(Prologue to Chapter 5:
The night that the big stud horse had gotten to Dove, he was found wandering by the side of a road. Nobody knew where he came from, and nobody had reported him missing. A magnificent animal, a Friesian cross: glossy black with heavy muscles, arched neck, proud gait, and lots of mane, tail and "feather" hair, he looked to be a prize. Instead, he was almost a demon. A rogue. Vicious.
Something was clearly haywire in his brain, and whatever that something was it had put him on his final journey- in the back of a slaughterhouse-bound truck. That is, until he broke out of it and regained his freedom. Again.
And also, whatever that something was that made him that way, it had been passed down through his bloodlines to his daughter. An oddly-colored young mare called Like Silk.)
Jessie had overcome her fear and had come home to groom Silk as she had done so many times before, and then let her into the corral to socialize with the other horses. Silk was perfectly docile again, and Jessie was already planning her next attempt at riding her. Only this time, she would be a good girl and stay on the ranch property, just as Uncle George had insisted. She hated to admit it, but he had been so right. It was going to take time for Silk to be safe enough to take on the trails, especially after getting spooked so badly by that snake. At least Silk was already used to limited riding around the ranch.
Of course, it would also take time for Jessie's arm to heal enough to where she could use it in riding again, too. Right now it was still too sore to be any good, so she'd have to be creative when her uncle was around. He would no doubt wonder why she wasn't riding her beloved horse, the one she had longed and pined for for so many years.
He simply could not find out about what had happened. He must not! He would blame poor Silk, and Jessie had to protect her horse at all costs. Uncle George wouldn't have any reason to find out as long as Jessie wore only long sleeved tops and never acted like her arm hurt, even though at times it was killing her. No, she would fake it. She had to. For Silk's sake.
The night was cold, but not too cold. Hints of the earlier rain still hung in the air- that crisp, fresh smell and the occasional dripping off the branches of the trees that surrounded the corral where Silk was penned with a few of the other mares. Steam rose from their hides as they mingled around, noses to the ground, searching for errant wisps of hay blown in by the wind. It mattered not that there were piles of fresh alfalfa around the perimeter; it was so much more fun to hunt for food. It was a game.
On the edge of the property, two silent figures stole across the grass, hiding behind trees and heavy machinery. Darkness enveloped them, so their features could not be determined. Regardless, no one was around to have seen them anyway. Uncle George and Jessie were asleep. Even the dogs were asleep, betraying their duty to stand guard for intruders. Usually that meant the occasional coyote or possum that would barely escape with their mangy lives after encountering angry snarls and barks and bared teeth. But dogs must sleep too, and there had been no intruders of any kind in a long time.
These trespassers were human, however. Two teenage boys with nothing better to do had sneaked out of their houses in the middle of the night to look for trouble. They really hadn't had a plan, they just wanted to do something. Anything. It was so boring around here, with watching paint dry about the most exciting thing going. When they heard the whinny of a horse, and saw their dark shapes moving about in the corral, an idea hit them.
"Hey, let's have a rodeo!" The oldest boy whispered. "Yeah! Stupid horses. Let's have some fun!" The younger one grabbed a rake that was leaning up against a tree trunk, and the two of them crept closer to the corral.
The mares could sense that something wasn't right. They snorted nervously and paced, eye whites showing and ears pricked. Suddenly, the two boys yelled and waved their arms and the rake, and jumped over the corral fence and into the midst of the panicked horses. The mares were in a frenzy trying to escape this terrifying thing that was happening to them, and not understanding any of it. All except one. Silk alone faced the adolescent hoodlums and sized them up. Suddenly she charged, teeth bared and ears pinned. The boys were caught completely off guard. Horses don't attack! What was this crazy animal doing?
The boy who held the rake instinctively raised it above his head and brought it down hard on Silk's skull. He had intended to terrorize the horses with it anyway, but now he was simply trying to defend himself against this unexpected onslaught. But Silk was unfazed and now enraged. She crashed her 900 pound body hard into the boy's much weaker frame, sending him sprawling into the dirt. She then slammed her sharp hooves into the boy's side.
The other boy turned and leaped to safety out of the corral. He looked back toward his friend, but couldn't see anything in the darkness except the furious horse's unrelenting attack. He did, however, hear his friend's brief shriek of fear, the last sound the teenager would ever make. Then, all was still and quiet once again.
The other horses were still nervously milling about, but Silk stood over the boy's limp body, nudging it curiously. The boy's wide open, lifeless eyes stared back at her, seeming to ask, "Why?"
But no one answered, except the cold night wind and a horse's snort.