“Where were you, Dad?” I spot him in the parking lot leaning against the front fender of his Mercedes. His head is bent over his phone.
His head snaps up and a smile spreads over his face. “I was in the car, watching your ride, kiddo. He cocks an ankle upward and points to his two-tone loafers. “This place is a mud hole.”
I unsnap my helmet and slide the chinstrap over my arm to give him a quick hug. “Did you see her jump? She’s amazing.” My round was anything but amazing, but Octavia took care of me and clocked around the course like she was on fire.
“See who jump?” Dark eyebrows scrunch together.
“Octavia. My horse. Well, not my horse, but you know, the one I’m riding.”
He laughs. “I thought you were talking about one of the other competitors. Speaking of which, that gal who came after you on the black horse. She was really something. Now that horse looked like a rough ride.”
“They’re not supposed to look hard to ride. They’re hunters. It’s supposed to look graceful.”
“Well Olivia’s anything but graceful. She looked like a racehorse that was thrown in a ring with a bunch of jumps.”
He chucks me on the shoulder and I have to take a step to keep my balance.
“I didn’t have time to warm her up.” The accusation seeps into my voice.
“Why the hell not? You’ve been here all day.”
“The rules say you can’t get on without a parent’s release. That’s why. I was waiting for you to come.”
His face clouds and I think he’s going to warn me to keep that tone out of my voice. Instead, he shoves his phone in a back pocket. “Sorry about that. Ashley’s soccer game went into overtime.”
Ashley. His new girlfriend’s daughter. A thousand thoughts fire through my brain but I keep them back, bared behind my teeth. They crush together with the effort.
“Hey, I’ll make it up to you. Get in, we’ll go get a late lunch. Whatever you want, just name it.” He pulls open the driver’s door and collapses into the leather seat. He holds up a hand to me like a traffic cop. “But take those boots off first.”
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