We’re outside the stables, saddling Blackjack, a gentle, even-tempered stallion—the first horse Presley rode by herself.
Sofia eyes him warily. “My dog isn’t going to throw me off and break my neck. Or kick me. Or trample me.”
I hoist the saddle onto Blackjack’s back. “No—he’ll just rip your throat out if you piss him off.”
She takes exception to my observation. “That is a vile Rottweiler stereotype. Sherman would never do that! He’s my sweet baby boy.”
“I’ve never seen a baby with teeth like his.” I tighten the cinches and secure the last buckle. Then I slap Blackjack’s flank—the way I’d like to be slapping Sofia’s ass.
“Now saddle up.”
Sofia gazes up at the massive animal. Her eyes are round, her expression all intimidated and vulnerable. And part of me must be a sick sonofabitch, ’cause it’s turning me the fuck on.
She takes one step forward, lifts her hands, bends her knee . . . and completely pusses out.
“I can’t! I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. I just can’t!”
I laugh, patting her shoulder. “All right, don’t have a heart attack—it’ll be more fun this way anyway.”
I swing up onto the back of the horse, look down, and hold my hand out to her.
Her brows furrow. “I don’t know if humans were meant to mount something so large.”
I smile. “Come on, Soph—trust me. I got you.”
Sofia takes a breath, grasps my hand, and puts her left foot into the stirrup. Blackjack stays perfectly still as I pull and she swings her leg up and over his back, settling in front of me.
Her denim-clad ass presses right up against my dick. Her back leans against my chest, her hair brushes my face, and I smell gardenias. This ride is going to be the best kind of awful. Feeling her, holding her tight, but not being able to do anything about it—delicious fucking torment.
I wrap my arm around her waist, pulling her back, holding the reins in my hands. “Relax, Sofia,” I tell her softly. “I would never let anythin’ happen to you.”
She sinks against me, turns her head and smiles. “Okay.”
Then we start to move.
“Whoa!” she squeaks, gripping my thighs. “Easy! Remember—slow and steady wins the race.”
“But hard and fast is a lot more fun.”
We trot uphill, and I know just the spot I want to show her. It’s the highest point of my parents’ land, where you can see acres of grass—like an emerald ocean.
“You know,” I tease, “the only thing better than riding a horse is being ridden on one.”
Sofia laughs. “Are you speaking from experience?”
I tip my hat back. “Only from my vivid and sadly unfulfilled fantasies. It’d take a little thought—holdin’ on in just the right way, balancin’ your legs around my waist or over my shoulder . . .”
“Are you trying to distract me so I’m not afraid?”
I lick my lips, smiling. “Maybe . . . maybe not. Is it workin’?”
Her hands go from gripping my thigh, to rubbing. “Why, as a matter of fact, it is. Tell me more . . .”
• • •
“My God . . . it’s so beautiful.”
I’ve seen this view a thousand times, but being here with Sofia, seeing the delight on her face, the wonder—it’s contagious. Makes me grateful all over again for where I’m from, the blessings we had growing up. She sighs, and together we enjoy the quiet, gazing at the green pastures and valleys dotted with brown and black cattle.
She looks over her shoulder at me. “What?”
I point at the grouped livestock. “See how they’re bunched together like that?”
I gaze up at the sky, looking for a sign, but there’s nothing to see but blue.
“When cattle cluster, usually means a storm’s comin’.”
Now she’s looking up at the sky too. “You mean they can sense it?”
I shrug. “It is pretty cool.” I offer her the reins. “You want to steer?”
She wiggles her fingers, smiling giddily. And it makes me smile back.
“You think I’m ready?”
She pats Blackjack’s neck and takes the reins.
“All right, Blackjack, work with me.”
The next twenty minutes are spent with me explaining how to ride a horse—make him turn, stop, speed up. Then Sofia is on her own—and she does pretty damn good.