"I'm still not getting on it."

"A mare is a female so she's a her not an it. And you don't have a choice. Besides, I'm here to help, so...you're even safer."

"I don't know," I stared at the horse.

"Do you trust me," she asked as she caressed the mare's side.

I looked between her and the horse and let her words sink in. I didn't have a choice. I needed to get on the horse for Jenn and by the way Catherine acted in the stable, she seemed to know enough for me to trust her about all horses.

I took a deep breath and walked around to the side of the horse. She turned her head and stared at me. I tensed up and wanted to panic.

"Calm down," Catherine smiled as she found my awkwardness entertaining. "She just wants to know who you are. She has more reason to be afraid of you than you of her. Here."

Catherine closed the space between us, the front of her body pressed against my back as I stared into the mare's eyes. She took me by the wrist and started to guide me.

"Slowly raise your hand...and let her know you don't want to harm her," she spoke in a relaxing tone. "There."

I could hear her smile in her voice as she kept my hand in front of the mare's eyes. The horse lightly whinnied and lowered her head.

"She's going to let you pet her now."

Catherine took my hand and gently rested it on the horse's head. She started to run my hand along the mare's forehead and suddenly, I felt a rush of tranquility course through my veins. I relaxed my shoulders as Catherine helped me stroke mare.

"That's it," she continued to smile. She eased off my hand and let me take control of my actions.

I smiled as I stroked the horse a few more times, but I turned to face Catherine since my hand was free.

"How do you know so much about horses," I asked.

"I have family in Montana. My mom used to take me there during the summer to see my cousins and grandparents. My grandfather had a ranch and my mom and grandmother were always fighting so...I spent a lot of time with him. He taught me everything I know about horses. Don't think I didn't fall on my ass once or twice either. I've been thrown off horses plenty of times, on my ass, my head, my hip, and my arm. I can't tell you how many summers I spent in casts because of a broken arm."

"Wow. I never would have guessed."

"Yeah, well...my mom had a huge falling out with my grandmother so...I didn't spend much time with him before he passed away."

"Oh. ...I'm sorry."

She shook her head.

"It's fine. I let it go. You can hold a grudge forever. ...It's not healthy."

"How old were you?"

"About fifteen. I started stripping to cope with my mom and all of her wrong decisions, like the one she'd made to keep me from my grandparents. And I made a ton of money doing it. So I started saving up and eventually disappeared for a summer to visit my grandma at the ranch."

"Did she ask how you got the money to visit?"

"I asked her not to and she backed off. ...I started to visit ever summer for the next three years, but that third summer...my grandma got sick. I didn't want to leave her, but she made me go back to Vegas. The funny thing is...it seemed like she waited for summer to come around again to pass away because when I came to town, her best friend and neighbor told me she'd passed away the week before. They waited to have a service until I got there and...I got to go to the will reading. She left me the ranch. In her letter, she said my grandpa wanted me to have it and that after spending all those summers with me, watching me ride, she saw it was the right thing to do."

"Cat..." I said after a beat.

She shook her head again.

"No, don't feel bad about it. This whole week is about Jenn and the wedding. Enough sob stories about me and my family."

"Do you...do you still own the ranch?"

"Yep. I took Lindsey there a few times when she was little."

"She must have loved it," I smiled.

"Yeah," she started to smile again. "Especially after the divorce. ...She use to get on her favorite horse and ride around the place just to get away from me. About a year before Eddie died, though, I stopped taking her. At the time I didn't have the money or the vacation time to take her anymore."

"So...what happened to the ranch? If you still own it, how are you maintaining it?"

"I knew several of my grandparents' friends in the area and they've all taken care of it, and the horses, for me. Currently, though, my cousins take turns staying there. I handle all the finances, but they feed and groom the horses as well as keep the house clean. ...I don't know why I'm telling you this. We need to get to the site. Get on the horse."

I smiled at her bossiness and watched her place and adjust a saddle on the mare.

"Are you going to help me get up there?"

"If you need it. All you have to do is grab the top of the saddle there," she pointed. "And you'll put your foot in the stir up and swing your other leg over so you can put the other foot in the stir up on the other side. But I think you know how to get on a horse."

"Yeah, it's the staying on that's a challenge for me."

She smiled as I pushed off the stir up to swing over my leg. I successfully planted my other foot in the stir up and tried to get comfortable on the saddle.

"Just stay there. If you don't move, she won't move. Once I get on one of these horses, I'll guide you through the next part."

"Okay," I nodded as I tried to not to signal the horse in any way.

I watched Catherine as she eased another horse out of its stall. I looked down and was shocked at what I discovered.

"That's a male horse! That's not fair."

"It's a stallion. A mustang in fact."

"Whatever it is, it's...manly."

She laughed.

"How come you get the scary looking one?"

"Because I know how to ride one," she grinned before she effortlessly hopped onto the saddle.

"Show off."

She chuckled.

"Okay, if you put pressure on both sides of her with your legs, she'll start to move. The more pressure you put on her sides, the faster she'll go. Pull straight back on the reigns and she'll come to a stop. If you want to turn left, you're going to apply pressure to her right side with your foot and pull the reigns to the left. You got that?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"Okay. We can start off slow. Are you ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be."

She smiled.

"Okay. Follow me."

She pressed down on both sides of the horse and the stallion started to trot his way out of the stable. She turned him around once they were outside so she could watch to make sure I at least got out of the stable.

I mimicked her example and the mare lurched out of the stable. I pulled on the reigns as the horse and I approached Catherine and I awkwardly got the mare to turn to the left so she could face the trail ahead.

"Good," she smiled. "The more you do ride a horse, the easier it gets."

"Well, I don't plan on riding much."

She lightly laughed and shook her head.

"Okay, let's go," she said as she pushed on both sides of the stallion again.

The stallion started down the trail at a slow gallop at Catherine's request and I did what I had before to get the mare to follow Catherine and the mustang.

Catherine kept her horse at a steady, slow pace as I rode along side her at an equally slow pace. I appreciated her taking it easy on me, but I didn't expect it to last too long and if anyone knew the more malicious side of Catherine, it was me.

"We're going to speed up a bit, okay? Your body's movements should flow with the horse's."

"Okay. I'm a little less confident now."

"You'll be fine."

She pushed harder on the mustang and he quickly adjusted to what she wanted from him. I considered the new speed she had him galloping similar to jogging in the park as we'd only really been fast walking our way through the trail so far.

I pushed harder on the mare and continued to do so until I felt we would catch up to Catherine. When I reached her, I realized I'd been going faster than she had when she asked the horse to speed up. I gently pulled on the reigns to slow down the horse, but Catherine smiled.

"No, if you're comfortable riding that fast you should keep going that fast. I think it's time to take off the training wheels."

"What does that mean," I asked, scared to know what was brewing in her devious head.

"I'll race you to the site," she said as she started to speed up again.

"What? No!"

More afraid of getting lost in the surrounding nature, I sped up just to keep up with her. As I got closer to her, she remained at a constant speed to make a bet.

"Loser has to give the winner a back rub at the vineyard tonight."

She sped off yet again and left me to eat the dirt the stallion kicked out from under him. I pressed more on the mare's sides and got her racing. Naturally, I lowered my head to be equal with the mare's so we would go faster and I lifted my butt slightly off the saddle.

I saw Catherine as the mare and I rounded a corner and followed the neon yellow tape. I was getting closer. I could even win.

I started to tail Catherine, close to her and almost matching her stallion's speed, but not close enough to ride beside her. I kicked it into high gear and got the mare to rush forward. The mare and stallion were soon neck to neck. Catherine looked over at me and smiled as she admired my racing position, one that matched hers. She looked ahead and took the inside turn of the next corner we needed to round. I could make out the camp not too far ahead of us and hoped I'd be able to stop before I hit anything...or anyone.

Before I knew it, Catherine started to get ahead of me inch by inch as we came closer to our destination. I tried to convince the mare with the pressure of my legs to go faster, but she didn't want to listen. Instead, I eased up, as Catherine had started to do when she took the lead, and gradually pulled on the reigns. I lost the race, but I'd learned how to ride a horse.

I smiled as the mare came to a complete stop and I loosened my grip on the reigns. Catherine smiled as she got off the stallion and walked to the other side of the horse for a better look at me.

"Was that hard," she asked as her smile spread.

I could only smile as I got off the mare.

"Wow. You two raced here," Jenn asked with a disbelieving expression on her face.

"Yeah," Catherine answered as I tried to steady myself on the ground.

Catherine, though she stood next to me, still held on to the stallion's reigns. Once she was done basking at the image of her successful teaching, she pulled on the reigns to guide the stallion to the wooden rail the other three horses were secured to.

The one woman I didn't recognize got off the log she had been sitting on and took the mare's reigns.

"I'll take her for you," she smiled at me. "I'm Kay."

She stuck her free hand out to me and I shook it with a smile.

"I'm Sara," I said before we let go.

Kay took the mare to the rail and casually wrapped the reigns around it.

Elise blankly stared at me as Kay walked back to Jenn on one of the two logs that sat in front of a fire pit. Catherine made her way back to me as I took a few steps toward the other log. Elise continued to stare at me as she stood between the two logs, almost as if she were staring through me, and Catherine fell in line with me before we took a seat on the empty log.

"I can't believe you got Sara to ride a horse let alone race you on one," Jenn smiled before she directed her next comment at Kay. "She doesn't like riding because she fell a few times. She couldn't really get the hang of it."

Catherine wrapped an arm around me and rubbed my back for emotional support.

"Thanks," I softly said to her.

"No problem," she spoke as softly as I had.

"Elise tried to teach her a few times, but nothing seemed to stick," Jenn told Catherine.

As if at the sound of her own name, Elise came out of her mini-coma and looked at Jenn before she looked at Catherine and me.

"I guess I wasn't a very good teacher," she tried to force another smile, pain and struggle written across her face.

"So...are we going to have a bonfire out here," Catherine asked to avoid the pressure Elise seemed to be putting on not only herself, but me as well.

"Yeah," Kay answered. "I think it'd be great to tell stories old and new out here. It's a great way to relive the glory days and get to know each other, whether it's for the first time or getting to know someone better."

Kay and Jenn smiled at each other, but when I looked at Catherine, her expression told me she and I were both screwed.

...

So...was it a treat? Write a review and let me know what you think. :D