Steven and Conrad take a quick vacation at a Florida beach. Conrad has always been the tough guy, but now he faces two things even bigger, stronger, and tougher than he is: a horse and his own feelings for Seven. Will a romantic ride on the beach work things out between them?
This story appears in the author's print collection, Holding the Reins and Other Stories.
“I am not getting on that thing.”
Steven smiled. “Come on, try new things in your life. I did and look where it got me. From cop to civilian in sixty days.” He turned the horse in a circle, his long legs snug around her. Overhead, gulls cawed and laughed. The horse’s hooves kicked some sand and she tossed her head, nostrils flaring. She snorted. “Conrad, meet Lady.”
“Is this the big surprise?”
“Well, she’s big, isn’t she?”
“And this is not gonna work.” I took a half-step backwards towards the safety of the motel room.
I smelled her, the rich horse-y scent wafted over with the sea breeze. Her coat was a burnished gold, almost exactly the same color as Steven’s hair. His sunscreen had a touch of coconut in it and that made my stomach rumble from hunger. “I’m not sure about this. She’s ... she’s huge.”
“Yeah, she is. She’s Belgian and they’re normally cart horses but I needed a horse who could handle four hundred pounds. Her trot is kinda bouncy but her other gaits are perfect.”
I just shook my head.
“Look, she’s really cool. Watch this.” Steven dropped the reins and lay back on the horse’s broad haunches. He put his arms out, and Lady stood still, calm. Steven’s chest gleamed in the morning light, belly taut. He had a few freckles on his neck and shoulders. I wanted to lick down his torso.
Eight months together and he still does it to me. Every time.
About the horse though, I wasn’t convinced. “I dunno.”