eye. For a moment the trees swayed amid their still brothers, and a handful of birds shot into the sky. Thunder rolled at the edge of her hearing, and she could have sworn that the trailer shook. The movement subsided, and Lynn shrugged, pulling at her boot.
Another noise interrupted her — Joe, the van driver. He leaned against the side of the van, arms folded across his t-shirt, his brown eyes quizzical.
“What?” she said, in the face of his lengthening scrutiny.
“What did she say?”
She shrugged. “Nothing. Just to scratch.”
Joe kept looking at her.
“What!” she snapped.
He said, “It’s just – I ain’t seen you that happy about horse shows for a long time.” She laughed and shook her head, but the sound held very little humor.
“Yeah, well,” she said, and tugged at her long black boot. “Look where it got me.” He came over and knelt down in front of her, taking the boot by the heel and the ankle. He pulled it off with a smooth tug.
“Last I heard, it was still allowed,” he said. He handed her the boot and held her gaze.
She knew that if she let him be kind to her she would start to cry. She made a disparaging noise. “Thanks. I’ll keep it in mind.” She tugged at her other boot.
He stood and she pretended to be absorbed in her struggle with her boot, all the while aware of him waiting and then walking away. When he was gone she stopped pulling. The boots were smudged from fingerprints. If she had been allowed to ride out, Kate would have taken a rag and wiped down her boots once she was in the saddle. She and Dungiven would have gleamed in the late-afternoon sun like bright black and silver coins. Lynn sat for a moment longer on the running board, seeing the course in her mind’s eye.
The parking lot was almost empty when the Hunter’s Chase van was fully loaded. The last horse in was Dungiven, wrapped in a white shipping blanket with blue piping, the HC logo fluttering on the bottom corner. Lynn nodded at Gina and the girl clucked to him and led him up the ramp.
Just then it felt as if the ground slid out from beneath her feet . Lynn caught herself against the trailer. Dungiven threw up his head. “What was that?” she said.
With a rising rumble that came straight out of the woods, the ground rolled violently. Horses whinnied and the trailers and trucks swayed and shuddered. Lynn fell hard on her butt. Dungiven scrambled backward off the unsteady ramp in a tangle of legs and blankets, lost his balance, and went down. Lynn’s involuntary cry was lost in the bone-shaking roar of the earthquake. Finally, finally, the quake tapered off and died.
Lynn scrambled to her feet and fell to one knee beside the big horse, fear seizing her heart. Dungiven stayed down, breathing hard, snorting with every breath. Joe squatted next to her. “Is he okay?”
“Don’t know,” Lynn said, her voice taut. She pointed with her chin. “Get behind his haunches and push.”
At first Dungiven resisted, thrashing his head, and then finally he scrambled to his feet, his shipping gear askew. Lynn reached up and straightened his shipping hat, looking him over. No scrapes, nothing but grass clinging to his shipping blanket.
“Whoa,” she said under her breath. She handed the lead rope to Kate, who looked