Hi, everyone. Phantom Stallion WHI isn't such a big fandom, but I think it's totally worth writing for. Review if you think Cade is downright amazing ;)
One bright summer day, Cade walked down the rugged path from the bunkhouse up to Sun House. Holding his horse Joker by a bridle, he happily hummed a tune, kicking up pebbles playfully. His blond hair shone in the morning sun, and his sun-kissed face was lit with excitement.
If possible, Cade's good looks looked even better in the sun. Leaves from native Hawaiian trees danced in the breeze, and the scent of ohia flowers floated off the lei on his neck. Today, he, Darby, and Megan would go down to Crimson Vale, and hopefully find the wild herd of horses. Their friend Ann would love her own green-broke horse, and right in time for her birthday too. Tying Joker neatly with an expert knot, he leaped up the stairs two at a time, and carefully swung the door open.
Darby peered into the mirror. She had finished brushing her long black hair, and she sat down on her bed and rubbed her new leather riding boots. Life on a ranch had been something she'd gotten used to.
She rubbed her back where it had gone sore yesterday, when she had herded the cattle up the long hill to see the vet. Still, nothing was going to stop her from riding out into the rainforest to look for a nice filly for Ann. Her friends called her a junior horse charmer, though sometimes she couldn't disagree more. Sure, she had inherited some horse sense from her grandfather Jonah, but helping him run his ranch hadn't made her super skilled either.
She could often sense a horse's feelings better than most, and of course she loved them more than anything else, but when put against something more practical like Cade's paniolo skills or Megan's natural grace on a horse, Darby felt like they were worlds ahead of her. Of course, they were.
Megan woke to her alarm clock blaring. She felt better than ever, especially after her team's win at the soccer match yesterday. She yawned, and slipped out of bed. She fixed herself a cool cup of tea and dressed like she always did. Her russet hair curled around her shoulder and was ready to go after a mere spray with some hair conditioner.
As she walked down the stairs, she ran right into Cade and Darby, who were both seated at a sofa. She smiled to herself, as she noted Cade felt more at home around here. For probably the millionth time in her life, she silently thanked Jonah for adopting him. Cade worked harder than even the other hired ranch helps, considering that he was now Jonah's son. And his expertise and eagerness to learn went beyond horses. And this morning, she couldn't help thinking that he looked so adorable.
Of course, Cade was now her brother too, ever since her mom and Jonah had gotten married. Megan wrinkled her nose at the idea, all three of them, Darby, Cade and her, all from different families, and now, in a very strange way, they were all related. Bringing her thoughts back to the present, she stepped forward with a teasing smile and tousled Cade's hair.
Darby and Cade both nodded.
As they stepped out onto the large sheltered veranda that overlooked the whole ranch, thousands of acres of land, Megan grabbed a couple snack bars, but Cade quickly grabbed her arm.
Megan slid a glance over to Darby.
Darby shrugged. "He's Cade, Megan. And I bet you anything he packed well, too."
Megan gave in and stepped out into the hot summer sun. "I believe you, Cade."
Cade pulled a quick string that let Joker loose. "Are you riding Navigator, Darby?" he asked.
"Yeah, I'll go grab him. It wouldn't be smart to take that grulla horse, would it?" Darby had wanted to ride that young grulla Conch, because of his sweet attitude, but Cade had been working him out for the past couple weeks and had grown accustomed to his scent instead of hers.
"Probably not. He's barely green, Darby. You'd have to ride him without a saddle, are you up to it?"
Darby knew he didn't mean what he said negatively, and reminded herself that even though Cade was only a year older than she was, he was decades more experienced. After all, she had only come two years ago. But she was up to a challenge.
"Aw, Cade. If she wants to ride Conch, she can. He was a stable horse anyway, so he won't break with the herd in the forest." Megan met his warm chocolate eyes with her own.
He shrugged. "I know she can handle it. Darby has horse in her blood. Still, you know what Jonah would say."
Megan smirked. "But Jonah isn't here."
Darby waved her arms. "Never mind. If Jonah catches me taking that expensive, barely broke horse into the rainforest he'll kill me."
Cade laughed. "Glad to know you're thinking dollars now, Darby."
Darby smiled. She had always been more emotional, but then again, sometimes one had to be practical, ranching was still a business, not just a hobby. She hopped onto Navigator, who had been grazing next to Joker.
"Which horse should I take, Mr. Expert?" Megan nudged Cade.
He nudged her back. "Up to you," he said. "You can take them all."
"Naw." She nudged him again.
"Yeah." His shoulder collided with hers again.
Darby bit her lip and tried not to smile. Cade and Megan clearly liked each other, but paniolos were born and raised shy. She hoped Cade would ask Megan out soon, but then again, he did classes through correspondence. While Megan despaired through regular high school, Cade stayed home ranching and studying before bed. Dating was a word that probably hadn't ever occurred to Cade. But, Darby reminded herself, Pauli and Tyson could be bringing more of the other world to Cade. Pauli and Tyson were two friends Cadehad met, quite purely by chance. At least they went to a high school.
"Come on you two!" Darby rolled her eyes in disgust, as she watched Megan and Cade continue to bump shoulders against each other, even through her sudden thoughts.
"Fine," Megan sighed, as if she were preparing for disappointment next. "Cade, can I ride your Jewel?"
Cade was silent, and inwardly, Darby wished Megan hadn't asked now. Jellybean Jewel was a pink Appaloosa horse that Cade had saved up for and bought himself. Cade loved that pink horse as much as Joker. And other people rarely rode Joker. But Darby knew Megan had been so jealous of Jewel, and had been wanting to ride her since her purchase.
"Sure." Cade's voice sounded odd against the sudden silence.
Megan's eyes were wide. "You don't mean that."
"Sure," Cade shrugged. "I was the one who said you could take any horse. Why not Jewel?"
Megan shrieked. "Oh my goodness, I love you!" And ran off to get the little pink horse.
For a second, Darby almost felt envy. Jewel was so pretty, and pink horses with red spots shaped like jellybeans were so rare. As she glanced over at Cade, he was already blushing.
He looked up and caught her looking.
"What?" he asked.
Darby bit her lip again and shook her head. "Oh, nothing." These young cowboys were sure easy to embarrass.
I wrote this a while ago, so if the writing isn't what you normally get from me, I apologize. I've changed my style quite a bit since then. Reviews are greatly appreciated, or just drop one off to fangirl with me about Cade!