Andrea Carter sat on Taffy, her eyes scanning the race track, looking out for anything that may give her horse a disadvantage. Cory had made her race him again, but Andi was fairly confident that she would win again. She looked over at him now, sitting on top of his horse, a determined look on his face. She grinned to herself. He never gave up. Jack Goodwin stood on a rock, a pistol in his hand. Raising it to the sky, he pulled the trigger.
They were off; Andi let Cory take the lead, saving as much of Taffy’s energy for the last sprint. Surprisingly, he also kept his horse back; the horses’ noses were equal. Andi’s mind raced, and she gave Taffy some rein. Cory also gave his horse rein, and they were equal again. Andi saw the end come in view, but just as she was about to give Taffy the last of the rein, she saw Cory reach into his pocket, and drop a snake in front of Taffy.
Her horse gave a snort of surprise and bolted, throwing Andi from the saddle. Luckily for her, there happened to only be grass where she fell, and after a moment or two of shock, she was able to sit up.
Cory came over, his face a mixture of concern and smug satisfaction. “Are you okay?” he asked, offering her a hand.
She ignored it, furious at Cory. Standing up, her head swam for a minute, and then cleared. Andi threw back her head with an unladylike snort and marched past the offender without a backwards glance.
Cory felt crushed, and tried to make up for it. “I didn’t mean to, honest!” he said, his eyes begging for approval.
Andi merely lifted her face higher into the air. “You cheated Richard Blake, and I will NEVER forgive you!”
Cory slowly walked away, leading his horse over to Jack. Andi felt a slight pang of remorse, but it was quickly overcome by worry for Taffy. Where did she go? Walking back into the town, she went into the livery stable owned by Cory’s father. He saw her come in and, with a friendly smile, offered her a seat on a bale of hay.
“What may I do for you, Andi?” he asked.
Andi smiled. She loved how Mr. Blake always called her by her nickname, knowing she liked it better than Andrea or Miss Carter.
“I came here to borrow a horse, Mr. Blake.” Her face darkened slightly. “Taffy ran off after Cory scared her with a snake.”
Mr. Blake frowned. “Is this Cory’s doing then?” he asked.
He sighed. “That boy is…” he paused and shook his head. “You can borrow a horse for free,” he finished. “After all, it’s the least I can do. It’s partially my fault, letting Cory race you.”
Andi gave Mr. Blake a grateful smile. “Thank you so much I’m so grateful for your assistance.”
Cory’s father smiled and shrugged. “You can pick any horse you want except that wild black one over there. I’m having someone possibly buy him later, so I want him here.”
Andi nodded and walked into the barn, the sweet smell of hay mixed with horse sweat meeting her. She breathed deeply with a smile and let it out again with a sigh. Walking down the center isle of the barn, she looked at each of the horses carefully and finally decided on a brown and white paint that reminded her of Patches. The horse seemed friendly and nibbled her braid.
Andi grinned. She patted the horse and scratched it under the mane, a favorite spot of Taffy’s. The horse gave a sigh of pleasure.
Mr. Blake came over from where he had been standing. “Ah,” he said with a smile on his face. “You’ve found a friend who’ll give you attention.” He gave the horse a pat as well.
Andi looked up at him. “I think I’ll take this one. What’s its name?”
“You picked a good horse, Andi. His name is Spy, but it doesn’t really fit his nature. Spy is as good as the day is long, and he’ll give you no trouble. He scares at nothing, and loves everybody.”
Andi smiled. “I love him back already,” she said, giving Spy a kiss on the nose. He didn’t seem to mind, and snorted with pleasure. Andi gave a light laugh. “You’re too much like Taffy,” she said. “Alike as two peas in a pod. I think you’d both get along with each other well.” She looked up at Mr. Blake. “May I groom him and saddle him myself?” she asked.
Mr. Blake nodded. “Sure, you go right ahead. Like I said, he loves everybody.”
Andi thanked him and waited with Spy until Mr. Blake had gotten all his equipment. She then commenced to groom and saddle him, humming quietly while she worked.
Mr. Blake’s customer was soon there, and Andi went unnoticed. She glanced at him as they went by and didn’t like the looks of the customer at all. He looked rough and uncivilized.
The wild black horse was in the stall right next to her, and she heard Mr. Blake let the man look him over. Andi continued with her job, and was soon done. Meanwhile, the man stood next to the horse, feeling his hard muscles and sound legs. He gave a grunt of satisfaction. Mr. Blake had to leave to care for another customer, and the man began to talk to the horse in undertones.
Andi sharpened her ears, curiosity overcoming her better judgment. This is what she heard:
“Yes, you’ll do, my friend, exactly what I needed. Strong, yes, smart, yes, fiery, yes. We need to get this job done, and you will help me. We’re both smart, we both will run from them, I’ll be free soon, we’ll both outsmart them. You’ll do.”
The man continued on like this for a few minutes, then swung himself up onto the horse’s back. Andi was startled. What did he mean? Well, she intended to find out. She left a quick note to Mr. Blake saying thank you for Spy and jumped onto his back, following the man out of the stable at a safe distance.