By Andrew Todd
“You’re giving us Tony?” Jesse asked incredulously.
Trevor laughed. “In a matter of speaking; when we were driving back from Orlando this morning I called Second Chances and spoke with Danny and CJ. I wanted to make sure they were ok with you boys coming back with two new horses.”
“What did they say?” Dylan asked with a grin.
“They said it wouldn’t be a trip to Florida if Jesse didn’t come back with a horse.”
Dylan laughed as Jesse blushed.
“Anyways, Danny and I got to talking about his work as a trainer. He was telling me he was a bit overwhelmed this summer as several of the boys who were instructors are now tied up with the rescue. I mentioned Tony to Danny and we thought this might be a good opportunity for him. He doesn’t have any family and he’s done great as a trainer here, but I think he would do really well working with kids and being an instructor. Actually, my friend at the school I told you boys about is looking for a riding instructor and coach for his new program. I’ve been trying to talk Tony into taking the position. He’s hesitant, but I think spending the summer with you boys at Second Chances could really help his confidence.”
“I think he’d be really good as an instructor and a trainer,” Jesse agreed. “He knows the horses and he was great at explaining little things we needed to do with each one.”
“I think so too,” Trevor replied. “He can train here, but not so much teach new riders. Oh, and my friend the headmaster is still after me about you guys. I told him that I had extended the offer to you and that it would be your decision and I would not pressure you. However, he did offer to sweeten the pot.”
“What do you mean?” Dylan asked.
“Well, he knows that you two are a couple.”
“You told him that?” Jesse asked.
“No.” Trevor smiled. “Guys, anyone who sees you together is going to know.”
“Why, do we look ‘gay’?”
“I don’t even know what look ‘gay’ means,” Trevor replied. “If you mean are you effeminate…no, you are both all boy. What I’m saying is when you are together the bond and love between you is so apparent, it’s almost palpable. I watched Jesse riding for years and I would never have suspected he was gay and if I met Dylan on the street or separate I wouldn’t assume he was either, but the first time I saw you together at the competition I knew.”
“Well, it’s not a problem now since we did the interview,” Dylan said. “Everyone at home and at school knows it.”
“Which is another reason I think the private school is a good idea. I know your school has taken steps to make you safer, but I think the academy would offer more protection for you. Anyways, back to my original point. Bruce--my friend--knows that Dylan is a year behind you in school, Jesse, but having seen Dylan’s grades he’s offering to put together a program so that Dylan and you can graduate at the same time. It may mean summer school, and it won’t be easy, but you’d be able to graduate and move on to college together.”
Dylan and Jesse looked at each other and grinned.
“That’s definitely something to think about,” Jesse said. “We had spoken to Dyl’s guidance counselor at school, but he wasn’t very helpful. He didn’t think it was a good idea because the high school years are so important. I think he just wasn’t willing to help us because we were a gay couple. Of course, he’s not as bad as the old one who held Dyl hostage in his office.”
Dylan laughed, “He’s overreacting a little bit.” Dylan related the story of his rape, the television report and the overzealous guidance counselor.
“I hope that guy got fired,” Trevor said angrily.
“Oh, he did,” Dylan said. “It helps that Zak’s mom, Kate, is president of the school board.”
“Can she help with getting something set up for Dylan to graduate early, if you don’t go to the academy?”
“She probably could,” Jesse answered. “But we don’t like to pull rank like that.”
Trevor nodded. “That shows character, guys, a lot of people with that kind of resource would try to milk it.”
“So is there anything special going on tomorrow?” Dylan asked.
Trevor shook his head. “Not really; I’m sure Cole will be up bright and early to get you guys going, but you can just hang out, relax, and ride if you want. I’m sure Tony has some other horses you can try out. What time is the flight on Tuesday?”
“It’s not till noon,” Dylan replied.
“Good, that will give us time to have breakfast together and get you guys to the airport,” Trevor said. “I’ve got my assistant looking for a place for us to stay near you guys for when we need to bring Cole up.”
“Why don’t you stay with us?” Jesse offered.
“We don’t want to put you guys out,” Julia answered. “I’m sure it’s quite hectic enough there.”
“Actually, there’s a guest house there,” Jesse said. “It doesn’t get used a lot, but it would be perfect. It would give you guys privacy and we could still visit with Cole. I’ll talk to Danny and CJ when we get home, but I’m sure it will be ok.”
Ace was waiting for Jesse and Dylan when they got off the plane.
“Hey, you two,” Ace greeted them with a big smile and hugs.
“Hey, Ace, where’s Danny?” Jesse asked.
“He was gonna come, but he’s swamped with lessons at the ranch, so he asked me to come and pick up you stragglers.”
“Aw, you know you missed us.” Dylan grinned.
Ace grabbed both younger boys in headlocks. “Yes, I missed both you two,” he laughed.
The three chattered and goofed off as they made their way to the luggage carrousel.
After picking up their luggage they made their way to Ace’s truck and were soon on their way.
“So Danny said you guys managed to pick up a couple of horses in your travels.”
“Wait until you see them,” Jesse said excitedly. “One of them is an Oldenburg; he’s over eighteen hands. I’ve never seen one so big in my life.”
“Jesus Christ, you must just come up to his belly,” Ace teased.
“Hey, I’m not that short, but I do need a block to mount him.”
“So when are they getting here?”
“Well, Tony is supposed to leave tomorrow to drive them up,” Dylan explained. “He should be here by this weekend. He was going to take it slow since they’re not used to the long travel.”
“Tony works for Trevor,” Jesse replied. “Or I should say worked for Trevor. He’s going to be with us for the rest of the summer helping Danny with training and lessons and then in the fall he’s going to be the riding instructor and trainer at a private school in New Hampshire.”
“Is he any good?”
“He really is,” Dylan said. “He’s been the trainer for Jupiter and Grey Wind and they’re both amazing. He hasn’t done a lot of lessons, but he was really good when it came to helping me and Jesse.”
“Sounds good,” Ace answered. “So what else is new?”
“Well…” Jesse hesitated.
“Spill it, Jess.”
“The school that Tony’s going to work at this fall? Trevor’s friend is the headmaster and he’s offered me and Dylan spots at the school. The riding program there is brand new and given our grades and experience, he wants us to be on it. Plus, he’s offering to create an accelerated program so that Dylan and I can graduate at the same time and go to college together.”
“That sounds like a good deal; so what are you guys thinking?”
“Well…” Dylan started.
“You want to go?”
Dylan and Jesse were both silent.
“Look, guys, you can talk to me,” Ace said. “I would miss you like hell if you weren’t around, but if this is the opportunity it sounds like and you want to go then you should.”
“We’ve talked about it and we want to go, but it would mean leaving the ranch, leaving our family, leaving Kaya…” Jesse said.
“Eventually, we all leave. You guys would just be doing it sooner than the rest of us. And it’s not like you’d never be back. You do get vacations and breaks and this is your home. And as far as Kaya goes, she’s gotten a lot less moody since she’s been at the ranch, I’m sure that Mattie would take care of her for you.”
“I guess we need to talk to my parents and CJ and Danny,” Dylan said.
“Yeah,” Jesse agreed. “Do us a favor, Ace?”
“Don’t say anything to the guys until we make a decision. It’ll just be easier that way.”
“Alright. But you know everyone only wants what’s best for y’all.”
“We know, but I think this is one of those times we need to decide what that is.”
Chris sat at a table in the food court. He had been there for almost an hour. Zak, Dusty, Ace, Mattie and Spin were in various parts of the mall looking out for Carter Winslow and his friends. It was important to their plan that Chris not be seen with them.
Chris had an earbud and was listening to the conversations between the boys. Zak and Dusty were together as were Mattie and Spin. The plan was for whichever one saw Carter to signal Chris so that they could start things in motion.
Chris was getting anxious. While he had been working with Ace for the last two weeks on his self-defense and weapons training, at this moment he was unarmed and feeling a bit vulnerable. He knew it was foolish, as Carter would not know that anything was amiss.
“Just went into Hogan’s Sports,” Chris heard Dusty voice in his ear.
Chris stood up and threw his drink into a nearby trashcan and took off for the sports store. When he was two stores away, he saw Zak and Dusty standing around across from the entrance.
He took a deep breath and slowed his pace down. He stopped to look in a few store windows. Zak and Dusty saw him and walked away. Chris went into the store across the from the sports store and pretended to browse while watching the entrance of the sports store.
Dusty and Zak came back and parked themselves on a bench between the two stores.
After about ten minutes, Chris saw Carter and a friend at the register.
He moved quickly walking briskly out of the store and over to the bench Dusty and Zak sat on.
He started talking to Dusty very quietly, but making sure to wave his arms and appear angry the way they had coached him.
After a few minutes, Dusty turned to Zak. That was Chris’ cue.
“I’ve had it with you fucking faggots!!” Chris yelled at the top of his lungs. He turned and ran smack into Carter.
“Hey, Dude, watch where you’re walking!” Carter snapped.
“Sorry, man, I just need to get away from these queers before I puke!” Chris barked back as he hurriedly walked away.
Dusty turned to Zak and they both walked in the other direction.
Carter and his friend followed Chris to the food court.
Chris slammed himself down into a chair and did his best to look as pissed off as he could.
Carter sat down across from him, while his friend stood behind him. Chris didn’t recognize the other boy. He was taller and heavier than either him or Carter. His face showed no emotion as he stood there.
“Dude, what was that all about?”
“I’ve been working for that fag for the last couple months,” Chris started his story. “It’s all volunteer, but I’ve been busting my ass hoping to get a paying job there. They have an opening and I’ve been there the longest and like I said, I’m working harder than anyone, but they decide to give the job to one of his boyfriend’s homo friends.”
“Maybe the other guy does a better job.”
Chris looked at Carter with disgust. “Christ, are you a fag too?”
The larger boy’s face turned red with rage and he moved to walk around to Chris’ side of the table.
Carter lifted his hand and the other boy stopped. “It’s alright,” he said to his friend. Turning back to Chris he said. “No, I’m, well, we’re not fags. I was just wondering if the reason you got passed over was because the other person was more qualified for the job,” he said evenly.
Chris shook his head. “Sorry, but no, this kid has never even done a day’s work at the ranch. He just showed up and Dusty, the manager, gave him a paying job. Probably blew him in the barn while I was shoveling shit.”
“Yeah, that’s where I was volunteering, Second Chances Rescue Ranch,” Chris said. He thought he saw a small look of acknowledgement pass between the other two boys. “I’ve had it with the place. I volunteered there because I thought it would good on my college applications, but I didn’t realize the whole place was run by fucking faggots,” he spat.
Carter was quiet for a moment, obviously contemplating.
“You’re Chris, aren’t you?” he asked.
“I thought I recognized you from school; I’m Carter Winslow. I’m the incoming class president for the junior class.”
“That’s why you looked familiar,” Chris said. “I’m going to be a senior, but I must have seen you around school.”
Carter nodded. “This is my cousin, Sam.” He nodded towards the boy who still stood behind him.
“Hey,” Chris nodded to Sam who made no movement. “Do you go to our school? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you.”
Carter shook his head. “No, Sam would have graduated this spring, but he had some problems at his old school and moved in with us and is working towards his GED.”
“I wish I was done with school,” Chris sighed. “The way they’re coddling these fags after that shit that went down at the end of the year is ridiculous.”
Carter nodded and looked at Chris with a menacing grin. “I couldn’t agree more,” he said coldly. “They’re getting treated too well.” He looked at his watch. “Say, Chris, it’s getting late and we need to be somewhere, but I’m having a party at my house tomorrow night if you wanna come.”
“Sure,” Chris said casually. “Can I bring my girlfriend?”
“Cool. What’s the address?”
“2525 Sycamore,” Carter replied. “Things should be rolling about nine or so.”
“Alright, I’ll see you there,” Chris answered. “I need to get going too.”
“We’ll see you tomorrow night then,” Carter said as he stood up and walked away with Sam following him.
Chris watched them walk away and then stood up.
“Did you get that?” he whispered.
“Sure did,” he heard Ace’s voice in his ear. “Good job.”
Chris walked into the apartment CJ had rented. They had decided it was too dangerous for Chris to meet at the ranch in case Carter or one of his friends tried to follow him, so they had rented a furnished apartment and had Maddy staying there.
“Hey, Chris,” Ace said as he walked into the living room. “Good job tonight.”
“Come and look at this stuff we found,” Ace said as he walked into the back bedroom.
They were using the room as a command post. It looked like a normal room for a college student with a computer, printer and other electronic equipment, but in the closet was an array of listening and recording devices.
“Good job, Chris,” Maddy said from the desk as Chris and Ace came into the room.
Ace handed Chris a thick folder. “We did some digging on Sam as soon as Carter gave us his name. His name is Samuel Rivers; he is Carter’s cousin--Carter’s mom and Sam’s are sisters. He’s nineteen and should be in prison,” Ace said with disgust.
Maddy nodded. “Carter mentioned ‘some problems’ at his old school?”
“Right; he said that some problems kept Sam from graduating at his old school and he had moved in with Carter and his family.”
“Look at the top photograph,” Maddy instructed.
Chris opened the folder and looked at the first picture. A wave of nausea washed over him. In the picture was a young man, maybe fifteen or sixteen; he was naked and obviously unconscious. His body was bloody and covered in bruises.
“He did this?” Chris asked turning the picture over.
Ace nodded. “This kid, Jordan O’Dare, was a classmate of Sam’s,” Ace explained. “The details are sketchy, but there was a party, Sam was drunk, and Jordan ended up in the hospital in a coma. He was beaten severely and then stabbed--sound familiar?”
“Just like Spin,” Chris said the nausea returning. “Was he gay?”
Maddy nodded. “He was at the party with his boyfriend. According to the people there he was very popular and had been out for over a year. The witness statements only seem to agree that there was some altercation between Jordan’s boyfriend, Gavin, and Sam. Sam left the party in a huff and later that night, Jordan was jumped while walking home. In addition to the beating and stabbing he was raped as well.”
Chris slumped onto the bed. “Raped?”
“How did he get away with it?” Chris asked angrily.
“No witnesses to the actual assault and no DNA,” Maddy replied. “Jordan was in a coma for several days and when the police questioned him he could not identify his attacker.”
“So how do they know it was Sam?”
“His name is all over the detectives reports and notes,” Ace said. “They know he did it, but they can’t prove it. Two weeks after the attack, Sam drops out of school and moves in with Carter’s family.”
“It’s too much of a coincidence that Carter did the same thing to Spin…except for the…”
Ace nodded. “We don’t know if he was scared off before he could do it or if he didn’t plan to, but Spin was definitely lucky there.”
“As lucky as someone who got beaten to within an inch of his life could be,” Maddy said.
“We sent a copy of the report to my dad and CJ and they want you guys to be extra careful,” Ace said. “We figured that Carter was dangerous, but Sam is even more so.”
Chris nodded. “Hopefully, we can get them to admit something so we can take both of them down.”
Tony pulled into the compound just after noon on Saturday.
Dylan and Jesse were standing by the barn waving and smiling at him. There were four other boys waiting with them.
Tony pulled his truck into the spot Jesse was gesturing to. He cut the engine and hopped out.
Jesse and Dylan ran up to greet him.
“Hey, Tony!” Dylan yelled as he grabbed Tony in a hug. Jesse hugged him as well.
“Hey, guys, good to see you.”
“You, too.” Jesse grinned. “Tony, these are a couple of our friends,” he said as he gestured to the other boys. “This is Diego and Luka and Ace and Zak.” Each boy nodded or said ‘Hi’ as Jesse introduced them.
“Diego lives here with Jesse and Mattie and Danny and CJ,” Dylan explained. “Luka rides here--he’s actually been working with Dodger and Val while we were in Florida. Ace’s dad, Sarge, is the manager of the ranch and Zak is Danny’s brother. His boyfriend, Dusty, is the manager of the rescue.”
“Shit…I’m gonna need a program to keep track of all this,” Tony deadpanned.
“Don’t worry, we’ll help you,” Dylan laughed.
The boys were laughing when a loud bang came from the trailer hooked up to Tony’s truck.
“His majesty wants out,” Tony smirked. “That’s why it took me an extra day to get here. Grey’s fine in the trailer, but Jupe’s a bastard and when you’re his size and you don’t want to be there you can cause problems, so I’ve been stopping every few hours to let them out.”
Jesse and Dylan followed Tony to the trailer.
“We’ll get them,” Dylan said.
Tony shrugged. “Sure, they’re yours now.”
Jesse and Dylan stopped and turned back and signaled Tony to come over to them.
“Are you ok with that?” Jesse asked quietly. “We’ve both been so excited we didn’t even think of all the work you’ve done with them.”
Tony nodded. “I’m fine with it. I’ve seen you ride and I know that you’ll take care of them. They were never mine; they were Trevor’s and the farm’s. It’s part of the job doing the work and then watching them get sold.”
“Ok, we just want to make sure,” Dylan said.
“I appreciate it,” Tony smiled. “Another reason that I’m glad you are getting these two. I’ve trained several horses, but these two are my favorites.”
“Well, it’s not like you won’t get to work with them,” Jesse said.
“True. Why don’t you guys go get them before Jupe wrecks the trailer?”
Jesse and Dylan slipped into the trailer by way of the small door at the front.
Tony ran over and dropped the gate on the trailer. “Forget something, guys?” he laughed as he looked in.
“We were just thinking of that,” Jesse said.
Dylan backed Grey Wind out of the trailer.
“He’s gorgeous,” Luka said as he walked up to the gelding.
“Whoa!!” Everyone turned when they heard Jesse yell from the trailer. “Easy. You’re not gonna pull me out of here,” he said sternly.
They all looked on as the huge Oldenburg came out of the trailer, followed by Jesse.
“Holy shit!!” Ace exclaimed. “I thought you was pullin’ my leg when you said how big this horse was.”
“No, Jupe eats his Wheaties,” Tony laughed.
Ace approached the horse and ran a hand along his side and flank. He whistled low. “This ole boy is one a the biggest horses I’ve ever seen.” He looked at Jesse. “You sure you’re safe on him?”
Jesse grinned. “Don’t worry about me, big brother. Jupiter might be big, but he’s pretty easygoing and you should see him perform dressage.”
“I definitely want to see that.” Danny came across the yard with CJ.
Danny walked right over to Jesse and Jupiter while CJ stopped by the newest human addition.
“You must be Tony,” he said as he extended his hand. “I’m CJ Alvarez and the blond is my partner Danny James. Welcome to Second Chances Ranch.”
“Thank you for having me,” Tony replied as he shook CJ’s hand.
“We’re happy to have you. Trevor was singing your praises when he first called about sending the horses up here for Jesse and Dylan and since they got back those two have not missed an opportunity to tell us how good a trainer you are.”
“They’re good kids.”
“That they are.”
Chris fidgeted as he turned off the car and pocketed the keys.
Maddy rubbed the back of his neck. “You need to calm down or you’re going to give everything away, she said softly.
“I know,” Chris whispered. “I thought I could do this, I just wanted to help prove that Carter attacked Spin, but after what you guys showed me last night I couldn’t sleep. I’m angry and I’m scared. I want these guys to pay in the worst way, but I also know they are incredibly dangerous.”
“Yes, they are,” Maddy replied. “But I’m going to be with you and we’re both wired and Ace can hear us. Right, Ace?”
“Sure can,” Ace’s voice came into their ear buds. “Chris just relax. I’m parked two blocks away and if anything happens I’ll be there in a flash and I’ve got my finger on the panic button.”
“Ok. Let’s do this,” Chris said as he exhaled.
He and Maddy stepped from the car and walked up the front door of the big house. There were a lot of cars parked in the driveway and on the street.
Chris knocked on the door.
When no one answered, Chris opened the door and took in the sight.
There were people all over the place. Some were dancing, some talking, most of the furniture was occupied with couples talking and making out.
Chris turned and saw Carter smiling and waving at him. Sam stood next to him with his usual scowl on his face. Chris wondered if he ever smiled.
Chris and Maddy walked towards Carter and Sam hand in hand.
“Hey, Carter…Sam…how are you guys doing?” Sam asked.
Carter grinned and raised the beer can he held in his hand. “We’re doing pretty good, my friend.” He looked at Maddy. “And who’s this?”
“This is my girlfriend, Maddy,” Chris replied.
“Hey, Maddy, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you at school.”
Maddy shook her head. “I didn’t go there,” she answered. “I moved here a few months ago. I graduated from Groveton last year. I took a year off and now I’m starting the community college in August.”
Carter nodded. “Cool. How long you guys been together?”
Chris answered smoothly, recalling all the information Maddy and Ace had drilled into him. “We met at Maddy’s graduation. My cousin was in her class and we hit it off. The ‘rents weren’t happy that I was just finishing my sophomore year and I was dating someone who had graduated, but what can they do?”
“Exactly,” Carter said with a menacing grin. “Parents just try to get in the way. That’s why I love the fact that mine are away so much.”
Chris and Maddy spent the rest of the evening moving around the party meeting people and pretending to drink. When they left around two in the morning, they had nothing to show for the evening.
On Sunday night, Jesse and Dylan insisted that Dylan’s parents come to the ranch for dinner. Most of the boys were out for the night, but Jesse had asked Ace and Tony to join them.
As they were finishing dinner, Danny said. “Ok, guys, I know there’s a reason that you wanted all of us together, so why don’t we get to that before dessert.”
Dylan and Jesse looked at each other and then around the table.
“Ok.” Jesse started. “We wanted to talk to you first, before we let anyone else in on what’s going on. Ace already knows and Tony, too.” He took a deep breath. “I know when you all spoke to Trevor about Dylan’s being a match for Cole that he also told you about the offer for the school in New Hampshire. First, I want you to know that he didn’t pressure us in any way. He simply told us about the offer. We also appreciate that no one has tried to sway us or push us one way or the other. This was a decision we had to make for ourselves and together.”
“So, what have you decided?” Mrs. Summers asked.
“We’ve decided to go,” Dylan said looking directly at his parents. “It’s too much of an opportunity to pass up. It wasn’t an easy decision for either one of us. Leaving our friends and family, leaving Kaya, but in the end the pros outweighed the cons. We’ll get a great education and a solid advantage when we apply to college, we’ll still be able to compete and they’re going to create an accelerated program for me so that we can graduate and start college together.”
“Are you sure that’s not pushing it, Dylan?” His father asked.
Dylan shook his head. “No, I already push myself in school as it is. If they didn’t think I could do this they wouldn’t be making the offer.”
“Don’t worry, Mr. Summers,” Jesse interjected. “I’ll be with him the whole time and if I think he’s taking on too much I’ll let him know. While it’s a great chance for us, I can always take a year off and wait for him or go to a smaller college close by until he graduates.”
“Thanks, Jesse,” Mr. Summers replied. “We know you boys will look out for each other.”
“I’ll be looking out for them, too,” Tony said, “since I’ll be the riding instructor and coach for the new program there. I’ve only known these two for a couple weeks, but you have a couple of great boys here; you should all be so proud of them.”
“Thanks, Tony,” Danny replied. “We are incredibly proud of both of them and although we’ll miss them terribly, CJ and I agree that this is an opportunity that would be hard to pass up.”
Dylan looked at his mother; her eyes were brimming with tears.
“Mom, what’s wrong?” he asked.
“I keep telling myself that eventually you’d be leaving to go off to college, but you’re only fifteen, Dylan. A mother doesn’t expect her child to leave the nest that early,” she replied. “I also can’t help but worry after everything you both have been through.”
“Mom, we’re moving past that stuff and leaving it behind,” Dylan said. “Jesse’s staying here with me, his dad is actually a nice guy and now he’s got a little brother. Cody’s gone; he can’t hurt me or anyone else again.”
“I know, I know, but I’m a mother I can’t help but worry. I worry for both of you, but I guess after what happened to Spin and your interview you guys will be safer at a private school.”
“We thought about that,” Jesse said. “We’ll probably be safer, but I think we’d feel ok at school here. We have everyone looking out for us and none of us are going to let ourselves be caught off guard like Spin was. We’re not going back into the closet--that’s not an option. We’ll be roommates and we’ll be together all the time--that’s what we want.”
A look passed between Dylan’s parents.
Dylan blushed and grinned. “We haven’t even done that,” he laughed. “And that’s not a factor here. If we wanted to, we could be doing that here. We’re not ready.”
Dylan’s parents both looked uncomfortable.
“Relax.” Dylan grinned. “We know who we are and we’ll know when we’re ready for that stuff and right now we aren’t.”
“And there’s nothing we can do about that,” his father replied. “But, we’re your parents so we’re supposed to be concerned.”
“I know, but you also have to trust us,” Jesse said. “We take care of each other and neither of us is going to do anything to rush the other into something they aren’t ready for. We’re not in any hurry, cuz we’re gonna be together forever.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Ace laughed. “I’m gonna miss you two. You best be coming back to visit lots.”
“Oh, we’ll make sure of that,” Danny said. “One of the benefits of having the resources we do.”
“So are y’all takin’ Val and Dodge and the two new ones?”
Jesse nodded. “Yup. We’ll probably use Jupiter and Grey Wind for competing, but Val and Dodge are good as schooling horses and as long as Dyl and I are there, they’re usually ok with others riding them.”
“The school has a few horses of their own,” Tony said. “One of my jobs over the summer is to try to find some horses that are good for schooling and competing. The headmaster wants us to have some for every level of rider since we’re sure there will be some beginners and some more advanced.”
“You should get with Dusty and keep an eye on what’s coming in to the rescue: some of them have had some great training,” Danny said.
“Dancer!!” Dylan and Jesse said simultaneously.
Danny laughed, “If you guys want him, you better tell Dusty quick, because he’s had several people in to look at him.”
“Tony, you gotta see him,” Dylan said excitedly. “He was one of the first ones we rescued and Jesse and I have been working with him--he’s awesome. We’ll go look at him first thing tomorrow.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Tony replied.
“Do you have anything on the school?” Dylan’s mother asked.
“Yeah. We have some paperwork in Jesse’s room that Trevor gave us,” Dylan replied. “I’ll go get it.” He stood up and left the room.
“Jesse, I know we’ve said it before, but thank you,” Dylan’s father said.
“For taking care of Dylan. When we moved here and he found the ranch he started to get back to his old self, but since you came into his life, he’s been so happy all the time. I know as a parent I’m supposed to be wary of my fifteen-year-old son being so committed to a partner, but with you two I don’t feel that apprehension; you’re both so mature and you’ve been through so much and I trust you both. We’ve told Dylan this, but we trust you both completely.”
“Thanks,” Jesse replied. “I don’t know what else to say. I love Dylan so much and I can’t imagine my life without him. I think we saved each other.”
Everyone jumped when they heard Dylan yell from upstairs.
Jesse and Ace were out of the room before any of the others could react.
Both ran up the stairs and into Jesse’s room.
“What?!?” Jesse asked.
“Look,” Dylan said as he pointed to a corner of the room.
Kaya lay on several blankets that Jesse and Dylan had set down for her. She was panting heavily and there were two small squirming bodies next to her.
“Oh, wow. She’s having the puppies,” Jesse said as he sat on the bed. “Ace, can you tell them we’re ok, so no one panics?”
“Sure,” Ace replied as he left the room.
“Does she need us to do anything?” Dylan asked.
“I don’t think so. I mean dogs do this every day without any help.”
They both sat on the bed holding hands as they watched Kaya giving birth.