Quick overview: Riley is a 15 year old girl living in Florida. Her parents own a large competition/sales barn. She loves all the horses, but she knows they will not end up keeping them forever, so she asks her parents for her very own horse, and she gets her wish. Her new horses ends up being quite the rascal and she struggles to achieve a peaceful partnership with the horse, while also trying to make sense of the mysterious happenings around the barn and dealing with a snobby boarder her age.
I don't know what I was thinking. At the moment he just seemed like the perfect horse! I guess I was just blindsided by his beauty and forgot about all the other aspects. My fascination with off the track Thoroughbreds had led me to make the decision to buy Back In A Flash, or just Flash for short. It had taken days to convince my parents I could handle the hot horse displayed in the sales ad, but they had finally agreed to it, with the warning that he would be given back to his old owner if I couldn't handle him. I sighed. Flash trotted around the round pen, head high and nostrils flared. After a failed attempt at lunging I kind of just gave up and let the 4 year old tire himself out, although it didn't look like that was going to happen anytime soon. The bay continued to trot around and whinny after his pasture mate, Happy, and small, buckskin mare with a swayback. I had first learned to ride when I was 5 years old, and Happy was the first horse to teach me everything I knew. Now she was retired at 25 years old.
Eventually I got tired of watching Flash, and put his halter on and began leading him back to the pasture, first making sure my parents weren't around. The last time I had led Flash into the pasture he had taken off and left me doing an elegant face plant on the ground. I held tightly onto the lead rope and strained my muscles as I tried to keep him from prancing about. Luckily, I managed to get him into the pasture and close the gate after him. He dashed off to meet Happy and together the pair resumed eating grass while I went off to do stable work.
The first face I saw when I walked into the stable was Kendall's. My day officially couldn't get any worse! Kendall was the same age as me, and she was a boarder at my parent's competition/sales barn. She was a total snob, and she thought that she and her horse Lyric were the greatest eventers in the whole area. Boy was she wrong. I changed my facial expression to a glare, and I was surprised when she didn't return it. Instead she grabbed a hold of my arm and started pulling me away from the barn. "Hey! What are you doing?"
"Just follow me," she snapped. Normally I would've snatched my hand away and ignored her, but her face...it was so pale. I had never seen her look so vulnerable. She led me all the way to Lyric's pasture, and started unlatching the gate.
"Um, if you're here to brag about your horse I'm not interes..." and then I saw it. It was Rick, our stable hand. He was lying down in the grass by the back fence, with a wheelbarrow and a manure fork beside him. Looks like he had started cleaning out Lyric's pasture. But why was he lying down? It wasn't like him to nap on the job. No, it wasn't Rick. It couldn't be. I had seen him today and he was wearing a grey shirt. Why did it look so red? A thousand thoughts swirled in my head, and then I knew what is was. Blood. Blood everywhere. Splattered across his face, staining his shirt. That was when the world wemt black, and the last thing I remember was the color red.
Red and blue lights flashed outside my bedroom window. My mother sat beside me as I slowly regained conciousness. "Wha...?" Was the best thing I could come up with. My mothers smiled slightly.
"The cops are here; Rick is...is dead, as you already know since you saw the body. The cops are here investigating what happened, and they might want to question you. I'll tell them to come back another time if you want to rest. You must still be in shock. I know...you and Rick weren't close, but he has been a friend to us for a couple years now, and loosing him is hard on all of us. So tell me the truth, how are you?"
"As fine as I can be. Just...all the blood," I shuddered. "It made me want to throw up. I hate blood."
"I know you do, but I'm not talking about the fainting. I'm talking emotionally. Do you need to see a therapist?"
"No, Mom, no. I'm fine. In shock, of course, but I'll get over it. My brain just hasn't registered all of it yet...it's so confusing. What happened?"
"He was stabbed. They don't know by who. The forest near Lyric's pasture belongs to the neighboring barn, owned my Mr. Hadway. He's most likely their first suspect, although I don't believe he did a thing. He may be an old, grumpy man, but I don't think he's capable of murder, not for a second. It is possible he might not be aware of everything that goes on on his property. After all, it's hard to manage 500 acres."
I groaned. "But why? What has Rick ever done to anyone?"
My mother sighed. "I can't answer all your questions. We'll leave this to the police and see what they come up with. The body has been removed from the premises, and now all we can do is wait. It's not even noon yet. They say this must have happened around 7:30, right after Rick gives the horses their morning feed. He must have gone to clean Lyric's pasture and then somebody jumped the fence and..." She paused. "Well, that's all I know. Kendall's pretty shocked too. Maybe you should go cheer her up. She's your friend, right?" I grimaced, but my mom didn't notice. She turned around and walked out of the room while I slid out of bed to go call Holly, my best friend. I knew she would come over in a hurry so we could talk.