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A New Flame - Chapter One - A New Beginning
 By Moose   •   23rd Jun 2014   •   1,546 views   •   2 comments
A New Flame

This story is a continuation of the hit novel "Still Burning", by PonyBox contributor Moose.

Jane slid her hands down on the leather reins and tightened each of her fingers into fists. The oxer approached quickly, her hands raised up the mare’s neck, she lifted out of the saddle. Jane felt the powerful take-off, sending them both into the air. The mid-air suspension seemed to slow everything down. For a moment, they were off the ground completely. Then she sat hard as the mare’s head came down and forced her hips back when the back hooves hit the ground.

The eager mare bounced back after the jump, launching Jane forward as they cantered towards the cross rail. Jane collected her reins, adjusted herself, and positioned the mare for the last jump. The young mare’s perky ears flicked forward with interest as she charged toward the jump and soared over it with ease. Jane lowered the mare back into a soft canter and leaned forward, patting the place where her neck and withers met. A soft snort escaped the mare’s nostrils as she eased into a slow jog.

Jane bounced with every other stride and squinted at the silver truck, pulling into the driveway. Flora lowered her head and sighed as Jane cooled her down with a slow jog around the arena. She kept her eyes on the truck in the driveway, trying to distinguish the visitors. She watched with interest as two men stepped out of the truck and followed her father towards the barn.

The three men began talking and she lost interest. Jane directed her gaze back to the arena and continued to cool her mare. The men began working on the barn. They moved the long wooden beams from the stack of pallets while her father operated the tractor. He picked up another stack of pallets from the long, flatbed trailer and brought it to the building site for the new barn, which was replacing where the old paddocks used to be.

After Jane could no longer see Flora’s nostrils flaring with each breath and she was no longer hot to the touch, Jane dismounted. She turned to her mare and loosened the cinch, watching Flora exhale slowly. With reins in one hand, she unbuckled her riding helmet and pulled it off her head. Jane’s messy blonde ponytail stuck to the back of her neck when she removed it.

After releasing her ponytail and running her hand through her wild curls, Jane walked lazily to the arena gate and opened it. She glanced up at the builders, noticing that one of the strangers had been watching her as he worked. He stared as if he recognized her but when he saw Jane look, he quickly looked away. She watched him for a few short seconds but when he didn’t look up, she turned and headed for the back entrance of the barn.

The large barn fans blew cool air into her face, clearing her loose, messy blonde curls from her eyes. She unstrapped Flora’s bridle, and slid the mare’s head into a halter. After securing her to the cross ties in the middle of the aisle, Jane uncinched her horse and carried the light weight jumping saddle into the tack room along with the bridle. She walked back out into the aisle and pulled off her gloves, wiping her sweaty hands on her breeches. Jane returned to Flora and unclipped her crossties before leading her outside and tying her loosely next to the water hydrant.

Jane bent down, dragged the hose out of the grass and turned on the hydrant. The hose hissed and sputtered. When she glanced up again in search of the stranger, she found his eyes on her again. He looked much younger from a shorter distance. His messy blonde hair reflected the sunlight like a mirror. Suddenly, a cold mist hit Jane’s sweaty skin as the hose began to spray. She lifted it and showered Flora’s entire body. After peeling her blue polo t-shirt from her sticky skin, she used it to wipe her face. Jane folded the hose in half to stop the water. She turned off the hydrant and used the squeegee to remove the excess water from Flora’s body.

When she finished, Jane untied her and led her into the west pasture with the other mares. As soon as the buckle of her halter was released, Flora tossed her head and nudged Jane’s small shoulder. Jane smiled and shoved the horse back playfully before standing aside. With a bob of her head, Flora trotted gracefully through the gate and towards the grazing herd of mares. Jane watched Flora greet the other mares with soft nickers and perky ears. She began grazing peacefully in the shade near the far corner of the pasture.

Jane leaned against the top rail of the gate and watched the horses interact with each other, something that had always fascinated her. She smiled to herself as she noticed the way the horses stood head to tail to keep flies out of their faces. Every few minutes one of the horses would sigh or snort, breaking the silence. The silence was peaceful with the mixed sounds of birds singing to each other, frogs croaking down in the river, and the rustling that the leaves made when the wind blew through the trees. In the distance, Jane could still hear the beeping of the tractor as it backed up to the trailer, the loud clunking of wood beams as they were thrown onto the stack and every now and then she heard her father’s voice, yelling out orders.

Jane squinted her eyes into slits, suddenly curious of the tall, young stranger. She scanned the yard and identified each of the bodies working on the barn until her eyes landed on him, a few yards away, getting a drink from the hose by the wash racks.

“Oh,” she said, slightly startled. “Hi,”

“Hi,” he said as he looked up, locking eyes with her momentarily.

Jane felt his dark eyes digging into her as she shifted her weight and swallowed. “Hi,” She said again.

He laughed, “You already said that.” He murmured, running the water over his head once to wet his hair and then shaking it like a dog, sending water flying.

Jane felt her cheeks grow hot with embarrassment. She glanced up and studied him quickly. The way his cheeks dimpled as he smiled fascinated her. She was almost startled when his dark eyes suddenly flicked up to meet hers again.

“You’re a pretty good rider.” He said, pointing towards the arena.

Jane smiled politely, “Thank you,” she replied. There was an uncomfortably long pause. “So um... How do you know my father?” she asked, taking a quick glance around.

He turned off the water hydrant, “My father is Gale Crow.” He watched Jane’s expression change as she recognized the name. “Will works with him. I came along today to lend a hand.” His voice trailed off and his eyes wandered back to the building site.

Another warm bead of sweat trickled down her sunburnt cheek to the edge of her jaw. She quickly lifted her arm to swipe it away. She could feel the sun’s merciless heat against her back and bare shoulders as it glared down at the earth from space. She let her eyes wander to his t-shirt, soaking wet and faded from years of wear. “I didn’t know Gale had a son,” she admitted softly.

“He doesn’t talk about me much.” He added and started walking in the direction of the other men.

“And what about your mom?” She asked curiously, beginning to follow.

His steps became slower, making Jane pause. Her lips parted as she came to realize why he has suddenly become so quiet. “I’m so-”

“Don’t apologize,” he said as he saw her begin to speak.

Jane swallowed thickly and looked down at her paddock boots and half-chaps. Her curiosity wanted to ask more, but seeing the way his expression changed when she brought it up, she decided not to. She knew what it was like to lose someone and she knew how hard it was to talk about it. Her mind slipped away for a moment.

“You never told me your name.” She said softly as they started walking again.

“Well that was rude of me,” he replied with a warm smile, bringing out his faint dimples.

Jane couldn’t help but smile back. “I wasn’t going to say anything about your lack of manners,” she teased. She let her legs cross over as she walked, inching closer towards him. “But now that you mention it-”

“Hey now,” he laughed, playing along effortlessly. “What about you? I’m a guest at your house and you haven’t even introduced yourself.”

“Jane,” she said softly. As she looked up, her golden brown curls bounced, “My name is Jane.”

With a wide, quirky smile, he held out his hand, “Nice to meet you Jane. I’m Elijah.” Jane shook his hand and smiled playfully. His smile drained from his face as he caught his father’s gaze. He seemed to read his mind.

“Well as much as I’d like to keep holding your hand...” Elijah mumbled as he glanced down at their hands. Jane’s heart beat faster as she realized she was still holding his hand and quickly released it. She looked away and bit her lip, forcing back nervous laughter. Elijah laughed out loud, “I would,” he reassured her, “but I have to go back to work.”

Jane nodded with a soft laugh and swept away a stray piece of hair. As Elijah smiled and backed away, Jane was suddenly reminded of Andrew’s smile; the way one side of his mouth curved up mischievously and the way it made her heart flutter. It was a lot like Elijah’s. She watched him turn and walk to his father, who mumbled something to him and put him to work immediately. Jane jumped as Will’s sturdy hand landed on her shoulder from behind her.

“I haven’t seen you smile like that for a long time.”
Maiandra  
you wrote a sequel!!!! ive been waiting for this!!!
  Jun 24, 2014  •  1,556 views
 
Moose  
For the reader's reference: map of the Kennedy's farm
  Jun 24, 2014  •  1,551 views
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