Pulse an explanation--The day to day events in a person's life. 'You know you're alive when you feel that pulse beat beneath your fingers.'

Summary: Ryan Winters was accustomed to spending her summers at her Aunt's ranch/spa for the 'criminly' rich-running the barn, dealing with the wants and needs of the riding guests, giving her cousin riding lessons and riding her own horse. What she wasn't accustomed to was befriending one dirty-blond guy and his wealthy family.

You are entering the world of fiction suspend all beliefs now.

**I made some changes to this chapter, I just wasn't very happy with it upon rereading so here is the hopefully improved version. -Cheers


The first summer guests were coming this morning. Usually I'd be sitting in the foyer of my Aunt's hotel waiting to welcome them to our humble ranch but in a twist of events she let me take Chuck for a quick ride. Chuck or Chucker is the gelding I bought four years ago with every penny I had ever made and saved. But its not like I don't like giving our summer residents the tour of our eighty-thousand acre land its just comparing touring to riding is like comparing scorched toast to golden brown toast, one is like fluffy and golden the other is literally coal.

My aunt runs a summer ranch slash spa resort, families or couples come down to sweet apple pie country and stay the entire two and a half months of summer. Because my Aunt's resort offers each family their own cabin and everything from personal massages to trail riding it is mainly occupied by the extremely wealthy. Rarely do we get moderate income families and if we do it's in one of the four suites available in the main home, where I and the rest of the family live.

I run the barn. It's my first year running it solo, but I could run it in my sleep and sometimes I do. I've been riding since I could walk and practically running this barn since I was thirteen. I had over the years helped handpick every horse and pony in our herd. People say 'Home is Where the Heart Is' then I'd say mine is here in this barn on this ranch. Every summer I live and work for my aunt; winters I live with my parents about thirty minutes from here but I'm still at the ranch at least four times a week taking care of the horses. Chuck is my pride and joy, he's a big bay gelding with the courage to do anything I put before him. I was flicking the soft brush over Chucks crescent mark on his forehead when a voice broke through the silence. "Are you Ryan?"

From over my shoulder I observed the owner of the voice. He was wearing those perfectly ripped designer jeans that cost about two hundred bucks a pair with a plain blue t-shirt. With close cut dirty blonde hair messed to perfection and thin silver chain hanging around his neck he screamed money. "I could be." I answered nonchalantly.

"Do you know where I can find her? Ms. June...Anne." He corrected making me hide my smile, give the wealthy some credit they teach their children the outmost respect when it comes to other parents and so most have trouble calling my Aunt by her given name and she gets quite grumpy if they don't. "Told me I'd have much more fun having Ryan tour me around then herself." And here I thought I'd get the day off. Maybe if I pretended to ignore him he'd lost interest and leave.

Chuck shifted his weight as he dozed and I continued to curry down his shoulder, praying he'd turn around and go back to where he'd come from.

"So are you Ryan?" The voice asked me a few moments later. He had ventured closer but still stood well out of reach of the gelding.

I sighed, I wasn't much for battles of will. "You got me. You must be the newest member of the June family." That's what we liked to call our summer residents.

"Nate Greenly." He stepped a few feet closer. It was clear he wanted to come shake my hand or pat my shoulder to accompany his name drop but couldn't quite bring himself to get any closer to Chuck. I smiled to myself I loved city kids who viewed horses as evil-rearing-bucking-animals on four legs.

"He only bites the rich ones." I replied earnestly as I crossed over to the other side to curry.

He chose to ignore my jab and instead asked "What's his name?"

"Chucker." I replied with my guys show name giving him a slap on the rump before tossing the curry comb in the tack box.

"Why's that?"

"He likes to chuck'em." I laughed it was a joke between me and my aunt. Chucker had thrown twelve riders before he was mine, then he threw me. He was a chucker but I still loved him. The guy stared at me his head slightly tilted to the side, it was to say the least unnerving. When he didn't stop staring I shrugged my shoulders walked passed him and came back with a carrot in hand. "Here."

He took the carrot from my hand looked at the bright orange stick and brought it to his mouth. "No, don't eat!" I yelped.

"Psych." He jabbed the carrot at me. Okay I deserved that, at least I knew he could take it as well as dish it. He moved tentatively toward the gelding, Chuck smelling the carrot craned his neck forward and with a sniff bit into the carrot leaving the nub in Nate's hand.

"You're a natural." I smiled and picked up the dandy brush from my tack box. True enough, most city kids wouldn't feed a horse until their third lesson. I dragged the brush over Chucks shoulder. "Have you ever ridden before?"

"No, unless you call riding a pony around central park when I was eight riding." He laughed. And obviously more comfortable moved closer to Chuck who sniffed at his hand which still held the last bit of carrot.

"You can feed him that if you want, just keep your palm flat." Out of the corner of my eye I watched as he opened his hand and let the gelding lip up the carrot. "You should take lessons."

"Can I do that here?"

"Of course, we offer horses for either trail rides or leasing for the duration of your stay." I paused. "You know what? I have the perfect horse for you." I tossed the brush back into the box. "Follow me." Two stalls down I stopped and waited for him to catch up. "This is Babe." The chestnut mare stuck out her head from the stall bars, I fished a sugar cube from my pocket and let her lip it from my hand. "Babe has the best sense of humour I've ever seen in a horse, and she'll do almost anything you ask of her." I had found Babe at our local horse shelter she had been given to them by a circus owner that was getting out of the business. At four she had already learned that gag trick where the rider tries to saddle the horse but the horse keeps pulling the saddle pad off. It took me months of training to get her to stop but she still does it from time to time. "I think you two would get along really well." I handed him a sugar cube and he let Babe take it from his hand. I think Babe fell in love that day because the next thing I knew I was being pushed away by the big chestnut head.

"Okay, okay, I'm going." I surrendered raising my hands and backing away. Nate was chuckling and scratching the mare behind the ears. I smiled, I was right the two got along like peas in a pod.

"So what do you think?" I asked just to be sure.

He flashed a smile at me. "I don't think I have a choice now."


"And these are the cabins." I pointed out on our tour of the grounds. It really was a beautiful area ten full size cabins lined the paved road that wound in from the main building. Each cabin had four bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, rec room, and full kitchen as well each cabin had their own front lawns meticulously maintained by my Aunt's staff.

"Can I ask you something a bit personal?" He asked as we made our way to his home away from home.

"Shoot." I answered I was never one to shy away from the personal.

"Why Ryan?"

I snorted, now this was a little story I loved to share, it showed my parents in all their unglorified quirkiness. "My parents were convinced I would be a boy," His brow wrinkled at me. "Yeah something about that old wives tale saying if you have a cold during pregnancy you'll be having a son."

"What, they didn't want to know the gender from the doctor himself?"

"You don't get that option at a general hospital, just in case you decide to abort based on sex."

"Huh, I didn't know that."

"Yeah so when I popped out and was obviously not a boy they shrugged and named me Ryan anyway. I like it though. I mean how many girls do you meet with my name?" I chuckled, I loved my name it's the one thing that my parents gave me that I didn't see as a guilt present for being away so much with Ben.

"None before you." He chuckled along with me. "Is Anne your Mom?" Apparently one personal question led to another and usually none of the guests really cared about the help.

"My aunt, I live here for the summer while my parents are in Edmonton, they had their prodigal son they just had to wait an extra year." I rolled my eyes playfully. "He's this big shot hockey player, and every summer my parents move down to the big city so he can train with some big shot trainer and they leave me here. I wouldn't have it any other way though." So I used big shot a bit much and I dripped sarcasm like a runny nose. I was not bitter.


"Definitely not." I shook my head and kicked a stray piece of gravel. Okay so that one hit a little too personal and I wasn't sure how to explain that while I loved my parents they just didn't get me and my love for horses, and would much rather put their efforts into a son that played and excelled in a sport they understood.

I watched as he kicked the gravel piece ahead again. "I understand. I didn't want to leave our home for the summer to come to Hicksville, no offense." He gave me a sideways look.

I shrugged at his look not quite the same but I guess he got it for the most part. He turned back in time to kick the gravel. "I've heard worse." When you get a resort full of kids pulled away from their friends to a town with no booze and no clubs you can get a whole lot of mudslinging.

"I'm sure." He smiled looking over at me, and I noticed the pain behind his blue eyes. Had I missed that before or was he just really good at masking it. "I'm glad we did though," He continued. "We needed to get away from all the craziness." I quirked my head in askance and he obliged. "Last summer my sister od'd on painkillers, she was hospitalized for two weeks, and despite my parents being discrete, kids found out. She never heard the end of it," He shook his head. "She became a recluse; I hope time away will help her get back to how she was before."

"Wow." I hadn't expected that. In a million years I hadn't expected that. "You must love your sister."

"She was just so much fun, she could make anyone smile." I watched as his eyes fell inward obviously remembering and we remained in solitude for the rest of the walk.

"This is yours." I broke our silence when we reached cabin six. "I hope I get to meet your sister." It sounded stupid coming from my mouth but what do you say in that situation? We hardly knew each other. "What's her name?"


"Well say hi for me."

He nodded. "I'll see you tomorrow then, for my first lesson."

"Ten o'clock don't be late."


People sometimes call me crazy but I love mornings. I love waking up with the birds chirping at my window and the sun just peeking over the horizon. It's a personality that works great with my job, and at the crack of dawn I'm in the barn. But this here when the hard labour is done for the moment and I can take a moment to look out over the expanse of golden fields, this is why I don't get why people call me crazy. And when you work at a resort where people are always demanding something of you, you appreciate these quiet moments even more. "Hey." Scratch that quiet morning. I didn't need to see who it was, in the short time I had known the guy I had already etched his voice into my mind.

"You're up early." I greeted him without moving.

"Couldn't sleep." He responded leaning against the fence next to me. "It was all too quiet."

"You'd be surprised how many people say that, you'll get used to it." He grunted his scepticism as only men can do. "This however you will never get used to." He looked over at me an eyebrow arched in askance, and I nodded out to the rolling hills of the prairies. This time when he looked over the fields he really looked and there it was that moment where the brain kicks in and he realizes just where he is standing and what he is looking at. It's one of those moments I have been privy to in many people's lives and it never gets old.

As much as I would have loved to stay and stare at the fields all morning, there was a certain horse that needed to be exercised before lessons and touring later that morning.

"How come you're up so early?" He asked stepping in line beside me.

"Stalls to muck, horses to feed." I answered holding back the urge to roll my eyes at the nature of the question.

"This early!" Nate's voice came out in a high pitched squeak.

"No, an hour and a half ago early." I explained in my everything-is-normal voice.

"And you do this every morning?" He asked standing back as I put a halter on Chuck and led him out to the cross-ties.

"For now, my Aunt hired a stable hand but he doesn't start for two weeks, so until then I'll be here." I grabbed the curry comb and began currying Chuck.

"Can I help?" Nate asked standing beside my tack box with a puzzled look obviously trying to determine which brush he should pick up.

"Umm..." I paused. One of my not so flattering traits I am possessive of my belongings and extremely possessive of Chuck. But this guy was growing on me, despite my hope that I would hate or at least dislike from a distance all trust fund kids. "Sure. Grab the brush with the red bristles." Nate grabbed the brush. "Okay, just follow after me and kind of flick the brush along in the direction of the hair."

"That's it." I smiled as he flicked the red bristled brush along Chucks back. I guess not all trust fund children are so bad.


"Are you going to be teaching me to do those jumps?" Nate asked excitedly as I led Chuck out of the ring to un-tack after the workout.

"Whoa, let's not put the cart before the horse. You haven't even ridden before don't you think we should start you with walking first?"

"Psh..." He forced the sound out between his teeth. "I could walk in my sleep I want to soar like an eagle." His blue eyes sparkled with enthusiasm and I couldn't help but be infected by his smile.

"We'll see how the walking goes first, and please don't say that eagle thing again."

"Too cowboy?"

"No, not enough cowboy." I laughed as he pulled a what-are-you-saying face. "Come on John Wayne lets put Chuck away so we can get you soaring like the eagles."


"You're a natural." I called as Babe and Nate made their second lap around the ring.

"Can we do the jumps now?" He called back sitting a little straighter in the western saddle.

"Umm, no." Okay so at first I had thought he was just playing with the whole I want to jump today bit but this being the twentieth time he'd brought it up I was beginning to think he was serious. "How about we let you go a little faster."

"Awesome." He called back again eyes focused ahead of him. He had taken my advice about using his eyes to steer very serious.

"Shorten the reins." I watched as his hand slid up the rein. Babe quickened her step at the sign she would finally get to move in to a trot. "Okay give'er a squeeze." Even as the words were leaving my lips I wished I had chosen a better phrase, credit to Nate for leaving his response to a smirk. Babe moved forward into a trot and like all beginning riders Nate flopped around like a trout out of water.

"I...don't...know...about...this...Ryan." He stuttered out in time with his bobbing.

"Just relax, imagine you're riding a merry go round. Go with the flow. There ya go." He sat deeper and I could see him relax into the up-down rhythm of Babe's trot. "Alright come back down to a walk. Sit back and squeeze the reins. Whoa." I called to Babe and she came to a smooth walk.

I had an idea. I couldn't let Nate jump but I could let him trot over a few ground poles. I dragged a couple of poles and lined them up along the outside of the ring.

"What's that?" Nate asked coming up behind me with Babe.

"Your jumps." I pointed proudly. I was here to please.

"Yee-haw." Nate whooped. I gave him my never-say-that-again face.

"What?" Obviously he understood my face. "Didn't like that?"

"Ugh...Get that horse going." He pointed Babe out to the other side of the ring. I was serious when I said he was a natural, he still had a ways to go to be the next Marcus Beerbaum but the guy had caught on to the basics in no time. Mentally I patted myself on the back, cause you know this was all me. "Ryan?" Right, back to the present I chided.

"Trot her up, just keep your eyes ahead, you can move up and down in the saddle as she goes over the poles if that helps." Babe pricked her ears as she approached the poles which was another reason I let the duo go over the poles, I knew Babe would without a doubt go over the poles. As the pair went over the poles I had to conceal a smile as Nate holding onto the horn with white knuckles bounced up and down like a power boat on ten foot waves. "How was that?" I asked as he slowed Babe back to a walk.

"I don't think I quite got the hang of it." He answered breathily.

"Go around again then." I swept my hand around the ring.

He smiled and pushed Babe into a trot. This time he was already attempting posting before reaching the poles so when Babe went over the poles he didn't sail over the saddle. "One more time." He told me, or himself it wasn't quite clear.

On his third time around he was looking fairly comfortable. "Did you see me?" He exclaimed walking over to where I was standing.

"Are you sure you've never ridden before?" I smiled back at his giddy enthusiasm and sparkling blue eyes.


"C'mon Mr. Wayne lets cool this horse down. I have to help my aunt tour the new recruits in an hour."


My alarm went off with annoying clarity this morning and my attempt to smack it off only made it wail at me with renewed fervour.

Yesterday, after showing Nate how to un-tack and cool Babe, I met up with my Aunt to tour the Dennleys. All I knew about the Dennleys was that they had requested two horses for their children. I wish that was still all I knew about them. Mr. And Mrs. Dennleys had twins, thirteen year old twins, who typified the trust fund child. Arrogant to a tee. Trying to pick a horse for each was impossible; every horse I thought would be a fit didn't fit their taste. 'This one's too big.' 'This one's not pretty enough.' 'This one looks like Shelly's.' For the record I don't know who Shelly is nor do I ever want to know who she is. Eventually they had settled and by settled I mean their father intervened and said that they would ride the first horse I picked for each and that would be that. My Aunt gave me her this-is-our-livelihood face, and then offered the Dennleys the option of hiring Alison Betts, a local instructor who is contracted out by my Aunt. They accepted and that was one of the only positive outcomes of last nights encounters with the evil Dennleys twins. Just to be clear I usually give lessons to beginner riders who just want a lesson or two so they won't be as likely to slide out of the saddle, or those like Nate who do it simply for the pleasure of riding. Alison thank God deals with the over-confident, arrogant trust fund brats.

Bleary eyed and grumpy I made my way over to the barn just as the first rays of light were filling the sky. I was so lost in yesterday that when Nate came up beside me and pushed a cup of coffee in my hand I accepted it without thinking. It wasn't until I had taken my first sip of the brown liquid that I looked over in wide eyed surprise. "What...?"

"Am I doing here?" Nate finished for me. "Helping you do your 'stalls to muck, horses to feed' thang." He quoted my speech from yesterday. I would've refused his generosity but I was too drained from yesterday to even attempt to argue. I grunted to him to follow me and quickly downing the rest of the cooling coffee pushed him a pitchfork.

With Nate's help mucking out the stalls I was done my morning duties in half the time.

We stood on the fence looking out over the fields. "Let's go for a ride." Nate suggested. I was going to refuse but he caught me in his blue gaze. I don't know what it was about his eyes but I was beginning to get the idea that they could make me do anything they wanted me to. That didn't scare me though what did was that I didn't care, I wanted to do those things with him.

"Okay." I finally whispered.


"I met the Dennleys twins last night." He started as we walked Babe and Chuck out into the fields.

"How was that?" I asked holding back the foul words that threatened to explode from my lips.

"My sister is calling them tweedle dee and tweedle dum." He laughed.

"I'm calling them spoiled hell on two legs. They're riding..."

"Oh I know when we met them their mother wouldn't stop gushing about riding and how well her babies were at it."

"Oh God." I groaned. "They wanted Babe you know? Tell me you won't give her up to them. Promise me." The thought hadn't occurred to me until that moment. Last year, a fourteen year old girl needed to ride Pegasus, a gray mare in our barn, but Pegasus was already being ridden by another guest. There was nothing I could do about that so the girl threw a fit. The next day Pegasus' rider told me he wanted a different horse. I'm pretty sure the fourteen year olds parents paid the other guest off, that's the life you get to lead when you're parents own the Ritz, or Hilton, or some other billion dollar franchise.

"I promise." Nate assured me with a smile that lit up his face and tried to melt my heart.

Changing the subject. "How's your sister liking it here?"

"I think being here is going to help her she's already laughing more."

"From the way you talk about them your family seems closer than most guests'."

"My parents made sure that we wouldn't become one of those families that talk to each other only when cash isn't flowing so easy."

"That's really great." I wondered what my life would be like if my parents afforded the same attention to me as they did to Ben. It didn't matter though I shook my head because I wouldn't want it any other way.

"It didn't stop her from taking those pills though." He mumbled and I could see from where I sat on Chuck his blue eyes swirl with pain and confusion.

"Can I ask you a personal question?"

"I guess that's only fair. Shoot."

"Do you know why she did it?" He didn't speak at first, the horses hooves clomped on the dry packed soil.

"I don't know why." He said finally. "Everything seemed fine, she had lots of friends, she got good grades, she had a boyfriend, she had a life that lots of people would envy. But there was one night I remember, I came home late and Serena's light was on in her room which was weird because she was usually always home after me, so I knocked on her door and pushed it open to say hi her face was red and puffy, I knew she'd been crying but when I asked her about it she said she'd just gotten home from a run and she was really exhausted. The story wasn't even half believable but I chose to believe it because it was a lot less messy that way. I always wondered if I had said something that night could I have gotten her help."

"Did you tell her your feelings?"

"No." He scoffed gently.

"Maybe it would help both of you move forward." He didn't need to say any more I could see it on his face that he was considering it. It was time to lighten the mood. "C'mon you ready to test your new trotting skills?"

"Let's go." I clucked at Chuck and we moved into a trot, eating up the prairie grass beneath our hooves.


"How old are you anyway?" He asked as we sat feet dangling in the small creek running through the back forty, the horses hobbled, grazed in the adjacent field.

"Seventeen, going into my final year of high school. What about you?"

"Sixteen, but I'll be seventeen at the end of August."

"So it'll be your last year as well."

"Mmhmm." He nodded swirling the water beneath his feet. "Do you know what you're going to do after?" A lot of my friends feared that question but I had my goals mapped in my head from the first second I rode my first horse.

"There's this equestrian school in Westchester just outside New York City, it's highly regarded as one of the premier institutes to train as an instructor and trainer. That's my dream." I sighed, a dream that may never come true if I couldn't get at least a partial scholarship.

"I think you'd be really great at that, I mean look at me." His blue eyes sparkled in intensity that made return his smile and make me wonder just what he was thinking.

"What about you?" I asked intrigued.

"I don't know." He turned back to the river. "My dads a partner with the Holstien Law Firm I think he wants my to get into that but I don't know. How did you know you wanted to do?"

"Training is something that when I close my eyes and fantasize about my life in thirty years training horses in some capacity is always a part of it." I watched as he picked up a pebble and tossed it into the river. "It's different for everyone though, one day you'll wake up and you'll know who it is you want to be." I spoke with the confidence of someone who always knew what she was and didn't know a day that she didn't.

"It's the one day that worries me." He groaned running a hand through his dark blonde locks. "I don't feel like waiting around until that light bulb goes off, if it ever does."

"You'll go to university probably Princeton or Harvard and you'll take some courses that you'll like and you'll string them together into a career that you'll love having." I reassured him, I mean that's what people with money do right?

He laughed, his shoulders hunched up into a permanent shrug. "At least one of us is sure."

"Life can change in an instant Nate, I wouldn't worry about schooling or careers because in two months from now you could have changed your mind anyway." It was my turn to pick up a pebble and toss it into the river. It broke the surface with a sucking sound, ripples made their way outward in a hasty retreat disturbed from their resting place.

"So where are you from? You mentioned Central Park before does that mean you're from New York?"

"Yep." He nodded. "Have you ever been?"

"No." The truth is I hadn't travelled anywhere. "People from places all over the world came here." I stared right into those swirling blue orbs and they stared right back at me, a challenge to say something I wouldn't normally confess. "I have met Australians, Taiwanese, Irish, Americans," I smiled at him, "British, Chinese, Costa Rican, and every time I meet one of those people I dream of going there of walking in their shoes of feeling like there is a world outside my small hick town. Then they leave and I realize that this is where I want to belong where I want to be, not out in some exotic country."

"But no one says where we belong but ourselves." He reasoned giving me another of his intense stares.

"True enough, but it's what I say." I whispered breaking the stare to look over to where the horses grazed. I hadn't ever dreamed of swapping heart felt dreams and advice with a rich trust fund boy from New York, but then again like he said he didn't come from a typical wealthy family. What was I thinking though I couldn't like like this guy my Aunt wouldn't...oh crap..."What time is it?"

He flipped up his sleeve. "Nine forty-five."

"Shit I've got to meet my Aunt at ten-thirty." I was on my feet and running, my Aunt was going to freak if I wasn't there.

"Ryan wait up!" Nate yelled after me, for a moment there I had forgotten he was even here. "You might want your shoes." Shoes? I looked down to see my wet bare feet now covered in grass. I needed to calm down and I needed more coffee to wake up, huh I stopped moving, there's some juxtaposition for you.

"Do you think you're ready for something faster than a trot?" I asked after we had mounted.

"Oh yeah." A goofy grinned plastered from ear to ear, which didn't fail to make me smile in return.

He lurched into his saddle. "Okay, grab the horn and follow me." I kicked Chuck into a slow canter, from over my shoulder I could see Nate lurch as Babe flew into an easy canter but after a few moments he relaxed and the two of them rode neck in neck with me and Chuck.


I felt bad about not grooming Chuck out as much as I'd liked to but there was nothing I could really change; Chuck would be fine and I couldn't be any later then the ten minutes I had already taken. Nate was still with Babe and the only thing I could do was hope he didn't end up killing himself. I shrugged the thought off and adjusted my ponytail as I walked into the room. "And this is our barn manager. Ryan come here." My Aunt beckoned, raising her eyebrows to the clock on the wall. I mouthed a sorry and turned my attention to the awaiting guests. In the room stood a family of four, a daughter of about twelve and a son of about fourteen. These two were about the same age as tweedle dee and tweedle dum and I had already been reminded that thirteen year olds with deep pockets were about as much fun as the orthodontist. "Ryan runs the barn, if you want to arrange a trail ride or horse lesson contact her directly, the barn number is in the book. We have horses to fit any experience level and personality." She smiled at me and then back at the family.

"Trail rides Missy doesn't that sound like fun?" The mother crooned to her daughter. The daughter played the rebellious teen to the tee and scowled back at the oblivious mother. I wondered what parent in their right mind called their child Missy. "She's just a little tired from the drive in." Mom apologized for the scowling child. "We'll keep the horses in mind."

"Great." I smiled. "Feel free to come down and visit anytime." I didn't have to like these people to butter them with my hospitality, and I needed the money to keep the barn profitable and being paid for.


"Hey." Nate greeted me sitting on the paddock fence as I made my way back from the tour. "How are the new residents?"

"Whiny, but I'm trying not to judge a book by the cover, I already learned my lesson there. And yet it was true enough with...tweedle dee and tweedle dum, shoot I don't remember their names already."

"If it's any consolation they probably don't remember yours either." Nate laughed.

"Not really." I groaned. I hated forgetting names it was just one of those little things that had always bugged me about my memory. "What are you still doing here anyways?"

"Waiting for you to get back so I could say goodbye and show you what a good job I did with Babe."

"Oh." I smiled, shocked and flattered.

He hopped off the fence. "So I'll see you tomorrow."

"Mkay, bye." This summer I thought had the makings of being a whole bunches of different, in which way it fell I wasn't completely sure yet.



"Cody." I called out to my cousin excitedly hearing him enter the barn. My uncle had taken Cody and Julie or Jules as we all call her camping for the week which was why Nate had been unhindered in talking to me. I loved my little cousin he was in my opinion the coolest eleven year-old ever. Period. "How was the trip?" I asked throwing the brush I was using to groom Chuck into the tack box.

"It was awesome Ryan. We went fishing and I caught a fish this" He spread his hands apart the width of his torso, "Big. Dad said that beat his first fish by a loooong shot. Then we brought it into the boat for dinner. Jules was so funny." His laugh never failed to bring a smile to my lips. "She wouldn't go anywhere near it."

"That's awesome bud." I pulled him into a monster hug. "I'm so glad you had fun." He pulled away and looked over at Nate who was standing off to our right, and had up until this point been chatting me up non-stop about his great riding progress and how I should be letting him try jumps.

"Who's this dipwad?" One reason my cousin is the coolest and I love him so much, he's never afraid to speak his mind-to anyone.

"This is Nate, he's staying in the cabins, and I'm giving him lessons." I explained.

"Hmph." Cody crossed his arms and looked over Nate appraisingly. Cody never liked the families that stayed over the summer; he hated them for taking his Mom's time, his dad's time, and my time away from him. But what happened next melted even my heart. Nate walked the few feet to Cody bent to his level and stuck out his hand. "My name's Nate. It's nice to meet you Cody."

Cody looked from Nate to me then burst into giggles. He took Nate's hand and shook it. Then sobering he looked Nate over again and simply said "You'll do." For a moment we all stood in stunned silence then I let out a hiccup of a laugh and soon all three of us were clutching our sides. For whatever reason I was glad that Cody had taken a liking to Nate.