"Yoohoo, Storm," she called out softly. Her faint whistle hit the wind and kept going. A few seconds later the young big gray pranced out of the mist and toward her, delicately neighing his greeting. Finnegan and Oliver plopped down in the grass next to her panting from their run and smiling as if they too felt the ease of the world.
"So how is my big boy then?"
Jolene held out the apple for Storm. His lips gently pulled the apple from her hand and he gave her a soft blow of approval.
Finnegan and Oliver shot up and pointed their long noses to the air sniffing the wind then began to bark sharp and furious.
"He is just fine except he dus'na want to be ridden." A dark accented voice touched her from somewhere within the mist behind Storm.
Her dogs barked harder and sharper dancing on their paws. Jolene squinted into the mist while slowly backing away from the fence.
Storm reached her and neighed softly against her retreat. Apparently Storm was not concerned about the strange accented voice behind him.
A tall man with hair as dark as coal from her granddaddy's mines emerged from the mist wearing jeans and a blue knit sweater that was just the color of his eyes which were the exact color of her mother's morning glories. Jolene had never seen anyone so fine in her entire life. His skin was light, but not pale and his dark purple-blue were fringed with lashes that should have been given to a woman.
The image of the Angel Gabrielle from St. Mary's Church filtered through her head.
Her father's magic shirt had not worked on this creature. Even though it had worked on repelling Travis so far….
She patted Oliver's head. "Hush now and sit." The dogs sat down but kept their eyes fixed on the approaching Angel Gabrielle. He smiled and it was like the most beautiful sunrise, lighting up the world around him.
A glowing light framed him making Jolene believe for an instant that he must be an angel.
Her Mamma and Daddy had sent an angel.
Jolene shook her head to clear the nonsense. He was not an angel even if he looked like one.
He must be one of the new owners of her family's farm.
He was Satan ... the devil who took everything.
No wonder the magic shirt didn't work!
Her heart contracted then moved to cold hatred. He was the one who took everything that was left, everything her parents had worked for, even Storm. He was the one that Aunt Paula had sold out to for nearly nothing. He was the reason she lived in a run-down shack with nothing of her old life except Finnegan and Oliver.
It was his fault she had to live with Paula and the horrible Travis.
The lovely-hated man came closer, his eyes glowing and sparking with mischief and humor. "I canno' get him to come ter me at all, but I see he has found a fine friend here at the edge of the pasture. I don't want to break him too hard, but he almost leaves me no choice." He winked at her and smiled wide. Jolene gasped and stepped back further from the fence. Her dogs growled low.
"I could ride him just fine."
The man reached the fence and parked his leg and one elbow on the post. "Could you
now? And how might that be beings I consider myself an expert horseman?"
"It's probably the funny way you talk."
He laughed a rumbling pleasant laugh. "I thought horses were known to like the Irish lilt, at least all the Irish horses did."
Jolene felt herself flush around her meanness and his glowing scrutiny. "You should have stayed with the Irish horses in Ireland then. Storm doesn't like foreigners."
"Doesn't he now?" His glowing azure colored eyes narrowed, sizzling her with their intensity.
Jolene didn't know why she was so angry and bitter because surely it wasn't this man's fault her parents were killed. However the fury bubbled up higher and higher in her heart.
"And I don't like no Irish neither."
His eyes hit her intently and her heart accelerated with each passing second. "Well, little miss, yur looking a little Irish yourself with that red hair. Beyond that, you have a colorful mouth on you, so you do. And you seem to know a lot about this horse. Apparently, he even has a name other than "Big Gray Monster" does he?"
"That is a dumb name."
His mouth went flat and his eyes smoked violet-blue. "You need a good spank'in to talk to an adult like that. How old are you little miss? Where are your folks?"
"I am 18, and my folks are here. And that is all I have to say to you. Go home to Ireland and let us be."
"I think you and I need to have a talk with your folks, so we are going to take a walk to wherever you live."
He started to climb the fence and Jolene's bitter anger disintegrated into panic. Her dogs
barked fiercely but that didn't stop the beautiful Irishman from scaling the fence.
"Run boys." Jolene turned and started to sprint with her dogs bounding after her barking their warnings back to the Irishman.
"You got away this time missy, but mark my words, I'll find out where yer live and have a fine talk with your folks about the way you behave yerself, with no matters at'all."
Jolene stopped at the end of the road and brushed back her hair that had escaped the pony tail stuck out her tongue. "I hope Storm tosses you right on your butt and you break your neck!"
With a drumming heart she flounced away from him and began to run again in case he decided to give a determined chase.
Behind her she heard his rumbling laughter.
"Mark my words missy, I'll be finding yer."