Stuck In Fire 2 - Justin Bieber

Justin is finally reunited with Katie.. and that's awesome. I don't know what to write, 'cause i haven't read the story o.o IT'S NOT MIIIINE. I JUST POST IT TO READ IT :P

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24. 24

EPOV

I couldn't hear any voices…but something was coming! I immediately saw red and panicked, thinking it was an enemy of ours…but then my brain clicked in and asked, 'How would Kevin or Raven find you guys out here, in the middle of nowhere, at this deserted house?'

Either way, I didn't want to take any chances with Selena. And even if it was a cop, I wanted to spare her the permanent arrest record. She wanted to be a psychologist and it would not help her if she was arrested for trespassing and breaking and entering.

"Selena, come here!", I yanked her arm behind me as I moved along the right side of the house, crouching in the bushes.

I still couldn't make out what was coming, or hear much more but I looked around, working out a way to remove Selena from this little equation.

"Selena, get inside the house and hide!", I told her, "Lock the door and don't come out no matter what happens. I'll come find you…"

"No, Justin, I'm not leaving you!", she whispered back at me with a frown, holding onto me.

I sighed and kept looking in the woods a few feet away but nothing…nothing except sticks cracking, footsteps coming…and tree branches moving. It looked like it was a group, not just one person…and that scared me. But I shoved my own fears aside and kept thinking of how to get Selena safely out of this.

I moved around the side of the house, going further back, looking for something…anything I could use as a weapon, if I needed it. All I found was a small pipe, about as long as a baseball bat…it wasn't very thick…but it would have to do.

"Stay here.", I said and she shivered but didn't let my hand go.

"I'm just going around the corner, over by those trees. You'll be able to see me.", I assured. She nodded again and reluctantly released me.

I kept my eyes on those trees and tried to make out who was in there…and what they were doing. I snuck quickly over there, not seeing anyone's face looking back at mine…maybe they didn't see us…maybe they owned this place…they could be totally innocent of any wrongdoing…after all, WE broke into this place…they could think we're the bad guys. But I also knew if some of the folks in this town caught us on their property, it could be: shoot first, ask questions later.

I was so intent on looking for more movement in the woods that I didn't even hear or see anyone approach me from behind. I felt arms grab me and I almost backhanded whoever it was…but it was Selena!

"Jesus, Selena!", I hissed, "You almost got HIT!"

"Sorry!", she clutched onto me, "I didn't like being all alone over there! I want to be with YOU."

"Awww…", I said, almost touched…if it weren't for the terror it would've been a sweet moment for us.

"There THEY are!", she squealed, pointing to more movement, the tree branches bobbing up and down…and we could hear boots clomping in the dirt…shushing through the dry leaves…someone was coming.

"Move back, Selena.", I instructed her, raising my pipe and jumping out in front of the trees. Selena yelped and put her hands over her mouth, frozen as I confronted them.

"I've got a GUN!", I shouted, wincing and turning the pipe as if it were a rifle, "I'll shoot if you make any fast moves so DON'T! Come out here, SLOW…and put your hands UP!"

The movement had ceased for a few seconds…and then it started again…they were coming forward…about to leave the shelter of those trees…I could almost see them now…I felt myself freeze…my eyes surprised and shocked at the same time.

"It's a HORSE.", I said aloud, my eyes squinting as a tall, white horse limped and almost stumbled out into the clearing where I was waiting.

But this wasn't a normal horse. Although it was a white horse, it was very dirty. Not only that but it was bleeding. It had reins on, but they looked so tight and there was streaks of blood trickling from under the straps down its nose. There was also dry, almost black liquid around it's eyes and mouth. The knees and ankles were red and scabbed too, and the ribs were jutting out on it's sides, clearly visible. In fact, every bone in its body was poking out from under the horse's hide. The back of it was all sunken down in the middle. As I got closer to it, I saw that it had barbed wire around its neck and blood was dry all around it…and she was dragging a piece of broken fence that was connected to the wire it was stuck in.

As it turned a bit, I saw that it was smeared with dry blood on its sides and on its butt it looked like there was skin torn off. This was the most frightening horse I'd ever seen!

As I moved a little closer, I noticed it's hooves…they were too long and almost curled upwards, which made it look like it was very painful and difficult for the poor thing to even WALK!

"Justin.", Selena came up to me, grabbing me as she took in all the abuse I was witnessing on this haggard, half dead looking creature.

"Don't get too close to it, Selena.", I warned her, "It's in pain and it could be dangerous if you get too close. Stay here, let me try."

"You can get hurt too!", she pointed out.

"I have horse experience, you don't.", I informed.

"You have a few weeks of taking care of the horses experience!", Selena reminded, "You don't know how to deal with abused animals."

"Don't I?", I asked, giving her a little glance, "I'll be careful, okay? Stay back a bit."

"Okay."

I put the pipe thing down and moved really slowly…it was staring at me and moving from side to side in a strange way…maybe trying to get the wire fence off her neck…maybe because of the pain.

"It looks like it's dancing.", Selena said softly from where she stood and I agreed it DID look that way. But I'm sure that's not it.

"Okay, baby…", I said to it, my hands at my sides, putting them up a little, "It's okay…I'm not gonna hurt you…don't be afraid…."

It made a high pitched sound of fear and pulled back away from me, bucking up its front legs and kicking them out, warning me to stay away.

"Justin!", Selena was freaking a few feet away, scared for me.

"It's alright.", I kept my voice very extremely quiet and level, "See Selena…how I'm making my voice? Very soft…they like that. Don't you baby?"

"Yea, it looks like it's working real well.", she said, afraid as she kept watching.

I didn't want it to run away…I wouldn't be able to catch it and then it would most likely die out here. Maybe he was too weak to get out of this canyon…there were parts that were very steep as we rode in here last night. It looked like it was starved, almost to death. I'd never seen an unhealthy horse before…and it hurt me, and scared me…all the way down to my core.

There were cuts and bright red scabs and fresh blood under one of its eyes…and a big rip down the neck from the wire that was still bleeding, dripping down its body even now.

It almost looked like it was crying bloody tears as I inched a little closer.

"Shhhh sweetheart…", I kept using my voice to keep it calm as it looked at me, its eyes showing no trust at all, "Not gonna hurt you, baby…promise…"

It's one eye was swollen up, I could see as I got nearer…the closer I got the more pain I seemed to be feeling as I got more detail.

"Oh baby…I know…I know…", I had tears in my own eyes as I got a couple feet closer, "Please don't run away…let me help you…shhhhh….shhhhh…"

It didn't make any moves to lunge at me again or bite me. It looked so tired and frail that I thought it might fall over at any second now. But it just gently rocked from side to side….lamely swinging its head along. I never saw that before…what is it doing?

"It's okay, Selena…", I said to her although I kept my eyes on the horse's face, "I'm alright. Stay there though."

I still said all that in my very calm voice…not wanting to spook the horse away. It was dangerous now, that I was so close….if it got scared again, it could kick me or trample me…and really fuck me up. But so far it didn't.

I noticed each hoof had black colored hair around its edge…the rest of it pure white, with the exception of all the redness from the bloodstains. I noticed bites around the ankles and legs of the horse…and wondered if coyotes had come across its path.

Finally, I reached the horse and was almost nose to nose with it. Selena watched, not even daring to breathe as I got closer.

"Hi baby…ooohhhhh sweetie…I know, it hurts…I know…it's okay now…you can trust me…shhhhhh….", I kept cooing, assuring it as my eyes looked right into his…or hers…I couldn't tell what the sex was yet.

"Ohhhhh…", I slowly moved my hand up a bit but the horse tensed and lurched backwards, showing teeth and snorting through its nostrils. Selena gasped from where she was but I didn't react…I stood my ground.

"I know you're scared…I know…", I whispered, "Not gonna hurt you baby…not ever…shhhhh…."

I must be nuts to be even attempting this, I told myself…but I couldn't back away.

I wanted to pet the horse, and looked for an area that wasn't harmed…but I couldn't find one. Poor baby…who would DO this? I found anger and rage rising up in me…but I had to hide it…I had to be sweet and gentle…or I'd lose him.

It seemed like forever that I just looked into its eyes and spoke to him…it didn't move away…

"Can I touch you baby?", I cooed, slowly…SO slowly…moving my hand up, seeing a very worried look cross over the horse's dark eyes.

Its eyes were so soulful and sad, I noticed as I watched them…very rich brown in color with dark brown lines and shadows inside…long eyelashes and a circle of white light shining in the upper left of the pupil I was looking at now…and my reflection looking back at me…I'm glad I wasn't wearing the hat now.

It looked as if it was just waiting for something bad to happen to it any moment…I didn't want to give it any fear that I would bring it any more pain. I wish I had my treats with me now…

I decided to try touching it alongside its neck…in the spot that wasn't ripped open…and my trembling fingers made very soft contact…and stopped shaking as I very carefully moved my hand down.

"Good baby….", I praised calmly, keeping the eye contact, "Good…shhhhh…I'm sorry…I'm so sorry….shhhhh…I'm gonna help you sweetie…that's it…relaxxxxx…."

I felt the blood, both the fresh wetness of it…and the dried, hard scabs that had formed who knows how long ago…I didn't flinch of show signs of disgust.

In need of something to do after awhile, I figured the only way to save this horse was to try and get a lead rope around its neck, secure it to a tree, and then gallop back into town on Midnight Sun and call Bob to come bring a horse trailer so we could get it to the stables. There we could have him looked at by a vet.

It took another hour or two to approach it again with a rope in my hand. I had no idea what I was doing, but the horse didn't seem to be a mean one…it was scared…and my voice seemed to calm it down…I was afraid what it would do once I got the big loop of rope around its neck…it might kick and go wild…but just as I was about to move the loop around its head, the horse looked like it had gotten dizzy and fell to its side…and just laid there, seeming to pant in short breaths.

"Justin, GO, hurry!", Selena waved me towards Midnight Sun, "I'll stay back here and watch him…HURRY UP!"

I didn't like leaving her alone here but she told me it would be alright. I don't know why but I had to help the horse…it looked like it had been through the most horrible painful shit ever. I knew that feelilng…that feeling of falling down like this…too exhausted to get up.

"I'll be right back!", I said to her, hating to leave her even for a little while.

"Go, GO!", she said and I rushed to Midnight Sun, untying him, getting on him in seconds, and yelling, "YA! YA!"

And we took off so fast…I'd never rode this horse with such speed but it was an emergency. Most of all I worried about Selena…I wanted to get back to her as fast as I could. Luckily, I made my way out to the road in about a half hour…and flagged down an oncoming truck. I was so pissed that we weren't allowed a cell phone in this witness protection shit…I could've tried to call myself standing next to Selena.

The guy in the truck let me use his cell and I called Bob, never dismounting M.S.

Bob knew where that canyon and house was and he said he'd be there right away. I thanked the nice guy and galloped away…and heard his son in the back seat asking if I was the Lone Ranger. That made me smile a little…if I wasn't so scared about leaving Selena. Kids today know about the Lone Ranger? What a cool kid!

The man had said to his son, "Kind of. He's saving a horse."

When I finally got back there, I saw Selena and I let myself breathe again. She came up to where I was tying M.S. off and before she could say anything, I held her tight.

"I hate leaving you alone.", I said, "I'm sorry."

"I'm fine.", she said, "The horse is still laying there…not moving much…it keeps looking around for you…"

I started to approach again, very slowly….Selena stood off in the distance a bit.

This time the horse didn't make any noise at all as I got close to it.

"Hey baby…you laying down?", I asked tenderly, still using my gentle voice, and it let me touch him again…"That's good…you rest…help is coming baby…help is coming real soon…"

Selena was a couple feet behind me, wanting to help.

"Bob is coming.", I said, turning to her, keeping my voice level and soft.

"Good.", she crossed her arms, watching on helplessly.

I just stayed with him…or her…stroking…massaging my fingers under its face, and around the nose…trying to make him feel good…not touching any of the injured parts…I was finally sitting right next to him…moving my hands over its sides…feeling my own body ache as I pretended not to feel all the hard bones so close under the skin.

"Such a good boy…or girl…", I smirked, enjoying the feeling that I was making the poor little creature relax…"That's right, take a little nap…sweet little baby…"

I saw white stuff oozing out of the mouth…and I wondered where the HELL Bob was…and then I heard the sound of engines…cars coming.

"You're gonna eat real soon, baby…real soon…hold on…hold on sweetie.", I soothed as I saw a bunch of men in cowboy hats from up above the canyon begin to make their way down on foot, not able to approach here by car. Damn, I didn't think of that.

I couldn't do much but wait until they got here and at last, they were a few feet away.

"The horse was kicking and all earlier.", Selena told them as they stood off where she was, "It's in really bad shape, bleeding and…it just fell down before Anthony went to get help."

Bob had three or four other guys with him. I recognized a couple from work, guys who I didn't see much, they were rodeo guys. And a police officer was there.

"Okay, Anthony…", Bob said gently, "Back up a little…slowly…don't scare him…"

I did what he said…and the horse started to get aggravated that I was moving away from it. Its breathing sped up more and it's eyes bulged out more…staring at me…whinnying weakly.

"It's okay…", I soothed it again, as I slowly moved backwards, my hands out at my sides, "Just going over here…I'm not leaving…relax…you're okay…"

When Bob and the other guys began to approach, the horse's head jerked up and it made a very shrill sound again…kicking its front legs a little…bucking its head right and left…and that made the tear in its neck worse…fresh blood trickling down the dry blood there before it.

"No…", I stopped moving away from it, "No, don't do that…"

I was talking to the horse, like it could understand me.

Bob and the other guys stopped approaching and tried to speak nicely to it like I had…but that was just making it worse. I stood back, letting them handle it, because they're supposed to be the experts…but they were scaring the horse even more. One guy had a needle or something like it in his hand, a little case in his other hand, maybe a vet or something. Or he just had his own kit with him, for his own horses that were in the rodeo.

The horse got back to his feet and was dragging the fence and barb wire thing along beside it…and it began to neigh loudly and show its teeth again…jumping up a few times to throw its legs out at the approaching men.

I could see it bleeding a lot more now…and I knew that the more the horse fought like this, the more pain it was in…and before I knew it, I was back in front of it.

"Shhhh baby…", I said, taking my time to let him or her know I was here…"Hey…it's okay…it's me…these are my friends…don't be afraid…don't…we want to help you baby….shhhhh…"

And once I was near it again, the horse calmed down and stood still…I nodded to them to go around behind it…maybe if I stayed in front of it…and kept making eye contact with him…they could approach and start checking him out.

"Nobody's going to hurt you…not while I'm here…", I kept petting my fingers over the bloody white muzzle. By now my fingers were covered with blood but I didn't care.

The other guys got close enough as long as I was keeping the horse quiet, and they were talking to each other as they assessed the horse's injuries. I couldn't hear much of it…but I'd be sure to hear it later, once we got the horse to the stables.

Bob told me that we needed the poor horse to try and walk out of the canyon to get to the trailer in the distance. It didn't seem real far away…but for a horse this injured, I knew it was going to be a long, painful walk.

I tried to let the others rope it and lead it off, but the horse wasn't having any of that. The only thing that ever worked was me being there, close by, leading it towards the trailer, coaxing it with my voice all the way. Selena followed a few feet behind, smiling at me as we made our way out of here…I felt so bad…I'm sure she was starving too, we hadn't had anything to eat since last night, but she never complained.

Now and then, I could hear the other men talking beside us…

"That horse isn't gonna make it."

"It's the worst I've ever seen…", another said, "It's so underweight…you could add 300 pounds to it and it would still be dangerously emaciated."

"It must've been out here for weeks…", Bob said, "What did, someone just leave her here?"

"She's at death's door…it's just a matter of time…"

Her…it was a girl! At least I could call her girl now. I ignored the guys, even though it pained me to hear those things…I knew they were good men and did care…and were just as pissed as I was…but I also heard some of those things when I was at death's door once…in Raven's basement.

I heard a paramedic say, right as he was working on me, "He's got maybe hours left…maybe he deserves it…fucking whores. They never learn. Money…that's all they care about."

But I had made it. Maybe, even fought harder because I'd heard what that man said. I knew she could fight and make it too.

"You're doing SO great, girl…", I found myself placing a kiss right between her eyes, "I'm so proud of you…you're a strong little woman…come on…follow me…good girl…"

Maybe it's not such a curse after all, women wanting to follow me all the time.

Bob and another one of the guys were also carrying the part of fence, walking along with it so she wasn't dragging it behind her and making the wounds on her neck worse. They wanted to get it or cut it off back where she was laying down before…but the wire was embedded in her skin. It was too risky to try and remove it until the horse was sedated.

There was a big discussion about how we'd get the horse to get into the trailer. I didn't want to waste any more time in getting her some relief so I just took it on myself and walked into the trailer while the geniuses kept debating amongst themselves.

"Anthony, get outta there.", Bob scolded me.

"Come on baby…come on girl…come get me…", I coaxed her inside…and slowly, it took a chance and stepped inside…walking timidly towards me, the hooves clanking against the metal floor as she let out a small, exhausted sound of pain.

"It's all over now…good girl…", I kissed her nose, smiling at her, "Yea…you did it…we're going to a good place now…we're gonna fix you up baby."

"I've never seen a horse go into a trailer that fast…no way…", one of the guys said from out there.

"I'll stay in here with her.", I offered, seeing Selena out there, holding Midnight Sun's reins, petting him affectionately.

"You can't stay in there, Masen, you're NUTS!", one of the guys said to me.

"Yea I know.", I smirked, "But if I leave, she's gonna go crazy again. It's not far…I'll be alright."

"No Anthony.", Selena said now, looking in here with concern written all over her face.

"It's okay, baby.", I winked at her, petting the horse's face, "Ride up in the truck with Bob…I'll be alright."

No one liked my idea…but in the end, it was the only way the horse would stay calm. So we tried it. Bob drove the truck pulling us in the trailer…and he went real slow. I think a kid on a tricycle passed us as we crawled along the road.

The whole ride, Selena was looking at the trailer behind her, trying to see me through the little window behind my head. I kept looking out the window every so often, smiling at Selena and giving her a thumbs up sign. She was going to kill me after this was over.

Funny, I didn't feel scared at all, being locked up in this little coffin like thing…huh.

At last, we reached the stable and I was never so happy to see the place as I was today.

"You're making me go to work on my day off.", I said gently to the little face staring at me now, "I hope you appreciate this."

The horse made a little 'ppppbbbbbb' sound and gave a little shake of her head.

I was laughing at her when we stopped and Bob came around to open the back of the trailer up.

"You okay, ANT?", Bob asked right away, looking terrified.

"We're fine.", I said calmly, moving my fingers through the horse's white mane at the top of her head, "We're just talking."

"Get your butt outta there now.", Bob demanded me, looking worried.

"Come on, sweetie pie…", I slowly began to move around her side…and Bob and another man carefully took up the fence part again, ready to move when she did.

"That's my girl…", I looked back and saw she was trying to turn around in here.

"No, NO!", the other guys said, "Don't let her TURN…make her back out!"

"How am I gonna DO that?", I asked and the horse got a little nervous when I shouted.

"Sorry, sorry…shhhhh…shhhh…" I calmed her.

Eventually, we did get her to back up and follow me into the stable. I felt like I'd just run a marathon when we entered…and we got her into one of the stalls.

The other guys kept going, "I don't believe this…the horse just follows him in…too weird."

"I just have that animal magnetism.", I joked back, now outside the stall, "Good, she's here…where's the vet?"

"Won't be here until 5.", Bob informed, looking at the beaten little horse.

"Five?", I frowned, looking at the clock, "It's eleven AM now…are you saying five PM? He won't be here til FIVE PM?"

"There's no real vets here in town.", Bob looked at the horse sadly, "The closest one is hours away. We're lucky he's even coming…it's the weekend."

"I don't give a FUCK about the weekend! She needs help NOW.", I heard myself getting upset and louder. Bob looked a little surprised at me…I wasn't usually like that at work.

"I know.", Bob said.

"I told her it was all over, that she was gonna get HELP now.", I was shouting a little at Bob even though it wasn't his fault.

"We can do a few things here until he comes.", Bob began but I was getting more pissed now.

Selena stood beside me and looked at me with sad eyes too, not saying anything as I paced back and forth, grabbing my hair…not listening to Bob much.

"Anthony.", a voice said from behind all of us…and Jenna was there, dirty and sweaty, looking more like a farm hand than a girl, "I can help. I know horses. I'm not a vet, but I can make it better until the prick shows up."

Selena smiled at her, not knowing who this was. Should I say anything? Maybe later.

Bob gave me a nod and confirmed that she could help us.

"Okay, Jenna.", Bob said and I cringed…knowing Selena was right beside me…and now she knew.

"Okay, let me wash up and I'll be back in five minutes! I'm gonna get my Mom…and medical supplies!"

"MOMMMM!", Jenna yelled as she took off at a sprint.

I was afraid to turn around.

"Bob…", I put a hand on his shoulder, "Is…Marie standing there?"

"Yep."

"Is she smiling?"

"Nope."

"Thanks Bob."

"Yep."

I turned around and Selena sprung on me.

"That's JENNA?", she asked loudly, "THAT JENNA?"

"Yes.", I glanced back, not seeing her yet, "Maybe I'll introduce you two later…"

"No, I want to meet the bitch NOW.", Selena growled, swatting my hands away as I tried to move her back away from the horse.

"Selena…Selena….", I whispered gently, holding her around the waist, "I thought you said you trusted me…"

"I DO trust YOU.", she frowned more, "I just don't trust HER. And I want to tell the little bitch myself that if she comes near you again, I'm gonna tear her fake TITS right OUT!"

"I get that.", I looked into her eyes, "I really do. And any other time, GREAT. But can we please please please think of the poor horse first? It's bleeding bad. Look."

I showed her my bloody, dried red hands and Selena's skin turned pale white.

"I know it's asking a lot…", I pleaded, "But if she knows something that can help the horse…"

"Alright, alright.", she gave in for now, "But when the horse is out of the woods, I'm telling her EXACTLY what I think of her!"

Selena walked away, towards the other end of the stable and I said, "That'll be lovely."

Later, we were all in a huge, square pen, the floor lined with soft hay…the horse was laying on its side…panting a bit…and I was sitting in the corner, the horse's head on my lap as I stroked her. It was the only way she'd hold still to take the needle.

Jenna was showing me how to inject a needle in, really teaching all of us.

"You want to inject at the top half of the neck here…", she said, "In the muscle…vets give shots in the veins in the front of the neck…but we're not trained to do that, so this works over here, "I pinch the skin to let them know I'm coming…and just stick it straight in, like that."

"I'd like to pinch YOUR skin to let you know I'm coming.", Selena muttered viciously from the far left corner of the pen we were all sitting in. Bob was next to Jenna by the horse's legs.

Jenna didn't respond to Selena and kept her eyes on what she was doing…I kept massaging the horse's face…under her mouth…it was making the horse very happy at the moment…and Jenna said I was a natural at finding the sweet spots, the places the horse loved to be touched most."

Selena would not be able to be civil to Jenna for long and I really hoped I wouldn't have to break up their fist fight while the horse's head was holding me down. I didn't know a horse's head was this heavy.

"There you go, girl.", Jenna took the needle out, petting her side, looking at me, "It'll take a little while to work…not long though. Just keep her calm, you're doing great."

I wish she would leave now before Selena destroyed her…but Jenna sat down on the hay now, starting to examine the wire around the horse's neck.

"JEEZ.", Jenna took a finger and lightly moved it along the wire edge…the blood very wet there, "I have Sharon coming with something we can cut the wire off with. She's sterilizing some things."

"I can't believe she's laying her head in your lap that way.", Jenna grinned at us, "She's smitten…"

That would be it, I knew it…Selena would pounce now.

"I can't take this anymore!", Selena began and the horse began to open her eyes more…making noises…noises like…'be quiet, I'm trying to sleep'.

Then Selena winced that she upset the horse and hissed at me.

"Aren't you going to introduce me, Anthony?", Selena asked.

"Yes.", I swallowed, "Jenna – Selena, Selena-Jenna….there now we're all good and we can just sit here in silence until the horse falls asleep...and for the rest of the night."

Where's Peter when you really need him? Some wingman.

"Oh, Selena.", Jenna looked a little tense now…ashamed.

"Yes, Anthony's fiancé.", she squinted at her.

I knew I was probably in trouble for not being involved in this exchange more…but I was out of my element here…women didn't usually have to fight over me. If they wanted me, they paid and Victoria stepped aside, and wished us well. Hell, women SHARED me…sometimes four, five at a time!

Should I be meaner to Jenna? Was that right?

"Look, I know you probably hate me.", Jenna said to her, looking her right in the eye, "I don't blame you. If Anthony were mine and some bitch tried to steal him away, I would punch them in the face!"

"I'm glad you approve.", Selena said quietly, glancing at the horse's face, "Cause that's your future!"

"Hey, I'll LET you hit me.", she shook her head, looking at the horse's legs, "I deserve it. And I don't expect you to like me or trust me…but I'm telling you the truth when I say…you've got a good guy here. He wouldn't cheat on you no matter how hard I tried…don't be mad at him…it was my fault."

"Jenna…", Bob cut in, "Why don't you go get some lunch for Anthony and Marie? I'm sure they're starving. Get some drinks too."

"Alright.", she stood up, "I'll be back."

Selena let her leave, making an angry scowl at her with each step she took.

I smiled at Bob, giving a silent thank you to him.

Bob just looked back at me, not knowing what else to say…so we all concentrated on the horse instead.

Bob and Selena began cleaning the smaller wounds on the horse's legs. Bob had some iodine and other mixture of medicine to help kill any infections and cleanse the dirt out of the cuts and tears in the horse's skin.

Before too long, the horse was completely asleep so I was able to slip out from under her head, Selena and Bob lifting her head off me so I could scoot out. Then I got to help them, too, and I paid attention to what Bob was teaching us…and asking questions here and there as we worked.

Sharon arrived with her instruments and Jenna supervised that whole operation. We all put our crap aside while we each did our jobs. Jenna was cutting the barb wires in the precise places and she had another little tool like pliers with long, thin pinchers to grab the wire part that was embedded and remove it.

It was Selena's and my job to put heavy gauze all along the wounds after the wire was out…to stop the bleeding. Selena was great. She held the gauze down firmly like I was doing…not letting the horse's blood on her hands affect her at all. She even smiled at me across the horse as we did what we were instructed to do…every step…every thing we could possibly do ourselves until the fucking VET showed up.

Selena and I were applying heavy gauze to all the leg wounds…then wrapping the legs with vet tape like we were told while Jenna and Bob carefully removed the bridle and reins from the horse's head.

I couldn't see it from where I was, but Bob and Jenna both made sounds of pity and anger as they removed it.

"God, I'd love to get my hands on who did this.", Jenna sounded enraged, but controlling her voice for the horse's sake, "Fucking people!"

"Yea, you're right.", Selena said firmly, "People are crap…especially when they lock other people in a dark cellar for three hours."

I just let Selena say it, looking at Jenna, not rushing to her defense. Selena was right to be angry. If a man had done this to my Selena…he'd already be dead and I'd be in jail.

"A person who cannot BE locked in a small space for hours in the dark!", she was getting louder and angrier now.

Jenna looked down, not saying anything, letting Selena say what she deserved to say.

"Do you know what could've happened to him?", she asked Jenna, "He could've DIED down there, because of you! After everything else he survived, YOU could've killed him! And you're so lucky you didn't….because that's the only reason you're BREATHING right now!"

"I know.", she said without any attitude or sarcasm, "I know…I AM very sorry. Really. I don't know what else to say. I made a huge mistake and I know that."

"It was no mistake.", Selena said with a deadly tone, "A mistake is leaving your car keys behind! You meant to lock him in there…with you…so you could -uugghhh….I just never thought he would have to deal with such a disgusting thing like this again, at this job…but I guess skanks are everywhere now, aren't they?"

Everyone looked so scared…so uncomfortable…Selena was the one to put it all on hold for now.

"I'm not saying anymore now because we need to be in here together for this poor horse…", Selena said, calming down now, "But I have a lot more to say after all this is over."

"Fair enough.", Jenna nodded, not looking all that relieved…but at least we could all go back to our jobs and focus on the horse that needed us. I gave Selena a smile…silently telling her I was proud of her for the way she was handling herself. I have to admit…I LOVE this Selena. She's protecting me…fighting for me…Victoria never did that.

A bit later, the horse was awake again and back on her feet…or hooves I guess. And it kept doing that rocking thing…Jenna was gone for now…but Selena stayed…and Sharon was here now, helping us gently wash the horse.

"Sharon, what is she doing?", I asked, smoothing my fingers over the white side of the horse, glad to see the blood and dirt wash away, "When she moves like that? Is she dancing?"

Sharon laughed and kept tending to her side of the horse.

"No…", she smiled warmly, "It looks like that, though, doesn't it?"

I nodded and watched the horse keep swaying.

Sharon's voice sobered as she informed, "She's in a lot of pain, Anthony. That's why she's doing that."

I didn't know what to say to that…something inside me began to hurt even more than it did before. And as I cleaned the horse's body, I began to see scars…rough lines deep in the flesh of the horse…some looked very old…

"Am I right that this horse has been hurt a long time ago…I mean, before all this?", I asked Sharon, looking at her across the top of the horse's back.

"Yea…very good, Anthony.", she said, proud of me and sad for the horse at the same time, "This poor little thing has been through a lot. It looks like the previous owners, whoever they were, used to abuse her. Some people hit their horses when they don't obey…I never do that."

"That's because you're great.", I shared, looking at her eyes a bit sheepishly…but she smiled.

I did admire Sharon. She was in charge and these horses could be real stubborn and a giant pain in the ass. But she never would hurt them, even in anger, and she would never tolerate others harming these horses either. She has patience and strength…and character. Animals are easy to abuse. They can't tell anyone, they can't press charges…people who cared for them were noble in my opinion. If Victoria had treated me half as well as these horses got treated everyday…maybe I wouldn't be so fucked up now.

"Thanks, Anthony, I think you're pretty great, too.", she replied, "I appreciate the way you've been with Jenna, by the way. She deserves to be in the shit right now…but I've seen the way you treat her. You're a kind person…a very forgiving person. But if you DO feel like kicking her when she's down, I totally understand and approve."

Selena was standing outside the little pen, talking to Bob…I didn't think she heard our conversation…

"I think my fiancé will be doing some ass kicking…real soon.", I warned, hoping it didn't come to that. I didn't want to see Selena reduced to having a girl fight here in the middle of the stable. She was better than that. Selena has class.

"Jenna has it coming.", Sharon said, not looking sorry for her daughter.

Changing the subject, I asked, "Do you know…who owns that big house down in that canyon…that's where we found the horse. I'll bet those are the owners."

"That house is haunted.", Sharon smiled wickedly at me.

"Haunted?" I asked, hoping Selena didn't hear that.

"Yea, there's a lot of juicy ghost stories here in Casper.", she said mysteriously, "That house used to be, back in the early 1900's…a house full of…ladies of the evening, if you know what I mean…"

"A whorehouse.", I said, not offended in the least.

"Yea.", she blushed a bit, looking down, then saying, "The people in town hated that there was such a place so close by…all the husbands snuck over there all the time...but in the light of day they all stood by their church going wives and said the place HAD to go.

But the women wouldn't leave. They liked it here and wanted to stay.

Then, one night, some of the elders of the town got together, masked themselves with burlap…and went to the house. They burned it down, with the girls asleep and inside."

"Jesus.", I heard myself breathe, "That was a little harsh."

This story was hitting a little too close to home…I started to pretend it wasn't bothering me as much as it was.

"Yea.", Sharon agreed, "The girls all died in the fire. But no one ever wanted to live on that land or rebuild. People were afraid the ghosts would get revenge on them. And then, a few years ago, a rich couple looking to come here to get away from the rat race moved here…they didn't know the story of the land or the burned down house…and they built this gorgeous mansion. That's what's there now. But on the night they actually moved in there…the house caught on fire while the couple slept. It was funny, though, because…as soon as the couple got out and took off, the fire just stopped right in its tracks. I think the girls like that mansion…and they didn't want to burn it all down completely."

CHRIST, I was IN THERE! With Selena!

"You alright?", Sharon smirked at me.

"Yea.", I answered, wondering if I'd have the nerve to go back in there now. It's just a story…I better not tell Selena about this.

My other thought was, 'Good for THEM!' I kind of wish the hookers WOULD'VE got some kind of revenge against those assholes! I thought of the fire that claimed Tanya and almost Katie…and shuddered. Maybe that fire was meant for me that night…but I went out.

The horse snapped me out of all that pondering…when it made a little noise of pain.

We worked hard and had all done everything we possibly could for the horse. And we waited…and waited…the fucking VET was two hours late!

The only thing that kept the horse calm was when I was close to it…talking to it…so I stayed with her all the time. She only let others around when I was there. It was kind of flattering and sweet…I didn't know why the horse liked me so much…but it felt good. Most of the other horses here hated my guts.

The horse went wild again when I had to go to the bathroom. The guys had to come running after me to tell me to get back there so the horse wouldn't hurt herself or anyone else anymore.

And no, I couldn't use their public restroom. I was in the bushes, pissing against a tree like a dog! I'm glad I didn't attempt the restroom. If I did, and those guys came busting in, yelling like they did…I'd have had a heart attack!

Everyone tried to get me to take a break and eat…but I couldn't. I was getting attached to the horse…who am I kidding? I fell in love with the horse…fast! Now I felt like a protective parent…watching over my baby…waiting for the god damned DOCTOR to show up! The more each minute passed past five, the more pissed off I got.

I was alone with her right now, and I just kept talking to her, stroking her side.

"I know how you feel…", I whispered, looking into her tired, weak eyes, "I've been there…they hit and hit…and hit…and they don't stop, do they?"

The horse gave a soft little whinny…and brought her face to me, closer…as if she wanted me to pet her muzzle again…so I did.

"I know…", I whispered, getting a little misty eyed, "It wasn't your fault…I've learned that…you're a good horse…a great horse…you should be loved…and protected. It's okay now…you're with me…I won't let anyone hurt you, I swear…you're safe now…safe."

A long, silver teardrop leaked out of the inner corner of the horse's eye…and moved down the side of her nose…

I felt like a sap, but I whispered, "I love you…I love my baby…"

And I smoothed the hair where the teardrop stained it…and I kissed the horse's nose…leaning my forehead there…"Shhhh….ssshhhh…"

This horse is not gonna die without hearing those words. At least she has that. No one was at my bedside declaring their love for me. I don't even remember seeing Victoria sitting near me when I was in the hospital. Bitch.

If this horse dies before the vet shows up, I swear to GOD I'll kill him!

And, even though everything in me was against it…even though I didn't really believe in it…I heard myself praying…in my head…asking for this one little thing…

Please don't let this horse die.

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