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The White Rose ~ Part Four
 By Moose   •   12th Feb 2012   •   1,086 views   •   10 comments
The White Rose Horse Story

Jenifer’s head throbbed, her body ached, she was dizzy, and her eyes felt heavy. She lifted her head and released her grip from around Azure’s neck to see that they had stopped. She jerked to a sitting position and squinted ahead. Still, she did not recognize anything. Feeling immensely frustrated and hopeless, she threw her arms around Azure’s neck. “Get me out of here. Please!” she shrieked. “Com’on girl, take me home!” she managed to choke out between uncontrollable cries and shivers. Jenifer sucked in a gasp of air and let it out with a shaky sigh, unable to control her body shivers. Azure sighed with fatigue and kept walking. Jenifer’s fingers seeped into her coat, massaging her neck as she let out whimpering cries. She kept rubbing until she had cried herself to mumbles and tremors and back into a deep sleep. There was nothing more she could do now but hope and pray Azure could get her out of here.

Suddenly, there was a voice, hard to distinguish. Azure stopped in her tracks. The voice grew louder. The filly replied with a warm nicker that shook her body. Jenifer lay motionless and cold, taking in the sounds but none of them registering to her brain. She blinked open her heavy eyelids and pulled herself up. A tall, blurry figure pulled her off of Azure’s back. His smell was familiar and his body was warm and comforting. Jenifer pulled away to study the face and suddenly her thoughts organized and she recognized the man. “Luke!” she gasped, wrapping her arms around him and letting her heart drop with relief.

Luke breathed heavily, holding Jenifer and squeezing her tightly. “Don’t you dare do that again.” he said through his teeth. There was pain and stress in his voice. Jenifer began to breathe easy, her fears and aches faded. She felt so comforted, protected, and at home when she was in Luke’s arms, even if they were a hundred miles from home. She sighed loudly. Her prayers were answered. She felt an overwhelming feeling of safety, as if a thousand tons had been lifted off her shoulders. Jenifer’s sighs broke into gasping cries of joy. She muffled them out into Luke’s chest.

Luke released her and stared at her, in awe. “I thought you were dead.” he said with allayment. Luke looked to Jenifer, seeing that she was cold and tired; he gave her a place in front of him on Garth.

Garth was a heavy Friesian mix of a horse. He was surely strong enough to carry two passengers for miles. As for Jenifer’s filly, she was weak and fine-boned. It was a miracle she had made it this far, now if only she could make it home... Luke held the stirrup for Jenifer to mount Garth and lent his hand for her to sturdy herself. Once she was in her place, he slid on and took Garth’s reins. Azure followed beside them quietly.

Jenifer laid her head against Luke’s chest, falling fast asleep for the rest of the ride. Luke felt like a hero; he liked to know that she needed him. He knew the death of her father was hard… everything was falling apart, and he had no control over it… and she needed him now more than ever.

As they approached the stables, Luke tied the horses loosely to the tacking posts outside of the barn. He slid Jenifer out of the saddle and carried her to the house. She looks so cute when she’s asleep, he thought as he stepped onto the porch. The moon lit her gentle figure, giving it a soft blue cast and bringing out natural beauty in her face. Suddenly the screen door swung open and a worried face appeared. The light from the house made Jenifer squint. She moaned and opened her eyes.

“Oh, Jenifer!” he mother cried out in relief. “Luke, don’t bring her to my door like that! I was about to have a heart attack.” she said, stroking Jenifer’s soft, freckled face.

Luke snapped out of his daydream and nodded, “Sorry,” he replied “she is fine; just cold and tired.” Jenifer wrapped her thin arms around Luke’s neck and tried to shut her eyes. “I’ll just… bring her…” his voice trailed as he looked around the house.

“Up there, first door,” her mother directed.

Luke nodded and climbed up the stairs to Jenifer’s room. He pulled open the door with one hand and stepped inside. Her room was hardly used. It was simple, pastel colored, and elegant. Her bed was in the center of the room, neatly made. He gently set her in it, layering a blanket over her. With that, Luke started out of the room quietly.

A soft, barely audible voice came from behind him. “Thank you.” Jenifer said.

Luke turned and smiled. He shut the door as gentle and quiet as he could. Once it was shut, he sighed and headed back down the stairs. His boots hit each step with a thud. When he was about to sneak out the door, her mother’s voice came from the kitchen. “Thank you.” she said, leaving a pause before her next sentence. “She really needs a friend like you.”

Luke paused, smiled, and headed out the door.

As Luke walked back to the bunk house, he thought to himself, I can’t do this anymore… I like the ranch and I like Jenifer, but I’m not going to be able to survive without a job… Luke let out a long, troubled sigh. Now is a better time than ever. I have to leave… he turned back to the house and picked up his pace, but he stopped in his tracks. How could I ever explain it to Jenifer? She can only take so much heartbreak. He pictured her sound asleep by now. No, I can’t do it… I can’t tell her in person. He swallowed hard stared blankly at the house. This would be the last time he would ever see it… The last time he would ever see Jenifer… the horses, the falls, the ranch… everything. How could he just leave it behind? A lump swelled in his throat, making it hard to breathe. He shook his head gently with a dull, exhausted expression. There were too many memories to think about in one night. He could never go through them all. With great resistance, he turned away.

It felt so strange, like any second Jenifer would come waltzing out of the house with a smile, like it was all just a nightmare. It’s not. He told himself. Luke forced himself to take a step, one step farther away from Jenifer. His mind seemed to scream at him. How can you do this to Jenifer? She will never forgive you. You’re walking away from the most wonderful, beautiful, careless, free, down-to-earth girl you’ve ever met. You can’t just find another person like her. Luke closed his eyes and pushed onward, “But I have to.” he said out loud, picking up his pace towards the barn doors. It’s better if I leave now, when she can’t stop me.

It felt cruel and wrong to Luke, but something told him that it would be easier on her and her mother if he just left, without warning and without the heartbreak. It took all of his strength to write that note and even more of him to pull out of the driveway, but Luke Evans left Glasswater Ranch that night.
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