Riding Lessons III – Second Chances
By Andrew Todd
“Dylan’s a match?!”
“I’m a match?!”
Jesse and Dylan spoke at the same time.
Trevor nodded. “It’s unusual, but not unheard of,” he explained. “Most of the time a close relative is the best shot for a match, but you can find a match another way, that’s why there is a registry for this.”
“Wow,” Dylan sighed as he collapsed onto the couch. Jesse sat down next to him. Trevor sat on the coffee table facing Dylan and Jesse, while Julia stood behind Trevor.
“Dylan, you don’t have to do this,” Trevor offered. “I know you only had the blood test to show your solidarity with Jesse.”
Dylan shook his head. “I wanted to do the blood test to support Jesse, but if I’m the one that can help Cole, then I’m gonna do it. If he was a complete stranger and I could help him I’d do it, but he’s Jesse’s brother: I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t help him.”
Dylan’s eyes locked onto Julia’s. Tears rolled down her cheek as she nodded and mouthed ‘thank you’ to Dylan.
“What does Dylan have to do?” Jesse asked.
“From what the doctors have told us, he needs to take some medication for about ten days which will increase the number of stem cells his body makes,” Trevor explained. “Then they will harvest the bone marrow–essentially they’ll stick a needle into a large bone, usually the femur or pelvis, and draw out the marrow.”
“That’s it?’ Dylan asked.
“Boiled down, that’s it. We’ll meet with the doctors and they can answer your questions better than I can,” Trevor said. “First things first, though. You’re going to need parental consent for this procedure. Tomorrow, we have a breakfast reservation at 9:30 and then we’ll head to Wellington. Even though it’s Sunday, the doctor will be meeting us at the house to go over all the procedures. Once you’ve heard everything, I want to call your parents and go over it all with them and the doctor.”
Dylan nodded. “Ok.”
“Here you are,” Cole said as he came out of his room rubbing his eyes.
“Hey, baby,” Julia said as she hugged her son. “Did you have a good time with Jesse and Dylan?”
Cole smiled wide and nodded. “We had so much fun!!” he exclaimed. He bent his head forward and whispered into his mother’s ear.
Julia grinned and nodded. “It’s ok with me, but I think you need to ask them,” she said as she put Cole down.
Cole walked slowly around the coffee table to where Dylan and Jesse sat. He wriggled himself into a spot between the two.
“Jesse?” he asked shyly.
“Can I have a sleepover with you and Dylan?”
Cole looked between the two boys.
Dylan looked down at his boyfriend’s brother. “Sure you can,” he said.
“YAY!!” Cole exclaimed and he grabbed Dylan around the neck and hugged him hard, then did the same to Jesse. He hopped off the couch and grabbed both boys’ hands. “Let’s go!!” he ordered as he pulled on their arms.
“Hold on, buddy,” Jesse laughed as he pulled Cole back and sat the squirming boy on his lap. Jesse looked at Trevor and Julia. “So, what time do we need to meet in the morning?”
“We have that breakfast reservation at 9:30, so let’s meet at the monorail at about 9,” Trevor suggested.
“Ok,” Jesse said as he put Cole down and stood up. “We’ll see you then.”
Jesse took Cole’s hand and walked to the door.
Dylan stood up to follow.
“Dylan,” Trevor said.
Dylan turned and grinned. “Don’t thank me,” he said. “He’s Jesse’s brother and that makes him my brother too. In fact after this we’ll share blood, so we will be brothers.”
Julia walked up and hugged Dylan tight. “I hope Jesse knows how lucky he is,” she whispered.
“We both are,” Dylan replied.
The three boys walked down the hall to Jesse and Dylan’s suite.
Liam was sitting in the living area when they entered.
“Ah, I see we’ve got a visitor,” he said with a smile.
“Hi, Liam,” Cole chirped. “I’m having a sleep-over with Jesse and Dylan.”
“Very good,” Liam said as he stood up. “I was just about to retire. I will see you all in the morning.”
“G’night,” Jesse said as the three went into the boys’ room.
Within minutes, Cole was fast asleep snuggled between his new brothers.
Diego and Luka walked along the path from the compound to the rescue. They held hands as they walked.
Something caught Diego’s eye and he stopped.
“Wha…” Luka said.
“Shhh,” Diego instructed as he pulled Luka behind a tree. “Look,” he instructed as he nodded towards some movement along the path.
Luka looked up and saw Brandon leaning against a tree; he had his arms wrapped around Erik and the two were joined at the lips.
“Look at them go,” Luka whispered. “Did you know?”
“I suspected, but it is Brandon’s and Erik’s choice whether or not to share this with us,” Diego replied.
“I wonder why they’re keeping it a secret.”
“I would suspect that it is Erik’s choice,” Diego offered. “Brandon is very outgoing and demonstrative, but Erik is more reserved; I know from speaking to Mateo that Erik had a few bad experiences–perhaps he wants to take things slowly.”
“Well, there’s something to be said for going slow and knowing what you want.” Luka grinned and he pulled Diego’s head to his and kissed him. After a second he broke the embrace and stepped back. His foot landed on a dead branch which broke filling the still woods with a loud crack.
Erik jumped back from Brandon. “Who’s there?” he asked as he looked around.
Diego took Luka’s hand and stepped out from behind the tree.
“It is only us, Erik,” he said as they walked towards the younger boys.
“Were you guys spying on us?” Erik asked nervously.
“No, we were on our way to the rescue and we saw you,” Diego explained. “We did not want to disturb you.”
“Chill out, Erik,” Brandon said as he took Erik’s hand in his. “Diego’s my best friend and Luka’s his boyfriend–they’re not gonna have a problem with us.” Brandon grinned at Diego and Luka. “Erik wants to keep us a secret.”
“Why?” Luka asked.
Erik shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess because I haven’t been that lucky at this so far, I just wanted to make sure everything was good.”
“Do you care for Brandon?” Diego asked.
Erik blushed. “Yeah, he’s great.”
“And you, Brandon, how do you feel about Erik?”
Brandon smiled warmly and held Erik’s hand tighter. “Erik’s cool,” he said simply. “We like a lot of the same things but he’s quiet and I’m not: we’re like opposites, but somehow we fit.”
“Erik, can I offer you some advice?” Diego queried.
“What you two have just told us is all that should matter,” he said solemnly. “You do not need to keep your relationship a secret from any of us; we are all your friends and only want you to be happy. I also think you and Brandon being together would be a relief to some.”
“A relief?” Erik asked.
Brandon started laughing. “He means Dusty,” he blurted out.
Erik blushed again. “How did you know?” he asked Diego.
“That you had a crush on Dusty?”
“It is not hard to see,” Diego explained. “When someone like Dusty spends time working with you and helping you, it would not be unusual for you to develop feelings for him.” Diego put his hand around Erik’s shoulder. “There is nothing to be embarrassed about. You had some unpleasant experiences and Dusty was there to help you and teach you new things. Now you have Brandon and you have many friends.”
Erik hugged Diego. “Thanks,” he whispered.
“So, what are you guys up to anyways?” Brandon asked.
“Dusty wanted Luka to take a look at Dancer,” Diego explained. “There have been many inquiries about adopting him and Dusty wanted to be sure that Luka did not want to adopt him first.”
“Do you want to, Luka?” Brandon asked.
“I don’t think I’m ready,” Luka replied. “I know Dusty’s just thinking about me and Dancer is great, but it’s too soon for me to replace Winston. I’m happy that Dylan and Jesse wanted me to work with Val and Dodger and working with Onyx has been fantastic. They’re letting me keep my training up without becoming emotionally attached, which is just too hard right now.”
“Well, you’ll know when you’re ready,” Brandon said. “Then you’ll find the right horse. Like me and Chance.”
“Are you adopting Chance?” Luka asked.
“Well, I’m working on it,” Brandon explained. “I talked to Dusty and he’s not putting him up for adoption so I can work on my dad.”
“Good luck; you guys look great together.”
“Thanks.” Brandon grinned.
After a big buffet breakfast with Mickey Mouse and friends, Dylan and Jesse found themselves back in the Humvee driving towards Wellington.
Snuggled between them was Cole, who had begged his parents to let him ride with ‘my brothers’.
The three boys slept for most of the drive. Jesse woke up as they were on the outskirts of Wellington. He shook Dylan awake and excitedly pointed out different sights around the city.
It was the first time Jesse had returned to his home town since he ran away and he had not realized how much he had missed it.
Jesse leaned forward and spoke to Liam. Liam nodded and picked up his cell phone as Jesse sat back.
“What?” Dylan asked.
“I asked if we could make a quick stop,” Jesse said quietly. “Liam’s checking with Trevor.”
Dylan didn’t need to ask more, he knew where they were going.
Jesse leaned forward and spoke to Liam again.
About fifteen minutes later they pulled up in front of a large house.
Jesse looked at Dylan. Dylan reached over and took Jesse’s hand in his. He knew this would be hard for Jesse, but it was something he needed to do.
“Cole, can you stay here with Liam?” Jesse asked. “Dylan and I need to see some friends for a minute.”
Dylan opened his door and stepped down from the SUV. He walked around the SUV and opened Jesse’s door. Jesse stepped out of the car and took Dylan’s hand. The two walked up to the front door of the house.
Jesse reached up and rang the doorbell.
After a few seconds, the door opened; the young man who opened the door had a look of surprise on his face.
Jesse smiled. “Hey, Isaac.”
“Oh, my God!!” Isaac cried as he grabbed Jesse in a tight hug. “I didn’t think we’d ever see you again.”
Jesse hugged Isaac back. “I didn’t think I’d ever come back,” he replied.
Isaac released Jesse and stepped back. “Come in, come in,” he said.
Jesse stepped into the house followed by Dylan.
“Isaac Olivera, this is Dylan Summers…” Jesse announced, “…my boyfriend.”
Isaac took Dylan’s hand and shook it. “Nice to meet you, Dylan.”
“You, too, Isaac,” Dylan replied. “Jesse’s told me all about you.”
Isaac led them into the kitchen where an older man and woman were sitting at the table.
“Jesse!!” the woman cried as she jumped from her seat and ran over to grab Jesse. “Mi dulce hijo.” She hugged Jesse tight and kissed his cheek. Tears spilled from her eyes. “We were so worried about you. We’ve missed you so much.”
Jesse melted into the woman’s arms. “I’ve missed you too, Mama O,” he said as he hugged her back.
Mr. Olivera came over and hugged Jesse as well. “It’s so good to see you, Jesse.”
Mrs. Olivera saw Dylan hanging back in the doorway. “And who is this?” she asked.
Jesse walked over and took Dylan’s hand and led him into the warm kitchen.
“Mama, Papa, this is my friend, Dylan.”
Mrs. Olivera looked at Dylan and smiled warmly. “Hello, Dylan, welcome.”
She turned back to Jesse. “Don’t you mean boyfriend, Jesse?” she asked with a warm smile.
Jesse blushed and nodded.
Mrs. Olivera put her arms around both boys and led them to the table.
She sat Jesse and Dylan together and took a chair across from Jesse. She reached across and took Jesse’s hands in hers.
“Jesse, Isaac told us about Sebastian and you,” she said gently.
Jesse looked down at the table.
“Hijo, look at me.”
Jesse lifted his head, his eyes filled with tears.
“Hijo, Sebastian loved you, we always knew that. We weren’t surprised when Isaac told us. We knew what you meant to him and what he meant to you. I’m so happy that my baby knew love. Thank you for loving him.”
Jesse rushed around to Mrs. Olivera and hugged her tight as they both sobbed.
After a few minutes, Mrs. Olivera looked over at Dylan, who sat silently with tears rolling down his cheeks. She smiled at Dylan.
“This boy loves you,” she said to Jesse. “Just like my Sebastian loved you. He loves you with all his heart; he can feel your pain and he makes your heart sing.”
“He does,” Jesse answered. “At first I thought I was betraying Seb…”
“Hijo, don’t ever think that,” Mrs. Olivera said. “Sebastian would never want anything more than for you to be happy and I can see in the way that Dylan looks at you and the way you look at him that he makes you happy.”
Jesse hugged Mrs. Olivera one last time and then went back to sitting next to Dylan.
Isaac and Mr. Olivera sat down at the table while Mrs. Olivera got up and brought over juice and pastries.
“So what brings you back to Wellington?” Mr. Olivera asked.
“It’s a long story,” Jesse replied. “But, the end result is we are here to visit my father.”
“Your real father?” Isaac asked.
Jesse nodded and then explained about Trevor and his mother.
“You have a baby brother?” Mrs. Olivera asked.
Jesse grinned and nodded. “Well, I don’t think he’d like being called a baby, but I do have a little brother. His name is Cole. He’s five.”
“And where is he?” Mrs. Olivera asked.
“He’s waiting for us in the car with the driver.”
“Jesse Osterman!! You left your brother in the car?!?”
Jesse shrugged. “I didn’t really want him to see the waterworks that I knew would be coming,” Jesse explained. “He’s sick. He has leukemia.”
“I know, but things are looking up for him. He needs a bone marrow transplant.”
“And you’re going to donate?” Mrs. Olivera asked.
Jesse looked at Dylan. “Well, that was the plan, but I’m not a match, Dylan is.”
Mrs. Olivera smiled. “Well, now I know it’s true.”
“What’s true, Mama O?”
“When you ran away, I prayed that Sebastian would look over you and protect you like he always had. When that man called us to let us know they had found you in Ocala and that you were safe and healthy I knew that my prayers had been answered. Now, I know that Sebastian brought you and Dylan together so you would have love and happiness and to save that little boy.”
“I still feel him all the time,” Jesse said quietly. “I know he’s with me.”
“He is, Hijo, he is,” Mrs. Olivera confirmed. “Now, can I meet your brother?”
“I’ll go get him,” Dylan said as he stood up and walked out to the front door.
“Jesse, I am so happy that you are safe and happy and Dylan seems like such a nice boy.”
“He’s the best,” Jesse replied. “Finding Danny and CJ was the first step in dealing with everything that had happened, but finding Dylan just set everything right for me. I’ll never forget Seb and I’ll always love him, but Dylan is my life. I can’t imagine a day without him. The others kid us about always being together. They like to spend time apart and do their own things, while Dyl and I do everything together.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that, Hijo. You’ve been through a lot and I can see in Dylan that he has too. You have found each other and created a very strong bond. I know Sebastian would be so happy for you. I know he sent Dylan to you, because he knew you needed each other.”
Jesse turned and saw Dylan and Cole standing in the doorway.
Cole ran over and hopped into Jesse’s lap.
“Cole, this is Mama Olivera and Papa Olivera and Isaac. They’re my family.”
“Me and Dylan are your family too,” Cole said. “And Mommy and Daddy.”
“Yup, you all are, now, but they were my family when I was little and I really didn’t have much of one; I spent all my time here with my friend Sebastian.”
“Where’s he?” Cole asked.
“He’s in heaven with my mom now,” Jesse replied.
Cole was quiet for a moment. “I’m going there too,” he said quietly.
Jesse hugged his little brother. “Not if we can help it,” he said. “Dylan’s gonna help you and my friend Seb is looking out for you.”
Cole’s eyes got wide. “He is?”
“Yes, he is,” Mrs. Olivera concurred. “My Sebastian is Jesse’s guardian angel and he is looking out for all the people that Jesse loves.”
The six visited for a while longer. Jesse and Dylan told the Oliveras all about Second Chances Ranch and Rescue and their horses and friends.
“What about Kaya?” Mr. Olivera asked.
“Kaya’s great,” Jesse replied. “She protected me while I was on my own and she’s actually mellowed out a lot. She’s still very protective of me, but she looks out for Dylan and Idgie too. She’s getting ready to have puppies.”
Jesse and Dylan laughed and explained about the unplanned mating of Kaya and Cesar while the boys were in Spain.
“Can I have a puppy?” Cole asked.
“If your mom and dad say you can, then I’ll make sure you get one,” Jesse said.
Everyone laughed at Cole’s excitement.
“Wow, it’s getting late and we need to get to my dad’s house,” Jesse said.
“Well, we’re so happy that you stopped to see us, Hijo,” Mrs. Olivera said. “You make sure Isaac gets your e-mail address so we can keep in touch with you.”
Jesse and Dylan were stunned by the size of Trevor and Julia’s property. Liam stopped the Humvee in front of a large house. When they exited the SUV they could see several fenced-off fields with some of the most beautiful horses either had seen.
Cole scrambled out of the SUV and pulled the older boys by the hand into the house.
“We’re HOME!!” Cole yelled as they came through the door.
A middle-aged African-American woman came around the corner. “Cole, where have you been?” she said with a smile.
Cole ran up and hugged the woman.
“I’ve been at Disney World with my brothers,” he said proudly. “Sadie, this is my brothers Jesse and Dylan.”
Sadie smiled warmly at the boys. “Welcome, boys. Like Cole said, my name is Sadie; I run the house for Mr. Trevor and Miss Julia, so if there is anything you need you let me know.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Dylan replied.
“Cole, do you want to show Jesse and Dylan to their room?”
“Well, I think we put them in the room next to yours, but if you pester these boys they can always move,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
“Sadie!! I’m not a pest.”
Sadie swept the small boy off the floor and hugged him tight. “No, my boy, you are certainly not a pest, but you need to make sure that your brothers get some privacy.”
“Ok,” Cole agreed as Sadie put him down.
“You boys run along with Cole,” Sadie instructed. “Mr. Trevor and Miss Julia had to run out for a bit; I’ll have someone bring your luggage to your room. Dinner will be at six; in the meantime, I’m sure Cole can show you around.”
“Yup,” Cole said taking both older boy’s hands and pulling on them yet again. “C’mon.”
Cole led them upstairs and stopped at the first room on the right.
When they entered the room, Jesse and Dylan were stunned again. The room was bigger than the suite they had spent the last two nights in. There was a huge California King bed against one wall and a sitting area consisting of two recliners and a love seat in the opposite corner.
“This is your room,” Cole announced. He walked over to a door that Dylan and Jesse had assumed was to a closet or bathroom. “And here…is my room,” he said as he opened the door to reveal a short passage to another room.
Cole’s room was the same size as Jesse and Dylan’s, but it was obviously decorated with a five-year-old in mind. It was cheery and littered with games and toys. Jesse grinned at the shelves full of horse models and books; it reminded him of his childhood room.
“Do you guys want to see outside?” Cole asked anxiously.
“Sure,” Jesse replied. “Why don’t you give us a few minutes to wash up and catch our breath and then you can give us the tour, alright?”
After everyone had a few minutes to catch their breath, Cole led the boys on a tour of the estate.
Both teens were impressed not only by the size of the property but by how well cared for the grounds and the animals were.
Jesse had spent his youth riding and working at many of the farms in the Wellington area and this was one of the best ones he had seen. Seeing the way the workers treated the horses and the facilities made him appreciate his father in a whole new way.
After they had visited several of the barns, Cole led the two to a smaller barn that was closer to the house.
He stopped in front of a stall.
A blood bay colt stretched its neck over the stall door. Cole stroked the horse’s neck.
“This is my horse,” he said proudly. “He’s gotta long fancy name, but I just call him Red.”
“He’s beautiful, Cole,” Jesse said as he stroked Red’s cheek. “How old is he?”
“He’s only two. When I get better I can ride him.”
“Hey, Cole.” The three boys turned to see a young man in his early twenties walking towards them. He had dark tanned skin and black hair.
“Hi, Tony,” Cole exclaimed as he ran and hugged the other boy.
Tony scooped Cole up in his arms. “Como estas, mi hermano.”
“Bueno, mi hermano.” Cole giggled.
Tony put Cole down and turned to the two older boys.
“You must be Jesse and Dylan. I’m Antonio Delgado–please call me Tony. I’m one of the trainers,” he said.
“Nice to meet you, Tony,” Dylan said. “I’m Dylan and this is Jesse.”
“Trevor said to expect you guys. He told me you might be interested in working some horses and to get you all set.”
Jesse and Dylan grinned.
“Give us ten minutes to change,” Jesse yelled as the two ran out of the barn.
Tony stood laughing as he watched the two new boys take off.
“I guess it’s you and me, Hermano,” he said to Cole. “Why don’t you help me get the horses ready?”
When Dylan and Jesse got back to the barn decked out in their riding clothes they started looking around for Cole and Tony. Eventually they found them outside the barn.
“Wow…” Dylan sighed as he saw the horses that Tony was getting ready for them. One was a grey gelding a little over sixteen hands while the other was a bay that had to be at least eighteen hands.
Tony turned and smiled at the boys. “Trevor gave me very specific instructions that you two were to start with Grey Wind and Jupiter. Grey’s a Warmblood; he’s only five, but he jumps like it’s nobody’s business and Jupe is an Oldenburg; he’s the biggest horse we’ve got here, just a bit over eighteen hands. You guys must be pretty good, cuz Jupe’s a lot of horse and Trevor doesn’t usually let anyone but me ride him.”
“Are you sure it’s ok if we ride them?” Jesse asked. “We don’t want to mess up any of your training.”
“It’s cool. Like I said, the boss said you were to ride these two…or as he said start with these two.” Tony grinned.
Dylan and Jesse took over grooming the horses while Tony went to get their tack.
“You guys even travel with your helmets?” Tony asked.
Dylan nodded. “Well, we knew we were staying in Ocala with a friend who has horses and neither of us wants to wear a helmet that everyone else wears.”
“I hear ya on that,” Tony nodded. “When I started lessons, the place I rode at had about ten helmets that everyone shared. The first thing I did was buy myself a helmet.”
“How long have you been riding?” Dylan asked.
“Since I was about eight,” Tony replied. “I was small and shy and the barn was a place that bullies couldn’t get to me. I was pretty good and when I was old enough I started working at some of the barns as a groom and, eventually, a trainer. When I graduated from high school, I came to work full-time for Trevor.”
“Did you ever compete?” Jesse asked.
Tony shook his head. “No, I always rode for fun. I can do dressage, hunter-jumper, cross-country, but I’ve never been that competitive. I like training since I can make sure the horses are properly taken care of and ready for their events. What about you guys?”
“We both compete,” Jesse explained. “I grew up in Wellington and was riding before I could walk and Dylan started riding when he was about…seven or eight?”
“Seven”, Dylan answered.
Once the horses were groomed and tacked, Tony led everyone to one of the arenas. Jumps had been set up like a competition.
“Who’s first?” Tony asked.
“Jesse can go first,” Dylan answered. “Though I’m pretty sure, we’re each gonna want to try both horses.”
Tony laughed. “I expected that. Why don’t you start with Grey?”
Jesse nodded and strapped on his helmet. He took Grey’s reins from Tony and tightened his girth.
When Jesse had mounted Tony came over and laid his hand on the gelding’s neck.
“He’s got a really soft mouth,” Tony informed Jesse. “So light hands are the best for him. A little kick and he’ll fly. He’s eager to please–sometimes too eager, so talk to him to keep him calm.”
Jesse grinned and nodded and then kissed at the gelding.
Dylan and Cole were sitting on the fence watching Jesse jump the course.
On his first run, Jesse knocked down one fence. Tony ran over to re-set the fence and then walked over to where Jesse waited.
“That was a good run,” Tony said. “He took that one jump a little fast, but patience isn’t his strong suit.”
Jesse grinned as he stroked Grey’s neck. “You were right, he really wants to move. Pulling on the reins doesn’t slow him down, but the talking to him does. He’s great, though: he soars over those jumps.”
“At some point I’d like to train him for puissance,” Tony said.
“He’d be great at that with all the height he gets.” Puissance was a jumping event where the goal was to jump one obstacle that was made higher and higher until only one horse could clear it.
“I know,” Tony nodded. “Trevor doesn’t do puissance, so we’d need to find a rider willing to do it.”
“Why don’t you do it?”
“Like I said I’m not big on competing.”
“Don’t think of it as competing; just think of it as helping Grey do the best that he can,” Jesse said. “I love to ride and I love the competitions, but I’m my biggest critic. I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself to win, just to do the best I can.”
“Maybe I will; I’ll have to talk it over with Trevor,” Tony replied. “Are you set for another run?”
Jesse nodded and kissed at Grey. The second time around Jesse jumped clean and faster than his first round.
Dylan tried Grey over the course. After watching Jesse and listening to Tony’s tips, he was able to jump both rounds clean.
When they had finished with Grey, Tony turned him over to one of the other grooms to take care of and went and led Jupiter into the arena.
Jesse grinned at Dylan. “You want to go first?”
“Oh, yeah,” Dylan replied.
Tony smiled. “Ok, guys, Jupe’s a whole different story. Of course, he’s big and strong and he’s also very stubborn. I’ll take him around a couple times to warm him up.”
Tony donned his helmet and mounted up.
Jesse and Dylan watched from the fence as the big gelding made a couple of laps around the arena, then Tony turned him towards the first jump.
Jesse and Dylan were awed watching the huge gelding fly over the jumps.
Dylan took Jesse’s hand and laid it in his lap.
Jesse turned to Dylan and grinned when he felt the hard lump there.
“Oh, my God!!”
“I can’t help it,” Dylan said. “There’s something about that much speed and power.”
“That doesn’t happen to you all the time.”
“No, only once or twice before,” Dylan blushed. “But this is the worst ever. I want to ride him so bad.”
“You better watch out or you’re gonna pop,” Jesse laughed.
“Pop what?” Cole asked from the other side of Jesse.
“Never mind,” Dylan said as he went back to watching Tony and Jupiter.
Finally, Tony rode over to where the boys waited. “Who’s first?” he asked as he slid down off the gelding.
“I am,” Dylan said excitedly and he climbed down from the fence.
Tony gave Dylan a leg up and adjusted the stirrups for him.
“Ok, remember, he’s really strong so keep solid contact with the bit. No pulling–he hates that; but keep a smooth contact there. Give him a chance to get used to you; he’s not used to anyone but me riding him. Trevor does sometimes, but not too often. You’ll feel him start to relax as he gets used to you then you’ll know he’s ready for the jumps.”
Dylan nodded and squeezed his legs to move the horse forward. He walked the big horse slowly around the arena gradually increasing their speed until they were at a very comfortable canter. When he felt Jupiter start to give to the bit and relax under him, Dylan turned him towards the first jump.
Dylan couldn’t help but give a yell as they flew over the first jump.
Tony and Jesse grinned at each other as they watched the horse and rider run the course clean.
When he finally stopped at the fence, Dylan’s face was red and had a huge smile on it.
“Oh, wow!!” he exclaimed. “I love this horse.”
“More than Dodge?” Jesse teased.
“You know what I mean,” Dylan replied. “Dodge is my best buddy and means the world to me, but this guy can do things I never even imagined.”
“I know, they’re both pretty great,” Jesse said as he slipped off the fence. “My turn.”
“Awe…” Dylan whined as he dismounted.
Tony gave Jesse a leg up, while Dylan went to sit with Cole.
“Has he done any dressage?” Jesse asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Tony grinned. “I’ve been working with him on it. I’m not the best, but he’s pretty good. Want to try him?”
Jesse nodded. “Sure.”
“Come on.” Tony walked over the gate and opened it. Jesse rode the big horse through. “Over there,” Tony pointed to another arena that was set up for dressage. He ran over and opened the gate and Jesse rode through.
Dylan and Cole followed them over. Dylan lifted Cole onto the fence and then climbed on next to him.
“Do you want any music?” Tony asked.
“What do you have?” Jesse asked with a grin.
Tony went over to a sound board and punched some keys. Classical music began to flow from the sound system around the arena.
“Vivaldi, nice choice,” Jesse called over.
Tony hopped on the fence next to Cole.
Jesse rode to the center of the arena and took a deep breath. In his mind’s eye he mapped out a program. He exhaled and gave Jupiter the slightest nudge.
The three boys on the fence watched as Jesse and Jupiter moved as one.
“Holy shit…” Tony exhaled.
“Tony!!” Cole giggled.
“Sorry, hermano, but he’s amazing.”
“He is pretty awesome, isn’t he?” Dylan said proudly.
“I figured you guys were good, cuz Trevor wouldn’t have let just anyone ride Grey or Jupe, but I’ve never seen Jupe take to anyone like this, well, except…”
“Don’t get all bashful now,” Dylan laughed. “It’s not like you’re bragging on yourself. You’ve spent a lot of time with him, that’s obvious in how well he behaves and how much respect he shows his rider.”
“Gracias,” Tony said quietly. “I’d love to be able to ride like him though.”
“So would I,” Dylan agreed. “The only person I know who is better at dressage than Jess is Danny, his foster father. He was one of the top riders in the country when he was a kid. Now he’s retired and he’s our coach. Of course it sounds kind of stupid to call him retired when he’s only twenty-two.”
As Jesse brought the Oldenburg to a halt in the center of the arena. Tony, Dylan and Cole all clapped loudly.
Jesse grinned as he rode over to the fence.
“He’s incredible,” Jesse said. “He needs some refinement here and there, but the raw skills he has…there’s so much potential there.”
“Well, if you can get that kind of performance out of him on the fly, I’d love to see what the two of you could do with some practice.”
“Well, maybe someday we’ll get a chance,” Jesse said as he dismounted. “Unfortunately, we’re on our way home day after tomorrow. I know we’ll be back, cuz I can’t leave my little brother here high and dry, but I don’t know when.”
“Just let me know when you’re coming back and I’ll have him and Grey ready for you two.”
“It’s a deal.”
That evening after dinner, Trevor brought Dylan and Jesse into his office. Julia and another man were waiting there.
“Boys, this is Dr. Ryan, Cole’s oncologist,” Trevor said. “Curt, this is my son, Jesse and his boyfriend, Dylan.”
“Good to meet you boys,” Dr. Ryan said. “Dylan, I understand you’re the man of the hour.”
“I don’t know about that,” Dylan said shyly. “Just the right person at the right time I guess.”
“Well, if all goes well, you should definitely be the right person for Cole.”
“Why don’t we all have a seat and Dr. Ryan can explain everything to you.”
Once they had all been seated, Jesse asked. “Is there any danger in this for Dylan or Cole?”
“You don’t pull any punches, do you?” Dr. Ryan smiled. “There is danger inherent in any surgical procedure, but it is minimal here for Dylan. We’ll take Dylan into surgery and under anesthesia we’ll insert a needle into his pelvis and harvest the marrow. After that Dylan’s part is essentially over. We’ll probably keep him in the hospital overnight, mainly to watch for any adverse reaction to the anesthesia and in case he feels any pain or discomfort from where the needle was inserted..”
“What about Cole?” Dylan asked.
“Cole’s part in this is, obviously, much more involved. He’ll undergo several chemotherapy treatments prior to the procedure to essentially destroy any remaining bone marrow he has. Then after we harvest and prepare Dylan’s donation we will inject the stem cells into Cole intravenously. After they are received, the stem cells will find their way to his marrow and begin to reproduce.”
“Sounds kinda simple,” Dylan replied.
“I’m probably oversimplifying it,” Dr. Ryan explained. “Cole will be in quarantine for a while to keep him from getting any infection or illness. While the stem cells are doing their work his immune system will be weakened. There is also a possibility of his developing anemia and needing additional blood transfusions. But, this is his best chance at beating the leukemia.”
“So when do you do this?” Jesse queried.
“It will be a few weeks before we can do the procedure. We need to get Cole in for his chemotherapy and we made need to do a couple radiation treatments as well.”
“Dylan, we spoke to your parents this afternoon,” Trevor interjected. “That’s where Julia and I were. Dr. Ryan explained everything to them and they gave their consent for the procedure. Dr. Ryan also did some research and he was able to find a hospital near where you guys live.”
Dr. Ryan spoke up, “Yes, a colleague of mine is head of oncology in a hospital in Hyatt. I believe that’s about thirty minutes from where you boys are.”
“Yes, I know that hospital,” Dylan said. “Actually, I was a patient there not too long ago.”
“Well, their oncology department is world class, so we’ll be taking Cole up there for his treatments and for the transplant. That way he can be close to you boys and you can be close to home.”
“We don’t mind having to come down here,” Jesse objected. “We don’t want Cole to have to deal with more than he needs to.”
Julie leaned forward. “Jesse. Dylan. We wouldn’t be bringing Cole to this hospital if we didn’t think it was the best thing for him. In just a few days, he has become so attached to you boys. Being near you while he goes through this will be the best thing for him.”
“Well, if you’re sure then we’re good,” Dylan said.
“I’ll have my colleague, Dr. March, contact your parents to schedule your injections, Dylan,” Dr. Ryan said. “We can probably have them done at your regular doctor’s office so you don’t have to travel that much every day.”
“That’s ok,” Jesse said. “If he needs a ride anywhere, I’ll take him.”
“Well, let’s just see how we can arrange things,” Dr. Ryan replied as he stood up. “What you boys are doing is very selfless. I wish more people were willing to get tested and become donors.” He turned to Trevor and Julia. “I will see you folks on Wednesday for Cole’s next appointment.”
Trevor stood up and shook the doctor’s hand. “Thank you for coming, Curt, we really appreciate it.”
“My pleasure, but I should be getting home.”
After the doctor left, Trevor asked the boys, “So how did you guys enjoy your afternoon?”
Both boys grinned.
“You mean how did we enjoy Grey and Jupiter?” Jesse asked with a laugh.
Trevor smiled. “I take it you liked them?”
“Oh, yeah,” Dylan answered. “What’s not to like? Grey jumps like it’s nobody’s business and you should have seen Jesse and Jupiter in the dressage ring.”
“Tony was telling me that you two were quite the team,” Trevor said to Jesse.
“He’s a great horse. My horse Val is a really good jumper, but he’s not so well trained for dressage and the horse I’m using now, Onyx, is a Friesian that belongs to Danny’s brother, Zak.”
“Is that the horse that Danny rode at the show?”
Jesse nodded. “Yup. He’s a great horse, but I don’t have the connection with him that Zak does.”
“And what did you guys think of Tony?”
“He’s a really cool guy,” Dylan answered as Jesse nodded. “He seems to really care about the horses and since he’s the one who trained Grey Wind and Jupiter it obvious he knows his stuff.”
“He’s been a great find for me,” Trevor said. “But, I’m not sure this is the right fit for him.”
“Why would you say that?” Jesse asked.
“Well, it’s like Dylan said, Tony really loves the horses and he works so well with them, but he has very little interest in competing and I think he’d be more successful in a ranch like yours with all sorts of different riders. In fact, I have an offer for you boys.”
“What?” Dylan and Jesse asked simultaneously.
“Well, I’d like to give you Jupiter and Grey Wind.”
“Give?!” Jesse asked. “But why, they’re pretty valuable to you.”
“Jesse, most of the horses here are valuable in one way or another,” Trevor explained. “I have plenty of horses to choose from for competitions and for training, breeding and selling. When I first saw the two of you ride I immediately thought of these two horses. The horses you have now are great and they will take you far, but I think you are both ready for more of a challenge and I think these two would offer you that challenge.”
“That would be cool, but I’d feel like we were stealing them from Tony,” Dylan said.
“Well, I’m ‘giving’ you Tony, too.”
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