The pound of Bonanza’s strides were deafening, yet she could hear one more set of hoofs closing in on them. Another hundred yards sat the end of the clearing and her new record! The moment the trail straightened out across the field, Josephine let the reins slide through her fingers and leaned over her mount, lengthening the gelding’s strides. Suddenly she felt a tug on her ponytail just as she entered the stand of aspen.
Josephine sat back and drew up her reins. “I think I made it!”
“Not even close, Walker, maybe next time,” said TJ, circling her like a war party around a captured covered wagon.
“Stop, you’re making me dizzy! And, I did so make it and look you pulled my ponytail out,” Josephine whined, flipping her hair over her shoulder as she turned to face the Blackfeet teenager. “Theodore James Black Feather! Where’s my hair band?”
“You’re not my mother, you know.” TJ pulled Cisco up next to her holding the band out in a teasing fashion. “I like your hair down.”
“Well, I like it up when I’m riding. Besides, I’ll need to put it up when we go swimming later,” she said, holding out her hand.
Flashing his father’s smile, he dropped the hair band onto her palm.
Then she noticed! “Your hair, you cut it!”
“Yeah, I think it makes me look older, more sophisticated, don’t you?” he said in a low masculine voice, turning his head to give her a better view.
“No, I liked your hair long. It’s always been long.” As the pair began walking side by side along the lake trail, Bonanza and Cisco breathing heavily in unison, Katherine snuck peeks at TJ. The geeky and goofy neighbor boy she had played tag and hide-n-seek with since they were toddlers, did look different, more like a young man than an awkward teen. Even though he was three months her senior, he had always looked younger than she did... until now. Was it the shorter hair? For a moment she might have even felt attracted to him. Josephine shook her head, cracking a lop-sided smile to herself -enough silly thoughts.
“What did you bring us?” she asked, sliding her hair band over her wrist. For as long as they had gone on morning trail rides together, they took turns bringing breakfast.
TJ flipped a drawstring bag braided into Cisco’s mane over the gelding’s neck. “Ham biscuits, and they’re still warm, but they won’t be for long.” TJ cued Cisco into a trot leading the way down the trail toward the hunting cabin.
When they reached the log cabin built on stilts not far from shore, they slid from their mounts and tied them to the hitching post out front.