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In the Reins by Carly Kade

An excerpt from the novel "In the Reins" by Carly Kade

I felt hot, embarrassed and self-conscious. If I was going to win this cowboy over and get him to train us, I was going to have to learn his rules and follow them. A soft nicker broke my self-admonishment, and there she was. Faith was calling to me, soothing my frayed nerves, slowing the pace of my heart, offering peace in her wide brown eyes, ears pricked forward at my presence almost as if she sensed this was a different kind of day, the kind of day plump with opportunity and heavy with newness.

Faith was my gravity. She brought me back to earth and out of my head. I opened the heavy stall door, and she blinked expectantly at me, pushing her muzzle into the palm of my hand, her breath warm and moist on my skin. I put my chin to my shoulder and demurely peeked over it to catch a glimpse of McKennon. He was at Star’s side, hand on his stallion’s neck as Star continued his strain against the cross ties.

“Whoa now, boy,” he purred, steely eyes on me, catching my glance. “Whoa,” he murmured, his voice like silk running over my eardrums.

The stallion flexed his neck upward, ear turned toward him, and relaxed his head low in the cross ties at McKennon’s wiry hip, calm again in the width of his palm.

Watching, I clung to Faith as she pressed her blaze to my chest. I took a slight step backward as she nudged me out of the stall into the aisle. I wrapped my arms around her sorrel and white painted head, across either side of her jowl, and under her throat, letting Faith’s contentment at my presence press into me. Calm washed over me, and I stole a second over-the-shoulder look at McKennon as he adjusted the leathers at Star’s side. I sighed at the spectacular realization that I had never really allowed myself to believe that real cowboys might actually exist, especially not one with brains and killer blue eyes, alive and breathing in my barn. This man was a real cowboy, not on the big screen, in my dreams or in my imagination, but here in my barn.

There was a heady, heaviness in the air as I saddled Faith in silence. McKennon slid down the wall, crouched in the aisle, tipping on the heels of his ostrich boots, and propped himself beneath Faith’s stall. He twisted a long piece of hay retrieved from the ground between the fingertips of his lamb-skinned glove, relaxed, waiting patiently for me.

The only sounds between us were the bristles of Faith’s brush as I gave her body a quick once over, the subtle squeak of leather as I tightened straps, horses shuffling in their stalls, searching for the last remnants of their breakfast flakes of hay, nostrils on muzzles blowing breath, serene chirping accented by the early morning coo of doves. There was a satisfying lack of and need for words.

Carly Kade
Carly Kade

Beside Faith, managing the cool metal bit into her mouth and lifting the headstall over her ears, I admired McKennon. Awe washed over me as I examined him. His eyes cast down, face hidden by the brim of his straw cowboy hat, twirling that piece of dried grass, he occurred as almost boy-like. This silence would be so much easier if I could only get beyond his model-like frame, lean muscles flexing easily with minimal motion, and the stirring in my blood that just looking at him caused. For but a moment though, I felt an easygoing bond between us, a shared silence like old friends or secret lovers. We had no need for words. We were just ourselves, enwrapped in the beauty of this horse world.

“You ready?” McKennon hummed as he cast the strand of hay away and stood to face me, penetrating blue bullets for eyes.

“Yes,” I said breezily, feeling all melty on the inside like an ice cream cone that someone needed to hurry up and lick. Standing there facing his god-like gaze, I was thawing in the heat between us. Nervously biting my lower lip, I watched him examine my completed work of saddling Faith.

His eyes fell on my mouth, blinking; I released my lip, and his eyes shot back up to meet mine for a moment. Satisfied with my job well done, he squinted at me and said, “All right then.” McKennon moved to unhinge Star from the cross ties. He unwrapped the reins from the saddle horn and with his stallion in tow, languidly glided out into the morning rays of sun. I slipped my hand down Faith’s neck under her mane, gathered up her reins, and followed him, eyes unable to avoid admiring that all too perfect behind.

About the Author - Carly Kade is a creativity coach, award-winning independent author, horse owner, and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast. She helps fellow equine authors build, grow, and expand their author careers. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle! The In the Reins equestrian romance series was written with horse lovers in mind, no matter which discipline they ride, and the horses are as vital to moving the story forward as the human characters are. The books are perfect for poolside reading or taking to the beach.

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