I was never sure about unconditional love when you're a teenager, not for someone that isn't a family member or close friend, but I got proved wrong. Apparently you can have unconditional love for someone who you've only known for a month, the kind of love that won't fade through anything, even if you want it to.


4. Four

A few hours later at breakfast, after my walk around the place, I'm happy to hear that my mom and Natalie want to go out horse riding today. I must come across as really enthusiastic because my mom frowns at me. 

"You seem very excited about horse riding." she says, suspicious. "You haven't wanted to go horse back riding for years."

I just shrug. "Isn't it what a ranch vacation is all about? Might as well embrace it."

"I'm sure you didn't even want to come on this vacation." she points out. "Why the change of heart?" 

"I think it might have something to do with the young man who she saw over at the stables yesterday." Natalie nudges me as she gets up to wash her plate and my mom smiles like it all makes sense. 

"So this vacation is going to end up being just me and you Nat. Our little Jasmine will be off having a summer romance!"

I roll my eyes. "I highly doubt that. I just want to go horse back riding, let a girl live."

But of course I don't just want to go horse back riding for the sake of horse back riding.I put in effort to get ready because I'm a little obsessed with that guy if I'm honest. How could I not be? I'm a complete city person so out here in the countryside there's absolutely nothing else for me to be excited about. I just don't want Mom and Natalie to make a huge deal out of it because they can be embarrassing when they want to be. 

There's quite a big group of us at the stables so when the guy comes along and starts speaking to the group about safety and the horses and where we're going to ride I just retire to the back of the group and admire. He's just the most beautiful guy I've ever seen. I can't pin point how old he must be but his age can't be too different to mine. He's just like something straight out of a Thomas Hardy book in his riding clothes and his curls with those cheekbones and just the way he is. I don't know, there's just something so relaxed about him that I've never seen in the boys that go to my school. As I'm thinking all this, I think of Mom suggesting that I was going to have something with him. I know it was just a little passive joke, but what if that happened? I stop myself dreaming too far straight away, thinking of Millie and Jake who always warn me not to get my hopes up about guys.

"My niece used to ride!" I hear Natalie say and I snap back into reality. 

"Huh?" I ask, lost. 

"You used to ride?" he smiles at me. "Alright, you can ride up front with me then. Anyone else?" 

A couple more people put their hands up, some women and their little daughters who come across as that snobby horse owning type. I'm thankful for them riding at the front of the group with us though because if I was forced to talk to him I'd probably faint. I don't know how I managed to talk to him at all this morning. 

We're apparently going on a hack all through the woods and over hills and through fields and everything and as we set off down a little country lane my thoughts wander right away from the guy and to the fact that I'm actually riding right now. I feel like I was so distracted by him I've just jumped into the deep end without knowing because all memories to do with my dad are coming back to me out of nowhere. I wait to feel anxious or sad but I don't. I'm surprised because I've spent the seven years since he died avoiding things that reminded me of him but now I'm realising I had nothing to be scared about. It's actually comforting to do this when I haven't done it in so long. 

"So you used to ride?" the sound of the guy's voice snaps me out of my thoughts. 

"Yeah, when I was younger." I tell him. I feel my cheeks flush red and hope that he thinks it's just because of the heat. 

"You're a natural." he smiles and my cheeks probably get redder. "I'm Jack by the way."

"Jasmine." I smile back. "So is this like a summer job?" 

"Oh yeah, my uncle runs the place and needs my help in summer when there are more families here. I study at the University of Tennessee for the rest of the year."

He's at college. I stand no chance now. "Oh that's cool."

"I guess." he chuckles. "I'd rather just stay here all year round. Way simpler."

A little girl starts asking him about the horses then so our little conversation is over. I breathe a sigh of relief. I managed to get through that without embarrassing myself somehow. I'm glad I didn't get my hopes about about this one because there's no way a college guy is going to have any interest in some sixteen year old. 

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