I'm sorry this is a day behind. I've had birthdays and a sick baby to work with. The video will be put up sometime at the beginning of next week. It's just been a little too crazy here to get a good recording done. Mostly, my little one has been very fussy which makes it hard to record myself reading. So, once he's feeling better, I will get the video put together and put up. Be sure to let me know where the story should move next! Also, comment below to let me know what kind of video you'd like from my adventures in Indianapolis, next week!
We drove silently to the Double Rocking B. Scarlett seemed to be trying to keep her emotions under control and she wasn’t willing to talk about what had been said on the phone, other than to assure me Teddy was fine. When we arrived, we parked and went straight to the large barn. Twenty or so horses poked their heads out of stalls and Scarlett walked past them to the end stall. My heart twisted as I saw Josiah kneeling on the floor next to a palomino stallion. Its breath was ragged and sharp, as though just the effort alone hurt. His stomach was swollen and painful welts showed around his mouth.
“Blister beetles?” I asked, horrified.
Josiah merely nodded.
“Are any of the other horses infected?” Scarlett knelt next to Josiah, placing a gentle hand on his arm.
He shook his head. “Someone knew exactly what they were doing.”
“Have you called the vet? Is she on her way? What can we do?”
Scarlett turned to me, tears glistening in her eyes. “Blizzard, we’re here because the vet was already called. A poisoning this advanced can’t be helped. All we can do is be here with Goliath.”
“Doc gave him some pain medication, did everything she could for him. But…” Josiah stopped again, running his hand over Goliath’s neck.
He didn’t need to say anything. I sat near the wall, watching as Scarlett comforted both horse and owner. Why would anyone purposefully put an animal through this torment? Blister beetles are so named for the painful blisters they cause in people and animals. But for horses, it’s much worse. If ingested, they are poisonous. Even just a few beetles can be deadly or cause colic. Goliath obviously had gotten more than just a few. I glanced at the other horses in the barn. Josiah was right. They looked perfectly healthy and normal. Goliath had been singled out. Why? He wasn’t a champion in any event. He was a great horse, sure, but it wasn’t like you could eliminate competition with him. And even if that were so, Josiah wasn’t competing anymore anyway. Why go after a horse with no special significance? Especially when the horse in the next stall was Josiah’s champion mount.
Scarlett’s voice broke through my thoughts. “Does Teddy know?”
Josiah nodded again. “He’s been on the phone with the sheriff.”
“Finally got him convinced, huh?”
“I guess this time it’s obvious.” Josiah’s tone became hard and edgy.
“Do you have any idea who might have done this?”
“I’ve got a couple suspects.”
They stopped talking as Goliath’s breathing suddenly slowed and he struggled a little. Josiah held the horse’s head in his lap in a show of affection that broke my heart. “It’s okay, boy,” he cried. A few moments later the breathing stopped and Goliath was still. I felt tears sting my eyes. For a long while we just sat in the stall. Teddy came in and put a comforting hand on Josiah’s shoulder. “Sheriff’s on his way, son. Best be ready to meet him. We’ll have the hands take care of Goliath.”
For a moment, Josiah didn’t speak. Teddy left and Josiah stood. I scrambled to follow as he and Scarlett headed towards the barn door. As I did, I noticed the brand on Goliath’s side. It wasn’t from the Double Rocking B. It was Starwood. Goliath had been one of ours. I realized the others were nearly out of the barn and jogged to catch up to them. He turned to Scarlett. “Are you on your feet enough to not need me anymore?”
She blinked and said, “Well, yeah, I guess. I mean…”
“I think it would be best if I stayed on my own ranch from now on.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You don’t seriously think anyone at Starwood had something to do with this, do you?”
Josiah swore. “That’s not what I said, Scarlett.”
“You implied it.”
“I did no such thing. Do you have to be so danged sensitive all the time? There are other reasons I need to be here.”
“Like what?” Scarlett had her arms crossed over her chest.
“Maybe the fact that if someone doesn’t look out for the Double Rocking B, I won’t have a ranch anymore,” he shouted. “I don’t think you quite understand the scope of this problem, Scarlett. Someone targeted a horse that had no other value than sentiment. Goliath wasn’t a champion, he was a plain, ol’ workhorse. But someone knew he was more than that to me.” Josiah’s voice broke and he looked down at the ground. “I have to take care of my own, Scarlett. I owe my dad that. He worked for decades building this ranch up from nothing. He thinks he can take charge again, but I think you and I both know the reality. He’s never going to be strong enough for me to fully leave the ranch back to him. Even now there have been things going on that normally wouldn’t if he were stronger. I can’t keep trying to run two spreads.”
“You were never running two spreads, Josiah. And if you remember, you volunteered to help at Starwood.”
“You needed help.”
“I never asked for your help. I didn’t want you there in the first place.”
“Then why are you fighting so hard to get me to stay?”
“Because you wanted a second chance,” Scarlett yelled. Tears glistened in her eyes. “You told me you wanted to try again.”
The arguing continued and for a moment, I considered interrupting them. Neither could see that they were on the same side. They were too busy allowing their heartbreak to overrun their heads. “Scarlett?” I said timidly.
She and Josiah turned to me.
I took a deep breath. “I think Josiah is simply saying he wants to be at his ranch to take care of things here. You’ve been cleared by the doctor for most of your regular activities and Josiah didn’t say he was never coming back…”
“Well, I’m saying it,” Scarlett said, turning to him and jabbing a finger in his chest. “I never want to see you again, Josiah Meddleton. Never, ever again.”
“Suits me fine,” Josiah growled, his brown eyes swirling.
Scarlett stopped as though he’d slapped her. I could tell she was expecting him to fight back, but Josiah’s expression was clear. He was done fighting. “Well, then I guess there’s nothing left for us to do here. Come on, Blizz.”
“Now,” she snapped, tears falling down her face. She hobbled into the truck and slammed her door, waiting for me to get in.
I looked at Josiah. “I’m sorry, about Goliath. He must have been a really great horse.”
He didn’t reply. Instead he turned and walked into the ranch house.
The next weeks were long and painfully boring. Scarlett spent most of her time either in her room or in the barn. She wouldn’t speak to Mom for a full week after the episode at the Double Rocking B. When Scarlett had come in crying, they had gotten into an argument over how the situation had been handled. School kept me too busy to worry much about what was going on in Scarlett’s head. Honestly, I was glad for the distraction. My sister had become so snappish it was hard to want to spend more than five minutes with her. She wouldn’t come down when Teddy came to visit, even if Josiah wasn’t with him. Teddy finally agreed with Mom that it would be best to give Scarlett her space. “Hopefully she’ll come around sooner rather than later. Joey’s been kicking himself since she left,” he admitted quietly the last time he came to the house.
“He needs to tell her that.”
Teddy shrugged. “Don’t know if he’s tried or not, but the state she’s in? It would take a lot more than a heartfelt apology to get her to listen to him.”
Mom sighed, “Unfortunately that’s true.”
Fall turned colder and in mid-October, Scarlett showed up at school to pick me up. “Let’s do some Christmas shopping,” she said, with a brighter smile than I’d seen in a long time.
“Okay. Where were you thinking of going?”
“Just some of the shops around town. I was thinking we could get gifts for Mom and Teddy today. I feel kind of bad for ignoring him so long.”
“You know he’ll forgive you quick enough.”
She frowned slightly. “He’s not the one I’m worried about. I don’t know that I’ll forgive myself anytime soon. It’s not his fault his son is an imbecile.”
I chose not to comment. The idea of pointing out to her that she and Josiah had both acted like children didn’t appeal to me. Instead I said, “Mrs.Callicut said Winter’s Folly is almost up to the average percentile for quarters.”
“That’s good news. Honestly, though Blizz, she might always be petite. Chalk Art is pretty small himself.”
“Oh, I know. I just wish people wouldn’t fault her for it. I wanted her to be a little on the small side since I’m so short.”
Scarlett laughed, “Yeah, I’m afraid you took after Dad in more ways than one. And you’re not actually that short.”
“Matter of opinion.”
She pulled into the parking lot of Quilter’s Paradise and we walked in. “Oh my dears,” Amelia said, placing a hand to her heart, “I wonder how you sleep at night.”
“I sleep just fine. Mom gave us new winter quilts and they’re perfect,” I said.
“Haven’t you heard?”
“Heard what, Amelia?” Scarlett asked.
“It’s been all over town. Some miscreant broke into the Double Rocking B last night.”
“What?” I asked while Scarlett frowned.
“I heard it from Belinda over in the diner. Teddy and Josiah were meeting with the sheriff over lunch. Someone broke into the house and made a real mess. Trophies stolen, lamps broken, threats painted on the walls. Teddy was in a bad way. I shouldn’t wonder this puts him back in the hospital.”
“Were the two of them okay?”
“As far as I know. I heard…”
“Amelia, you shouldn’t repeat gossip,” Scarlett interrupted.
The woman puffed up indignantly, “I’ll have you know, Miss Scarlett, I have it on very good authority. The sheriff himself called to ask if I’d seen any strange folks in town. You two be careful and keep your guns close.”
We left without purchasing anything. Scarlett drove us straight home where Mom was visiting with Teddy and Josiah in the living room. Scarlett hesitated before going upstairs to her room. I walked into the living room. Josiah’s eyes smoldered as he stared at the carpet. “Of course, we’d be happy to help with anything you need, Teddy,” Mom was saying. She looked up at me. “Blizzard, can you ask Scarlett to come here please?”
“Blizzard.” Mom’s voice held a warning note.
Great, my mother is feeding me to the wolves. I went up after Scarlett and stopped by her room. “Scarlett?”
“Leave me alone.”
“I’d love to, but Mom wants you downstairs.”
“I’m not coming. Tell her I have a headache.”
“She won’t believe me.”
“Not my problem.”
Dear Lord, don’t let me be this stupid at her age, I thought before sighing and going back downstairs. “She says she has a headache.”
The next thing I knew Josiah was heading up the stairs and a few minutes later the sounds of shrieking and cussing rang through the halls. Josiah came into the living room with Scarlett thrown over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. She was beating his back and squirming around as much as she could. But there was a reason Josiah had done well in the rodeo. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t escape.
“Josiah, you uncouth brute of a man put me down!”
“If you’d actually listen to your mother I wouldn’t have to go get you. Next time I’ll rope you like I would a stubborn calf.”
“You would not!”
“Don’t tempt me.”
Mom interrupted them with a clap of her hands. “Please, Josiah, Scarlett, this isn’t going to get us anywhere. Can we please call truce for ten minutes?”
Josiah sat scowling opposite of Scarlett who turned her attention fully to Mom.
“Now,” she continued when it was quiet again, “Teddy and Josiah stopped by because they’re having trouble at the ranch. I already told Teddy we haven’t noticed anything unusual here. I’ve offered to allow them to bring anything valuable that wasn’t damaged here for safe keeping.”
“What?" Scarlett exploded. “Sure, that’s a great idea, Mom. Now the lunatic going after them will have an excuse to come break into our house too.”
“Scarlett India.” Mom turned with a glare to her and I watched Scarlett squirm uncomfortably. “You may be an adult now, but I still expect you to show me respect. As it turns out, Josiah already pointed out that flaw in my plan. Whatever is going on at the Double Rocking B is a personal attack. I don’t think they’ll come out here. However, at Josiah’s insistence, we will not be transporting things here. Instead, we’re going to turn Jake over to them to act as a night guard. Sheriff Henley is going to start a regular patrol in hopes that we can discourage any further vandalism.”
“Why tell us?” I asked.
“It’s the neighborly thing to do,” Teddy replied with a weary smile that broke my heart. “I’d hate to think you lovely ladies were in trouble and I did nothing to warn you.”
“It also means, Blizz, that until the situation clears itself, Scarlett or I will always take you to and from your performances at the diner.”
“Mom, I’m not a baby.”
“You are to me,” she said. Though she smiled, her tone was serious. “Until we have a better idea what’s going on, it’s not safe for you to bike to town. In the meantime let’s all pray this is resolved sooner rather than later.”
So I've got some really amazing awesome news I want to share with all of you. It's big! It's huge! And I am so completely and totally excited that I am going to be happy dancing all through the next few weeks. Curious yet?
I bet you are. :)
Clean Indie Reads is having its first ever Author Fair!!!!!!! And I'm going!!!!!!!
Okay, maybe that was a few too many exclamation points, but I am seriously that excited! I've done a few book fairs before this, but this one is different. Some of the absolutely amazing people I have met online will now be real human beings! Yes, I know they already are real, but it's different when you meet someone in person. I'm so excited to be able to see these people in person and to peruse their offerings.
Will I have books there? You better believe it! I'm already tallying up my inventory and getting things ready to go. In part, because this fair is coming far sooner than I expected. It went from a, "Maybe we'll see if we can pull something together" to suddenly, "This is happening folks!" And I am stoked!
Not only am I excited to be able to take my books to a new audience, which is terrifying and amazing all at the same time, but I'll also be taking my wonderful and amazing sweetheart with me for a belated Valentine's escape.
Maybe it's closer to a St. Paddy's Day escape, but either way we get to escape.
Over the next couple of weeks I'll be asking for your advice and opinion as I prepare signs, bookmarks, and other necessary things for this trip. Yes, I'll keep up with Scarlett and Blizzard. And yes, I've made it a goal to be better on my author interview videos. But I'll also be spending a lot of time getting ready for the event. And I'll be working on my new secret project. And as an incentive for those of you close enough to do it, everyone coming to the CIR Author Fair will get the first look at this project. For those who can't make it in person, don't worry. Pictures will be posted that night for you to enjoy. You won't be out of the loop long.
For those who would like to make the trip, this fair will be March 5 from 1 - 4:30 in Indianapolis, IN. Any of you in Indiana will probably have an easier time coming than some of my friends further out. If you can make it, be sure to not only come say hi to me (and have me sign a book for you!) but also check out the other wonderful authors there.
Can't make it in person but still want to be involved? Normally I would have a sale on signed books, but I don't want to deplete my inventory before going out. So that sale will come directly after the fair. In the meantime, check out my ebooks on Smashwords and Kindle, watch my Facebook page and blog for event preparation notes, and keep being the awesome, supportive readers you are! I could never have gotten this far without you.
So mark your calendar and start counting down! This girl is going to Indy!
Josiah and Scarlett are spending a lot more time together, but things can't stay perfect for long. Josiah's about to have some real troubles at his own ranch. Vote in the poll below to decide what's going to happen next. Thanks for all the suggestions and believe me, Josiah will be doing more to regain Scarlett's friendship. The video will be up a little later this afternoon.
The next morning, bright and early, Josiah showed up at Starwood Acres in a sedan. We were finishing breakfast on the porch as he drove up. “What’s the car for?” Scarlett asked.
“Taking you girls to the fair,” Josiah replied. “It’s the Fourth of July. You can’t miss the rodeo on Fourth of July. It’s bad luck.”
Mom laughed. “I think we’ve had about as much bad luck as we can stand.” She pushed Scarlett’s wheelchair around to the ramp. Daddy had put it in when I was a kid after his grandmother stopped being able to go up and down stairs. Once in front of the car, she stopped the wheelchair. Scarlett pushed herself out of the chair and maneuvered herself into the car. Josiah helped her as much as she would let him, which wasn’t much.
“Where’s Teddy?” she asked after we’d all gotten in the car.
“He had a few things to take care of this morning. He’ll be coming down with Frank.”
The rest of the drive was quiet. Scarlett stared out the window, seeming to watch the land pass by. Mom and I sat in back. I glanced at Mom for a moment to see if she would start a conversation. But she merely shook her head and turned to look out the window. I was okay for maybe five minutes, then I couldn’t stand the silence anymore. “Don’t you ever listen to the radio?” I demanded. “If no one’s going to talk, we may as well listen to something.”
“Huh? Oh, sorry,” Josiah hit a button and suddenly loud scream-o rock filled the car. The windows buzzed as the bass vibrated through the car and I could swear my ears started to bleed.
“What on earth?”
“TURN THAT OFF!”
“Sorry!” He hit the button again and silence resumed.
“Is that what you normally listen to when you’re alone?” Scarlett asked. I could hear a note of amusement in her tone. In fact, I was pretty sure she was trying not to laugh.
“No,” Josiah retorted. “For your information I don’t normally listen to anything in the car.”
A grin pulled at my mouth as Scarlett turned to me, a mischievous smirk on her face. “Do you believe that, Blizz?”
“Well, it is what played when he turned the radio on.”
“This isn’t even my car!” Josiah argued.
Mom was getting into it too now. “We won’t judge if that’s what you like, although you might consider keeping the volume lower for your hearing’s sake.”
“I do not like or listen to that music! I didn’t even know it would start playing!”
Scarlett couldn’t hold it in any longer and started laughing which got the rest of us in giggles.
“Just what is so funny?” Josiah demanded.
“You are,” she giggled. “You haven’t changed one bit. Quick to jump to the defensive.”
“I do not,” he grumbled.
“Do too, but that’s okay.” Without warning she leaned over and kissed his cheek.
Mom and I exchanged a shocked glance. Scarlett seemed to realize what she had just done as Josiah stared at her. Her face went from pale to red in a matter of seconds and she cleared her throat and looked away. “You might want to watch the road, Josiah, before we end up in the ditch.”
He overcorrected and the car lurched as he pulled us back into our lane. Scarlett yelped. “Ow! You didn’t have to jerk, we weren’t that close to the ditch.”
“Well if you hadn’t distracted me we wouldn’t have been anywhere near it at all.”
Scarlett glared at him and then turned away.
Josiah looked like he wanted to kick himself, and I can’t say I blamed him. Scarlett had been friendly all morning, not even scowling at him. And he’d blown it. He pulled the car into the fairground parking and soon had it parked under a shade tree. He got Scarlett’s wheelchair out of the trunk and held it while she got herself situated. Then he pushed her while Mom and I walked behind them. We hadn’t gotten far when we heard cheering and saw the big welcome banner.
WELCOME BACK, SCARLETT JANNSEN!
GET BETTER SOON!
Scarlett’s eyes filled with tears as people we’d grown up around and some we didn’t know came to greet her. Teddy leaned over to give her a hug. “You old rascal,” Scarlett chided, though it didn’t sound much like a reprimand.
“Can’t let Joey have all the fun,” Teddy replied with a wink.
She laughed and we somehow picked our way through the crowd and to the arena. It was challenging to find a good spot for Scarlett to be able to get in her wheelchair and finally she said, “I’m not sure I’m in the mood to really watch the rodeo anyway. But I can manage on my own if you all want to watch.”
“I’ll take you around,” Josiah chimed.
“Me too!” I said. Much as I couldn’t say it aloud, rodeo had never really held my interest long.
Teddy and Mom decided they were going to stay and watch the show. “Did you take your pain meds this morning?”
“Yes, Mom,” Scarlett replied. “I’m fine.”
“You watch her, Joey,” Teddy said.
“Relax.” Josiah grinned and began pushing Scarlett’s wheelchair. He wound through the livestock pens so we could say hello to Skipperdeen and Winter’s Folly. “She is so beautiful and that filly is almost a spitting image of her. A little lighter in color, but she might darken up.”
“She might. It’ll be interesting to see how many of her babies Skipperdeen stamps. The only thing Winter’s Folly seemed to gain from her sire is being petite.”
Josiah laughed. “Maybe we should try Skipperdeen and Goliath together.”
“I thought you were going to sell him,” Scarlett said as we continued moving.
“Thought about it, but I couldn’t. He’s my best friend. Turns out having him around has been a big help on the ranch.”
Scarlett chuckled, “When he’s not stealing apples?”
I remained quiet and listened to them talk for a while. If I hadn’t witnessed them arguing before, I might have thought they were the cutest Western couple I’d ever seen. When we stopped for snow cones, Josiah noticed one of those carnival games. “Stay right here,” he said. “I’m going to go try my luck.”
“It’s not like I can really go anywhere,” Scarlett muttered as he strode away.
“Well, I could kidnap you if you wanted, but you seem to be enjoying your time with the Bear.”
“I’m being no more than friendly,” Scarlett retorted. Josiah isn’t the only one who jumps hastily to defense.
I was prevented from saying anything as a little girl ran past, knocking Scarlett’s arm. Her half-finished snow cone fell to the ground in a puddle of slushy goop. “Oops, sorry!” the girl tossed over her shoulder. She was dressed in pink from her hat and pigtails to her cowgirl boots.
“Phillipa Marie Maltisten, you come back here,” a stern voice called.
She immediately turned, looking for the voice. When she located him, she tried her best to look properly ashamed. I turned to see who she was looking at and saw an impossibly tall, red-headed man. I mean this guy made Josiah look short! He had to have been six seven in his stocking feet and was standing with his arms crossed. His freckles seemed out of place with the frown he wore as he looked down at his daughter. Yet, his brown eyes twinkled with barely hidden amusement as he said, “Phillipa, what have I told you about running off?”
“To not to.” She scraped the toe of her boot in the dirt.
“And now you’ve made this young lady drop her treat. You might have hurt her. What do you think you should say?”
“I said sorry.”
“Did she know you did?”
The girl turned startling blue eyes to us. “I sorry.”
“For?” he prompted.
“For making your snow fall.”
Scarlett smiled. “It’s okay. I was about done with it anyway.”
“Lucian! Did you find her?”
He stood and turned to a woman with the same blue eyes and golden hair as the little girl. “She’s fine, Moira. Just a little carried away.”
“Thank heavens.” She took Phillipa’s hand. “You, young lady, are going to keep a hold of my hand until we go. I still don’t see what possessed you to stop here, Lucian. We have fairs and tournaments enough at home.”
“But I likes the horsies, Mama!”
“Yes I know, you and your father both,” her mother replied, glaring at Lucian. He shrugged and grinned at her as they wandered away.
We watched them for a while and I couldn’t help but laugh a bit. “Pretty sure I did that to Mom and Dad at one of these fairs,” I said.
“One time they had everything shut down looking for me,” Scarlett remembered. “They found me in a stall with the cutest little palomino filly I’ve ever seen.”
Josiah returned with a huge stuffed horse in his arms. “For you, cowgirl,” he said, handing it to Scarlett.
“Are you trying to bribe me?” she asked, her tone half-serious.
He shrugged. “Maybe. What happened to your snow cone?” he asked, noticing the green stain in the dirt.
“An overzealous toddler.”
“Well, let’s get you another one and see what else there is around here.”
We continued wandering the vendor’s booths and being stopped by just about everyone. Amelia burst into tears upon seeing Scarlett and claimed she’d had ten years of her life scared off after Scarlett’s fall. “You call if there’s anything at all I can do for you. Would you like me to make a lap quilt for you to use with your wheelchair?”
“Amelia, that’s very kind of you, but the wheelchair is temporary. I don’t think it’s going to get cold soon enough to use one.”
“I’ll make you one anyway. Evenings can get chilly up here, you know.”
As we moved along, I did a little shopping too. There was a booth for model horse enthusiasts and I browsed around for a while. My collection had taken off in recent years and I’d made sure to bring some of my savings to get some new additions. While I was debating between a palomino quarter horse and a grullo mustang, I heard a girl say, “Ugh, can’t we go yet, Laney? It reeks of cow here.”
“Well, duh, it’s a rodeo. What did you expect?”
“But he wasn’t even there yesterday. What makes you think he’ll be wandering around today?”
The girl named Laney gasped. “Omigosh, it’s him!”
I heard Scarlett yelp and turned to see the girls rush past her, knocking her leg as they went. I put down the horses and went to Scarlett. “Are you okay?”
She didn’t answer. Instead, she glared ferociously at the two girls who were now giggling all over Josiah. He seemed to be taking it all in stride, laughing with them and signing bits of paper they shoved at him. When he started writing on one of their shirts, Scarlett tried to turn the wheelchair around away from him.
“Hey, why don’t you help me decide on a new horse for my collection?” I asked her, pushing her where she’d been trying to go. “The palomino quarter or the grullo mustang?”
She took them from me and considered them for a moment, though I could tell she wasn’t really focused. “I’ve always been partial to those zebra stripes on the legs,” she said after a while. “But that palomino is sure pretty.”
“I could get it for you, if you want it.”
“Nah, I’ve got a palomino at home,” she replied. “Get the mustang. I’m going to go rest under that tree over there. It’s a bit too warm out here.”
I knew that wasn’t the real reason, but I said, “Sure. I’ll meet you there in a bit.” My heart ached as she rolled herself away. Part of me wanted to comfort her, remind her that they were just fan girls and wouldn’t always be around. But then I remembered the story Mom had told me. Scarlett had already seen this happen before and it hadn’t ended well for her. I was about to pay for my horse when Josiah came back. “Where’s Scarlett?”
“Under the tree avoiding you.” Seeing my sister hurt kind of brings out my nasty side.
His eyes narrowed and then he sighed, “Look, Blizzard, this is going to be an uphill climb for me no matter what. It would sure help if you weren’t pushing me back even farther than your sister.”
I have to admit he had a point. If he was ever going to patch things up with Scarlett, he had his work cut out for him. “I’m sorry, she was just really upset and that bothers me.”
“Rightfully so, well you being bothered. Nothing happened over there for her to get upset about.”
“That’s not what she thinks.”
“I never know what that girl thinks.” His eyes fell to the horse in my hands. “What are you doing?”
“Scarlett and I have always collected models. I’m getting a new one for my herd, if you must know.”
His eyebrow rose and he smirked. “Real ones aren’t enough?”
“A girl can never have too many horses,” I retorted, finally paying the vendor.
He shook his head and laughed, turning away from me. His laughter stopped as he picked up one of the horses. “No way.”
I looked over at the model. “That looks exactly like Zander. It even has the same back stockings he does!”
“That’s what I thought. How much is this?”
“Woah, cowboy, I know what you’re thinking and while the idea is great, the timing isn’t.”
“Well, what do you suggest? Today’s the last day of the fair.”
I thought for a minute. “Take the horse to Teddy so Scarlett doesn’t see it. I’ll take her over to the pavilion for some lunch. I’m sure I can come up with a good reason why you’re not here. But I suggest you save the mini-Zander for something really special.”
“Don’t suppose you have any ideas what that might be?”
“Nope, you’re going to have to figure that out on your own.”
The county fair ended with fireworks and singing and more fun than should be allowed in a single day. The next day brought Josiah back to the ranch early in the morning. He was a hard worker and never complained about the chores Scarlett gave him. I knew she was enjoying bossing him around, even if she wouldn’t admit it. Nothing was too much for him to handle and he took Scarlett’s criticism well, usually. Occasionally I heard arguments between the two of them which almost always ended with Scarlett saying, “This is my ranch.”
Each day Josiah did extra things as well. Our fence not only got repaired, but he stained and treated it so it would stay in good condition. He weeded out the garden in front of the Starwood Acres sign and added new plants to it, including two mini rosebushes, one with red blooms and the other white. He surprised us one morning with fresh made donuts from the diner and even took me out a few times in our old pickup for driving lessons. Several times he brought Scarlett little horse figurines for her collection, though the little Zander never appeared. Each one came with a card telling her what the horse’s name was and a little story. She liked them more than she let on.Things were going well for us and Scarlett actually seemed to look forward to Josiah coming. He routinely took her to her therapy sessions which always ended up longer than the ones Mom took her to.
One morning just before fall, the phone rang. Scarlett happened to be closest to it and picked up. “Starwood Acres, this is Scarlett. What? Are you sure?” There was a long pause and when she spoke again, her voice was low and sorrowful. “No, we’ll be fine today. Yes, I’m sure. Yeah, I’ll be over in fifteen minutes.” She put the phone back on the receiver. “Blizzard, grab your keys. We’re heading to the Double Rocking B.”
Aren't good friends the best? They must be because we have a whole day devoted just to them! Friends Day was on Thursday and obviously I'm a little behind, but I want to give a shout out to my friends. Especially my writing friends.
In my latest video, I told you about a few of the amazing teachers in my life. I've also got some pretty amazing writing buddies who have encouraged me and helped me figure out this whole being self-published thing. It's not easy and like any adventure, it's nice to have someone to encourage you when the going gets tough. So today, I'm going to tell you about a few of my awesome writing buddies. I can't fit all of them on here, because I'm starting to have a lot! But I can tell you about a few.
Shanna is the kind of friend every person needs. She's funny, supportive and knows just how to make you feel like anything is possible. And she's not just that way to her writing friends. She's that way with her fans and just about everyone. Her romances are fun and have that flair of realism that just makes you want to saddle a horse and ride into them. I've been able to get early glimpses at a couple of her books, which in and of itself is pretty amazing, and I've read a few others. Trust me, if Shanna is the author, it's a good book! And I'm telling you, on some level, Shanna and I have got to be sisters. I don't know that I've met another author who loves cooking and entertaining as much as I do. In fact, I'd say she enjoys those things even more than I do! Most tend to be hide in the back corner types (not that there is anything wrong with that). Shanna is a great friend to have, whether you're a writer, a reader, or just anybody.
H. L. Burke
Heidi is another great friend to have, and not just because we share the same middle name. She is a fellow fantasy author who also dabbles in steampunk and romance. Her books are fun and engaging. But more than that she is a very supportive friend. It was thanks to her drive that we were able to start the Kindle giveaway (which is still going by the way so be sure to enter today) and get a discussion group going for clean fantasy writers. This weekend's party is just the first of such events and I'm so excited to see where this leads. And it is truly thanks to Heidi. She's always one of the first ones there if you need help promoting or retweeting or any other techie things I'm still trying to figure out. She's also incurably in love with dragons, and you can't go wrong with a friend who loves dragons.
I don't think any clean writer's list would be complete without Lia. She has done a lot to promote clean authors including her website Clean Indie Reads (and yes, you can find my series there). She writes a variety of things, but what I know her best for our her fun, short, snarky fairy tales. Seriously, lots of fun and quick read! Lia is a great person. She is supportive, fun and eager to help out. Her CIR author group has grown to over 2000 authors and I think I can safely say we all love her! In any case, I love her. I so appreciate her taking all of us under her wing and giving us a place where we can stand out. Her humor and good nature comes out and makes even the rainiest day seem sunny.
I think we all need at least one newbie friend, and Lea is mine. Though I have been published longer, I am so inspired by Lea as she takes on the self-publishing challenge. She has recently published her first book and I feel like we are learning a lot of things together. I've had the privilege of being involved in two events with her and she has taken it all in stride. You would never know she was new to it! Her first book is a fairy tale reimagining which is going to turn into a series and I seriously cannot wait to see where this goes! I'm looking forward to reading the first one (sorry, Lea, my reading list is huge and I just haven't gotten there yet!) as well as discovering the world of marketing and Twitter and all that other stuff with her.
This list could seriously keep going forever and ever because I have some amazing writing friends. Perhaps in April I will give you a month of authors and introduce you to more of my writing friends. And of course I will continue to have author interviews an information about new releases available as those opportunities come. Check out
Jessica L. Elliott
Author, artist, mom and super-genius