|Riding The Wind
Author: Sarah36396 PM
Justin Sanders had always drifted from ranch to ranch, his skills making him somewhat of a legend around North Texas. But trouble is never far behind his triumph. When the Rockin' P is burnt down his is forced to pack up and move once more. He finds himself at a new ranch with new people. Can he finally settle things down in his life, or will he find nothing but trouble?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Western - Words: 2,602 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Published: 09-21-12 - id: 3059917
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Quick Q came down to re-edit it, and I ended up with this instead. So here it is, drop a review, thanks for the read. Chapter two will be up whenever I have time. Thanks!
Thick grey clouds began to roll in across the prairie, covering the sun and destroying any shadows. The prairie grass rippled in the gust of winds and dry lightning cracked across the sky as the thunder began to roll. Justin looked up with a frown, a single drop of water hitting him in the forehead. It snaked it's way down between his eyes and down his face before dripping onto the saddle. The red roan beneath him snorted, his nostrils flaring as another crack of lightning danced across the sky.
"Easy Bandit," he said as soothingly as he could, his voice cracking from the lack of use.
He pulled the horse to a stop before turning in the saddle to check on Daisy. The flaxen pony's nostrils were flared as well, the whites of her eyes showing. There was still slack in the rope connecting her to Justin's saddle, but it was obvious she could spook at any minute. Justin sighed before slipping off Bandit, draping the reins over the saddle horse before walking back to the pony.
"Easy there girl," Justin stroked her thick neck, making sure the bags that laid across her back were secure. "Just a little further- I promise. Just a storm,nothing to be scared of," he muttered the last part to himself as he watched the clouds began to gather in a rise. He fed the pony a lump of sugar before swinging back onto Bandit, urging him back across the sea of grass. For a moment everything stilled, then all hell broke loose as sheets of rain began to relentlessly fall onto the horses and their rider. Justin's clothes were soaked through in seconds, his hat wilting from the sheer force of the drops.
Pursing his lips he urged the horses on, wishing he could've made the last few miles before the storm had hit. The horses were already exhausted after several days of traveling, but this hadn't been their first lick of bad luck. Not long after leaving Amarillo a nomad band of Indians had approached him and that ended in a several hour run across the flat lands. Then a day later Daisy had caught fell into an old well hole while grazing. Thankfully she wasn't hurt, but it had taken several hours and a lot of muscle to haul her out. What should have been a 6 day trip had turned into more than a week.
"Bandit, Woah!" Justin pulled back on the reins as the stallion sidestepped then bucked underneath him as the wind began to howl. Yanking one rein short Justin worked the stallion in a small circling, bringing him back down to a walk as a confused Daisy followed. "Easy," he muttered, catching sight of what had spooked the horse. The clouds had gathered and were swirling as a long snake like funnel reached towards the ground, pulling the prairie grass towards it. Justin pulled Bandit's head back into the right direction, lashing the reins across his flank. "Get up!"
The stallion seemed to agree with his rider as he tossed his head, throwing up his heels and jumping into a run. The pony behind him snorted and tried to resist, but only for a moment. She soon fell into her short,choppy run, keeping up with the taller horse. Justin asked the stallion for a little more speed as the wind roared behind them, the prairie grass blown flat before them. Rain stung his face and clouded his vision as he tried to see through the storm, the horses racing to beat the twister behind them.
The roaring grew louder and Justin felt the slightest pull on the back of his shirt as the twister gained ground on them and he swallowed hard, trying to think of a way to get them out. "Come on Bandit, just a little more," he tapped the stallion with his spurs. Bandit snorted, tossing his head as the sweat and rain blended together on his body, running off in cloudy white lines.
Just as Justin was sure they were going to be swallowed the twisted was sucked back up into the sky and it was gone as quickly as it had come. Justin pulled back on the reins with a more force than he meant and the stallion plowed to a stop, yanking up grass and mud as he slid to a stop. Daisy snorted, nearly hitting the horses butt and gave Justin an irritated look.
With a sigh of relief Justin slipped off Bandit, loosing the girth patting the horses sweaty neck as the rain continued to fall on the trio. Daisy nudged his pocket, requesting a treat after the long run. Her long thick mane was now tangled with grass and mud, her soft brown coat splattered with mud. "Sorry girl," he fed her another lump of sugar, rubbing the end of her nose. "Good boy," Justin finally turned to the stallion, running a hand down his long muscular neck. The paint was covered in mud, his mane also tangled. "Town is just a little further..we will get you guys cleaned up before we head out to the Rocking K...This job had better be worth the trouble," he muttered, tightening Bandit's girth as they began the final ride of their journey.
. . . . .
"Rise and Shine," Jack barked at the sleeping cowhands. "We are burnin' daylight," he yanked the blanket off Slim, tossing it aside. "Get movin'. Martha said breakfast will be ready in ten. If you ain't up you ain't eaten."
Satisfied with his work he headed back out into the cool crisp morning, stretching and yawning. Thankfully the storm had missed the ranch yesterday, but they had gotten a nice rain that left everything crisp and fresh, including the animals. He grunted as the ranch dog plowed into his legs, a large stick in his mouth. He reached down and wrestled it from the dogs mouth before hurling it past the barn before continuing his walk towards the house.
"Mornin' Ms. Martha," Jack tipped his hat, smiling at her. "That food almost smells as good as you look," he winked at her.
"Oh, knock it off," the older woman laughed, swatting him with her dish towel. "Flattery won't get you anywhere Mr. Ryans."
"Might get me some extra bacon," he grinned.
"I doubt that. You'd have to fight Sadie for it."
"She'd whup me," he laughed, grabbing a tin full of food. "Thank ya ma'am," he gave her a peck on the cheek before carrying his food out towards the porch. One by one the ranch hands began filing into the kitchen, grabbing a tin then joining their boss out on the porch to eat. Martha was grinning ear to ear by time each man had made his way through and wished her a great day.
"Morning Martha!" Sadie bounced up behind her, hugging her around the waist and kissing her cheek. "Smells wonderful," she gave an appreciative sniff.
"Good morning dear," she returned Sadie's hug. "Lord child, must you always wear those awful things?" She wrinkled her nose as the young woman's jeans.
"Sorry Martha, you know how I am," she smiled apologeticlly before seating herself at the table.
Martha just shook her head, sitting across from the young woman with a sigh. "Your momma would skin me alive if she knew I let you run around like that."
"It is easier to work the cattle this way, you know that."
"That is part of the problem! You shouldn't be working cattle."
"Please drop it? We have this argument almost every morning."
"I'm sorry dear..I just hate to see the way people in town treat you because of your clothes."
"It's not just my clothes," she grinned impishly. "Most guys in town are jealous of the fact I can work a cow better than they can."
"I suppose there is that too," she laughed. "Morning Mr. Hurks."
"Mornin' Martha," Sadie's father nodded to them both. "Mornin' sweetheart," he kissed his daughters head as he passed before seating himself at the head of the table.
The rest of the meal passed with very little being said and soon all the plates had been emptied and cleared. Sadie ran out to the barn, throwing open the doors and grinning before walking down to the last stall,which was actually two. The wall had been torn down to join the two stalls, and it was a good thing, since the horse inside was a giant. The seventeen hand Clydesdale/Thoroughbred cross thrust his head into the aisle, whinnying as he caught sight of his owner.
"Morning Hanley," she smiled, rubbing his nose before slipping a halter over his large head. She led the horse from the stall, standing him square in the aisle and checking him over. The horses thick black mane fell over his eyes and down his neck in silky waves and his grey coat was still spotless. "Lookin' good boy. You ready to go to work?"
The gelding nickered, nudging her shoulder and snatching one last bite of hay from his trough before following her down the aisle. She brushed him out before saddling him up, climbing onto several bales of hay in order to reach his back. After tightening the girth she pulled herself onto his back, guiding him out of the barn and into the mid-morning sunshine. A smile spread across her face as she headed towards the ranch's gates to open them for the day, Hanley prancing beneath her and craning his neck for the nearby mares. Sadie watched the foals race each other along the fence line, thinking they were hot stuff as they beat the older stallion. She was so lost in the game she almost missed the trio that was ambling towards the ranch gates.
The first thing that caught her eye was the Red Roan Overo that trotted her way. The horse had a long flowing mane, his head held high, blue eyes alert. She let out a low whistle at the sight, then noticed the pony behind flaxen pony was nipping at the grass as she lazily followed the horse in front of her. Her gaze finally fell on the young man aboard the roan and she swallowed. He was broad shouldered, tall and she could just see the edges of dirt blond hair under his hat. Grey eyes were trained on her as the continued to advance and soon she found herself within a few feet of the stranger.
"Howdy," his voice had a thick southern tang and was gravely from lack of use. "Name is Justin."
"Hi," Sadie offered him a friendly smile. "My name is Sadie. What can I do for ya?"
"I am lookin for Mr. Hurks."
"That would be my papa. I can take you up to the ranch house."
"Thanks," he gave her a curt nod.
She turned Hanley back down the dirt road, the cowboy falling in beside her. "Nice lookin Stallion," she gave the horse another once over, admiring the unique splashes of white around his belly and face. His roan coat was sleek and shiny, the white blending together perfectly. Long stockings covered all four of his legs, a wide blaze along his face.
"Thanks. He was a big stud up north. Won him in a bet," Justin chuckled. "I've got to ask, what exactly is he?" He nodded towards the tall but thick horse she rode.
"Belgian and Thoroughbred," she grinned. "His name is Hanley," she gave the grey horse a pat on the neck. "He was an accident foal when one of our plow horses got loose with the stallions."
"I see. How does he ride?"
"He is fast, but can do heavy work as well. He is excellent with cows. We won the penning the compeition last year," she couldn't help but smile at the memory. The thought then occurred to her that he had yet to mention her jeans, or that fact that she had worked cattles. Most men mentioned it within the first few seconds of meeting her.
"Congratulations," he chuckled as the flaxen pony wedged herself between the two horses. "Sorry ol' girl- she is a little jealous. This is Daisy, my pack pony. She likes to find trouble," he smiled.
"She'd probably like the ranch pony then. One day Martha had to chase him out of the kitchen...we lost our corn on the cob for that day," she laughed.
"Sounds like a hand full," he chuckled once more as they approached the house.
"Pa!" Sadie called towards the house, relaxing on Hanley's back.
"This is Justin, he was looking for you."
"Well, here I am."
"Thanks," Justin nodded to Sadie before slipping off Bandit, draping the reins around the saddle horse. "Mr. Burks, I am Justin Sanders. I come from the Rockin' P up north."
"The ranch that burned down," Mr. Burks nodded, frowning slightly,leaning against the railing that ran around the wrap around porch.
"Yeah. I heard that you are lookin' for a new hand and I was heading this way, so I figured I'd see if the spot was still open." Justin pulled his hat off, turning it in his hands.
"Yeah, it is. What'd you do at the Rockin P?"
"I was the head Wrangler. I worked and branded cattle, herded horses, did drives, roped, broke broncs," he shrugged, "A little of everything."
"I see. You take orders alright?" Mr. Burks raised an eyebrow.
"Ever been into a fight with another hand?"
"Do you drink?"
"No sir," Justin hid a grin.
"I'll put you on a trial period for a week. Any problems and you are out of here, got it?"
"Yes sir, thank you," he dipped his head.
"You are welcome. I can see you've already met Sadie, so I'll skip the introductions. Sadie, show him where he can stable his horses and turn them out. Introduce him to Hank and the other hands, then Martha. Hank can show him a spot in the bunk house."
"Yes daddy," she grinned before nodding towards the barn. "Let's go."
Justin fell into step beside her, leading his two horses behind him. "I like you dad- seems like he runs a tight shift. I like that."
"He does. We don't keep trouble makers around here," she smiled as they entered the barn. "There are two stalls down by mine you can use, then the tack room is down there. We can go meet Hank and Martha in a second. Want some advice?"
"Don't be a trouble maker."
Justin nodded solemnly before tying Bandit and Daisy up before beginning to untack them. So far he liked the ranch and the people had met. He wasn't to sure how he would do with not being in charge, but he was sure he could adjust. He was tired of running from his past and hiding behind work. It was time to turn over a new leaf, and he was determined to do it, even if it meant facing his worst fears. It was time to start a new job and new life.