I’ve had several people request more than a blurb from my upcoming release….so, without further ado…hope you like it and want to read more!
Mary Jo stood by quietly while Chris Martel and Doc joked and laughed together. An inexplicable twinge of jealousy struck Mary Jo as she listened to Chris and Doc’s familiar teasing. Chris’s relaxed stance revealed her obvious affection for the man.
She tried to be subtle while checking Chris out. The woman was tall and tan. Her short, dark hair accentuated high cheekbones and a strong jaw line. The loose, V-necked T-shirt showed off broad shoulders, strong arms and a firm, flat stomach. Cargo shorts and Timberland boots complimented muscular, well-defined legs.
Her jealousy confused her.
The friendly banter came to an end when Doc said, “I’m sorry. Mary Jo, this is Chris Martel.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” Chris extended her hand.
“Same here.” Mary Jo clasped Chris’s hand in her own, admiring the corded muscles in the woman’s forearm. She could not help noticing Chris’s deep blue eyes.
As Doc and Chris continued chatting about the horses, she watched mesmerized as a drop of sweat started below Chris’s hairline, gradually working down her temple to the back of her jaw, down her neck, and disappearing into the hint of cleavage above the “vee” of Chris’s T-shirt. Mary Jo knew she was staring, and forced herself to tune into the conversation. In her opinion, the talk proved boring. She wanted to see sick horses.
Turning around, she opened the truck door, pretending to look for the stethoscope already hanging around her neck to give herself something to do.
“Mary Jo just joined my practice,” Doc was saying. “As a matter of fact, today is her first day. She specialized in equine breeding at Cornell, so if we get into any pickles here, she’ll be a good asset to have around. She’ll be riding with me for a few weeks until her rig comes in. In the meantime, I’ll be introducing her to as many clients as I can.”
“Uh-huh. Personally, the less I see of your kind here, the better,” Chris kidded.
Mary Jo felt that weird jealousy needle her again. What’s with that? She wondered, unable to decide if she was jealous of Chris because of her familiarity with Doc, or jealous of Doc for having Chris’s entire attention focused on him—which made no sense as she’d only just met the woman. She decided she was feeling a little put out because Doc should include her in the conversation. After all, she was the new vet.
“All right,” Chris said. “I guess you better come in the barn then. I think Ruby has a stone bruise, but I’ll be damned if I can find where.”
“Yup, no problem,” said Doc. “MJ, would you grab the hoof testers and hoof knife? We’ll start with those before we do anything else.” He followed Chris into the barn.
A little annoyed with Doc for assuming she would be his gofer, Mary Jo felt slightly embarrassed as well. “Christ, I hope this isn’t what it’s going to be like till my frickin’ license shows up and I get my own rig,” she said to herself.
Requested tools in hand, she strode into the barn, noting the impeccable cleanliness as she moved further in. “Geez, you could eat off these floors,” she muttered. Catching sight of one of Chris’s cats eating a mouse by the hay room, she added under her breath, “Then again, maybe not.”
Mary Jo found the stall containing the horse with the hoof problem. Chris and Doc were already inside.
“Thanks MJ,” Doc said, holding up the hoof, and grunting a bit as Ruby leaned her weight on him. Doc took the hoof testers, which looked like big pincers, and began squeezing various points around Ruby’s foot. Finally, Ruby jerked her foot almost infinitesimally when he pressed near the sensitive, soft, spongy area in the middle of the hoof.
As Doc worked, Chris stood at Ruby’s head, softly rubbing the horse’s forehead. Ruby closed her eyes, apparently content despite the interruption of her meal of hay.
Mary Jo watched Chris while the woman was preoccupied; almost entranced by the quiet, soothing tone she used to talk to the horse.
“I’m not finding a draining tract here, Chris,” Doc said. “I think we should put a poultice on her for a couple of days, and see if we can entice it to come out.”
“Okay, I figured it would come to that, but I wanted you to check her just in case I was missing something,” Chris replied.
Knowing what Doc would be prescribing for Ruby’s treatment, Mary Jo headed to the truck, retrieved the necessary items for the poultice, and placed them in a bucket. She returned to the stall entrance just as Doc was putting down the mare’s sore hoof.
Leaving Doc to work, Mary Jo wandered to the front of the barn to a stall containing a big, black Thoroughbred mare. The mare stood backed into the corner, her ears pricked forward, her head bobbing, her gaze seeming to follow Mary Jo’s every move. When she began to move away, the mare stomped a hoof, to regain her attention.
Mary Jo returned to the stall door, glancing at the name plate. “Your name is Top Hat, huh, big girl?” She looked down the aisle toward Ruby’s stall. Chris and Doc were still working on Ruby, jabbering together like they hadn’t seen each other in years. She returned her attention to the horse, assuming Top Hat wanted some attention.
Easing the stall door open, she slipped inside. Top Hat continued bobbing her head. As Mary Jo reached to touch her, the mare suddenly pinned her ears back and lunged, knocking her down with a shoulder.
She landed hard, flat on her back, screaming as the horse gnashed big yellow teeth mere inches from her face. The seemingly gentle mare had turned into a she-devil! Mary Jo quickly curled into a ball to protect her vitals, knowing she was trapped.
Mary Jo screamed again, cringing as hooves slammed perilously close to her head. To her relief, she heard boots slapping the concrete, headed toward the stall. Chris was there in seconds, sliding the door open and darting inside. She positioned herself over Mary Jo, talking in a whisper that the horse obviously understood. At once, Top Hat focused her entire attention on Chris. After a few tense moments, the mare relaxed completely. Mary Jo only had a brief moment admire the legs straddled over her.
“Get up slowly, and get out of this stall,” Chris said through clenched teeth.
Mary Jo crawled to the door on all fours, standing when she was able to slide the door open enough to escape. Once out, she collapsed on her butt, panting with the realization that she had just escaped death.
Doc, who had followed Chris to the stall at a quick clip, asked, “Are you okay?”
Still trying to catch her breath, Mary Jo stammered, “I… I think so.”
Having checked the horse for injuries, Chris stormed out of the stall, closing the door behind her. “Jesus H. Christ, are you fucking crazy? You never, ever go into a stall without me. You had no right to go in there, and you were completely out of line.” Although she didn’t shout, the message was delivered loud and clear, her eyes full of fire as she stared at Mary Jo.
Mary Jo mumbled an apology. Getting up and brushing shavings off her coveralls, she marched toward the barn door. Behind her, she could hear Chris continue talking in a heated tone, but the words were unintelligible.
Blue Feather Books Limited
Copyright © 2011 by Laurie Salzler
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