She took the proffered hand. He tucked it in his and began walking around the outside of a paddock. They strolled leisurely, silently, occasionally stopping to watch the horses. Allison felt herself begin to relax, felt the desperation that had been plaguing her fade away for the moment. She reminded herself to remain cautious, that this was a temporary reprieve.
Taylor climbed upon the top rail of the fence, of-fering her a hand up. He pulled her up beside him, and when she attempted to scoot away, he wrapped an arm around her shoulder. She felt her pulse race and heard the thunderous beating of her heart in her ears, felt it hammering in her chest. She wanted to jump down and run for her life but sat still in the loose hold her had on her.
“You seem tense,” he commented, turning her so he could massage her shoulders. She wasn’t sure this was better as now his breath brushed across her neck.
She raised her brows in mock surprise. “Now why do you suppose that is? It certainly couldn’t be because of you, could it?”
“Not at all.” He grinned, dropped his hands from her shoulders and looked out over the pasture. “It’s peaceful out here. I haven’t taken the time for many pleasures,” he confided. “Always busy. Seems like there was always one more of this and one more of that.” Her grew silent for a moment, thinking back over his life. He hadn’t done much of anything but work since he was a teen. He glanced over at her and winked. “I’m trying to make up for lost time.”
“All at once?” Allison laughed softly. She’d known he was a workaholic but to hear him actually admit it drew her to him that much more. Like two peas in a pod. She wondered what he’d been like back then, back before work took over his life, back before he’d be-come so immersed in it that he became lost.
“What about you?” he asked, nudging her with his shoulder. “What are you trying to make up for?”
“Nothing.” She felt the odd twinge in her leg that plagued her now and again. “I just want to be the best trainer I can be.”
She wasn’t sure she wanted to go into what made her so driven. The memories of how bright her future had been had been laid to rest years ago but occasion-ally they’d return. And once in a while she wanted to share her fears, her heartbreak with someone. But it was something she didn’t talk about, tried not to think about for if she did the pain would come rushing back and the desperate hope she’d felt that she’d be able to ride again would surface. If she were to cleanse her soul, Taylor would be one to do it with, she told herself. He seemed so steadfast and rock-solid. But she wasn’t certain he’d understand the anguish she’d suffered. It was only riding, after all. She’d come to understand him a little in the days he’d been hanging around but their relationship wasn’t on solid ground. Once he tired of playing the cowboy, Taylor would return to his busi-ness, having gotten it out of his system. The property would be sold and turned into heaven knew what. So why bother baring her soul?
“Besides, it’s difficult to explain,” she finally said, clasping her hands together to keep from rubbing her leg. “It’ll bore you to tears.”
“There’s nothing about you that’s boring.” He turned, taking her chin in his fingers. He already knew the story but wanted to hear it from her. “Why don’t you tell me, then I can judge for myself, okay?”
Allison shrugged and turned her head, pretending interest in a flock of doves. The large oak tree sitting in the middle of the pasture was home to many. The sky was a deep blue, she noted. A few clouds scudded here and there. The contrails of a jet engine dispersed and floated into oblivion.
Reality was too painful. It was time to face the facts, to quit hoping for dreams and wishes to come true. She wasn’t a dreamer and wishes were just that. Wishes. It was time to put aside her desperate hope.