The stranger took a step forward.

“That’s far enough.” Hank said his gun still trained on him.

“Look, I’m sorry. I know you have your own problems. But every vet I’ve seen has given up on him. He doesn’t have much longer.” He looked at Maureen. “Please.”

She closed her eyes, concentrated and felt a wave of anguish roll off him. Her breath caught in her throat at the force of it. “Take him to the barn.”

“Marnie. . .”

“Sir, you’ve got a gun pointed at me and a wolf on my heels. I’m not a stupid man.”

Hank gave him a level look, his voice filled with warning, “I’ll be watching you.”

The stranger nodded and turned on his heel.

Not taking his eyes off the stranger, Hank said, “Sometimes, girl, you care too much.”

Saying nothing, she leaned back in the seat, causing the old cracked leather to squeak. Closing her eyes she drew into herself, wrapping her mind around the boji stones, feeling their strength and healing powers course through her body.

She took a deep breath in from her belly then exhaled until her lungs emptied out. Opening her eyes she laid her hand on Hank’s. “What would I do without you?”

“Get into a whole lot more trouble than you’re in now, I expect,” he said his expression wry.

They followed the SUV as it started toward the barn, its headlights bouncing when it hit a chug hole.

The brake lights shone for a moment, then went out as the truck stopped at the barn. The man got out and let down the trailer gate. He looked once at Wolf then backed the horse down the ramp.

Maureen’s eyes moved from the stranger to the horse. “What a beautiful animal.”

Hank grunted.

“Help me out will you, tough guy?”

He put the safety on the Glock and slipped it into his waistband then came around and opened her door. “You’re the hardest headed female I know,” he grumbled scooping her out. “Want me to carry you into the barn?”

“I can walk if you’ll let me use your arm as a cane. She leaned against him flinching as her left leg touched the ground. “Besides, I saw the look on your face when you saw that horse. You don’t want to lose him either.”

“That’s neither here nor there. You’re much more important to me than a dang blamed horse. And you know this will slow your healing time maybe even set you back.”

“Please don’t worry, Hank. I’ll be okay.” She leaned her weight against him letting him half-carry half-drag her to the barn feeling the heat of him permeating her arm and shirt. She drew in a deep breath and smelled fresh air and animals. Smells that comforted her since she was a little girl.

The stranger waited at the barn door watching their slow progress.

“I’m sorry. I know this is hard on you.” Something like remorse flashed in his eyes.

She bit back a grin. He’s concerned about me but not nearly as concerned as he is for his horse.


  1. Mary Marvella // November 24, 2007 at 9:51 PM  

    A western. Always liked a man who loves his horse. Remember the comments we made about the cowboy loving his horse more than the girl in the movie?