Archive for category I’ll Be True
Read Chapter 16 before you continue…
Brooke watched as Mathew finally detached himself from Elaina’s form after a long lingering kiss before laughingly leading her back into the fairgrounds, hand-in-hand. She had had her fingers crossed when Elaina had come out in a huff, but trouble in paradise did not even last five minutes before Matthew had cajoled cowgirl back into his arms and then back to the fair. If she did not know she was so awesome, Brooke would have thought the burning sensation in the pit of her stomach was something akin to self-loathing. But as she was fully confident in her awesomeness, it must be an acid imbalance from all the fried food her mother has been exposing her to since she came home. She could not wait to get back to her life in the city and away from this town once again because her return has been anything but the triumph she had anticipated it to be. In fact, it had been quite humiliating.
How was this even possible? Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 15 before you continue…
Madam Esmeralda truly appeared bewildered as she met Matthew’s gaze. “Hayden?”
Elaina was not fooled. She had visited Madam’s tent every year since she was a little girl with her friends to hear the old woman’s wild predictions. Esmeralda was not even her real name. When she was not moonlighting as a fortune-teller, the population of the county knew this old woman as the eccentric Widow Warren of Triple Axel, the adjacent town to Lainie’s Creek. It was true Widow Warren, née Mary Esme Smith, born and brought up in Lainie’s Creek, now lived in her deceased husband’s family home all by herself in the neighboring town, but she returned numerous times each year to take on her position as the county fair fortune-teller. Without any children of her own, the job afforded her an outlet to be around children and youths in the form of entertainment. She had seen all of Elaina’s friends and siblings grow up over the years and if she remembered Lainie Corey’s romantic misfortunes so clearly, she certainly was not going to forget the current Corey siblings in a hurry.
“Please don’t insult my intelligence by pretending not to know who Hayden is, Mrs. Warren,” retorted Elaina, dropping all pretense to the illusion of the role played by the older lady. “You know very well he is my brother just as I know you are no fortune-teller. Now fess up if he put you up to this.” Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 14 before you continue…
Matthew practically jogged his way to meet Elaina. Partly because he wanted to put distance between himself and whatever daggers Brooke was throwing at his back. But also because he could not wait to see Elaina.
Last night was probably one of the best sexual experiences of his life. Elaina had been as open and honest with him in bed as she was with everything else. She had applied the same level of curiosity and sincerity to their love making that he had come to understand as her trademark for all aspects of her life. It had been intense and he was more than pleased to find out how healthy her sexual appetite was.
It was obvious that she was not practiced in the art of love making. But what she lacked in experience, she made up with enthusiasm. She was a quick learner and an adventurous one at that, eager to try her own things once she picked up on a few skills from him. After the few initial moments of hesitation, she boldly responded to his actions, often reciprocating the moves.
She wanted to please and he was still throbbing with pleasure.
Matthew quickened his steps. As he rounded the corner of the fair entrance and saw her standing by the fortune-teller’s tent as had been pre-assigned, he felt his heart skip. And when she turned around and spotted him, a smile brightening her already radiant face, he felt his heart swell at the thought that she was delighted to see him.
This was it, his brain informed him. He had found The One. Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 13 before you continue…
In the end, Elaina and Matthew got less than an hour’s sleep before she had to sneak back to her room. The departure was reluctantly conceded by both and hindered by frequent kisses and playfulness and repeated promises to meet later in the day. But when they heard the sounds of breakfast being prepared in the kitchen, they agreed that it was indeed time for Elaina to head back to her room if they did not wish to create an awkward scene for everyone in the household.
Elaina felt different. It was perhaps clichéd but she did. She had breezed through her bedroom into her attached bath for a quick shower but when she returned, the place looked different. It was a room she had lived in all her life but suddenly the white filigree vine motif crisscrossing across her faded yellow wallpapers did not look like they belonged. She needed new wallpapers, perhaps in a more vibrant color. She knew she was being ridiculous the moment the idea popped into her head – she was setting too much store by one night. Granted it was a glorious night but not enough to change the wallpapers of her room, which have been hanging there for over two decades.
So she waited a half hour longer than it took to get herself dressed before she went down for breakfast. She figured it was long enough for Matthew to have his breakfast and take his leave. She was still not sure how she would feel about seeing him in the morning light now that she had been with him fully naked in moonlight. As expected, when she entered the kitchen, she only found her mother occupying it. Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 12 before you continue…
He did not sound gratified as she had hoped. He did not even sound happy. Mostly confused. Elaina mentally rolled her eyes. She had been all but dancing naked before his eyes since he had arrived, he was staying over, and everyone was asleep. What did he think she was going to do with this opportunity – be a good girl?
“Surprise?” she ventured for airy but anxiety laced her voice nevertheless.
“I wasn’t expecting you,” he admitted the obvious sheepishly.
Sheepishly? She was standing in only one tiny piece of underwear beneath her oldest, flimsiest, most formfitting shirt and he was feeling sheepish? Part of her was losing her nerves – the part that was not busy feeling embarrassed and more than slightly resentful that he was not overcome with passion.
“I just thought,” she began and then stopped. She obviously thought too much. She was not the kind to inflame the senses of men; she was good old Elaina, one of the boys. Those stolen kisses in the stables, in the middle of the lake, etc. – those must have been about the moments. What red blooded American male could resist a soaked bedraggled cowgirl in the middle of the lake?
Elaina fumbled behind her back reaching for the doorknob, ready to make a hasty retreat, her proverbial tail between her legs since obviously nothing else was getting between them tonight. “Never mind what I thought. You go back to sleep.”
Matthew was on her before she managed to turn the knob, his palm firmly keeping the door pressed shut. “Where do you think you’re going?”
Read Chapter 11 before you continue…
“Atta girl! C’mon now, you know you can do this. We all have a lot of faith in you. You’ve been a real good girl all this time, don’t give up.”
The recipient of these words of encouragement nickered in protest before dropping her head back onto the hay. She was matted with sweat, her body straining to accomplish what seemed impossible at this moment. Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 10 before you continue…
True to his words, Matthew was back within the first hours of the next morning while Elaina was out checking the pastures. He rode up to meet her on a robust ebony stallion that turned out to be Marty again and she was pleased to see how well he was riding on his own, needing little guidance from Jonny, who had obviously taken it upon himself to escort the beginner through his morning lessons safely. When Elaina complimented Matthew on his quick learning abilities, Matthew responded jubilantly by demonstrating a round of antics, running circles around the lady he was trying to impress. Elaina and Jonny both laughed good-naturedly but the latter audience felt bound to throw in a word of caution or two here and there.
Once Matthew settled down and began guiding his horse to a jaunty trot beside Elaina’s own Palomino, he informed her that with the riding lessons he was taking from Jonny in return of the photography lessons he was imparting, he was falling behind his set schedule on the photo shoots. Elaina told him she understood if he needed to get back and chased him away to work on his series instead of loitering around her all day, creating distractions. Before he left, however, Matthew procured a promise from her that she would visit the pub that evening so he could meet her there. Though she seldom visited the town on weeknights, seeing how little time Matthew had remaining in Lainie’s Creek, she readily agreed and waved them goodbye with a sense of exhilaration.
With the semi-date at Stone’s Waterhole in the horizon, Elaina worked through the rest of her morning chores with a lighthearted sprint. Unfortunately, Hayden had other plans for her mood when she got back to the stables. While she was brushing down her horse, her older brother stormed into the barn in a huff.
“What bee has been bugging you, Big B?” she joked, unaware of her role in her brother’s sour disposition.
“Tyler and I finally discovered how that Hereford got loose on the other side of the fence. Seems like it took the same route your new love interest took the other day to trespass on to our land. He failed to mention to us the loose stumps in the fence he had crossed to get to our side of the border.”
Elaina’s hand stilled over her horse’s back, where she had been brushing the horse’s mane. She perfectly comprehended the kind of disaster that could be instigated by an oversight such as a broken fence on a cattle ranch but she also knew her brother’s aggravation had deeper roots. This was the first time she came across Hayden in solitary since the previous night’s encounter and it seemed that Hayden was just itching for a confrontation that she was only too happy to supply. “Matthew was lost, as you very well now know. And he is from the city so we can’t expect him to have the same survival sense about pasture enclosures as us. Why don’t you just tell me why you don’t like him so we can get over this embarrassing charade?”
Hayden recoiled in defense. “I see no cause to pay mind to City Boy one way or another. But don’t you think you’re jumping a little too fast to join his welcoming committee? You don’t know anything about the guy other than the fact that he’s here with the woman whom, by the way, you can’t even stand any longer.”
“And what business is that of yours,” asked Elaina, bristling, the tension that was rippling under her skin was spooking her horse, which protested in an abrupt whine. She unconsciously began patting its neck but her tone was no less cold as she continued, “Is that why you barged in on us last night? Because you don’t like his connection to Brooke?”
“Do I need any more cause for caution other than the fact that my sister is consorting with the man who’s visiting our town with the biggest traitor I’ve ever seen?”
“I can take care of myself!” shouted Elaina, now completely stepping away from her horse. She was shaking with fury that was not only targeted towards her meddling older brother. What her blossoming romance with Matthew had made her overlook had suddenly loomed back to the foreground of her consciousness – at the end of the day, when all things were said and done, she could not ignore the fact that her only connection to Matthew was drawn by and hanging by the balance of her relationship with Brooke.
Hayden sneered. “Yeah, we all know how well you took care of yourself the last time a city slicker came to town.”
Elaina flinched as though she had been slapped. She knew that he had witnessed the ugly scene between herself and her former best friend those five years ago and he knew that she knew he had witnessed it. But what was worse was both were acutely aware of how Elaina had crumpled after the incident, but this was the first time the incident was mentioned between them. It was a humiliating experience for her then and she could feel that humiliation wash over her even now. But the years had given her something to heal with that she had not possessed in the past – maturity enough to taste the lemons that life handed her with a pinch of salt. She mustered up that sense of grounded maturity now as she coolly answered her brother’s insult with dignity that she feigned better than she felt. “That’s not fair and you know it. I had no control over what happened then. But since I’ve already been there before, I’ll know how to handle myself with greater poise this time, won’t I?”
Hayden looked ashamed of himself and Elaina felt sorry for him. She knew he had her best interest at heart and, in many ways, her personality was mirror image to his – protective of those they loved, vigilant, self-sufficient and stubbornly set in their own ways. And it was this trait that had made Hayden burst out now to warn her about where she was storing her trust. “I just think you should act with more care and restraint with people who do not understand our ways of life,” he muttered in way of apology.
Elaina nodded with understanding but added, “Maybe I’m tired of being careful all the time. I’ve been careful for the last five years and I want to take a leap and experience life for the first time in my adulthood.”
Hayden’s brows furrowed with impatience that he had the presence of mind to iron away quickly. “Couldn’t you take a leap with someone closer to home? Someone who’ll stick around?”
“But that’s my point exactly. I don’t want to take a leap with anybody from home. If I land in a pile of cow dung on my first attempt, I don’t want the dung to be around for long to keep the memories stinking to high heavens, sort of speak,” Elaina laughed nervously.
Hayden arched his eyebrow at the image she painted with her words. “Is that what you’re up to? You really think you know what you’re doing?”
“I know that I know what I’m doing,” retorted she with convictions she prayed to God were not misplaced. “I’m just having a bit of fun, is all. Don’t worry so much,” she added, chiding him softly.
Hayden sighed. “I try not to. Really. But with Dad gone, it’s up to me to hold it together.”
His young features looked tired and older than their years and Elaina’s heart went out to him. She crossed the space between them and wrapped her arms around his torso, an act that she could not recall of having committed to in the recent past. “We’re all adults, Hayden. Well, at least all but Jonny. But even he will get there within the next twenty, thirty years.” They shared a laugh at their younger sibling’s expense, before she added, “You really don’t need to constantly look out for us.” She gave her brother an extra tight squeeze to show that she meant business and he responded with a squeeze of his own to tell her he appreciated what she was saying.
As Elaina stepped back, Hayden tipped her Stetson off her head just to lighten the mood and hide the gruffness in his voice as he said, “Don’t make an ass out of yourself over City Boy.”
Elaina bent down to swipe her hat off the ground and shoved it back on, shaking her head at her brother. “Just so we’re on the same page.”
Read Chapter 9 before you continue…
Elaina wanted to look anywhere but into Matthew’s curious green eyes. Yet, he held her gaze steadfast, determined not to let her slip past his interrogation. And what was to be her answer? Was she to tell him how Brooke had destroyed their friendship when she had never expressly told anyone else? Was she to confess that after being so excruciatingly betrayed by her own best friend, she had been unable to trust herself to open her heart to anyone who was not immediate family? And even if she chose to divulge this information, what would his reaction be? He was Brooke’s close friend and Elaina was only getting to know him. The knowledge she could unleash may pose him a conflict of interest, in the center of which, she certainly did not want to be. She wanted something from him that was to be of an entirely opposite effect and revealing her painful secret could only hinder that objective. Now that she was finally ready to submit to a romantic diversion, she could not allow anything to sabotage her opportunity.
Partial truth it is, she decided. “The ranch keeps me busy.”
Matthew looked the skeptic. “That’s it? The ranch keeps you busy?” Elaina nodded and he continued with, “You don’t work during the night. How hard can it be to schedule in a date once in a while?”
“Unfortunately, most men tend to expect you to maintain a relationship if you date them and that takes time and effort. Time and effort, which I’d rather focus on my work.”
“And my being from out of state removes the dilemma of a long-term relationship, is that it?”
Matthew was scowling so Elaina chose the mode she usually employed to avoid strained situations. Cockiness. “That and the fact that you wore me down. Kind of lassoed me into submission.”
Matthew looked most displeased. “That doesn’t say much about my charm or other attractive traits, does it?”
Elaina inclined her head to the right and smiled at him slyly. “You also have mystery working for you, if that makes you feel any better. It’s kinda hard working up attraction for guys you’ve known all your life. You certainly have the edge there.”
Matthew seemed slightly mollified but still not ready to accept her answer completely. “I still think you’re not telling me something.”
“Well, you’ll just have to live with what I am telling you for now, won’t you? Shall we move on to dessert?” Elaina changed the subject with all the finesse of a woman who would not accept any more challenges.
Matthew seemed almost ready to pursue the subject further but nodded instead, obviously knowing when to accept defeat. “Dessert is my favorite part of dinner. What’s good on the menu?”
Two slices of lemon tart and a jovial discussion about the merits and demerits of romantic comedies during the drive back saw them to the front porch of the Coreys’ house. It was not very late and the porch light was on. Elaina found herself wondering about the possible location of everyone in her family even as Matthew took her hands in his and leaned in to kiss her. And then she leaned into the kiss herself, only to have him pull away too quickly. Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 8 before you continue…
The knowledge that Brooke did not fit into any part of Matthew’s romantic plans set Elaina’s mind to a sense of freedom that directly manifested to her body, which was now responding to his every touch with a hunger born of years of abstinence. She made up for the lost time – not only of the few days she had been rejecting him but all those years when she denied herself the solace of having someone covet her. She learned about mankind’s most ancient truth by imitating his every move with even greater fervor than which he imparted. She reveled in all the sensations he aroused in her and loved that she could do the same to him.
And when he finally broke the kiss, she protested by pulling him back for more. With firm grips on her shoulders, Matthew leaned back to look at her and chuckled. She was becoming cross-eyed with lust and he chuckled! But she could not rally enough outrage over his reaction. She just wanted to continue kissing.
“I think you remember now why you shouldn’t dismiss me anymore.” He sounded vaguely amused, but his voice was hoarse with the traces of his desire. When Elaina frowned in response, he smiled soothingly. “Oh, I promise you there will be more kisses later. More kisses and more of a lot more. But first we should get to know each other better, shouldn’t we?”
Elaina deepened her scowl. She was not feeling very particular about social norms right now.
Matthew dipped his head and peered into her eyes imploringly. “You understand what I mean by ‘a lot more’, don’t you?”
Oh! Elaina blushed beetroot and automatically averted her eyes.
Matthew laughed softly. “I gather you do. So how about a date? A proper opportunity where we may talk in a civilized manner without you challenging me in everything and maybe even coming to accept my suit for you?”
Elaina nodded, smiling shyly. Shyly? Oh Lord! He was turning her into a ninny.
Matthew brushed his lips with hers. Then as though unable to stop himself, he brushed them together again. “Thank you,” he said when he finally unwrapped himself from her and stepped back. “I believe that was the first time you agreed to one of my requests without any protest. I should kiss you more often.”
He was right. She should not let him off so easy. But when she opened her mouth to rectify just that, he pressed his index finger against her lips.
“Please don’t spoil this moment. I don’t know if I’ll get another one like it.” He looked so blissfully pleased with himself that she had to laugh. “Music to my ears. I’ll pick you up this evening around six and you can take me wherever is a good place for a date.”
“We’re going out tonight?” Elaina was sure her eyes were as big and round as 100 Watts light bulbs.
“Why wait? Tonight couldn’t be soon enough for me. So is tonight okay for you?
She took stock from his enthusiasm. “Yes.”
Matthew grinned and spontaneously dropped another kiss on her mouth. “I’ll see you at six then.” Before she could say goodbye, he stepped out of Marty’s stall and was gone.
Baffled by the rapid turn of events, Elaina picked up the sponge from the ground and dipped it in the bucket of water to strain it clean so she could continue Marty’s grooming. Marty snorted as though to chastise her for forgetting his needs for so long. As she sponged his back clean of the remaining saddle mark, she apologized to the horse for her inattentiveness and taking such inappropriate advantage of his private chamber. But she could not muster up the solemnity for it.
She was too busy smiling like a fool.
Matthew arrived at the Coreys’ house on the dot at six. Read the rest of this entry »
Read Chapter 7 before you continue…
Elaina stared at Matthew with trepidation, feigning a sullen silence as she was unable to come up with a greeting that was equally deprecating. It seemed ironic that, only a few minutes ago, she had decided to avoid this man altogether and already she was alone in his company, save for horse and hay.
Matthew looked on smugly at her discomfort. His stonewashed jeans were strapped by a length of woven suede around his waist and hung from narrow hips, clinging to his strong thighs before they fell to well-worn leather boots. The sleeves of his green chambray shirt were rolled up to his elbows, revealing the sinewy forearms of a man who obviously worked a lot with his hands. He had even donned a brand new Stetson that rested slightly askew on his head. In his current surrounding, he looked the spitting image of a rustic hero despite the expensive designer finish of his attire that begged to differentiate him from any cowboy that she knew. “Cat got your tongue?”
She searched the furthest recesses of her mind to deliver a smart retort but nothing. How could one kiss turn her into such a lack wit?
Matthew stepped closer, his eyes sparkling with mirth and insinuation. “That’s not fair. Since I already proved I can make better use of your tongue than the cat, I obviously should have had dibs.”
To Elaina’s utter dismay, she flushed four shades of crimson straight to her golden roots.
Matthew chuckled softly. “Well, I’ll be damned. Miss Devil-May-Care isn’t immune to my kisses after all,” said he, doing a fine impersonation of a Texan drawl. Then he lowered his voice to a huskier decibel. “You don’t know how encouraging I find that fact, sweetheart.”
And that put an end to her distress, as Elaina bristled at the endearment. “There’s just no getting away from you, is there?”
Matthew leaned against the column of the stall, his arms crossed over his chest as though he was just settling down to aggravate her and his ankles crossed comfortably to prove he had all the time in the world to do it. “I hope not, as I’m doing my best to ensure otherwise.”
Elaina narrowed her eyes. “Meaning?”
“Well, my dear, dear cowgirl, it hasn’t escaped my notice that since we’ve met, you’ve already dismissed me four times. Four times. I haven’t been dismissed by four ladies in all my life let alone be dismissed by one lady four times. So I decided that I needed to get back in the game before you took too much of a lead. I even took riding lessons today to balance the odds.”
“A bit sure of ourselves, aren’t we?” taunted Elaina.
Matthew grinned like a Cheshire. “Not without reason,” replied he, not even attempting to hide his self-confidence.
“And so claimed many a fool before meeting their downfall.”
“Oh, I’m no fool. I definitely plan to collect on what I enjoyed a prelude to yesterday.” Despite his affable tone, there was an indomitable glint in his eyes that told her he was quite serious about his declaration.
Elaina stepped around him and out of the stall to hide the blush that was beginning to creep up her neck to her face. It was not only the mention of their kiss that flustered her but rather her sudden need to comply with his demand. What was coming over her?
Matthew straightened and turned to follow her. “Just where are you going?”
“I promised Jonny I’ll teach you how to take care of the horses after they ride. The sooner that is over with, the sooner I can get rid of you,” replied Elaina without looking back as she came to a halt before the two horses that were left unattended in the aisle. She groaned as she saw the sight. While one horse had made his way to a large pile of hay in the outer corner of the stable and was chomping away at lunch happily unrestrained, the other horse had relieved himself of his breakfast in the middle of the aisle and was looking enormously pleased with his performance. “Marty,” chided Elaina at the offending beast, “you know better than to poop in the walkway!”
Marty snorted and Matthew shared his humor by snickering.
Elaina wheeled around, her hand automatically bracing against her hips as she belligerently glowered at the person she had already mentally monickering as an offending-beast-of-another-breed. “Think it’s funny, do you, Halls? Well you’re on aisle duty.” She grabbed the shovel and cart that just happened to be parked beside the nearest stall and shoved them at Matthew. “There you go. Oh, don’t you frown! It’s only a wee bit. Marty, here, obviously hasn’t done justice to his breakfast this morning. But it’ll be a very illuminating beginning for you nonetheless.”
Matthew stared at Elaina defiantly and only accepted the proffered tools when he saw she was serious about making him shovel manure. Grumbling, he made a furious stab at the odorous mess, spraying bits of excrement everywhere, most of which landed on his own designer jeans. Frustrated, he barked a string of profanity that was as colorful as they were inappropriate to fall on a lady’s ears. Elaina paid it no mind, however.
“You want to be careful with that now,” she drawled smoothly, a smile tipping up a corner of her mouth slyly. “I’ll just be putting Marty and Regis over there into their stalls and get a head start on taking care of Regis. Marty may volunteer himself for your lesson since you guys seem to be already bonding.”
Matthew scowled and went back to work as Elaina led the horses to their stalls, gleeful at how her mandatory time-sharing with Matthew was turning out. Ten minutes later, having done a prerequisite onceover on one horse, Elaina had already moved into Marty’s stall. She was congratulating the stallion again for helping her put her adversary in his place when Matthew drew up behind her.
“I’m glad I can be the source of such happiness but I wish your entertainments weren’t derived at my expense.”
“Must you always creep up on me?” Elaina yelled, thoroughly startled.
Matthew pouted. “I did not creep up on you. You asked me to meet you in Marty’s stall.”
“Right,” replied she, resignedly. “Let’s show you how this is done then.”
“What’s your hurry, sweetheart?”
“Stop calling me that.” Elaina spoke through gritted teeth but Matthew went on as though she had not spoken.
“It is a rare boon that I have this time alone with you and I’d like to prolong it for as long as possible.”
“Well, your time is almost up. Now this is how we do it,” Elaina spoke as she began unsaddling the dark horse, demonstrating each step. “Jonny unbridled him already so you already saw how that’s done. To unsaddle the horse, you first undo the cinch. You do this from his offside, that’s on his right. Now you should loosen the cinch soon as you’re done riding – before you cool him down – but you can undo it completely later.”
She carried on with her lesson and Matthew carefully observed her every move and word, the intensity of his focus making her nervous. However, soon she realized that his interest in what she was teaching him was sincere and he paid her all the deference a good student paid an experienced teacher. His questions were pertinent and she began to relax and even enjoy his company as she fell into her own element. She knew cattle and steed. She had done this a million time and it was gratifying to have someone show the kind of respect for her work the way Matthew was doing, even if it pertained to something as mundane as unsaddling and checking the hooves of a horse.
“Usually we do this out at the same place we tack up the horses but since Jonny already brought y’all inside we did the work here. Any question?” said she as she came to a finish.
Matthew shook his head. “You really enjoy working on the ranch, don’t you?”
Elaina scowled. “Of course, I enjoy working on the ranch. Why else would I be here every day before the roosters are up?”
Matthew shook his a second time. “No, I never doubted that you enjoyed it. I just didn’t realize how much until this minute. It’s a beautiful sight watching you work.”
Matthew’s eyes were warm with an emotion that made Elaina nervous. She was not experienced enough with men to understand what they were trying to communicate but they were making her start to hope for something she sure was not ready for. She turned from him to sponge the shiny coat on the horses back where some saddle mark was still visible.
“Hey” exclaimed Matthew.
Elaina paused, the sponge raised just above Marty’s back, and looked at him over her shoulder.
Matthew grabbed her arm and pulled her against him, the force making her startle and drop the sponge to the straw strewn floor of the stable. “I thought I told you I won’t let you dismiss me again.” Read the rest of this entry »