Handful of Sky

Handful of Sky by Tory Cates Read Free Book Online

Book: Handful of Sky by Tory Cates Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tory Cates
let him slumber on until he roused himself an hour outside of Austin and took the wheel.
    “Take the next gate.” Shallie made her command as unpleasant as she could, hoping to show Hoskins that two could play at surliness. They passed under a high arching gate of black wrought iron. A large M was welded inside a circle at the top. The McIver brand. To Shallie it stood for the biggest and the best in her business. The private road through the McIver property was considerably smoother than the one maintained by thecounty that they’d just turned off. The cab was filled with the soft scents of cedar and fresh-cut grass. Shallie took a deep breath. Her nose, attuned to the various nuances of grass, told her it was coastal Bermuda, a species that made excellent hay. They drove on for several miles before spotting a light at the top of a rise.
    The light shone on a full-scale rodeo arena complete with bucking chutes and concrete stands. It appeared that a full-scale rodeo was taking place as well. Hoskins parked the truck and they got out. On the far side of the arena, milling about in the darkness, Shallie saw a solid acre of corralled horses.
    “Looks like they’re having a buckout.” Hoskins’s voice in the darkness startled Shallie nearly as much as the sight of so many horses penned in one spot.
    “Looks that way.”
    In the arena, the horses were being run through the chutes and ridden as fast as they could be rigged up. A short cowboy with a face as broad, open, and friendly as Howdy Doody’s made notes on each horse’s performance.
    Shallie circled around the bright pool of light flooding the arena, left Hoskins to watch the buckout, and went to the corral full of horses. The animals’ heads churned about catching flashes of moonlight like waves on a midnight sea. She hung on the gate and scrutinized them. For the most part they were a scruffy lot of dinks, sluggishanimals that lacked animation. Perhaps that was why the dappled white roan, tinged a ghostly blue, captured her attention so quickly.
    A proud, indomitable spirit flashed from the roan’s eyes. He held his head aloft, nostrils quivering, as if being jammed against such a common herd offended his sensitivities.
    Over the years, Shallie had learned that a contractor had to be part cowboy, part lawyer, part veterinarian, and part politician to survive, but that he would never succeed if he was not, above all, a good horse trader. And that, Shallie knew, was her long suit. As good as her uncle was at juggling all the other roles, he bowed to her expertise when they stepped into the auction barn. Judging horseflesh came more as an intuitive gift to Shallie than as a skill she’d had to consciously cultivate. She seemed to have an instinctive knack for knowing which horses, with the right treatment and feed, could be turned from lackluster dinks into high-bucking champions. From the first time she ever accompanied her uncle on a buying trip, she’d been able to pick out those animals with hidden fire.
    That first trip out, though, she hadn’t been able to convince her uncle to trust her instincts and bid on a scruffy-looking chestnut gelding. The horse had gone to a producer in Montana. After the chestnut gained sudden notoriety as the rankest horse on the amateur circuit, Uncle Walter had begun paying serious attention to herperceptions. On her advice, they had acquired Zeus and Odin, the two best broncs in their string.
    Shallie never questioned her intuition about horses, which was why, from her first glimpse of the blue roan, she was unshakably certain that this was the horse that could carry the Double L brand to the National Finals. She calmed herself, remembering that she hadn’t even seen the animal buck yet. Still, she thought of the load of steers she’d hauled up and her mind immediately fell to horse trading. If this horse were only half as rank as he looked, he’d be worth a feedlot full of steers. Somehow, she had to see this horse buck

Similar Books

Love Unfurled

Janet Eckford

Elliot Allagash

Simon Rich

A Kind Of Magic

Donna Grant

The Mark of a Murderer

Susanna Gregory

Naked Edge

Pamela Clare

Blood Struck

Michelle Fox

Rodeo King (Dustin Lovers Book 1)

Cheryl Yeko, Char Chaffin

Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder

Jo Nesbø, mike lowery