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by Nixie Fairfax
Published by Nixie Fairfax at Lot’s Cave
Bad Black Horse, © 2017, Nixie Fairfax
Cover by Nixie Fairfax
All Rights Reserved
All Characters In This Book Are Age 18 Or Older
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only and may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this ebook with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this ebook and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to the Lot’s Cave website and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
A Lot’s Cave Novel
Bad Black Horse
“Beautiful,” Cady said as her uncle Jim and cousin Brett led Lulabelle the mare into the freshly cleaned stall. The horse's chestnut coat shone from the bath they had just given her, and water still dripped from her mane and tail. Right before Brett closed the stall door, the horse flicked her tail, spraying droplets across the trio and making Cady yelp and giggle and the men groan in mock dismay. They didn't really mind, of course. They were already soaked from bathing eight of the stable's other horses on this warm, sunny summer afternoon. “You guys have the most beautiful horses.”
“Well, we sure worked hard enough to make 'em look that good,” Uncle Jim said. He was a short, solidly built man of around sixty, the older brother of Cady's dad. He and his wife Linda and their son Brett owned and operated this small farm-cum-riding stable where Cady had come for a month-long stay before starting college in the fall. Her time here was to be a mix of relaxation and work, a chance to soak up the sun and clean country air at the cost of helping out with the chores. She didn't mind a little hard work, especially not when it involved horses. She had always loved horses.
“There's only that black Friesian left, right?” Cady said, turning toward a stall at the far end of the stable's main corridor, which was lined here and there with the bales of straw they used for the horses' bedding. The stall in question was separated from those of the other horses by several empty stalls. Wondering why the horse was kept down there all alone, Cady started forward. “That's the one I haven't met yet. What was his name again? Devil?”
Uncle Jim grabbed her upper arm, bringing her to an abrupt halt.
“Demon, actually,” he said, steering her back in the direction she had come. “But, uh, why don't you let Brett and me take care of that one. We can bathe it and clean out its stall on our own. You just head back to the house and start cleaning up.”
“But why? I'm fine. I'm not tired or anything. I'd be up for one more horse. Besides, I haven't had a chance to meet that one yet. If I didn't know better, I'd say you were deliberately trying to keep me from him.”
“Well…” Uncle Jim gave a nervous little laugh. “Maybe we have at that. But trust me, Cady, it's for your own good. You'll want to stay away from that one. He's a bad seed.”
Uncle Jim and Brett glanced at each other.
“He, uh, he can get kind of…troublesome at times,” Uncle Jim said. “He acts up, you might say.”
“Huh.” Clearly there was a story here. A pretty big one, from the sound of it. But just as clearly it was one that her uncle and cousin were reluctant to share. She looked behind her at Demon's stall door. Though the door was basically just a big metal grill whose top was level with Cady's throat, she couldn't see much of the stall's interior from where she stood, just a swath of the wooden wall and a patch of the straw-strewn floor. She had caught only a few quick glimpses of the horse since her arrival here three days ago. The stallion had been a bit on the big side, even for a Friesian, but it hadn't seemed dangerous. But then, she hadn't really seen it up close. Thinking back, she realized her aunt and uncle and cousin had always gone out of their way to ensure she never even passed the stall door. “Is he dangerous?”
“Uh, well…” Uncle Jim grimaced and scratched the back of his neck. “It's…it's complicated, Cady. Let's just say there are certain things that can kind of set Demon off.”
“Yeah, like pretty young girls,” Brett muttered. Uncle Jim shot him a dirty look.
“Girls?” Cady asked. “What is it, a misogynist horse?”
She had meant it as a joke, a bit of lighthearted humor to ease the sudden tension, but her uncle and cousin only looked even more uncomfortable. Her tentative grin died. Evidently the matter was a very serious one.
“What, does it, like, attack them or something?”
“Well, uh, not exactly,” A scarlet flush suffused Uncle Jim's cheeks, and he suddenly seemed unable to meet her gaze. This shocked her. Her uncle was normally the unflappable, down-to-earth sort. “It—it's just—it just gets kind of frisky, let's say.”
Brett emitted a small grunt, as if scoffing at the inadequacy of the word frisky.
Uncle Jim cast him another scowl, then told Cady, “Look, the point is, you just keep away from that horse. I'm serious. Promise me, Cady.”
“Okay. I promise.” And she meant it. Her uncle's earnestness and odd behavior had made an impression. “But if it's such a bad horse why do you keep it?”
He breathed out a small sound that halfway between a cough and a nervous laugh and then looked down at his boots. His cheeks, which had begun to fade back to their normal light tan now blazed red again.
“We, uh, we keep it mainly for, you know, breeding purposes. It's no good as a riding horse, but it's, uh, it's a heck of a good breeder.”
Brett emitted that grunt again. Cady shifted uncomfortably. Her uncle and her cousin's behavior and the vague implications of their words filled her with a strange, squirmy feeling.