After the Fall (A Tucker Springs Novel)
This title is part of the Tucker Springs universe.
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After years of saving every penny, Nathan has finally managed to buy the horse of his dreams. He’s looking forward to a summer of exploring the Colorado mountain trails above Tucker Springs with Tsarina. But on their very first ride, a motorcyclist makes a wrong turn, scaring Tsarina into bolting and leaving Nathan with a broken leg, a broken hand, and a ruined summer.
Ryan is a loner and a nomad, content with working odd jobs before moving on to the next town. Feeling guilty for causing the accident that leaves Nathan in two casts, Ryan offers to keep Tsarina exercised until Nathan heals.
Despite their bad start, Nathan and Ryan soon become friends . . . and then much more. But with a couple of nasty breakups in his past, Nathan doesn’t want feelings getting involved—especially knowing that Ryan will never settle down. But since when do feelings ever listen to reason?
This title comes with no special warnings.
Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish.
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Yesterday, after ten years of dreaming, three years of saving, and almost a full year of searching for the perfect horse, I finally bought Tsarina. Today, after six and a half hours squirming behind my desk, I didn’t hesitate when Mike said, “Nathan, get out of here. Enjoy your ride.”
I clocked out and burned rubber getting from the Light District to the edge of the foothills and down the dusty driveway to the farm where I boarded Tsarina.
And here we were, Tsarina plodding lazily down a shady trail while I watched a few flecks of sunlight playing on her black mane and gold-and-bronze coat. My saddle creaked softly in time with the hoof beats on the dirt, the sound almost hypnotic. The ranch had faded behind us, and now it was just her and me out here in the woods. Finally.
This was all I had planned for the summer. Classes were out, and Tsarina and I were going to spend the summer getting to know each other on the trails. Come winter, we’d start working with a trainer and set our sights on competition, because a big, smooth-moving Trakehner like Tsarina belonged out on the dressage circuit.
For the time being, though? I’d take it easy with her and enjoy the fact that I finally had a horse again.
Now that she was sufficiently warmed up from the gentle walk and a few short trots, I decided to pick up the pace a little. I tapped her with my foot and clicked my tongue, and Tsarina immediately flowed from a walk into a perfectly smooth, rocking horse canter. I couldn’t help grinning. From my limited experience with her so far, I was convinced this mare was physically incapable of a choppy gait.
Grinning even bigger, I wondered what she’d be like when she had free rein to drop the hammer and go. How fast, how smooth—how did she run when she wasn’t fenced in?
I couldn’t resist.
As the incline steepened on a straightaway, I stood in the stirrups, leaned over her neck, and urged her on with my knees. She didn’t hesitate, launching into a full gallop like she’d been shot from a cannon.
Her mane whipped at my face. I squinted against the wind. God, but she was smooth. Like one of those horses you can ride while holding a glass of champagne and not spill a drop. Perfect.
The trail got steeper, and she ran harder to make it up the slope.
I heard the engine a split second too late.
A blue and white motorcycle shot out from the right.
Tsarina shied. The biker skidded sideways, like we’d startled him as much as he’d startled us. Dirt sprayed in the air. My horse tried to spin one way. Then she whipped back the other way. I’d almost recovered from my own startle enough to keep my balance, but then she jerked sideways again, and I knew that panicked, weightless sensation all too well, that moment when oh shit becomes I’m falling.
I’m falling became we’re falling.
Me and all sixteen-plus hands of her.
I had just enough presence of mind to pull my foot out of the stirrup before we hit the ground, but I landed hard enough to knock the wind out of me. Tsarina landed on my leg. Nothing hurt, but that wouldn’t last. Not with that crunch that hadn’t yet registered in my—
Oh God. There it is.
I tried to curse but still couldn’t breathe.
Tsarina scrambled to her feet. I reached for the dangling reins but closed my fingers around nothing. Then an eye-watering wave of pain in my leg sent me right back to the ground.
Over the idling motorcycle engine, hoof beats.
I forced myself up onto my elbows. My heart jumped into my throat as leaf-filtered sunlight flickered across Tsarina’s glossy hide as she ran like hell the way we’d come.
I tried to call her name. Still couldn’t get the air moving.
Panic. My lungs. My horse. My leg.
Couldn’t walk. Couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t see or hear Tsarina.
I coughed, forcing some air to move.
Footsteps hurried toward me, reminding me I wasn’t alone. Pain and panic retreated to make room for fury. Son-of-a-bitch reckless motorcyclist.
A hand pressed down on my shoulder. “Hey, you all right?”
I didn’t realize I’d moved at all until the biker stumbled backward, holding one side of his face.
“Son of a bitch!” I grabbed my wrist as pain exploded up from my knuckles.
He stared at me, rubbing his face. “What the—”
“I need to find my horse before she gets hit by a car.” Again I started to get up, but again the excruciating pain in my leg stopped me. “Oh. God.”
“Take it easy.” He put a hand on my shoulder again. “How bad is it?”
“Bad enough I’m not walking out of here.” I fumbled to get my cell phone out of my pocket. “But I need to find my—fuck.” I withdrew my hand, grimacing and wondering why the fuck that hurt so bad too.
“You need to sit there and not move.” The authoritative tone gave me pause. I looked up at him. Blood from his nose darkened the left side of his light brown goatee.
Oh. Right. That’s why my hand hurts.
I tried to flex my fingers, but . . . no. Shit. That wasn’t good.
“Listen.” He kept a hand on my shoulder, dabbing at his nose and mouth with his other glove. “I’m going to call an ambulance, but there’s no way they’ll find you up here, so I’ll have to go down to the trailhead to meet them. Will you be all right on your own?”
I swallowed. My anger quickly deflated in favor of pain and a million worst-case scenarios about Tsarina. Where was she? Was she all right? There were two busy streets between the trailhead and the barn. Was she already gone when my name hadn’t even dried on her papers yet? A lump rose in my throat. A moment of recklessness, and now she could very well be—
“Hey.” The biker squeezed my shoulder. “Will you be all right on your own? I’ll come back as soon as I can.”
I nodded but didn’t say anything.
I heard him make the call. Vaguely made out phrases like “horse fell on top of him” and “I’m pretty sure he hurt his leg,” but I was listening to the wind, searching for some sign that Tsarina hadn’t gone far. Some hoof beats. A quiet sneeze. Anything. Give me something, Tsarina.
“They’re on their way,” he said after a moment. “ETA was fifteen minutes or so, and the trailhead’s not far.” He paused. “Do you need a jacket or anything?”
“It’s fucking June,” I snapped. “Just go.”
He hesitated, and I could have killed him when he started unzipping the padded blue and white jacket—matches your bike, how adorable. He set it beside me. “In case you need it.” Then he picked up his helmet off the ground. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
I nodded but avoided his eyes.
He fired up the bike again, and a moment later, he was gone. I was alone.
And in spite of the heat of the afternoon, I started shaking. Fuck. I knew what was coming. I hadn’t been thrown too many times in my life, but the post-fall adrenaline crash was hard to forget: that moment when the initial panic was over, and the body had to do something with all that pent-up energy. I took a couple of deep breaths but didn’t bother fighting it.
When the shakes hit, I desperately needed to walk off that restless trembling, but I couldn’t. Not when I was ninety-five percent sure one of my shaking legs was broken in at least two places.
It would pass. It always did. Probably not as fast as I’d have liked, since I had to stay still instead of walking, but it would pass.
I closed my eyes and took some more slow, deep breaths. My heart was racing, another symptom of that crash, and I reminded myself over and over that it would slow down, that there was nothing to freak out over, though it was hard as hell not to freak out with a heart rate like that. My hands shook in my lap. I just gritted my teeth and tried to hold my injured hand and leg as still as possible.
I glanced at the biker’s jacket. It wouldn’t help; I was shaking, not shivering. I wasn’t cold. Admittedly, though, I found some comfort in the fact that he’d left it behind. Though I didn’t know a thing about motorcycle equipment, it was well made, leather—probably expensive. Something told me he wouldn’t leave it here and run for the hills. I didn’t know his name, didn’t have his insurance information, and I’d punched him. He could have disappeared and left me to find my own way home.
But the blue and white jacket lying crumpled in the dirt with a faint smear of blood on the collar was an unspoken promise that he really would come back.
I wasn’t cold, but I dragged the jacket a little closer anyway. Carefully, I tucked it against my shaking knee to stabilize my injured leg.
The woods were almost completely silent. Wind rushed through the leaves, the odd bird chirped from somewhere outside my line of sight, but the forest was otherwise quiet. The motorcycle engine had faded into nothing, and I couldn’t hear any sirens.
No horses, either.
I scrubbed my uninjured hand over my face, swearing softly into the stillness.
Ten years of dreaming. Three years of saving. Almost a full year of searching for the perfect horse. Six and a half hours squirming behind my desk.
And now this.
I had no idea how much time passed. Pain and fear have a weird way of warping time and space, and for all I knew, I’d been sitting there for an hour before the bike’s engine broke the silence again.
In spite of having his jacket beside me, and being fairly certain he’d be back for that at least, the fact that the biker had come back at all was a huge relief. For all I’d known, he could’ve had a dozen of these jackets at home. Or he could’ve bitten the bullet and bought a new one if it meant he didn’t have to put himself back at the scene of our little incident.
But there he was. He didn’t seem to be in any hurry this time, coming up the trail at a reasonable, sane speed.
Oh, now you’re going to ride slowly and carefully. Fucking douche bag.
He also wasn’t alone. Someone was on the bike behind him. As they came closer, I recognized the light blue uniform shirt and dark blue pants, not to mention the patch on his shoulder with that weird snake-wrapped-around-a-pole symbol.
Paramedic. Thank God.
He had one of those hard plastic neck braces around his arm, too, and I suppressed a groan. Those things sucked. Maybe not as bad as a busted-up leg and a throbbing hand, but this parade didn’t need any more rain clouds, goddammit.
The medic got off the bike and shrugged a small pack off his shoulders. Behind him, the biker turned around and headed back down the trail.
“You’re in pretty good shape for someone who had a horse fall on him,” the medic said, chuckling.
“Thanks,” I said. “I guess being conscious is a start, right?”
“Trust me.” He knelt in the dirt beside me and set the pack on the ground. “The fact that you’re sitting up and not screaming in pain is a damned good sign.”
“Uh, yeah, I hope so. You see this stuff a lot?”
“More often than I’d like to admit.” He slid the collar off his arm. “Before I do anything else, I’m going to stabilize your neck.”
“Okay.” This day just kept getting better and better.
After he’d put the collar on, securing it so it dug uncomfortably into my jaw and collarbones, he had me lie back on the dirt.
“We’ll have you on a backboard as soon as possible,” he said. “Stay as still as you can, all right?”
I couldn’t nod, so I muttered an affirmative, and he went through all the other motions. Vitals. Questions. Checking for pain or numbness in my fingers and toes. Having me track his finger with my eyes. The usual routine.
About the time he’d determined I wasn’t in any immediate danger except for the slim—but better safe than sorry—possibility of a spinal injury, the biker returned with another medic riding behind him. A pair of EMTs arrived on foot a few minutes later, one with a backboard and the other with a larger medical supply kit.
All but one of the EMTs focused on me. The fourth dug a cold pack of some variety from their kit and checked the biker’s face. Most of the blood was dry now, and his nose didn’t seem to be bleeding anymore, but he flinched when the EMT dabbed at the corner of his mouth.
One of the medics carefully checked out my hand. Brow furrowed, she glanced at the biker, who was now pressing the ice pack to the left side of his face. Then she turned back toward me, lifting an eyebrow.
I didn’t say a word.
The other two medics stood aside and discussed—I assumed—my condition in hushed tones. Meanwhile, the other EMT finished cleaning some of the blood off the biker’s face. When the biker winced, I did too. I wasn’t violent by nature—I’d never taken a swing at anyone in my life. And to be fair, the biker hadn’t startled Tsarina deliberately. It had been an accident.
The other medics broke their huddle. A decision had been made, apparently, and I was carefully transferred from the hard ground onto the harder backboard. They were as gentle as possible strapping my legs down, but the slightest pressure or jostling hurt so bad my head spun. Worse, the more they immobilized me, the more the rest of my body started to hurt. My back. My hips. My neck and shoulders. The leg that Tsarina hadn’t landed on. I was going to feel like a bag of ass tomorrow, there was no doubt about it.
The medics each took a handle of the backboard, two on either side of me, and after one gave a count of three, they lifted the board and set it in a basket of some kind. It reminded me of the kind that I’d seen dangling from helicopters in search and rescue videos, and I quickly shoved that image out of my mind.
My stomach twisted and turned, especially once they started down the steep trail. They kept me perfectly horizontal and went extremely slowly, but I was far too aware of that sharp incline. Even my horse hadn’t been able to keep her footing on it once she’d lost her balance. I didn’t like this. Not at all. I was bound to the point of being in more pain than before, especially thanks to that cervical collar that could go straight to hell, but confinement terrified me. Being restrained and completely at the mercy of someone else—no. Just no. And right now, the added fear that I could fall again wasn’t helping matters. The solid board beneath me wasn’t enough to negate the precarious sensation of being off the ground. All it would take was one guy’s hand slipping off. With the way my day was going, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if that happened.
The dull thud of hooves on dirt, accompanied by the squeak of a saddle, made my stomach tighten.
That should be me.
God, where is Tsarina?
“Whoa,” a familiar voice said, and the horse stopped. So did the guys carrying my backboard. “Nathan?”
I opened my eyes, but the first thing I saw wasn’t a person peering down at me. The long, mostly black face with the white star between big brown eyes sent an unbelievable rush of relief through me. “Tsarina. Thank God.” My arms were strapped down—oh, God, I can’t move—so I couldn’t reach up to pet her, but just seeing her calmed me down.
Cody, the owner of the ranch where I boarded Tsarina, swung himself off the saddle. “Your girl came runnin’ up the driveway without you. Figured something must’ve happened.” He tugged her back a little and took her place beside me. “You okay, kid?”
“Uh, I’ve had better days.”
“I see that.” He absently stroked Tsarina’s muzzle. “Well. We’d better let these folks get you to the hospital. I’ll follow you all down.”
The EMTs kept walking. I couldn’t see Cody, Tsarina, or the biker, but I could hear footsteps, hooves, and the quiet sound of the motorcycle’s tires rolling over the soft ground. All the way down the trail, no one spoke. Occasionally, the medics would stop so one or another could adjust their grip, but otherwise, it was a long, silent trek to the trailhead.
At the end of the trail, they set me down long enough to get the stretcher out of the waiting ambulance. Then they lifted me again. I’d never imagined I’d be so relieved to find myself on a stretcher, but the minute the guys set me down this time, I swore my blood pressure dropped several notches. No more precariousness. Thank fuck. I still couldn’t move, but this was an improvement. Now I could focus on things like how much my goddamned leg hurt.
Cody appeared beside me and squeezed my arm. “I’m going to go back to the barn and put Tsarina away, and then I’ll come give you a lift home.”
He gave a slight nod. To the paramedics, he said, “You boys taking him to Methodist or Memorial?”
“Memorial,” one said. “Let me get your name, and I’ll make sure they let you in to see him.”
Cody gave his information to the medic. Then he hoisted himself back onto Tsarina. “See you at the ER, kid. Hang in there.”
He and Tsarina left, and the medics moved the stretcher into the back of the ambulance. The doors slammed behind me, and I closed my eyes. I was still in pain like nobody’s business, but at least my horse was okay. Right then, there wasn’t much more I could ask for.
If there was one thing I hated about hospitals, it was the endless waiting. Okay, it was better than the alternative; being first in line at an emergency room usually meant a shovel sticking out of your skull or something. But sitting on the hard exam table, both bored out of my mind and nervous about what the doctor would say when he finally came in, was not my favorite way to spend an afternoon.
I closed my eyes and rubbed my face with the hand that wasn’t fucked up.
I’d already been down to radiology to have everything X-rayed. There was no way my leg would be good as new after staying off it for a few days and maybe icing it a bit. This was bad. Real bad. And the way my throbbing hand was swelling up and didn’t want to move? That wasn’t promising, either.
At least I wasn’t tied down to the board anymore. The doc had decided I didn’t have any spinal injuries, which was the biggest concern, so they’d let me off the board and taken off the cervical collar. The damage was done—I was sure I had more spasms happening than I had muscles—but I could move and stretch any body parts that were willing or able to move. I could deal with the stiffness and pain. At least I wasn’t tied down or quite so helpless anymore, which calmed me. Sort of.
A nurse came in for the umpteenth time to make sure I was doing okay. As she checked my vitals, she glanced at my hand and scowled but didn’t say anything.
I self-consciously tucked that hand against my side. Not that I could hide it, but that didn’t stop me from trying. Every time someone examined my hand, I was sure they could tell what had happened. As if there were some sort of CSI-style animation playing in their minds, demonstrating how my unscathed fist had collided with Ryan’s face and done whatever damage now lurked underneath my skin. Or his. I wanted to explain to every one of them that I hadn’t meant to hit him. That was not like me. So not like me!
What if he presses charges? Could I go to jail for that?
No wonder all the nurses kept eyeballing my blood pressure and heart monitor. Between the last few shakes of the post-fall crash and my certainty that the cops would be here any minute to haul me away for assault and battery, I was a cardiac basket case.
The nurse left. I rolled my stiffening shoulders and tilted my head from one side to the other while I waited for the doctor to come back in. This wasn’t my first rodeo, as it were, so I knew what was coming. I could already hear the orders: Ice, not heat. Don’t lift anything heavier than twenty pounds. Take two of these and don’t operate heavy machinery. Ice, not heat. I’m serious, Nathan. Ice.
Yeah, yeah. Fuck you. Heat feels better. Bite me.
Out in the hall, a female voice said, “He’s right in here.”
“Thank you.” Cody. The door opened, and he stepped in, holding his dusty baseball cap in his hands. “How you feeling?”
“Like I tried to catch a twelve-hundred-pound animal with my leg,” I grumbled.
He laughed. “Least your sense of humor’s intact.”
“Eh, more or less.”
“Keep your chin up, kid. Could’ve been a lot worse.”
I shuddered, which hurt. Of course. “Believe me, I know.”
“By the way, there’s, um.” He paused, glancing at the door as he cleared his throat. “That kid with the motorcycle. He’s out in the waiting room. He’d, uh, like to see you.”
I rubbed my eyes. He wasn’t all that high on my list of favorite people right now, but . . . oh, what the hell. “Sure. Not like I have anything else to concentrate on at the moment.”
Cody left the room. A moment later, he returned with the biker, and then excused himself to go find some coffee. Bastard.
The biker and I stared at each other in uncomfortable silence. Though the air between us was tense, this was the first time I’d had a chance to really look at him, and looking at him beat the hell out of dwelling on the fact that this was nauseatingly awkward.
His nose was a little swollen, as was the corner of his mouth, but the blood was gone from his immaculately trimmed goatee. His pants were the same armored style as the blue and white jacket he had draped over his arm. The extra padding in the thighs only emphasized his slim waist and incredibly fit torso, especially since all he was wearing above the belt was a skintight, black Under Armour shirt.
Clearing his throat, he moved the jacket in front of him and folded both arms under it. “So. Um.” He gulped. “Listen, I wanted to apologize. I didn’t realize that was a bridle trail. It’s—” He shook his head. “I don’t know the trails that well yet.”
“Neither do I.” I sighed. “Probably won’t get to know them this summer.”
He winced. “Sorry.”
Guilt formed a ball of lead in my gut. “It’s all right. Like you said, you . . . you didn’t know the trails.” I shrugged with one shoulder. “It happens, I guess. One of the hazards of a multiuse trail.”
“Still, I’m sorry. And, uh, by the way, my name is Ryan.” He extended his hand.
“I’ll have to skip the handshake.” I held up my tightly wrapped hand.
“Oh. Right.” His cheeks colored, and he withdrew the offer.
“My name’s Nathan, though.” I paused. “So, are you, um, going to . . .” I held up the injured hand again. “Press charges?”
“Press—” He blinked. “What? No. No, of course not.”
I exhaled. “Thank you.”
He laughed. “I was a little worried you might press them against me, to be honest.”
“If you’d asked me while I was still sitting in the dirt, I might’ve.” I laughed too. “But, I guess we’re kind of even.”
“Even?” He ran a glance over me, and damn it, my skin tingled like that glance had been an actual touch, a hand grazing me through the thin white blanket. The things anxiety did to me, apparently. Unaware that I was an inch closer to losing my mind, Ryan met my eyes. “You’re going to be in a world of hurt for a while. I’m”—he touched his lip gingerly—“just going to be telling bar brawl stories for a few days.”
I laughed again. “For what it’s worth, I really didn’t mean to coldcock you like that. I thought my horse was gone, and you were the closest thing, and . . .”
“It’s okay.” He smiled, though the bruised corner of his mouth didn’t rise as high as the other. “Really.” He held my gaze, then lowered his eyes and cleared his throat. “Anyway, I wanted to stop in and make sure you were all right. See if there was anything I could do.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it.”
Awkward silence fell, punctuated by the steadily accelerating beep coming from my heart monitor.
You’re not helping, you stupid piece of machinery.
“She’s a beautiful horse, by the way,” he said. “And I’m really glad she’s okay.”
“Me too. Just not sure what I’m going to do with her this summer now.”
“What do you mean?”
“She’s in perfect condition. A few months of not riding her? She’ll start losing that.” I scratched my neck. “I’ll figure something out.”
“Maybe, um . . .” The padded leather jacket and pants creaked softly as Ryan shifted his weight. “Well, maybe we can make a deal.”
I eyed him. “What do you mean?”
“I’m the reason you’re . . .” He gestured at my leg. “And the reason she won’t be getting any exercise. Seems like I should do something to make that up to you.”
It took a moment for the pieces to pull together in my head. “Are you offering to ride her for me?”
“Well.” He cleared his throat again. “If you’ll teach me to ride, yes.”
My first instinct was a protective “absolutely not.” Let a novice touch my beautifully fit and still somewhat green horse? Not a chance.
But I hesitated. “You ever ridden before?”
Ryan nodded. “A little. My grandparents had horses. I rode once in a while when I visited but never really learned to do anything more than stay on.”
I snorted. “You’re one up on me today.”
Cheeks coloring again, he laughed cautiously. “Sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry. That was a cheap shot.”
“Not really.” He smiled a little. “I think you’d have stayed on just fine if I hadn’t come along.”
“Guess we’ll never know.”
Awkward silence descended again.
I played with the coarse edge of the blanket to occupy my good hand. “Well, if you’re serious, I could definitely use the help. Fair warning, though, I’m planning to compete with her eventually, so I’ll be strict as hell.”
The smile he gave me was the most genuine one I’d seen on him so far. “I wouldn’t expect any less.”
“Good. Good. Well, uh, I should get your number.” I picked up my phone off the stack of clothes that hadn’t been cut off. Out of habit, I went to press the button with my right thumb, but the stiff splint and tight bandages kept me from making that mistake.
Ryan held out his hand. “I can enter it, if that’s easier.”
Great. Couldn’t do a simple thing like put a goddamned number into my phone. Gritting my teeth, I gave it to him.
He quickly put in his contact information, then texted his own phone from mine. He handed my phone back, and I set it in my lap.
“So, you’re going to compete with her, you said?”
I nodded. “Hopefully. She’s not trained yet, but she’s got a lot of potential.”
“Well, she’s broke. Rock steady under saddle. Just needs to start working toward being a dressage horse.”
“Oh, you’re going to do dressage with her?”
“Sweet.” He rested a hand on top of the monitor, probably trying to do something besides fidget. “I don’t know the first thing about it, but I’d love to learn.”
“This might be your chance, then.”
“Awesome. Well, uh, in the meantime, good, uh, good luck with . . .” He waved a hand at my leg. “I hope it’s better than it . . . uh . . .” His cheeks darkened again.
I laughed. “I know what you meant. Hopefully it’s better than it feels.”
“Something like that, yeah.” He took a step toward the door. “I’m going to take off, but text me or call me. About riding. I’m happy to help you keep her exercised for the summer.”
I managed a smile. “Thanks.”
We held each other’s gazes for a long, awkward moment. I thought he might say something else. I thought I might say something else. Anything I could think to say, though, would’ve made it even more awkward, and I didn’t imagine he had anything more eloquent up his sleeve right then.
“Well.” He took another decisive step. “I’ll talk to you soon.”
Okay, so that was better than anything I’d come up with.
“Yeah. Talk to you soon.”
And then he was gone.
Alone in the room with the incessantly beeping monitor, I stared at the phone sitting in front of me on the hospital blanket.
So the guy who’d scared my horse out from under me was now a contact on my phone. And while I recovered from my injuries, I’d teach him to ride.
Wasn’t today just full of surprises?
I hope we get more of this series soon!
[A] nice addition to the Tucker Springs series.
A great read, good story, and realistic setting with an emotional romance keeping things interesting
My love affair with Tucker Springs continues!
I really liked the characters, and the romance in this one.