The Son & His Hope Page 1

Author: Pepper Winters

Series: The Ribbon Duet #3

Genres: Romance

A little text missing due to memory limiations of the website



* * * * * *

“NO, STOP THAT. God, how many times do I need to tell you—”

“You suck at teaching,” Hope grumbled as Binky ignored her commands to turn right and headed toward the triangle of barrels instead.

“Left leg and right rein. Otherwise, you’re gonna” —I slapped my forehead as the screech of metal met Binky’s chest—“crash.”

Hope bent in the saddle, lying over the pony’s neck as her hands stroked, searching for injury. “Oh, no. Poor thing! He ran into the barrel.”

“He didn’t. You did.” Storming over to her, I grabbed Binky’s bridle and marched him—with his tiny passenger—back to the centre of the arena. “Listen to me and collisions won’t happen.”

I wouldn’t tell her that Binky had done that deliberately. It was a trick of his to get out of lugging beginners around. Giving him a secret pat, we eyeballed each other, on the same wavelength about how annoying newbies were.

When I’d learned on Binky, I’d lasted one afternoon doing walking aids and tolerating the basics before I’d unclipped the lead rope that Mom had me hooked to, then kicked that fat little pony with my short stupid legs.

Binky had been younger then and up for an adventure just as much as I was.

I still remembered Dad’s shout as I galloped past him. He’d been building the fence and rail for the new arena, but instead of chasing after me like Mom did, he merely laughed, snagged my mom around the middle as she bolted behind me in panic, and let me make my own mistakes.

I’d like to say I stayed on for the entire gallop.

I didn’t.

Halfway through the meadow, Binky decided he was having way too much fun to share with me and bucked me off.

I’d landed in a thicket of wildflowers, winded and bruised but on such a high I felt drugged. When Dad appeared above me with his dark eyes glittering and hand outstretched, I’d prepared for a telling-off. Only, he’d hauled me up, checked me over, and ruffled my hair with a whispered, “Living up to your name, aren’t you, Wild One?”

I couldn’t remember what I’d said, but I’d been drunk off adrenaline and hated when Mom had caught up, huffing and puffing, running her hands down my arms and legs for broken bones.

Dad had coughed and cleared his throat, giving me a wink as he said sternly, “Don’t be so reckless again, Jacob. You hear me?”

I heard him, and I knew his command was purely for Mom’s benefit because after she assured herself I was in one piece, Dad and I walked back to the barn together while Mom went to wrangle Binky who had his head in the wildflowers.

He’d rested a hand on my shoulder, squeezing man to man. “I’m proud of you, Jacob. You’re not afraid to try new things but don’t forget that fear is sometimes the difference between life and death. Don’t ignore that voice when it’s important.”

“Let go of him.” Hope swatted my head with her small fingers, tugging on the reins and slamming me back into the present. “Please.”

I blinked as she flapped her legs in some imitation of asking the horse to move forward.

“By all means, try again.” I snickered at how bad she was. “Perhaps the twentieth try will be the one.”

“You’re so mean.” She stuck her tongue out, flapping her legs again.

“Not mean. Just pointing out the truth.”

“You could try helping me instead of telling me off all the time.”

“I am helping.” I crossed my arms as Binky decided the same as me—that her aids were shocking, and he was going to ignore them all—and promptly pawed the sand, looking for a nice place to roll.

Darting forward, I grabbed his bride again. “Oh, no you don’t.” Pulling him into a walk, I looked at her. “Close call and you don’t even know it. See? I am helping.”

“What? What was he about to do?” Her face whitened under her helmet. “Rear?”

I rolled my eyes. “No, he wasn’t going to rear. He was going to take you for a roll.” For dramatic effect, I added, “You could’ve been crushed.”

“Oh.” Hope’s eyes drifted to where her dad leaned on the railings, watching us and occasionally snapping photos. “Thank you…for not letting him crush me.”

She didn’t need to know if he had gone down, she would’ve just tipped out of the saddle. Leading her forward, I expected more attitude, but when she stayed quiet, I glanced back.

Her shoulders drooped lower the longer I led her around the arena. She looked dejected. Pissed off. Over it.

Guilt prodded me.

Clearing my throat, I searched for something to say. Normally, she was the one jabbering away. My gaze landed on the wooden bridge and barrels. “Eh, see all this junk in here?”