His hand worked in rhythmic motion as the brush worked its charm on the black coat. The brushing of the midnight fur had been therapeutic for him ever since he was a child working at the Strawberry Livery. He could always do his best thinking as he transformed the rough disheveled coat into fine silk. The present was no different then the past as he found himself pondering the gift before him.
The equine that stood at attention was going to be a gift for someone special in his life. It was important he look his best for the presentation that would take place in just a few hours. His talented eye for horseflesh was in awe of the beautiful black stallion that had an undeniable presence about him. And standing at fifteen hands it was evident his power and grace would safely carry his brother both at work and play. The enormous speed he possessed would make him a formidable opponent to defeat in a race.
The first time his blue eyes saw the stallion was at an auction he had attended. He knew from that first second the animal could carry out the difficult task before him. His big brother had sadly retired his beloved horse Coco, and he was unable to open his heart and soul to any other horse he rode. But this animal appeared to demand the challenge set before him. Heath knew the bond between man and horse was the lifeline for a cowboy. He also knew this horse could and would one day become his brother’s newest lifeline. At first it would be difficult between the pair as loyalties would be questioned, and guilt would be formed. But in time, acceptance and forgiveness would be delivered, if only the horse had the patience to wait out the storm.
Heath returned the curry brush to the bin and fed the stallion an apple. He smiled as he thought of the various reactions his brother might offer when presented with his gift. Nick had given Charger to Heath as a peace offering between them. Those early days were difficult, but they helped form the unbreakable bond they shared today. It all began with a brother’s gift that said more than words could deliver. Now it was time to return that same message.
The time had come for the presentation. The hazel eyes appeared stunned with the knowledge the gift represented. But the cowboy’s natural instinct with horses was blown away with the stature the animal held. Nick’s calloused hand felt the rippling muscles in the stallion’s back. His heart fluttered as he stared into its clear brown eyes. The connection was made. The raven head turned to the side, breaking the connection, but not before the horse made his mark on the battered soul. The hazel eyes caught a glimpse of his old friend. They would think he was crazy if he told them it felt as if Coco offered his blessing. A smile curved on his lips as he turned to stare at his brother. With a tear in his eye Nick smiled his thanks. A lop-sided smile was returned.
Heath stole a glance at Coco; he too saw the approval in the old horse’s eyes. They both knew the tall dark rancher they loved deserved only the best and the ebony stallion would need to be the best…especially in the wake of the finest cutting horse in the valley; Nick’s beloved Coco.