Big Red and I had been riding the north fence line for a few hours and we both needed a rest. I stopped at the tank and let him water himself and eat. I walked over to the wind mill to make sure it was in good working order for the rest of the winter.

I couldn’t keep my mind off Allie. You always have your mind on her. Yeah that was true but today after reading what she had accomplished while on the rodeo circuit made me damn proud of her and that horse of hers.

Bullet, he was a Nokota stallion just over 17.2 hands tall, really tall for a barrel horse. He was slate gray with black mane and tail. How I would love to breed him to some of my mares.

“Damn it Allie why did you leave me?” I shook my head, “I really need to stop talking to myself.” I whistled to Big Red and he came to me, “We need to get moving boy, I need to be home by four.” Yeah because talking to my horse is not the same thing as talking to myself, right? Yeah right!

I rode into the barn court yard just before three, “Angus, you here?” I called as I walked Big Red into the bard.

“Yeah, back in the office.” Angus was the third son, forth born of Daniel and Bridget Ross, he was a Senior at the University of Texas, working on an MBA in Ranching Management and was home for Christmas break.

“Will you come rub Big Red down for me. I have some work to do in my office and Half Pint wants to see me when she gets home from school.” I pulled off the saddle and bridle and walked Big Red to his stall.

“Sure, I’ll take care of him for you. How was the north fence line?” He asked as he picked up the curry brush.

I smiled, he was going to make a great manager for the ranch, “I rode to Widow’s Peak, the fence is good. I also checked both wind mills, they should be good through the winter.”

“Good, I’ll put notes in the books. You’re the first fence rider back. I hope the others aren’t having a hard time.” He was working his way around Big Red, “You okay Mac, you look a little tired.”

I laughed, I never could hide anything from him, “Yeah, just some old ghosts living in my dreams lately.” I turned and walked out of the barn and headed to the house, I really didn’t want to talk about Alyson Marie Yates.

I stopped at the kitchen while Matilda made me a roast beef sandwich, “Thanks Matilda, this’ll hold me until dinner.” I turned and walked to my office in the new wing.

I opened one of the double doors to the office. The west wall was floor to ceiling windows with a one-way tint that let me look out, but no one could see in. It also protected the two walls of books. The fire place was in the north west corner. There was a leather couch, a loveseat, and a wing back chair around the low table in front of the fire place. I walked to my desk on the east side facing the window and sat down. This was the place I retreated to when I needed to get away from my ghosts.

Eating my sandwich, I opened the day’s mail. I stopped when I got to the large envelope addressed to ‘Miss Patricia May Ross’ from the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M.

“Well, she’ll be thrilled to see this, I hope.” I placed the envelope into her box on my desk. Each one of my siblings had a box where they can come and get their mail. Sam was in his last year at Oklahoma University, working on his MBA in Land Management. I looked at his box, I would need to forward his mail as he was working for the U S Forestry Services through Christmas in Colorado. “Come home Sam, we need you.” Again, with the talking to myself.

There was a knock at the door, I looked up at the clock, 4 on the dot, she always was punctual, “Come on in Half Pint.”

“Hey, you got time for me Mac?” She walked into the room and I met her in front of my desk.

“I always have time for my family.” I wrapped her in my arms for a hug. She was 7 years old when our parents were killed in a plane crash. “Come on and let’s set on the couch and you tell me what’s on your mind.”

I sat on one end of the couch and she sat in the middle and faced me, “Mac I would like to ride barrels at the Fort Worth Stockyards Rodeo during the Christmas break.”

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly, “Okay, I’m pulling all of December, so we can ride in together.” I took her hand in mine, “Are you thinking about riding the circuit again before you go to college?”

She smiled, “No, yes, maybe…but this morning when we were talking about Alyson,” She stopped and looked down, “well it made me think about riding again.”

I laughed and pulled her into my arms, “Doing what we love should always come first Half Pint. We’ll need to leave by three Friday, so I’ll pick you up from school.”

“Okay, that’s the last day until January, I’ll have Angus drive me in, so my truck won’t be left at school all weekend.” She smiled and stood up to walk to the door, “Thanks for understanding, I love you.”

“Hey, Half Pint you’ve got mail.” I got up and walked to the box and handed her the envelope.

She sat in one of the chairs in front of my desk and I leaned on the corner as she opened the envelope.

As she read the letter her smile got bigger, “They have accepted me to the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, with a full ride scholarship.” She handed me the letter before she started jumping up and down around the room, “Oh my god, I am going to A&M in the fall.”

I read the letter, she was right she had a full ride based on her grades and her SAT scores, “Half Pint is this what you want to do?”

She stopped jumping and looked at me, “What do you mean, Mac?”

“Barrel Racing, didn’t you just say you wanted to see if you could make it on the circuit before college?” I walked to her and put my hands on her shoulders.

“Oh yeah, but I can do that local, I really want this, being a veterinarian is all I’ve wanted to do since I was 4 years old.” She started bouncing under my hands.

“Okay, A&M it is then. We could use a good Vet on the ranch, and I can’t think of any one better than you Half Pint.” She turned to leave letter in hand, “We’ll stay in the suite at the Stockyards Hotel, Friday and drive home Saturday night so pack accordingly.”  Before I was done speaking she was bouncing through the door.

 

 

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