“Alright, where is it?” Nick scowled with arms crossed against his bulging chest.
“Where is what?” asked Audra innocently as she currycombed her horse.
“Don’t play dumb with me, Missy! I know you’ve been harboring that fugitive somewhere. Come on, out with it!” he threatened with an unyielding jaw, striding over to her with fists firmly planted on his hips.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Nick,” Audra continued to quip, trying hard to hide her amusement.
“Are you aware of the damage it cost us in the last week alone?”
“I’m sure I don’t, Nick.”
“Well I tell ya. It snuck inside the paddock and spooked that ornery wild stallion we just caught. It knocked down the fence and ran off with some of our best mares.”
“It could have been a squirrel,” Audra offered with a little snicker.
“Yeah, sure it was,” Nick scoffed. He slanted his head sideways to catch the amused look in his mischievous sister’s eyes. “Audra I know you know where it is.”
“Okay Nick. I did. But it’s gone now.”
“It ran away. You frightened him,” she scolded, tossing the comb in the bin. She then took hold of her horse’s halter and backed him out of his stall. “Poor little thing was scared to death. It scurried into the woods.”
“Are you sure?” Nick asked with an eyebrow raised in suspicion.
“Yes I’m sure,” she insisted, brushing past her brother to take the horse outside the stables.
“I’ll believe you. But it better not come back or I’ll shoot it.”
“Nick! You wouldn’t dare!” she lashed out with smoldering eyes boring a hole through his belligerent brother.
“Ohhhhhhhhhhhh yes I would. Heath and me have to go chase that stallion again because of your furry friend,” he spat sarcastically. “Not only will I shoot it but I’ll ask Silas to cook it for dinner.”
“Nick!” Audra shrieked, stomping her foot in protest.
On that warning Nick marched to the corral to join Heath already at work trying to gentle a skittish mare. “Is she alright?” he queried with concern.
“Yeah,” Heath replied while gently rubbing the horse’s neck. “She’s having a difficult time of it. I say she’ll foal in about a week.”
“And Audra little furry friend didn’t help matters any,” Nick groused.
“Didn’t you ever think that maybe it wasn’t Skeeter the culprit?” Heath ventured to suggest.
“Ah no! Not you too? You’re taking her side now?” Nick scolded, shooting Heath a scorching look.
“I’m not saying that Nick it’s just that I haven’t seen that bunny anywhere near the horses since it's been here.”
“Obviously! It’s sneaky. It comes out when you’re not watching.”
“Maybe,” Heath shrugged, unable to contest Nick’s answer.
“Yeah, maybe,” Nick sneered. “I told Audra I’d cook that damn rabbit of hers if it so much showed its ugly rear again.”
“Nick, you have a way with words,” Heath jested, hopping over the fence to exit the corral.
Nick gave Heath a heart clap on the back and led him towards the house. “But for now I’m in the mood for Silas’s bacon and sausages.”
A pair of devilish brown eyes watched the two brothers walk to the kitchen door, waiting for them to disappear inside before squeezing itself out of its hole. It stuck out its muzzle to pick up any enemy scent. Once the coast was clear, it snuck inside the barn where Charger and Coco were still enjoying their morning oats. The crackling noise prompted the two horses to prick up their ears and rear up their heads in fright.
The furry intruder strolled up to Charger’s stall to steal some of the grains in the feeding bin, thus spooking the bay into kicking the door and eventually breaking it. Charger charged outside, neighing and kicking as though the prowler was chasing him. Hearing the commotion Heath and Nick dashed out of the house to take in the scene. While Heath tried to calm his horse, Nick pulled out his gun and marched inside the stables in search of Audra’s pet.
“No Nick! It’s not his fault,” Audra pleaded, grabbing at Nick’s arm to prevent him from finding her rabbit.
With one fling of his arm he wrenched it free from Audra’s grip. Turning to her with teeth clenched in suppressed fury, he gnarled, “I warned you Audra. This is the last straw.” Glancing to his right, Nick took aim at the frightened little creature huddling in a corner.
“No Nick, please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Audra sobbed.
As Nick pulled the hammer on his gun, Coco became agitated. Both brother and sister turned their attention to the bucking horse raring to break out of its stall. Audra rushed to her bunny to pick it up. She could feel the muscles tense up as she cuddled it in her arms. Nick treaded carefully towards Coco’s stall with gun drawn.
Outside a gunshot was heard. Seconds later, Heath appeared with a dead raccoon in his hand. “THERE’S your furry culprit, Nick. I don’t reckon you’d fancy raccoon stew instead?”