Thursday, September 3, 2009

Excerpt - Lucky in Love by Stacey Coverstone

The golden horse with a snow white mane and tail opened her eyes and slowly turned her head. She neighed softly then nudged at something furry near her legs.

Jordan blinked. The back of the trailer was dim. It was difficult to see clearly. Puzzled, she squinted again, in order to get a better look. “There’s something standing behind the horse. It’s short, black and hairy. What on earth?” She threw a questioning glance at Wyatt.

He responded with a sheepish grin.

“Maaaaa.” A fat pigmy goat with horns made its appearance, stepping out from behind the mare.

“What is that?” Jordan pointed.

Wyatt hopped into the trailer and scratched Buttercup on the head as he hooked the lead rope to her halter. He led the Palomino out of the trailer with the beady-eyed creature waddling behind. “Jordan, this here is Houdini.” To the goat, he said, “Houdini, meet your new mommy.”

The goat leaped off the back of the trailer with the grace of a flying pig and stared up at her. Her jaw dropped.

“Come on, Buttercup.” When Wyatt began leading the mare toward the pasture, the goat sidled up to Jordan and rubbed the side of his head against her outer thigh.

“What’s he doing?” She squealed and jumped away as if she’d been burned, but the goat was insistent. He rubbed again, still ogling her.

“Give him a pet. Or shove him away if you don’t want him bothering you,” Wyatt called over his shoulder.

“Oh. Okay.” With a tentative hand, she patted his side. When the goat went “Maaaaa,” she smiled and hollered, “I think Houdini likes me, Brannigan. He’s pretty cute, but his head must itch because he keeps rubbing against me.” Just as she reached out to scratch between his horns, Wyatt turned and yelled.

“Don’t touch his horns!”

“Wha-?” The goat reared up and slammed his horns into the tender flesh of her bare leg. She howled and the goat butted her again. “Get him off me!” she screamed.

Wyatt dropped Buttercup’s lead rope and ran back and roughly shoved the goat away. “Git!” He knelt and examined Jordan’s leg with gentle hands. “Are you all right?”

“I think so. I’m not bleeding, am I?” Her eyes were misting over.

“No blood. He didn’t open the skin.” Wyatt stood. “I’m so sorry. I remembered too late about him not liking his horns touched. I should have said something before I let him out of the trailer, but it slipped my mind.”

Jordan glared at the animal. He planted his hooves, lowered his head and glowered back, like a bull ready to charge. “Where did you find that psychotic demon?” she asked, trembling from the scare.

“Houdini’s been with Buttercup since the day Lydia brought her to the ranch. Houdini was a rescue himself.”

“Gee, I wonder why.” She cast another glance at her thigh, which was bruising.

“That goat took to Buttercup like a bee takes to honey and hasn’t left her side since. I guess he’s in love.”

“Lucky for her.” Jordan’s tone dripped with sarcasm.

“Maaaaa,” the goat replied.

“Maaaaa yourself,” Jordan mocked. “Houdini, huh? I don’t have to guess how you arrived at your name.”

Wyatt wiped a tear from her cheek. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yes. I guess I have to expect the unexpected if I’m to make it as a rancher.”

He grinned. “You got that right. Don’t touch his horns,” he reminded as he grasped Buttercup’s lead rope off the ground.

“Right. No horn touching.”

“Let’s take them to the pasture.” Wyatt whistled and Houdini trotted to the mare and toddled behind as she was walked to the field. After they were shooed in and the gate was closed, the two animals huddled together, watching the other horses running across the grass. In a short time, Houdini turned his attention to the pipe fence. He attached his bucked teeth to the bottom rail and began gnawing. Wyatt shook his head.

Another big truck came rambling up the drive. “Now, who’s coming?” Jordan asked, checking her watch for the time as they made their way back to the truck.

“That’ll be the hay man,” Wyatt said, slamming the trailer door shut. “He’s making your delivery, so I better move my rig out of the way.”

He moved his pickup and trailer to the other side of the driveway. Along with Jordan’s Jeep, Cole’s truck, and his workers’ vehicle, the driveway was looking like a used car lot. The hay man maneuvered his truck as close to the barn entrance as possible. The bed was stacked six layers high with hay. Wyatt and Jordan walked over and shook hands with the older man when he slid out of his cab. Wyatt made the introductions. “Jordan Mackenzie, this is Ronnie Porter. He’s got the best hay in the county. I told him you’d need supplied in the fall and the spring from now on.”

“Thank you. I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Porter.”

“Same here.” No nonsense, he touched the brim of his cap, flipped open the tailgate and began to unload bales.

Noting his bulging arm muscles, and guessing him to be in his sixties, Jordan figured he was in better shape than most of the younger men she knew because of years of lifting and throwing hay bales around. As he tossed the bales onto the ground, Wyatt carried them into the barn and stacked them against the wall. Jordan watched, feeling useless, but she couldn’t begin to help because of her aching back. Knowing it would be rude if she left town while they were working for her benefit, she just stood and watched them sweat.

Porter was pulling a bale out of the back when a streak of black came charging around the corner of the barn. Looking neither left nor right, Houdini made a beeline for the man and rammed him in the rear. Obviously stunned, Porter fell to the ground moaning and clutching his punctured backside. Jordan ran to him screaming for Wyatt. She tried to help him up as she chastised the goat that danced in circles nearby, panting with his tongue hanging out.

“Houdini! Bad goat! How did you get out of the pasture?” She shoved him with her foot as he moved in for another jab. “Brannigan!” she screamed again.

Porter’s eyes were rolling back. “What the hell was that? My ass is on fire. Excuse the language, ma’am.” He wiped a tear from his eye as Jordan lifted him by the elbow and helped him to his feet.

“No need to apologize, Mr. Porter. Are you all right?”

Wyatt came running from the barn. He didn’t have to ask what had happened; the scene said it all. He grabbed Houdini by the horns without thinking and began dragging the creature back to the field.

“Maaaaa! Maaaaa!”

Jordan watched the goat squirm beneath Wyatt’s large, capable hands. “That, I’m afraid, Mr. Porter was the devil.”

“Well, he skewered me good,” the old man cried, clutching his buttocks.

Stacey Coverstone
Western Romance Author
Delaney's Crossing, Available Now
High Lonesome, Available Now
Outlaw Trail, December 1
Lucky in Love, June 2010

No comments:

Post a Comment