Mickey couldn’t quite place the feeling she had woken up with. Something was different and she couldn’t wrap her head around it. Something had changed, but what?
Jack’s arrest and the melee that had ensued around it, had caused them to delay taking the rodeo on its short move to Billings. The Sherriff had been back out, to talk to Cheyenne several times and it was looking more and more like Jack may have played a role in Cheyenne’s parents’ death, which up until a couple days ago, had been ruled an accident.
The NTSB had determined that the aircraft flaps had rendered inoperable shortly after takeoff causing the small aircraft to stall in midflight and plummet to the earth like a rock. Without flaps, Cheyenne’s father had no hope of bringing the aircraft down safely. Cheyenne had told the Sherriff how Jack had been responsible for the maintenance of her parents’ small aircraft.
Mickey had seen the hurt in Cheyenne’s eyes and she could sense the betrayal she was feeling. All this time Cheyenne had considered Jack, like family, while he was embezzling from the rodeo and putting people in danger right under her nose.
After the revelation the prior evening, Mickey had shared a silent meal with Cheyenne and then they had shared Cheyenne’s bed. Mickey just wiped away Cheyenne’s silent tears and held the woman she was falling in love with, with a fierce protection.
She left the warmth of Cheyenne’s bed leaving the Rodeo boss in her slumber. Mickey had been awake with her until the early hours when Cheyenne had finally drifted off to sleep.
She made her way over to her trailer where Cam and Whitney were having coffee outside, under the awning.
“How is she Mickey?” Cam asked, in concern.
“She’s having a tough time; she somehow feels responsible. I told her that prick, Jack was a clever son of a bitch. He’s been whittling away at the profits for years. A few fake accounts hidden in the expenditures, but when Cheyenne took over the Rodeo, she began to see some of the accounts didn’t add up and when she confronted Jack about it, he got desperate. The Walkers were oblivious, they trusted the man.”
“We all did Mickey, it’s hard to believe he is capable of this, to be honest.” Cam replied, in a resigned tone. “Thank goodness he didn’t hurt anyone else.”
“No word about Spirit either, Jack told the Sherriff he turned her loose about five miles north of here, but no one has spotted her. The Sherriff says it’s possible coyotes or a mountain lion may have gotten her. Cheyenne said she was a gift from her parents, best horse she ever had. I feel lousy about the whole thing really.”
“Mickey nobody blames you, although I’m pretty sure when you’re feeling a little better, Cheyenne will be having a word with you about putting yourself in harm’s way, but no one could have anticipated this,” Cam reassured her, sympathetically.
“Was she able to sleep Mickey? I feel terrible for Cheyenne, she looked so sad last night?” Whitney asked, as she came out the door of the trailer and handed Mickey a steaming mug of coffee.
“Thanks Whit. Eventually she was, she fell asleep around three, I let her sleep, she was exhausted.”
“And what about you, young lady, maybe you should still be in bed as well?” Cam said, raising her eyebrow at Mickey.
“I’m okay Cam, I’m used to it, graveyard shift will do it to you!”
“Hmm, that as it may, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the both of you. Thank goodness it’s only a short trip to Billings,” Cam replied.
“Mickey, I want to hear about some of your cop stories, it must have been exciting!” Whitney said enthusiastically.
“It was kiddo, it was,” Mickey replied, trying to hide the disappointment on her face.
“Ah shit, I’m sorry Mickey. That was stupid, I keep forgetting, I didn’t mean…”
“Nah, you know what, it’s okay, that’s history Whit. Besides, we’ve had some fun these last couple of weeks haven’t we?” Mickey replied, with a big grin and a wink at her young friend.
“Yes, we have!” Whitney replied, with her own grin.
“May I remind you ladies, that some of that fun came with consequences!” Cam interjected.
Mickey just gave Whitney a wide eyed, sideways glance which made her giggle.
“Mickey, I have been talking to Cam about the rodeo. Cam will be travelling with it the rest of the summer until the circuit is over, and I was kind of hoping, if it’s okay with you, that maybe I could tag along until school starts again. I could help Cam out, and work wherever I’m needed. What do you think, you think Cheyenne will be okay with it?”
Mickey smiled, “I think that’s a great idea Whitney, and you seem to be taking a liking to the veterinary business. I think Cheyenne will be just fine with it, and frankly, I would be glad of a friendly face around.”
“Excellent!” Whitney beamed.
Mickey had found and unlikely friend in Whitney. Although she rolled her eyes at some of her pranks, Whitney’s innocent free spirit, almost made Mickey a little jealous. She had a tenaciousness about her that Mickey admired, and no matter how much of a pickle she seemed to get herself into, she was always up to trying the next adventure. Whether it was painting goats or throwing herself in front of a two-thousand-pound bull to protect her friend, Whitney was all in.
Mickey shook off the thought. “But Whitney, if we’re going to be sharing a trailer there are gonna be some rules about keeping it tidy, got it?”
“I don’t know what you mean Mick? Besides, how much time are you planning to spend in this trailer anyway?” Whitney asked with a mischievous smirk.
“Oh really,” Mickey started, crossing her arms. “So, if I were to go inside now, I wouldn’t find any sort of a mess? Your clothes would not be all over the floor and the few dishes we have, would not all be dirty in the sink and I’m sure the bathroom would be in order too, without towels and products strewn everywhere?”
“You know, I’m thinking not, but just for my peace of mind, I will go and inspect it and make sure.” Whitney said, scurrying back inside the trailer with an exaggerated smile.
“She’s a handful, that one. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be an interesting summer!” You’re gonna be busy keeping her in line Cam.” Mickey chuckled.
“Hmm, and this comes from someone who’s got a bottom warming coming from the boss!” Cam replied with a wink, making Mickey’s cheeks turn a slight shade of pink.
That was another unlikely thing that had come into Mickey’s life, the spankings she had received from Cheyenne. At first, it was a necessary obstacle she had to endure if she were to remain at the rodeo. But Mickey was beginning to realize it was more than that, much more. To Mickey it felt a little like an investment. An Investment of trust, of time, of education, of humility, of safety, of forgiveness and most of all, love.
She wasn’t sure she understood it completely, and as much as it mortified her the first time she was bent over Cheyenne’s desk, she felt she had been given a wonderful gift.
Mickey startled, as the door of the camper flew open, and Whitney came bounding out. “Look,” she yelled, “It’s Spirit, she’s come back!”
“It is her,” Cam replied, as the three woman ran over to meet the young filly, who was ambling down the dusty road towards the barn.
Cam immediately began checking Spirit over, as Whitney fetched a bucket of water.
“Good girl, I didn’t know what I was going to do without you.” Mickey said to the mare, who was nuzzling her arm.
Mickey looked around and saw Cheyenne standing at the door of her trailer looking in their direction, and wiping her eyes. She stayed there a moment before joining them, patting Spirits neck affectionately.
“Is she okay Cam,” Cheyenne asked.
“She looks okay, couple of scrapes but none the worse for wear. I’ll take her to the barn and check her over,” the vet replied, leading Spirit away.
Mickey looked over at Whitney, who had the biggest smile, as joyous tears streamed down her face. Then she looked over at Cheyenne, who was also trying to blink away tears.
“Oh come on then,” Cheyenne said, inviting both girls into a hug.
“Alright, alright, that’s enough, we’ve got work to do. Get busy girls. I want to be all packed up and on the road in two hours, got it?” Cheyenne said, releasing them from the embrace.
“Got it boss!” Mickey and Whitney said in unison.
Less than two hours later, the trailers and trucks were all loaded and hitched, and the rodeo was rolling out of Cody. Cam and Whitney were in Mickey’s truck, and Mickey rode in the passenger seat in Cheyenne’s truck.
Mickey sat upright as she suddenly realized what was different about today. She had hope. For the first time in a longtime, she felt hope in her heart. Her lifetime dream job of being a cop was behind her, and she was embarking on a new chapter in her life, and it was okay.
“Something wrong Mickey?” Cheyenne asked, concerned, seeing the stunned look on Mickeys face.
“No, that’s just it, Cheyenne. It’s alright, it’s all going to be okay.”
Cheyenne looked over at her astounded girlfriend, and smiled, “You know what Mickey, I think it is too!”
Thank you all for reading and commenting! The Rodeo will be on a little Hiatus for Holidays. We want to give everyone time to concentrate on their stories for the Holiday Gift Exchange, over on Alyx’s blog. If you havent checked it out, you can find all of the wonderful stories here. https://alyxfic.wordpress.com/links/
We’ll be checking in periodically, and we have some exciting announcements to tell you about, so stay tuned!
Happy trails for now!