Her back end flew up, her legs flying high, and her hoof connected with Chassie’s forehead.
Chassie literally saw stars as she hit the dirt.
A thud sounded as Edgard jumped the fence, sending hay dust swirling around Chassie’s head. “Chassie?”
She forced her eyes open and Edgard’s face swam into view.
“Oh damn, baby, your forehead is really bleeding.”
“Shit.” Her vision was blurry and she had a vicious headache.
“Jesus. Hold still.” He stripped off his glove with his teeth and pressed it to where her pulse pounded up by her hairline.
“Jesus f**king Christ would you stop, that hurts!” So much for acting tough.
“Sorry, but you hafta keep pressure on it.”
“No, you’re not. Hang on.” Edgard slipped one arm under her knees and the other under her neck as he lifted her.
“I can walk.”
“Like hell.” Edgard kicked the stall door shut and carried her into the house. When Chassie tried to sit up on the couch, he pushed her back down. “Don’t move and let me look at it.”
“It’s probably just a scratch.”
“Let me be the judge of that, okay?” He sucked in a harsh breath when he gently pulled the glove away. “I think it needs stitches. She sliced you open good.”
That’s when Chassie started to cry. “I don’t want stitches. I’ll have horrible scars and I’m already not rodeo queen material and I’ll end up lookin’ worse than I do right now, probably like Frankenstein.”
“And we can’t afford a trip to the doctor’s office,” she practically wailed. “Maybe you should just take me to the veterinarian’s—”
“Ssh.” Edgard wiped her tears and dabbed at the blood. “Calm down. I’m taking you to a real doctor. We’ll get you fixed up. And there’s no way you could ever look like Frankenstein.”
Pain throbbed in her head. “I hate doctors. Hospitals. All that medical shit.”
After a minute or so of silence, he asked, “Because of your mother?”
Images of claustrophobic rooms and the stench of antiseptics caused her stomach to pitch. “How’d you know?”
“You never talk about her. You said she was sick. You sort of seemed embarrassed about it.”
Chassie nodded. “She was sick for a long time before she died. Most my life, actually. Because she was Native we ended up at the Indian Health Services hospital. No one cared whether she got better, except me. It was like we were both invisible and unwanted. I hated roaming the hospital corridors wondering if I’d return to her room and find her…gone. The worst part was I figured no one would notice when she passed on, and that’s exactly what happened the day she finally died. She was dead for an hour before I could get anyone to come into her room.”
More tears leaked out even when Edgard’s touch soothed her. “You’re really gonna make me do this, aren’t you? Go to the doctor?”
“Yes, sweetheart, I am. But I’ll hold your hand the entire time. I won’t leave your side. I promise.”
“Thank you. You’re so sweet, you probably think I’m such a crybaby—”
“Ssh. I don’t think any such thing. It’s okay to lean on me.” He smoothed the hair from her cheek. “I want you to be able to count on me, Chassie, for whatever you need.”
“I’d like that.” In a rush, Chassie said, “But you can’t tell Trevor what happened when he calls.”
Frown lines appeared on Edgard’s forehead. “That’s not—”
“Please. He’ll freak out and there’s nothin’ he can do. He needs to stay and sort things out with his family. We both know he’ll come racing home if we give him a reason to.”
Edgard studied her. He bent down to kiss her cheek. “I disagree, but we’ve got more important things to do than argue. Stay put. I’ll pull the truck up and then we’ll go.”
Trevor killed an hour in his room, alternating between staring out the window and scowling at the rodeo trophies. When he deemed his temper able to handle not only his father, but the rest of his family, he ventured downstairs.
They’d moved out of the doublewide trailer in Crook County and into this testament to Tater Glanzer’s ego the year Trevor turned thirteen. Hadn’t mattered to his father, uprooting his oldest son at the start of Trevor’s high school rodeo career, with one of the most respected high school rodeo teams in the state. Hadn’t mattered to his father that Trevor left behind his best friend and the family he’d wished he’d been born into.
Between Tater’s rodeo earnings, the untimely death of Starla’s father—who’d left every penny of his Wyoming oil money to his only daughter—they set to building the most flamboyant, gaudy house this side of the Big Horn mountains.
Tater demanded their new home be decorated country cabin style, with exotic and domestic animal heads from his various hunting expeditions mounted on the walls and the space littered with his collection of mostly tacky Western art.
Starla ignored Tater’s demands and decorated the house in the style of an English country manor, with chintz-covered chairs, plaid and floral couches, lace doilies, ruffles and bows.
The result was pretty hideous, an interior decorator’s worst nightmare—Laura Ashley meets Conan the Barbarian. The horse scenes painted on velvet clashed with the velvet draperies. The rusted barbed wire folk art sculptures did not complement the classic Greek marble figurines. The grizzly bear skin rug clashed with the Oriental carpets. Trevor and Chassie were on the same page for how they wanted their home to look. Hard to be picky when money was an issue. After they’d first gotten married, she’d jokingly suggested they decorate in the theme of cowboy versus Indian to keep with their heritages.
What Brazilian pieces would Edgard add to their eclectic mix? Had he even brought any of his personal stuff over from Brazil?
While he was lost in thought, pondering the changes he wanted to make in his life even as he wondered if he had the guts to follow through with it, his mother had somehow snuck up behind him. “You always were a damn daydreamer.”
“Only way to escape from the shitty reality in this family. Besides, I always got my chores done on time. Can’t say the same for anyone else.” Trevor turned around. “I’m ready to see Pa.”