Cameron loves his life as a horse trainer, taking in unwanted horses and getting them ready for new homes. He lives a simple life surrounded by his brothers and cousins.
For Dion life could be simple too, if he wasn't always at work. As a nurse aid in an understaffed nursing home he's stressed, always tired, and barely taking care of himself. On his first day off in nearly a month his roommate invites him to go horseback riding with her and her girlfriend. Dion has never been riding, but he's desperate for something to do that gets him away from work.
Cameron remembers Dion but he never got his name. They met the year before, in a crowded bar, but it was one night neither of them can forget. What was simple that night could turn into more, but Dion has no time for a relationship and Cameron has moved past just wanting sex. He's looking for love, and he wants to be the next person in Hillcrest Farm to find it.
I was momentarily distracted from the filly currently fighting me on the lunge line by the sound of my phone ringing. She was only four months old. I could easily handle her with one hand, so I answered the call. If she'd been an adult, and still bucking and rearing wildly against my control, I would have let it go to voicemail. But the filly was just a baby, so answering the call was easy.
I briefly checked the name on the call and smiled when I saw that it was Cindy, my ex sister-in-law. That was too formal, though. She was a close friend. "Hey, what's up?" I asked as I answered her call. I figured she probably wanted to come riding, or to see if Kyle could come riding. My nephew was sixteen. He could call me himself if he wanted to come see the horses, but it was still usually Cindy who did the asking for him.
"Hey, so I've got a strange request... Well, not really that strange. I was wondering if I could come riding. Me, Lyssa, and her roommate, Dion. They don't know how to ride, but I thought it could be fun. I didn't know if you had enough easygoing horses for that though."
It was a bigger ask than she'd done in a long time, but I didn't mind. The horses need exercising and I had fifteen at my farm right now. If they could ride a few of the better trained ones for me, it would give me the time to get more training in on the ones who really needed it, like the filly who was currently trying to pull my arm off with her antics.
"Yeah, I've got some horses that could use a few more miles. Do they know the basics of how to steer at least or are we talking completely newbie riders?"
Her hesitation really wasn't a good sign.
"Probably totally newbies for them. You know my level."
I did. She needed confidence but she wasn't actually that new to riding overall. Thankfully I had a few horses that would be safe, easy rides for them. "I've got the horses. Whenever you want to come out, just let me know and I'll have them ready. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon so I'm really free for whenever, this week or next."
"Thank you, Cameron. I mean it. I care about Lyssa, and Dion, he just needs more time away from work. He's looking really run down lately."
And I still hadn't met Lyssa, though I knew Gavin, her ex, had. Gavin liked her so she had my seal of approval as well. As long as she treated the people who were important to me right, I was good with her coming out to my farm. "Send me a text when you're all ready to come out."
"I will. Thank you."
They came out a few days later, the three of them loaded up into a small car I didn't recognize with a woman driving who I didn't know. It was easy to guess who the unknown people were, though. Cindy held Lyssa's hand as they walked up to me, and the man walking with them was Dion, only I hadn't known him as Dion when we met last year. I hadn't actually known him as anything more than a warm mouth and a tight ass in the bathroom stall of a gay bar in Springfield.
"Hi," I told him, being rude and ignoring my friend and her girlfriend.
He blinked at me, and seemed to stumble over what he wanted to say for a moment, but he recovered well enough. "So you have horses then?"
Cindy and Lyssa looked between us. I chuckled. It was one night that hadn't meant anything to either of us. It didn't have to be a big deal now. I walked up to Lyssa and offered her my hand. "Hey, I'm Cameron. Gavin's brother."
Cindy was watching me intently, and I wasn't really sure why she was staring at me as I shook hands with Lyssa.
"So, uh, the horses are back here." I led them through the first gate and into the barn. There were pastures, but the horses weren't that close by today. I had them in the back this morning, except for the three that I had tacked up and ready for them.
There was also a troublesome little pony in the barn that I was training and hoping to get to a home with kids someday, but he kept trying my patience, so that new home was a ways off.
"You aren't coming with us?" Lyssa asked me.
I shook my head and checked the cinch on the closest horse to me, an old gelding who I knew wouldn't test them at all. He barely ever went above a walk, and only when I absolutely pushed him to do so. "No, I've got a pony to work with this afternoon. But Cindy knows all the trails so you'll be fine. Cindy, the horses are all in the far pastures. I've got all the gates between the empty pastures open so go have fun." I untied the gelding and brought him over to picnic table that served as a mounting block. "Dion or Lyssa, this is the horse you'll be riding."
Lyssa looked skeptical. "He's definitely safe, right?"
I stopped myself from laughing. She was going to be just fine. "Yeah, he won't try anything stupid."