Betting on Texas

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Authors: Amanda Renee
events of the past few days. She knew
it was too early for him to have read it yet, but she checked anyway. No new
messages.
    She jumped in the shower, threw on some clothes and headed out
the door. Her body ached from sleeping on the floor for the second night in a
row. She kicked herself for being too lazy to drag a cot in from the bunkhouse.
As soon as they got back, she would buy a mattress.
    Famous last words, Miranda. It’s been
three days now.
    “Sleep well?”
    Jesse snuck up behind her as she left a note on the back door
for Mable. His mischievous grin told her he knew she was sore. There was no way
she would give him the satisfaction of winning this round.
    “Like a baby,” Miranda replied, smiling. “I didn’t even need a
cot from the bunkhouse.”
    The speed in which Jesse’s smile faded when he realized she
knew about the extra beds amazed even her.
    “I’m telling Mable.” She waggled a finger at him as she walked
around the trailer, already hitched to Jesse’s truck. The horses were tied to
the side.
    “What are their names?”
    “The chestnut is Charisma and the paint is Hawkeye.” Jesse
reached inside the trailer and grabbed an armful of nylon and fleece braces.
    “These are shipping boots. They protect their legs during
transport,” he said as he fastened the black boots around their lower legs.
“Think you can manage to untie Charisma?”
    As Miranda moved to the left side of the horse, he jolted and
swayed sideways, almost crushing her against the side of the trailer.
    “Charisma’s not fond of trailer rides,” Jesse said as he
soothed the animal. “He’s a little skittish. At least you approached him from
the left. You’re learning.”
    Learning? He almost flattened
me!
    Charisma pulled against his harness and tie-downs then kicked
backward with both legs. Jesse quickly snatched Miranda out of harm’s way.
    “Why, Jesse, I didn’t know you cared,” Miranda said as she held
on to him.
    “Believe me, I don’t.” Jesse released her as if disgusted with
himself. “It’s the load we’re hauling I care about. Not you.”
    Jesse’s words bit into her heart. No matter what she did or
said, he insulted her in some way. It wasn’t the most ideal of situations, but
couldn’t he at least give her credit for trying?
    “I hate you!” The only words she could think of flew out of her
mouth before she had a chance to stop them. Not very mature.
    “You hate me, huh? Want to trailer these horses alone?” Jesse
mocked.
    “I could if I wanted to. I am so tired of your insults. I did
nothing to you. Nothing that was my fault anyway. You have a mean streak a
country mile wide and a chip on your shoulder the size of Texas.”
    “Wowee, girl. You sure sound like a Texan. But make no bones
about it, you ain’t Texan. You never will be.”
    “That’s it! Get off my ranch!” She didn’t know how or where the
words came from, but she’d had enough. She met every challenge and she deserved
respect.
    “We’ll see how well you do without me.” Jesse stormed off to
the foreman’s house, leaving her alone with the horses.
    I can do this myself. I don’t need him. I
don’t need anyone.
    Miranda caught a glimpse of Jesse as he watched her from the
window. Her hands trembled. She slowly began to unfasten Hawkeye’s tie-downs.
The horse jerked back for a brief moment and then followed her in the trailer.
Inside, Miranda attempted to retie the horse the same way Jesse had. Frustrated,
she yanked the tie harder than she should have, spooking the horse. Hawkeye
attempted to rear. The trailer violently shifted. Miranda grabbed hold of
Hawkeye’s halter to steady herself. Alarmed further, the horse broke free from
her grasp and knocked her to the trailer floor.
    “Miranda!” Jesse pulled her to safety. “Never do that again!
You’ll end up killing yourself with the way you handle these horses.”
    Miranda ran out of the trailer while Jesse settled the horse.
He loaded Charisma while she

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