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for breath, he tried to keep himself together. But the harder he tried, the more his control slipped
through his fingers. Finally, he completely fell apart, falling toward Adelle, who caught him in
her arms and hugged him as he cried his eyes out.
"STONE." He looked up from the cup of coffee in front of him, pulled out of the thoughts he
just couldn't seem to get away from. "Eli and I are going riding. It's a beautiful day, and with the
snow, the horses haven't been out much."
He watched Geoff's lips moving and hoped that he was getting everything Geoff had said.
"Buster could use a ride, that's for sure. What did the vet say when he was by yesterday?" Stone
found he couldn't remember shit for more than three seconds lately.
"His hooves are almost back to normal, and the vet said some light exercise would be good."
Geoff put a hand on his shoulder, and for a second, Stone let himself imagine that it was
"He'd love to get out." Stone stood and poured the coffee down the sink, setting his cup in
the drain.
"And you need to do something to get your mind off Preston," Geoff scolded lightly,
knowing that Stone was still hurting.
The denial was on the tip of his tongue, but he knew Geoff wouldn't believe it and simply
nodded his head. "I guess so." He looked Geoff in the eye. "I know I did the right thing, and yet I
still feel like a total shit!"
"That's probably because your head is telling you one thing and your heart is telling you
another. You need to get your mind off it and think about yourself and Buster for a while." Geoff
threw Stone his coat and grabbed his own. "Come on, there's nothing better for thinking than
taking a ride." Geoff slid his coat over his arms, and Stone finally started to move, pulling on his
own coat and grabbing a hat and gloves before leaving the house. It might have been sunny
outside, but he knew it was still cold.
In the barn, Eli was already brushing Dusty, and when Stone opened Buster's stall to greet
his friend, he saw him brushed, saddled, and ready for their ride. He swallowed hard at Eli's
thoughtfulness. Fuck, he'd been emotional lately. Leading Buster out of the stall, he met Geoff
and Eli in front of the barn. "We need to be careful, but if we keep to the clear areas, we should
be fine." Geoff gracefully mounted his midnight black stallion. "We can't stay out too long in this
cold." Geoff started his horse forward and led the way out of the drive and onto the side of the
road. Stone would have liked to be able to ride across one of the fields, but that was too
dangerous. Holes couldn't be seen, and the deep snow would bother his horse's legs and hooves.
"Lead the way and we'll follow," Eli called back to Geoff, and Stone started Buster walking
forward, his mount's head bobbing excitedly.
"You're glad to be out, aren't you?" He patted the long, warm neck as they moved onto the
area beside the road.
The pine forest around the college provided an oasis of green in an otherwise white
landscape. Fields of pristine white stretched from the road on the other side back to the
windbreak trees that formed the border in the distance. "It's so bleakly beautiful," he said to
himself as he rode. The crisp air and the quiet clomp of hooves lulled him into a peaceful place
he hadn't felt in a while. This truly was what he needed. "You okay, boy?" He listened carefully
to Buster's hooves for anything unusual, concentrating on his gait, making sure he wasn't in any
discomfort. It didn't seem he was. Buster's head was high, and he almost pranced with an
excitement that seemed to transfer to Stone.
Since Preston had left a little over a month earlier, he hadn't been excited about anything
except working with Sherry and the kids. She had wormed her way into his heart, and every time
she called him Stoney, he could feel himself melt. Other than that, he didn't seem to give a rat's
ass about much of anything.
"Stone!" Geoff called, and he waved him forward, slowing his horse until they were riding
side by side down the nearly deserted country road. "I've been worried about you."
Stone felt his head lower a little. "I know. I'm sorry."
"There's nothing to be sorry for. I'm just concerned, and so is everyone else." The clomping
of hooves was the only sound breaking the silence as Stone felt himself retreating again. "Do you
want to tell me what happened? You two seemed so happy."
"Nothing happened, really." Stone really didn't want to talk about this, but Geoff's eyes
prodded him. "I just thought he'd be better off doing what he loved." He turned away before
finding his gaze drawn back to Geoff. "Here he could only get a job as a bank teller. There he
could do what he did for that farmer." Stone felt a cold wetness on his cheek, and he brushed it
away quickly. "I couldn't hold him back." Stone kicked Buster gently, and he sped up, moving
them both to the front and effectively cutting off further conversation. He did not want to talk
about this. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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